Italian media in awe of ‘SuperMario’
Italian newspapers were glowing in their praise for Mario Balotelli after his brace inspired the Azzurri to a 2-0 win over Malta in a 2014 World Cup Group B qualifier at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
The influential La Gazzetta dello Sport blared ‘Italia al balo’ (Italy of balo (Balotelli) on its front page.
“Balotelli first scores from the spot (14th penalty in a row), then from a De Sciglio assist: eighth goal in the blue shirt,” La Gazzetta said before expressing dismay at the boos aimed at Balotelli by the Maltese fans.
“Incredible, insults and boos from the stands.”
Describing Balotelli as ‘the knight of Malta’, Luigi Garlando wrote: “Mario scored a brace, Gigi (Buffon) saves a penalty that would have made the score 1-1; the Azzurri fail to shine, but are closer to Brazil 2014.”
Garlando added: “The national side suffered more than expected but changed gears midway through the first half.”
In its players’ appraisal, La Gazzetta awarded the best vote to Balotelli, 7.5, while Andrè Schembri was Malta’s top performer with 6.5.
“Super Super Mario!” was the front-page headline of Corriere dello Sport which lauded to Balotelli not only for his crucial contribution but also for showing a cool head in the face of what the newspaper termed as the “dirty work” of Malta defender Luke Dimech in “annoying tandem” with Jonathan Caruana.
“We return from Malta with three points. The double-block Milan-Juve accomplish the mission, as it was this, crystal-clear, the indication of Prandelli,” Fabio Massimo Splendore wrote in his match report.
Like La Gazzetta, Corriero dello Sport gave a 7.5 to Balotelli with Claudio Marchisio voted Italy’s worst performer against Malta with 5.5
‘Implacabile was the leading headline on the sports pages of Il Corriere della Sera in reference to Balotelli’s showing at Ta’ Qali.
“It’s the Italy of SuperMario: a brace in Malta. Decisive Buffon, saves a penalty at 1-0.”
La Repubblica also ap-plauded Balotelli for keeping his nerves in check: “Whistles, kicks and brilliance... the response of a star.”