Ever since AC Milan left the Vicente Calderón after a thrasing by Atletico Madrid in the knockout stages of the 2014 UEFA Champions League, European football is something that has been missing from the lives of the Rossoneri. Today, Milan secured their place in the UEFA Europa League for the 2017/18 season with a win against Bologna.
Milan will enter the 3rd qualifying round of the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League and will need to win that to progress to the playoff. If Milan win the playoff, they are put into the group stage of the Europa League, where the fight will truly begin. It’s not a given though and Milan will need to be at their best to succeed in the competition, which serves as a route into that UEFA Champions League for the champions of the tournament.
Many fans remain unimpressed by Milan’s qualification, but it represents an improvement in the fortunes of the Rossoneri who had been stumbling around for a number of years after a few mediocre Serie A seasons. Champions League places are not given out, unfortunately - they do have to be earned and Milan are nowhere near the calibre of a Champions League team - not yet anyway. History would certainly afford them a place, but it would also do that for teams like Red Star Belgrade, Marseille, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Steau Bucharest. You can’t get into the competition via prestige and while AC Milan certainly sit atop the pile, they need to prove themselves.
That starts in the Summer and we will know Milan’s opponents on the 14th of July.