• Premier League

Balotelli moves to end row with Ferdinand

ESPNsoccernet staff
October 21, 2011 « 'BJ Penn's my favourite fighter' - Diaz | Chartbeat test »

Mario Balotelli insists the row between he and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is over, with the City striker keen to focus on the task at hand in a rivalry which he feels is becoming "the biggest derby in the world".

Balotelli and Ferdinand will lock horns this Sunday during the highly-anticipated Manchester derby, but the Italian says he carries no personal grudge into the match after the pair clashed as the final whistle sounded in last season's FA Cup semi-final.

"I don't have anything against [Ferdinand]," Balotelli told The Guardian. "He is a great player. I didn't ever speak to him [at Wembley]. I was just celebrating, but not against them [United supporters]. I showed him the shirt of City and obviously he got angry with me.

"For me, what happened on the pitch stayed on the pitch and now we are friends like before. Or we respect each other anyway. I'm going to give him the handshake before the game like I give to everyone."

Balotelli believes he will also receive plenty of attention from the United faithful at Old Trafford this weekend, given his previous antics, but maintains he now has the maturity to handle the occasion.

"They can say what they want," he said. "I won't say anything to them. I will be focused on the game. All that matters is the result, nothing else. After the game I might think about the supporters but not during it or before," he said.

City head into the match two points clear of their rivals at the top of the Premier League table, having dropped just two points so far this campaign. On a personal level, Balotelli says he is determined to extend his current goalscoring streak to five consecutive games for his club.

"I hope I will have the chance to shoot two or three times and, if I do, I think I will score. It's important all the team work hard, from the strikers to the goalkeeper, and I think we can beat them.

"I think it will be a lot of fun - and soon United v City will be the biggest derby in the world," he said.

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