They could have returned to the elite and became one of the worst Italian squads in PiKon’s history

The plan of Milan fans for Tuesday night was simple. Milan had to beat Liverpool, which was already sure of a promotion to the knockout stage, and at the same time hoping that Porto would not play with Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone’s away team beat Porto 3-1, but Milan failed to do their job. And although on Tuesday evening the hosts of San Siro took the lead in the 29th minute after a goal by Fikayo Tomori, later they were unable to respond to goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi, losing 1: 2. They could not, although they did not play in Jurgen Klopp’s team, among others Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.

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Of course, Stefano Pioli had his problems too. The Italian coach could not field a key defender – Simon Kjaer, Olivier Giroud (world champion) or the hit Rafael Leao. But he didn’t want that alibi. – We can now either sit down and cry or try to overcome these difficulties as a team. We choose the latter – he said before the match.

Milanu's missed chance.  Brave Atletico in the 1/8 finals of the Champions League!Milanu’s missed chance. Brave Atletico in the 1/8 finals of the Champions League!

Expectations in Milan were high. Milan – a bit hurt by the referees in previous games – only had a point after four rounds, but could still play in the Champions League this spring. Thus, he would write an extraordinary story, like Atalanta or Newcastle did.

In the 2019/20 season, Gian Piero Gasperini’s team lost the first three group matches, but managed to advance to the knockout stage after an excellent rematch. Earlier, we saw a similar situation in LM in 2003/04, when Newcastle United qualified for the second round of the tournament.

But let’s go back to Milan. The last time in the knockout stage of LM Milan was in 2014, when they were swept by Atletico in the 1/8 finals. It was then that Milan last played not only in the knockout stages, but in the Champions League in general. It was a different era of football. The last goal for that Milan was scored by Kaka. And it is not the winner of the Golden Ball, but the declining Kaka, who returned to Italy after an unsuccessful adventure at Real Madrid. That is why now – after years away from LM – the hunger to play in the elite was great. They were only separated by the game against The Reds.

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Milan fans hoped that 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović would lead them to victory, who in Serie A shines with effectiveness (six goals in nine matches). In this edition of LM, however, he did not score, although he certainly had an appetite to become the oldest scorer in the history of the tournament.

On Tuesday, however, Zlatan played poorly. He chose difficult solutions when it was necessary to look for simple ones. He shocked with inaccuracies and Ibrahim Konate, who was watching him, did not leave him for a step. He made the game so difficult for the Swede that after the game he asked the 22-year-old Liverpool stopwatch for a jersey.

Milan fans counted even more on celebrating the promotion, because December 8 is a day off due to holidays. However, there will be nothing to celebrate. “See you in September” wrote “La Gazzetta Dello Sport”. Milan not only dropped out of the Champions League, but also dropped out of the European cups. FC Porto will play in the Europa League.

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This is one of the worst results in the history of Italian clubs

With a 2-1 win, Liverpool became the first English side to win six group games. And Milan finish last in the group with just four points. In the history of Italian teams, only Roma – in the 2004/05 season – had a worse result when they finished the game with one point – calculates the statistical portal “OptaPaolo”.

The consolation is that Milan can now fully focus on Serie A, where it is the leader and has been waiting for the scudetto since 2011. Even Inter fans shouldn’t make fun of them too much, because the Nerazzurri left the group, but in the previous three seasons they ended the game before the knockout stage. The mood of Milan players was probably improved by the post-match statement by Juergen Klopp. – I like this project. It is a good mix of youth and experience. At the moment they are suffering from numerous injuries and it is certainly unpleasant, but it is very interesting what they can achieve in the following seasons. Nobody in this group deserves the last place – stated the German. Milan’s coach also took the floor.

– What would happen if I had the full squad? I don’t like that type of thinking. If you don’t, you can make history. We lost our matches minimally, with clubs that are of a high standard. This means that we are not missing a lot. What’s missing? The combination of experience, quality and the right rhythm of the game. We will work on this now, summed up Pioli.

Group table B

  1. Liverpool 18 points
  2. Atletico Madrid 7 points
  3. FC Porto 5 points
  4. AC Milan 4 points

About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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