Champions League news

Mario Balotelli bullish after progress

August 29, 2013
By Ben Gladwell, Italy Correspondent

Mario Balotelli was on form off the field as much as he was on it after AC Milan silenced the critics by reaching the group stage of the Champions League on Wednesday night.

• Paul: Milan secure place among Europe's elite

The Italy international had faced some fierce criticism following the Rossoneri’s 2-1 defeat to league newcomers Hellas Verona last Saturday, but he and his team-mates provided the perfect answer with a 3-0 win over PSV Eindhoven completing a 4-1 aggregate victory.

“We’re delighted to have played a great game,” Balotelli told Sky Sport. “We did so in the first leg too and we were really keen on this because the Champions League is important. If you can’t cope with pressure, then you’d be better off not playing football.

“We’ve passed the test, but then if on Sunday we go and play badly, you’ll say were immature. I think we are mature, even before the Verona game. Since last year, we’re well on our way to becoming the true Milan.

“We need to grow, like everybody, but slowly but surely we will reach perfection.”

Balotelli netted his first goal in Europe for Milan to help them on their way to what was ultimately a comfortable victory, easing them into the group stage along with Serie A rivals Juventus and Napoli.

In the draw on Thursday evening, they could be pitted together with Paris Saint-Germain and former Rossoneri striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which would lead to an intriguing duel between Balotelli and the man whose mantle he has taken.

“Ibra is Ibra, I am me,” Balotelli continued. “I get likened to him and it’s a compliment... for him.”

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