By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
For FOX Deportes
It wasn’t just the fact that Germany lost to Italy.
It wasn’t just the fact that Germany looked out of sync for the first time in the entire tournament.
It wasn’t just the fact that Germany once again lost to an Italian side again for the seventh consecutive time, that the Germans were on a 15-match winning streak in international competitions, and that they were in their fourth straight semifinals match at a major tournament. Nope, it was even more than that.
It was the fact that the one person they couldn’t afford to beat them, and he beat them twice. He pulled off his shirt in utter defiance, and single-handedly took ownership over the “man of the tournament” title with two sweeps of the leg.
That man, is Mario Barwuah Balotelli, and his team is one more win away from being on top of the European football mountaintop.
Lets be clear about something right now. Those two goals he scored versus Germany were simply phenomenal. With the group of folks I was watching the game with on Thursday, the dialogue I could hear was pretty much the same. “Man, he’s supremely talented, but man he’s crazy and a lunatic.”
Oh, to be of a life of those that understand who you are. No, I’m not going to chastise about race, class, privilege, or anything else that defines who we are from a socio-economic perspective. However, it is somewhat appalling to hear people continually make these references about a black man who was raised as a foster child and was raised in Italy of all places. This is Balotelli. You either are going to have to appreciate the man for who he is, or continue to be befuddled at the fact of someone people feel is “crazy” is just that damned good.
So yes, his performance in the semifinal won’t be reflected by the majority about just his phenomenal goals, how his talent is so incremental to Italy that no one else on their entire side can come close to providing what he does, and he still rocks that egregious haircut. Nope, folks will say, “why did he take his shirt off and look crazily into the distance?” That wasn’t even a celebration, it looked more like a defiant child that was told he couldn’t make it, then he did. Like Tupac screaming, “Me Against The World!”
Germany paid the price on Thursday, and Spain better come correct in the final, or Balotelli and the Azzurri could just have the last laugh one more time.