MILAN - AC Milan have fallen so far from their perch they are now pleading with bitter rivals Inter Milan to win the European Cup final convincingly and save Italy's fourth Champions League spot.
The Bundesliga is threatening to steal Serie A's fourth qualifying place from 2011 and only a win for Inter over Bayern Munich in the final, without the need for penalties, will keep Italy ahead in UEFA's rankings and the status quo intact.
"We need to hope that Inter win, and that they do it without penalties. Of course I'm supporting Inter, it's nothing to laugh about," Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani told reporters.
If Inter lose in Madrid on May 22 or win on penalties then Serie A's fourth-placed team at the end of next season will be bound for the Europa League.
Milan, who won their seventh Champions League in 2007 but have not triumphed in Serie A since 2004, are limping home in third this term with fourth-placed Sampdoria just four points behind with three games left.
Fans fear a further lack of investment from club owner and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could put the Rossoneri at risk of finishing even lower next season and possibly missing a slice of the lucrative Champions League cake.
Italy would have already lost out to Germany in the rankings if Hamburg had not lost to Fulham in Thursday's Europa League semi-final.comments