AC Milan, one of the most awarded clubs in football history, looks far from that right now. They haven’t qualified for Europe since the 2013-14 Champions League where they lost to Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16. This has been in part due to a lack of funds but also due to some questionable transfers including those of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silvia, two world class players, something Milan hasn’t seen much of in the past years.
But it seems to be getting better for the Rossoneri. They barely missed out on a Europa League spot last year, and Montella has guided them into a position for a Europa League spot this year as well. Can Milan return to European competition this year?
Milan certainly don’t have the best side in the Serie A, a shadow of their former greatness. Donnarumma and Romagnoli lead the back line, two youngsters who have shown enormous promise. Locatelli and Sosa are in the midfield, one young, one old. Bacca, along with Suso and Deulofeu, is up in attack.
The team has been ravaged by injuries this season, already losing star man Giacomo Bonaventura, arguably the club’s best player, for the season. Suso is out, Zapata just returned from injury, and the team is struggling with suspensions — Bacca, Romagnoli, and Sosa will not be present for next week’s game against Genoa.
The team has struggled, particularly in the defensive and midfield areas; reinforcements are desperately needed, but the funds simply aren’t there. Donnarumma and Suso have been some of the sole bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming season, and Milan will need to retain the two youngsters if they have any hope of returning to their former greatness.
Milan’s squad simply isn’t good enough to compete with clubs like Juventus and Roma, and unless they get the funds — the closing of the sale to the Chinese has been delayed yet again — not only will they not improve, but they risk losing some of their best players to other clubs willing to offer the cash.
Montella has been experimenting with formations throughout the season, but he seems to have settled on a 4-3-3, utilizing two wingers, an area where Milan have the most depth in. He’s trusted Bacca throughout all the criticism, leading some to question why Lapadula hasn’t been give a chance as of yet. He’s done very well with what he’s had to work with, but the team’s form has declined since the return, and Milan will need to work hard to recoup some critical points.
Montella seems to be well-liked by the fans and by the soon-to-be (hopefully) Chinese owners. It is vital to the success of the club and the overall cohesiveness of the squad that Milan do not send him away too early, as they have done with several managers in the past such as Seedorf or Mihajlovic.
Milan haven’t done too bad for themselves considering the situation they find themselves in, and they currently sit in seventh place in the Serie A, needing to get to sixth if they wish to grab a Europa League spot. They started out extremely well, even challenging for first at one point, but a string of poor performances against lower level teams such as Udinese cost them several positions.
They haven’t played the best nor the prettiest football, and they have struggled throughout the season, but they have nonetheless found a way to get the job done. They’ve won games that they shouldn’t have won, and scraped some close victories out, and that seems to be how they will continue the rest of the season — playing for the results.
Milan will have an easy stretch of games in the upcoming weeks — facing Genoa, Pescara and Palermo before returning to face Inter in the Derby Della Madonnina. It is vital that they do not waste these opportunities to get all three points if they want to play European football.
Will Milan qualify for Europe? It’s up to them to decide.
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