Milan are back in the big time!
Seven years have passed since the Rossoneri last heard THE CHAAAAMPIOOOONSSSS echo around San Siro, but last season’s fourth-placed finish finally ended their wait for Champions League football.
And yet, some will view the campaign as a slight failure. Milan sat top of the Serie A tree for half the season, claiming the meaningless ‘winter champions’ title with their lightning start.
But Stefano Pioli’s men fell away, and could only watch as bitter rivals Inter brought the trophy back to the blue and black half of Milano. So, ambitions for the 2021/22 campaign are unclear, but probably lie somewhere between winning the Scudetto and sneaking into the top four.
A title push could be on the cards, and Pioli will be relying on a fast start yet again. But how difficult are their opening 10 games to the new Serie A season?
Starting your season away from home immediately ups the difficulty levels, and Sampdoria is one of those places you can never guarantee walking away from with three points.
Don’t be fooled by their beautiful jersey designs – it’s a tough, gruelling away day, and you’ve got to battle hard for the victory. Milan will be in buoyant mood though, and we fancy them to do the business.
Milan thought they’d missed out on Champions League qualification last season after failing to break down Cagliari in a devastating stalemate on the penultimate matchday.
Juventus and Napoli offered them a reprieve however, and Milan snuck into the top four on the final day. Still, that meeting proved Cagliari are a tough opponent, and with warriors like Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman in the midfield, you know you’re in for a scrap.
Home again, but against a much sterner opposition. SS Lazio are beginning a new era under Maurizio Sarri, and the former Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus coach will want to get off to a good start.
If the Eagles take to his dynamic and expansive style of football quickly, then they could soar to victory over the Rossoneri. If not, Milan can clip those wings and march on.
We know that Juventus are not the Juventus of old, but there is simply no bigger uphill battle than taking on the Old Lady in her own backyard.
Juve are back under the management of serial winner Massimiliano Allegri, making them a much more terrifying prospect than under the timid Andrea Pirlo.
They may not be at their peak, but a trip to Turin is the toughest challenge you can face in Serie A.
From one extreme to the other. Venezia – and their beautiful, beautiful kit – earned promotion to Serie A last year, and they’re now ready to bring their class and elegance to the top tier.
Unfortunately, we can’t see them posing any threat against a Milan side that will either be buzzing from a great result in Turin, or looking to get revenge on whichever poor soul they encountered next.
That’d be you, Venezia. Sorry.
Spezia pulled off a few surprises last season, but they almost ended up getting dragged into a serious relegation battle. They ultimately escaped, and will be looking to build on that debut-season experience.
Milan are also building on their own achievements from last year however, and we back them to be just too strong for this plucky outfit.
Although Juve are the most fearsome team in Italy, Atalanta are the most dangerous. La Dea boast the capacity to smash any opposition for six or seven – as Milan themselves learned, having been hammered 5-0 and 3-0 in the past two seasons.
The Rossoneri did get a vital final day win over Atalanta in Bergamo last season, clinching their place in the Champions League in impressive fashion.
Questions have to be asked over how hard Atalanta tried however, given their frosty relationship with Juventus, and the chance they had to knock the Bianconeri out of Champions League qualification by simply rolling over.
Next up are Hellas Verona, a team that surprised many Serie A onlookers last year. However, it will be a much-changed side this season, mainly because coach Ivan Juric has left to join Torino.
His absence will surely make a difference to the team, and they could suffer a bit of a slump in a potential second-season syndrome campaign. Milan to get three points, here.
Bologna are a seriously inconsistent side, and their ability to upset the big boys and crumble against the strugglers makes them tough to predict.
For that reason, we fancy Milan to get the job done in a professional manner, not allowing their hosts to spring a surprise and wrap up the points pretty efficiently.
We had this down as a 2/10 to begin with, but the fact that former Verona coach Juric is in charge means Torino can’t be as bad as they were last season. It is literally impossible.
That said, Torino’s squad is weak, and if talisman Andrea Belotti leaves this summer, they could be in dire straits. So this should be a fairly routine match to wrap up Milan’s opening 10 clashes.