Tag Archives: Italy

Saturday Review + Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Hello, everyone! I’ve been writing about the World Cup. All of my articles about the tournament are displayed quite nicely in the tab that says “World Cup.”

A few quick points:

-Costa Rica beat Uruguay. Hurray for CONCACAF! MLS referee Mark Geiger did well refereeing the Colombia-Greece game. Hurray for MLS!

-I wrote a piece about Mario Balotelli. Mario Balotelli scored. I should quickly write about American players before Monday.

-I almost wrote about Wayne Rooney. But I didn’t. Sorry, England. My bad.

-You’re welcome, Italy.

-Uruguay vs. England will basically be an elimination game. If Uruguay lose, they won’t have a chance. Just like that. I won’t go into the details of why, but if England lose and Italy fails to beat Costa Rica, the Three Lions would be mathematically eliminated. If Uruguay and Italy both win, England would need to beat Costa Rica, and Italy would need to beat Uruguay, and even then it comes down to three-way goal difference.

-Group D is incredible, by the way. Three really good teams. And England.

Enough of that useless drivel. It’s time for more useless drivel! But this time with numbers!

Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Past rankings in brackets.





Yeah, maybe 5 was a bit generous, and maybe 4 still is, but with losses to their two closest group-winning rivals (sorry, Costa Rica) they seem likely to win Group D, which mean an easy route to at least the quarters.


They got demolished. But they’re still Spain. Chile certainly have flaws, and if Vicente Del Bosque can get his team straightened out, they can surely have a chance in their final game vs. Australia.


After seeing them crush the reigning champions, I think that they might have a shot to win it. Then again, not every opponent will have world-renowned comedy duo Pique and Ramos doing their sketch where they pretend to be centerbacks (I love that one–almost as good as the one where they went camping).



They won 3-0 against the last non-Spain team to win the European Championship. That sounds less impressive when you realize that the team that they beat is Greece, but it’s still something.


They should’ve done better against Australia, but a win is a win and I’m not breaking my rules again.




Uruguay seriously lost against Costa Rica? By multiple goals?



They lost against a superior team. Nothing to make me change their position.



They beat a team they were supposed to beat. But they did it well (it totally should’ve been 3-0, the ref hates Giovani Dos Santos) and they proved that they aren’t–at least not completely–2013 Mexico.





21(21)-Ivory Coast

Les Elephants beat Japan, but according to my ranking, they were supposed to do that anyways. I guess. They’ll move higher if the teams above them do poorly.

22(28)-Costa Rica

Costa Rica beat Uruguay! I have them so low because I’m sure if it will last (they’ll get another big jump if they can get a result against Italy) but a CONCACAF team is winning in a group with the reigning Euro runners-up, the reigning Copa America champions, and the people who made the sport!





They lost against a team whose big star can’t even pronounce his own name.


That Keisuke Honda goal was nice, eh? I wish it would’ve stayed that way, because “Honda Gets Japan Out of the Garage” is a great headline.


Did anyone expect them to do any better than that?



Chile is a very good team, and they made them work hard for a win.




That’s it! And yeah, my power rankings are seriously inconsistent and basically just terrible. But I kind of warn you by saying “Totally Inaccurate.” I’m not being sarcastic. Power rankings in general are very silly looking, because there are no default criteria for something as vague as “power rankings.”

(Note: while re-reading that, I felt weird by saying “are” and then not saying a word that ended in “s.” And then I thought about how much I hate the word “criteria” because it’s plural in its most common form, yet it doesn’t end with the letter “s.” And then I realized how much I love the word “criteria,” for no real reason. I spent so much time thinking about “criteria,” and thus saying “criteria” in my head, so now it doesn’t sound like a word. Criteria? Is that contagious? Is that near Chicago? I think you mean “Arjen Robben.”)

Anyways, if you need me, I’ll be locked in my closet, not coming out until I make a full-length preview on Ghana-USA.


Can Super Mario Steal the Show at the World Cup?

Mario Balotelli is 23 years old. At first thought, he feels older, because he was only 17 when he made his Serie A debut for Inter Milan in late 2007. I mean, in 2007, Cristiano Ronaldo was playing for Manchester United, teammates with Gary Neville, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and a young Gerard Pique. David Beckham was in his first season for the LA Galaxy. Avram Grant had recently been hired to replace Jose Mourinho as Chelsea manager.

The point is, Mario Balotelli seems, at first glance, older than he really is, because he’s been playing for a while. But in reality he’s much younger than his age.

I’m not saying that he’s stupid, but rather that he’s child-like. And it’s not always in a bad way. When you imagine Balotelli as an 8-year-old boy, everything about him makes sense.

He sometimes does or says things that he shouldn’t. Things that a 35-year-old experienced professional would never do, but an 8-year-old would. He sometimes seems to lose concentration; disappearing from games. If you’ve ever met an 8-year-old boy, you know that they aren’t the most focused. But in Euro 2012, and the 2013 Confederations Cup, he shined. For Italy, he’s scored 12 goals in 30 apps, and 7 in 13 last year alone. Of his 12 goals, 10 came in competitive fixtures, while one of the friendly goals was against Brazil.

None can argue that Mario Balotelli has the talent to succeed.

But many people argue his play. I don’t want to hear anyone say that Balotelli had a bad season for Milan in 2013-14. It wasn’t good, per se, but 14 goals is nowhere near bad. If anyone except Balotelli would’ve scored 14 goals, they’d be praised, and rewarded with a National Team call-up (unless they’re Brazilian, Spanish, German, or Samir Nasri). Yeah, he has the talent to score 30 goals a year, but does he have the responsibility to? No way. Players should never be compared to their potential. They should be compared to other players.

Balotelli gets far too much criticism from the media. Either because of something he did or said that’s being blown out of proportion (if he doesn’t put cheese on a ham and cheese sandwich it would be called a scandal) or because he isn’t getting Messi or Ronaldo numbers (how dare he?!) or because he’s Mario Balotelli and they just want to stick microphones and cameras into his face.

How do you think an 8-year-old would react to that?

Mario Barwuah was born on August the 12th, 1990 to Ghanaian immigrants, in Palermo, Italy. He eventually adopted the last name of his foster parents, Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, Jewish-Italians (the latter’s parents were Holocaust survivors).

Not all Italians are racist. But racism is a very big problem in Italy. Their dislike of foreigners almost lost them a very good soccer player; Balotelli couldn’t get Italian citizenship until age 18, even though he was born in Italy. They don’t treat immigrants like they do in other countries (*cough*USA*cough*). When Balotelli was 17, Ghana called him up. He declined, stating that he wished to play for Italy.

Life wasn’t easy for Balotelli. As I said, racism is a problem in Italy. A story goes that Balotelli one time attempted to wash off the dark color from his skin with hot water. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it encapsulates the hardship he went through.

Despite all this, he still loved Italy. When he got Italian citizenship, he said that it was “more exciting that making [his] debut in Serie A.” Two days short of his 20th birthday, in Italy’s first game after the 2010 World Cup, the then-soon-to-be Manchester City forward made his first appearance for Italy. Some people turned off their TVs in disgust of seeing a black player play for Italy. This is 2010, by the way, not 1910.

Mario Balotelli is Italian. He’s Italian whether they want him to be or not. He’s Italian whether they deserve him or not.

In my opinion he’s the only player on the team who can make this Italy team do great virtually by himself. Andrea Pirlo is fantastic, but he’s not the guy to score the iconic goals. Italy have a lot of obstacles to win a World Cup, but if they do win it, Mario Balotelli will have a key role in it.

Balotelli is playing to earn respect for himself, and to earn respect for other Italians who may have different ethnic backgrounds. If a black player helps Italy win a World Cup, don’t you think that racism would decrease at least to a certain extent? He’s not just playing to earn respect for himself in the country of Italy, but also in the world. He’s viewed as either a failure or just stupid to many people. They think he’s talented, but they punish him for not showing it.

But in his mind, I’m sure, he’s not really thinking about that. He wants to help his beloved Italy win. And he wants to play soccer. Just like he did as a child.