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Season review: Italy

Published: Sunday 13 June 2010, 22.23CET
AS Roma's late surge ensured an exciting finish to the Serie A campaign but FC Internazionale Milano denied the Giallorossi in both league and cup with a telling contribution from Diego Milito.
by Paolo Menicucci
Season review: Italy
Diego Milito was Inter's hero in the last-day win at Siena ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 13 June 2010, 22.23CET

Season review: Italy

AS Roma's late surge ensured an exciting finish to the Serie A campaign but FC Internazionale Milano denied the Giallorossi in both league and cup with a telling contribution from Diego Milito.

What had looked like being a one-horse race after 23 games, when FC Internazionale Milano sat eight points clear of closest rivals AC Milan, turned into an exciting sprint finish between the Nerazzurri and AS Roma. The Giallorossi, who had trailed José Mourinho's team by 14 points at one stage, even went top with five games remaining only to slip up with a home loss to UC Sampdoria and allow Inter to clinch their 18th title after winning their last five games. With the Coppa Italia already theirs, six days later they completed a historic treble by winning the UEFA Champions League final.

Champions: FC Internazionale Milano
Mourinho landed his second Scudetto in as many years at Inter but the Portuguese coach had to wait until the final weekend to celebrate this time round, the Nerazzurri's 1-0 victory at AC Siena cementing their two-point advantage over Roma. Like the previous season, Inter were unbeaten at home and finished with the best attack (75 goals scored) and best defence (34 conceded).

Cup final: AS Roma 0-1 FC Internazionale Milano
For the fifth time in six seasons, Inter and Roma crossed swords in the Coppa Italia final. The previous meetings had produced two victories apiece but despite Roma having home advantage – with their Olimpico stadium hosting the final – it was Inter who lifted the trophy thanks to a wonderful goal by Diego Milito five minutes before half-time. Roma's frustrations boiled over with captain Francesco Totti sent off late on for a bad foul on Mario Balotelli.

European places*
FC Internazionale Milano – UEFA Champions League group stage
AS Roma – UEFA Champions League group stage
AC Milan – UEFA Champions League group stage
UC Sampdoria – UEFA Champions League play-off
US Città di Palermo – UEFA Europa League play-off
SSC Napoli – UEFA Europa League play-off
Juventus – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Diego Milito (FC Internazionale Milano)
The departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović for FC Barcelona last summer provided cause for optimism for all of Inter's rivals but the Argentinian forward wasted no time in proving he could be as effective as the Swede. The 22 league goals he scored during his first season at Inter do not say enough about his outstanding contribution to Mourinho's machine. Who struck the goals when Inter sealed the title with a 1-0 win over Siena and the cup by beating Roma by the same score, as well as both UEFA Champions League final goals? Milito, of course.

One to watch: Javier Pastore (US Città di Palermo)
Serie A lost the elegance of Kaká when the Brazilian left Milan to join Real Madrid CF, but Pastore certainly did his bit to compensate. The 20-year-old Argentinian attacking midfielder made an immediate impact on the Italian top flight following his move from CA Huracán to Palermo and almost led the Sicilians to UEFA Champions League qualification. The Rosanero lost the race for fourth place to Sampdoria but Pastore will at least have the chance to shine in the UEFA Europa League next season.

Surprise package: UC Sampdoria
Not many predicted a top-four finish for Sampdoria at the beginning of the season, but Luigi Delneri's charges stunned their more-fancied rivals by booking a place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs. Delneri may have decided to leave the club at the season's end but strikers Giampaolo Pazzini (19 goals) and Antonio Cassano can now look to emulate Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli, the attacking pair who fired Samp to the European Champion Clubs' Cup final in 1992.

Leading scorer: Antonio Di Natale, Udinese Calcio (29)

Number: 17
This is an unlucky number in Italy and it was an unlucky season for Serie A coaches with 17 changes equalling the record set in the 1947/48 campaign. Relegated Atalanta BC had four different coaches over the course of the season.

Relegated: Atalanta BC, AC Siena, AS Livorno Calcio

Promoted: AC Cesena, Brescia Calcio, US Lecce

Quote
"It was the most difficult of my league titles as I had never had to wait for success until the final whistle of the final game of the season. I usually won it at home or in a hotel room, with three or four games left. This is a new experience, but I honestly prefer the other way."
José Mourinho explains why a tense last day was not for him

Last updated: 14/06/10 9.16CET

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