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What If Messi – Not Balotelli – Had Tried That Back-Heel?

What if Messi, and not Balotelli, had attempted that back-heel?

Branded a brat, disgrace, and names much worse by many quarters of the football world, it seems Manchester City’s 20 year old Mario Balotelli cannot get anything right. In his most recent controversial incident, the mercurial striker was hauled off immediately after attempting an audacious back-heel in the last match of the ever so important Herbalife World Football Challenge match against the LA Galaxy, after scoring from the spot earlier in the half.

The substitution took place in the 32nd minute of the match, and Balotelli exchanged words with Man City manger Roberto Mancini before taking his place on the bench, and failing to come back out after the first half. Balotelli has never been far from the spotlight and criticism, and given his past, it would seems his reputation is almost beyond repair even at such a young age, with this another mark on his record. Because, to many, an attempted back-heel in a pre-season friendly might be seen as immature, at the most.

If fellow City team mates Edin Dzeko or Shaun Wright-Phillips would have attempted it, it would likely not have been anywhere near as covered and condemned as it has been. In fact, what would the reaction be if Lionel Messi attempted it, or another Barcelona player? Would he be praised for his creativity and love of the game, with the same old cliches bandied about regarding the “Barcelona way,” La Masia, “mas que un club,” total football, etc?

Even with the attempt ending up off-target like Balotelli’s, the little Argentine would likely be praised and saluted for his unique skill and artistic license with the ball, rather than having questions about his professionalism and maturity raised; a model for the youth to enjoy football and play beautiful.

So why is Balotelli judged so much more harshly? This is not to in any way defend Mario Balotelli for previous actions, or to make a definitive statement on his personal character and his flaws or lack thereof. Rather, football fans should take this most recent “incident” and put it more into a rational, unbiased perspective. With no preconceived notions of the player, the action in itself is barely noteworthy, certainly not front page news on the world’s major football media tabloids and websites. But it seems Balotelli, rightly or wrongly, has been labelled the ever-troublesome problem child yet again. Here is the incident if you haven’t seen it:




  1. ryan

    July 27, 2011 at 4:37 am

    messi or any other player wouldnt atempt anything so stupid when the score was only 1-0 in the favour it wouldnt be so bad if they were up by 4 or more

  2. Rahim

    July 27, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Personally I don’t have problem with mario trying such thing…But the truth of the matter is if u r doing such thing in a game for the love of soccer score it! comparing him to messi is non sense ppl! The love messi has for soccer will not allow him to do such a thing in any game. If have to say he made a bad choice. It is a disrespect to his team, his mates, the opposition, his coach and most of all football for trying such thing and not scoring it. He needs to be a professional, it’s true and grow up!

  3. Ali

    July 27, 2011 at 6:41 am

    The FC Barcelona way is not about showing off or a supremacy mentality it is a kind of soccer you can see its effectiveness and beauty on the pitch and FC Barcelona players take almost every game seriously. I see a lot of attacking and criticism against FC Barcelona and quite honest I don’t understand the what is the logical reason behind it!! They are working hard and winning and showing the world some beautiful games, I wish all the luck.

  4. Reza

    July 27, 2011 at 7:04 am

    How many times have you seen a star player doing such mockery?–never. Even Ronaldo(if not best but a great player nonetheless) nowadays trying not to show off. Because in the end, it is not clinical, efficient enough to win. When we talk about barcelona or messi, we point to the fact that they are efficient and fluid.

  5. Attakorah nyamekye

    July 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Barotelli must learn how to control that annoying confidence in him.must he always be in the newz for awful reasons?it is said that even the devil do have sober moments.mario shd turn over a new leaf.thank you.

  6. sebas

    July 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

    A professional playrer like him shoud not make such a trick when he is not confident enough to score,if the ball go in ,it will be a different case.that is y u never see messi do such a trick when he is not confident.

  7. Jeremiah

    July 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Mario’s previous attitude and actions are the very reason this was an action requiring discipline. Actions never stand isolated, they are taken in context with one’s entire character. Though not the worst incident, the coach obviously felt this showboating was, again, bucking against his vision and direction for the team.

  8. john

    July 27, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    get to! you cant just create an article stating “what if ” and then decided on how people would have reacted. If you had some sort of incident in mind where messi done such a thing and everyone praised him or something then some of this could be valid but you cant just say “everyone would have praised messi if he done it” becuase 1) dont insult people by telling us how we would react and 2) barcelona and messi receive the plaudits thrown at them because they play great football and dont do stupid shit and its quite stupid to act like its cliche to praise them the way they get praised as if its not deserved.

  9. steen

    July 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    for flips sake guys its a friendly match, it does not mean anything. Football is about having fun, and Mario although controversial he may be had every right to perform that trick to entertain the crowd. Its not like he would do that in a match that meant significance.

  10. Ryan

    July 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    First off,Messi doesnt USUALLY try to do showboaty stuff, and secondly, while CR7 does do plenty of that stuff, he probably would have scored the backheal that Balotelli failed to do. The problem isnt that it was balotelli trying to be a showoff, it was that he missed. Honestly if you have the confidence to try something like that backheel have the ability/form to back it up

  11. Uel

    July 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    The main problem wasn’t them trying a trick shot it was that it wasn’t trying anything at all, he thought he was offside but was misunderstanded by Mancini as a complete lack of effort from a scoring chance. Body language didn’t help. Mancini bringing him off wouldn’t have taught Mario anything because he just made a mistake, so all round stupidity.

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