Back at his boyhood club, Mario Balotelli's AC Milan career started off like a newlywed couple. The honeymoon period between the Italy international and the Rossoneri consisted of 13 goals in 15 games from his January arrival. Fast forward a year and a half since his January 2013 arrival and the Italy international has missed his only two penalties in Italy, received heavy criticism and other issues have arisen, along with talk of a divorce between him and Milan surfacing. With these problems rising to the surface, Balotelli needed a bright display in Italy's World Cup opener against England, and he did just that.
Scoring the winner against the country who spat him out back to Italy, Mario Balotelli has proven why is he the first name on the team sheet by Cesare Prandelli. Italy went ahead through a powerful effort outside the box from Claudio Marchisio before England stopped the Italians celebrations and brought the game level through Daniel Sturridge. Italy needed Balotelli to stand up, and having received a lack of service from his teammates throughout the match, Balotelli looked like he needed to produce a moment of magic on his own.
Balotelli was eager to score against the Three Lions, and it looked like he would open his World Cup scoring with a cheeky chip over a lost Joe Hart. But it wasn't meant to be as he was denied this amazing goal by Phil Jagielka who cleared his effort off the line. This was a glimpse that he was at his clinical and poaching best, but the final ball he wanted was not delivered, not until Candreva showed his class. Antonio Candreva walked right past Leighton Baines and delivered the killer cross that Balotelli was needing the whole match, and he dispatched it past Joe Hart with a back post header.
The goal was just as important to Mario as it was to Italy. Balotelli was needing to show that he is the best option Italy have for a forward, and that he is still one of the best in the game. In recent weeks the hype around Ciro Immobile raised, as the new Borussia Dortmundsigning scored a hat trick against Brazilian club Fluminense in a warm up game. Balotelli though showed his class and why he started ahead of the Immobile, and delivered having scored the match winner, with the headlines reading 'Super Mario' as the hero.
With Italy in the forefront to march out of their group as the leaders, and not having anywhere near as much pressure as nations such as Germany, Brazil and Argentina, Balotelli has a chance to bring Italy back to that bracket of favourites. He has shown he is capable of reviving his nation and his career.