Mario Balotelli is well known for his attitude problems and lack of effort during football matches. When Liverpool signed the Italian in the summer transfer window, everyone knew it was going to be a gamble, would Mario play well for Liverpool or would he refuse to provide a pressing style of play? Throughout the season LFC fans have been wondering whether Mario Balotelli would ever begin to chase the ball and put any effort in whatsoever, and I think it is fair to say in recent performances Balotelli has changed his ways in terms of chasing the ball and beginning to press.
Last week’s match against Spurs was quite an intense affair. The football played in the game was that of a fast tempo, with the ball being played extremely quickly in both halves of the pitch. The game seemed like it would end up in stalemate, but as Mario Balotelli came onto the pitch as a substitute that presumption was put to shame.
It seemed as if Balotelli wanted to actually play for once. He was constantly chasing the ball and pressing the opposition like Brendan Rodgers has wanted him to do all season. Throughout the game Balotelli was conveying elements of both pace and movement, making deadly runs behind Spurs’ defence, which contained the lightning-fast Kyle Walker, which was even more of a task for the Italian.
It has been stated on multiple of occasions by a large amount of people that Liverpool was Balotelli’s last chance of success within his footballing career, as his attitude and discipline problems have been causing a major concern throughout his career, as he has picked up 51 yellow cards and 4 red cards. For a striker, these statistics are absolutely appalling. However, at his time at Liverpool, Mario has only picked up 4 yellow cards, which is decent considering his overall record.
In the FA Cup tie against Crystal Palace, Liverpool were trailing 1-0 at half-time. The Reds were dominating in possession, but after an early goal from Palace, the London club just parked the bus. At half-time, Mario Balotelli was brought on for Lazar Markovic, who hadn’t had the best of games in all fairness. Again, Balotelli was chasing and pressing from the minute he came onto the pitch. This became evident to the fans when Balotelli won a free kick. He beat the wall, but couldn’t beat the in-form keeper Julian Speroni. However, Adam Lallana managed to get the rebound and put the Reds 2-1 up after a superb Daniel Sturridge volley. Balotelli was joyful that his team mate put the reds in front as he looked exceptionally happy as he celebrated with the rest of the team.
The Europa League Round of 32 clash against Besiktas, from a Liverpool supporters’ perspective, was boring. Not many chances were being created, and the game seemed to be ending in a draw as Adam Lallana missed an open goal. Balotelli came on as a substitute for Philippe Coutinho, and again, he performed well. Although he didn’t score from open play, Balotelli carried on his very impressive penalty record of 27 goals out of 29 penalties scored, despite a little controversial encounter between Balotelli, Sturridge and Henderson over who should take the penalty. Balotelli cleverly sent the keeper the wrong way, slotting the ball to the keepers right and putting the Reds 1-0 up.
If Balotelli keeps showing this level of passion and desire to win the ball, he will get his career back on track and become a fan-favourite at Liverpool Football Club. We all know he has immense ability, he just needs to keep up this level of determination and he will be a world-class player in the making.