This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
Sometimes, in our darker moments, we wonder whether there's a point to this life. Like all the other young people in Britain, we wake up, trudge to work, and make extremely shareable content for no discernible reason. In the olden days, people were nobly tilling the fields, or shepherding their sheep, or hunched up down a mineshaft trying to dig raw materials out of the earth in squalid conditions. Those were better times, simpler times, and happier times for all involved. Now, we have nothing but ennui, self-loathing, and a hateful sense of entitlement to luxuries like 'down time' and 'work-life balance' and 'not getting miner's lung'.
Nevermind, though, because it's Friday, and that means it's time to watch some mega good goooaaaalllss!
THE REDEMPTION OF MARIO BALOTELLI
Before his awful dalliance with Liverpool, everyone had a favourite Mario Balotelli moment. Maybe it was that time when he got sent off mere minutes after being told to keep his cool at Inter Milan, or his 'Why Always Me?' celebration against Manchester United, or his crucial intervention in the build-up to Sergio Aguero's famous title-winning goal. By the time he arrived on Merseyside, however, Balotelli seemed to have lost much of his love for the game, with his new club unable or unwilling to coax him back to peak form. His time at Anfield was one long, unhappy trudge towards obscurity, and it made us sad to see a beautiful eccentric condemned to see out his days alone.
Balotelli was a caged bird at Liverpool, a radiant butterfly with pins in its wings. Now, he has been set free, and is soaring above the earth once more. Having secured a move to Nice over the summer, Balotelli has made a fast start in France, nabbing four goals in his first three games with the club. Two of those were scored against Monaco in a 4-0 win on Wednesday evening, and the second was very impressive indeed.
After a sweet through ball from the midfield, Balotelli showed a turn of pace on the right wing which he hasn't exhibited in several years. Charging in behind the Monaco defence, controlling the ball with two deft touches, he burst into the box and shaped to shoot. Running at high speed and pressured by his marker, he could easily have blasted a shot into the stands. Instead, he sent a low, elegant finish past the keeper. Manger mes buts!
THE FRANCK RIBERY TWIST-AND-TURN
Like Balotelli, Franck Ribery is coming off the back of a tough few years in his career. A series of niggling injuries have restricted his appearances for Bayern Munich over the last couple of seasons and, at 33 years of age, he needs to be playing more than ever before. He's back to full fitness now, however, and, judging by this goal against Hertha Berlin, back to his emphatic best.
With 15 minutes on the clock at the Allianz Arena, Bayern stroked their way effortlessly towards the Hertha box. The move seemed to break down when David Alaba pinged a cross into the nearest defender but, controlling the ball once more, he found Ribery with his second attempt. Ribery seemed to be shaping up to shoot, before dummying the ball past two defenders. He then did it again, and again, before slotting low between the keeper's legs. 'Cumface', as our fellow youths might say.
THE VICIOUS VERDI VOLLEY
Over to Serie A now, where the football is actually quite good again. Having declined in quality to the point where the Italian teams of old seemed a distant memory, the battle for the Scudetto has taken on an epic personality once more. Meanwhile, the traditional mid-table sides have improved, to the point where they usually batter their Premier League counterparts in the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
Having finished 14th last term, Bologna don't have Europa League football to worry about at the moment. Currently flying in seventh, however, they could feasibly make a European cameo next year. Nobody can deny they have the quality to impress on the grand stage, not after seeing goals like this one from Simone Verdi. Playing in their clash against Sampdoria on Wednesday night, he scored a volley so sweet, so sublime, that you'll barely believe your eyes when you see it hit the back of the back of the net. Scorchio!