Mario Balotelli’s Nice hosted Paris Saint-Germain this weekend in what was a hugely important match in the Ligue 1 title race. Nice did what they’ve done all year and upset the odds by whooping up on PSG by a score of 3-1, and Balotelli scored a pretty goal to kick off the beatdown. By the end of the match, PSG were so frustrated by their impending loss and the season-killing implications of it that two of their players did dumb things to get themselves sent off.
No moment was as perfectly insulting as the above video, in which Balotelli—by that point already up 2-0 and looking to waste some time in the corner—begins to practically dance with the ball at his feet, so high is his confidence and so low in his regard for the dignity and feelings of the PSG players he was humiliating. PSG’s Blaise Matuidi gets so annoyed with Balo’s antics that he eventually runs over and just rams into Balotelli out of sheer frustration.
This of course only serves as evidence that Super Mario’s intentional provocations had been successful, so the impish Italian doubles down on it and continues to smile in Matuidi’s face and pester him during the resulting set piece. It was a great moment of trolling from one of the sport’s preeminent agitators. Here it is from a different angle:
Balotelli is wrapping up one of the best, most quintessentially Balotelli seasons of his career. He’s scored 14 goals in 21 league appearances for Nice, and has either scored or been carded in all but five of his 25 games in all competitions. Balo’s goal and Nice’s performance most likely ended PSG’s title hopes, which will probably get their manager fired, could very well lead to their best player leaving, and would be the final sour note on a season which will forever be defined by their shocking capitulation in the Champions League to Barcelona.
This ascendent Balotelli knew the stakes of the match, and when facing the emotionally vulnerable PSG, decided to provoke them in the middle of the game just because. Soccer and life are better when Balotelli is prominent in them.