Milan running out of excuses and time

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesShould Milan want to reach next year's Champions League, a win for Kaka and manager Massimiliano Allegri this weekend versus Fiorentina is a must.

Having now reached the ten-game mark of the Serie A season, it is ultimately time for Milan to begin their march up the table, or a place in next year's Champions League will become an increasingly difficult proposition.

With such a glorious history in the competition, a Champions League without the Italian giants is arguably unimaginable, but the threat is very real at this stage with the top teams showing little sign of slowing down.

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Victory over Fiorentina would not only secure three valuable points which could cut the gap depending on results elsewhere, but perhaps also instill the confidence required for both the club and Massimiliano Allegri.

The Rossoneri currently trail third-placed Juventus by 13 points, and have won the least amount of games this season of the top 10 sides in Italy's top flight while also conceding the most. The statistics are there for all to see; the question now is what can be done to turn things around.

The crippling injury situation at the start of the season had showed signs of abating, but the continuous set-backs in key positions continue to threaten any potential progress being made.

Perhaps most disappointingly, Mattia De Sciglio has not been included in this weekend's squad after suffering from inflammation in the knee he previously had surgery on earlier this season.

The young full-back's level of consistency is much needed at this point in a defence that has leaked goals, and coupled with the absence of Philippe Mexes and Matias Silvestre, it is an area of great concern given the opposition on Saturday night.

Following the drama surrounding the conclusion of last season, Fiorentina will undoubtedly be motivated to not only further compound the misery on Milan, but to maintain their position behind the top three.

The Viola boast a talented squad that will look to dictate the pace of the game through dominating possession, and while there are still question marks over Milan's defence, it will be vital that the midfield trio are able to stamp their authority on the encounter quickly.

Clubs are often keen to emphasise that games this early in the season are not decisive, but looking at the bigger picture this could well be seen as a must-win game for Milan, which could also apply to practically every remaining game of the campaign.

Prior to the season beginning, both Juventus and Napoli were firmly established as genuine Scudetto contenders. Neither have disappointed thus far and have only been outshone by a simply brilliant Roma, although the capital club will undoubtedly suffer from a dip in form at some stage.

While the real test for them will be their ability to bounce back from disappointment, they still possibly represent the most catchable rival given the strength in depth and quality that both Juve and Napoli possess.

However, their winning streak is a remarkable achievement and looking ahead at their fixture list for November it is entirely feasible that it could continue for a few more weeks yet.

Nevertheless, Milan must be fully focused on the task in hand and not allow themselves to be distracted by others. The simple equation is this: the Rossoneri can ill-afford to drop any more points, and three points on a consistent basis is very much now a necessity.

Do you still believe Milan can claim a top three finish? Of the current top three, who can they catch?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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