Mario Balotelli slams Dani Alves over insensitive comments about Davide Astori

Alex Broun 7/03/2018
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Former Liverpool and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has slammed former Barcelona defender Dani Alves over comments the PSG star made about Davide Astori.

31-year-old Astori, the Fiorentina captain and Italy international, tragically died in his sleep on Sunday.

An initial autopsy report has confirmed he suffered cardiac arrest due to bradycardia – an abnormal slowing of the heart.

“Thousands of children die every day without this much attention being paid to them. Their deaths are just as important” Alves said at a pre-match Press conference before PSG’s Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

Balotelli hit back on an Instagram live stream with Damiano Er Faina.

“What he said… he could’ve kept it to himself at that moment,” said Balotelli.

“He should’ve just passed on his condolences and that’s it, not talk rubbish. You cannot make those comments when faced with someone’s death.

“He said things that had **** all to do with anything. Astori, by the way, was a good guy, polite, and I can say that because I played with him for the Nazionale. (Italian national team.)

“Unfortunately, I can’t go to the funeral on Thursday because I have a training session, otherwise I would’ve got in the car and attended.

“It’s something that happened despite the many checks we players are subjected to once a month.

“It’s scary to think about this, because he was in bed and seemed fine. It’s too easy to find yourself going up into the sky.”

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Kane v Chiellini and other key battles that could decide Tottenham v Juventus

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Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his Tottenham side build on their slender advantage over Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Spurs drew 2-2 in Turin, with two away goals placing much of the pressure on the Turin giants ahead of Wednesday’s tussle at Wembley.

And, with much at stake, here we take a look at three key battles which could go a long way in deciding the outcome.

Harry Kane v Giorgio Chiellini

Both players are pivotal for their respective sides, with Kane continuing to establish himself as one of the world’s most prolific attackers.

The 24-year-old netted one goal against the Old Lady in the first leg in Italy and will be aiming to punish the defending Serie A champions on home soil.

The Englishman has scored 37 goals in 39 matches in all competitions this term – and has an incredible eye to nip in front of the defender and pounce at the business end – even against a granite-like defence that includes Chiellini.

A colossus in the Juve backline, the 33-year-old veteran is still a central figure to Massimiliano Allegri’s team and will be tasked with keeping Kane on a tight leash

That won’t be easy though, with the Spurs frontman having the ability to orchestrate proceedings when he has the ball at his feet and ghost into goalscoring positions, feeding off ammunition from the likes of Christian Eriksen.

Mousa Dembele v Miralem Pjanic

The Belgian bossed the opener against Juve, earning a catalogue of plaudits and reinstating his reputation as one of the best central midfielders around when fully fit.

Consistency and frequent long-stay spells on the treatment table have restricted him in the past but the 30-year-old should be in buoyant mood to secure Spurs’ passage through to the last eight.

Dembele needs to use his physicality and movement to sit deep and monitor Paulo Dybala’s influence on the game – as the Argentine is a genuine match-winner.

But in Pjanic, the Bianconeri also have an elusive playmaker who is a master at finding space and wrestling out of tight positions.

The Bosnian has created 13 chances and made 12 key passes in Europe this term – which is nearly 80% higher than Dembele’s contribution for the Premier League side, who remain unbeaten in the competition.

This battle in the middle of the park will be fascinating.

Davison Sanchez v Gonzalo Higuain

With Toby Alderweireld sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Sanchez will have his hands full as he attempts to curtail the impact of Higuain.

The Argentine was emphatic in the first leg – scoring a first-half brace – and has netted 24 goals in all competitions this season for the Turin side.

A menacing presence in the air, the Colombian will be looking to close down Higuain at every opportunity in a bid to keep Spurs on the front foot.

Sanchez’s pace and sheer presence could lead to problems for the visitors, and if the 21-year-old can stamp his authority on the game – using his combative style – then Higuain may struggle to dominate.

The Juve attacker is not the most athletic footballer but possesses clinical finishing and the experience to out-think a player who is new to big-game scenarios.

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Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain set to start against Tottenham

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Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his Tottenham side build on their slender advantage over Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Spurs drew 2-2 in Turin, with two away goals adding pressure to Juventus as they travel to Wembley for Wednesday’s game.

Serge Aurier is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the first leg, while Toby Alderweireld is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Otherwise, Pochettino has a full deck of cards to select from, with Harry Kane to sparhead proceedings in attack.

The Argentine’s only tough decision will be whether to start Lamela or Son on the left – but based on recent form – he’ll opt with the latter.

However, Massimiliano Allegri will have to defend well or attack with purpose as they attempt to advance to the last eight.

The Juve boss has a number of injury concerns of his own.

Gonzalo Higuain – hero of the first leg – didn’t feature in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Lazio but is set to return to the starting XI after recovering from a minor ankle injury.

Elsewhere, Juan Cuadrado, Mattia De Sciglio and Federico Bernardeschi are still unavailable for the Bianconeri.

LIKELY TOTTENHAM XI (4-2-3-1):

Lloris (GK)
Aurier (RB), Sanchez (RCB), Vertonghen (LCB), Davies (LB)
Dembele (CDM), Dier (CDM)
Eriksen (RWF), Alli (CAM), Son (LWF)
Kane (ST)

LIKELY JUVENTUS XI (4-3-2-1):

Buffon (GK)
Asamoah (LB), Chiellini (LCB), Benatia (RCB), Lichtsteiner (RB)
Matuidi (LCM), Pjanic (CDM), Khedira (RCM)
Dybala (LM), Mandzukic (RM)
Higuain (ST)

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