Balotelli’s Christmas Crackers, Fabregas’ baby joy

Manchester City have made a mockery of Mario Balotelli's odd fascination with fire crackers - presumably after one of the striker's friends pulled off a prank which involved setting off fireworks in the bathroom of his Manchester mansion last year.

The 22-year-old Italian can be seen in the club's latest Christmas video, where he unsuccessfully attempted to pull a bunch of Christmas crackers before getting it right in the end.

Reading a trivia question ("What part of the clock is always old?"), Balotelli appeared to be confused before bursting into laughter when a member of Man City's staff revealed the answer to him ("The second hand").

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique are both in the middle of moving to their fancy new homes away from the city of Barcelona.

For Fabregas, especially, the deal was sweetened with the arrival of some special news earlier this week.

The midfielder will be welcoming a baby daughter with his 37-year-old girlfriend of Lebanese descent, Daniella Semaan, next year.

As it stands, 2013 is already shaping up to be a year of "Football Babies" with Andres Iniesta, Wayne Rooney and Gerard Pique all anticipating fatherhood. Earlier last month, Lionel Messi welcomed the arrival of his newborn son, Thiago Messi.

"I'm very happy to announce that my girlfriend and I are expecting a girl. We are impatiently awaiting her arrival!" Fabregas announced on Twitter yesterday.

The Barca star purchased a new penthouse in Muntaner street for €4.5 million and naturally, the triplex has all the comforts of a palace with a swimming pool, a billiards room and possibly, a home entertainment system.

USA women's team goalkeeper, Hope Solo, has denied that her husband, former Seahawks and Washington Huskies football player, Jerramy Stevens (seen above), mistreated her the day before their November 12 wedding, when he was arrested on "suspicion of domestic violence."

North American newspapers earlier reported that on the day police arrived at Solo's house - where they were celebrating her last day of 'singledom' - they found Hope "bleeding" on the floor after being allegedly struck by Jerramy.

The couple had been in discussions about where they would live after marriage which escalated into a serious fight.

The court arrested Jerramy but released him due to a lack of evidence a few hours later. As if nothing had happened, Hope and Jerramy got married the next day.

Angered by the false news that was published in various outlets, Hope published a photograph of the couple in happier times on her social media page.

"My cute husband and me are happy as can be! Let me clarify things! Jerramy never treated me badly! The truth always prevails!" she declared.

Solo was a member of the USA women's team which picked up a gold medal at the recent Olympics.