For a team challenging for the title, AC Milan’s future doesn’t look bright. Blowing a 10-point lead is never a good sign and takes real determination to forget.
Unfortunately, it appears as if the players can’t help but remember how far ahead that they were since the club is tumbling down the division’s power rankings. As a result, more problems are plaguing the squad.
To call AC Milan inconsistent at the beginning of the season would have been silly. The side was the model of professionality, leading to an unbeaten run to the campaign that was finally ended in November. Now, the latest football odds suggest Milan’s title hopes are on a knife-edge at 5/1, and the brilliance of Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic is partly to blame.
From the 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina, Stefano Pioli hasn’t instilled the same high standards, causing blips along the way. For example, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 92-minute bicycle kick rescued a point at Udinese. Before that, the Rossoneri were taken apart by Sassuolo at home.
Exiting the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool soon followed, leaving AC Milan on a downward trajectory that isn’t stopping. Eternal rivals Inter Milan, however, are riding the crest of a wave, hence being odds-on for the Serie A trophy at 4/6. Until Pioli can iron out the kinks, Inter will always have the upper hand.
Qualifying from Group B wasn’t going to be easy. Making it to the knockout stages is challenging regardless of the year, but when you’re in the Group of Death, the odds are lower than usual. So, being eliminated wasn’t surprising, even if it did hurt.
Finishing fourth is hard for fans to take because the club is in a healthy place compared to previous years. So, making it to the Europa League and attempting to win European silverware was a bare minimum expectation. AC Milan didn’t do that, either, unlike Atalanta and Napoli.
While fewer fixtures may play into the players’ hands, the lack of confidence from underperforming is starting to rear its head.
Something that the club can’t foresee is injuries. As bad luck would have it, there have been plenty since the beginning of the 2021/22 season. Indeed, there have been so many that bookies and pundits are unsure how injuries will affect Milan’s progress next year.
Firstly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an enigmatic player, yet he’s managed to start around 30 matches going back to the beginning of the 2020-21 season. As he gets older, niggles will prevent him from making the impact the club desperately requires on the pitch. Defender Simon Kjaer is another who is injury-prone. The Danish centre-back will miss the rest of the season due to surgery.
Unsurprisingly, AC Milan have struggled under the pressure. And because several injuries are long-term ones, the odds for the club to finish in the top four are worse than their closest contenders. AC Milan are 2/9, which seems good until you realise Inter’s, Atalanta’s and Napoli’s odds are shorter than 1/5. These are reflective of the tough journey ahead for the club.
Unless Pioli can do something to arrest the decline quickly, AC Milan will be out of the title hunt and playing for a Champions League qualification spot.