AC Milan lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund in San Siro and are now one step away from being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League's group stage. It was a disappointing night for the Rossoneri in Milan despite a good start. Olivier Giroud missed a penalty in the first minutes of the clash, and a few moments later Marco Reus opened the score from the opposing penalty spot. The Rossoneri reacted and found the equalizer through Samuel Chukwueze, who scored his first goal with the Italian side.
Everything seemed to go in the right direction for the home team until the injury of Malick Thiaw changed the plans of coach Stefano Pioli, who had to deal with the 20th muscular injury since the season started. The Italian managed was forced to replace the German center back with a midfielder in Rade Krunic, but AC Milan's defense couldn't last long. The goals of Bynoe Gittens and Karim Adeyemi concluded the match and qualified Dortmund for the knockout stage while PSG and Newcastle played to a dramatic late draw.
AC Milan can still hope to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition, but they will need to win in the last game away against Newcastle and at the same time hope for PSG to lose away in Dortmund. An unlikely scenario that makes the future of the Italian club deeply uncertain. Pioli's job is definitely at risk, but it's not clear yet what the Rossoneri will decide in the upcoming weeks, especially if they end up failing to clinch advancing the next round of the Champions League. The pressure is increasing on the coach, but at the same time it's not difficult to imagine that the club would prefer to wait until the end of the season for a change on the sideline.
Equally, the exit from the group stage might be a boost for AC Milan in the race for the Serie A title where Pioli's team is now six points behind Inter, but at the same time it might also have a negative impact on the environment and in the dressing room itself.
AC Milan are deeply suffering from the injuries. On Tuesday, Thiaw's was the 20th of the season and right now Pioli can't count on Rafael Leao, Ismael Bennacer, Mattia Caldara, Marco Sportiello, Pierre Kalulu, Marco Pellegrino, Noah Okafor and Simon Kjaer. The list of players is long enough that it's worth asking if there is an issue inside the team with the technical staff because this can't simply be accepted as a coincidence, and a solution must be found in the coming months. Against Dortmund, Pioli was forced to replace Thiaw with Krunic, a midfielder, as a center back. Despite the tactical issues, that moment in the game had a big impact in the minds of some players that looked surprised and desolated after another episode of bad luck.
The disappointing results, two wins in the last eight in all competitions, and the pressure of the media is now increasing the doubts over the future of Pioli, who needs a reaction in the next games to save his job. In case he will fail, it's unlikely that the board will appoint a long term manager right now and will probably wait for the summer to make that decision. Despite what will happen between now and June, it looks like that the end of the Pioli era at the club is just a matter of time.