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9 Things: They Are Trying To Destroy Something, AC Milan vs Genoa CFC, 2-1

This article will spend time on the European Super League. I promise to go back to a more significant focus on Milan after the UC Sassuolo match.

AC Milan v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

1: What the Analytics Said

AC Milan vs Genoa CFC

Teams Goals xG(NPxG) Shots(On Target) NPxG per Shot Possession
Teams Goals xG(NPxG) Shots(On Target) NPxG per Shot Possession
AC Milan 2 1.2(1.2) 17(4) 0.07 54%
Genoa CFC 1 1.0(1.0) 12(2) 0.08 46%
FBref and StatsBomb

Another match defined by an inability to break into the box, but this time AC Milan came away victorious. In one of my previous articles where I talked about the 18 zone breakdown of a soccer field and which ones are the most critical zones offensively. Zone 14, located centrally above the box, is the second most dangerous pass origination location on the pitch. More importantly, success in this sector of the field usually shows that a team has a reliable offensive strategy. The Rossoneri struggled to break into this zone and struggled, even more, to complete or attempt passes into the box. It is always evident when Stefano Pioli’s side is laboring to create offense that the entire squad fails to break into this area. Generally, these problems arise whenever the center attacking midfielder is failing or ineffective in their role. Hakan Çalhanoǧlu was unable to connect with Ante Rebić or Rafael Leão throughout most of the match, with the latter two attackers needing to feast on a handful of touches. That was why the offense churned slowly throughout the game. Nobody could get to the two core forwards on the pitch, but luckily Rebić scored on one of his few touches of the match. Pioli still has work to do to fix this utter lack of offensive stability in the squad. It has become a severe problem.

2: The Super League

I am crushingly frustrated and angry with Milan and their ownership at the moment. This Super League threatens the structure and long-term stability of all European soccer. The Rossoneri joined this league to re-establish themselves at the top tier of continental competition and turn a massive profit in the wake of the current Covid-19 Pandemic. I want to spend some time talking about how this will affect Milan, Serie A, European Competiton, and mainly us, the fans. I want to say this before I delve deeper into this enormous shift in the game I love; I despise this course of action with all of my heart. The Super League is a horrifying shift in the soccer landscape and one that has made me incredibly nervous. I do not like the American franchise style and creating a league in that manner makes absolutely no sense to me. Now, I think this plan will have a more significant effect on the Champions League than domestic leagues, but its impact will touch every form of professional European soccer.

3: Why Could The Super League Work, Part 1

The Champions League is faulty. There is no reason to think that the current and future setup of the European Cup will appease the global elite clubs in Europe. The Premier League, Serie A, and the Bundesliga currently possess four or more clubs that can make a strong case for qualifying for the Champions League this year. Let’s say that you are a team finishing in the Champions League spots in Italy; you will most likely earn over €80 million in award money, tv rights money, and past results money. There are comical financial drop-offs in certain sections of the table with the lowest earnings at season’s end, making €60 million less than the Italian champions. This is obviously bad but expected in any major league. These twenty teams operate in entirely different financial realms with wildly different aspirations; their reward money reflects that.

Link here to my source.

4: Why Could The Super League Work, Part 2

However, these financial discrepancies are even more profound when you include international competition. Qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League nets teams €15,250,000; every victory is another €2,700,000 with draws earning €900,000. Making the round of sixteen earns you €9,500,000, and progressing to the quarterfinals awards you €10,500,000. Let’s say you make the semifinals; that is another €12,000,000. Make the final, and you make at minimum €15,000,000, and if you join the lucky few who have won the competition, congratulations, you make another €19,000,000. The maximum monetary award for a team is €82,400,000. That is massive for any team on the planet, essentially the price FC Internazionale paid for Romelu Lukaku.

So why did I break this down like this? Well, the problem, as I said earlier, is that multiple leagues have too many strong teams with too large of a financial need to qualify for the Champions League. The Super League would mitigate the risk of a team like Tottenham Hotspur FC, Milan, or Arsenal FC from missing out on, at minimum, €15,250,000. None of the values listed above includes commercial earnings - sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandise sales, corporate monetary awards. The implications for missing the Champions League could be tens of millions of euros, which can crush teams with massive aspirations. The twelve teams who have signed on for The Super League want to never miss out on this money again and have set up a way to be guaranteed hundreds of millions of euros per season. Financially, it makes sense.

Link here to my source.

5: Why I Do Not Like The Super League, Part 1

We are all aware that soccer is now a business. It was easier to ignore some signs of the corporatization of soccer because of stories like Atalanta BC and Leicester City FC; the game has become about money. However, The Super League destroys a massive portion of the meritocracy remaining in the sport. Earning a Champions League berth is crucial to any team’s season, and playing for the most prestigious club trophy is a right, not a privilege. The concept that a handful of teams have decided who can sit at the table with them is a disheartening proposal. The Super League proposal attacks the history of almost every club involved and throws away what made these teams so unique and their success in Europe. Now, this is a romanticization of the sport, but I am a fan. I have talked about the joy, excitement, and anticipation of Champions League soccer at the San Siro next season. That is the competition and where my memories and love of Milan originates. This group of twelve teams wants to replace that historic trophy with this new league, and I believe that is a fundamental mistake.

6: Why I Do Not Like The Super League, Part 2

This section will focus on why it will not work structurally. Firstly, the Premier League will most likely prevent it from occurring. English soccer would need to restructure again to allow these teams to join a different competition and most likely kill The Super League because the English FA will stop the “Big 6” exit. The Premier League will most likely be the entire stumbling block for these organizations, and it seems unlikely that this new league can get around that problem.

Secondly, the non-invited clubs will most likely protest this new plan for years as it would develop an already intense gap between the current rich clubs and everyone else. The decision to exclude deserving teams from a prestigious European competition is foolish to me. Why does Tottenham get a spot in The Super League when they last won a trophy in 2008, have not won the top flight in England since 1961, and have won Champions League final berth. Ajax FC has won four Champions Leagues and is a perennial title contender in the Eredivisie. Atalanta BC has gone to two Champions Leagues in a row and is currently ahead of Juventus in the Serie A table. Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016. These teams earned their current place on the global stage and are left out of the supposed Champions League replacement. If the entire plan is to give space for the rich teams, then we have lost what soccer means. I am afraid that seems like the case.

7: As I Write This... The League Dies

And everything I wrote before now goes away. Seemingly the pressure from the entire soccer world plus the utterly intense outpouring of anger has killed The Super League. Ed Woodward has resigned from his position, Andrea Agnelli is under immense pressure along with Florentino Pérez, and most of the English and Spanish clubs have pulled out. We can breathe a sigh of relief. This announcement was an embarrassing miscalculation by all involved, and I am glad it is almost over.

8: League Update

Not much has changed since the last fixture. FiveThirtyEight is saying Milan has an 80% likelihood of qualifying in the top four, which is a slight improvement, but Atalanta is poised to finish second for the first time. Their victory against Juventus was a moral one for the Bergamaschi. Leave them out of The Super League, eh? Gianpiero Gasperini’s men sit at 91% to qualify for the most prestigious and still alive Champions League. On the other hand, Juventus has fallen to a 68% likelihood to maintain a top-four place. I will argue that the Bianconeri have the second-best squad in Italy but have been coached incredibly poorly. The last team hunting the top four is SSC Napoli, but their odds dropped again as their time runs out. It seems like we are moments away from certification of the remaining Champions League spots.

9: Overall Thoughts

This article barely focused on the match, and I know that. Next match week, I will revert to the standard game breakdowns. I wanted to make sure I wrote about The Super League because this transition could have been a crushing blow to European Soccer. Milan was a part of this, and that hurts me as a fan and as a person. This will not change my future coverage, but I am more jaded. I love this game and this team. I want to play in the Champions League next year. We are so close. Thank you for reading this piece, and you can find me @DouglasARamsey on Twitter. I look forward to talking to any of you.