With Marseille fans, Mario Balotelli wants to extend the honeymoon

With Marseille fans, Mario Balotelli wants to extend the honeymoon

March 17, 2019 0 By admin

Mario Balotelli, March 10, facing Nice.
Mario Balotelli, March 10, facing Nice. JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER / REUTERS

Five goals in six and a half games. A video celebration, after an acrobatic success against Saint-Etienne (2-0), who went around the world. Some declarations of love for the blue and white people – the colors of OM – in the press and on social networks. It was enough for Mario Balotelli to seize, in seven weeks time, the heart of the Marseille fans.

"He plants, we win, it changes everything, sums up Emilie Peretti, figure of the North corner and the Marseille Ultra Powerful Ultra Club (MTP). I was one of those who had a doubt on his arrival, but today, even the most cautious must recognize that he has transformed the team. "

"Balo and OM are two crazy things to meet," ignites, "Bluffed", the head of the European Sports Service 1, Jean-François Pérès. "It's an accelerator of emotion, of confidence. He has, at the same time, solved the problem of efficiency of the attack and makes disappear the heavy atmosphere of the cloakroom. The fans have suffered so much from the inability of the Germain-Mitroglou duo that they fall in love with him, " continues this Marseillais by birth, author of a Illustrated history of Olympique de Marseille (Hugo BD editions, 320 pages, 2018).

In Marseille, "Balo" becomes unavoidable. Friday, Place de Saint-Henri in the depths of 16e Borough, the Denis Bar puts on its menu "spaghetti Balotelli". Either a solid pasta dish "Spicy Italian seafood sauce with flambé prawns". The relationship with the native of Palermo is not obvious, but the intention is there.

In the club's shops, the Italian striker's flocking jersey has joined the top five sales of the year and is doing as well as Luiz Gustavo, Florian Thauvin, Dimitri Payet and Hiroki Sakai. At the end of the season, he will have left them far behind.

"I want to stay"

Mario Balotelli took eight months to finalize his transfer from Nice to Marseille, but landed on favorable ground. "For one hundred and twenty years, waves of Italian immigration have succeeded each other here. Currently, many researchers, Italian intellectuals, who do not appreciate the political climate in their country, settle in the city, decrypts writer and director Philippe Carrese, co-author of the documentary Marseille the Italian. So, of course, there is a historical attachment to everything that comes from there: gastronomy, opera and, of course, football. " "In what city in France, could Balotelli have found a craze, such a tifoseria? " abounds Emilie Peretti.

Since he signed to OM on January 23, Mario Balotelli has been working on this favorable context. At Stade Vélodrome, he scored decisive goals. After the match against Nice, he invited himself to the "debrief" of Bengous, local star of the Web. OM sunglasses and tracks, the host-animator bellowed "Mario ti amo! " of joy, then banged his head against his desk.

The attacker also chose to give to Provence, main regional daily, his first interview. To better make his passion heard in Marseilles. OM? "The biggest club in France. It's another level, another atmosphere, another football. " The Velodrome? "From [stades] like that, there are very few, three or four, in the world. " Supporters? "The best I've seen so far. " A declaration of love made in French that the scorer, who only signed until the end of the season at OM, crowned with an expected message: "I told my agent that I was fine here. I want to stay. "

Elie Kodjo Elo, best known around the Velodrome under the nickname of Papah Elie, had a ridge cut. High and wide like the one Mario Balotelli wears. "Mario, he's already a bad boy from Marseille, explains the original Ivorian who is holding shop opposite the stadium. He has a bad reputation but has a good background. He has anger and wants to win. He is like us. "

Against Amiens, where the video refereeing deprived Balotelli of a doubled, Papah Elie has released in the wise rostrum Jean-Bouin banner "Olympique de Balo". A few days later, in front of the airport where the Marseillais flew to Rennes, he unrolled a red carpet under the footsteps of the player. Internet buzz assured. To those who reproach him for doing too much, Papah Elie defends himself: "My only goal is that Balotelli feels loved to stay as long as possible. Because I'm sure he'll capsize this city. "

"It's left or double"

Premonitory notice? Sunday, March 10, at the 74e minute of the match against Nice (1-0), Stade Velodrome greeted the output of his scorer by singing his name on a tune of Verdi. "With players a little" loco " [fou] like him, it's left or double, MTP Emilie Peretti agrees. He can become the equal of those we loved like Didier Drogba or Fabrizio Ravanelli … Or see the relationship turn quickly to vinegar. "

The dark side, all Marseille fans see it in the "bad boy" Super Mario. In Rennes (1-1), his grumpy performance reminded the ghost of the beginning of Nice season. Sunday night in Paris, which player will be on the pitch for the shock of the 29e Ligue 1 day against PSG?

"In Milan, Manchester City, Liverpool, Nice, Mario Balotelli went on a rampage for six months, one year, to prove his place. But once this psychological trigger crossed, he seems to sink into a depressed state, no longer celebrates his goals, no longer participates in the game So be careful not to weave too much praise and continue to be demanding with him ", analysis Romain Simmarano, columnist on the website specializing in Italian football Calciomio.fr.

"Maybe Marseille gets him back at an age when he is ready to land," adds the one following the player since his debut at Inter Milan and is also … advisor to the president LR of the Provence-Alpes – Côte d'Azur region, Renaud Muselier.

Tomorrow is still far

This annoying trend of disinterest, former Mario teammates Mario Balotelli still digest it. A week ago, Malang Sarr came out of the Stade Velodrome angry. Under his hood, the young defender of OGC Nice mulled his clashes with his ex-friend. "The referee acted as if it was me who heated him, but he started insulting me," raged international hope, back against his former partner he accuses of having "Let go Nice".

"As with the coach Marcelo Bielsa, it's a passionate story between two very unstable entities that will exist only on the court, or, at best, the medium term, predicts Jean-François Pérès. If I were in the place of the leaders of Marseilles, I would not seek to attach his services more than an additional season. "

In the spirit of OM supporters, tomorrow is still a long way off. A good result on the lawn of the Parc des Princes, Sunday evening against the untouchable rival Paris, would be enough for general happiness. Still dreaming of a qualification for the Champions League that would give Mario Balotelli more motivation to extend his lease.

Gilles Rof (Marseille, correspondent)

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