BLOG ITALIA
Monday May 13 2013
Last call for Europe

Only four teams have something left to play for in Serie A after the events of Week 37, as Giancarlo Rinaldi explains.

Maybe there was a full moon over the San Siro on Sunday night. Some kind of collective madness seemed to sweep across both Milan and Roma and their respective supporters. On a weekend which had been full of mellow and melancholy farewells, they gave it a frenetic and frustrating finale.

Whatever the reason, the bozos were out in force inside the stadium. Giallorossi supporters were warned for racist jeers towards Mario Balotelli which later saw the match suspended. Then the home fans got in on the act by flashing a laser pen in the eyes of Bodgan Lobont. Clearly bringing at least half a brain is not yet an entrance requirement at Serie A matches.

Not that events out on the pitch were much better. Sulley Muntari was sent off after saying something to the referee and then going through a ludicrous attempt to physically stop Gianluca Rocchi from showing him the red card. It did him no good, of course, and only ended up looking like an unintentional and slightly awkward episode of Strictly Come Dancing.   

Later it was Francesco Totti’s turn to rise to the bait. Hounded by former teammate Philippe Mexes, he swung an elbow in the Milan man’s direction. The dramatic closing stages were played out 10 against 10 but nobody could break the deadlock in a result which satisfied neither side. It meant Roma’s only hope of Europe is to win the Coppa Italia, while the Rossoneri have to wait another week to crack open the Champions League champagne.

Their fate is still in their own hands, as veteran Massimo Ambrosini pointed out. A win at Siena for Max Allegri’s side would guarantee a third place finish no matter what fourth-placed Fiorentina do at Pescara. But, like a plate of pasta with a drizzle of truffle oil on top, the final week’s fixtures are now a little more tasty.

The other verdict which is still open is that of who finishes fifth and gains Europa League access via their Serie A finish. It is advantage Udinese in that regard with a two-point edge over Lazio. The Biancocelesti, of course, could also qualify via the Coppa Italia if they lift the trophy ahead of their city cousins.

There is no uncertainty left, however, at the bottom of the table. Palermo and Siena - defeated by Fiorentina and Napoli respectively - had their relegation confirmed while Genoa and Torino celebrated survival  with draws against Inter and Chievo. In truth, that was all about as predictable as an investigation into whether a hair gel order at Milanello was destined for Stephan El Shaarawy or Adriano Galliani.

Everywhere else you looked there were goodbyes being said or doubts about the future. Even as the title party was in full flight at the Juventus Stadium, there seemed to be uncertainty about where Antonio Conte might find himself howling at a set of players next season. The Bianconero boss seems to be using his recent triumphs as a bargaining chip to seek a stronger squad. Without that guarantee in place, he was decidedly non-committal in his post-match comments following the draw with Cagliari. But, if I was a betting man, I would have a small wager that he will still be walking hand in hand with La Vecchia Signora when August rolls around.

It was a similar story in Naples after a tremendous second-placed season. With Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik sealing a comeback win against already-relegated Siena it should have been a celebration. However, there was a distinct feeling that Walter Mazzarri could soon be taking a leaf out of President Aurelio De Laurentiis’ book and be speeding off into the sunset on the back of a Vespa.

In Milan too, the coaching coats appear to be on the most shoogly of pegs. In the red and black corner, Allegri seems to be the most Marmite of managers in the Division. You either take the view that he achieved a miracle with his current squad to reach the top three or that he was dug out of a hole of his own making thanks to a combination of El Shaarawy, Mario Balotelli and a few fortuitous refereeing decisions. The only view that matters, of course, is not yours or mine but that of Silvio Berlusconi.

The story is slightly different on the black and blue side of the city. After promising plenty, Andrea Stramaccioni has failed to deliver even the Europa League. But, where the fates have smiled on the Rossoneri, they have positively pummeled the Nerazzurri in terms of injuries and officiating. How much should their young Coach carry the can? That really depends on your point of view.

Another possible goodbye to his home fans was that of Fiorentina’s Luca Toni. With his 36th birthday approaching, he held a Press conference during week to thank the club for this season but add that he will only play where he feels “wanted” next year. If that happens to be elsewhere, he said farewell in the finest style with his eighth goal of the season in the victory over Palermo which consigned his old team to Serie B and ensured his current side the Europa League – at the very least.

One player definitely on his way out is Lazio’s Cristian Brocchi. Injuries have forced the battling midfielder to hang up his boots on a career which included Milan, Inter, Verona and Fiorentina as well as the Biancocelesti. “I was never the star of the teams I played in,” he said. “But I always gave my all to help my teammates achieve results.” Few could argue that was the case for one of the most whole-hearted footballers of recent years. He hinted he would like to go into coaching now that his days on the pitch are over. And, with the turnover rate in Serie A, there are bound to be opportunities for him sooner or later. 

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
Your tactful answers leave little doubt about you BOSS, so no need to overshoot the runway by throwing more insults and calling me names.
But hey ... it's a free world and if that's your only talent, go ahead, knock yourself out.

Instead of spinning your wheels with me here, use that energy instead to grow up and cope with the real world once you crawl out of the shadow of your computer.
You'll need it.

p.s.
it's "you're an idiot", not "your an idiot"
(English is my 3rd language)
on the 21st May, 2013 at 1:26am
Zoli, you said football is about business, whether it is grass roots or pro footy, it is still footy. But if you want to just focus on pro footy, then that is again a combo of sport and business, if you think otherwise your an idiot.

Viktoria, I'm surprised u can even respond after saying ses could play for Man U, lol idiot, your in the cl wow, you'll get knocked out in the group stage so don't get excited
on the 20th May, 2013 at 5:14pm
BOSS, I play football for fun too and loving it.
But it costs me money instead of making any. I guess you are in the same boat so drawing parallels between you and the professionals or the highest level of the institution itself is nonsense.

Your answer has little to do with the argument itself but contains a healthy dose of sarcasm and disrespect ... shows where one's values are ...

"Understand" my friend ?
on the 20th May, 2013 at 4:20pm
@boss

Your opinions mean nothing to noone. Get that in to yout head. We have youth and we have talent and we're in CL next season. Forza Milan
on the 19th May, 2013 at 9:15pm
viktoria, your a clown with no football knowledge, yet you think by saying ses is great and claiming he is one of the greatest players in italy actually makes him the greatest player in italy. im afraid your opinion holds no weight so dont generalise to the whole of italy. your one of the only guys left supporting ses, even milan are now unsure about him. you can see him at Man U? what on earth goes through your head mate, if the guy can't replace balotelli what chance he got on RVP?
on the 19th May, 2013 at 4:32pm
@boszzzZzZ

Poor little fellow. Ses is considered as one of the most promising youngster in Italy at the moment. I'm expecting at least +25 millions. Pretty significant amount of money. And he won't go I Cagliari. I could see him at Man U. Sadly. Please keep you bitterness to yourself.
on the 19th May, 2013 at 5:44am
Zoli, saying "if the price is right" is true in principal, but the phrase is broad. The price is right for teams like florentina at a much lower threshold then say Madrid. Understand? As for football being a business, it is a combination of both. It is not just business. To say such a thing is daft, i play football for fun, not for business purposes. Ses is crap and no zoli, you should listen to me, your boss.
on the 18th May, 2013 at 9:22pm
Completely agree Daniel Giambrone.
When a player has the power to stop play in a crucial moment of a match because of something fake, something is fundamentally wrong. In my book this is called shameless, arrogant, despicable cheating, regardless of when and where it occurs and it should be treated as such.

I grew up accepting this crap with the sport but if we look outside the stadium, no other sport is so lenient with this garbage. Not even close.
We are way passed the embarrassment stage ...
on the 18th May, 2013 at 5:16pm
Every team is a selling team if the price is right BOSS.
It is a business not a sport, however painful that might sound.

I think SES is a fine player that can improve a lot. I wish to see him continue with Milan. But if not, there are some teams not in your "crap" category (whatever that is ... no disrespect to any team, just quoting) that would be eager for his services.

That being said, do you mind that instead of "learning" to listen to you, we just read your comments like everyone else's?
on the 18th May, 2013 at 4:19pm
Does anyone remember me saying in a blog, when the rest of you were loving ses, that he would end up being sold to Cagliari or sme other crap team at the end of the season. Just goes 2 show why you should all learn to listen 2 me.

As for the cl, what is the point in florentina? They are a selling team, once they secure the spot all their players get taken resulting n a beating n the cl. Just give it to Milan, they r an embarrassment as well but not as bad as florentina.
on the 17th May, 2013 at 6:25pm
No I agree its going to take time to find his old form of course, but when he does is what Iam saying.
on the 16th May, 2013 at 3:11pm
@Al

People keep talking about him. G.rosi. When was the last time he played 90 mins? Exactly. It's going to take a while before hes back in shape.
on the 16th May, 2013 at 2:05pm
G. Rossi don't forget plays to the ability his capable of and finds his old form, will make Fiorentina a very solid team and one to be reckoned with but they can't let there important guys go in the transfer window. I think he will come back strong and work his way back into La Nazionale which will be nice to see cause I think he has the talent to excel on club and international level Im a fan of his not Fiorentina.
on the 15th May, 2013 at 2:33pm
I reckon Milan should get third place and they would be better representatives than Fiorentina for now.

It would be great to see both SES and Balotelli in the Champions League. If Balo is on form, Milan should make the quarter-finals at the minimum.

I like Fiorentina's style of football but I can't see them doing well in the CL next season. A year in the Europa League might do them good before they have a good crack in the Chamnpions League.
on the 15th May, 2013 at 9:26am
@italy

To be honest I don't take all that's says in Italian sports papers. Some of them are very biased and not so kindly against certain team. An median value of players average performance is not something I fully rely on. There are games where Balo for example gets 4 then another game 9. Inconsistency in statistics and extreme values affects those kind of measurements you just brought up. Regardless I like Fiorentina too. However may the best team win
on the 14th May, 2013 at 9:32pm
You can deny all you want but according to people that can calcio and don't just invent things because they like a certain team.
The players in fiorentinas starting XI have performed at a higher level then the players in Milans starting XI.
This comes from experts that are impartiality, It doesnt, matter which of italys bigger papers you take the stats from.
In average fiorentinas players has performed at a higher level then milans and therefore are better!
Regardless of your personal opinion!
on the 14th May, 2013 at 8:24pm
@Victor
I agree Milan have a slightly better squad than Fiorentina, but which team uses their squad in a more 'versatile' kind of way. Fiorentina do as they have much more depth in their squad. Milan have a better squad than Napoli, but Napoli can play in a certain type of way which is why they're better. Milan on the other hand have no set tactic other than to keep possession pointlessly. If they had a better manager who knows their starting 11, then Milan could be better
on the 14th May, 2013 at 8:19pm
viktor@

I just compares starting XI, milan at this moment have more quantity.
But their starting XI havent got more Qaulity then violas.
the attack I've already said milan have more qaulity in so for you to repeat my statement to make a point don't reach far.
Just look at the facts Milans three best players according to gazzeta dello sports ranking:

6,59 Balotelli
6,27 El Shaarawy
6,17 De Sciglio

Fiorentinas:

6,46 Borja Valero,
6,46 D. Pizarro
6,37 Cuadrado
on the 14th May, 2013 at 8:14pm
@italy

You seems to be having trouble reading? I never said Ambro is better. He's used only for hes experience, unfortunately. I do believe Flamini add strength in our midfield. He works hard and been scoring lately. Nothing wrong with that. Lemme recap this for you. De sciglio, Montolivo, Zapata, SES, Balo, Boateng (even tho had a bad season) are all top notch players. You have a few ones at fiorentina, but more importantly you play entertaining football. But overal Milan IS a more complete.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 6:44pm
@italy

Your forgetting so many players... Pazzini has scored more then all your strikers (except maybe for jovetic) abate, de scigilio, Zapata, constant. Do you really think the value of Fiorentinaa team is higher then acm? I know you have a few players at Fiorentina that are great. But comparing them to acm squad is just one eyed, from your side.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 6:32pm
Flamini ,ambrosini have Been better?
It just prof you don't Watch anything els than milans games.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 5:23pm
Viktor@

You are really oneeyed if you think milan have a superior squad to Fiorentina.
Just look at the players that People talk about doing great this season.
You have balotelli,SES and montolivo.
While Fiorentina have cuadrado, borja, pizzaro, gonzalo that have Been playing great all year.
Roncaglia såå probably the best defender first qaurter of the season. Ljajic have had a part of the season when he såå great as have pausqal.
And you think mexes ,niang ,abate,nocerino ,de Jong,boateng,
on the 14th May, 2013 at 5:21pm
Viktor, I agree with your 1st & 3rd points. As for your 2nd, how many assists has he got this season? Regarding no 4, he does come across as a good, humble kid, but perhaps he is a little too timid. Looking at him, it looks like the pressure of this season is taking its toll. There is a strain etched on his face ATM, & he is lacking confidence. He looks to be over thinking & not leaving things to instinct. The summer break should do him good.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 1:53pm
Sory but whilst I feel Milan will get third, you cannot say Milan are superior.I mean common, their midfield has only energy and little creativity. Flamini is inconsistent and can only tackle and Nocerino, De Jong and Ambrosini have no creativity. I've been to sleep at times watching Milan play, as they only keep the ball and so nothing with it - pass sideways, then back to the central midfield. Milan have relied on dodgy penalty appeals, SES and Balo for doing well.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 1:52pm
Zoli, I wouldn't label all footballers like that, but you do make a great point. The behaviour of the likes of De Rossi, Chiellini, & many others really infuriates me. The incessant diving, holding their face when they haven't even been hit there, & general childish antics embarrass me. I would like to see much tougher punishments handed out to these clowns. As it really is a stain on our game.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 1:40pm
@dario

11 years 10 times in CL. Last 3 years with new coach, first second and most likely third. I don't think there doing that bad you? They need on creative midfielder and a new center back that's all, after that try have a extremely young and talented squad. If you know your football you would agree.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 12:44pm
@italy

Yes I think that flaming is becoming better and better and I starting to get the feeling he will be a great asset for Milan. Don't be bitter just cause he's not Italian. With de Jong, montolivo, boateng (even if he had a bad start this season) and or offense. Plus de sciglio and constant/abate and mexes for exp and Zapata. Yes that's a better team then Fiorentinas.. Sorry but that's the truth.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 12:41pm
Viktor@

Are you för real?
You really think flamini are better than valero and pizzaro. Boateng have had än off year and even if dormolivo have had a better season than the past years Fiorentina hav more qaulity in midfield then milan.
Look at defence when there players like gonzalo,savic roncaglia,cuadrado and pasqual is stronger then milans defence there only de sciglio have Been really great this year even if zapata and andre Bern alright.

Like I Said only in attack milan.is superior viola.
on the 14th May, 2013 at 8:27am
SES will fall off just like that joke giovinco not as bad but he will Daniel I agree he doesn't no how to support other strikers and is easily thrown of his pace with a lack of touches. I hope Prandelli puts an end to giovinco and giaccherini and diamanti his hype is such a joke same with candreva he needs to open up his eyes and stop with this bias crap. Besides that Milan will get the 3rd spot come on shouldn't even be questioning it they will take out Siena quite simply. It's Milan.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 9:24pm
Viktor, I wouldn't put Abate, Niang, Boateng on that list. Boateng has been average for two seasons, his decision making can be poor. Niang is quite a good dribbler but has no end product at the moment. Abate's final ball is often terrible, & he has monumental lapses in concentration in the big games. Niang has plenty of time to improve, but the other two have shown little signs of improving on their weaknesses.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 8:13pm

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