With little over six minutes remaining at the Artemio Franchi on Sunday night, Milan's season appeared to be set to end with a whimper. With their Champions League aspirations hanging in the balance, up stepped Mario Balotelli and goal-scoring hero Philippe Mexes to rescue a 2-1 win over Siena. It was a dramatic ending to what had been a dire game from a Milan perspective, as they struggled to clinch what was expected to be a comfortable victory. Having fallen behind, and coupled with Fiorentina's clinical demolition of Pescara, it appeared that Massimiliano Allegri's side were destined for the Europa League as they lacked any sort of inspiration to see them over the line.
Three points separate Milan from confirming their attendance at Europe's biggest party next season, but the headlines this week have again been dominated by speculation over Massimiliano Allegri's future. It began on Tuesday, with the club releasing an official statement on their website dismissing rumours that he had held talks with Roma about the possibility of taking charge of the Giallorossi next season. On hearing the reports, his current playing squad leapt to his defence, with Kevin-Prince Boateng suggesting that "there cannot be a Milan without Allegri".
As racist chants were heard at San Siro on Sunday, Milan were consigned to becoming embroiled in the latest controversy surrounding a long-standing stain on Italian football. Mario Balotelli was seen turning towards the offending away supporters, and raised a finger to his lips motioning for them to fall silent. Moments later, an announcement over the stadium's public address warned such behaviour would not be tolerated and that the match was at risk of being stopped. -Prandelli backs Balotelli's response to racism -Blatter denounces chants Shortly after the interval, referee Gianluca Rocchi was forced into action.
In truth, Sunday night was a disappointing affair both on and off the pitch as Milan played out to a goalless draw with Roma at San Siro. A dismissal for either side as well as some unwanted distractions from those in attendance, all resulted in the Rossoneri still needing to clinch a place in the Champions League at Siena next weekend. Aside from a clash that showed signs of sparking into life with some end-to-end counter attacking football, there were far too many negative aspects which will overshadow both the game and result.
In a season of transition that was dubbed "Year Zero" following the departure of numerous iconic figures last summer, Milan prepare for the visit of Roma this weekend on the cusp of securing Champions League football for next year. An opening day defeat to Sampdoria set the trend for the early months of the campaign, leading many to suggest that not only was Massimiliano Allegri's future uncertain, but the club's participation in Europe was also in doubt. - Puyol rejects Milan speculation As the weeks passed, the Rossoneri continued to dwell in the bottom half of the table as their rivals benefited from their demise, blowing the race for the much coveted third and final Champions League spot wide open.
As the travelling Milan fans basked in the Stadio Adratico sunshine on Wednesday, the Rossoneri marched on in their pursuit of Champions League football for next season with a comfortable 4-0 win against Pescara. In truth, it was all too easy for Massimiliano Allegri, who could even afford to rotate the squad and rest key players as the result was safely secured with ample time remaining. Mario Balotelli made it 11 goals in 11 games, with his brace including yet another successful spot kick. -Video: Pescara 0-4 AC Milan (UK, Ire) -Balo, Milan may face Manchester City -Puyol rejects Milan speculation The Italian international maintained his perfect record from the spot since joining the club, and his overall play demonstrated exactly why the move was not only beneficial to Milan, but also to the player himself.
On a day where the Serie A title was won in Turin, Milan took a big step towards securing their own Scudetto of sorts -- as Massimiliano Allegri described it in mid-week -- with a battling 1-0 win over Torino. -Video: AC Milan 1-0 Torino (UK, Ireland) Coupled with Fiorentina’s loss to Roma on Saturday night, the Rossoneri now have a four-point lead over their rivals for third place with just three games to go. It was a struggle for the most part at San Siro on Sunday, with Milan unable to gain a consistent rhythm and pace to their build-up play.
As the rest of Europe marvels over the rise to prominence of German football, Italians and Italian football aficionados have witnessed first-hand how the Bundesliga has gone from strength to strength. With the word co-efficient imprinted into our vocabulary, it was refreshing to hear how Dortmund's eccentric leader has drawn inspiration from a Milan icon. Over the last few years, Milan have tumbled down the UEFA club co-efficients after several disappointing campaigns in Europe. They currently sit in 14th place, although they have gradually improved their year-on-year points total over the past few seasons.
With Massimiliano Allegri's future still shrouded in doubt, recent speculation has linked a Milan legend as a potential replacement at the end of the season. Reports suggest Silvio Berlusconi wants Clarence Seedorf to become the next Milan coach, but is it really the right move? In short, no it is not. La Gazzetta dello Sport circulated the rumour ahead of the Catania game, reporting that regardless of whether Allegri reaches the Champions League next season or not, the club, namely Berlusconi, wishes to part company with the current boss with Seedorf identified as an ideal successor.
For a time, it looked as though the dark days of the early months of the season had returned, as Milan trailed at home with their Champions League aspirations at risk. Yet a brace from substitute Giampaolo Pazzini helped turn things around and seal a 4-2 win over Catania on Sunday night at San Siro. - Video: AC Milan 4-2 Catania (UK, Ire) For all their endeavour and promise going forward, the Rossoneri were left to rue defensive lapses that could well have cost them. Rivals Fiorentina had secured all three points against Sampdoria earlier in the day, shifting the pressure firmly on Massimiliano Allegri to find a way to deliver.
In a week dominated by transfer speculation and denials over consideration of managerial changes, Milan return to business on Sunday night with plenty to play for. The gap has now been reduced to a solitary point, but the stage is set for the return of "Super Mario". -Balotelli to play Sunday Three consecutive draws have seen Milan surrender what was at one time a commanding lead over Fiorentina, with the ambition of finishing second now looking unlikely. Viola boss Vincenzo Montella declared his team ready for “this mini-tournament” of the season's last five rounds, and are seemingly hitting their stride at just the right time with the pressure undoubtedly on the Rossoneri to maintain their slender lead.
In a game that would have failed to inspire the neutral, Milan saw their 14-match unbeaten run come to end as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Juventus on Sunday night. With their rivals all securing valuable wins, the pressure is on the Rossoneri to recover quickly. -Juve's Vidal wins it with penalty kick -Video: Juventus 1-0 AC Milan (UK, Ireland) Despite the lack of opportunities, Milan were arguably comfortable throughout. Importantly, they were able to dominate possession and thus dictate the tempo, as they played at their pace for the majority of the game.