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What do AC Milan need to do to reach the heights of European football again?
23.11 || webmaster

AC Milan returned to the competitions this season for the first time in seven years. However, there has been no fairy-tale return, and the Rossoneri have had a baptism of fire in the Ďgroup of death, consisting of FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.

The Italian giants have struggled against top-quality opposition on their return to Europeís elite competition. From their opening three matches, they have no points, and qualification seems almost impossible. Although it hasnít been the dream return, there are positives for the Rossoneri moving forward.

An Elite European Legacy

Milanís first home game back in the Champions highlighted the clubís historic link with the competition.

Despite losing 3-2 to Liverpool in gameweek one, the return to the San Siro against Atletico was an emotional occasion, with some home fans in tears as the sides took to the pitch, and there was even more emotional outpour when Rafael Le„o opened the scoring 20 minutes in. Milan heartbreakingly lost the game 2-1 as Luis Suarez scored a 97th-minute winner from the penalty spot.

Milan have fond memories of the European Cup, and they have won the competition seven times. Their first victory win came in 1963, and the club were perennial competitors. Milan continued to experience success in the late 60s and again in the late 80s to 90s, including consecutive title wins in 1989 and 1990.

However, since last winning the Champions League in 2007, Milanís presence in the tournament has diminished. They only qualified for seven of the following Champions Leagues before their long barren spell from 2014 to 2021.

There was relief, excitement and passion when the Rossoneri were back in the tournament this season. But, as they sit pointless at the bottom of Group B, it appears there is still work to be done at the San Siro to turn the former European heavyweights into title challengers once more.

How will AC progress in European football?

The 2021/22 Champions League has been a learning curve for Stefano Pioliís side. They have come up against European stalwarts, who qualify for the tournament year in, year out. It was always going to be a struggle to qualify from the group.

Furthermore, Pioliís side is young and going through a period of development. Last season, Milan had the lowest average age in Serie A football and their average squad age this season is 26. It is a team of potential stars of the future, including Fikayo Tomori (23), Le„o, Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim DŪaz (22), Sandro Tonali (21) and Daniel Maldini (20).

However, the basis is there for Pioliís young squad to try and qualify again next season. They have been competitive this season and have maintained a high pressing, positive approach that saw them lead against both Atletico and Liverpool for spells. But the game management and experience let them down against two of Europeís most experienced sides.

Nevertheless, this young Milan side will be in a better place to compete in future European competitions. The Europa League is also not out of reach this season as AC could mount a strong finish in Group B and finish in third place.

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