At the conclusion of a disappointing 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic in UEFA qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, Italy failed to wrap up the top spot Group B.
It didn’t help that Mario Balotelli was sent off for receiving two yellow cards in a three-minute span, leaving Italy to try and find a winner while a man down from the 72nd minute on.
On his way off the pitch, the Italian punched the tunnel in frustration.
Balotelli, known for his fiery attitude both on and off the pitch, took to Twitter to respond to criticism he was receiving following the incidents on the field.
The tweet translates to “Write whatever you want, but in the Confederations Cup cheer for another nation. I tell you that from my HEART. (And watch the game again. ALL OF IT.)”
In the end, Italy will probably still win their group, being up by 4 points with 4 matches remaining. However, it’s another tally mark in the Mario Balotelli saga, and it remains to be seen when it becomes too much for those in charge.
The 22-year-old is supremely talented, and one of the world’s best up front, but constantly hurts his team with rash decisions on the field.
Italian manager Cesare Prandelli admitted he was going to substitute his striker when he received his first yellow, but didn’t have time before the sending off. “Balotelli has to learn how to accept situations and he needs to grow in that sense. We will drum that message into him. I was going to substitute him, but I didn’t have time.”
Prandelli didn’t link it to any previous incidents. “We saw him in the locker room and clearly he was disappointed, but I don’t think it’s a problem.”
Legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon thought Balotelli was unlucky in being sent off. “He was unlucky, as it was a mid-air collision that happens many times and I think the booking was harsh, especially considering he was carded a few minutes earlier. It was a foul, but a second yellow for that is excessive. His angry reaction was down to his disappointment, nothing more.”