AC Milan bowed out of the Champions League Group B, finishing last in the group with four points. They suffered a couple of disappointing losses, and may have expected to do better, but the reality is that Group B had all the looks of a “group of death” while the inexperienced Milan was back in the competition for the first time in several years. The Rossoneri must take this as a learning experience and continue to move forward.
AC Milan Can Keep Heads High After Champions League
Milan lost to Liverpool twice, lost one and won one versus Atletico Madrid, and lost one and tied one versus Porto. All these teams are amongst the top of their leagues. Milan sit on top of Serie A, but had little experience in this tournament.
Besides that, Milan played the competition without many crucial players. Goalkeeper Mike Maignan, a rock at back, missed the majority of the matches. As did Ante Rebic, who started off the tournament on fire versus Liverpool. Other important players such as Simon Kjaer, Rafael Leao, Davide Calabria, and Oliver Giroud were in and out of the team. With all this happening, Milan played with passion and hunger, and the fans had their back all the way through.
The highlight of the tournament was the victory over Atletico Madrid on matchday five. Milan desperately needed a victory to keep their hopes alive, and Junior Messias found the back of the net in the 86th minute. It was a feeling and moment of pure European joy that hasn’t been felt around Milan for quite some time.
Younger players, such as Fikayo Tomori, Sandro Tonali, Brahim Diaz, and Leao (when healthy) had their fair share of shining moments. They are crucial to the future of Milan, so this experience is invaluable to them.
Looking Ahead for AC Milan
On the bright side, Milan are first in Serie A. After 16 matches, the team has 38 points. This includes 12 wins, two draws, and two losses. Their next five matches includes three “winnable” matches versus Udinese, Empoli, and Venezia, but also two tough matches versus Napoli and AS Roma.
Injured stars such as Leao, Giroud, and Rebic are expected to return this month. They’re very important to the attack, and although Milan will just have domestic competitions to focus on now, the return of these players is quite important.
Kjaer’s season-ending injury is definitely worrisome. He’s one of Milan’s experienced veterans, and has been playing his best football recently. The footballing world was aware of this, as Kjaer was invited to the Ballon d’Or ceremony, and the Dane finished ahead of other very notable players such as Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Luka Modric, and Harry Kane. Finding a suitable replacement in January is of the utmost importance for Milan. The only other options (outside of Tomori) include Alessio Romagnoli and Matteo Gabbia.
Milan are in a strong position to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Sitting in first place, Milan places an emphasis on winning the Serie A crown. The reign of Juventus looks to be over, but there are plenty other competitors.
Embed from Getty Images