Balotelli Hits Out at Reds, AC Milan

first_imgMario Balotelli has said that he plans an explosive return to the Italy national team in an interview in which he also hit out at former clubs Liverpool and AC Milan.Balotelli has not played for Italy since defeat to Uruguay in the final group match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil sent the Azzurri crashing out of the tournament at the first hurdle.But he has enjoyed a lightning start with French Ligue 1 side Nice, scoring five goals in his first three league appearances to help them to the top of the table, above more-fancied Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. The 26-year-old was not selected for Italy’s upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers at home to Spain and away in Macedonia, but on current form a return to Giampiero Ventura’s squad cannot be far away.“It was right not to select me because I didn’t deserve it,” Balotelli told Sky Sport Italia.“It’s better for Ventura to not select me this time around because when I return, I want to be at my best.”Known as one of the more controversial footballers of the past decade, Ballotelli appears to have turned over a new leaf.After a torrid end to a controversial three-year spell at Manchester City, Balotelli joined AC Milan in January 2013 before moving to Liverpool in 2014.Balotelli never settled at Anfield and returned to Milan on loan last season, only to struggle with a troublesome groin injury.And when Balotelli returned to Liverpool in the summer, manager Jurgen Klopp shot down his chances of regular football and advised him to move on.Balotelli said: “Klopp doesn’t know me, I spoke to him once, he told me to go somewhere else, work hard and then return. So I said goodbye to them, and that we wouldn’t be seeing each other again.”Balotelli claimed both Milan and Liverpool, “weren’t adapted to me”.“It wasn’t anyone’s fault. They weren’t ideal environments for me,” he added.“I didn’t make mistakes in terms of my game or my behaviour, but I did get injured and that’s not something I can control.”Balotelli said the climate at seven-time European champions Milan, who have struggled to qualify for Europe in recent seasons, was “confusing”.“The problem there is the administration,” added Balotelli.“There’s only one person who is phenomenal, and that’s (club CEO, Adriano) Galliani. All the rest is just… confusion.”Balotelli has six goals in five games in all competitions for Nice, where he has enjoyed a perfect start save for a red card right at the end of Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Lorient, shortly after scoring a superb late winner.He puts his current form down to feeling settled with his new teammates, and in his new surroundings on France’s Mediterranean coast.“At the start, I chose Nice for the climate, I wanted to be in a relaxing but beautiful place, where it’s difficult to get out the wrong side of the bed,” he said.“The other reason I chose Nice is because there’s a decent group of young players. We’re all about the same age.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Badger volleyball celebrates Senior Day

first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team has had its share of ups and downs this season. The Badgers are 16-13 overall and sport a 4-12 record in the Big Ten.But the Badgers will look to send off its three seniors – Alexis Mitchell, Mary Ording and Bailey Reshel – with victories this weekend, when the three seniors will be honored for Senior Day at the Field House.The Badgers are looking to improve upon a string of rough matches last weekend in which they fell to Michigan and Michigan State by scores of 3-0. Those losses took UW’s skid to five straight, the longest such streak of the season. “I thought there were some times when we were doing some good things,” head coach Pete Waite said. “But the challenge is just to stay in it until the end and finish off. We got to about 20 points each time, but we need to close the door and fight even harder to finish.”The Badgers first face Iowa (10-19, 2-14 Big Ten) Friday night. The Hawkeyes have lost 10 straight matches, including eight in a row by a score of 3-0.Wisconsin has controlled the all-time series with Iowa, especially in Madison, where the Badgers are 23-9 all-time against the Hawkeyes. UW won the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, a hard-fought 3-2 win.Iowa is led by sophomore outside hitter Alex Lovell, who leads the team with 3.17 kills per set, and junior outside hitter Rachael Bedell also adds 3.01 kills per set. Junior setter Nikki Dailey leads the team in assists (9.39 per set) and also in service aces (24).Iowa is the only unranked opponent left on the schedule for Wisconsin, making it crucial for the Badgers to earn the win Friday.“I think it’s important to beat them, not only for momentum, but for ourselves,” senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell said. “It’s more important to beat a team we know we can beat, and beat them on our home court.”Sunday’s match will be a much tougher test for the Badgers, as ninth-ranked Nebraska comes to Madison.The Cornhuskers (20-5, 12-4) have won two consecutive matches after dropping two in a row to Michigan and Michigan State. Earlier this season, Nebraska dominated the Badgers in Lincoln by a score of 3-0.Nebraska is led by senior outside hitter Gina Mancuso, who leads the team with 3.44 kills per set and service aces with 28. Senior outside hitter Hannah Werth also adds 2.89 kills per set and is tops on the team with 3.28 digs per set.Senior setter Lauren Cook averages 10.95 assists per set while ranking second on the team with 2.89 digs per set. Waite said he is hoping for a stronger effort from his team its second time out against one of the Big Ten’s top squads.“We need to have a more balanced attack,” Waite said. “We had a couple people get good numbers, and a couple others didn’t. If we ball handle well and run the offense correctly, then we’ll balance the attack a little better and make it tougher for them.”Friday night will be Senior Night as the Badgers conclude their final home weekend series of the season (UW’s final home match comes against Minnesota Wednesday night).Many of the players’ families will be in attendance, something Mitchell said will add to the atmosphere.“It’s not our last match here so that will help [with emotions],” Mitchell said. “But with having our families here, and the fact that they’re recognizing us will make it pretty emotional.”last_img read more