Milan Giants Among Europe's Biggest Underachieving Clubs
Until AC Milan’s 3-1 Coppa Italia win at home to Spezia on Wednesday, and disregarding their head-to-head encounter in the Derby della Madonnina, the Rossoneri and city rivals Inter Milan had combined to win just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions.
Given the status of each among the top clubs on the continent, their recent records have them headlining this instalment of Europe’s Biggest Underachieving Clubs.
Over the next few slides, we’ll examine the recent form of both Milan sides and also examine a trio of other clubs that have failed to live up to expectations of late.
The Bundesliga and notably Borussia Dortmund get a pass this week, as German football is still in the midst of its annual winter break.
Accustomed to playing Champions League football, Valencia will begin their Europa League tie against Dynamo Kiev next month when they visit the Ukrainian capital.
Recent results suggest they may even struggle to progress from the two legs.
Los Che have won just one of their last nine matches in all competitions since the beginning of December, and on Tuesday, they were bounced from the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid.
With the Primera Division season at its halfway point, they sit a disappointing eighth in the table, nine points back of the final Europa League spot and 13 adrift of the Champions League places.
The biggest club in France (at least until the takeovers at Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco), Marseille were eliminated from the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday following a 2-1 loss away to Lyon.
The defeat, combined with a run of one win from five matches in Ligue 1, has heaped the pressure on manager Jose Anigo, who only replaced the sacked Elie Baup on December 7.
Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac is the only Marseille player with more than five goals in the French top flight so far this season, and Anigo’s side currently has the worst defensive record in the division’s top six.
With 20 matches already in the books, Marseille are fifth in the table, two points back of Saint-Etienne and the Europa League and eight adrift of Lille and the Champions League places.
Inter Milan’s Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Udinese on January 9 was followed four days later by a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Chievo in Serie A, and aside from their win over AC Milan in last month’s derby, the Nerazzurri have claimed the full three points just once since the second week of November.
They’ve also won just twice away from the San Siro since September and, as it stands, are 10 points back of a Champions League berth with the Italian schedule at its midway point.
The highest-scoring team in Serie A through the first few months of the season, Inter have failed to score more than a single goal in each of their last four outings and have only a single player—Rodrigo Palacio—with more than five goals to his name this term.
Given the recent ownership change at the club, it’s likely manager Walter Mazzarri will need to significantly improve results down the stretch in order to keep his job.
It took four tries, but Manchester United finally posted a win in 2014 when second-half goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck propelled the Red Devils to a 2-0 win at home to Swansea on Saturday.
Nevertheless, with their FA Cup campaign already over and a 2-1 deficit to overcome in the Capital One Cup, United’s chances of silverware are looking increasingly bleak, and that’s saying nothing of their Premier League form so far this season.
Through 21 rounds, the reigning champions are seventh in the English top flight, four points back of Everton and a Europa League spot and five behind Liverpool and the Champions League places.
Sunday’s match away to Chelsea will truly be a litmus test for manager David Moyes and his players.
A shocking 4-3 loss to promoted Sassuolo saw manager Massimiliano Allegri relieved of his duties on Monday, and after announcing his retirement as a player, Clarence Seedorf was named AC Milan manager earlier this week.
Given that the Dutchman has never coached a game of football at any level, the appointment is a gamble on the part of the Milan administration, which is being increasingly run by Barbara Berlusconi as longtime vice president Adriano Galliani is slowly shuffled out the door.
With just five Serie A wins this term, the Rossoneri begin the second half of their season in 11th place in the Italian top flight, a whopping 20 points back of Napoli and the Champions League places.
They’ll face Napoli in early February, by which time they’ll have hoped to have picked up points against Hellas Verona, Cagliari and Torino.