Yesterday's group C Euro 2012 match-up featured the reigning Spanish champions against an under-fire Italian side. The shockingly balanced game finished 1-1.
The starting 11 of each side listed one Manchester City player, David Silva for Spain, and Mario Balotelli for Italy. Both players were largely influential in the outcome of the game, but not all for positive reasons.
Let's start with David Silva. In the first 30 minutes of the match, Silva looked to be Spain's best goalscoring option, as del Bosque refused to play a center forward. Silva had a few attempts on goal in quick succession, but he was most influential as a passer.
In a Spanish side boasting players such as Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, and Xabi Alonso, it is extremely hard to stand out; however, Silva's mercurial performance allowed him to do just that. Silva kept pace with his Barcelona and Real Madrid counterparts throughout the whole match, and was involved in a stunning passing play which ended with his assist to Fabregas.
Silva's assist and Fabregas' goal put Spain back on track with Italy, just minutes after Di Natale's goal. Silva looked in his best form, despite the Spanish team's struggle.
Unfortunately for Italy, Mario Balotelli did not fare nearly as well as his Manchester City teammate. Balotelli looked confident and determined to impress as the match started, but as the battle progressed, his frustration began to get the best of him.
Balotelli fought for a few chances in the first half, but failed to see any of them materialize. As is typical of the volatile, mercurial striker, Balotelli struggled to keep his composure as the Spanish refused to give him ground.
Mario was unable to influence the game before the half, as after a warning or two, Balotelli was shown the yellow in the 37th minute for a challenge on Jordi Alba.
The second half saw Balotelli clean in on goal, with Cassano in space to his left. Mario opted to take on Casillas by himself, but took an eternity to act, and allowed Ramos to recover the ball inside the Spanish box.
This was the last we saw of Mario, as he was replaced by the Italian goalscorer Di Natale in the 55th minute.
The match saw the best and worst of two of the City stars. Silva played fabulously, and seems to be on pace to continue his good form throughout the competition. Balotelli is a different case, as his role as a starter may come into question. The form of the other Italian front men may leave Balotelli out of the picture for Thursday's clash with Croatia, as both Di Natale and Cassano played fabulously.