Euro 2012: Balotelli brace sees Italy knock off Germany, advance to final

Mario Balotelli (Getty Images)

Mario Balotelli silenced some of his critics on Thursday, scoring a pair of goals that booked Italy's place in the Euro 2012 final while defeating tournament favorites Germany.

Italy upset the Germans, 2-1, on Thursday courtesy of a first-half Balotelli brace. Balotelli thundered home a header in the 20th minute following some poor defending, and he scored the eventual winner 16 minutes later in spectacular fashion.

The result means Italy will take on Spain in the tournament final on July 1 in Kiev in a battle of the last two World Cup winners. The two nations met in the group stage of the tournament, playing to a 1-1 tie in Group C on June 10. Antonio Di Natale and Cesc Fabregas scored the goals on that day.

The Germans struggled to beat Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who enjoyed another strong performance in the tournament after a shaky opening 15 minutes. In fact, Buffon was one his way to recorindg a cleansheet until Mesut Ozil converted a penalty kick in second half stoppage time.

Balotelli was the Italian hero, however. The controversial forward scored his second goal of the tournament and the game's opener on a headed effort that beat Manuel Neuer 20 minutes in.

Balotelli again beat Neuer in the 36th minute by beating an offside trap, racing in on goal and unleashing a rocket into the top corner that Neuer did not even attempt to stop.

Even after inserting Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose at halftime, the Germans were unable to respond until a penalty kick was given in the second minute of stoppage time.


What do you think of Italy's 2-1 win over Germany? Surprised by how poor the Germans played? Think the Italians can beat Spain?

Share your thoughts below.

  • DCD

    US players playing for Germany? Yikes. Let’s not get carried away. What do you think the Germans might have thought about our performance in the Gold Cup, or against Canada?

    The fact remains, however, that the Germans are thin at striker and at one full back spot. The US obviously has zero to offer at striker at this point. (Please no one suggest the Germans could use Terrence Boyd.) Lahm is among the best in the world, but Boateng is essentially playing out of position out wide, Schmelzer is good, but probably a product of Juergen Klopp’s Dortmund system, and there aren’t many other options. This is why Chandler held back, and why even Fab Johnson could have been in the mix (In the future, however, maybe not even for 2014, but beyond, remember the name Julian Koch.) They could hardly waltz into the squad, but the Germans are a bit thin at their position.

    As for Loew, he did indeed make a lot of mistakes. Generally, he looks terrible for leaving the two most dynamic attacking midfielders in the Bundesliga on the bench (Reus and Goetze). It’s not really fair to criticize him for benching the latter, however, as the timing was a bit unfortunate: Goetze essentially missed the entire second half of the season with a stress reaction in his (ahem) pubic bone, the same injury that cost Arjen Robben quite a bit of time.

    LArgely thanks to that injury, though his domestic form wasn’t great, Andre Schuerrle, not Goetze, should probably have started in place of Podolski, and Reus in place of the ineffectual Thomas Mueller, who has fallen very fast at Bayern as well as in the national team setup, and may find himself on the bench in the coming BL season. Loew may have hurt himself by showing the world exactly how good these players could be against Greece. After making that change and seeing it succeed, he really should not have made a reactionary move and changed his formation out of fear of Italy’s midfield. As it turned, out that midfield owned them, anyway.

    The center backs also were shaky as a pairing, but until yesterday, when he had one very poor moment against Cassano, Mats Hummels was among the stars of the tournament. Badstueber’s positioning is often undesirable, but he is talented and is naturally left-footed. As has been pointed out elsewhere, if these two had played together more regularly and Loew had not insisted on running cement-footed Per Mertesaacker out with Badstueber, the communication could have been better.

    Lastly, going with Gomez over Klose was probably an error, but it was exacerbated by playing midfielders/attackers like Podolski who contributed nothing. Gomez is a poacher and a clinical finisher when on his game, and it showed at times in this tournament, but he was maddeningly inconsistent. Klose was probably the better choice, and in the future, they need a more mobile, modern striker to go with their dynamic attackers.

    Speaking of the latter, the criticism will be deafening if he doesn’t find a way to get Goetze and Reus involved in World Cup qualifying. They are miles ahead of Podolski and Mueller already. You can’t stash away two of the best young talents in Europe on your bench and expect to compete with the world’s top teams. That crosses the line from loyalty to arrogance. (And, as you point out, leaving them on the bench will absolutely enrage the Dortmund supporters. Good times!)


  • DCD

    If you think the goals were solely attributable to Hummels and Badstueber, I think you’re looking in too narrow a window. Why was Hummels way out on a wing (with two other German players standing around in terrible positions)? Who was supposed to be covering for them when they advanced for the second goal? It’s a team game. Hummels looked like a fool on the Cassano play, but he was covering for Boateng and had to leave Badstueber isolated in the middle because of it. Great pass by Pirlo started the whole sequence. Who was pressuring him?


  • biff

    Very nice and informative read, DCD. Just a couple of comments.

    * I agree Lahm is world-class on the offensive side of the fullback coin, but he is prone to disastrous defensively lapses like last night. The German defense in Euro 2012 was awful (6 goals in 5 games, Spain = 1 goal) and I am not sure Lahm is the WC 2014 answer.

    * Muller on the bench is not only a risk in the coming season, he rode the bench quite a bit in the second half of last season.

    * yesterday, I truly expected Low to start Klose on top, with Gotze on the left, Ozil in the middle, and Reus on the right, anchored by either Khedira/Schweinsteiger or Kherira/Kroos as d-mids. (Kroos proved last season he is a good DM, but how in the world Low thought he could switch to right wing against Italy I will never understand.) And then I thought Low might bench Boateng after his awful game against Greece and go with Lars Bender.

    Stories are erupting in the German press today that Schweinsteiger was actually still not 100% healthy after injuries and Low should have never started him. Low maintains that even a less than optimal Schweine is still the “emotional leader” of the team and that he wanted him on the field 100% or not.


  • August Spies

    Is Balotelli’s hair cut designed to make him look like a Hostess Cup Cake or a skunk?


  • biff

    Not a snowball’s chance in heck that the German football association will fire Jogi Low. The only way Low will not be coach in WC2014 is if he steps down and I would be very surprised to see that happen. The key question now is whether he will learn from his painful screw-up yesterday (linked to his long-term flawed fixations on FC Bayern and his personal favorites). And, make no mistake, yesterday he screwed up bad. I think he was so thrilled with the success of his “surprise” line-up against Greece and subsequent media adulation, that he bought into the hype, you know, the Midas touch and felt he could field any line-up against Italy and still on Sunday be facing Spain, which, ironically, after being beat by Spain in EC 2008 final and WC 2010 semi-final, had been the 100% prime tactical planning focus for weeks. Oh, well, maybe in 2014–unless, of course, Klinnsman and our guys kick Germany out the tournament first :-)


  • beachbum

    of course, but if no one is there to put them away, who cares? in fact, that is often the case, with a brilliant unlocking ball and then a blast into row 25 or something of that nature

    Balotelli deserves the credit he earned with his goals, and Cassano and Montelivo were brilliant too, but Balotelli, in that game, was the difference maker, expecially the second goal. wow!


  • HoboMike

    As we saw in the Chelsea/Barcelona Champions League tie, it does not. I still cannot believe Llorente hasn’t seen a whiff of the field.

    Although, Italy has proven itself to be much more than a bunker/counter team. They have almost gained my respect.


    Go Spain.


  • Bob

    You do realize that “borderline” can also be used as an adjective meaning “close but not quite”?


  • H.P. Drifter

    Wrong on one part. Badstuber was not part of the offside trap on Balotelli scored on. It was Lahm and Podolski. Podolski was covering the back for the corner, and Hummels and Badstuber were both forward for the corner and did not/could not get back when Italy countered. Lahm was at fault, sure, but Podolski … oh my god, he did not have a clue what to do back there. Don’t blame Badstuber.


  • ThisGirl

    I said, “Look at the pictre. You can see Balotelli’s penis.” Franco must have gotten jelly belly and deleted it :0


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