Dushko Petrovich, both wrapping up the tournament so far and previewing today’s final, offers this sketch of Mario Balotelli:
As a civilian, he is outlandish. Last year, his white Maserati was impounded twenty-seven times, accumulating £10,000 worth of parking tickets. He also accidentally set his house on fire with firecrackers, was fined a week’s wages for throwing darts at a teammate, and kept turning up unannounced in strange places, including a women’s prison in Brescia (“just fancied having a look”) and Xavarian College in Manchester, where he apparently came for the bathroom but stayed for a while.
On the pitch, he is always a threat. But to whom? He scores amazing goals, many of them invented out of nothing, but he often falls out of games and regularly gets kicked out. Several times this tournament, he has gone clear on goal and entered a kind of daze, as if he has forgotten where he is.