Mario Balotelli seemed like AC Milan’s biggest hope to take a lead against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, giving their fans something to cling to in an otherwise wretched season.
Instead, just like things have the entire year for the Serie A giants, it all went wrong.
Not only did Atletico score in the waning seconds, stealing a win and away goal and leaving Milan with nothing to show for a promising performance, but the home side also lost their season’s best player.
Balotelli fell awkwardly on his shoulder, leaving him with a damaged AC joint and unable to make the pitch for at least 10 days, according to the Associated Press.
10 days, as the report says, as long as “there are no complications.” Most AC Milan fans are at the point where nothing would surprise them, including complications.
As it stands, however, Balotelli will be back for the reverse Champions League fixture in Madrid. Unfortunately, the immediate future is the biggest concern for the Rossoneri would be their upcoming Serie A fixtures.
With a trip to Sampdoria on Sunday and Juventus the following weekend, Milan will be forced to play 29-year-old striker Giampaolo Pazzini. The Pescia-born forward has himself struggled with injury this year, seeing just 202 Serie A minutes this season.
Sitting in ninth position in the Serie A standings – 18 points back of a Champions League qualification spot and a whopping 31 off the top – Balotelli’s loss will be another blow to Milan’s chance to salvage whatever they can on the disappointing season.
A former Sevilla star is training in MLS, as the veteran midfielder looks to continue his career stateside.
Diego Capel was spotted training with the Seattle Sounders on Thursday, despite club manager Brian Schmetzer initially playing coy on who the player was.
[ MORE: Where does Zlatan rank in MLS superstar signings? ]
“We have a player that’s in camp,” Schmetzer said. “He’s a good player. He’s probably worn the number 10 in his career. Maybe as a youth player. Maybe it’s just a player borrowing Nico’s jersey.”
The Sounders have suffered several major injuries in their attack to start the 2018 MLS season, which also contributed to the team’s derailment in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
While Capel traditionally has played on the wing throughout his career, the Sounders could use all the help they can get in the attacking third.
Jordan Morris has already been ruled out for the season with an ACL tear, while Nicolas Lodeiro and Will Bruin are currently sidelined for the club with respective injuries.
Capel came up through the ranks of Sevilla, while also playing for notable European sides such as Sporting Lisbon and Anderlecht.
The 30-year-old last played for the Belgian side in 2017, but has been a free agent since.
A roundup of Friday’s international friendlies….
England suffered an early setback in Holland after Joe Gomez limped off the pitch with an injury. However, the Three Lions bounced back with a 1-0 victory when Jesse Lingard struck after halftime.
[ MORE: USMNT reveals new kits ahead of Paraguay friendly ]
A drastic second-half turnaround for Colombia gave the South American side a 3-2 victory over France. Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar had Les Bleus out in front in the first half with a 2-0 lead, but the Colombians responded with three unanswered finishes to grab the win.
Mohamed Salah‘s second-half strike wasn’t enough to pace Egypt due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s late brace for Portugal (his 80th and 81st international goals), while Victor Moses‘ penalty kick helped Nigeria top Poland.
Meanwhile, Brazil picked up a convincing 3-0 win over this summer’s hosts Russia. Barcelona teammates Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho each scored in the second half, after Miranda opened the scoring for the Selecao.
Germany and Spain settled for an exciting 1-1 draw, while Argentina topped Italy, 2-0, without Lionel Messi or Sergio Aguero in the lineup.
Below are all the scores from today’s friendlies involving teams that will play in Russia this summer.
Portugal 2-1 Egypt
Argentina 2-0 Italy
Germany 1-1 Spain
Netherlands 0-1 England
Poland 0-1 Nigeria
Scotland 0-1 Costa Rica
France 2-3 Colombia
Uruguay 2-0 Czech Republic
Japan 1-1 Mali
Russia 0-3 Brazil
Saudi Arabia 1-1 Ukraine
Greece 0-1 Switzerland
Tunisia 1-0 Iran
Serbia 1-2 Morocco
Peru vs. Croatia — 8:30 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. Iceland — 10 p.m. ET
Joe Gomez‘s World Cup hopes may have taken a major hit on Friday after the Liverpool defender exited England’s match against Holland after just 10 minutes.
[ MORE: USMNT releases new kits ahead of Paraguay friendly ]
The extent of the 20-year-old’s injury is unknown at this point, but the Reds defender was in noticeable pain as he limped off the pitch at the Amsterdam Arena.
Gomez was replaced by Leicester City center back Harry McGuire following the stoppage.
The Jonathan Gonzalez situation still stings for many U.S. Men’s National Team supporters, and the encouragement from Mexico’s camp regarding the midfielder’s bright future isn’t making things better for Americans.
[ MORE: Where does Zlatan rank among stars to come to MLS? ]
El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio reaffirmed his belief that Gonzalez is one of the many promising prospects within the Mexican national team ahead of the country’s friendly against Iceland on Friday.
Gonzalez, who switched his national team allegiance to Mexico from the U.S. earlier this year, has been called up for the match after the 18-year-old made his Mexico senior team debut against Bosnia back in January.
“Jonathan, to start with, is part of a group of Mexican players that I’ve referred as having a good present and a promising future and that excites me to continue, along with Edson Alvarez, Omar Govea and others that aren’t here like Orbelin [Pineda] and Erick [Gutierrez],” Osorio said at a news conference on Thursday.
“Gonzalez is a good midfielder and can fight for a place with anyone. Like everyone, he has to improve a lot of things to win a place.
“After deciding to play for Mexico, it is our responsibility to give him a platform to develop and consolidate himself as a player.
“That’s why he’s in this call-up, and hopefully he can establish himself and show the qualities I mentioned.”
The former USMNT youth prospect has quickly become a regular for club side Monterrey, who currently sits sixth in the Liga MX table.
Gonzalez has appeared in 38 matches across all competitions for the four-time league champions and earned honors in the Liga MX Best XI following the 2017 Apertura season.