It’s the only European trophy AC Milan has not won, yet there’s more at stake for the Italian powerhouse and some other big teams when the Europa League kicks off its knockout stage this week.
Once treated with contempt by heavyweights, Europe’s second tier competition carries more value since UEFA’s decision to award a Champions League qualifying place to the winner, which started with the 2015-16 season.
After a poor start to the season, heavy spending Milan is showing signs of improvement under new coach Gennaro Gattuso. But still seventh in Serie A, winning the Europa League might be the best option for the seven-time European champion to return to the Champions League.
Milan faces Bulgaria’s Ludogorets Razgrad in the round of 32 on Thursday.
Milan’s situation might sound familiar to Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal side is losing hopes of…