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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...
Thank you, Maldini's Heir. Guys can we learn to respect other people's work? I have always said this: A Good coach will always be limited by the team at his disposal (Carlo Ancelloti, anyone?). This team would look much better if Bona was fit.

Gattuso is doing the most with the players at his disposal. He may have limitations but he's showing growth. I suggest he sh'd be given a hand at CL. Bonucci once said Milan will grow with quality signings to lift the level of training sessions.

Go Milan
on the 14th April, 2019 at 12:50pm
This whole thing with Acerbi is getting ridiculous. He was the idiot talking himself and Lazio up and after his team lost Bakayoko and Kessie had every right to have a bit of fun. Only in Italy would this be flipped round so the black dudes are in the wrong.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 12:45pm
@ VIKTOR

you're having a laugh are u?! Milan have been garbage in europe for over a decade now. you might want to learn some math yourself lol. scored 10 conceded 25 since 2008 in the last 16/qf ties they've played in. have they even won a game in them? 1 or 2? haven't been near a semi final in donkey's years (in either competition). quit living in the past and saying "we do well in it". you don't do well in it at all. u USED to do well in it. Like Notts Forest used to to lol ;)
on the 14th April, 2019 at 12:02pm
@ VIKTOR

Quit clutching at straws. Juve couldn't care less about SPAL, they were champs in Feb. Milan's game was one they couldn't afford to lose as they did - but as usual, they did.

I gave you the math already - try reading it again, slower if needs be.

Milan didn't have 2 bad CL campaigns, they've been awful in Europe for 12 years

Roma have won twice as many CL knockout games in the last 14 months than Milan have in 12 years

Accept they're not up to it, then maybe they can fix themselves
on the 14th April, 2019 at 11:45am
@Anonymous11

Ima tell you the same thing as we did before... Lol.. So one bad season in Europa League and you cannot be near CL.. Gtfo
on the 14th April, 2019 at 11:30am
If they make it to the Champions League, they can spend more and with a few key signings I believe Milan can have a respectful CL run. But it's a must for the long run, otherwise we are again where we started.

Also, I prefer another coach to take charge. Gattuso is ok but he's limited as he was in his playing days. Just look at coaches like Emery or Tuchel, and how they tactically set their teams up. Gattuso is unable to to that.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 10:40am
I don't think anyone is under the illusion that Milan will immediately compete to win the Champions League if they make it. This season has been about fighting to make 4th place and that seems to be an acknowledgment on the part of the club that they know their current limitations.

Getting back into the competition after so long is an achievement. Clearly the squad as it is wouldn't be among the 12 or 16 best clubs in the CL, but it's also clear that finishing 4th would allow squad improvements
on the 14th April, 2019 at 9:14am
I watched the match last night - yes it is a Milan we "old" Milan fans are not used to. I would like to see Milan playing with 2 strikers or at least go back to the xmas tree - our wingers only play for themselves. I feel so bad for Piątek as he gets absolutely zero service. I would like to Kessie stay - but chanhalogou, suso and Laxalt can be sold. I would like Ismael Bennacer, barella and at least try for Spinazzola. We need Champions League for investment into the squad and FFP -
on the 14th April, 2019 at 8:09am
@FERBAN

You do realise everyone can have an off game like the one against Olympiakos? Like Juve against Spal for example..

You are using that as a reference point every time we discuss Milan in CL. Certain hold? You mean more and proven track record that we do well when we are in it?

We had two season that were bad in CL and all of a sudden we are bad in CL.. A little math would hurt buddy.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 7:00am
Milan has the most promising squad of players and will invest if they secure 4th spot.

Roma = a supermarket that needs a striker, a new back line, and a DM.
Atalanta = Romantic's choice but a waste because I doubt the club would invest or grow from the experience
Lazio = inconsistent choke complainers and bad ambassadors for the league

Milan is the best of the bunch.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 5:43am
What makes this player play better for this team. We need to get more out of the existing players. We're not going to find a better free kick taker than Çalhanoğlu so we need to figure out why we can't score free kicks or long shots anymore. These are the challenges. It's not easy which is why being a football manager is such a difficult job. A lot harder than the job of criticising.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:56am
You know there is something wrong when a team wins a CL spot but the fans and probably the team itself know they can't really compete in the CL. Like others have said you might want to prove yourselves in the EL 1st.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:54am
constantly wishing for someone else like a bored housewife. Sure there's room for improvement. Borini is not good enough to play in such a crucial role as LW. That is a game changing position on the pitch and can be the difference between getting that crucial win and drawing or losing. So we need a LW. Çalhanoğlu is a funny one. In his last season at Bayern he scored more free kicks than any player in Europe. How does a player forget how to score free kicks? That is the million dollar question.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:54am
I am sick of every random punter declaring that this player is "mediocre' and that player is a "superstar on another planet". That is not how football works. Juventus did not have superstar players when they went from finishing 7th in 10/11 to an unbeaten 1st in 11/12. They did that with a strike force of Vučinić, Matri, Borriello, Quagliarella and a retiring Del Piero. The only way for Milan or any team to complete with Juve is to bring some stability and build on what we have rather than
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:50am
Solid win. Milan were going to get a break eventually and if they do manage to see out the season with 4th then we can say that it's been a successful season. If the manager and the players have delivered that success then the directors, media and fans and everyone else who played a very small role int hat success need to start showing a basic level of respect and loyalty. Rather than constantly engaging in gossip and some bizarre ratings scheme, we need to start valuing the players we have.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:39am
@ AC Milan Fan Why stop there? We could just swap the entire 25 first team squad, management, coaches and directors and, while we're at it, change the name. Change, change, change. If we finish fourth this season then clearly we're not good enough to finish fourth.....or something like that. We certainly don't want to miss out on 2,000 odd transfers that Italian teams will be involved in this summer. The more disruption the better I say. Nothing brings stability like change.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 3:32am
Performance full of heart but man do we look woeful in the final third. Gattuso must take some blame but at the same time... We've got Borini and an out-of-form Suso in our attacking trident plus a midfield with no creativity besides the very little offered by Calhanoglu.
Paqueta and Bonaventura come back asap please.
Also can't wait to see Caldara with Musa being so shaky lately.
Rumours of signing Everton are encouraging - if we can pay for it.
on the 14th April, 2019 at 2:21am
I agree. And thus we need to get rid of Gattuso, Suso (€25mm), Calha (€20mm), and Kessie (€25mm). Sign DM Bakayoko (5th on the Serie A "balls won" chart, €35mm), DM Ismael Bennacer (6th on the Seria A "balls won" chart, €25mm), RW Juan Mata (free), LW Rodrigo de Paul (9 goals as a winger, 13th most shots in Serie A, €25mm), and find a manager to play the 4-2-3-1: Gigio; Rodriguez, Romagnoli, Caldara, Calabria; Bennacer, Bakayoko; De Paul, Paquetá, Mata; Piatek. Only ~€15mm actually spent...
on the 14th April, 2019 at 1:08am
Some Milan fans are deluded

They think Milan have some sort of hold over the CL that Roma/Napoli don't and therefore are much better in it. But that was a different era, when Italian teams had, and kept, great players

It was far easier for the old Milan teams to win the CL than it is for Italian sides now

And their own CL record the last 12 years is horrendous. 2 CL knockout wins in 16. That's worse than Roma/Napoli

It'd be great to see them back, but try beating Olympiakos in the EL first
on the 13th April, 2019 at 11:52pm
I have followed Milan since the 80’s but this Milan is as bad as any I have seen I’m afraid to say. If we do qualify for the champions league it’s an early exit for sure. Lazio are woeful and yet it took our crossbar to save us from defeat and a dubious penalty at best to win us the match. Serie a is dreadful now (it pains me to say it) as even our second placed team Napoli were played off the pitch by arsenal mid week. Remember how bad Milan were in uefa cup, champions league ....forget it!
on the 13th April, 2019 at 11:50pm

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