Milan captain Paolo Maldini believes that his team’s poor domestic form might help the club to enjoy success in Europe this season.
Milan, who need a point at AEK Athens on Tuesday to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, are 15th in Serie A, 22 points behind early season pacesetters Inter.
“This reminds me of the 2002-03 season when we had some difficulties in Serie A but enjoyed great success in Europe — that can happen again,” said Maldini.
Milan began the season with an eight-point penalty imposed by for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal.
After suffering four defeats in five Serie A matches, Milan were held to a goalless draw away to Empoli on Saturday.
“This is not a lucky period for us but we are showing that we can stick together in a game and remain focused right until the end. It is the crossbar and the posts which are stopping us at the moment,” he said.
The 38-year-old defender also dismissed suggestions that the team was over the hill with too many players in the autumn of their careers.
“Thankfully it is not those who may not know too much about football who make the judgements about us but it is our coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who sees us every day on the training ground who makes the choices,” he said.
“We are still in top place in the European rankings and we have earned that spot over the past five years and want to stay there.
“On Tuesday we want to secure our passage into the next round so that we can go into the final group game calm. We are top of our group in the Champions League.
“It won’t be easy in Athens because AEK have really improved a lot since we met them,” said the Milan coach.