The Blancos boss feels that his fellow Italian has been made a scapegoat for the Premier League club’s disastrous start to the 2014-15 campaign
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti feels it is far too easy to blame Mario Balotelli for Liverpool’s problems this season, arguing that the Anfield outfit’s current issues are more “complex”.
The Reds were the story of last season’s Premier League, going so close to a first title triumph since 1990 only to suffer a dramatic collapse in the closing stages of a thrilling campaign.
Brendan Rodgers’ men nonetheless received many plaudits for their wonderful attacking play and were even talked up as potential dark horses for this season’s Champions League, but they have struggled horribly both in Europe and domestically so far this season.
The sale of Luis Suarez, who hit 31 goals in 33 games last term, has been keenly felt, as has an injury to fellow forward Daniel Sturridge, with summer signing Balotelli copping plenty of criticism for failing to fill the void, with the Italian notching just two goals since arriving from AC Milan for €20 million.
However, Ancelotti finds it unfair that his compatriot is being made a scapegoat by the British media for Liverpool’s dip in form.
“We speak about Mario so much – too much,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport on the eve of Madrid’s Champions League meeting with the Reds at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“Balotelli is a quality player who has found himself in a team that have lost Suarez and must therefore find different solutions.
“Liverpool’s problem is not only Balotelli. It’s a complex question.
“Sure, he must help the team to rediscover the good form of last season, but you cannot pin all of the blame for some results on Mario.”
Balotelli was heavily criticised by ex-Liverpool players for swapping shirts with Madrid defender Pepe as the pair walked off the pitch at half-time in the club’s 3-0 loss to Madrid at Anfield last time out.
The gesture was viewed as emblematic of the 24-year-old’s lack of focus and professionalism, but Ancelotti felt it was much ado about nothing.
“It’s such a common gesture,” the former AC Milan boss argued. “I wouldn’t send one of my players home if he swapped shirts.”
Madrid boast a 100 per cent record after three rounds of action in Champions League Group B and can seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League win a win over Liverpool, who currently sit third in the table after back-to-back defeats, away to Basel and at home to the Blancos.