BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Balotelli can lead Italy to Euro 2012 crown

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 08:24 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

Euro 2012: Warsaw

Mario Balotelli may have claimed he was "more of a man than Peter Pan" - but in his moment of triumph he was simply the boy who made his mother proud.

Balotelli ended the greatest night of his career draped in the arms of his adoptive mother Silvia as she balanced precariously on a ledge above the tunnel at Warsaw's magnificent national stadium.

It was a touching scene as this tearful, elderly lady clasped one of the game's most compelling and charismatic figures, stroking the back of his head in a gesture of affection all of Italy will have understood.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


Manchester City's 21-year-old enigma had proved he could be trusted on the highest stage, responding to the responsibility handed to him by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli as he scored the goals that gave them a 2-1 win over Germany to secure Sunday's Euro 2012 final against Spain in Kiev.

For a few brief seconds, after Mesut Ozil's penalty had given Germany unlikely hope of a reprieve, Balotelli dragged the Azzurri shirt over his head in anxiety. He need not have worried because this was his and Italy's night - and deservedly so.

Italy's man of the match Andrea Pirlo may have given a performance adjudicator Peter Schmeichel described as "a piece of art" but as always Balotelli was pure theatre.

It was clearly an emotional time after the final whistle as Balotelli said: "I have waited for this moment for so long, especially since my mum came here. I wanted to make her happy and this is the most beautiful night of my life."

Balotelli's deeds have ensured an even better one may await against favourites Spain in Kiev's Olympic Stadium on Sunday - and on the evidence produced in Warsaw Italy may just make it happen.

At the centre of it all will be the young man who has had us all scratching our heads in puzzlement but, in equal measure, provoking an acceptance of a truly special talent.

Balotelli was a threat against England without scoring but he nervelessly buried his
penalty in the victorious shoot-out
against Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart, despite being stared out by the goalkeeper.

Here in Warsaw he scored two goals of uncharacteristic conventionality. The first showing cute movement with a fine headed finish from Antonio Cassano's cross, the second an emphatically drilled strike from Riccardo Montolivo's pass.

Balotelli's night may have been ended by cramp but there is no doubt he will be pivotal to Prandelli's plans in Kiev as Italy attempt to unseat the world and European champions.

For a man who often plays in a state of chaos, Balotelli was cold and measured as he joined his colleagues in terrorising Germany's defence as Italy gave the lie to the theory that Joachim Loew's side were the men most likely to beat Spain.

Italy's achievement in beating Germany should be placed in context. They had 48 hours less rest and needed to recover mentally and physically from beating England after extra-time and penalties. They have also now extended an unbeaten run in competitive fixtures against them to eight games.

They were meant to have simply taken England's place as an eminently negotiable obstacle to German progress. How wrong this theory proved to be.

Italy were deserved winners and demonstrated that Spain will take them lightly at their peril. This is a side, developed by the under-stated Prandelli, that is more than capable of winning Euro 2012.

And again pulling every string, orchestrating every movement, was the magnificent Pirlo as he emerges as the star of this tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

The script dictated that, after toying with England in Kiev, Germany would wrap the shackles around Pirlo. If facing England was a party, then it would be over in the semi-final.

Germany coach Loew had noted Pirlo's contribution against England and acted accordingly by detailing Toni Kroos to subdue him. It did not work and Pirlo was on to the midfield man's game early on with a withering look and a few words when his shadow attempted some of the heavy stuff.

The Germans were effectively warned what might happen and were still powerless to stop the great manipulator.

So can Italy stop Spain adding to the titles they won in Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and South Africa two years later? The answer, emphatically, is yes.

Spain, as the record shows, are an outstanding side and the idea that they are somehow "boring" only holds weight because of the regularity with which they now collect the game's great prizes. They are boringly successful.

But Balotelli has a natural sense of being centre stage and on Sunday night in Kiev he will stride the biggest of his short but eventful career.

Mario brought his adoptive mother to tears in Poland - will he be able to resist the lure of making her even prouder in Ukraine by beating Spain and winning Euro 2012?

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    While he can certainly make a difference I think it will come down to how well Spain can play. They've look a bit tired this tournament and less incisive (Which is part of the cause of them seeming boring imo), question is whether they can up their game on Sunday.

    As a side note, last night's result does not mean England are better than Germany :)

  • Comment number 2.

    Didn't see that one coming....

    Well played to Balotelli though unusually ruthless in front of goal. Mind you the German defence we being craved up like a chicken for sunday roast.

    For me the best game of the knockout stages

  • Comment number 3.

    Balotelli probably will and I don't mind Italy winning I've never met an unpleasant Italian yet, even whilst in Italy they were nice! Though I would have preferred to see Germany win the cup they are still one of the best teams in the world and will never be short of fans worldwide. I wish the media would stop going on about Balotelli being Man. City player he is not english he is Italian!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    A great team performance from Italy. As i've said in some previous posts on previous blogs this German team have been overhyped and were completely outplayed last night.

  • Comment number 5.

    Despite the stats showing the number of corners and shots Germany had, by and large Italy controlled the match once they had taken the lead, and they exposed the weaknesses in the German side. Three of the back four are ordinary (Lahm excepted) and in fact Italy could have scored at least two more in the second half. The Italian passing, movement and shape was excellent all through the match, and their defending and tackling near perfect. It could have been very different if Buffon had been punished for his early uncertainty. I've always said that Gomez doesn't hack it in big games, Klose is ageing and Podolski wasted out wide, so Germany need to look at that too. Can Italy beat Spain, well they could but I don't believe they will. I expect a really strong performance from Spain in the final.

  • Comment number 6.

    It was a fantastic game & a great performance by not only Balo but all the Italian players. Buffon made some decisive saves, the defenders were brilliant & conceded a soft penalty, the midfielders were great, Ricardo Montolivo was criticised for his play in previous matches but layed the perfect ball that led to the 2nd goal & the strikers had a superb game. History is repeating itself....

  • Comment number 7.

    nice to see Balotelli making headlines for the right reasons. If he learns to drop this daft circus act - he has the ability to become world class.

  • Comment number 8.

    The semi-finals have made all the pundits who said we should play like goalless Spain and Germany a little silly. Unless they now castigate these teams in a similarly over the top kneejerk way.

    Granted we wasted our chances and ran out of steam v Italy but how did they win?

    1. Cross to the big man
    2. Hoof the ball over the top to the big quick man.

    And nearly scored 2 more, all on the quick break. And they did it with a 33 year old Maestro who may not be around in 2014. And 1 good striker who is very hit and miss.

    After the scandal they were a "wounded beast" though and an underdog so it shows the importance of pressure, confidence, and psychology.

  • Comment number 9.

    Finally phil a blog not related to england nd their overrated performance.super mario has shown he is willing to learn on the game.always so confident in front of the goal..am more concerned about his performance for city in d up coming season
    Up city!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Italy have surprised all and they will return as heroes...but with a silver medal. As poor as Spain have been this tournament, they will flicker into life for the final, and Pirlo won't have it easy because Spain not only monopolise possession but they apply intense pressure whenever the opposition are on the ball, we shouldn't be surprised if Spain are completely camped in Italy's half...going nowhere probably though.

  • Comment number 11.

    4.
    At 09:12 29th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:


    A great team performance from Italy. As i've said in some previous posts on previous blogs this German team have been overhyped and were completely outplayed last night.
    --------------------------------------------

    Good call I thought the Germans would win at a canter. They seemed very disjointed yesterday, and couldn't create anything going through the centre.

  • Comment number 12.

    @harry1000kisses - I totally agree with you, I'd rather comment on this game than some over rated over hyped football celebs whose only concern is how much they will get paid to play footie, or only care about which millionaire mansion they will get next for their over hyped wags!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    After 2006 Germany again treated the derby of Europe like it was a friendly with a nobody. Germany's greatest asset is also their weakness at times - overconfidence.

  • Comment number 14.

    Balotelli - two decent finishes against an AWOL defence. I'd give more credit to Italy's defending which was superb in the second half.

  • Comment number 15.

    Marvellous Mario and Peerless Pirlo. This has to be Italy's moment to seize. Spain have developed resolve and a winner's mentality over the last 4 years but they will have to improve significantly on recent showings to beat the Italians in this mood. I think the knowledge that they are so close to making history (3 successive tournament victories) will play on Spain's minds and inhibit them.

  • Comment number 16.

    4.At 09:12 29th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    As i've said in some previous posts on previous blogs this German team have been overhyped
    __________________

    Me too !

    Well done Mario, amazing that he is only 21 years old.

    A goal against Spain will give him the golden boot (? )

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 10 aziz

    I expect Spain to flood the midfield to try and contain Pirlo. I think it will be a tight, tactical match with few chances for either side. Spain will certainly not be as open as Germany but as i've said before if you put their defence under pressure it doesn't look great.

    Spain seem to have a knack of doing just enough in matches but I have a feeling that Italy may just win the final.

  • Comment number 18.

    Balotelli is pure entertainment laced with classy moments. Pirlo is Italy's Paul Scholes, pure class.
    The rest of the Italian team are alsorans but they work well together, effectively smothering the ball when not in possession and retaining possession well.
    If Spain dare to play without a striker they will lose or it will go to penalties.

  • Comment number 19.

    The kids learning to celebrate! looking more like the player city signed. if he keeps his head and manages to score against spain for the win he's off back to italy, ac milan and inter must have their eye on him, he could become a national hero.

  • Comment number 20.

    10.At 09:17 29th Jun 2012, aziz wrote:
    Italy have surprised all and they will return as heroes...but with a silver medal. As poor as Spain have been this tournament, they will flicker into life for the final, and Pirlo won't have it easy because Spain not only monopolise possession but they apply intense pressure whenever the opposition are on the ball, we shouldn't be surprised if Spain are completely camped in Italy's half...going nowhere probably though.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Did you watch the group game btw these 2 countries, if you did, then i dont see where you get your assertions from unless you are another jurnno in disguise. Italy is the one country over the years that have continually shackled Spains tiki-taka. Did you wacth their game in the WC which Spain won on penalties? Gosh it baffles me sometimes when people just talk without considering any form of facts. Italy are the 2nd best nation in the world after Braxil when it comes to WC medals, and people like you just jump on the jurno waggon without any form of thought.
    Italy will not and never will be scared of Spain as a footballing nation. Italy knows how to win big games and tournaments. Spaim may have the bulk of midfilders, but Italys few will hit them hard when they get their opportunity which is guranteed. The Italians also have a better efence than the Spaniards in this tournament. Mario & Cassano have settled in after the 1st game and will be more potent in this game, and i see Del Bosque taking note and playing an extra defender in the final and loosing a midfilder whichwill be to Italy advantage. The game will be close and if Italy gettheir nses in front, the cup will be heading to Rome

  • Comment number 21.

    Last night was great to watch! Germany just didn't show up for the majority of the game. Balotelli was brilliant and played with a maturity and passion I've not seen in him at all whilst playing for City.

    I love how Buffon stormed off at the final whistle, frustrated that Italy didn't kill the game sooner. That's high standards.

    I think Italy can win this. Not just because I picked them in the work sweepstake! Spain have looked ordinary at times. Italy need to avoid falling in to the trap that Germany played last night and England fell into all tournament; try to stop your opponents game rather than playing your own.

    If Germany had spent less time trying to stop Pirlo and checking their shape all the time they might have played their own attacking game and had some chances.

    Italy should play their game, let Spain pass it around in front of you. At the end of the day I think Italy's defence and keeper are more than capable of keeping Spain's "attack"/midfield out.

    Forza Italia!

  • Comment number 22.

    @16

    Torres and Cesc are both on two, can't see either of them scoring two but you never know!

  • Comment number 23.

    Irelands Euro results arent looking that bad now, both finalists in our group, no wonder we were hammered!

  • Comment number 24.

    This Germany team have really talented players, especially in attacking positions. What I think they are missing are a couple of really good defenders (especially at right back) and a leader on the pitch. Lahm is a great left back (and right back) but doesn't strike me as an inspirational captain like Matthaus and Ballack were.

  • Comment number 25.

    Excellent game. Italy showed where German arrogance always leads to: To defeat! It also showed that the German team isn't as great as anyone though they where. You could already see that in the group matches where they were lucky to win against both Portugal and Netherlands (both undeserved). They have no real world class star player like Pirlo, Iniesta, Balotelli, Fabregas, Torres, Ronaldo

  • Comment number 26.

    23.At 09:37 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    Irelands Euro results arent looking that bad now, both finalists in our group, no wonder we were hammered!
    ____________________________

    Fair point :)

    Also EnglandĀ“s result against Italy does not look too bad now as well.

  • Comment number 27.

    Great blog Phil,

    The Italians have a pedigree which just seems to get them to the latter stages of tournaments; perhaps not their best squad for individuals but for me, they and Spain are the only team without egos in their squad (Balo is of course an ego but the goal celebration vs ROI aside, he's shown great maturity throughout). A superb team ethic which might just win them the championships... They look SO comfortable on the ball too. I was calling for Ozil as player of the tournament but watching Pirlo is just a joy. He doesn't look like a footballer at all, and if you watch him closely, when he is tripped, he falls like an old man and I wonder if his hips might give out on him! However, his balance and composure, as well as his vision and distribution are simply second to none. We are watching a player that can realistically play into his forties, special.

    What a funny old game football is. The first time Germany really get tested and they crumble; Italy should have been out of sight by 80 minutes, and they were the team who had a 'tougher' quarter final.

    I still think Spain have too much for them and I also subscribe to the belief that the Spanish will fire into life for the final - they play their best football when the world is watching and expecting...

    2 - 0 Spain in the final. Iniesta to get them both.

  • Comment number 28.

    Thought Balotelli was superb last night. He's not had a bad tournament really.

    Oh, dear though, I think there might be a poster on here who will think that Welbeck had a better one, or dare I say it, Rooney??

    Tin hats on Phil

  • Comment number 29.

    "Balotelli is pure entertainment laced with classy moments. Pirlo is Italy's Paul Scholes, pure class.
    The rest of the Italian team are alsorans"

    Buffon, De Rossi, Cassano are also rans? Are you for real??

  • Comment number 30.

    26.
    At 09:41 29th Jun 2012, repo wrote:


    23.At 09:37 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    Irelands Euro results arent looking that bad now, both finalists in our group, no wonder we were hammered!
    ____________________________

    Fair point :)

    Also EnglandĀ“s result against Italy does not look too bad now as well.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ha now the F.A will assure us only minor changes are needed to compete with these teams...

  • Comment number 31.

    28.
    At 09:42 29th Jun 2012, derwaldmann - 22-01-2011 wrote:

    Thought Balotelli was superb last night. He's not had a bad tournament really.

    Oh, dear though, I think there might be a poster on here who will think that Welbeck had a better one, or dare I say it, Rooney??

    Tin hats on Phil
    ==================================
    dont start with the united phish!

  • Comment number 32.

    @ 19 King Red

    It's probably a good job he didn't get a hat trick as I could see him being sent off for a second yellow for removing his shirt again.

  • Comment number 33.

    You can't really say this make England's performance any better, if you were to use that rationale, then Newcastle are worthy of winning the Champion's League, and better than Barcelona!

  • Comment number 34.

    29.
    At 09:44 29th Jun 2012, SleepingSpur wrote:


    "Balotelli is pure entertainment laced with classy moments. Pirlo is Italy's Paul Scholes, pure class.
    The rest of the Italian team are alsorans"

    Buffon, De Rossi, Cassano are also rans? Are you for real??
    _________________________________

    Not to mention Marchisio and Montolivo. They have a number of talented individuals but it is as a team that they are really effective.

  • Comment number 35.

    19.
    At 09:35 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:

    The kids learning to celebrate! looking more like the player city signed. if he keeps his head and manages to score against spain for the win he's off back to italy, ac milan and inter must have their eye on him, he could become a national hero.
    -----------------------------
    haha you wish!

  • Comment number 36.

    32.
    At 09:46 29th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:

    @ 19 King Red

    It's probably a good job he didn't get a hat trick as I could see him being sent off for a second yellow for removing his shirt again.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    i was worried about that for him, i have said from he start of the comp that he must know his career could be ruined and that he needs to be on his best. his first goal celebration was a bit OTT, he could have been left out of the rest of the comp had it been another manager. the other side to the coin is that the boy is even more arrogant than ronaldo, his lack of goal celebrations at times really wind me up. what happens to that ego if he does win the golden boot and manages to bring euro success to italy? aybe it wouldnt be such a good thing for him atm.

  • Comment number 37.

    31

    He will though won't he haha.

    Balotelli's second last night was a storming finish. It was no coincidence that in the first half I heard Lahm's name mentioned only once. When he goes missing (which is rare) Germany aren't the same side.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think the penalty goal awarded to Germany in the last minute was a deliberate miss by the Italian goalie as the Italy coach probably told him "if we win 2-0 Signora Merkel will not give us any funds we have to give them just one goal. The Germans played very badly yesterday using brute force with no strategy,had Team Germany played as poorly with Greece and not partly lamed the Greek goalie at the beginning they would have been soundly defeated.

  • Comment number 39.

    35.
    At 09:51 29th Jun 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    19.
    At 09:35 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:

    The kids learning to celebrate! looking more like the player city signed. if he keeps his head and manages to score against spain for the win he's off back to italy, ac milan and inter must have their eye on him, he could become a national hero.
    -----------------------------
    haha you wish!
    -------------------------------
    ?????? like it would matter if he left City, they'd just buy someone else ;)

  • Comment number 40.

    23.
    At 09:37 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    --------------------
    very true, they did extremely well to get there and got very unlucky with the group

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 33 Bungly Pete

    True. But it does make those people (and there were quite a few) who were saying that they were relieved we lost on penalties because Germany would have thrashed us look rather stupid.

  • Comment number 42.

    39.
    At 09:52 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    --------------------
    haha touche' .... although isnt that what normally happens with every club?

  • Comment number 43.

    The result was never in doubt in my eyes. The way Italy played against Spain in the opening game should have made ALL teams take note for their formation and discipline in defense.

    This is not the usual Italian flair football with quick tricky wingers on both flanks. Prandelli has a team who are comfortable on the ball even with close markers. In Pirlo he has the perfect player to control the tempo of the team and pick out direct balls for Balottelli to run onto.

    I'm please for Mario as he is learning game by game for "Azzurri" and will only get better. Time for a lot of people to get off Mario's back and watch him perform.

    How England can be 6 places above Italy in World football when they haven't smelt the semi-finals of a major tournament since Euro 96 is a disgrace. Rankings mean nothing if you can't perform when it matters.

    Expect more of the same in the final with a 2-1 Italy victory.

    Forza Italia......

  • Comment number 44.

    Who knows what you'll get from him in the final, could be brilliant but could be the worst performance in the championship adds that little bit extra to hopefully a cracking game.

    To all those jokers trying to justify Englands dismal display against the Italians as being not so bad, there was a massive difference in attitudes. Germany tried to play a game of football, we tried to kill a game of football i know who i'd rather watch.

  • Comment number 45.

    42.
    At 09:53 29th Jun 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    39.
    At 09:52 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    --------------------
    haha touche' .... although isnt that what normally happens with every club?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    like you said before "I wish", we are still trying to replace Neville and to a certain degree scholes.

    I cant see ballotelli leaving city though. if he doesnt see what he has in mancini he's an absolute ejit. if it werent for mancini i doubt ballotelli would be at the euros.

  • Comment number 46.

    Well done Mario.
    You could feel Hansen and Lawenson choking on their words of (forced) praise for the 21 year old.
    City fans have known you were the real deal since you came back from the sending off against Dynamo Kiev to win us the FA Cup in 2011 with a MOTM performance against Stoke in the final.

  • Comment number 47.

    8. At 09:16 29th Jun 2012, jimmy5 wrote:
    The semi-finals have made all the pundits who said we should play like goalless Spain and Germany a little silly. Unless they now castigate these teams in a similarly over the top kneejerk way.

    Granted we wasted our chances and ran out of steam v Italy but how did they win?

    1. Cross to the big man
    2. Hoof the ball over the top to the big quick man.

    And nearly scored 2 more, all on the quick break. And they did it with a 33 year old Maestro who may not be around in 2014. And 1 good striker who is very hit and miss.

    After the scandal they were a "wounded beast" though and an underdog so it shows the importance of pressure, confidence, and psychology.


    You sir, have no idea about football. Hoofing the ball aimlessly to the big man, and playing the correct ball over the top to a forward moving in to space is very different. Your logic would suggest England are a top 4 side when in reality they are not, as everyone would have us believe even a top 8 European side. Are England better than Croatia or Russia? England were lucky to be in the weakest group and fumbled through with a huge amount of luck and God only knows how Italy didn't score at least 4 against us.

    Cassano's cross was hardly to the big man, it was a pinpoint cross which was developed and placed on a sixpence, just like Gerrard's cross to Rooney which took 32 deflections before sitting up so not even my nan would have missed.

    It is about time the country woke up to realise the lads are simply light years behind the rest of Europe technically and tactically. Maybe in 20 years when the fruits of Burton become pros there might be some hope. Until then I would be surprised to see these "great players who are just lacking confidence" do anything bordering what Italy, Germany or Spain are capable of!

  • Comment number 48.

    So pleased for Mario after so much nonsense has been talked about him. Finally proved he can deliver on the biggest stage.

    The question is - can he learn to do it again and again??

    www.balotelly.com

  • Comment number 49.

    41.
    At 09:53 29th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:


    @ 33 Bungly Pete

    True. But it does make those people (and there were quite a few) who were saying that they were relieved we lost on penalties because Germany would have thrashed us look rather stupid.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't know I still think we would have be turned over if we played Germany. They were poor yesterday, but against an Italian side on top of their game, full of attacking intent. I don't we would have got close to them

  • Comment number 50.

    45.
    At 09:59 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    -------
    would have to agree there, it is like a father son relationship....so easy to forget he's only 21 though! I just hope he get's his act together so when he does go he'll command a stupid fee! bags of potential and he's starting to transform it in to performances.
    ..........On a different note I hated Neville with a passion as a player but i really dont have a bad word to say about him now...and not just because hes with engerand, he talks such sense and actually has a personality

  • Comment number 51.

    I hope we aren't going to copy the German reformation after that!!! So nice to see the Germans cry, is there anything better?!

  • Comment number 52.

    Germany were NOT completely outplayed last night !

    The only difference between the teams was Marco Balotelli and had he been playing for Germany they would have won the game.....Buffon had to make more saves than his counterpart and the stats show that Germany had more shots on target too...hardly stats representing a team that was outplayed !

    Credit to Italy for ending Germanys 15 competitive-match winning streak and for continuing to be undoubtedly Germany's bogey team as I truly believed that would come to an end last night......and if Balotelli had not been playing then it would have done !

    He was the difference and it was typical that he stepped up to the plate against the Germans having been unable to score in the same fashion against England and Croatia previously !

  • Comment number 53.

    46.
    At 09:59 29th Jun 2012, Richard wrote:


    Well done Mario.
    You could feel Hansen and Lawenson choking on their words of (forced) praise for the 21 year old.
    City fans have known you were the real deal since you came back from the sending off against Dynamo Kiev to win us the FA Cup in 2011 with a MOTM performance against Stoke in the final.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In fairness he had a very good game yesterday, but has still gone missing at times in the finals. He's the same for City. One good (or class) game doesn't all of a sudden mean that you are matured and a world class striker.

  • Comment number 54.

    51.
    At 10:05 29th Jun 2012, SuperLeedsSuperQuins wrote:


    I hope we aren't going to copy the German reformation after that!!! So nice to see the Germans cry, is there anything better?!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Let's not right them off yet one bad perfomance doesn't mean that they are useless, they've been good for the rest of the finals

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 36 King Red

    For me Balotelli is very similar to Ibrahimovic. On their day they are almost unplayable. Unfortunatley they are as likely to have a shocker. I don't think the Italians are reliant on him to beat Spain, their midfield and particularly Pirlo are the key for them.

  • Comment number 56.

    cassano has been fantastic all tournement his movement and energy has been fantastic
    And without much competitive football all year he has been one of my players of euro 2012
    well done italy

  • Comment number 57.

    #41

    Why?

    Because Germany lost to Italy and we drew with them, that means we would have beaten Germany also?

    It doesn't work like that. In all likelihood we would have got beaten by Germany. Not thrashed because our system would make it incredibly difficult to get thrashed by anyone but soundly beaten. What happened last night has no bearing on what would have happened if it had been England v Germany.

  • Comment number 58.

    I wouldnt be surprised if Italy beat Spain 2-0 in final. Spain arent all that. They dont score many and Portugal proved that if you get amongst them and put Spain on the back foot you have a chance (they just didnt take any).

    I predicted Italy to get to final at the start. But then I also predicted Germany too, so what do I know.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 52 SupremeArkle

    No the difference between the teams was that Italy can actually defend. Their midfield was better too. Balotelli has had plenty of chances at this tournament so it's about time he converted some of them.

  • Comment number 60.

    Also, Im not sure in what context we should view England getting a better result than Germany, against Italy. We also scored more pens. But it wasnt in a semi final.

  • Comment number 61.

    You could see from the off that Italy are an excellent side, it's been interesting to see the TV pundits lavishing praise on sides like Germany and Spain but i feel that Italy until now have been totally overlooked. They are tournament hardened and posses a system and technique that is so ingrained in to their psyche they will usually always be there at the end. The problem is it's human nature to look to something new hence the fascination with sides like Germany. I personally think Ozil is hugely overatted but we are constantly reminded by so called pundits that he is the new Zidane, more like the Robin Cousins of football. He glides around usually with no end product. I don't think Germany got found out last night, more the case that Italy reminded us that they are still and always be a rock solid side that can adapt without cue in any given game, they blend instinct and creativity with discipline, they are a side that can impose their game everytime, that's why they will beat Spain. Even when they beat Spain the pundits will say that Spain didn't turn up, for some reason they just don't give the Italians the respect they deserve. I think most of the balding pundits are jealous of Buffons D&G hair style and sick range of Bandana's

  • Comment number 62.

    Phil "Hindsight" McNulty strikes again.

    The man with the best knowledge of football (AFTER he's seen the game of course). So Balotelli can steer Italy to glory can he Phil? Can you direct me to the article you wrote PRIOR to last night's match, which outlined those thoughts?

    Because if you can't, you're effectively just commenting on I match I have already seen myself, and not offering me any 'expert' insight.

  • Comment number 63.

    Indeed, Theres something about joe...write Germany off at your peril...still a very young team..and sadly in a different class to our England team...check the bookmakers odds for World Cup 2014....Germany will remain one of the favourites for sure !

  • Comment number 64.

    Balotelli was Dench --- Leave it Yeah!

  • Comment number 65.

    On the subject of Englands relative showing against Italy compared to Germany, its completely wrong to suggest England would have fared as well. Italy won because they went hard at the German weakness (Boateng mostly, but Badstuber isnt superb either) while England would have sat back and conceded lots of possession. Unless England could have selected Pirlo, the predictions of us getting battered by Germany would have been proved sadly accurate.

    Also, Italy really don't get the credit they deserve in a lot of the popular press. Its as if Spain have been ordained as winners before a ball was even kicked in the tournament, and pieces of evidence like the opening group game are ignored. My personal view on that first Italy-Spain encounter was that if anything, Italy shaded it.

    Naturally Pirlo will get a lot less time on the ball against Spains 8 man midfield (thank you Vialli for that analysis) but it promises to be an interesting final.

  • Comment number 66.

    @59 Baggios.....Italy defend soundly enough...but even then they almost scored an own goal and Buffon needed luck to keep a couple of goalbound shots out which Balotelli would have dispatched had he been playing for Germany as Gomez just wasn't at the races last night and Klose didn't do a lot better !

    Balotelli WAS the difference !

    E.O.S

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 57 The_Goatee_of_Steven_Gerrard

    The key word I mentioned was "thrashed". We probably would have been beaten by Germany but it certainly would not have been by a big margin. The German defence has looked wobbly all tournament. I said after their Quarter-Final victory that is was worrying for them that a team like Greece was able to put 2 past them. Against the first really good team they have come up against the defensive frailties were completely exposed.

  • Comment number 68.

    Did anyone hear Lawrenson's Rolls Reus 'joke', or the one about the 'poor girl', dear me.

    It brought a smile to my face to discover that Robin Friday kicked him in the face and defecated in his kit bag. What a hero.

  • Comment number 69.

    @67 Baggios...Germany played 3 games prior to their match with Greece against the likes of Holland,Portugal and Denmark and conceded how many goals in 270 minutes ?

    Well ?

    Greece scored a meaningless second goal at the end of the match from the penalty spot after they were 4-1 down so please don't exaggerate about the Germans having a wobbly defence !

    I would change the England defence for theirs every time and only Balotelli was ever going to score against them last night even though they had a few other dubious off-side opportunities on the break which didn't require saving anyway !

    Please pay more attention to detail and actual facts !

  • Comment number 70.

    29.At 09:44 29th Jun 2012, SleepingSpur wrote:
    "Balotelli is pure entertainment laced with classy moments. Pirlo is Italy's Paul Scholes, pure class.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Can some of us England fans/media stop this useless matrimony of players. Pirlo is Pirlo and currently an Italian national still playing for Italy, while Scholes is Scholes, a retired England international who gave up on his counrty for his club career. One player has a sence of national pride while the other has self preservation. Make your guess who is which

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 63 SupremeArkle

    Back in the 90's (English) pundits always used to say "you can never write off the Germans". It was very condescending because they had some great teams back then.

    This German team lack a leader. They play attractive, attacking football but there is no steel in their defence any more. The German teams I remember watching in the 90's were ruthless and did what was necessary to win.

    I'm sure they will be one of the favourites going into the World Cup but unless they sort out their defence and find a leader in the Matthaus and Ballack mould I can't see them winning it.

  • Comment number 72.

    Jorgi Loew should not have brought back Podolski or Gomes-soon as I saw he had,I got on Italy to win. They looked useless all tournament & Kroos has never ever impressed me for club or country.

    As for the Final, Italy have to shackle Iniesta, because he is still the man making things happen neat or in the opposition penalty area.

  • Comment number 73.

    @71 Baggios...see my reply @69 !

    I rest my case !

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 69 SupremeArkle

    The Germans conceded 2 goals in the group stage and were fortunate that Denmark were not given a penalty late in their match. Then 2 more against a very poor Greece team. I'm no fan of Johnson as a right back for England but have you seen the performances of Boateng at this tournament? Lahm aside the German defence looks distinctly average.

    The Germans have been talked up for a few years now but are a shadow of the teams I remember in the 90's and of course the truly great sides in the 70's.

  • Comment number 75.

    50.
    At 10:04 29th Jun 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    45.
    At 09:59 29th Jun 2012, King Red wrote:
    -------
    would have to agree there, it is like a father son relationship....so easy to forget he's only 21 though! I just hope he get's his act together so when he does go he'll command a stupid fee! bags of potential and he's starting to transform it in to performances.
    ..........On a different note I hated Neville with a passion as a player but i really dont have a bad word to say about him now...and not just because hes with engerand, he talks such sense and actually has a personality
    ==============================================================
    Most who dont support united hated him, it was part of his charm ;) Neville was a consistant player for united, never great but consistant. his loyalty and passion for the club was what made him who he is not his skill on the pitch. frankly football could use more like him, i can never remember him having contract trouble or talking about leaving. he's a future england manager in the making.

  • Comment number 76.

    Good Blog Phil, ignore the haters

    The brilliant box office eccentric Balotelli made this semi final worthwhile, that's what you want to see when you go to a match.

    No wonder that teenagers throughout the UK love Balotelli to bits no matter what team they support. I have proof in my household with my twin sons supporting United and Arsenal but their favourite player is Balotelli.

    Last night he showed everyone why, box office, charisma and sheer class

  • Comment number 77.

    55.
    At 10:11 29th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Both are certainly contenders for player of the comp, particularly pirlo. and to think pirlo went on a free! there is teams out there that would happily give 20+ million

  • Comment number 78.

    That result came as a bit of a surprise,but does anyone else think watching Germany last night was a bit like watching England?They were just not in it,lacking their normal 'self-assured' and were so hesitant.@52 'supremearkle' you are wrong to say Ballotelli was the only difference(though goals well taken)and the 'stats' you mention are a poor reflection.The truth is that anyone watching,who understands football,will realise that Italy completely controlled the game!

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 73 SupremeArkle

    Your case is pretty flawed. Conceding 6 goals in 5 matches is not going to win many tournaments. Unless this German team improve their defence I can not see them winning anything in the near future.

    I've realised that you were the chap on a previous blog arguing that the team who has most shots should win if scores are tied after extra time. You clearly don't seem to understand or appreciate the art of defending which is as important, if not more, than a potent attack.

  • Comment number 80.

    53.At 10:06 29th Jun 2012, Theres_something_about_joe wrote:
    46.
    At 09:59 29th Jun 2012, Richard wrote:


    Well done Mario.
    You could feel Hansen and Lawenson choking on their words of (forced) praise for the 21 year old.
    City fans have known you were the real deal since you came back from the sending off against Dynamo Kiev to win us the FA Cup in 2011 with a MOTM performance against Stoke in the final.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In fairness he had a very good game yesterday, but has still gone missing at times in the finals. He's the same for City. One good (or class) game doesn't all of a sudden mean that you are matured and a world class striker.

    --------------------------------------------

    #53, wll said: "One good (or class) game doesn't all of a sudden mean that you are matured and a world class striker."

    I hope yourself, pundits, media and other fans can say this about Rooney. Rember Mario is only 21, he is not by anyway a matured player in the game. I hope people can refrain their judgement on him until the next WC (if Italy qualifies) when at least he would be 23 (even though still young but with more league experience). Albeit, although still 21, he has achieved more than Rooney in international football by getting to the finals of a major tournament by not just being a member of the squad, but being the countries/tournament joint highest goal scorer which is a fact today. He is a player who gets silly cards, and so does Rooney who has had this all his career and also an older player.

    All said it was good to hear Hansen & Lawrenson choke on their words yesterday. All the managers that have worked closely with Mario and his teamates as well have mostly praise for him, and they all understand he is still very young. It beggers belief that the English media who only watch him on th telly like most of us and dont get to be around him on a daily basis are the ones coming out willl the negative comments. Such a shame

  • Comment number 81.

    @74 Baggios...exactly...Germany conceded 2 goals in 270 mins against stronger opposition than Italy faced at the same stage and Italy also conceded 2 goals...so your point is ?

    A78 hammer 1 I am not really sure what game you were watching but a team completely controls a game when they are creating the most chances and the other team are denied ANY scoring opportunities.....this was certainly not the case laast night and I repeat Balotelli WAS the difference on the night itself with 2 cracking goals !

    E.O.S

  • Comment number 82.

    I just do not understnad. Yesterday was completely embarrassing. Maybe we are destined never to beat Italy, the silence of the Crowd, what happened. This match was there- ready to be won, but the 1st half was a horrible rewind of the one against the Greeks. Only against a strangely fired up Italy. We needed to block the ' bogey-ness ' thoughts from our mind, but it didn't quite happen.

    So complacent, we seemed so slow, like we were scared? And we had 2-3 personnel that could dominate midfield, yet for that awful 20 minutes where was this?! Our full backs, what happened here also? Yet we just needed to rise to the occasion as Italy did and it happened much too late. Simple goals from elementary defensive errors, and great look who managed to score. Twice. Great.

    I felt so sorry for Jurgen yesterday, his face told everything. But he said there is always hope with our squad, and I and many fans will always agree. I was not quite sure what to think, but after many drinks and some warming words from our embarrassed yet still proud squad I feel maybe a little more comfort. We created chances nonetheless, we played well towards the end (sigh*), and on other days Reus' valiant efforts would have gone the correct side of the goal frame.

    We must gather ourselves. A big prize is lost, but the squad is talented and young and we have continued to demonstrate how our system accommodates mew talents with ease. We must learn how to mentally approach the biggest matches correctly and never be so complacent, and show real urgency in every game. Defence also needs testing where certain players were at fault, but I never begrudge they always wear our shirt with pride- they can improve. And we will return! This was one prize- but Brazil2014 will be a far more gratifying scoop. The World stage and to do it on their ground is all the more motivational we need.

  • Comment number 83.

    Well written Avonns...I agree entirely.... though do you agree that Balotelli playing for Germany would have seen a different outcome on the night ?

  • Comment number 84.

    70.
    At 10:27 29th Jun 2012, b223dy wrote:

    29.At 09:44 29th Jun 2012, SleepingSpur wrote:
    "Balotelli is pure entertainment laced with classy moments. Pirlo is Italy's Paul Scholes, pure class.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Can some of us England fans/media stop this useless matrimony of players. Pirlo is Pirlo and currently an Italian national still playing for Italy, while Scholes is Scholes, a retired England international who gave up on his counrty for his club career. One player has a sence of national pride while the other has self preservation. Make your guess who is which
    -----------------------------------------------------
    still scholes even though retired is england best mid feilder

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 81 SupremeArkle

    Sorry but to be blunt you are talking nonsense. Both groups were tough but as Spain are in the final that would suggests that Group C was the toughest.

    In the knockout stage Germany have conceded 4 goals and Italy just 1. That says everything really.

    Also what is this E.O.S that you seem to put at the end of each comment?

  • Comment number 86.

    82

    Avonns, as I said earlier. Lahm was non-existenet in Italy's half during the first 45 minutes. Most unlike him.

  • Comment number 87.

    84 King Red

    "still scholes even though retired is england best mid feilder"

    Can we stop with this United phish already.

  • Comment number 88.

    Most understimate player of italy team is Marchisio, for me one of the best midfielder out there.

    look at goal numer 6 he tried same trick yesterday with germanY.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ-wULDUsEk&feature=related

  • Comment number 89.

    80.
    At 10:51 29th Jun 2012, b223dy wrote:


    53.At 10:06 29th Jun 2012, Theres_something_about_joe wrote:
    46.
    At 09:59 29th Jun 2012, Richard wrote:


    Well done Mario.
    You could feel Hansen and Lawenson choking on their words of (forced) praise for the 21 year old.
    City fans have known you were the real deal since you came back from the sending off against Dynamo Kiev to win us the FA Cup in 2011 with a MOTM performance against Stoke in the final.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In fairness he had a very good game yesterday, but has still gone missing at times in the finals. He's the same for City. One good (or class) game doesn't all of a sudden mean that you are matured and a world class striker.

    --------------------------------------------

    #53, wll said: "One good (or class) game doesn't all of a sudden mean that you are matured and a world class striker."

    I hope yourself, pundits, media and other fans can say this about Rooney. Rember Mario is only 21, he is not by anyway a matured player in the game. I hope people can refrain their judgement on him until the next WC (if Italy qualifies) when at least he would be 23 (even though still young but with more league experience). Albeit, although still 21, he has achieved more than Rooney in international football by getting to the finals of a major tournament by not just being a member of the squad, but being the countries/tournament joint highest goal scorer which is a fact today. He is a player who gets silly cards, and so does Rooney who has had this all his career and also an older player.

    All said it was good to hear Hansen & Lawrenson choke on their words yesterday. All the managers that have worked closely with Mario and his teamates as well have mostly praise for him, and they all understand he is still very young. It beggers belief that the English media who only watch him on th telly like most of us and dont get to be around him on a daily basis are the ones coming out willl the negative comments. Such a shame
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What's Rooney got to do with this? He's been consitently vital for Utd and Ballotelli has had one mixed season for his club. All I said was this doesn't mean he is world class yet. He's always shown some potential and this hasn't changed and I don't think anyone has written his footballing ability.

    Mourinho said he couldn't work with lad. For City he has been troublesome, which hasn't been some media conspiracy but a reflection of his actions on and off the pitch, it's not just his odd yellow card. If he could be like last night consistently for City, he would be well worth it, but this season, his performances didn't offset his problems

  • Comment number 90.

    87.
    At 11:05 29th Jun 2012, derwaldmann - 22-01-2011 wrote:

    84 King Red

    "still scholes even though retired is england best mid feilder"

    Can we stop with this United phish already.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    haha i walked into that one, but come on he gave scholes no credit.

  • Comment number 91.

    88

    I think if you look through last night's performances, you'd do well to find an Italian who didn't have a good game. Barzagli was outstanding too

  • Comment number 92.

    @79 baggiosponytail
    I agree mate,supremearkle has some 'peculiar' ideas,and generally talks tosh.He's been watching Sheffield Utd too long!!(pun intended!!)

  • Comment number 93.

    One day someone will explain to McNulty that football is a team game. Italy's best player last night was probably Montolivo, but it was a fine team performance, with their shape and their commitment easily managing to make a decent Germany team look ordinary. Not that Germany were helped by Schweinsteiger and Ozil having off-days and Low getting his tactics hopelessly wrong, of course.

  • Comment number 94.

    This is the reason why I'm angry about England's negativity against Italy. Italy's defence isn't what it used to be and they are one of the poorest Italy teams I've seen but they went and attacked Germany.
    Germany cruised through their group as nobody went out and attacked their inexperienced defence. Italy were there for the taking the other night and all we needed was a brave manager to say 'right, just go at them for 90 mins and do not sit back'.

  • Comment number 95.

    82.
    At 10:52 29th Jun 2012, Avonns wrote:


    I just do not understnad. Yesterday was completely embarrassing. Maybe we are destined never to beat Italy, the silence of the Crowd, what happened. This match was there- ready to be won, but the 1st half was a horrible rewind of the one against the Greeks. Only against a strangely fired up Italy. We needed to block the ' bogey-ness ' thoughts from our mind, but it didn't quite happen.

    So complacent, we seemed so slow, like we were scared? And we had 2-3 personnel that could dominate midfield, yet for that awful 20 minutes where was this?! Our full backs, what happened here also? Yet we just needed to rise to the occasion as Italy did and it happened much too late. Simple goals from elementary defensive errors, and great look who managed to score. Twice. Great.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Complacency sums it up, they didn't give enough respect to times at Italy and seemed to be switched off for periods, like they were towards the end of the game against Holland.

    I think you can still be pleased though, it was a poor performance at the wrong time, but it happens and as you say, there are still a lot of top players in the Germany side. I don't think they need to change much, other than maybe start out a little more cautious against the big sides

  • Comment number 96.

    Some errors in the post, sorry but thanks =] Drinks maybe haven't quite worn off ,]

    I wish I could throw a big hot pizza at his face, but, xD I joke. Was a crazy mess of emotion yesterday, I didn't know what to think! That this man who's talent came good on the night and that I thanked endlessly when his last ditched effort to Aguero produced one of the EPLs best moments? And now he's destroying my team??

    I've never been a Ballo-hater though. Just that we didn't know Pirlo-Ballotelli could work so well. And our defence so badly! But he only did himself good last night, a real show of how he played his role in the National side so well. The neutral in me? I'm proud of him. But still, where's that hot pizza? With extra jalapeno chillis?

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 82 Avonns

    Unfortunately this German team is not balanced. They have many attacking minded players with flair. The fact that Gotze, a really promising talent, has hardly played in the tournament shows the strength in depth in that area. Their problem is in defence, Boateng is not good enough and there is no leader on the pitch.

  • Comment number 98.

    94.
    At 11:11 29th Jun 2012, Reinasbaldhead wrote:


    This is the reason why I'm angry about England's negativity against Italy. Italy's defence isn't what it used to be and they are one of the poorest Italy teams I've seen but they went and attacked Germany.
    Germany cruised through their group as nobody went out and attacked their inexperienced defence. Italy were there for the taking the other night and all we needed was a brave manager to say 'right, just go at them for 90 mins and do not sit back'.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I agree with you, on paper, that this is not the best Italy side but maybe it is another case of the whole being greater. The set up extremely well and every player seems to be in the position they are most suited to.

    Problem with England was that it seems as though we don't have the right attacking players in midfield, or the right tactics to get at another teams defence

  • Comment number 99.

    @95

    Ye, it's going to be hard in Brazil in 2 years but somehow we just have to rise to it again. It's the real big games that faze the young players but they should've learned a lesson now. It carry's more credit though, so much more incentive! Hopefully, Goetze and 1-2 upcoming full-backs will have some more 'live' practice during the upcoming WC qualifiers to add further options.

  • Comment number 100.

    90

    King Red,

    The sensationalism in British Sports media winds me up.

    2 examples

    1. Before the Euros, Italy were a team of 'honest' pros who didn't have enough talent to win it. Pirlo was a good player a few years ago, but now he past it. All of a sudden, Italy are the most cohesive team in the tournament and Pirlo is a world beater (which he is), but the media's U-turns are more numerous than the governments.

    2. Not football related but a good example of sensationalism in sports media. Yesterday the sports girl on breakfast news was interviewing Richard Kraijcek at Wimbledon. Her first question of course was 'how will Andy Murray do?' Kraijcek replied quite rightly that Murray can win it (of course he can, anyone can) to which the stunned journo turned to the camera and said "well you heard it here first, Andy Murray is going to win Wimbledon"

    For the love of God!

 

Page 1 of 5

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.