The AC Milan coach has compared his striker’s muted goal celebrations to “wanting to tell a woman you love her, but you can’t say the words”
AC Milan head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has defended Mario Balotelli from accusations he does not care but admitted he wishes the striker would show more passion in his goal celebrations.
The 25-year-old marked his first start since returning from injury by scoring from the penalty spot as Milan recorded a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Alessandria.
Balotelli reacted to his goal with a typically reserved celebration but Mihajlovic says he should not be accused of apathy.
“I think what we saw on Tuesday proved they are not in good shape,” the coach said when asked about the fitness of Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng ahead of Sunday’s derby against Inter.
“I told Balotelli to celebrate when he scores a goal, but it is just not in his nature. He is a good lad and he might seem as if he doesn’t care, but that is not the case.
“It is like when you are with a woman and want to tell her you love her, but you can’t say the words.
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“I hope Mario will change this attitude because others think he looks angry and it is not helpful. Being a football player is the best job in the world.”
Milan have struggled to keep pace with Serie A’s top clubs this season but can move within six points of Inter by beating their city rivals at San Siro.
“A win in the derby would be a boost for the table and morale,” Mihajlovic said. “It’s the last chance in the chase for the top positions.
“Inter also need to win to stay near the top of the table. Their position in the table, as it stands, is better than ours.
“The derby is like an elevator. It can take you to the top or you head straight towards the basement. We have the quality needed to win.
“A win can give us enthusiasm and confidence. We struggle to finish off games when we are in control.”