AC Milan come into the season with a target on their back. The club fought back through adversity to claim a monumental title with a limited budget and a very young squad leading the way. Milan usurped the efforts of AS Roma and Napoli in the past decade to show that Milan is the football capital of Italy as both clubs went back to back ruining Juventus run of titles. Stefano Pioli has a big task to motivate the players to go even further especially with limited reinforcements in the transfer window and missing out on the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic for at least the first half of the season. Here’s a breakdown of the side and what to expect:
Let’s begin with the easiest bit. Goalkeepers. Mike Maignan was the best in the league last year, won the league in his debut season and will be looking to perform even better to get the World Cup starting spot with France as an ageing Hugo Lloris looks vulnerable. He will be backed up by Ciprian Tatarusanu have come up big in the games he had including the iconic penalty save in the derby against Inter Milan which made a difference. Antonio Mirante will be the third but likely will not play.
At centre back, we look solid with Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu’s robust partnership. Simon Kjaer will be the third given his age and Matteo Gabbia the fourth. We are still one more player here and hopefully Maldini and Massara deliver in the final weeks. The defensive unit is rock solid and the partnership between Tomori-Kalulu needs to be prioritised to build a potential generational unit.
At wing back, there is no change from last season with Davide Calabria and Alessandro Florenzi on the right and Theo Hernandez and Fode Ballo-Toure on the left. Look at Florenzi competing with Calabria for minutes over the course of the year and look for Hernandez playing further up front with runs down the middle of the pitch. They should hold up over the year but we need more offensive output from the right and better defensive resolve on the left.
The most exciting bit of the pitch for the new season. The double pivot will likely be Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali for the bulk of the season with a more technically sound ability between the pair but less physicality compared to last season. There will be way more vertical balls going forward and a faster build up play with them building chemistry. Tommaso Pobega and Rade Krunic will be the cover for them with the former being the muscle man and the latter being the utility man for this side.
In the attacking midfield role we have Brahim Diaz in his final year of his loan who needs to prove himself and an exciting prospect in Yacine Adli who has shone in the pre-season. Diaz will get lots of playing time in the first half of the season but will slowly get replace by Adli who will impose himself and show his quality over time. The duo allow so much flexibility in that role and different skillsets to provide more opportunities for the attackers. Ultimately, the success of this particular position will determine whether we elevate to the next level or not.
Another exciting area but one more we have made big bets that could go either way. The permanent signings all need to work out for this department to be a success. Divock Origi is experienced and a clutch player but has not been used as a week in and out player at Liverpool and has not delivered consistently in a league campaign. Junior Messias has the skill and clinical ability to be a success at the right wing spot as he has shown in flashes last season and in the pre season but need to show up in the tight games especially in the league, he cannot afford the anonymous spells. Charles de Ketelaere is expected to be a generational talent but it remains to be seen if he can hit the ground running and where Pioli will deploy him. CDK has all the talent but as we all know, it takes time to adjust to Serie A and only the exceptional talents make it in year one.
On the left wing, Rafael Leao looks stronger than ever and now has the confidence and less pressure so he will be tearing defences apart. Olivier Giroud should retreat into a normal role for him as the super sub and with limited minutes but scoring big goals as Origi and Ante Rebic dominate the minutes. Rebic is the dark horse for the season as he was a shadow last season and will want to bounce back and contribute to the next title or piece of silverware. Alexis Saelemaekers will be the extra pair of legs for all the small games and to chase the ball, he will likely lose his spot to Messias and possibly CDK over the year.
Lastly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic just needs to recover and focus on the records he can break. He needs a UCL goal at any point, a Serie goal at any point and to get 8 goals across the year to hit 100 with Milan. His leadership will be good to keep the side motivated and he has won back to back titles so can help the group remain focused and the egos muted.
Serie A Position: 1 (Winners)
Champions League stage: Round of 16
Coppa Italia: Champions
Top Scorer: Divock Origi
Most Assists: Rafael Leao
Best Player: Rafael Leao
Breakout Star: Yacine Adli
Best New Signing: Charles de Ketelaere
Dark Horse: Ante Rebic and Junior Messias
Milan will fight for the title and rely on familiarity and chemistry to take the first half of the season by storm as sides like Inter, Juventus, Napoli and AS Roma figure out how to integrate their new players. Pioli did well to let players flourish without much on pitch rigidity and this will be Milan’s strength as we will not have one out-and-out scorer or creator but rather everyone is a threat. We need to ensure we are not vulnerable in the small games as this is where we struggle and tend to lose out on points which hurt us in the title runs.
The Coppa needs to be taken seriously for once as this is the perfect year for it. We have the confidence and the depth to make an actual challenge for it but moreover we have a fairly easy run to the final as the toughest teams in our bracket are Napoli, Roma and Fiorentina. This is an opportunity for some silverware that we haven’t won since 2003 and is overdue.
Champions League is the competition where we need time to adjust and raise our level to compete. We have some important pieces in CDK, Origi, Zlatan and Giroud for the experience but will likely not get past the quarter finals unless we cause a big upset. The aim needs to be getting out of the group at minimum.
Lastly, we have an additional derby for the Supercoppa Italiana and Pioli needs to be aggressive in his pursuit of a positive result. Milan need to hit Inter hard in that game where we may get a Zlatan and Lukaku showdown given it will likely be played in December.
Where Will AC Milan Finish In Serie A?
This poll is closed
2-4 (UCL Places)
5-7 (UEL/UECL places)
8 and below