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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who is the real "Super Mario"?

Mario Balotelli was nicknamed Super Mario during his time at Italian giants Internazionale and has shown his immense quality on a number of occasions over the past few years. After the christening of Balotelli as "Super Mario", the football world has also seen the rise of two other players with by the name of Mario. Both of them ply their trade in the German Bundesliga. Both of them have represented Germany at the international level. They've both won the Bundesliga. I'm talking about Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze and Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez.

Both the Germans have been far more influential than Balotelli in their clubs' domestic triumphs. Gotze was part of a Dortmund squad that was much weaker than Jose Mourinho's Inter, where Balotelli was at the age of 19. Gomez has shown the world how clinical a striker he really is, while Balotelli has merely been shrouded in controversy.

Here's a more detailed look at the three players


He played his first Serie A game at the age of 17, scored his first goal three days after his debut, became the youngest ever scorer for Inter in the UEFA Champions League, but the fact that he is an Italian of African descent led fans to taunt the youngster with a number of racial slurs such as "Black Italians do not exist" and "No to a multi-ethnic national team". This racial harassment has forced the 21 year old into innumerable controversial situations.

Whether his eccentricity has been brought about by this racial hatred remains questionable, but there is no doubt regarding his talent. Phenomenal strength and ball control, accompanied by a great deal of speed and a good shot, Balotelli is indeed a rare breed. Balotelli's main problem is his lack of consistency. Used primarily as a striker at both Inter and Manchester City, Balotelli has shown moments of brilliance but failed to terrorize defenders on a regular basis.

At Inter, Balotelli started 35 times and came on as a substitute 24 times in 3 seasons, scoring 20 goals. For a striker, this isn't a great statistic. A possible argument to this statistic might be that Balotelli is also used as a supporting striker, but he hasn't got a great number of assists either(just 9 in 3 seasons). This shows that Balotelli's Serie A form has been fairly poor during his 3 years at Milan. His European form was also poor, scoring just 2 goals and providing 3 assists in 14 appearances.

His move to Manchester City was thought to be his opening to stardom but controversy and inconsistency continue to follow him. His first season at the UAE outfit was a lackluster one. 9 goals in 27 appearances and no assists are just the numbers to an awful start to his career in England. His second season(the current one) has been very different. 10 goals in 15 games is indeed a remarkable start but will he continue his exemplary form till the end of the season and make a mark in world football?

Balotelli has failed to catch the eye of the Italian national team coaches, currently Cesare Prandelli and former coach Marcelo Lippi. His inability to maintain a regular spot on the national team has greatly hindered his rise to fame( in an uncontroversial sense). His last performance for the Azzurri was a commendable one and could influence Prandelli to give him a few more caps and also a possible call up to EURO 2012. A successful campaign with City and a good tournament at Poland and Ukraine in June are necessary for Balotelli to justify his nickname, "Super Mario"

MY VERDICT : Bowser, Mario's enemy.Yes, Balotelli fits the role of the greedy archenemy wonderfully well.


The least famous of the trio, yet the most graceful. Not seen as a major talent at the beginning of 2010, he was promoted to the first team due to Shinji Kagwa's long term injury. Gotze made full use of this opportunity, developing as a player by leaps and bounds and managing to make a name for himself across Europe. The 19 year old is high in demand at the moment, with English club Arsenal willing to pay in excess of 30 million euros for his services.

11 assists and 6 goals in 33 games is an outstanding statistic for an 18 year old midfielder in his first season in top flight football. This year, Gotze has managed a remarkable 6 goals and 7 assists 19 appearances. He is going at an average of 0.58 goals/assists per game. This means that he is involved in a goal in every other game for Dortmund. This sensational form is what has put the 19 year old sensation on the football map, thus making him Dortmund's most prized possession.

Gotze is another one of Germany's innumerable young attacking midfielders. A lot of people may consider him  just another one of those stereotypical midfielders that Germany has been producing of late, nothing out of the ordinary. But, the fact that Germany is producing such a large number of players for the same position, only makes it harder for Gotze to earn a spot in Joachim Low's squad. His performances for the German team have been fairly decent so far. Competition in the form of Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Andre Schurlle and Kevin Grosskruetz will hopefully spur Gotze to perform better so as to earn a fixed spot on the national team.

Gotze is in a situation very similar to that of Balotelli. He still hasn't hit stardom. He hasn't made a memorable performance in a big game. But the one thing that he does have over Balotelli is consistency. He has been putting in good performances far more regularly than Balotelli. Another good Ruckrunde will either see Gotze move to a bigger club or another season for him and Dortmund in The UEFA Champions league thus, giving him another opportunity to impress in Europe's top competition.

MY VERDICT : He fits the role of Luigi perfectly! The more diminutive yet protagonist-like figure among the three. Mario still has a long way to go but he currently sits on the greener side of the pasture.


The oldest of the three but the most effective by far. Top scorer in the Bundesliga in 2011, German footballer of the year in 2007 and second highest goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League in 2011. Gomez is currently one of the most, if not the most, clinical strikers in the world. 14 goals in 27 appearances for Stuttgart in the 2006-07 season saw Gomez rise to fame in Germany. Another decent season followed by a sensational 2008-09 season caught the eyes of German giants Bayern Munich. He moved to Munich in the summer of 2009 for a record breaking fee(this record remains unbroken till date) and only looked forward from then on.

His first season at Munich proved to be a bit of a let down. Just 10 goals and 3 assists in 29 appearances brought a good deal of criticism but then coach, Louis van Gaal, was forced to retain his faith in Gomez following an injury to Ivica Olic. Gomez failed to disappoint from then on. An extraordinary 39 goals in 37 starts propelled Gomez to the status of "one of the top strikers in the world". He continues to haunt defences with his brilliant positioning and finishing, this season as well. He has amassed a total of 20 goals in 19 appearances so far and is showing no signs of stopping.

Gomez has exhibited his brilliance at goal scoring even for the German national team. He came into the team in the shadow of German superstar Miroslav Klose, probably being expected to fill in for Klose in the future. Following two good seasons at Stuttgart, Gomez was called up to the German team for EURO 2008. He failed to impress in the group stages and was pushed onto the bench in the latter stages of the tournament. At World Cup 2010, Gomez only managed to start on the bench and made four appearances for the team. Two dismal performances for the German squad might have spelt doom for Gomez but his brilliant domestic performances managed to earn him. His form following World Cup 2010 has been very different,11 goals in 16 appearances.

Gomez has already managed to build a reputation for himself. Another good UEFA Champions League campaign and a good showing at EURO 2012 will help cement Gomez's name in world football.

MY VERDICT : We've finally found the real Super Mario! Just like the Nintendo character Mario, Gomez saves Bayern Munich(Princess Peach) and help continue the Bavarian dominance in Germany.

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