Profile: The life and times of Mario Balotelli

Leave a comment

Eccentric Italian striker Mario Balotelli is expected to complete his transfer to Liverpool in the coming hours, as the talented yet temperamental forward will sign from AC Milan for $26 million and seal his return to the Premier League.

So much has happened in Balotelli’s career, we felt it was necessary for a timeline of events to try and break it all down. Above is a cool video, thanks to Football Daily for that, which showcases the top 10 most bizarre moments he’s been involved in. There are countless others which didn’t make the cut.

[RELATED: Balotelli arrives in Liverpool]

Below is a timeline of Balotelli’s life from his birth until now, as the Italian international forward has been on quite the journey during the first 24 years of his life.  After his signing is complete, Liverpool’s fans will be hoping there is plenty more success to add to this in the coming years for Super Mario.

Enjoy sifting through the life and time of Mario, so far.

Early life and Inter Milan

  • Born in Palermo, Italy on 12 August 1990, to Thomas and Rose Barwuah
  • Spent two years in hospital with intestinal problems as a baby
  • Placed into foster care with elderly Italian couple in Brescia, Italy, Silvia and Francesco Balotelli’s
  • Plays for lower league side Lumezzane from age 9-16
  • Aged 11, claimed he’d be Italy’s first black player on national team
  • Joins Inter Milan at age of 16 in 2007
  • Makes first team debut for Inter at the age of 17, came on as sub vs. Caligari 16 December 2007
  • Became an Italian citizen at the age of 18
  • Photographed with two notable Italian mobsters, enraging Inter boss Roberto Mancini
  • Suspended from Inter’s first team in 2009 by Jose Mourinho after several disciplinary problems
  • Subjected to racists chants in Italy by fans of opposition teams throughout 2009-10

Manchester City

  • In August 2010, joins Manchester City for $30 million on his 20th birthday, teaming up with Mancini again
  • On that same day, 10 Aug. 2010, he made his debut for the Italian national team vs. Ivory Coast
  • Drove into a women’s prison in Italy with his brother, ‘to take a look around’
  • Set his house on fire after lighting fireworks in his bathroom and shooting them out the window
  • Was found guilty of throwing darts at City’s academy players because he was ‘bored’
  • Won the FA Cup with Man City in 2011, their first trophy in 35 years
  • The famous “Why Always Me?” celebration occurred in City’s 6-1 win over Man United on Oct. 23, 2011
  • On May 13, 2012, set up Aguero to score City’s game-winning goal in the final seconds of the season, winning them the title
  • Scored twice vs. Germany in Italy’s 2-1 Euro 2012 semifinal, ran to the crowd and hugged his adopted mother
  • Has a training ground bust up with manager Roberto Mancini, plus other players, which led to his departure from City

AC Milan

  • Transferred to AC Milan in January 2013 for $30 million
  • Scored 12 goals in first 13 games for AC Milan in his first season back in Serie A
  • Subject of further racist abuse while back playing in Italy, and even from fans of the Italian national team
  • Scores winner in World Cup opener for Italy vs. England, his first World Cup appearance
  • Takes on-pitch ‘selfie’ during a preseason friendly vs. Man City for AC Milan in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • On August 22, 2014, arrives in Liverpool to tie up $26 million transfer. Back in England after a near two-year absence

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

Twitter/@BBCSport
Leave a comment

A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.