Thursday, 8 May 2014

Europa League Qualification - Should it really be AC Milan's objective?

AC Milan is having one of its worst seasons of the Berlusconi era, but they can still qualify for the Europa League (EL). According to Adriano Galliani, this is Milan's objective for the remainder of the season:
It is not true that Milan does not want to participate in Europa League. Qualifying for this tournament is our new objective for the rest of the season.
Having restored some pride by winning last week's derby, Milan is currently 8th with 54 points, 1 point behind the 6th place (last qualifying spot) and 3 behind the 5th. The 4th place is pretty much a done deal for Fiorentina. Hellas Verona, 10th with 53 points, can still dream of a EL spot too. So the battle rages on with two gameweeks to go...

But should AC Milan really make it to the Europa League?

AC Milan has never won the Europa League (fka UEFA Cup and Inter-cities Fairs Cup). Their best finish was reaching the semi-finals twice in 1972 (losing to Tottenham - see below) and 2002 (losing to Borussia Dortmund), but often crashing out much earlier than that.

This tournament has never motivated AC Milan and will never do. AC Milan have the Champions League in their DNA. Who can forget the humiliation against Bordeaux in the quarter finals of the 1996 edition? Having won the first leg 2-0 thanks to goals from Eranio and Baggio, the Milan of Baresi and Maldini capitulated in the second leg at Parc Lescure:

The Europa League is not the Champions League (CL). Excluding matchday revenues and market pool share, a potential winner of the EL can take home up to EUR10m, whereas the CL will offer up to EUR37.4m. Playing on Thursdays can be detrimental to the League form, and even worse, if Milan finishes 6th (the most likely scenario), they will play the Third Qualifying Round, with the first leg scheduled on 31 July 2014, less than a month after the end of the World Cup. The following round, the Play-off round, will follow in late August. This does not only mean that AC Milan will have to start their season very early, it also means that the players will hardly have a break, and the preparation would have to be cut short. Add to that the presence of Clarence Seedorf in Brazil as a pundit for the BBC, and then you start wondering how will Milan be prepared to tackle the 2014-15 Serie A, which starts just two days after the first leg of the Play-off round...

Not playing the Europa League won't be a financial disaster as opposed to not playing the Champions League. Not playing the Europa League will spare them the hassle of mid-week games, without making them lose any appeal in the transfer market. Has a player ever said: I will only stay in this club if they make it to the EL? Or I would only move to that club if they are playing in the EL? No, you only hear this tune when the Champions League is concerned.

AS Roma had a great run in Serie A this year, winning the first 10 games of the season and then finishing in second place. Liverpool had its best Premier League campaign in years, fighting for the title until the very end. Would they have achieved these good performances had they played in the EL? Given the quality and the size of the squad, surely not...


  1. Interesting way of seeing things...

  2. I’m afraid I don't agree much on this point of view,
    Let's face it, the Milan today isn't the same great Milan we knew,
    Milan has done well in home league the last five years but failed to pass round 16 (except 11/13 Quater-Finals) in the CL,
    Maybe it is time to start playing in the EL and have a chance to compete with same level European clubs.
    It is true that "Not playing the Europa League won't be a financial disaster" but I don't think that neglecting any revenues, publicity, shares,… would be wise specially if the argument is that players will play too much !!!!
    Although the EL isn't appealing as the CL but it is still a good exposure to the European/International public/fans/sponsors.
    Fans around the globe wants results, they want to see their favorite team competing with others great teams not just stuck in Serie A.

    1. Nicely put...Milan needs to readjust and be realistic...The Europa League is good enough, and they should take the opportunity...

    2. Thanks ER. I can only hope that Milan will get to their winning ways in the CL asap so that they prove wrong!

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  4. Great article... I prefer Torino & Parma to represent Italy in the EL instead of the likes of Inter, AC Milan & Lazio. The mid table teams will definitely show a more hunger for the second european cup than the new seven sisters of the calcio for all the reasons mentioned in the article.

    1. Thanks CC. I agree with you, but my worry for Torino is that they will most likely lose Cerci and Immobile this summer, and they will probably have a difficult season playing on both fronts.

  5. I totally agree with you Pat .
    Milan is the best team in CL ever , and EL would be a waste of time and energy for them , EL is a very poor goal for a very big team like ACM !