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. 

Have your say...
That racial abuse was awful. If you want to mock balotelli then mock him about what he is : a spoiled, arrogant and cocky player, who thinks hes the god.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 8:04pm
Football players are the most disgusting of all the sportsman breeds.
The theatrics, spitting, nose blowing, getting in the referee's face, constant bitching ... the list is embarrassingly long :(
How would Muntari feel if every time he makes a controversial play someone would treat him the same way he treated the referee? What a jerk ...

Rules should be changed.
Players' and referees' roles are clearly defined. Talking or gesturing back to a ref should be eradicated for the game's sake.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 6:04pm
Hope Fiorentina make it to the CL as Milan just are not the same team they use to be. It could be the start of breaking the monopoly of the same teams qualifying. Let's be serious neither team will win the competition but both could progress past the group stages and earn more money to improve their squads and hopefully keep their better players from leaving.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 5:37pm
Also, if Milan draw against Siena and Fiorentina win, what would happen as they're draw on points. I can't remember their head to head record
on the 13th May, 2013 at 5:36pm
I admit, El Sharaawy isn't the threat he was a few months back. He looks weak on the ball and does the simple thing and his finishing isn't as good. Fiorentina have a good squad but I feel the type of football they play will be ineffective as Aquilani and Pizarro lack the physicality and will struggle against the big teams. I like Cuadrado and Valero in midfield, but their type of game may cost them and lead to silly errors. For now I'd rather Milan, but in a year I could say Fiorentina.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 5:36pm
@Dan Giambrone

he hasn't been scoring lately I give you that but

1. hes 20 and scored 16 league goals so far
2. he runs and set up a lot of goals
3. he has a lot of room for improvement
4. he contributes with tons, have you ever seen him complain? Having a player that constantly keeps up the positive attitude adds tons to the team spirit.

and absolutely is a more important player then Ljajic cmon man.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 4:47pm
Is coming along brilliant with champion league he could bring in negredo who they was rumoured to have try and sign before and other brilliant signings on defence and complement players to the midfield, at the same time they can also dominate Europa league which in the past intermilan lazio and Roma have failed miserably to some 3rd rate teams from Sweden or something lol, even as a juve fan I hope Fiorentina and Milan definitely pick up the pace next season along with juve ... Not inter lol
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:46pm
Viktor, when SES is not scoring goals what does he do? I do not see him running past players, playing incisive passes, or whipping in dangerous crosses. I see someone that runs into a cul-de-dac, takes the safe option & plays a back/sideways pass. Yes he tracks back, but I want to see him affecting the play higher up the pitch. As an Italian I would love him to prove me wrong, but right now, I find him predicatable, and very frustrating to watch. Lamela & Ljajic are more of a constant threat.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:41pm

ROFL, no but Montolivo, Boateng, Balo, SES, De Scgilio, Abate, Niang, Pazzini, flamini are..

Why would you bring up players that were dont use (except for ambro when montolivo is out).

10 years out of 11 ACM been in CL. I think that speaks for itself dont you?
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:29pm
I was really disappointed with Roma's approach to the 2nd half last night. With the man advantage they should have gone for the jugular. When it was 11 v 11, Roma were the better side. Without Monty Milan just have industry in the middle of the park. SES was ineffective again. He had many opportunities to have a run at Roma's defence but typically of late, he just stops and plays a simple pass. On current form, he shouldn't be selected for Italy in the summer. He could do with break.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:27pm
I don't doubt that fiorentina can cope with Champions league but come up against the wrong team at the Wrong time can aftect there mentality and league competition, both Milan and fiorentina need CL as much as each other, Milan to rebuild and bolster there squad but I believe allegri has lost the dressing room more than once with big star players such as boateng and robinho this season, yet a balance is required now between youngsters and 1 2 big signings at the back, as for Montella his project
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:26pm
Clearly Ac Milan are more suitable in CL then Fiorentina. Fiorentina has been incredible this season but im doubtful they will manage to maintain good position in league while playing CL. Milan on the other side has been doing this for centuries
with good results.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:26pm

And exactly what do you base that on?
Whit the cl money the viola scuad will be even better and deeper next season.
It's less work for prade to be done then for galliani to get a competitve scuad that can figt in europe.

Or do you really think players like munari, ambrosini,flamini or bonera are stronger players then the ones in fiorentinas scuad?

Milan have a great attack but rather than that not much that is better than violas scuad
on the 13th May, 2013 at 3:13pm
@Dan Giambrone

And leave out ses? Good pick lol.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 2:55pm

Even as a Milan fan, I would love to see Fiorentina have a crack at the CL - they play great football (a 'less boring' version of barcelona I would personally say), have a talented team and are building an admirable project. But you're spot on, the experience of European campaigns for Allegri and the squad will prove useful - providing Milan get there.

I have a funny feeling there may be a sting in the tail and Siena could cause an upset. I hope I'm wrong.....
on the 13th May, 2013 at 2:30pm
abp, The Viola certainly have the quality, but maybe lack the squad depth, & CL experience, (as a team). I'd argue that their first 11 is as good as, if not better than Milan's. If I was to assemble a team, made up from both squads it would be: Abbiati; Cuadrado, Zapata, Rodriguez, De Sciglio; Montolivo, Pizarro, Valero; Rossi, Balotelli, Ljajic.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 2:18pm
Another head to head which Allegri has failed to win. That means this season we've only beaten Juve, 10 man Lazio and controversially Udinese in the top 7. The Juve win was undoubtedly a fantastic performance but considering that Juve, Udinese and Lazio also beat us it hardly bodes well for us preventing Juve winning the title next season for a third time in a row. I would love to be proved wrong and for Allegri to stay and win the title but I just don't see him winning the league again.
on the 13th May, 2013 at 9:50am
much as I'd like to see fiorentina get that third spot, I hope for the sake of italian football that it's milan that get it... I don't think fiorentina has the quality to do anything siginificant in the champions league..
on the 13th May, 2013 at 9:05am

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