Mario Balotelli analysis: Is the Liverpool striker really a 'big-game' player?

Brendan Rodgers says the Italian is at his best when he plays the best

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Mario Balotelli has endured a difficult start to his Liverpool career.

LIVE: LIVERPOOL VS REAL LATEST

Now nine games in, the Italian has just one goal to his name, against Champions League minnows Ludogorets.

Since his £16m move from AC Milan he has played six Premier League games and failed to score in all of them. The most recent fixture against QPR offered up numerous chances for him to find the back of the net but he was to remain unsuccessful.

With Daniel Sturridge having missed most of the season and set to miss some more, and the club still reeling from the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, the focus on Balotelli will only intensify.

Already the maverick striker has become the play thing of internet jokers, whilst Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has suggested he be dropped for tonight's Champions League game against Real Madrid.

But is a fixture against the strongest team in Europe actually the best place for Balotelli to kick-start his Liverpool career?

Brendan Rodgers thinks so, claiming that the 24-year-old is at his best on the big occasions.

Video: Liverpool vs Real Madrid match preview

"He scores big goals in big games. I'm sure he will go into tomorrow, if picked, looking forward," said Rodgers.

"It is just a matter of time before he gets his goals."

Balotelli memorably scored against England at the World Cup and in Manchester City's 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011. But do the statistics show he is consistently better against the best sides?

We've analysed Balotelli's league record since the 2010/11 season (his first at Manchester City) and compared his record against the best teams in to the rest.

 

To do that, we've looked at Balotelli's goals-per-game ratio against the top-four teams (those that would finish the season in the top-four positions, or five, if Balotelli's side were among the top four) and then every other side.

They show that over the last four seasons - covering Manchester City and AC Milan - Balotelli has a goal-per-game ratio against the top-four sides of 0.42.

Meanwhile, his statistics against the 'lesser' sides are marginally better, with a record of 0.47 goals-per-game.

The full season-by-season break down is below.

The statistics then show that despite claims that Balotelli is a 'big-game' player, that is not backed up by the statistics, with the striker actually performing better against teams of a lower calibre.

A winning goal at Anfield tonight though, and no-one will care about the statistics.

THE STATS...

2010/11

Top four teams...

Manchester United

Chelsea

Arsenal

Tottenham

Record against the top four: 2 games - 0 goals

Against the rest: 15 games - 6 goals

 

2011/12

Top four teams...

Manchester United

Arsenal

Tottenham

Newcastle

Record against the top four: 5 games - 4 goals

Against the rest: 18 - 9 goals

 

2012/13 (at Manchester City)

Top four teams...

Manchester United

Chelsea

Arsenal

Tottenham

Record against the top four: 4 games - 0 goals

Against the rest: 10 games - 1 goal

 

2012/13 (at AC Milan )

Top four teams...

Juventus

Napoli

Fiorentina

Udinese

Record against the top four: 2 games - 2 goals

Against the rest: 11 games - 10 goals

 

2013/14 season

Top four teams...

Juventus

Roma

Napoli

Fiorentina

Record against the top four: 6 games - 2 goals

Against the rest: 24 games - 12 goals

 

Total against top four sides: 19 games - 8 goals = 0.42 goals per game

Total against the rest: 78 games - 37 = 0.47 goals per game

Comments