Eurozone: Balotelli the loser in fight with Mourinho

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The Independent Football

Few players would win a stand-off with Jose Mourinho, and Mario Balotelli is not one of them. The tempestuous young Internazionale striker has been left out of the squad to face Palermo tonight and it seems if Mourinho is still at the club next season, Balotelli will not be.

The Inter president, Massimo Moratti, did his best to calm the in-fighting and insist the player still has a future at the club but he came down firmly on the side of Mourinho by adding: "Our line is the same as the coach's." Balotelli's exclusion from the Champions League squad to face Chelsea on Tuesday is understood to have been the final act in their stormy relationship.

The young striker who was given his debut at the club in 2007 by current Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, will not be in Palermo tonight as Mourinho's side tries to extend their one-point lead at the top of Serie A. The Sicilian side are unbeaten at home this season and Inter's European feats have taken a toll on their league performances. Hoping to take advantage of any slip will be Milan in second place, who entertain Napoli tomorrow without David Beckham whose letter to his team-mates thanking them for their support after he snapped an Achilles tendon last week was read out by coach Leonardo ahead of yesterday's training session.

Ibrahimovic starts to sweat on the bench

"The most expensive substitute in history" is not the headline Zlatan Ibrahimovic had in mind when he signed for Barcelona last summer but the Swedish striker, who cost €45m plus Samuel Eto'o, is in danger of being used as Barcelona's plan B for the rest of the season. Ibrahimovic has sat out the last two matches and playing through the middle in his place, Lionel Messi has scored five goals. "He wants to play every game. He does not like being on the bench," said Ibrahimovic's agent, Mino Raiola. Barça, who go to Real Zaragoza tomorrow, trail Real Madrid on goal difference in La Liga. Real are at home to Sporting Gijon tonight.