Pioli insists missing top 4 not ‘failure’
AC Milan have left their fans in a bundle of nerves ahead of the final day of the Serie A season after a 0-0 draw with Cagliari has opened the door for Juventus.
The Bianconeri beat Inter Milan in the Derby d’Italia 3-2 and positioned themselves to pounce on any slip-ups by their rivals.
Milan coach Andrea Pioli has though insisted should the worst-case scenario happen and they miss out on the top 4, he would not constitute it a failure.
“It is useless to think about what we could do,” he told Sky Italia.
“It certainly wasn’t our best evening, the pace and quality were not up to the level of the last few matches. It was the match of a lifetime against Juve, as well as against Torino, and it will be against Atalanta too.
“The circle will certainly close there, because it is the last and decisive match. that in my management I have not yet managed to beat, we will have to be able to do so.
“The final evaluation would change without the Champions League, not reaching the top four would certainly be a disappointment from the point of view of the personal result, the club and the players. But it would not be a failure, because we have created the basis for a winning Milan.
“However, the judgments must be given at the end, because they would change in case of non-qualification in the Champions League. “
Milan will indeed be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the Swede was ruled out of both the final games of the season but also Euro 2020 with a knee problem.
Serie A final day top 4 outcomes
Atalanta were able to secure their Champions League spot for the third season in a row after a 4-3 away win over Genoa.
Their head-to-head record with Juventus means they cannot fall into 5th place.
Dissimilar to the Premier League, goal difference is much less of a factor and it is the head-to-head record which is the difference-maker. Firstly by points and then goal difference between the tie broken sides in their games.
The state of play going into the final day is Napoli are 3rd on 76 points, Milan 4th on 76 points and Juve are 5th on 75 points.
Milan will now play Atalanta who have nothing to play for but are by far the toughest test of the sides.
Napoli will play 10th placed Verona who also have nothing to play for. Juventus will play 11th placed Bologna whose motivation will be denying the league’s dominant force a top 4 spot.
Should all sides win, Juve would miss out. Should any of the 3 sides drop points and their rivals win, they would drop out. The only scenario where a head-to-head decider would come into play is if either of Milan or Napoli lose and Juve draw their game.
In which case, Milan have lost 3-1 and won 3-0 over Juve and therefore have the superior record and would go through. It is trickier between Napoli and Juve. Napoli beat Juve 1-0 earlier in the season however Juve won the reverse fixture 2-1 in April. This means both HTH goal difference and HTH points are equal.
This means it goes to goal difference in the table overall. Napoli have a GD of 45 whereas Juventus just 36. The Turin-based club therefore must rely on winning their game at all costs and one of the other two dropping points.
It is set up to be one hell of a final day in Golazo country.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.