Friday Kickoff: Balotelli helps Italy come back vs. Brazil; Van Persie calls out UEFA; and more

Friday Kickoff: Balotelli helps Italy come back vs. Brazil; Van Persie calls out UEFA; and more

South American Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Balotelli helps Italy come back vs. Brazil; Van Persie calls out UEFA; and more

BalotelliItaly1 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

When Mario Balotelli is playing, you never know what’s going to happen.

Italy and Brazil kicked off the upcoming string of international matches with a bang, finishing the game with a scoreline of 2-2 at the Stade de Geneve in Geneva, Switzerland. Balotelli scored a beauty for a game-tying goal in the 56th minute, completing a comeback for his country after being down two goals before halftime.

Brazil opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, when Fred, earning a recall to the national team, scored on a deflected cross. The Selecao followed with their second, when Oscar expertly scored into the far corner with the outside of his right foot, giving the Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon no chance to make a save.

But the Italians were able to stay in the game thanks to the play of Balotelli and midfielders Emanuele Giaccherini and Daniele De Rossi. It was De Rossi who cut the deficit in half, getting his boot on a deflected corner kick, before Balotelli completed the comeback two minutes later with a spectacular curling effort.

Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:

VAN PERSIE CALLS UEFA COWARDS

Manchester United forward Robin Van Persie has clearly not forgotten how his side were bounced from the Champions League earlier this month, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid.

Speaking about the red card awarded to Van Persie’s teammate Nani by referee Cuneyt Cakir, which changed the tide of the match, the Holland international affirmed his belief that it wasn’t a red card challenge, even going as far as to say that Nani barely touched Alvaro Arbeloa.

“The worst thing is that UEFA supports Cakir,” Van Persie told The Telegraph. “That’s cowardly, because I really don’t understand it.”

Nani and Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson will find out today from UEFA if they will be punished for their actions during the 2-1 loss to Madrid.

GERMANY CONSIDER PLAYING WITH NO STRIKERS

Due to injuries and poor form, the German national team is left with just one striker, Mario Gomez, for their home-and-home matchup against Kazakhstan.

The Bayern Munich forward is hardly starting on a regular basis at the club level, leaving Germany coach Joachim Löw to consider adopting the Spain national team approach, and playing with no recognizable forward, or a “false nine” formation.

Löw has plenty of options in midfield to choose from, with Marco Reus, Thomas Müller, Mario Götze, and Lukas Podolski all able to move into the forward areas out of the middle of the field.

SIMEONE CONFIDENT OF REPLACING FALCAO

Atletico Madrid is no stranger to losing top forwards over the last few years. In 2007, Fernando Torres left the club to go to Liverpool. Replacing him in the Vicente Calderon was Sergio Aguero, who left in 2011 for Manchester City.

Now, Radamel Falcao is the flavor of the month in world soccer, with media speculation of his departure growing day by day. His manager, Diego Simeone, isn’t worried about the state of the club if he leaves, saying he is confident that the club can replace Falcao.

The Colombian forward has absolutely been on fire the last two seasons in La Liga, scoring 45 goals in the last two years combined. Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Paris Saint-Germain have all been rumored to bid for the 27-year-old once the summer transfer window opens.

QUICK KICKS

Lionel Messi is proud of the new Pope, Francis I, and would like to meet him someday. (REPORT)

AS Monaco face the possibility of expulsion from the French league system if they do not comply with French tax laws. (REPORT)

Kevin Prince-Boateng believes that racist players should never be able to play for club or country again. (REPORT)

Gus Poyet has turned down the Reading job to stay at Brighton and Hove Albion. (REPORT)

Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo talks up his chances of moving to England this summer, putting clubs on alert. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you believe Balotelli is on his best form with the national team? Do you see Van Persie being fined for his comments? Do you believe Atletico Madrid can replace Falcao?

Share your thoughts below.

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