Massimo Ambrosini believes that AC Milan are having an ‘imperfect season’ but could well still make the Champions League quarter-finals.
Milan were deserved Scudetto winners last season as they put together a formidable run in the second half of the season to overtake both Inter and Napoli, ending an 11-year wait to be crowned the champions of Italy.
However, Napoli’s incredible season so far means that defending the Scudetto has been a virtual impossibility for a while now, and the team have also crashed out of the Coppa Italia while they lost the Supercoppa to Inter, leaving some with a negative impression of the campaign already.
Ambrosini spoke during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport as part of a feature looking at the two Milan clubs and how they have both ended up 18 points behind runaway leaders Napoli in a season where both were tipped to challenge for the title.
In addition to the light at the end of the tunnel for Milan in terms of their recent form – which everyone saw the other night against Atalanta – Ambrosini hopes to see another.
“The one that precedes sunset and lights up San Siro on spring evenings: in the Champions League you enjoy it only if you’re playing in the quarter-finals or if you’re further ahead,” he began.
“For the course of the last two years in Europe, a real apprenticeship, Milan deserve to go forward and put their heads back in the circle of the elite, then the season would change colour.
“Excellent signs have come from the good performance against Atalanta, the team has grown athletically and interprets the new formation by adding a piece of their ‘old’ characteristics each time. They are solid, organised and have more solutions going forward, as was the case up until November.
“Milan – like Inter and Juve who had to compete for the Scudetto together with the Rossoneri and Napoli – are playing an imperfect season. Imperfection exacerbated by the perfection of Spalletti’s men: they can reach 100 points, many more than those totalled by the last three Italian champion teams.
“For Pioli, more aspects have had an impact. I am thinking of the fact that when fresh forces were needed he struggled to find alternatives, or of the defensive problems. A year ago the department’s performance was impeccable.
“Moments also have their weight: until the 85th minute of the match against Roma, the Rossoneri’s was an imperfection that could at least be remedied by limiting it…”