|World Player of the Week
Mario Balotelli has never been renowned for his composure - on or off the field. This is a combustible character that Roberto Mancini once described as crazy. It is something of an anomaly then, that when it comes to penalty-taking, that most pressurized of tasks, Balotelli achieves a state of serenity that is absent in almost every other aspect of his life.
To put it simply: Balotelli does not miss. Not only that, he never looks remotely like missing. Whenever presented with a spot kick, he is literally the calmest player on the pitch. This was underlined again this week - twice.
On Tuesday, in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic, Balotelli's frustration once again appeared to be getting the better of him. After a first half in which he missed chance after chance, he appeared ready to explode. However, when Italy won a penalty early in the second half, Balotelli coolly slotted home, sending Petr Cech the wrong way and the Azzurri into next year's World Cup.
The significance of the spot kick seemed utterly irrelevant to Balotelli, and it was a similar story on Saturday evening, as he calmly slotted home a 96th-minute penalty to earn AC Milan a 2-2 draw at Torino as if it were the easiest task in the world.
"From 12 yards out, Super Mario is the epitome of cool, calm and collected," enthuses Goal's Kris Voakes. "Having spurned two great opportunities against the Czechs in Turin, the 23-year-old striker showed impressive character to get back on his feet and lead the Azzurri to the finals in Brazil.
"Just four days later, after an equally frustrating evening, Balotelli sent Daniele Padelli the wrong way to register his 26th successful penalty from 26 attempts in his professional career. He's as unpredictable as they come both on and off the field, but the outcome of penalties awarded to Italy and Milan is the most predictable thing in football right now."
|Congratulations to Mario Balotelli, Goal's 227th World Player of the Week winner!
Mounir El Hamdaoui - Malaga
@AVBanovac: "That awkward moment when El Hamdaoui scores a hat-trick on his debut."
Goal's Kilian Caballero: "Netted three goals and set up another during a dream debut for Malaga in a 5-0 rout of Rayo Vallecano."
Mauro Matos - All Boys
Goal's German Esmerado: "Matos is three and every year All Boys sign another striker, but Matos always ends up playing - and scoring."
Gareth McAuley - West Brom
@Craig_Hughes_: "In honour of Gareth McAuley's last-gasp equaliser, today I will be drinking only Irish Coffee."
Goal's Stephen Darwin: "Made it two goals in two games for his country in midweek before scoring a late leveler for West Brom on Saturday."
Marco Reus - Dortmund
@JanAageFjortoft: "Watched Marco Reus again today. He is probably right now Top 5 in the world. Dortmund - HSV 6-2."
Goal's Falko Bloeding: "Described by Stefan Effenberg as the Bundesliga's best player after an inspirational display against Hamburg."
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