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Soccer News of Sunday, 15 June 2014

Source: Goal.com

Balotelli proves he is Italy's main man

When Mario Balotelli asked "Why always me?" back in 2011 the answer was because he always made himself the story, via fireworks or bust-ups. Now, in 2014, it is because he is Italy's best hope of success at the World Cup.

The AC Milan striker is under more pressure to perform than any of his team-mates this summer, and has had to deal with calls to install Ciro Immobile in the line-up at his expense.

The questions being asked are with justification. It was a tumultuous season for Balotelli at San Siro, and potentially his last. He picked up almost as many cards as goals for the Rossoneri - 14 yellows, one red and 18 goals - and often looked dismayed at what was going on around him.

Far from being the main man, as he is once again expected to be for Italy, he struggled, and clubs around Europe - including in England - started to weigh up the pros and cons of prising this engima away from his 'dream' club. It seemed the only pro would be that he would be cheap, given Milan's willingness to sever ties.

Take into account Immobile's success - he was Serie A's top scorer with 22 goals - the calls for the Torino man to lead the line for his country were both inevitable and understandable.

But it was Balotelli who was there in Manaus on Saturday, dropping deep to link up with a promising midfield trio, and there at the backpost five minutes into the second half to head home the decisive goal, which gives the Azzurri an excellent chance of advancing from Group D as winners.