BLOG ITALIA
Monday May 20 2013
Serie A fright night

Milan left it late to secure Champions League football ahead of a ferocious Fiorentina. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the final round of Serie A action.

It was a night for living dangerously. With the apparently straightforward mission of winning away at already-relegated Siena, Milan teetered on the brink of missing out on next season’s Champions League. Two late goals turned the result around and saw Vice-President Adriano Galliani explode with a delight which he feared might put his heart in danger. Meanwhile, in Pescara, it felt like a punch below the belt to a Fiorentina side which had been daring to dream of pinching third place for much of their match.

Vincenzo Montella’s men had put their result beyond doubt in double quick time. An Adem Ljajic hat-trick, a first Florentine goal for Mati Fernandez and an opportunist finish by Stevan Jovetic – which some speculated would be his last for the club – had already got the job done at the Stadio Adriatico. For most of the evening, they were heading into Europe’s top competition thanks to Claudio Terzi’s goal which had given Siena a shock advantage.

But fate still had its final cards to play. A tangle between Mario Balotelli and former Viola man Felipe saw the referee point to the spot and the former Manchester City striker did what he has done since arriving in January and kept his cool to level the scores. Then Philippe Mexes became a makeshift striker to toe-poke home the winner and send Rossoneri fans into ecstasy.

“We have got 42 points in the second half of season,” said Milan boss Max Allegri, who is still surrounded by rumours he might be moved on. “After coming back so far it was normal that we were a bit tired at the end. Siena fought hard but the boys kept their heads up. I have to thank the players, the club and the fans.”

“When there were six or seven minutes to go I thought we wouldn’t do it,” admitted Galliani. “We had been in third place for a while and it looked like we were going to lose it on the last game. We have had a great season and for the last 30 games we have matched Juventus – we set off with a handicap.”

For the scenes of joy in Siena, there was disappointment in Pescara. Fiorentina fans who had made the trip thought they might have been witnessing a miracle for most of their game. It was only as news of Milan’s comeback filtered through that players and supporters realised it would be Europa League and not Champions League for the club.

“We tried right to the end and we believed we could do it for a while,” admitted Montella. “We are pleased with our season. It was a great duel with Milan which probably gripped fans of other teams. But Allegri’s team had a great second half of the season.”

The outcome may have stung on the night but it should not spoil what he has achieved in Tuscany this year. To take a team which was completely overhauled in the summer to within a whisker of a top three finish is an impressive performance. With Giuseppe Rossi getting his first few minutes of play too, there is plenty to look forward to in Florence.

There will be no future in Naples, however, for Walter Mazzarri. He confirmed after their closing game – a 2-1 defeat by Roma - that he would not be in charge at the San Paolo next year. He insisted that he had no destination already in mind.

“I have come to the end of my time in Naples – they have been four great years,” said Mazzarri. “I might move on or I might take a break. I will see what offers are on the table.” No doubt there will be a few clubs taking an interest after what he has achieved with the Partenopei.

The only other issue to be decided ended up being something of a stroll for Udinese. Against an Inter side which has collapsed like tin cans in a shooting arcade, Antonio Di Natale and company thumped home five to secure their Europa League place. Their form in the final weeks of the season has been the best in the country.

Of course, that adds a little extra juice to the Lazio versus Roma Coppa Italia Final – as if that was required. The winner, apart from crowing rights in the capital, will also walk away with Italy’s last European slot. When they realised they could not achieve that goal via the League, the Biancocelesti folded to a 1-0 defeat against Cagliari in their final clash of the Serie A season.

Elsewhere, Atalanta and Chievo threw off their shackles in a 2-2 draw, Bologna and Genoa kept theirs on in a game without goals and Parma delivered a few breathtaking strikes in a 3-1 victory over Serie B-bound Palermo. There were also a few tears in Torino as Rolando Bianchi said his farewells to the Granata after scoring the goal which secured a draw with Catania. And, on Saturday, Sampdoria completed the most unlikely of doubles by grabbing their second win over Juve this season. Knowing Antonio Conte, he won’t have been happy his boys let their guard down – even in a game with nothing left to say about their season.

The weekend also confirmed the promotion of Verona and Sassuolo to be joined by one other side from the Serie B play-off process. They got a glimpse of what kind of League they will be coming to in the top flight’s final round of games. Spectacular, dramatic, emotional and controversial – welcome to the Serie A party boys.

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...
Yep Daniel, that's what I meant by FIFA, put the stamp on the changes brought forward.

With FIFA, well every 4 years when the WC pops up, I blow a few fuses when I see some referees that wouldn't make the cut in the Hungarian 2nd division (trust me, I grew up in it:)
It is democratic to include everyone in the mix - nothing wrong with that - but it should be kept in the professional context nevertheless.
I don't care if all refs come from Krakozhia if they are the best.
on the 22nd May, 2013 at 6:24am
I would really like if Mancini managed Napoli that would be an awesome move from DeLa forget Martinez clear decision there. Bring in Mancini.
on the 22nd May, 2013 at 12:14am
Zoli, like the FIGC, FIFA is laced with incompetence & corruption-a bit like the 9/11 Commission report! It would be nice to see more transparency from them, & maybe competing governing bodies to emerge, in an effort to get them to clean up their act & keep them on their toes.

I love your idea for calling the players bluff! There are many good contributors on here. Maybe we should get together & create our own manifesto.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 9:02pm
very entertaining final round. it's a for gone conclusion that marrazzi to inter, allegri to roma, and benitez to napoli. conte stayed put at juventus because ancelotti is going to real madrid. psg spot now is open? the real question is milan?! seedorf? maybe another past milan legend instead possibly.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 8:50pm
The bottom line is Italy has big issue with favouring the big teams. Thats why players like Pizzaro and Jovetic look to play elsewhere. Fiorentina had a great season, but no matter what; the "system" in italy will ensure the money clubs keep getting their lions share of the money from CL play. The culture in Italy and soccer in general is for diving to be an accepted behaviour which the refs continue to accept and the big clubs simultaneously profit from. The Balo penalty call was comical.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 7:07pm
Daniel Giambrone, I completely agree with your view on Seedorf. In a way it's like Donadoni. I adored both of them on the pitch but coaching is a different animal.
Beckenbauer and Mourinho are good examples.

As far as tightening the rules, I'd like to see changes at FIFA level.
I would start by getting the players off the field that seem hurt for about 10 minutes minimum. You know, just to give them "enough time" to recover. Let's see who fakes what and when then ... :)
on the 21st May, 2013 at 5:14pm
JuveFanatico, I don't like Mancini as a manager at all. I just felt that the way City dealt with his departure was very poor: signaling their intent in the run-up to the cup final. Mancini is a terrible man-manager, he always demands a large transfer kitty, & many players go backwards under him. He is also poor at giving youth players a chance. I actually consider him as one of the weakest Italian coaches. He really comes across as a miserable so & so. Hardly inspiring!
on the 21st May, 2013 at 5:06pm
@Daniel Giambrone
I have to disagree with you on the Mancini part.
I know he has brought some silverware to Man City but let's face it at Inter he failed to do well in the CL and he failed at Man City in the same competition. With the team he has had at his disposal he failed to get out of the CL group stage. Failed to win the FA cup final against Wigan. He insisted on playing Aguero and Tevez, completely forgetting Dzeko who by the way played a big part in City winning the EPL last season. His tactics are a ridiculous to say the least. His treatment by City was fully deserved.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 3:06pm
Stop being bitter. The right team for champions league went through. Also, no one mention the handball from Siena in box in first half or the te time Balo got cut down in box in second. Saying from Fiorentina that theg came third is just plain wrong. Forza Milan
on the 21st May, 2013 at 2:15pm
Catch us if you can. FORZA JUVE!!!!!!!
on the 21st May, 2013 at 1:32pm
I want to see the FIGC really clamp down on shirt pulling next season. If it happens in the box, then they should consistently give a penalty. This would soon eradicate this problem. I also want to see punishment for players diving & play acting, be it during the game game or retroactively. I get so tired of players holding their faces when they haven't been hit there. We need better referees. The current batch are so incompetent, it is beyond belief.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 1:02pm
Strange news regarding Pizarro. I'm sure that he said, not so long ago, how much he loved Italy & how he wanted to raise his children there. €28 mil is a tempting offer for Jovetic, as is €25 mil for Marchisio. Jovetic is very good, but I reckon that Rossi can come in & do a more effective/consistent job, scoring more goals. With Marchisio, IMO, he is a good, not great player. His movement & stamina is good, but he can often disappear & have little effect on games.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 12:52pm
All I will say is that if that had been Juve instead of Milan winning that way all hell would have broke loose. Milan get far more favours and dodgy penalties than anyone else. Think about it people the biggest winners of calciopoli have been Milan....they get juve relegated and have Inter take the blame...genius. The Siena game, the penalty against udinese, against Isla, the sending off against Napoli...it's all there…....open your eyes Suzi
on the 21st May, 2013 at 11:20am
Great posts St Ambrose! Monty is Milan's player of the season no doubt. Berlusconi's behaviour has been unprofessional, childish, & classless-there are parallels with City's treatment of Mancini. Seedorf is very smart but he would be a complete gamble, maybe another Strama-too much too soon. I really rate Guidolin, he would be my choice. He has worked wonders at Udinese: rebuilding every summer, developing talent, & achieving wonders on the pitch.
on the 21st May, 2013 at 10:34am
Why are fiorentina coming out with finishing "3rd in the table" rubbish. They must have forgotten those 2 dodgy penalties they had against milan they don't mention that do they!!! They should be happy with the season they have had especially as they were fighting relegation last season instead with coming out saying these stupid things
on the 21st May, 2013 at 7:53am
Convenient that all the Milan supporters here decrying conspiracy theories and hailing Milan's second half resurgence completely ignore the fact that this season Milan went into 20 games out of 38 either with a man advantage or a goal advantage.

They also conveniently forget that they themselves complained about Inter once getting an incredible 8 penalties in a season - a season that Milan received over 10 - an incredible number they would average for several years. But no cheating, right?
on the 21st May, 2013 at 4:52am
Finally... Who on Earth does Berlusconi think would be a good replacement for Allegri? Seedorf? Someone with zero coaching experience? Simply because he's a fondly remembered veteran? I wouldn't put it past Berlusconi to think like that. Spalletti also isn't an option. He has said so repeatedly himself. And he would cost too much. Aren't Milan trying to avoid overspending now? Why they couldn't just keep Allegri for one more season and then try moving for Prandelli I don't know.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 10:01pm
Thirdly... I find Berlusconi's public letter despicable. So he's getting rid of Allegri... I disagree with the decision, but I know some people will welcome it. What I think is completely classless is to take all of the credit for Milan's turnaround. What a buffoon. He always rocks the boat unnecessarily with his harebrained imaginings. Does anyone else remember him saying the San Siro ought to be renamed after him? Any manager who comes in will only succeed in spite of Berlusconi.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 9:49pm
Secondly... All credit to Fiorentina for a well-fought campaign. I like Montella as a coach. He's got real charisma. I'll be rooting for them every step of the way in Europe next season.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 9:43pm
So many times Milan tried to make the vital pass to put one of the players through, only to hit it to the feet of one of Siena's men. And yes, we were lucky with the penalty. Kudos to Mexes at least, for being our unlikely hero of the hour (and the fantastic Monty for setting him up – I'm convinced he's been Milan's player of the season).
on the 20th May, 2013 at 9:34pm
Firstly... I'm glad Milan secured the (potential) 3rd Champions League spot, but I'm far from satisfied. The game against Siena was awful. 2-3 Siena players looked more dangerous and incisive on the attack than double the number of Milan players. The passing was terrible. If one thing needs to improve for next season, it's the lack of creativity and intensity, especially in the final third of the pitch...
on the 20th May, 2013 at 9:31pm
As for Milan's performance... Montolivo looked like he came back from his injury too soon. Balotelli squandered possession numerous times. Niang, again, was ineffective. And Robinho flitted in & out of the game as usual. Milan desperately need some creativity & imagination in the final third. I just hope that Galliani can bring in the right players this summer.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 8:48pm
Fiorentina fans have conveniently forgotten about the 2 dodgy penalties they got in the 2-2 draw with Milan
on the 20th May, 2013 at 7:41pm
Have to say i feel sorry for the Viola, Milan were poor yesterday but Balo pulled them over the line. Fiorentina look in great shape for next year even if they sell Jovetic. I think Allegri need to go only if we can get a better replacement but who? Spalletti anyone.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 7:19pm
Believing in such conspiracy is just making excuses.. be realistic people Milan was 10 points behind fiorentina at the beginning of the first season now milan are forward with 2! Give credit to milan they have lost only one game in 2013! Juve milan and napoli were all awarded 11 penalties this season milan are not favoured with more! there was a terrible offside decision on ilsharawy which wasnt offside. siena players were beating up balo Dont ask for it and ref wont award the pen
on the 20th May, 2013 at 6:36pm
@ Big D. I am not going to mention the Milan debacle everybody saw what is was. You can't follow Italian football too much or you wud know the highly esteemed Italian football book writer, BBC journo, Football Italia hero and establisher of the first Italian football fanzine in England, RIgore in the early 90's, Giancarlo Rinaldi, is one of the biggest Viola fans in Britain. He is well known and highly respected for this. He just has more self assurance to belittle his self by bringing that up
on the 20th May, 2013 at 4:47pm
I'm not a Milan fan - but penalties like that get awarded. Get over it. Mario should have had one earlier. If defenders are clumsy they ask for it. And Siena's defender was clumsy on Mario. Italy is not unique in this respect. It's football. Blind belief in conspiracy is a means of looking for excuses. A disease not just in sport, but in life in general. Fiorentina are not in the CL because they have been toothless up front in key games over the course of the season - Milan have had Mario.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 4:47pm
The referee in the Milan game should be fired. How on earth did he not give a penalty for Ambrosini's shirt pulling when it was right in front of him?Then he harshly sends Ambrosini off later, realizes that he made a mistake and then sends off the Siena player to level things. And then you have the Balotelli penalty, very dodgy!
on the 20th May, 2013 at 4:21pm
Rinaldi, you must be a Milan fan !! Not even one mention of the horrible decision by the ref in awarding the penalty to Balotelli. What was the 4th official doing, picking his %&()_%^&? Fiorentina have been robbed of millions of dollars.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 3:19pm
Potentially AC Milan, Inter, Napoli, Man U, PSG, Man City, Bayern, Chelsea, Real Madrid all with new managers next season! Transfer window should be interesting. Agree with Zaza, Fiorentina to sell jovetic,replace with Rossi, and improve the squad with some good acquisitions. Napoli to hire Benitez (worst appointment they could make), sell Cavani, and invest poorly and finish 6th or 7th.
on the 20th May, 2013 at 2:11pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.