Italy has a superior weapon who can defeat any opponent in the Confederations Cup with just a single play: Mario Balotelli.
In addition to a very balanced and talented collective including the lethal striker tandem of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy, just Balotelli himself is a freak of nature whose superior athleticism is matched by his technical ability, aggressiveness, bravado, and coolness in front of goal.
While Italy’s overall skill level and teamwork make them a Confederations Cup favorite, even against Spain and Brazil, the wild card Italy has is Mario Balotelli.
Quite simply, Balotelli is impossible to defend when he is focused and fired up for a game. The problem with defending a focused Balotelli is that he’s stronger, faster, better, taller, and craftier than anyone who will face him, even Thiago Silva.
If an opponent tries to muscle Balotelli off the ball, Balotelli is stronger. If an opponent tries to mark Balotelli too closely, he will simply beat them with tricks or speed or both. If an opponent gives Balotelli too much space, he’s literally capable of scoring from 45 yards out or deeper, depending on where the goalkeeper is, or he will simply sprint at the defender and easily round him.
Balotelli needs to focus on keeping his focus, so that incorrect calls, fouls by the opposition, a mistake, or a poorly played pass to him have no real lasting significance because the games present 90 minutes where Balotelli can continue to attack, break down defenses, set up his teammates, and draw several defenders away from his teammates over and over again throughout the game.
Super Mario needs to forget about a single moment of frustration because his gifts and skills allow him to continue to create chances for himself and impact the game for the entire 90 minutes, as opposed to letting one let down distract his focus from continuing to play with purpose, magic, and fire.
If StraordiMario Balotelli can quickly forget about instances of frustration, then Italy’s combination of skilled players at every position who play as a team can have a first-striker up top who allows them to beat any opponent at any time with just a single moment of brilliance, power, athleticism, or all three.
Italy comes into the Confederations Cup with Gigi Buffon in goal, Ignazio Abate at right back, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci at center back, Giorgio Chiellini at left back, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Claudio Marchisio, and Riccardo Montolivo in the midfield, Stephan El Shaarawy at second striker, and Mario Balotelli at first-striker.
The Starting XI for gli Azzurri come from Juventus, AC Milan, and Roma, and the substitutes are very dangerous players as well. In particular, Sebastian Giovinco and Mattia De Sciglio are dangerous substitutes.
While there were some omissions like Angelo Ogbonna and perhaps Antonio Nocerino, la Nazionale is nevertheless a stacked team that plays well together. Additonally, it’s worth noting that Marco Verratti is participating in the Under-21 European Championship, but Italy still has a very talented and proven group of players.
Italy’s Starting XI are talented, experienced, and used to playing together, and this fact alone makes them one of The Confederations Cup favorites.
On top of Italy’s strong collection of players at every position, Balotelli gives them a player with a physique and athleticism never seen before in world soccer whose talent and ability to deliver in big games match his athleticism.
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© Colin Reese