With a header and a very well directed shot, Balotelli seems to have been the positive hero this time, as he was undeniably the man of the match by scoring 2 goals. The Euro 2012 has experienced lots of racist chanting, with UEFA fining several football associations, among which the Russian one, which was made to pay more than $43,000. Consequently, Russia is probably going to have six points deducted from the Euro 2016 in the qualifying round.
Before the group stage began, Balotelli was very firm in declaring that, should he hear any monkey chants, he would boycott the Euro by leaving the pitch. The chants were heard, but he did not leave. And he proceeded very well, because he went against the grain by behaving in a very mature way throughout the five matches he’s played so far. And being so consistent probably made him even sharper and more threatening in this game.
Obviously, if other Italian players didn’t stand out like Balotelli did, that doesn’t mean that Pirlo or Cassano have been less than world-class footballers. Pirlo’s stamina and dribbling skills made the 32-year-old player look like 10 years younger. But that’s not very surprising, given that the experienced playmaker is known to deliver unbelievably accurate crosses and to possess great vision in the game.
Germany, on the other hand, seemed to be for a short period of time in control of the game, when a few blunders at the beginning of the match made by the Italian defense almost ended up in an own goal. However, paradoxically enough, Italy attacked the entire game, rejecting the typical accusations of being excessively defensive. They showed that they are a completely different team from the one led by players such as Inzaghi and Maldini 10 years ago.
Only in the end did Italy seem under real threat from Germany when Özil converted a penalty. The German’s hopes, however, were crushed just 2 minutes later when the referee blew his whistle. Italy’s next opponents Spain, appear to be rather undeserving of reaching the final, after a penalty shootout led them to a victory over a very strong Portugal. Their style of game has been very dull so far, from the first to the last match. One might easily infer, as so often happens in football, that this is going to be most fitting and pragmatic style for winning an otherwise extremely entertaining Euro 2012.
Featured image from Euro 2012 Facebook page