Several big-name clubs played pre-season friendlies over the weekend, although it was the antics of an individual player rather than a team’s performance which made the headlines.
Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli lasted just over 30 minutes in his side’s 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy before being hauled off by Citizens boss Roberto Mancini.
The striker’s failure to take the game seriously – exemplified by an ill-conceived, badly-executed trick-shot – attracted the wrath of his manager and boos from the crowd.
Through on goal, Balotelli chose to spin and play a backheel rather than simply pass the ball into the net.
While he might have got away with it had he scored, the fact that Balotelli’s effort went harmlessly wide meant he was soon being called over to the touchline to be replaced by James Milner.
With Carlos Tevez’s future at the Etihad Stadium in doubt, Balotelli is likely to play a bigger role in Man City’s league campaign this season.
This is reflected by odds of 25/1 for Balotelli to be the 2011-12 Premier League top-scorer, making him joint-tenth favourite alongside Edin Dzeko and Dimitar Berbatov.
A £25 free bet on Balotelli to win the Premier League golden boot, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £650.
However, Mancini believes his fellow Italian needs to work on the mental side of his game if he is to fulfil his potential.
The Citizens went on to beat the Galaxy 7-6 on penalties, with goalkeeper Joe Hart scoring the decisive spot-kick.
Elsewhere in the US, Everton bounced back from a defeat to Philadelphia Union to beat Everton 3-1 and the Union lost 2-1 to Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, late goals from Wayne Rooney, Rafael and Nani enabled Manchester United to come from a goal down at the break to record a 3-1 victory over Chicago Fire.
David de Gea and Phil Jones made their debuts following summer transfers from Atletico Madrid and Blackburn respectively, with the game played out in front of a record crowd at Soldier Field.
New customers can register here to claim a £25 free bet.