Olympique de Marseille striker Mario Balotelli will aim to maintain an incredible home scoring record when his former club OGC Nice visit Orange Vélodrome on Sunday evening.
Olympique de Marseille - OGC Nice
The 28-year-old has netted in each of his first three home league games for OM, becoming the first player to achieve that since Ibrahima Bakayoko in 1999. This weekend the Italian international faces Les Aiglons, for whom he scored 33 goals in 51 league games in his first two seasons. This campaign, before his January move to OM, Balotelli failed to net in 10 league outings for Nice.
Balotelli's smartphone celebration after scoring the opener at home to Saint-Etienne last Sunday became a worldwide phenomenon with the footage posted on Instagram before even the half-time whistle had been sounded in what went on to become OM's fourth win in five games.
He told Canal +: "I gave my telephone to an OM club journalist. I told him to position himself behind the goal and explained to him that if I scored I wanted my telephone to make a story. Everything I do goes around the world!"
Balotelli trying to lure Saint-Maximin to OM?
Football is increasingly played out on social media and this week Nice's leading scorer Allan Saint-Maximin posted a photo on Instagram of he and Balotelli laughing together with the caption: "I miss you". Balotelli responded: "I miss you too little brother! Come here to Marseille!"
Speaking after the ASSE goal - one that took his tally to an impressive four in six games for his new club - Balotelli told Canal +: "Usually I start well at a new club. That has been the case wherever I have gone. For me it is important to keep playing well. It's very good that I'll get to see my old team-mates in our next game but I always want to win and I always want to score."
Nice captain Dante said: "We know what Mario can do. We'll have to be vigilant when we come up against him as he's an unpredictable player capable of scoring at any given time. He's a friend of mine, but on the pitch it will be different."
Four straight home wins, most recently a 1-0 against Strasbourg, have kept Nice in European contention, only four points back from OM, the last club to win at Allianz Riviera back in October.
Balotelli - contracted only until the end of the season - is not the only former colleague Dante might face. The veteran Brazilian said: "We'll also be up against Luiz Gustavo and I played with him at Bayern, Wolfsburg and with the national side but even if we get on very well all of that is set to one side for 90 minutes. The derby will be a very difficult game and we'll need to show the same spirit we did against Strasbourg in order to go and get something at Marseille."
Olympique de Marseille: (to follow)
OGC Nice: (to follow)