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Season review: Italy

Published: Monday 30 May 2011, 12.18CET
After five seasons in which FC Internazionale Milano was the name on the trophy, AC Milan picked up their 18th Scudetto and left their neighbours grateful for a Coppa Italia consolation.
Season review: Italy
Milan celebrated their first league title since 2004 ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 30 May 2011, 12.18CET

Season review: Italy

After five seasons in which FC Internazionale Milano was the name on the trophy, AC Milan picked up their 18th Scudetto and left their neighbours grateful for a Coppa Italia consolation.

AC Milan ended the dominance of city rivals FC Internazionale Milano by winning their first Scudetto since 2004 – and 18th in total – while the Nerazzurri triumped in the Coppa Italia for the second consecutive year.

Champions: AC Milan
The Rossoneri made their intentions clear in the summer by signing Zlatan Ibrahimović, Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Coach Massimiliano Allegri, newly arrived from Cagliari Calcio, then wasted no time moulding his side, who went top of the table in November and never looked back. The decision to bolster his midfield with the muscle of Mark van Bommel in January proved another turning point. Milan ended up scoring 65 goals, four less than Inter, yet finished with the tightest defence having conceded just 24 – fully 15 goals less than the second-meanest team, SSC Napoli.

Cup final: FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 US Città di Palermo
Inter lifted the Coppa Italia for the second straight season after a campaign in which they lost their Serie A and UEFA Champions League titles. A closer final than the scoreline may suggest, Palermo created several openings but were up against an inspired goalkeeper in Júlio César. Worse than that, Inter were at their clinical best: Diego Milito clinched the win after Ezequiel Muñoz had given Palermo hope following a Samuel Eto'o double.

European places*
AC Milan – UEFA Champions League
FC Internazionale Milano – UEFA Champions League
SSC Napoli – UEFA Champions League
Udinese Calcio – UEFA Champions League
S.S. Lazio – UEFA Europa League
AS Roma– UEFA Europa League
US Città di Palermo - UEFA Europa League
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Thiago Silva (AC Milan)
Milan centre-back Silva enjoyed a fine season. The Brazilian international was arguably the main reason for Milan's outstanding defensive record, having directed the back four with an authority reminiscent of Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini. A versatile operator, his passing vision also allowed him to play in midfield when the Rossoneri encountered injuries. Widely considered Serie A's best defender, the 26-year-old was rewarded with a new contract until 2016 at the end of term.

One to watch: Alexis Sánchez (Udinese Calcio)
With 12 international goals for Chile, 'El Niño Maravilla' was already highly rated but the 22-year-old nonetheless enjoyed a breakthrough season in which he established himself as one of the division's most exciting talents. Switched from the wing to a more central role by Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin, Sánchez responded with 12 goals and a series of scintillating performances. "There are two or three players like him in every generation," Udinese president Giampaolo Pozzo said. "I might be the wrong person to judge, but he is on the level of [Lionel] Messi to me."

Surprise package: SCC Napoli
Napoli finished third and qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage, returning to the continental elite for the first time since 1990/91. Even so, the Partenopei will regret the fact they were just three points behind leaders Milan with six games to play. Much credit must go to 24-year-old striker Edinson Cavani, who scored 26 goals in Serie A and seven in the UEFA Europa League.

Leading scorer: Antonio Di Natale, Udinese Calcio (28 goals)

Number: 206
It proved a disappointing season for AS Roma and Francesco Totti as the Giallorossi finished sixth in Serie A. However, the 34-year-old captain notched his 206th Serie A goal in May to overtake Roberto Baggio in fifth place in the top flight's all-time scoring list. Totti now finds himself nine goals behind Giuseppe Meazza and José Altafini but has work to do to catch Silvio Piola (274 goals).

Relegated: UC Sampdoria, Brescia Calcio, AS Bari

Promoted: Atalanta BC, AC Siena, Novara Calcio

Quote:
"Clarence Seedorf's leadership is just incredible – he is our Barack Obama." Antonio Cassano expresses his respect for the veteran midfielder who has recently signed a new one-year deal to herald a tenth season with Milan.

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.30CET

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