Friday July 31 2020
Milan regrets can only grow stronger

Going into the final weekend, Inter, Atalanta and Lazio can all still take second place, but Owen Diana sees that only increase Milan’s regrets.

As the 2019-20 Serie A season heads into its final act, the fate of Italy’s top teams is already decided. Juventus will win their ninth consecutive championship, while the identity of the three other Champions League qualifiers was never in doubt after the lockdown. As we go into the final round, Inter, Atalanta and Lazio could all still take second place, as they are crammed within a point. Yet, the contrasting fortunes of Lazio and Milan in the last month only increase the regrets of a Rossoneri side that finished sixth.

This could have been a dream summer for Lazio. They came into the restart on the coat-tails of The Old Lady, fuelling dreams of a first Scudetto in 20 years. However, a lack of depth has cost them dearly. Inzaghi’s small squad has looked exhausted since the first match back against Atalanta and has not had time to recuperate due to the fixture pile-up.

Nevertheless, the reasons for the capital club’s demise are as much mental as they are physical. Lazio seemed bereft of confidence without the presence of star striker Ciro Immobile in their chastening 3-0 home defeat to Milan. They could not hold their concentration against Lecce and Sassuolo, losing both games after scoring first. Patric’s bizarre bite on Giulio Donati at the end of the meeting with the Salentini epitomized a team that had lost the plot.

Meanwhile, Milan are playing with a sense of conviction and belief rarely seen in the last decade. The roots of a promising midfield partnership between Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie have taken hold. Hakan Calhanoglu is playing his best football since arriving on Italian shores three years ago. Simon Kjaer’s calming presence has solidified the Rossoneri defence.

Stefano Pioli’s charges have looked more self-assured with each positive result of an 11-match undefeated streak that includes an eye-catching comeback win over the champions. The recently renewed Pioli deserves enormous credit, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the true catalyst for Milan’s transformation.

Ibra’s contribution to the Rossoneri goes far beyond the on-field performances that belie his 38 years of age. His sheer force of personality has awoken a sleeping giant. Instead of inspiring them to further triumphs, Milan’s illustrious history had become a weight around their necks. Within a few months, the giant Swede has imbued his teammates with a swagger befitting one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Unfortunately for Milan, their summer exploits will not be rewarded with a Champions League place next campaign. In fact, they’re going to have to start from the Europa League preliminary rounds on September 17, having failed to catch up to Roma in fifth place.

In contrast, Lazio can look forward to participation in Europe’s premier club competition. The economic boost from their top four finish could allow the Romans to re-establish themselves as a consistent contender for domestic honours.

Yet, the Rossoneri’s restored splendour could prove potentially even more valuable than Lazio’s Champions League windfall. There’s no guarantee Claudio Lotito will invest that money on the transfer market, as most of the links are with free agents or players on loan with option to buy. If the Aquile don’t make huge changes to their squad this summer, playing in the Champions League and Serie A could turn from dream to nightmare.

With the momentum gained from a red-hot run, Milan could again be an attractive proposition to elite players. Regardless of who they bring in this off-season, it seems that Milan have finally found the path back to greatness.

Have your say...
Oh, and another thing about Roma. They had to do without Zaniolo for most of the second half of the season, including the break. I have a feeling next season will be his breakout season. This alone could be enough to secure CL, never mind the good form exhibited since the switch to 3 at the back. Watch this space...
on the 3rd August, 2020 at 6:34pm
We also need to bring in quality in depth, as some "bench" players are leaving. We'll try for 4th next season, but it will be difficult given the quality of the others. Keep in mind that the EL is another route to the CL, and thus squad depth is important. I think how we start will say everything, and the first step is getting through three EL qualification rounds to the groups. That done plus no early losses to lower table squads I think will be indicative of the course the season will take.
on the 3rd August, 2020 at 6:21pm
I think one huge signing for RW is not a bad hypothesis. Unfortunately I doubt that Chiesa would want to come to Milan, and that ultimately we'd be able to afford that transfer at the moment. After him there are not many affordable RWs that would significantly improve us, and if the improvement isn't significant then there's no point.

@Maldini's Heir: We don't necessarily need a 20 goal scorer. What if Rebic has 15, Ibra 15, Hakan 10 and Samu 10? Not impossible and similar to Atalanta.
on the 3rd August, 2020 at 6:18pm
USOT is right. What regret? The season began disastrously. There was no recovery for CL from it. Look at the standings. Milan would have had to have gone on an epic run from the moment Pioli arrived to have finished 4th. I'm OK that we finished 6th, because honestly the probability of not being in Europe at all was higher than being in it at the winter "break". Although contrary to USOT's assertion, I think the club was hitting form before Covid. 5-5-1 Jan 6 to the stop including Coppa Italia.
on the 3rd August, 2020 at 6:08pm
Gotta agree with Totti about this one. Milan should be glad on how they managed to turn around their performance after giampaolo’s disaster & there is optimism for next season, thanks to zlatan & pioli, even if it’s for short term only.
Lazio on the other hand, might feel a lot of regret. They’ve done the best they could, even got favorable refereeing decisions (most penalties), yet failed miserably after giving their fans hope for scudetto. It’s unlikely they can repeat another title challenge.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 6:06pm
i see it the other way milan season was pretty much doomed after that opening defeat against udinese. The season would prove to be a another disappointment to add to a decade of disappointments. That milan actually went on a winning run at the end of the season gives me as a fan hope for the next season.

There are serious questions that need to be asked of gazidis going for giampaolo because he was cheaper than spaletti. also why suso wasn't sold in the summer.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 3:15pm
So if I'm Romanista I can't comment on other clubs? On concept of regret??
This blog is about Milan & Lazio. Leave Roma out of it.

Everything you wrote about Roma, goes for Milan as well.
DOUBLE if you take into account last 7 years!

If Roma had more wins after break & took Lazio's spot, of course I'd be glad!
--But I'd feel NO REGRET WHATSOEVER if it wouldn't pan out as it would ultimately be undeserved. (--"Winning a box match because suddenly kicks & chockings are allowed".)
on the 1st August, 2020 at 2:07pm
I used harsh words. But only Milan fans that "feel regret" should be offended.

"Defenseless babies" are Verona & Parma who couldn't continue to pressure Milan for EL spots with sudden switch of rules (Bellow, I forgot the 5 SUBS!)

This was missfortunate, sad event & it's SHAMEFUL "feeling regret" for not exploiting the situation further.

Writer chose the wrong protagonist for this story --Lazio bleeds empathy this season.
Not only people can't identify with Milan's regret, but THEY SHOULDN'T!
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:38pm
I agree that Milan should focus and spend big on the right side. Our left is great with Rabic (attacking but high workrate) and also Leao. A Player like Chiesa on the right side will bring goals and assists (attacking threat) with impressive defensive work rate at the same time. Together with Rebic they will compensate for Zlatan's immobility. It will give the team incredible balance. Spend the whole budget on Chiesa-Milenkovic duo. If they can buy a right-back with money from sales then great.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 8:51am
Ibra is not all the reason this great period is happening to Milan, but he's responsible for most of it. He has this strange, awesome ability to make everyone around him give much more. He bring other players to life. I remember back in his first spell with Milan, even Nocerino scored double digits number of goals playing with him! It was incredible.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 8:36am
We've had a lot of Milan based articles recently and although they deserve a lot of credit for how they've performed post lockdown it would be nice to have an article on Roma who have gone on a great run themselves since switching formation.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 8:29am
In the United States of Totti, Roma is a defenseless baby, only the pre-break was real and only Milan had 3 months off in the middle of the season.

Sure, Milan came back from the break a changed team - why didn't the others? Did they not have the same chance to train and improve?

Why do the teams who sucked since the restart "not deserve" to lose their position in the table? The pandemic sucks for everyone... don't call it a gift when thousands are dead... they merely spent their time well.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 5:52am

I am confused.... Your team lost out on a CL spot while your city rivals beat you to it, with a much thinner squad and a cheaper owner, YET it is MILAN you're angry with?! LMAO

Milan did what they had to and climbed back the best they could. What did Roma do this season with all the continuity they had? :) Take a long look in the mirror before going off on Milan :)
on the 1st August, 2020 at 1:53am
Aubameyang, Perišić, Gnarby, Promes and Tadić, are just some names I would look at. We need to keep it focused. Take this side that finished 1st in the last 11 games and just add one player. The alternative would be to sign a 20+ goal striker but we can't with ibra.....This is why these things require thought.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:57am

Group of death? Yes, they were pretty tough groups, but Barca are a shadow of what they were, and Inter did play Barca's youth team at home in a must-win game - and still couldn't win it.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:56am
man. For a striker to get to 20+ goals they need to play 30+ games and that won't happen if Ibra is blocking them. My solution, because I recognise the incredible job that Ibra has done, is to find someone who can make a big impact on the right. A bigger impact than Saelemaekers. Someone who could potentially even get us our 20+ goals coming from the right. So we're talking a top, top, top player. My candidates would be: Chiesa, Bernardeschi, Costa, a punt on Berardi, Martial, Son (Spurs),
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:39am
The issue with lauding over Ibra is that he's 38 years old so is not exactly the long term solution to this team. Sure if he's given us a short term term boost and given confidence to the younger players then I'm not going to complain but he does create a problem for next season. I don't think he's got 20 plus goals in him. I am not sure Rebić or Leão do either. So this is Milan's biggest weakness going into next season. The obvious thing to do is to sign a goalscorer but we can't if Ibra's our
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:32am
I very much agree with "Vero Rossonero":
It will be surprising to see Lazio finish in top 4 next year.
Juve, Inter, Napoli are favourites... Roma, Milan, Atalanta, Lazio will fight for last CL spot.

"Grand Old Lady" wrote it perfectly.
Cool Milan fans aren't regretful at all, but happy & looking forward to next season (having something to build on & not starting from scratch like previous years.) They are hyped!

7 months ago I predicted Zlatan would bring hype to this club & their players ;)
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:32am
I am truly disappointed with this blog.

Misfortune (Corona) destroyed overachiever (Lazio) & elevated underachiever (Milan).
--And you decided to focus on/ praise the latter.

Dear Lazio fans.

Huge respect to your season.
Be proud of what your team accomplished; They fought like lions against the odds & even against how WORLD FUNCTIONS! (--I mean, here's a "Football Italia" site that won't give a deserved blog to your ruined fairytale.)

Milan doesn't deserve to feel regret.
You do.
on the 1st August, 2020 at 12:02am
Corona break was a GIFT for Milan.
They had Zlatan/ Pioli BEFORE the stop & their results were not as good.
When season became A FLUKE with
- halted momentum
- games played every 3 days!!!
- with no fans
Milan used "advantage" like a pack of vultures.

Some of their fans have NO SHAME & feel regret for "not eating defenseless baby while parents were away" (AKA not taking 5th).

Stop talking about the table after restart. It's FAKE.
Look at the table BEFORE THE STOP.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 11:12pm
@Lukas will stop humiliating themselves when for two consecutive years they have been in a group of death with Barcelona. That's why they need to make sure they go far in the EL so it doesn't happen again.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 9:09pm
So funny as the status should que about this who will be the next one replacing Ibra????????????? Suggest some big name without toiling some old tissue paper!! Has to be some king names on the board - six foot tall and dribbling skill is must; Ronaldo or cavani or belotti with double pipes? Yipe!
on the 31st July, 2020 at 7:45pm
Still early days for AC Milan lets see how next season goes. still think LAZIO and Atalanta are miles ahead of AC MILAN. Napoli and Juventus are now backing off and now concentrating on champions league but still they will be a threat next season. AC MILAN should concentrate on top 6 finish they are not the level of JUVENTUS or Inter Milan. Scudetto will take maximum 3-4 Years time even Ibrahimovic is getting old so it depends how they will replace these players etc.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 6:13pm
I fear Lazio will be humiliated in the CL. Probably last in the group or with some luck third. Hopefully Inter will stop humiliating themselves in the CL and actually get out of their group.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 3:59pm
Enough can't be said about the impact of Ibra since his returne to Milan.
This giant has imbued his entire teaam and coach with the confidence to succeed.
Yes one man can make a big difference not only because he is still a skilled striker but also because of his leadership is unquestionable: no teamate wants to displease this legend. It has been a great pleasure to watch the skill in which this team has made a tremendous resurgence and hopefully will challenge for the title next season.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 2:58pm
Let us all hope that Milan do continue this form next season along with strong performances by Juventus, Inter, Lazio, Atalanta, Napoli and Roma. Plus the likes of Sassuolo and Verona and Torino improving.

Would be great for Serie A to have many teams in good shape.

As well as my team Napoli have done in past 10 years, it is partially down to the 'bigger' clubs taking turns to suck.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 2:27pm
not playing in front of fans, or whether it’s the extra training they managed or momentum from a few good results, who knows? But the result is a team that in the last 11 games is joint top of the table with Atalanta 7 points ahead of Juve. This is a scudetto winning side. Whether or not they’ll be a scudetto winning side next season, this is their potential. We need to remember that when we’re playing fantasy football in the closed season. Fingers crossed we make as few changes as possible.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 12:44pm
I know the media love the idea of a magical transfer transforming Milan but I actually don’t think it’s all been down to Ibra. It’s more to do with the team finally gelling after having time to train together. I, like most Milan fans, had written off Çalhanoğlu (although I had expressed disbelief he’d forgotten how to score free kicks!) but he’s finally playing close to his potential. They’re all finally playing close to their potential. Whether it’s because of Ibra, the lack of pressure from
on the 31st July, 2020 at 12:39pm
Hopefully Milan are on the right track but Lazio earned the right to play in the Champions League. They clearly performed better that Milan over the whole season.

Can't imagine Milan really holding that much regret? They have worked hard, are turning things around and are in a good streak of form. I would imagine they are more pleased than regretful?
on the 31st July, 2020 at 12:09pm
Of the current top 4, Lazio are definitely the favorites for regression. Atalanta next, but much less likely. But I don't think Milan are the clear favorites to step up into the top 4 if Lazio does regress. Napoli is putting together a strong squad, although I think we're beginning to see some cracks given their performances in the last weeks. And then there is Roma, who have seen an almost equally impressive run of form since the switch to 3 at the back, but their problems might be financial...
on the 31st July, 2020 at 12:02pm

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