Man City Club Focus – Balotelli magic unlocks stubborn Everton resistance

Mario Balotelli will miss Manchester City’s Champions League trip to Bayern Munich through suspension, having been sent off as City vacated last season’s Europa League against Dynamo Kiev – the second of a three game European suspension that the Italian international is forced to sit out. That he misses the game through ill-discipline is symptomatic of the deranged genius – albeit in this case mainly the former – which the former Inter striker has brought to the club.

Since moving to the Etihad Stadium in August 2010, Balotelli has been substituted in a friendly for showing disrespect to Los Angeles Galaxy by back-heeling when through on goal, thrown a dart at a youth team player, accrued £10,000 in parking fines and given a tramp £1,000. He has also scored a very respectable 12 goals in 31 games, hitting a hat-trick against Aston Villa, and been named man of the match in the FA Cup final as Manchester City defeated Stoke City to become the first City side to win a trophy in 35 years. Evidently, this is a man of considerable talent capable of moments of genius which obfuscate his flaws.

68 minutes into a City-dominated contest with an otherwise durable Everton side, one such moment arose. Sergio Aguero scampered across the penalty area, the Toffees’ defence more preoccupied with watching his bewildering footwork than actually obstructing his way. When he eventually hit a blockade, he flicked the ball into Balotelli’s path. Rarely will a more insouciant goal be scored this season. Without breaking stride, without even the merest hint of a glance at goal, he passed the ball into the net with the ease most carry out mundane household tasks. In a moment, we witnessed the paradox that is Mario Balotelli. A one-on-one against American opposition may be over-complicated, yet something constituting less than a half-chance is dispatched with callous ease. Little wonder Roberto Mancini is prepared to be so indulgent of his prot

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