Mario up there with the best says Hart
- 17 March 2012 13:31
- Posted by David Clayton
Joe Hart believes Mario Balotelli is perhaps the best penalty-taker in the world.
Mario has successfully converted every penalty he’s taken for the Blues so far with consummate ease, including the last-gasp high-pressure winner against Spurs in January and another against Sporting Lisbon.
Hart - who saved Scott Sinclair's spot-kick at Swansea last Sunday - admits he doesn't normally get near the Italian's training ground pens.
“Yeah, I hate to say it, he’s one of the best I’ve ever faced,” smiled Hart.
“He's got this mad ability where he doesn't need to look at the ball. If you don't move he kicks it in the corner; if you do move he kicks it the other way – it’s almost impossible to stop.
“I need to get inside his head and I reckon if England played Italy, I would be able to stop him!”
Hart almost got his own name on the score sheet against Sporting with a dramatic, last-gasp header that went inches past the post as City staged a remarkable fight-back against the Portuguese side.
He admits he believed he'd scored his first official City goal as he saw the ball heading for the corner of the net - but a brilliant fingertip save from keeper Patricio denied him a moment to savour.
"I couldn't believe it, I thought it was in," he said. "It was unlucky, but that's football.
The fans were fantastic against Sporting and we didn't give them what they deserved in the first half. Hopefully we can take some positives out of the second half and move on for the rest of the season
"We need to play well in every game because there are not many left now. We're one point behind the leaders of the Premier League, we're a good team and we've got nothing to worry about. We'll go into the game against Chelsea as favourites - and we should be favourites."
As for his own personal development, Joe believes he is far from the finished article. And it’s bad news for strikers up and down the land…
“I can definitely improve,” he said. “I like to think I'm improving in all sorts of areas. All keepers are going to have good patches and bad patches and at the moment I seem to be in a good one - but I know that can change. You need to be mentally strong, more than anything.”