Football

Will Mario Balotelli ever grow up?

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Since he has left Manchester City for the more homely climate of Milan Mario Balotelli has continued to grab the headlines both on and off the pitch.

The striker lit up the Confederations Cup clash between Italy and Mexico but did football's Peter Pan also show signs that he is finally growing up?

The talent has always been there with Balotelli. But temperament and discipline is another matter. Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insisted Balotelli had the ability to go on and become one of the world's best but even he was unable to tame the youngster during his turbulent time in England. 

Many doubted whether Balotelli would progress any further back in his homeland with plenty quick to claim he would go down as a wasted talent. 

But after a sensational return to form for AC Milan, scoring 12 goals & helping the Rossoneri qualify for the Champions League, coupled with a good relationship with Cesare Prandelli, the 22-year old seemed to have steadied the ship and proved the doubters wrong.

Once again though, Balotelli undid his hard work to reverse his reputation during a four minute period in Prague last week as he was sent off for two bookable offences that left Italy down to 10 men in their World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic.

After after such a recent setback it is clear Balotelli has responded in the right fashion and taken a step in the right direction. The striker led the line for the Azzurri and was a constant threat to the Mexico defence. Although he had a mixed first half with misplaced passes coupled with a few poor attempts on goal Balotelli kept his cool. 

Frustration has often added fuel to the fire of the youngster and he came in for some rough treatment against centre back Francisco Javier Rodríguez as the Mexicans struggled to contain him. 

His workrate was undeniably better than what we have witnessed at the Etihad. He appears to be more passionate and focused when he pulls on the Azzurri shirt, if can find the correct hole to push his head through.

There was a petty reaction that bordered on retaltiation in response to a foul but Balotelli restrained himself in the face of such provocation. He has been known to lash out in the past but thought better of it this time. As the game becoming more stretched late into the second half Balotelli was clearly tripped on the edge of the area but the Chilean referee waved play on. 

Balotelli was incensed and threw his boot to the floor in disgust. The red mist had descended and it was only a matter of time before he was dragged off or given his marching orders. Balotelli was displaying exactly the type of behaviour why many see him as a risk they are not willing to take. 

You cannot count on him when it matters, mistakes are made that cost the team dearly, such as his red cards against Dynamo Kiev and Arsenal in the past.

Prandelli opted against replacing Balotelli and it paid off in style. Despite being a loose cannon compsure at the death is one of Balotelli's strengths. He has the nack of keeping his head when all others around him lose theirs, whether it be a penatly or laying the ball off to Sergio Aguero instead of snatching at a shot in the dying seconds of City's title winning campaign. 

Balotelli held off Hector Moreno and cooly slotted the ball past the onrushing Jose Corona to give Italy a vital win in their opening group game. In a repeat of his celebration in the Euro 2012 semi-final Balotelli removed his shirt, duly picked up a yellow card and was substituted with five minutes left. 

He still complained, moaned and picked up a foolish booking but a player like Balotelli is always going to play right on the edge of the cliff. On occassions he will still overstep the mark. 

No-one will ever banish the crazy, violent streak from his game and nor would you want to. It is a part of what makes him such an intriguing player. He relies on instinct; one minute he could kick an opponent, the next he could score a sensational volley. Many players have been blessed and cursed with such a compelling streak, but if Balotelli can curb his reactions and play on the right side of the line consistently he may well fulfil his potential yet as he matures as both a person and a player.

He is still in Neverland with a long way to go, but this time at least, he's making headlines for the right reasons.


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Topics:
Football
Mexico Football
Italy Football
Mario Balotelli

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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