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Milan's Champions League Prospects: A Statistical Theorization

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Berlusconi splashed the cash this summer to make Milan a Champions League contender once again. Is this new-look Milan side good enough to make the Champions League?

Milan has not celebrated Champions League success since Filippo Inzaghi led the club to glory in 2007.
Milan has not celebrated Champions League success since Filippo Inzaghi led the club to glory in 2007.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Milan has failed to make the Champions League the last two seasons. After Milan sold players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, Milan fell from Champions League contenders to a mediocre, mid-table team. Milan has failed to bounce back from this sudden fall, but Silvio Berluscon finally splashed the cash this summer and brought in star players such as Carlos Bacca, Luiz Adriano and Andrea Bertolacci.

Despite these signings, Milan currently lacks a player who could serve as a leader for the rest of the team. Bacca could possibly be that guy, but even he is not at the level of players such as Eden Hazard, Sergo Aguero, Karim Benzema and Ibrahimovic. Also, as was made evident against Inter, Milan still lacks another solid midfielder.

So this raises the question: Is Milan's current squad good enough to earn a spot in the Champions League?

In Serie A, a team needs to finish first or second to guarantee a spot in the Group Stage. The third-place team in the league has to play in the qualifying round which, for a good team, should be a breeze. This article will assume the third position also counts as a "guaranteed" entry into the Champions League.

This analysis will use last year's club statistics, in addition to the stats of Milan's new summer signings.

Say Milan lose the same number of games this season as last season. Obviously, because of Milan’s new coach, Sinisa Mihajlovic, and some star signings, Milan will (hopefully) not lose the same number of games. But by placing Milan in a bad hypothetical situation, it is interesting to see if the club will be able to pull off a Champions League position, based on the introduction of new players.

In addition to saying Milan will lose the same number of matches this year as last year (which was 12), say Milan will score the same number of goals, which was 56 last season. Since chances are Jeremy Menez will not have as big an impact this season, subtract 15 goals and say the Milan—excluding Adriano and Bacca—will score 41 goals. Ideally, this is the minimum amount of goals Milan will score. After all, last season was one of its worst seasons ever.

Adriano and Bacca scored a total of 29 goals last season. Adding in their goal totals would bring Milan to about 70 this season. Assume it takes three goals to win a match. This is not necessarily reasonable, but the point is to determine if Milan can make the Champions League in the worst possible scenario. Seventy goals would be equivalent to 23 wins, or 69 points, which was Lazio's total last season en route to a third-place finish. That is a spot in the Champions League. However, Milan only scored three or more goals in six matches out of 38 last season. It is unreasonable to think they need three goals to win a match, but even with this stat, Milan would still land in third place.

Basically, Adriano and Bacca need to reproduce what they did last year, and Milan needs to reproduce one of its worst seasons ever. Milan can then land in third and make the Champions League.