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The Rossoneri's late charge to third spot last season did nobody in Italy any favors, with the Milanello side among those who are worse off as a result.

Same story, different date. AC Milan lost 3-1 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night in a match it felt like we’d seen a thousand times before. The monotony that is a Rossoneri Champions League campaign is quickly getting tiresome, and everybody is losing out, including Milan.

When Philippe Mexes turned home a late winner in the trip to Siena on the final day of last season, it was hoped that Milan would take the near-miss that was its run to the top three as a kick up the back side. But six months on the club is simply reliving last season over again, except that the team is now lacking the slither of hope that Stephan El Shaarawy offered this time last year.

SUCCESS AND FAILURE |
Fiorentina and Milan's 2013-14 records
FIORENTINA
Serie A
Europa Lge
TOTAL

MILAN
Serie A
Champs Lge
TOTAL

P
11
5
16

P
11
6
17

W
6
4
10

W
3
2
5

D
3
0
3

D
3
3
6

L
2
1
3

L
5
1
6

F
22
10
32

F
17
9
26

A
13
3
16

A
19
6
25

W%
55
80
63

W%
27
33
29

For too many years now, the Diavolo have been too happy to beat the bad teams and put up vain attempts against better outfits when they have been in Champions League action. Once priding themselves on their continental record, they now seem satisfied with any kind of post-Christmas representation, taking to trips like Wednesday in Catalunya with the inferiority complex usually reserved for European minnows. That is simply not good enough.

Fiorentina, the team which was edged out of the top three at the last minute in May, has already shown this season that it has the verve, the vigor, and the style of approach necessary to give Italian football something to be proud of on the continent. The club's absence from the Champions League to the benefit of Milan is fast turning into a crying shame.

Just as Napoli is making a fair crack of its difficult task of qualifying from a tough group from Pot 3 of the draw, the Viola would also have approached such a situation with a sense of adventure. Too many Italian football fans have become preoccupied with the thought of gaining coefficient points and arguing that only the big name clubs are capable of delivering what is needed to gain a fourth spot back. But Milan has failed to add any real value to that argument over the past seven seasons, and a fourth place is now a distant dream in any case.

The Rossoneri will likely still qualify from Group H thanks to the poor quality offered up by Ajax and Celtic in their campaigns so far, but you need not bother rushing out to put any money on them getting any further. Right now, a team devoid of any real passion, direction and structure – both on and off the field – look to be doing little more than going through the motions.

Another last-16 spot can only feed the complacency even further, convincing the powers-that-be that things aren’t quite as bad as they really are. At this stage it appears that being pipped to second place by Celtic or Ajax would be a blessing in disguise. They need a straw to break the camel’s back right now and waiting for the inevitable failure to finish in the top three of Serie A would do nobody any good. Elimination in December would simply hasten the necessary rebuilding process.

It may be in everyone’s best interests for Milan to fail sooner rather than later.

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