A frustrated and disappointed AC Milan have congratulated Juventus after the Turin outfit's capture of a 28th Scudetto. Juve clinched the Serie A title last night after their win over Cagliari, allied to Milan's 4-2 defeat against city rivals Inter, handed them a four-point advantage with just one game remaining.
"It burns to lose the derby and to concede the Scudetto," Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia told www.acmilan.com. "It has been a difficult season, we have endured arduous times and taken false steps. Compliments to Juve. Now we must focus on the future."
Milan never recovered from some serious blows to their squad. The biggest two setbacks were the loss of Italian striker Antonio Cassano for six months because of a heart condition, and the absence of Brazil forward Alexandre Pato for many games due to myriad muscular injuries.
Even so, I Rossoneri managed to pull seven points clear at the end of March and looked like a team that could go on to defend the title. Juve, the early-season pace-setters, then reclaimed the lead two weeks later. "Considering the problems that we have had, we have done well this season," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "I want to thank my players."
"Juventus have had great year and they have deserved the league title because they have done so by taking many points," the Italian said. "I thought that with respect to last year, more points would be needed to win the Scudetto and that was the case."
Yesterday's triumph was Juve's 22nd of the campaign. I Bianconeri have collected 81 points in 37 games, four more than Milan, and are unbeaten so far. Juve are the only top team Milan have failed to beat this season.
Unlike Milan, Juventus were not involved in European competition this season and that allowed Antonio Conte's side to focus on the domestic front. In the 2012/13 campaign, both sides will compete in the UEFA Champions League and Allegri believes the additional competition will prove testing for Juve.
"Next season we will be again there fighting for the title," he said. "Moreover, next season unlike this one, Juve will be involved in the Champions League, a competition that has an impact on the domestic campaign. I am curious to see how they will react."
Milan, who hold a 16-point advantage over third-placed Udinese, entertain relegated Novara in their final game of the season.