AP NEWS

Milan’s struggles have even flummoxed coach Gennaro Gattuso

April 25, 2019
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AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso gives directions to his players during the Italian Cup, second leg semifinal soccer match between AC Milan and Lazio, at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso gives directions to his players during the Italian Cup, second leg semifinal soccer match between AC Milan and Lazio, at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — Even AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso is wondering what has gone wrong.

Just over a month ago, Milan appeared set to qualify for next season’s Champions League and had a good chance of reaching the Italian Cup final. But the team has won only one of its past seven matches, leaving it in danger of slipping out of the top four in Serie A and eliminated from the national cup competition.

“It’s normal that when I see the kind of performances that we’re having lately, I ask myself some questions,” Gattuso said after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Lazio in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals.

“We’re struggling and that’s down to me. We’re struggling to get results, I’m the captain of this boat and I’m the one who has the most responsibility of everyone and I feel that.”

Milan was mediocre against Lazio on Wednesday and would have lost by more had it not been for a solid performance from goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who pulled off a number of quality saves.

Krzysztof Piatek’s falling productivity is also a concern.

The Milan forward scored 10 goals in his first 13 matches following his transfer from Genoa in January but has failed to add another in his past three games.

Piatek touched the ball only once in the opponent’s area on Wednesday — the worst showing for the Poland international since he joined Milan. That was one of only 19 touches for Piatek, fewer than any other Milan player.

“The problem isn’t about Piatek or his lack of supply but it concerns the whole team,” Gattuso said. “When we can’t get the ball to Suso and (Samu) Castillejo, the whole team is left vulnerable to counterattacks. It’s everyone’s problem.”

Gattuso has to correct the problem, and quickly, if Milan is to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Milan was third in Serie A at the beginning of March and had a four-point advantage over fifth-place Roma. The Rossoneri have now slipped back to fourth place and are above Atalanta only on a better head-to-head record, which is the tiebreaker in Italy.

Roma is a point behind Atalanta and Milan, with Torino two points further back. Lazio, in eighth place, is only four points off a Champions League berth.

Milan visits Torino on Sunday.

“We must do well to regain our energy so that we can bring the fight to Torino, a team that brings lots of energy and physicality to the field,” Gattuso said. “We will play it to the death. It is a match that is decisive for the Champions League.”

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