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Can The Rossoneri Make It To Dublin?

AC Milan began their Europa League campaign last week after surviving the group of death in the Champions League. and were drawn against Stade Rennais and cruised towards a 3-0 win in front of a lively San Siro in the 1st leg thanks to goals coming from Rafael Leao and a brace coming from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Milan has never won the Europa League in its current modern format, and with no more domestic competitions and the title race seeming to be just out of their grasp, does AC Milan have a good chance of lifting the trophy at the end of May in Dublin?

AC Milan travelled to France after a lacklustre performance in a 4-2 defeat against local rival AC Monza that saw Malicjk Thiaw's return to the squad.

However, it was not a return to remember as he gave away multiple fouls, including the penalty; it was also a day to forget for Luka Jovic, who was shown a red card for what appeared to be violent conduct against Monza's Armando Izzo; this game showed off many of the negatives of competition in the Europa League as in comparison their 1-0 league win against Napoli which was a much more composed and put together performance was as the defeat showcased the legginess that playing in Europe on Thursdays can bring to a squad.

Whilst Milan did travel to Rennes, they did not make things easy for themselves and were slow to get started, going 1-0 behind after 11 minutes thanks to Benjamin Bourigeaud, which would be the first goal of his hattrick performance; however, Milan were saved by starboy Rafael Leao and Luka Jovic whose goals were enough to win 3-5 on aggregate despite the shakey performance.

Regardless of how hard they made it for themselves, AC Milan found a way to get to the round of 16 of the Europa League, a tournament they have struggled to win in its current format and is one trophy that manager Stefano Pioli is adamant to guide the Rossoner to at the end of the season and would massively improve what is currently a disappointing season, having been knocked out of the Coppa Italia and currently sit 11 points behind city rivals Inter Milan and do not look to be in the title race for a consecutive season.

Additionally, if Milan go trophyless this season, in that case, many eyes will look back at manager Stefano Pioli. While it is too early to be pointing fingers, Pioli is undoubtedly under a lot of pressure to succeed on one of the two fronts they have left. Whilst the links with the likes of Antonio Conte and Roberto De Zerbi are all hearsay at the moment, the Cardinale will certainly start to make their lists if Milan do not go on to win the Europa League, and whilst Pioli will be the man who guided the Rossoneri to their first league title in 10 years and since then the performances have not met the expectations of the football club and a successful run in the Europa League would be what they need to revitalise the team and would likely save Stefano Pioli's job for at least another season.

Who can Milan face in round 16?

Ac Milan can face 7 of the seeded group winners as they still cannot play a team from the same country, which means they will not be able to draw Atalanta, however they have some tough potential opponents, two of which include Bayern Leverkusen, performing exceptionally in the Bundesliga and currently sit 1st in the league, with the other being Liverpool a team very familiar to Ac Milan who last played each other in the champions league in 2021 winning both group games and currently are 1st in the Premier League these are teams Milan will undoubtedly want to avoid if possible.

However, a team that AC Milan will undoubtedly have a chance against is West Ham, and whilst they faired well in the group stages of this competition recently; they have hit quite poor form and look to be on of the few favourable ties that AC Milan could get in the next round of the competition however their round of 32 tie showed the ugly side fo Milan in Europe not being able to kill a game in their control by forcing unnecessary pressure on themselves which could lead to a downfall of their own creation.

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