Super Mario’s World: Balotelli dreams of teaming up with Drogba and Henry

Suspended and unable to feature for Nice on Sunday, the Italy international’s thoughts went elsewhere, sending support to one friend, in particular

Ligue 1 action returned this weekend, but Mario Balotelli was forced to watch on from the stands as the Italian served the last of a two-game ban that prevented him from featuring in the Coupe de France defeat against Lorient a week earlier.

Without the Italy international, Nice were held to a goalless draw against bottom side Metz, ultimately losing their status as Ligue 1 leaders to Monaco.

It proved a frustrating afternoon as the hosts, deprived also of Younes Belhanda and Jean-Michel Seri among others, failed to profit from a match they had been expected to win.

But it certainly has not been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for Balotelli, who has comprehensively won the home support over already. Indeed, such has been his popularity, he is quite literally erasing all images of previous cult hero, Hatem Ben Arfa, from the city.

 

Come on nizza.. @ogcnice we never give up.. Niçois merci pour le murales

A photo posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

“Thanks for the mural,” the Italian told his fans on Instagram.

The wall previously featured an image of now Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Ben Arfa.

Le street art en hommage à Hatem au quartier des moulins à Nice a été terminé.
Par Dzio. #BenArfa #Nice06 pic.twitter.com/H4Xdf58eQE

— Hatem BEN ARFA (@HatemBENARFAn) June 23, 2016

Suspension means that Balotelli’s thoughts have been allowed to wander elsewhere, and he took time to offer support to goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who had sustained a serious knee injury.

“Come back soon brother. I love you, I’m close by,” he said.

 

Torna presto frate! Ti voglio bene .. ti sono vicino

A photo posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

Equally, Balotelli also hinted towards what might be his dream attacking line-up on Instagram. Perhaps fuelled by Liverpool’s high-profile clash with Manchester United on Sunday, which ended 1-1 at Old Trafford, Mario found an old photo of him with two legendary Premier League strikers.

“Imagine this attack,” he told his followers beside a picture of him flanked on one side by Arsenal great Thierry Henry (in Liverpool training gear) and on the other by Chelsea hero Didier Drogba.

 

#throwback Imagine this attack

A photo posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

Equally, he has been able to take some time out for family, spending time in the park with his daughter, Pia.

 

 

A video posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

But come next weekend, Balotelli is expected back in action for the first time in 2017. On Friday night, Nice will attempt to reclaim top spot in Ligue 1 when they visit Bastia’s Furiani home on Corsica – a notoriously difficult place for travelling sides to earn points.

With a strong Italian influence on the Ile de Beaute, the striker should feel at home, and he will want to be among the goals. 

Super Mario’s World: Balotelli begins 2017 by trolling PSG

The lovable rogue took aim at the reigning French champions via social media during his extended winter break following a red card in his final game of 2016

It may be a new year, but clearly Nice striker Mario Balotelli has not chosen to make becoming any less cheeky one of his resolutions.
 
Suspended from his side’s 2-1 Coupe de France loss against Lorient following a red card picked up against Bordeaux shortly before Christmas, the Italy international has had the opportunity to break for a few more days longer than he might have wished for.
 
He profited from his extended holiday by spending some time in Paris, and in doing so he has no doubt upset a number of PSG fans by sharing his thoughts on the French capital via a series of Instagram posts.

 

#nicois #toureiffelparis #niceisbetter

A video posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on


The first was a view of the iconic Eiffel Tower, sparkling with lights in the winter sky to mark the hour just as Big Ben does in London. Mario, though, was not impressed by the sight: “Ok, Ok, but Nice is better,” he commented cheekily while having a sly chuckle in the process.
 
Hours later, he posted a similar video, but this time taking a more direct dig at PSG.
 
“This is Paris, but don’t forget who’s on top … it’s Nice,” he smiled in the fashion of a loveable rogue, referring to the fact that his side are leading the capital club by five points heading into the second half of the campaign.

 

#oublierpas Bonne nuit! Good night

A video posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on



When Lucien Favre’s side restart their league season, however, they will be without the striker, who will sit out a further game after kicking out at Bordeaux defender Igor Lewczuk in the final game of 2016.
 
Indeed, PSG fans will be keen to point out that while Nice must now direct all their focus to the league after exiting both domestic cups and the Europa League, they still have four competitions to aim for.

 

Gooooood afternoon

A photo posted by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

At least Balo has clearly been having fun during his Christmas holidays, though!

Balotelli banned after red against Bordeaux

Ligue 1’s surprise title frontrunners will be without their star striker for their next two matches after he was issued his marching orders at the Stade Matmut-Atlantique

Mario Balotelli has been suspended for two matches after being sent off late in Nice’s Ligue 1 game at Bordeaux in December.

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The Italian striker was shown a straight red card in the 91st minute of the 0-0 draw at the Stade Matmut-Atlantique on December 21, during the final round of games before French football’s mid-season break.

Nice are the surprise leaders at this stage of campaign, sitting two points clear of second-placed Monaco and five ahead of reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain.

But they will be without the former Inter, Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool man due to his dismissal, which was prompted by a kick aimed at opponent Igor Lewczuk.

The 26-year-old striker was joined in seeing red by team-mate Younes Belhanda, who received his marching orders four minutes later.

The injured Moroccan, who would in any case be unfit to play, will formally sit out one game, while Balotelli is due to miss both the Coupe de France tie away against Lorient on Sunday and the resumption of the Ligue 1 season at home against relegation-threatened Metz.

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Balotelli can't fill Ibrahimovic's shadow – Subasic

The Italian striker has been in incredible form for Nice this season, but the Monaco goalkeeper does not see him on the same level as the former PSG frontman

Mario Balotelli may have got off to a flying start in Ligue 1 with Nice, but he cannot be considered a talisman of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ilk, according to Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

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The Italy international has been in excellent form since moving to France from Liverpool in the early weeks of the season and has thoroughly impressed with eight goals in nine games in the league despite being hindered by slight injuries.

Nice finished 2016 top of the French top flight, five points ahead of last season’s champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are yet to get going following the departure of iconic striker Ibrahimovic.

While Balotelli may be on fire for Nice, Subasic has dismissed the idea of him being Nice’s version of the enigmatic Swede.

“No way, not close! He is good player, but can’t fill Ibra’s shadow,” he told 24 sata.

“Nice is our main rival now, they play great, but it is only half way, we’ll see how long will they be able to keep this rhythm.

“What is happening to PSG? No Ibra, no party, haha! You don’t have to like him, but 30 goals and 15 assists per season… you have to respect him. Last season PSG finished 30 points ahead of us and if Ibra had played for Monaco, we would have been champions!”

Monaco currently sit two points behind Nice in Ligue 1 and are still competing in the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Champions League, meeting Manchester City in the second round of the latter.

Subasic admits finishing top of the domestic league is not a necessity for his side, and feels progressing to the next round of the Champions League would be a bonus. 

“In Monaco we are hungry for success, we haven’t won any trophy, so we ‘bite’,” the Croatia international added. “In attack we are very strong, but sometimes we get carried away and concede silly goals, at 3-0 or 4-0. 

“In our most recent game we were 2-0 up against Caen and instead of defending the lead, we kept attacking and ended up conceding a goal in 95th minute. We have young team, that lacks experience.

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“Our goal for this season is second place and a place in the Champions League. Everything above that would be a bonus, Including eliminating Man City.

“There is no easy opponent in the Champions League last 16. In previous years we had to face Arsenal and Juventus, now it is Manchester City… A big club, a big coach and a big team.

“They are not in perfect shape right now, but they will be big favorites against us. But, of course we have our chance, we just have to relax and play our best.”

Fernandinho proves himself to be Man City's new Balotelli

The Brazilian midfielder has emulated the controversial Italian, becoming the first City player to receive two red cards in the same season in five years

Fernandinho has proven himself to be Manchester City’s new Mario Balotelli by becoming the first player to pick up two Premier League red cards since the Italian did in 2011-12.

The Brazilian midfielder was red carded by referee Lee Mason following a two-footed challenge on Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson after just 32 minutes.

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It is actually the 31-year-old’s third sending off in his last six games for Pep Guardiola’s side, having also seen red in the Champions League.

2 – Fernandinho is the first Man City player to see two reds in a PL season since Mario Balotelli in 2011/12. Off.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 2, 2017

Fernandinho returned from suspension on Saturday in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool, but will now face further time off following his latest red card.

He is likely to miss four games, including the trip to Everton and the home game against fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.

The latest sending off is sure to be a blow to Guardiola, who heavily praised Fernandinho earlier in the season.

“If a team has three Fernandinhos, they would be champions,” the former Barcelona manager told reporters in October.

“We have one, but he is fast, he is intelligent, he is strong in the air, he can play several positions. When he sees the space he will run there immediately.

“When you need to make a correction, you just need one player to challenge, and he is there.”