Champions League: Milan vs Barcelona will miss the ‘Super Mario Balotelli’ factor
Mario Balotelli must wait before going head-to-head with the world's best player officially, Lionel Messi. Blame this on the rules of the UEFA Champions League, if you like.
Ex-Manchester City virus Mario Balotelli has been sensational since his transfer to Milan. However, he will not play any part in his side’s Champions League campaign this year which include Wednesday’s titanic battle against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.
This is an opportunity that a confident player like Mario Balotelli would have relished. The Italian has claimed several times in the past that only Messi has proven to be a better footballer than him. Clashing face to face with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner in the UEFA Champions League would have offered pundits and fans a lot to discuss and watch.
However, due to his involvement in the group stages of this season’s competition as a Manchester City player, Mario Balotelli cannot represent Milan. The striker is cup-tied – much to the disappointment of the Rossoneri whose chances of defeating Barcelona are already not very big on paper.
Last week, Balotelli told Sky Sports: “I am playing at a consistent level and nearing my best form.”
Indeed, with four goals in his three appearances for the Rossoneri so far, it is hard to deny that Balotelli has been really good. The 22-year-old forward made a stellar debut at the San Siro with a double which downed Udinese 2-1 on February 3. The following week, ‘Super Mario’ salvaged a point for his side with a late penalty away to Cagliari. Last weekend, he inspired Milan’s 2-1 victory against Parma with a fine strike 12 minutes from normal time.
Underlining the controversial star’s remarkable progress on the pitch lately, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani told the press last Sunday:
“Balotelli inspires the other players, sort of like the Zlatan Ibrahimovic effect. He gives strength, and his performances have a collateral effect on the others.
“His goals are proof we didn’t just buy him for his media impact.”
In fact, Mario Balotelli will be missed by the club and the public for the remainder of Milan’s 2012/13 UEFA Champions League campaign. The pressure is on El Shaarawy to find back his scoring boots and help Milan overcome the mighty Blaugrana of Barcelona in the Round of 16.