Judging by his debut, Brendan Rodgers has broken through Mario Balotelli’s mental block

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Mario Balotelli didn’t score, but there’s a lot more that can be taken from his first hour in a Liverpool shirt.

Namely, the fact that he lasted an hour on the pitch.

Balotelli’s demeanor was that of a child who had been put in timeout and only allowed to return should he agree to behave.

There were a few moments that played into the notion that Rodgers is in control, not Balotelli.

In the opening minutes, Balotelli had a brilliant chance to get his Liverpool tenure off to a flying start, but instead struck his header right at Hugo Lloris who saved easily.  In the past, Old Balotelli would have sulked immediately, using early failures as an excuse to slump into a mental prison of overwhelming frustration. Instead, he plodded on like nothing happened, even applauding Sturridge’s pinpoint cross. He was rewarded with another headed chance about 10 minutes later.

The Italian was absolutely rocked by a challenge from Eric Dier that should have produced at least a yellow card, if not more, but Phil Dowd failed to punish the young Englishman. Instead of reacting angrily or even challenging the refereeing decision, Balotelli simply rolled around for a while before accepting the situation and playing on.

When Liverpool were awarded a penalty soon after halftime, the usually fiery Balotelli was nowhere to be seen when Steven Gerrard stepped up to take the spot kick.  In the past, Balotelli has been known to disrespect a team’s set-piece hierarchy, instead insisting he take every chance.

It harkened back to the build-up to the match, when NBC’s broadcast showed a clip of Balotelli speaking with Gerrard before the game. The conversation appeared to not only be conducted in a very respectful manner, but was clearly led by the Liverpool captain, with Balotelli listening and absorbing information about his new club.

Finally, the best moment came after the match. Usually guarded about internal affairs, Rodgers spoke freely in the postmatch press conference on one of his first training interactions with his new striker.

And mark he did, even providing cover down the flanks during Spurs buildup. It wasn’t the best of marking, as he committed a pair of fouls on the wing.  But it’s a start, and a very good one at that.

Roberto Mancini was unable to get control of Balotelli. Clarence Seedorf couldn’t do it. Even Jose Mourinho couldn’t do it.  But it appears early on, Rodgers has figured out the mercurial Italian. It will take time to see if this is truly the case, but if so, this could be the start of something special at Anfield.

After all, Balotelli is a special player. That much is obvious. He just needs someone to reign in his wild and primal emotions. Someone like Brendan Rodgers.

Juan Carlos Osorio to become new Mexico boss

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Mexico looks to have found a new manager in Juan Carlos Osorio.

Osorio, who had stints managing in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls, was most recently coaching in Brazil with Sao Paulo.

However, the Brazilian club released a statement today that Osorio had decided to step down from his position in order to take the Mexico job.

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Following Miguel Herrera’s firing in July, Ricardo Ferretti was named interim manager of El Tri, and will coach the side in Saturday’s CONCACAF playoff match against the United States. However, Ferretti has stated he will not stay with Mexico past that match, and will return to Liga MX, where he serves as manager of Tigres UANL.

Osorio had recently been linked with the Mexico job, but said he would take his time in making a decision.

His only other exposure to Mexican football came during a short stint in Liga MX managing Puebla. He lasted just seven matches before resigning and returning to manage in his native Colombia.

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He was in line to take charge of the Honduras national team in 2011, but he was unable to get out of the contract with the Colombian team he was managing at the time.

There has been no official confirmation of the hiring from the Mexican Federation.

Benzema and Benitez in a war of words at Real Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Rafael Benitez (R) of Real Madrid CF gives instructions to his player Karim Benzema (L) during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Malaga CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 26, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Karim Benzema has scored six goals in his eight appearances for Real Madrid this season, and is currently the top scorer in La Liga.

Despite being in great form, Benzema has continuously been substituted by manager Rafa Benitez, which has upset the French striker.

Benzema opened the scoring for Real in the Madrid derby over the weekend, but was taken off in the 77th minute. Atletico would go on to score minutes later as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

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Speaking after the game, Benzema said he was “fed up” with being taken off, but will continue to work to help his team.

Substitutions are what the coach decides, I’m just there to help my teammates.

It’s true I’m fed up of being taken off. I’m calm and will continue to work so I’m not always subtituted. He took me off to get a result, for defensive reasons.

It’s true that the electronic board always shows the No.9. Ask Benitez why that is.

When told about Benzema’s comments, Benitez said he made the change for tactical reasons, as Real was in the lead and he replaced the striker with a more defensive-minded player in midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

I needed to give the team some balance at that point in the game. I’m a huge fan of Benzema. If I were Karim, I’d also be angry at being taken off when I thought I was playing well and was on a great run of form.

What I’d do if I were Karim is score more goals so that next time I don’t have to be taken off and can say, ‘Hey, here I am.’

Benitez’s response comes off as a backhanded compliment, asking Benzema to “score more goals,” despite the player leading La Liga in scoring. In fact, Benzema has averaged a goal every 84 minutes this season, an incredible strike rate.

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Over the summer, Benzema was linked with a move away from Real Madrid, but he constantly denied the rumors and said he never thought about leaving the club, which he called the best in the world. Just a few matches into the new season, there may be some trouble in paradise.