Just when it looked like things at AC Milan couldn’t get worse, it escalated dramatically.
Entering their match against Genoa at the San Siro on Saturday, Milan were 10th in the Serie A table, just four points above the relegation zone. In fact, since beating Celtic 2-0 in the Champions League, the Rossoneri recorded just two wins in 13 matches, with three clean sheets, 13 goals scored, and 20 conceded.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has been blamed for the team’s struggles. After all, it was the manager who wanted to sign Kevin Constant and Alessandro Matri, two players who’ve been the targets of abuse from supporters.
However, it’s amazing what winning can do to a club. When it looked like Milan were down and out at this point last season, in came Mario Balotelli in January. The Italian international was the main catalyst towards the Diavolo capturing a top three spot. With a string of wins, they could be right back in the race for a Champions League berth.
The match got off to a flyer when Nigel De Jong delivered a long range pass right to the feet of Kaka. The Brazilian controlled it beautifully, and made no mistake as he slotted the ball past Mattia Perin after just four minutes. What a way to celebrate his 200th Serie A appearance.
That promising start was undone just five minutes later, when an extremely foolish push in the back from Urby Emanuelson on Sime Vrsaljko in the box had the referee pointing to the spot. Former Milan striker, Alberto Gilardino, converted with ease to get the visitors back on level terms.
Shortly before halftime, the hosts were given a lifeline to take the lead again. Thomas Manfredini hauled down Balotelli in the penalty area, meaning a spot kick for the Rossoneri. Balotelli stepped up to take it, but his attempt was weak, allowing Perin to save it easily.
It was Balotelli’s second consecutive miss, despite scoring on every other opportunity before the Napoli loss earlier in the campaign, when Pepe Reina became the first goalkeeper to stop the former Inter and Manchester City forward from 12 yards out.
As expected, it was all AC Milan after the sending off. As a result, Perin was forced to stop several chances on De Jong, Kaka, Balotelli, Emanuelson, Valter Birsa, and Alessandro Matri. Fortunately, the young goalkeeper was able to keep his opponent at bay for the remainder of the match, preserving the 1-1 draw.
For Genoa, it was a well-earned point. Since Gian Piero Gasperini’s appointment on September 29th, the Grifoni have won five of their last eight matches, losing just one of them (at Juventus). Getting a result at the San Siro can only add more fuel to this terrific run.
As for Milan, the struggles continue. Around 300 members of Curva Sud Milano blocked the exits of the San Siro, preventing the players from leaving. They requested a meeting with the players and coaches. Balotelli tried to go out and reason with them, but police prevented him from going outside. In the end, Kaka and Christian Abbiati spoke with the leaders of the ultras, and a few minutes later, everyone dispersed.
The ultras, who were unfurling banners directed at the players and club, were clearly frustrated and rightfully so. On a day when former fullback Cafu tweeted out a picture with the likes of Ronaldo, Dida, and Kaka holding the Club World Cup trophy, the supporters were left wondering what happened to their storied team.
It didn’t help when Constant tweeted pictures of himself in a club on Friday night, less than 24 hours before the match. The abuse he got was so bad, he shut down his account. In fact, one of the banners was directed at the defender himself.
Allegri was confirmed as manager while the ultras waited for a club representative to speak to them. However, with the way things are going, it seems like Milan won’t be able to stick to the status quo, especially when they’re closer to relegation than they are in the top three.
Other talking points
- Roma dropped more points on Monday, drawing Cagliari 0-0, despite controlling the majority of the match. They now slip to second in the table, one point behind Juventus.
- Obviously with the Giallorossi falling, the Bianconeri had to have won their match on the weekend. They did exactly that, triumphing 2-0 over Livorno. Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente both got on the score sheet, as the two summer signings appear to be settling into their new club just fine.
- In the Verona derby, Dejan Lazarevic snatched a Chievo victory in the dying moments of the match, gifting the Flying Donkeys with a 1-0 win. That was Hellas Verona’s first blemish at home, having won their first six games. Juventus was the only other team to manage that feat this season.
- Inter slipped up again, drawing Bologna 1-1. Had it not been for Jonathan’s goal in the second half, they would’ve lost just their second game of the season. Instead, the Nerazzurri are fourth, two points behind Napoli for third.
- Parma stole a 1-0 win from a handicapped Napoli team at the San Paolo. Marek Hamsik came on in the 68th minute to try and add some creativity, but had to exit just 11 minutes in due to a foot injury. He was subsequently removed from the squad for the Champions League this week.
- Domenico Berardi scored yet again as Sassuolo won 2-0 over Atalanta. That’s the 19-year-old’s seventh goal in nine matches. Not even the likes of Alessandro Del Piero or Francesco Totti had a similar record at that age.
Udinese 1-0 Fiorentina; Torino 4-1 Catania; Sampdoria 1-1 Lazio