Euro 2012: Balotelli brace sees Italy knock off Germany, advance to final

Mario Balotelli (Getty Images)

Mario Balotelli silenced some of his critics on Thursday, scoring a pair of goals that booked Italy's place in the Euro 2012 final while defeating tournament favorites Germany.

Italy upset the Germans, 2-1, on Thursday courtesy of a first-half Balotelli brace. Balotelli thundered home a header in the 20th minute following some poor defending, and he scored the eventual winner 16 minutes later in spectacular fashion.

The result means Italy will take on Spain in the tournament final on July 1 in Kiev in a battle of the last two World Cup winners. The two nations met in the group stage of the tournament, playing to a 1-1 tie in Group C on June 10. Antonio Di Natale and Cesc Fabregas scored the goals on that day.

The Germans struggled to beat Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who enjoyed another strong performance in the tournament after a shaky opening 15 minutes. In fact, Buffon was one his way to recorindg a cleansheet until Mesut Ozil converted a penalty kick in second half stoppage time.

Balotelli was the Italian hero, however. The controversial forward scored his second goal of the tournament and the game's opener on a headed effort that beat Manuel Neuer 20 minutes in.

Balotelli again beat Neuer in the 36th minute by beating an offside trap, racing in on goal and unleashing a rocket into the top corner that Neuer did not even attempt to stop.

Even after inserting Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose at halftime, the Germans were unable to respond until a penalty kick was given in the second minute of stoppage time.

——

What do you think of Italy's 2-1 win over Germany? Surprised by how poor the Germans played? Think the Italians can beat Spain?

Share your thoughts below.

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66 Responses to Euro 2012: Balotelli brace sees Italy knock off Germany, advance to final

  1. soccerroo says:

    As a German Fan I am heart broken by the loss but Balotelli did everything right today. If he can do that against Spain, Italy will win easily.

  2. Old School says:

    Balotelli = Denis Rodman

    Dude can be amazing so long as he doesn’t become his worst enemy.

  3. Brad2 says:

    Germany looked tired to me. Especially Pig-Sticker.

    Maybe Lowe’s shaking up the line-ups messed with the players’ concentration and momentum…

  4. Brad2 says:

    Rodman did the dirty work for the Bulls, Ballotelli does the scoring…

  5. A says:

    Germany looked a step slower despite having two extra days of rest and Italy going an extra 30 in their match.

    If this is what Pirlo did to Germany’s midfield, imagine what Iniesta and Xavi would have done. Carved apart.

  6. pd says:

    Italy beats Spain in penalties. I’m calling it now.

    This from a team I didn’t think would advance from groups stages. Incredible.

  7. 19561 says:

    Great intersting game to watch. Germany did look slower and almost never heard Pig Stickers name called.

  8. Hawaiinate says:

    Since when did Balotelli have braces?

  9. Jason B says:

    Maybe Allen Iverson is a more apt comparison? Very polarizing figure but you can’t deny the talent.

  10. GW says:

    It’s interesting how Lahm complained that JK had no sense of tactics at Bayern. And his complaint was seen as verification of the idea that Loew was the tactical genius behind JK.

    Well, today sure makes you question that notion.

    Who were those guys in the white shirts anyway? They looked like the would have had a hard time with Guatemala.

    When Mario scored, it was as if the Germans could not believe it and never recovered. Not unlike Bayern’s collapse against Chelsea. A pretty bad choke job by the entire German team.

    Does this mean Chandler changes his mind?

  11. U.S.A. says:

    Yeah, and the U.S. beat Italy in Italy when they (“USA”) were rested and tired: 1-0

  12. U.S.A. says:

    I meant to say “and not tired.”

  13. eddie says:

    Not a fan of either of these teams. I wanted to see the Germans go to the finals. Hopefully it will be an entertaining game.

  14. Bozeman says:

    I see Balotelli’s chest has been working out at the same gym as Ronaldo’s horse-leg!

  15. biff says:

    well, GW, ol’ buddy ol’ pal, you stole those words right off my keyboard. I truly was thinking exact same thing. And the thing is, Klinsmann was working with a lot less talent than Jogi Low has now at his disposal. I gotta believe that Klinsmann truly wanted his home country’s team to win, but I can’t help but think he might be experiencing a bit of Schadenfreude.

    Low’s starting line-up tonight is a blunder of historical proportions that will go down in German soccer history and never be forgotten. Just a few days ago Low benched Gomez and Muller and Podolski and got great performances from Klose and Marco Reus and a decent showing from Schurle. And Ozil and Khedira were raving in the German press how happy they were with spark it gave the team

    And what does Low do a few days later, for some inexplicable reason he not only starts Gomez and Podolski, but puts in a third defensive midfielder, Tony Kroos. As soon as that line-up was announced an hour before the game the message boards in Germany were going crazy with fans in shock and complaining and (this is true) saying that with that line-up Germany was destined to lose. Despite all his success, Low is not liked by a significant portion of fans and this is going add fuel to the fire of his haters who want to get rid of him.

    Another angle to the story, the starting line-up had 7 FC Bayer palyers who choked against Dortmund first for the Bundesliga title andd than a few weeks later were totally humiliated by Dortmund in the German Pokal final and then two weeks after that choked against Chelsea. And Low fields those losers against Italy, a team that historically still remains unbeaten against Germany in knock-out Euro Cup and World Cup games. An amazing record.

    Probably the happiest man in the world right now is Michael Ballack, former Germany captain, who was basically kicked out the door by Low when the opportunity presented itself (Ballack’s injury before WC2010). Ballack is no angel, but Low’s treatment of Ballack and that of players like Lahm and Podoloski was not nice at all. And the German press knows this and already is quoting Ballack’s comments questioning Low’s tactics made on USA TV.

    Ballack sieht Löw unter Rechtfertigungsdruck
    link to tinyurl.com

  16. Old School says:

    Rodman was “special” at what he did…but he was also prone to go all straight-jacket nuts on you.

    Balotelli has always reminded me of Rodman.

    i.e. – Borderline bi-polar.

  17. Old School says:

    Haha.

    Priceless post.

  18. Old School says:

    Entertaining post.

  19. Marc says:

    He has the personality to thrive in the States…hope he comes one day.

  20. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Jogi Low was said to be the thinker of the German system. JK never got credit, well Jogi Low had more talent,but has done very little.

  21. Juan says:

    Somewhere Bunker Bob Bradley smiling as he watched Italy pack 8 guys behind the ball with an occasional counter attack.

    Dull, boring soccer but it worked today. I expect Spain will see the same thing

  22. That second goal was disgusting.

  23. UMN says:

    “i.e. – Borderline bi-polar.” This is extremely offensive. There is no reason you have to add something like this to the end of your point. You realize borderline and bipolar are completely different right? That’s like seeing some one who is ill and saying they have like cancer/AIDS.

  24. Pepe says:

    Balotelli is the rare player who can win OR lose a game for his team out of nothing

  25. Turgid Jacobian says:

    BPD is very often comorbid with a bipolar condition. I’m sure he actually meant “on the fringe of bipolar.”

  26. Old School says:

    Extremely offensive?

    Sorry if your feelings were hurt. Seriously.

  27. will says:

    There were lots of balls bouncing around in the Italian box that the quick feet of Iniesta or Pedro would have poked in. Buffon did not have a great game. Germany had a lot more shots and a lot more corners — they just weren’t sharp with what Italy gave them. My favorite part though was the repeated headers 40 yards from goal by the German keeper. How Italy didn’t get #3 is beyond me.

  28. Jamie Z. says:

    Ugh. Just ugh.

  29. UMN says:

    Very often is a point that is hard to back-up although I understand your point. I guess I should just expect prejudice for mental illness because any feelings I may have are too PC for today.

  30. supergrandefilms says:

    Overconfidence is Germany’s worst enemy.

  31. Northzax says:

    This is the best possible final. A ball-control team that can’t score against the ultimate bunker-counter team. First team to score wins. The azzuri just out-germaned Germany. They are built to beat Spain. The Spanish/Barca system works when you have Messi wreaking havoc and scoring goals. Against a team that doesn’t care about possession, does tiki-taki work?

  32. Tranny says:

    P.C.U. is a great movie. you should watch it.

  33. Münster says:

    Schweinsteiger
    Schwein= Pig
    Steiger= one who oversees smth. usually technical operations, literally “climber”

    So basically one who tends to the pigs. Though “Pig Sticker” is nice.

  34. Münster says:

    Germany is the victim of its own arrogance and the media willingly joined the circus, often speaking more of the “Spanien vs Deutschlande Finale”. However, as soon as the anthems were being sung, one clearly saw who wanted it more. Half the Germans weren’t even singing. The Germans have the technical skills, but they lack the passion and the ability to rumble and tumble.

  35. GW says:

    Over the years, there has always been the specter of “factionalism” in many of the big boy national teams, i.e the Bayern guys vs the Dortmund guys etc.

    As I am not as tuned in to German football as you, it seemed to be on hiatus in light of the rising optimism since 2006.

    Well, this ought to bring everyone out of the woodwork now. Fun,fun,fun!

    As for Chandler, it could go either way. On the one hand he may not want to have anything to do with these wack jobs; on the other hand should Loew get the axe, it could mean a set of fresh eyes that look favorably on him.

    I was not able to catch Ballack’s after game comments but I’m sure he will have a lot to say on the upcoming preview shows.

    I’m sure the USMNT has its share of politics and intrigue but I can’t believe it even begins to approach what goes on with teams like Holland , France, or apparently, Germany.

    I’m sure JK wanted Germany to do well but I’ll bet he is quite happy to be where he is right now.

    By the way, is it just me but what happened to Tomas Mueller? After the World Cup he looked to be the next great star. Lately he’s been looking like Germany’s version of Robbie Rogers. Germany looked so bad in this game that it is making me re think my statement about how many USMNT players could play for Germany.

    One last thing, am I the only one who thought Balotelli would get a second,stupid yellow and get tossed in the second half? Well, good for him. I see them beating Spain on penalties.

  36. HoboMike says:

    Jesus, how awful was that defending? I swore we were watching the Netherlands today.

    On the first goal, Hummels got turned by Cassano, who literally did nothing except spin past Hummels when he foolishly stuck a leg in. Badstuber was completely hilarious in trying to hold of Balotelli with one arm. He then completely botched the onside trap (that Lahm obviously didn’t bother doing either).

    Loew starting Kroos…interesting. I think he may have gotten a little too cute with himself. Germany was by far the deepest team in the tournament – it looked like he wanted to prove that. Cohesion is necessary. The semis aren’t the time to field a lineup that he’s never started before. I assume he started Kroos just in case Schweinsteiger was a bit less mobile, but Kroos is NOT a right winger. Loew got away with widespread changes against Greece because Greece blows. But against a team like Italy? There is no reason why Germany should not have won this tournament.

  37. ben in el cajon says:

    Really? They looked scared to me. I thought Buffon intimidated them. After the goal, they looked like they were trying for the perfect pass or shot.

  38. beachbum says:

    and who is the last team to beat Spain :)

  39. beachbum says:

    man, that whole play by Mario was so pure…EXACTLY what a striker is supposed to be

    goal of the tournament so far for me

    awesome

  40. beachbum says:

    excellent post, thank you

    Pirlo may just love what the game matchups provide

  41. Ben says:

    I can’t believe how bad the defense was on both goals. No it was not great plays making them look bad — it was just plain stupid play.

    I don’t think you can blame the coach for players randomly forgetting how to play soccer. That kind of defense could easily bump an MLS player out of a starting lineup..

    The most likely explanation is that the defenders were so impatient to help their team take the lead, that they forgot about playing defense.

    I’m actually reminded of the USA formula for beating Spain ’09 — bunker down, and then get gifted two goals from defensive brainfarts. Then take credit like a mofo. Italian fans should be buying Hummel and Badstuber jerseys this week..

  42. Jason B says:

    That would be Switzerland.

  43. Jason B says:

    In a competitive match at least.

  44. biff says:

    you know how I feel about Timothy Chandler. I was among his mosts fervent supporters and defended him regularly and believed him when he promised he had no desire to play for Germany. After he broke his promise in May I still feel he should not ever be called up again, just as Bob Bradley has done in Egypt with Zidan. I respect BB’s courage to do this and I wish Klinnsman would do the same with Chandler. I want players on the USMNT who are aching to give for the shirt. Not a prima donna opportunist like Chandler. (I will say this: If Chandler would issue a mea culpa and get on his and knees and beg to come back and publicly apologize to USMNT players, I might be able to soften my position and cheer for him again. But a line has to be drawn. September or never.)

    No Egypt future for Mohamed Zidan
    link to tinyurl.com

    Egypt coach Bradley not distracted by speculation over his future
    link to tinyurl.com

    In any case, I think the catastrophe yesterday for Germany increases the chances that Chandler will get called up in September. I have maintained all along during EM 2012 that Germany defense was weak, with Boateng and Badstuber high risks. I mean, geez, they gave up two goals against lighweight Greece. Last night Low had Lars Bender and Benedickt Howedes on the bench, and a lot of German fans think (especially Howedes) is a better choicer.

    There is a real love-hate relationship in Germany with FC Bayern. German national fans are proud to have a top Euro team, but they hate all the Jogi Low preference and the fawning press treatment the Bayern players get. I have no doubt that Low is now going to be under big pressure to get rid of several Bayern players, or at least reduce their roles and make them prove themselves. Muller has gone straight downhill since WC 2010 and right now does not even come close to the quality of Marco Reus, Mario Gotze or Andre Schurle. And Podolski, well Arsene Wenger, I think, is going to be in for a big surprise in a few weeks when he Podolski comes into camp. I would not be surprised to Podolski riding the bench this autumn and not even making the game-day roster next spring. Dempsey is much better palyer than Podolski and Wenger woudl be wise to snatch him before it’s too late.

    Philip Lahm is great, but his mistake last night on the second goal is carbon copy of his screw-up in Euro 2008 final that allowed Fernando Torres to score the winning goal. I predict Low calls up Chandler in September to see how he performs at either left or right back and I won’t be sad at all. I would love to see our guys in WC 2014 kick Chandler’s you-know-what.

  45. biff says:

    ha-ha. r u going to apologize, HoboMike?

  46. biff says:

    I want to clarify my comment above about Podolski and Lahm concerning Low’s treatment of Ballack. I mean that Podolski and Lahm are Low’s boys. In 2009 Podolski slapped team captain Ballack during a WCQ game and Low took no action against Podolski. Instead, Low still adores him and starts him last night against Italy and his performance is so bad he has yank him at half-time. Here is a link to the slap:

    Podolski slaps Ballack
    link to youtube.com

    With the German press closely monitoring Ballack’s comments on USA TV, it would great if Alexi Lalas with cameras rolling would ask Ballack about this and the poor treatment the injured Ballack received when he visited the Germany camp in South Africa during WC 2012, when “temporary” team Captain Lahm the day before Ballack arrived announced he wanted the captaincy permanently. Ballack was totally ostracized and left the camp after a day and a half early rather than put up with the treatment.

    Ballack has never really commented about this in detail in the German press. Lalas should do his research on the sorry affair and ask good questions and if Ballack answers I guarantee it will create major headlines in Germany.

  47. GW says:

    Do you think Low will survive this?

  48. Becks says:

    Out of your mind. Germany looked so poor because the Italians are that good. It was no fluke that Germany, one of the tournament favorites, were reduced to frustrated whining ball chasers. They won every game easily prior. What was the difference this time? With 2 more days rest?? Their opposition. 2 brilliant goals, and the Italian defense is just too good. Crushing pressure from every direction. Too well organized, rarely exposed. Swarming. Calm and composed in possession on the uptake. Should have easily been 3-nil.

  49. Becks says:

    Mario did his part but the assists are often the vision that unlock the defense, as were Cassano’s and Montelivo’s brilliant assists.

  50. HoboMike says:

    Let me think about that and get back to you. Hold your breath….answer coming shortly.

    I still think Germany had the best talent in the tournament.

  51. DCD says:

    US players playing for Germany? Yikes. Let’s not get carried away. What do you think the Germans might have thought about our performance in the Gold Cup, or against Canada?

    The fact remains, however, that the Germans are thin at striker and at one full back spot. The US obviously has zero to offer at striker at this point. (Please no one suggest the Germans could use Terrence Boyd.) Lahm is among the best in the world, but Boateng is essentially playing out of position out wide, Schmelzer is good, but probably a product of Juergen Klopp’s Dortmund system, and there aren’t many other options. This is why Chandler held back, and why even Fab Johnson could have been in the mix (In the future, however, maybe not even for 2014, but beyond, remember the name Julian Koch.) They could hardly waltz into the squad, but the Germans are a bit thin at their position.

    As for Loew, he did indeed make a lot of mistakes. Generally, he looks terrible for leaving the two most dynamic attacking midfielders in the Bundesliga on the bench (Reus and Goetze). It’s not really fair to criticize him for benching the latter, however, as the timing was a bit unfortunate: Goetze essentially missed the entire second half of the season with a stress reaction in his (ahem) pubic bone, the same injury that cost Arjen Robben quite a bit of time.

    LArgely thanks to that injury, though his domestic form wasn’t great, Andre Schuerrle, not Goetze, should probably have started in place of Podolski, and Reus in place of the ineffectual Thomas Mueller, who has fallen very fast at Bayern as well as in the national team setup, and may find himself on the bench in the coming BL season. Loew may have hurt himself by showing the world exactly how good these players could be against Greece. After making that change and seeing it succeed, he really should not have made a reactionary move and changed his formation out of fear of Italy’s midfield. As it turned, out that midfield owned them, anyway.

    The center backs also were shaky as a pairing, but until yesterday, when he had one very poor moment against Cassano, Mats Hummels was among the stars of the tournament. Badstueber’s positioning is often undesirable, but he is talented and is naturally left-footed. As has been pointed out elsewhere, if these two had played together more regularly and Loew had not insisted on running cement-footed Per Mertesaacker out with Badstueber, the communication could have been better.

    Lastly, going with Gomez over Klose was probably an error, but it was exacerbated by playing midfielders/attackers like Podolski who contributed nothing. Gomez is a poacher and a clinical finisher when on his game, and it showed at times in this tournament, but he was maddeningly inconsistent. Klose was probably the better choice, and in the future, they need a more mobile, modern striker to go with their dynamic attackers.

    Speaking of the latter, the criticism will be deafening if he doesn’t find a way to get Goetze and Reus involved in World Cup qualifying. They are miles ahead of Podolski and Mueller already. You can’t stash away two of the best young talents in Europe on your bench and expect to compete with the world’s top teams. That crosses the line from loyalty to arrogance. (And, as you point out, leaving them on the bench will absolutely enrage the Dortmund supporters. Good times!)

  52. DCD says:

    If you think the goals were solely attributable to Hummels and Badstueber, I think you’re looking in too narrow a window. Why was Hummels way out on a wing (with two other German players standing around in terrible positions)? Who was supposed to be covering for them when they advanced for the second goal? It’s a team game. Hummels looked like a fool on the Cassano play, but he was covering for Boateng and had to leave Badstueber isolated in the middle because of it. Great pass by Pirlo started the whole sequence. Who was pressuring him?

  53. biff says:

    Very nice and informative read, DCD. Just a couple of comments.

    * I agree Lahm is world-class on the offensive side of the fullback coin, but he is prone to disastrous defensively lapses like last night. The German defense in Euro 2012 was awful (6 goals in 5 games, Spain = 1 goal) and I am not sure Lahm is the WC 2014 answer.

    * Muller on the bench is not only a risk in the coming season, he rode the bench quite a bit in the second half of last season.

    * yesterday, I truly expected Low to start Klose on top, with Gotze on the left, Ozil in the middle, and Reus on the right, anchored by either Khedira/Schweinsteiger or Kherira/Kroos as d-mids. (Kroos proved last season he is a good DM, but how in the world Low thought he could switch to right wing against Italy I will never understand.) And then I thought Low might bench Boateng after his awful game against Greece and go with Lars Bender.

    Stories are erupting in the German press today that Schweinsteiger was actually still not 100% healthy after injuries and Low should have never started him. Low maintains that even a less than optimal Schweine is still the “emotional leader” of the team and that he wanted him on the field 100% or not.

  54. uksubs says:

    ergo the USMNT are the champions of Europe?

  55. August Spies says:

    Is Balotelli’s hair cut designed to make him look like a Hostess Cup Cake or a skunk?

  56. biff says:

    Not a snowball’s chance in heck that the German football association will fire Jogi Low. The only way Low will not be coach in WC2014 is if he steps down and I would be very surprised to see that happen. The key question now is whether he will learn from his painful screw-up yesterday (linked to his long-term flawed fixations on FC Bayern and his personal favorites). And, make no mistake, yesterday he screwed up bad. I think he was so thrilled with the success of his “surprise” line-up against Greece and subsequent media adulation, that he bought into the hype, you know, the Midas touch and felt he could field any line-up against Italy and still on Sunday be facing Spain, which, ironically, after being beat by Spain in EC 2008 final and WC 2010 semi-final, had been the 100% prime tactical planning focus for weeks. Oh, well, maybe in 2014–unless, of course, Klinnsman and our guys kick Germany out the tournament first :-)

  57. beachbum says:

    of course, but if no one is there to put them away, who cares? in fact, that is often the case, with a brilliant unlocking ball and then a blast into row 25 or something of that nature

    Balotelli deserves the credit he earned with his goals, and Cassano and Montelivo were brilliant too, but Balotelli, in that game, was the difference maker, expecially the second goal. wow!

  58. HoboMike says:

    I hate when I miss the removed comments. Such a tease.

  59. HoboMike says:

    As we saw in the Chelsea/Barcelona Champions League tie, it does not. I still cannot believe Llorente hasn’t seen a whiff of the field.

    Although, Italy has proven itself to be much more than a bunker/counter team. They have almost gained my respect.

    Almost.

    Go Spain.

  60. napper says:

    True

  61. Becks says:

    Agreed!

  62. Bob says:

    You do realize that “borderline” can also be used as an adjective meaning “close but not quite”?

  63. Nate says:

    Hostess Cup Cake.

  64. H.P. Drifter says:

    Wrong on one part. Badstuber was not part of the offside trap on Balotelli scored on. It was Lahm and Podolski. Podolski was covering the back for the corner, and Hummels and Badstuber were both forward for the corner and did not/could not get back when Italy countered. Lahm was at fault, sure, but Podolski … oh my god, he did not have a clue what to do back there. Don’t blame Badstuber.

  65. Diego Maradona says:

    Are you nervous Schweinsteiger?!

  66. ThisGirl says:

    I said, “Look at the pictre. You can see Balotelli’s penis.” Franco must have gotten jelly belly and deleted it :0