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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. Danny

    July 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Never mind, we’ve seen all sorts of disrespect from these so called opportunistic managers. I bet he wouldn’t have confronted Barry nor the keepker (what’s is name again?)

    To rub salt uopn injury, a certain James Milner was also condemning him. What a rush!

  2. mohammed cfc

    July 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm


  3. Coolaid

    July 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    The thing is, the others wouldn’t even try it. Thus, the question if Messi or others would be treated differently is irrelevant. Ballotelli is just a lazy show off.

  4. Yiddo

    July 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Messi would never had tried it, he would put the ball into the back of the net, there are times and places on the pitch for tricks to be made and it aint in a 1 on 1 situation.

    • Mark Munro

      July 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Exactly right. Messi gives 100%, is a thorough profesional and is brilliant. Ballotelli has talent but also a terrible attitude full stop.

  5. Abraam

    July 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    It’s really funny to compare between messi and this guy. If messi did it, that because he has enough credit, because he’s a legend of his team, although I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have done it. But Balotelli, since coming, didn’t do anything to the team except scoring penalties and causing problems and receiving red cards.

  6. Abraam

    July 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    By the way, I hate both of them, but I respect messi.

  7. ants

    July 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Messi wouldnt have missed thats for sure!!

  8. Marcus Bure

    July 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Messi has too much respect for the game, his opponents, his team mates and the fans to have tried this at that stage of the game. And yes, it matters if you have a reputation as a malcontent, especially at a club like Man City where they can afford to pay players who don’t even play 175K a week.

    • Da silva

      July 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Messi is never and can never be compare 2 mario 4get abt initial gragra wey messi dey do

  9. Bear

    July 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Messi scores 40-50 goals a Season if he had tried it it would be fine. Also if Messi had tried it… he would have scored.

  10. Jonas Bergsteinsson

    July 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    It was very obvious to me that Balotelli thought he had been fouled or cought offside (didn’t see what happened before). The way he looks after that circus-act, it seems like he thinks that the referee had stopped him. If that is what really happened, it was just a misunderstanding and people should simply forget about this because after all, it was only a friendly match.

    • Steven

      July 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      I have to disagree with you and I am sure 99.9% people would too!
      The fact is you dont stop until the whistle blows! If he in fact thought the whistle blew he should have stopped as kicking it away as he did would result in a card!
      Now if you see it again, Dzeko who is to his right even lost it with him! Friendly or not… He is played too much money to mock his team mates and opponents!
      How stupid to compare Balotelli with Messi! Messi shows respect to all! I can’t stand Balotelli’s attitude but I am happy it’s happened to Man City who have way too much money and no class!

  11. Liam

    July 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Jonas is right, when mancini confronts him he is clearing gesturing that he thought he heard a whistle. I don’t see what the big deal is, it was a friendly… a training session… why everyone is so offended is beyond me.

    • Da silva

      July 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Mario is a great star i think. but for that incident i called it mistake.

  12. Futbal Fan

    July 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Are you kidding me? Do you even watch football or you just write without thinking? Leo is praised for achieving feats none else does in the planet not for making fun of the beautiful game.

    • Da silva

      July 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Futbal fan dnt b stupid o where did u keep RONALDO

  13. OLA

    July 26, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Thats so immature of im…comparing to to messi, messi will do it because its gon work. Not to guess play.

  14. Patrick

    July 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Messi has to much respect for the game and his opponents to try something like that. He’s pure class unlike Ballotelli who cares about nothing but himself. He’s talented but seems bent on embarrasing himself and his team. He needs to learn more about the history of the game and how all the great players always show true respect of football and the teams they play for. Being a Man United fan I must say he picked the right team to play for, what a classless clown.

  15. notagolfer

    July 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    messi would have simply put the ball into the net.

  16. oz

    July 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    messi would have scored.

  17. Jumping Jesus

    July 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Hmmm. what if Messi was a brain-dead, arrogant , classless moron like Ballotelli? What if pigs had wings?

  18. sambit roy

    July 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    how can u even think of messi doing such a thing!!!! he wouldn’t disrespect his opponents to this degree. he is mature enough to know that he shouldn’t try such stuff

  19. ontheboard

    July 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Messi would never in a million years been such a prick this fool needs to be shown the door no room in Football for this kind of person

  20. FFrey

    July 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Doesn’t the guy deserve some credit for actually ttrying somethign different? If he’d have scored everyone would be saying how awesome it was, no-one would mention respect… Who gives a monkeys how he kicks a ball. it’s not like he used a mallet or anything. He didn’t spit at anyone did he? Why the big ho-ha?You should be grateful some is doing something different! and less with the ‘would Messi do it’ faff! talking like your chums with him… I’m pretty sure Mancini didn’t sit in the changing room at the start of the match and say ‘Right lads, I want you all to kick the ball with the front of your boot at all times’ dear me… Over-reaction!
    I’m going home to practise my back-heels

  21. wisesageknowledge

    July 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I have seen a similar type of shot from Leo in a friendly/training setting. I tell you one thing, if Messi did it on a bigger stage such as Mario, he wouldn’t have hit it wide.

  22. reece

    July 26, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Watch the FULL video, he thought he heard a whistle which is why he slowed down. It wasn’t even meant to be a shot. It was a mistake, END OF

  23. Makkusworld

    July 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I think most of us futball fans r just nothing but a very shot while ago, a post was made of how a player scored penalty wit backheel&got replaced imediately by his coach who claimed disrespect,about 99.99% of d coments posted condemd d coach&praised d player 4 using backheel 4 a “PENALTY” 4 dat matter.few days later baloteli did something far less in terms of respect(ball was sti in play&he cud hav claimed he heard d whistle)&everybody is here telling d world how disrespectfu he is&how almighty messi cud nt hav been so everybody has sudenly realised dt there cud b something disrespecfu about how u kick a ball.see why i completely agree wit d writer:”b/c is baloteli”.Again what if it had actually been dat there was an offside flag,then he wud kick 2 score or actually score&get a red card as was d case of van persi againt very sure by now he wud hav been rotting in hell of public opinions.HUMAN BEINGS ARE HYPOCRITS.we only c what we want 2 c&hear what we want 2 hear. Is a pity!

  24. Chad

    July 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Mes que un club
    not Mas

  25. raaj

    July 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Not really an apt comparison, but think of the World Cup 70 and Pele’s dummy to the goalkeeper of that team that I dont quite remember… 1 on 1 situation and creativity… Or the eccentric Scorpion king Colombian goalkeeper.. Judge the move (as big a brat he may be) not the player (as big a brat he may be) … Criticize him for missing the target not for making the move…

  26. Doc

    July 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Messi wouldn’t do it, he has to much respect for the game and others, Balotelli is just an arrogant piece of gutter trash.

  27. Hightech

    July 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Its a pity those muppets are commenting on football issue wen they know nothing about the game.when the so called ‘messi’ scored with his hand,he was congratulated yet the same f**ls want to crucify baloteli over a common backheel.

  28. Hightech

    July 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Its a pity those muppets are commenting on football issue wen they know nothing about the game.when the so called mr nice guy’messi’ scored with his hand,he was congratulated yet the same f**ls want to crucify baloteli over a common backheel.

  29. me

    July 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    if it was in season in a premier league game or something along those lines i would understand all the the uproar, but to be perfectly honest pre season is basically a kick about for these players im a liverpool fan but i still dont think there is any need to be putting the guy down

  30. double standards

    July 27, 2011 at 4:34 am

    As with everything else that occurs in this world, yes, if it were messi no one would say anything. If it were SWP or another of the(do as your told) type of blac athlete probably less backlash as well but young, cocky(rightfully so), rich balo, no nothing like this will be tolerated, forget the fact that he was offside and it was preseason. This is just another story that gives racists a chance to vent.

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