Milan-PSV play-off stakes are high
ESPN FC Extra: Champions League chat
Former AC Milan coach and current technical director of the Italian FA, Arrigo Sacchi, suggests the Rossoneri should fear nothing when they face PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night.
Much of Milan’s season depends on the two-legged Champions League play-off against their Dutch opponents and there is a widespread fear that the late start to the Serie A season could put Massimiliano Allegri’s side at a disadvantage against a side who have won their first three games of the domestic season.
While Sacchi agrees the physical condition of his former club will be a factor, he nevertheless believes they are technically superior to their rivals and should join Juventus and Napoli in the group stage.
"The stakes are high and elimination would be a killer blow to the balance sheet and to morale,” wrote the man who led Milan to back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1989 and 1990, the last time any team managed to defend Europe’s top club title.
"PSV are a decent side with great international experience, but Allegri’s Rossoneri have a superior individual technical level and they are certainly more experienced than the Dutch, but surprises happen at the start of a season."
Should Milan come through their first major test of the season, Sacchi believes they could be celebrating with some silverware next May. With Mario Balotelli in from the start of the season and Stephan El Shaarawy committing his future to the club this summer, the ingredients are there for a more competitive campaign.
And Sacchi has heaped praise on coach Allegri, who he believes will be able to get the best out of the blend of players at his disposal.
“Milan are one of the sides with the most interesting prospects in the league,” Sacchi told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “It could be a great year for them if Max manages to help the team and the young talented players mature and develop with his sensitivity and his ideas.
“Their individual value and experience is not yet comparable with Europe’s biggest clubs and Juventus, but as a team and with some illuminating football, they could bridge that gap.
“Max has done a great job so far, but now he has to complete a masterpiece by teaching a modern, futuristic football which would allow them to compete with the more experienced clubs.”