This was the day Mario Balotelli showed what he is capable of !
Heavy favorites Germany
Heading into the Euro 2012 semifinal, Germany were hot favorites against Italy. This was supposed to be the year in which the talented German kids finally win something. The likes of Muller, Ozil and Kroos were supplemented by the experience of Schweinstiger and Lahm. Neuer was blossoming into one of the best goal keepers in the world.
On the other hand, this was an Italian team which was heavy on experience but lacking in match winners. Andrea Pirlo was at his majestic best but Italy were dependent on the inconsistent Balotelli and Cassano up front to come up with the goals.
It was supposed to be an easy German win. But then Balotelli happened.
Oh what a goal….Balotelli !
Mario Balotelli may not have had the career that many expected but on this day, he was the hero for Italy as he scored two first half goals to set Italy on their way to the final.
The first was a towering header after some good work on the left flank from Cassano. The second was a bullet shot that left Neuer hopelessly stranded. And then of course there was one of his famous celebrations when he took his short off and stood still like terminator.
Germany were able to pull one back through a Mesut Ozil penalty ( Yeah ! He used to score penalties once upon a time) but by and large Italy remained quite comfortable. Italy headed into a final showdown with Spain.
Germany had choked on the big stage. Questions were now being asked about whether or not this German team could actually go on and win things on the international stage.
And Mario Balotelli was tipped to finally realize his undeniable potential.
But that was four years ago…