Mario Balotelli is in trouble at Liverpool, after causing outrage for swapping his shirt at half-time of their UEFA Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
A Cristiano Ronaldo opener and a brace from Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos a comfortable lead at the interval at Anfield, following a 45 minutes in which Balotelli once again frustrated the home crowd with another lacklustre display. As if his performance wasn’t bad enough, he then enraged his club by swapping his shirt with opposing defender Pepe as they left the field.
The £16million summer signing didn’t return to the pitch after being substituted at the break, although Brendan Rodgers would later claim that this was a tactical decision and nothing to do with his controversial shirt-swap. Indeed, the Reds boss insisted he knew nothing of the incident, but now he is aware, he is ready to punish the controversial Italian international.
“We had an incident last season with players [doing the same] and it was dealt with internally,” Rodgers said, remembering when Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho had done the same against Chelsea a year ago with Oscar and Samuel Eto’o respectively. “I heard about it when I came off the pitch. It is not something I stand for. It is something you do at the end of the game.”
A stoppage time goal from Yordan Minev gave Ludogorets a 1-0 win over Basle in the other match in Group B, which leaves Liverpool in third place on level points with both of these sides whilst Real, with their 100 percent record, look certain to finish top of the group. Rodgers takes his side to the Bernabeu for the return match in a fortnight, but he knows that any points collected in the Spanish capital will be a bonus, with the trip to Bulgaria and the home clash against the team from Switzerland likely to be the key to their chances of making the last-16.
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