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Champions League qualification would represent a successful season for AC Milan

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It’s been a week to forget for AC Milan. Last Saturday they were largely beaten in San Siro by Atalanta, giving their title rivals the opportunity to reduce their Serie A lead and a few days later Stefano Pioli’s side were knocked out of the Coppa Italia by its fiercest rivals.

The loss to Gian Piero Gasperini’s side has been the heaviest of the season for the Rossoneri so far, but although Juventus and Roma have collected the maximum points this weekend, they could be comforted by the fact that Inter were held by Udinese.

The Coppa Italia quarter-final represented an opportunity for Milan to return to victory immediately, but despite the lead grab by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who was later sent off), Pioli’s side were beaten by a blow. frank in the 96th minute of the forgotten man of Inter, Christian Eriksen. .

Stefano Pioli
Stefano Pioli’s main goal will be to restore AC Milan’s status in the Champions League Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images

Although still at the top of Serie A, the recent results have prompted many to question the team’s qualifications for the title as they look to win their first Scudetto since 2011. Critics coming from Milan, even if some are justified, are largely unjust. the start of the Champions League qualifying campaign would have been classified as a major success.

The last time the Rossoneri competed in the first European competition was during the 2013/14 campaign and for a club of their stature, size and history, this is just not acceptable. Therefore, naturally, a top four finish is Stefano Pioli’s main goal and although those watching may have got carried away with the Scudetto speech, even at this point after being crowned Winter Champion , it still seems premature.

The reality is that Milan are rebuilding themselves and the first step in that process is to recover as a Champions League club which would then strengthen them financially.

As for the title race, Antonio Conte’s Inter remain on the heels of their city rivals and their superior strength at depth is likely to prove a key factor in the race between the two. It would also be foolish to exclude Juventus from defending champions Andrea Pirlo who have a game in hand and perhaps more importantly Cristiano Ronaldo from their ranks.

Milan’s performances so far this season have seen them play their way into the Scudetto conversation, and rightfully so, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that they’ve gone way beyond. At the start of the season, they were the sixth-favorites to be crowned champions, behind Juventus, Inter, Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio – that in itself demonstrates this point.

For the aforementioned reasons, if Milan, as expected, start to crumble as the season draws to a close, it should be seen more as a leveling off than a collapse.