Stefano Pioli’s future: Could AC Milan coach’s job depend on Champions League qualification?

Despite leading AC Milan to the Serie A title last season, coach Stefano Pioli could be dismissed if the Rossoneri fail to qualify for the Champions League.

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AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli is facing an uncertain future at the Stadio San Siro and his job status could well be dependent on the Rossoneri qualifying for the Champions League next season.

As reported by Calciomercato.com, Pioli is expected to require a top-four finish in Serie A this term to guarantee his position on the bench next season, with Milan currently sitting in fifth place following a 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina at the weekend, coupled with wins for Lazio and AS Roma over Napoli and Juventus respectively.

Battle for top four gets tighter

Having won the Serie A title last season, Milan‘s scudetto defence has crumbled away due to a combination of Napoli‘s imperious form, and their own dreadful run after the turn of the year.

Indeed, the champions currently find themselves 18 points off the top and are more concerned with securing European football next year, having fallen to six defeats and been held to five draws already.

Inter lie in second place and just three points separate the two Milanese rivals, with Lazio two points back in third, whilst AS Roma are ahead of the Rossoneri on goal difference.

However, Milan hold a 1-0 aggregate lead over Tottenham Hotspur in the Round of 16 of the Champions League and will be looking to progress in the competition, whilst also ensuring that their domestic form improves.

AC Milan take on Fiorentina in Serie A (@ACMilanBR)

Disastrous January puts pressure on Pioli

Returning to competitive football in January after the World Cup break, the Diavolo scraped past Salernitana before letting a two-goal lead slip in a 2-2 draw against Roma. Meanwhile, elimination from the Coppa Italia to 10-man Torino and a 3-0 drubbing by bitter rivals Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana saw further opportunity for silverware snatched away.

The January blues continued with a 2-2 draw against Lecce, a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Lazio, before they were torn apart in a 5-2 defeat against Sassuolo at the end of the month.

Whilst they improved in February, despite a 1-0 loss to Inter, the Rossoneri must still face Napoli, Roma, Lazio, and Juventus before the end of the season.

Pioli took over at Milan in October 2019 and revitalised the Diavolo, earning a sixth-place finish in his debut season after a woeful start to the campaign under predecessor Marco Giampaolo. This was followed up by coming second in 2021, with a record 16 away victories, before last season’s historic title success.

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