Slow, ponderous and uninspired: AC Milan continue to stagnate in woeful attempted Serie A title defence

AC Milan ended a decade-long wait for silverware by being crowned champions of Italy last season. This time out, though, they are putting up the most feeble of attempts at defending their title.

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While AC Milan fans may still be celebrating reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 11 years, the performances of their team on the pitch make it difficult to get too excited at the prospect of this campaign ending with silverware.

After grinding their way to a one-goal aggregate win over Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan gave another frustratingly unentertaining Serie A display on Matchday 26, to draw 1-1 with relegation-threatened Salernitana at the Stadio San Siro on Monday night.

Having barely registered a shot on the Granata’s goal, Olivier Giroud headed the Rossoneri into the lead in first-half stoppage time direct from a corner kick, but their inability to kill off the visitors eventually allowed Boulaye Dia to convert a low Domagoj Bradaric to equalise.

Stefano Pioli. (Photo: AC Milan)

Missed opportunity by the Rossoneri

Before they had even kicked a ball at the San Siro, Champions League qualification rivals Inter, Lazio, AS Roma and Atalanta’s failure to win on Matchday 26 had handed Milan a wonderful opportunity to reassert themselves in the standings.

However, while sometimes leading to overconfidence, the struggles of their rivals appeared to create apathy and disinterest, as if three points would just present themselves on a plate. The bulk of the side that knocked out Spurs showed few signs that they craved the three points that would move them into third position on equal points with crosstown rivals Inter.

Towards the end of the game, it was Salernitana, with ex-Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek arriving from the bench, looking more determined to secure victory, as the Rossoneri laboured to build any momentum by pumping balls towards an ageing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whom coach Stefano Pioli ludicrously suggested recently, could start a game for the Rossoneri in the coming weeks.

AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud attempts an overhead kick against Salernitana. (@acmilan)

Salernitana end San Siro drought

After being promoted back to Serie A for the 2021/22 season, and until Dia stunned the Milan supporters into silence, the Granata were facing a fourth consecutive match at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – including those against Inter – with an aggregate score of 9-0 against.

Heading into the game, though, new coach Paulo Sousa had overseen two consecutive clean sheets, having conceded in each of the 12 games that preceded them, so it was unlikely they could count on a hat-trick of shutouts and it showed.

With 30 minutes to go, it looked as though the Rossoneri had given up in expectation that the points were already theirs and amateurish defending allowed the 26-year-old wander unnoticed into the Milan penalty area and side-foot calmly past Mike Maignan.

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