Balotelli defends Messi and Ronaldo after Champions League exits

by Ben Spratt

Neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will play in the Champions League final for the first time since 2013, but Mario Balotelli does not believe they should be criticised.

Messi and Barcelona were beaten by Liverpool in a remarkable semi-final second leg on Tuesday, following Ronaldo’s Juventus, beaten by Ajax in the last eight, out of the competition.

With Liverpool facing either Ajax or Tottenham in the final, the two stars – considered among the greatest players of all time – will be missing from European football’s showpiece.

This last happened when Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in 2013.

But Marseille striker Balotelli claims any criticism of the pair for their teams’ failures is “nonsense”, describing Messi as an “alien” and Ronaldo as the best.

Posting on his Instagram story after Barca’s 4-0 defeat at Anfield, which resulted in a 4-3 aggregate defeat, Balotelli wrote: “Messi is an alien, despite the bad and very difficult match.

“Ronaldo remains the best player from this planet, despite not having played in the semi-finals.

“Anything else is nonsense talk. You cannot say bad things against these two for a game played badly or a missed qualification or a defeat. That would be crazy.”