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Saturday April 13 2019
Milan march on for Europe

Milan consolidated fourth place by squeezing past Lazio, but Giancarlo Rinaldi isn’t sure fans really want to see this team in the Champions League.

As showdowns for a Champions League dream go, it was not all that inspirational. For much of the match, Milan and Lazio looked as if they were as enthusiastic about a place in Europe as a Brexiteer cabinet minister. But, in the end, the side with by far the greater pedigree in continental competition seized its opportunity to rise above Roma into fourth place - for the time being at least.

If I were a fan of the Rossoneri, however, my celebrations would be doused with a dash of realism. No doubt the club has made progress this season under Rino Gattuso - you only have to look at their points haul and hopes of a Coppa Italia Final - but they are still far from the finished article.

Putting this squad up against the very best from other leagues would surely have fans peeking through their fingers in trepidation. For a club that once instilled fear in its rivals around the world, it would be curious to be considered something of an underdog.

It’s not fair, of course, to judge them entirely on one game. Over the season, the San Siro side has shown enough to suggest that it is on an upward path - especially compared with the shambolic approach under its old owners. There is a sense of direction, at least, even if the road ahead still feels like a long one.

On the positive side have been the Rossoneri’s younger Italian players and the impact of recent arrivals Lucas Paqueta - now sadly lost to injury - and Krzysztof Piatek. But how many people are convinced that the likes of Suso, Samu Castillejo and Hakan Calhanoglu are ready for the great leap forward? Forgive me if I have my doubts.

Not that anyone would think that Milan will not invest heavily - assuming they are permitted to do so - should they get their top four place. This is a club with the kind of Champions League and European clout that others can only dream about. If they start making their acquisitions with a little more planning than they did in recent times, they can get back to their rightful place once more.

They are not there, yet, though - at least on Saturday night’s evidence. The heart and character will have pleased their Coach, but the quality was still in short supply. They were never going to bridge the gap to the teams above them - and Juventus in particular - overnight. This season looks like a couple of steps forward, but it must still feel like looking through a telescope the wrong way round when they gaze at where they would like to be.

Still, it would be churlish to be too downbeat after an important win, no matter how tricky it was to achieve. This summer will be a test of the new regime, its ability to plan for the long-term and really create stable foundations for a serious recovery. If these players can deliver a top four spot, they will have done their bit.

As for Lazio, they looked a bit bedraggled in Milan, as they have done from time to time this campaign. They are still capable of some great performances, but they seem to have been much more intermittent this season. Some sparkle has gone and it has seen them slide down the Serie A standings. The Coppa Italia, of course, remains a major shot at redemption.

Nothing is set in stone, with Roma and Atalanta also still very much live contenders for a Champions League finish. In the absence of a title race, fans of Serie A will have to make do with the excitement of those twists and turns between now and the end of May. None of the sides involved in the battle may be perfect, but they are certainly giving their all. Any worries about how they might fare in Europe, I guess, can wait until another day.

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Have your say...
I dont hate gattuso i very much liked him as a player and i am thankful for everything he has given to milan.
BUT: that doesnt mean that i hav to be blind about his limited skills as a coach.
The team is and i repeat myself here depending on luck and some individual skill only to creat some scoring oportunities. Thats only up to the system we play and to the squad selection so directly the coaches fault. This team is better the how they play week in week out.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 12:36pm
@Maldini's Heir. I do hear what you're saying about continuity, but for every "Gattuso has gotten the best out of this group" comment, I think: Has he? This is also why I'm not sure Ancelotti is a great coach, only a very good one. I think a better coach would have won more silverware with the same squad in 2002-2007. Also, key player moves do make a difference. Would we be in 4th now if it wasn't for the addition of Piatek and Paqueta in January? And, LUCKILY, other teams have dropped points...
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:34pm
I would like to see more of Castillejo than Suso but i think 8 putting him on is a throw back of old school coaching as a show of support for an underpeforming player. But Suso's been underperfoming a while now. The person i feel most for is Cutrone, his confidence is clealry shattered but he still puts in 200 per cent. I'm pretty confident in Leonardo in dealing with transfers this summer. I expect a much smaller squad next yr as there are players like Berto and Monto still on the books, sheesh
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:37am
Well well well...been a while on FI. This thread would make you think Milan just lost to the last place team. The hate on Gattuso is insane as well as on the quality of the squad. Yes, we dont have an 03-07 squad so what we do have now is best to support them be it Borini or Romagnoli. For me, Gattuso is a very good coach, he is extracting the max he can from this group. He does make some off decisions imo like reliance on Suso but its better than the last 4 or 5 previous coaches
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:31am
@Maldini heir
Its 2019! I couldn't give a flying fudge cake what he was doing in 13/14 the problem is now and the the guy does nothing. What did we bring him in for freekicks only? In play he does nothing and if his only game is free kicks and he isn't scoring them then what should we do wait? You should say YOU don't know!
@Kevin Princess Boatang
I have watched more than enough past and present. It tells you the state we are in if we have people actually arguing about a very average player!
on the 16th April, 2019 at 9:30pm
@Jeremy

Çalhanoğlu is definitely not rubbish. Please watch more than 10 minutes of a game before saying someone is rubbish. In my opinion him and Paqueta have been playing very well together and most entertaining.

@ Maldinis Heir

Well done. Could not have said it better. You are a true fan.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 1:43pm
@ Jeremy Are you seriously suggesting that it's easier to score free kicks in Germany or Turkey than Serie A? He scored 11 free kicks for Leverkusen in 13/14. More than any other player in Europe that season. What happened? (It's ok to say you don't know).
on the 16th April, 2019 at 11:36am
@Jeremy
Of course the team is average all off the teams in the league are average at best. Milan don't need to be amazing to finish top 4 even juve are average by European standards. Cal should go but Milan are in a good place right now compared to recent seasons we just need to build on what we got.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 10:37am
Maldini heir
"Find out why we can't score free kicks and long shots". Let me help you figure this out... wait for it.. BECAUSE THEY ARE RUBBISH. Çalhanoğlu is absolutely terrible we did 2 things wrong here first of all we shouldn't have even brought him and second hype him up to be Milans new Pirlo.
Send this man back to Turkey or Germany or wherever but get him out.
Who is going to score a 'long shot'- there is no one this team is average at best. You and Viktor wake up
on the 16th April, 2019 at 7:11am
PS I agree with what you're saying about defence. Caldera's had a disrupted season but hopefully he'll be starting next season. Him and Romagnoli could be our CB pairing for 10 years. That's what we need to challenge for titles. A squad that's been around for 10 years (hopefully we won't need to wait that long).
on the 16th April, 2019 at 5:06am
season (possibly worth 30 points). He was Europe's leading free kick taker before he signed for Milan. How did he forget how to score free kicks? These mysteries will never be solved if Milan keep changing managers and personal not even allowing for dips in form or a run of bad luck. There is very obvious weakness which I think everyone can see at LW. That seems to be where Leonardo is looking. Personally I think if he does find one then he can put his feet up. Job done.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 5:05am
against Juve. Romagnoli's mistake against Empoli. Cancelled out by his last minute goals against Udinese. The last minute goal by Lazio. What could Milan have done differently? Are there better finishers than Higuain and Piątek? is there a more competent and composed CB than Romagnoli? What has happened to Çalhanoğlu's ability to take free kicks? That for me is the greatest mystery of them all. Whatever about open play, one thing Çalhanoğlu should've guaranteed us was about 10 free kicks a
on the 16th April, 2019 at 5:03am
worst? What happened to Conte's side that went from 1st to 5th between 16/17 and 17/18? Was the Juve side that won in 11/12 really so much better than the Juve side that finished 7th in 10/11? We're talking inches not miles. All that it takes for this Milan side to challenge for the title is some key signings and a bit of confidence that comes with a run. Imagine any of the incidents that have gone against us this season had gone for us? Piątek's free header against Juve. Higuian's penalty
on the 16th April, 2019 at 4:58am
He's currently going through a dip in form. This does happen to players. Shevchenko scored just 5 goals in 24 league games in 02/03 24 goals in 32 games one season later. Why? Who knows? It's one of the great mysteries of the universe. Why does this player play well for this club or in this season or on this day and not other times. What happened to Chelsea between 14/15 when they finished 1st and 15/16 when they finished 10th? Did Mourinho go from being the best manager on the planet to the
on the 16th April, 2019 at 4:55am
@ AC Milan Fan Your two or three changes would basically take the soul out of this squad. You're talking about replacing the manager even though he's actually achieved what he was asked achieve for no other reason than a hunch. You also want to sell one of our star players in Suso. Suso has been the cornerstone of this squad for about 3 years now. He's bizarrely one of the longest serving players. And in that time he's played 129 games for Milan scoring 21 goals and providing 33 assists.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 4:50am
@Maldini's Heir: 2 of 2. Defense wins championships and Juve has always known it. More to my point, the two world class Milan squads, late 80s-early 90s, and early 00s had the best defenses around. Maldini, Costacurta/Galli, Baresi, Tassotti; and then Maldini, Nesta, Stam, Cafu (with Billy in reserve). That's why Juve buys a new young talended CB every 2 years or so. It's a production line. Meanwhile, Musacchio starts and Caldara sits (even when healthy)...
on the 15th April, 2019 at 9:39pm
@Anonymous - "keep in mind Inter and Moratti have by far spent the most of the bunch" and the end result was he couldn't afford to spend anymore so he had to sell the team. To succeed in modern soccer you need to scout talent, buy it cheap, sell high and with the profits you buy more talented players cheap and keep selling. For Example Juve with Pogba, Coman and Vidal. If you spend 20 mill on Bertolacci or 30 mill on Gabi-one-Gol your team will ultimately lose money and suck !
on the 15th April, 2019 at 9:32pm
@Maldini's Heir: 2 of 2. Defense wins championships and Juve has always known it. More to my point, the two world class Milan squads, late 80s-early 90s, and early 00s had the best defenses around. Maldini, Costacurta/Galli, Baresi, Tassotti; and then Maldini, Nesta, Stam, Cafu (with Billy in reserve). That's why Juve buys a new young talended CB every 2 years or so. It's a production line. Meanwhile, Musacchio starts and Caldara sits (even when healthy)...
on the 15th April, 2019 at 9:24pm
@Maldini's Heir: 1 of 2. As to your comment about Juventus 2011-12. You're absolutely right. They went from 7th to unbeaten with an unheralded strike force! Except...you miss the point. Because Juventus has never dominated Serie A due to their strike force. They dominate due to their defence. And that year it was: Grosso, Chiellini, Barzagli (Bonucci), and Lichsteiner. 3 Italy WC winners, 1 future Italy international, and Licht. 3 of them are still part of their 8 running Serie A titles.
on the 15th April, 2019 at 9:09pm
@ FERBAN

If it was so easy for the old Milan teams to win the CL then, then why Juventus and Inter have barely nothing to show for ?

keep in mind Inter and Moratti have by far spent the most of the bunch.

So please, keep your saltiness to your self. Milan is why Italy can hold their head high in Europe.

Give this new administration a bit of time. Give Leo and Maldini some time.

If Juventus can make 2 CL finals and choke on them i dont see why Grande Milan cant make 2 finals and win them
on the 15th April, 2019 at 5:06pm
And the vultures circle...

Cue: @Giancarlo C's Mom
on the 15th April, 2019 at 4:59pm
TO ALL AC MILAN FANS: the person that gets no Congratulations for AC Milan's past success is a man that made much of it happen: MARCO BRANCA. He sold Pirlo to AC Milan for 18 mill, he sold Seedorf to Milan...that was your midfield for 10 years and now that he's gone good luck finding another dumb sporting director to ripoff and rebuild your midfield.
on the 15th April, 2019 at 4:30pm
@Bit

Just because you don't like it does mean automatic conspiracy against Milan"

I have never mentioned any conspiracy. However I do INSIST that it was a penalty in Milans game against Juve. Pay attention to what I'm saying I know its hard but try
on the 15th April, 2019 at 12:29pm
Let's straight to the point, Milan is TRASH.From players to coaches and directors, they all suck. They are financially weak and not to mention the club is owned by loan shark who is doing everything they can to sell Milan back for profit. Fans who think Milan will be stronger if they can compete in CL for next season is plainly stupid or completely mad. FFP PUNISHMENT is waiting and I'm not surprised Milan will stuck with Gattuso and their mediocre players. Keep this in mind: Milan is TRASH. LOL
on the 15th April, 2019 at 10:28am
Just stop Rubentus having referees' favor on-and-off-the-field, let's be honest here, they're clearly stronger financially & as a squad.
Instead of complaining, bitching, every club should focus on strengthen their own team & fix their financial problems. AND BUILD THEIR OWN STADIUM !
Obviously, too many bureaucrazy & mafia to handle when it comes to building the stadiums and not too mention racism happens almost every week. Until these are solved, Italian football will NEVER progress.
on the 15th April, 2019 at 7:43am
@Maldini's Heir 3 changes, new coach, only spending 15m. Not that big of a deal numerically, but a huge deal qualitatively. If you think Suso is good enough to play RW then you must not be watching the games. He has been SUB-PAR by any standard. Plus we have no natural left winger! But Gattuso keeps on playing winger-based systems. 2nd half 3-5-2 v Lazio: no wingers (used wingbacks), Suso to the middle= HUGE IMPROVEMENT. Finally, Bennacer would be a better and longer term investment than Kessie.
on the 15th April, 2019 at 1:35am
@Vikbore. See same no penatly call for Milan against Lazio as against Juve for a no handball but you cherry pick decision that favour your team then rant how biased ref and other fans are. Your comments are hypocritical gibberish. So for your 1st lesson in being less biased is that some rules will get called differently by different refs. Just because you don't like it does mean automatic conspiracy against Milan who get thier share of "big team" favouritism. Enjoy the Zen, Vikbore.
on the 15th April, 2019 at 12:50am
People moan year in year out about Juve going to the Scudetto untouched, for that to stop both Milan and Inter have to be in the UCL every year to help them rebuild. Roma have done nothing with UCL the last few years, in fact their squad has probably gone backwards. They should be challenging Juve instead they sell their best players every year. Credit to Napoli they seem like they actually want to get better. Enough of provincial sides like Roma or Lazio in the UCL wasting the money.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 2:39pm
Of course no smart Milan fan thinks the current side is ready to go deep into the UCL. Do people not understand we need the qualification to unlock our mercato and propel us back to the top. Redeeming Bakayoko, signing a LW who can take us to the next level, bringing in a midfield reinforcement, upgrading on Laxalt at the backup LB spot, these are all things we can only do with UCL. It will relax the restraints on us and allow us to use some of our financial power.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 2:37pm
We cannot expect that Milan will immediately perform wonders in CL; or compare it's performances to teams like Roma or Inter that are better built/equiped for these competitions. Milan's time to adequately equip for these competitions will come when we get into CL. The teams around us are better equiped, yet Milan is surviving amongst them. We are not yet there, as you can easily see this from the load of players who fill our roster at present; players who you will curse Gattuso for fielding..
on the 14th April, 2019 at 1:03pm

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