Mario Balotelli seemed like AC Milan’s biggest hope to take a lead against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, giving their fans something to cling to in an otherwise wretched season.
Instead, just like things have the entire year for the Serie A giants, it all went wrong.
Not only did Atletico score in the waning seconds, stealing a win and away goal and leaving Milan with nothing to show for a promising performance, but the home side also lost their season’s best player.
Balotelli fell awkwardly on his shoulder, leaving him with a damaged AC joint and unable to make the pitch for at least 10 days, according to the Associated Press.
10 days, as the report says, as long as “there are no complications.” Most AC Milan fans are at the point where nothing would surprise them, including complications.
As it stands, however, Balotelli will be back for the reverse Champions League fixture in Madrid. Unfortunately, the immediate future is the biggest concern for the Rossoneri would be their upcoming Serie A fixtures.
With a trip to Sampdoria on Sunday and Juventus the following weekend, Milan will be forced to play 29-year-old striker Giampaolo Pazzini. The Pescia-born forward has himself struggled with injury this year, seeing just 202 Serie A minutes this season.
Sitting in ninth position in the Serie A standings – 18 points back of a Champions League qualification spot and a whopping 31 off the top – Balotelli’s loss will be another blow to Milan’s chance to salvage whatever they can on the disappointing season.