In the Champions League draws of this morning, it was determined that AC Milan will have to face Atletico Madrid for a spot in the quarter finals of the competition. After a very struggling group stage adventure, in which the Rossoneri earned the merit of being the only Italian team that was able to qualify to the next round, Milan’s European road has significantly become much more challenging, considering the great results and performances achieved by the Spanish side in the last years.
Having qualified as the second of the group, every single potential opponent for Milan represented a big threat. Especially considering the disastrous beginning of season, it would appear impossible that the squad of Massimiliano Allegri can give struggles Europe’s so-called giants, such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and even PSG.
For this reason, days prior to the draws, many Milan supporters argued that the Colchoneros were among the most accessible opponents in order to progress in the tournament. As of today, however, they might actually be among the most difficult sides to face by Italian teams.
As a matter of fact, given that the manager Diego Simeone has a great past in Italian soccer, both as a player and as a coach, Atletico Madrid will have the advantage of knowing Milan very well. On the other hand, considering that the Rossoneri have never faced the Spanish side in an official game, their coaching staff won’t have the same benefit.
Nonetheless, despite the fact that Atletico Madrid is the obvious favorite to qualify to the next round, there are several reasons to believe that Milan will approach the clash with strong chances of giving an unexpected surprise to its opponents.
First of all, it has to be taken into consideration that Milan is the second team with more Champions League titles in history, without even mentioning that it is also the world’s most titled team. In a prestigious tournament, the weight of history can become can always become extremely important in terms of the final result. For this reason, teams with little history like Atletico Madrid should always reserve a certain level of fear towards a giant like Milan, regardless of the current situation.
Second of all, the two matches between these two teams will only be played in February. Consequently, given that the world of soccer can drastically change in little time, it is hard to predict how well both teams will be performing by then. Moreover, if there is one secure thing about the Milan of Allegri is that the second part of the season is always better than the first. Chances are that the Rossoneri will be in much better shape in three months. For the Colchoneros, instead, this might not be the case.
Last but not least, Milan will take advantage of the transfer market of January in order to improve the team for the Champions League, considering that Serie A ambitions are quite unrealistic at this point of the season. For this reason, sports director Adriano Galliani will be looking for a new signing that will be eligible to play in European competitions, unlike the Japanese Keisuke Honda, who can only play in the domestic league.
With these three components, the Rossoneri have a strong possibility to build their chances up for their European aspirations. Perhaps, winning the title might be just unrealistic. However, reaching quarterfinals, and maybe even semifinals in a year that started so badly, could automatically become a huge success for them, both for economic and motivational reasons.