Super Mario’s World: Brazilian Balotelli in gym fight

The fun-loving Italian indulged in a spot of play fighting with Yoan Cardinale and got in touch with his South American side this week

Mario Balotelli was back on the goal trail this week, keeping Nice’s title ambitions alive with a 2-2 home draw against Caen.

Although they have slipped five points behind leaders Monaco, a defeat would surely have been critical in their hopes of lifting the Ligue 1 crown, but that is exactly where they appeared to be heading as they fell 2-0 behind with less than a quarter of the match to go.

Until that point, Balotelli had not had a great influence on the game, yet he pounced following a free kick to scramble his side back into the match. Five minutes later, Stathis Donis fired a shot off both posts and into the net to draw them level. Lucien Favre’s side could not find a winner, but at least their championship aspirations remain realistic.

Unlike some players, who prefer to ignore football when not playing, Mario follows the sport closely and celebrated Dries Mertens’ goal for Napoli against Real Madrid on Twitter, though the Serie A side would ultimately be eliminated.

Merteeeeens.. e uno!

— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) March 7, 2017

It was clear he was keeping a close eye on events at Camp Nou, where Barcelona executed an astonishing comeback to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League 6-1, and he paid particular homage to Neymar.

The Brazilian was in outstanding form for the Catalans as he scored twice in the dying seconds to guide them through, against the French champions – a team that Balotelli has trolled in the past. However, with Nice now trailing PSG in Ligue 1, he chose instead to praise the forward, posting simply: “Crack.”

 

@neymarjr #crack #hermano

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Perhaps inspired by the Barca star, the Italy international has notably been in touch with his Brazilian side away from the field. Nice centre-back Dante, a long-time member of the Selecao squad, is a keen ukelele player, and Balotelli was delighted to be central to a pagode jam – a traditional style of music from the South American nation – that the veteran was enjoying. 

 

Volaaaaare.. ooooohh @dantebahia

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Not only was the 26-year-old serenaded by his team-mate, he also had the opportunity to test out Dante’s haircut. Who knows where Balotelli found the wig from, but it’s a strong bet that the striker, who is notoriously flambouyant with his choice of haircuts, will not be dabbling in the wild afro of his colleague. Nevertheless, Mario seemed to enjoy it while it lasted.

 

Con mio fratello @dantebahia With my brother “””” #esporteespetacular #we

A post shared by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

Capoeira, the graceful Brazilian martial art, was probably not on his mind earlier this week when he was embroiled with goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale in a training room wrestling match. However, there was clearly nothing malicious in the bout.

 

Fight club @yoancardi #amie

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Nice’s first-choice goalkeeper has often been on the receiving end of Balotelli’s pranks this season, but on this occasion he was forced to the ground by his team-mate, who looked in complete control of the battle, which left team-mates scrambling for cover. The Italian got in position to execute an arm bar, but perhaps wisely thought better of it before letting his opponent free.

Indeed, Balo has been all about the love this week and took the chance to wish all the women in his life ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ last Wednesday. In particular, he singled out his daughter, Pia and his mother.

 

Happy women’s day to all of you #pia #mamma #cri And all of you women out there #youareamazing

A post shared by Mario Balotelli

VIDEO: Balotelli scores Nice opener in comeback draw

The former Liverpool striker netted his 10th goal of the season for the Ligue 1 title challengers as they came from behind to draw 2-2 with Caen.

With his club losing 2-0 to Caen in a Ligue 1 contest on Friday, Mario Balotelli initiated a comeback by tapping home Nice’s opening goal in the 71st minute.

PSG slam Champs-Elysees claim

The Italian’s easy finish, which was made possible by a Dante header across the goalmouth, was Nice’s first goal in a six-minute span. In the 77th minute, substitute Anastasios Donis scored to put the teams on level terms.

Balotelli’s second-half strike was his 10th league goal of the season for Nice. 

⚽ GOOOAAAL!
71′ @FinallyMario gives the Niçois a chance in this one!#OGCNSMC 1-2
Live

Nice 2-2 Caen: Balotelli inspires comeback but hosts miss chance to go joint-top

After falling 2-0 down at home, the Ligue 1 title contenders managed to salvage a draw thanks to goals from the Italian and Anastasios Donis

Mario Balotelli inspired a two-goal comeback but Nice missed the chance to join Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 on Friday, avoiding their first home league defeat of the season by drawing 2-2 with Caen at Allianz Riviera on Friday.

Caen beat Nice 1-0 earlier in the campaign and looked on track to complete the double when they led 2-0 after 50 minutes, the visitors opening the scoring through Ivan Santini.

Vincent Bessat stood up a fine left-wing cross for Santini to tower above Dante and beat goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale with a powerful header, and Caen doubled their advantage in farcical fashion five minutes after the restart.

Nice Caen

Santini turned provider for his side despite his lofted throughball appearing to be comfortable for Dante to deal with until Cardinale raced from his goal and misjudged his attempted clearance, leaving Yann Karamoh free to get the better of the Brazilian defender and slot into the open net.

Nice’s day worsened when Wylan Cyprien suffered a seemingly serious knee injury as he landed awkwardly on his right leg, but Balotelli gave the hosts hope of a fightback with 19 minutes to go.

The Italian finished from close-range after Dante beat goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre to the ball and headed across goal for him to score for the first time since January.

82′ They have never given up and have created an incredible atmosphere during this game! #IssaNissa #OGCNSMC 2-2 pic.twitter.com/M0Z730wN9j

— OGC Nice (@ogcnice_eng) March 10, 2017

Substitute Anastasios Donis levelled six minutes later when Dalbert’s cross broke to him in the box and his untidy finish clipped both posts before crossing the line.

Mickael Le Bihan volleyed wildly over and Nice had strong penalty appeals rejected when Damien Da Silva appeared to handle the ball, but Lucien Favre’s men had to settle for a draw that, temporarily at least, moves them above Paris Saint-Germain and into second place, two points behind leaders Monaco.


Pogba, Balotelli & footballers celebrate International Women's Day

Players and teams around the globe have paid tribute to the amazing work of the women in their lives and women everywhere

Every March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world to commemorate the struggle for women’s rights

It is used to highlight the journey towards equality, with women celebrating their achievements, while men use it as a way to show their appreciation for the ladies in their lives.

Footballers around the globe have joined in the celebration, using their social media accounts to pay tribute to the struggle for women’s rights and to also share with their loved ones.

Paul Pogba, Mario Balotelli and Gonzalo Higuain are just some of the names to celebrate the day.

 

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pic.twitter.com/czTVtWx0Hu

— Gonzalo Higuaín (@G_Higuain) March 8, 2017

 

A post shared by Mario Balotelli

Super Mario’s World: Balotelli reveals Figo admiration

Nice are still very much in the running to win Ligue 1 after beating Dijon, and though the Italian did not score, he did a lot of work

After a couple of difficult weeks, it was back to business for Mario Balotelli. The striker made his return from suspension as Nice went to Dijon on Saturday, and while he was not able to break his away-day duck in Ligue 1, he did help his side to victory.

Life was made difficult for the title hopefuls at Stade Gaston Gerrard, with a packed defence foiling the efforts of Balotelli and his team-mates for over an hour. Isolated, the Italy international found it tough to make inroads, although one fierce shot was repelled by Baptiste Reynet.

Wylan Cyprien proved Nice’s matchwinner with a deft finish but Balotelli, who had been criticised for a lack of work-ethic would have silenced some of his critics with a busy and determined display.

Certainly, he practised what he had preached on social media before the game when he posted a picture before the encounter with the fans’ motto ‘Issa Nissa’.

 

#issanissa

A post shared by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

 

#equipe #unis @ogcnice Bravi les gars

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After the game, he helped to dispel rumours of dressing room unrest as he posted a selfie with the rest of the squad, with the striker smiling, front and centre. “Team, together. Well done to the guys!” he said.

Earlier in the week, Balotelli gave a glimpse into his past and one of the players who has influenced his career.

Throwback Thursday saw him praise Luis Figo, with whom he played for two seasons as the Portuguese was winding down his career at Inter. This is not a new revelation, though – speaking in 2014, Mario named Figo as one of his top three team-mates of all-time along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrea Pirlo.

 

#tbt @luis__figo when I could learn from this amazing player .

A post shared by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

While there has been growing speculation over his future, the striker appears typically cool.

 

#goodmorning Come on energy energy

A post shared by Mario Balotelli (@mb459) on

 

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If he feels under pressure, he is certainly not showing it. 

On Friday, Nice kick off the Ligue 1 calendar for matchday 29 at home against Caen, with Balotelli aiming to get back on the goal trail.