To begin the 2020-21 Serie A season Milan take on Bologna, a team they defeated 5-1 in July, but in football nothing can be taken for granted.
Despite going unbeaten post-lockdown and having a record of nine wins from 12 games, Milan finished 6th in the table and 12 points off the target of UEFA Champions league qualification.
A bad start under Marco Giampaolo and an unkind fixture list for Pioli meant Milan had a very poor beginning to the campaign. This means Milan must target a flying start to 2020-21, so playing catch-up once again is avoided.
A S.W.O.T analysis is a tool used by multinational corporations as a strategic planning technique to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
In this article, we preview the season using that method to objectively assess where Milan are currently at and where they can improve…
- The experience of Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Milan’s trump card for this season will be none other than Ibrahimovic. Performing at a high-level despite his age, the Swede has been able to infuse his mentality onto his younger colleagues and has raised the bar.
- The rise of Calhanoglu and Rebic: Both player had a mini-renaissance in 2020 and became instrumental. Their form has complemented Ibrahimovic’s rise and has been part of annihilating opponents post-lockdown.
- The press: Milan’s shift to high aggressive press has been a revolution in Serie A. Kessie and Bennacer have been the main contributors to the press as Milan look to win the ball back and counter instantly.
- Milan’s main weakness in attack is on the right side. Samu Castillejo and Saelemaekers contributed only four goals and seven assists last season, which is less than the numbers other productive right wingers have been able to make, hence the possible pursuit of Chiesa.
- There seems to be quite a few gaps between the second line and last line of defence. Any team with good technical players and fast wingers can exploit these spaces and put in quick crosses. A player like Bakayoko could help neutralise this weakness.
- Milan lack depth at centre-back. Duarte has shown he is not up to the standards of European football while Gabbia seemed shaky against Shamrock. The pursuit of Milenkovic or Ajer is a real priority for Milan.
- The two big title contenders have not pulled off any big moves as anticipated in the market, with Juventus even going through a mini-transition appointing Pirlo as their coach while Inter lost two transfers targets after they had agreed personal terms. If Milan recruit sensibly and ease the signings in, they could upset the duopoly.
- Lazio and Roma too have not made the big moves in the market due to financial constraints brought around by COVID-19. Lazio brought in Muriqi and Fares while Roma brought in Kumbulla and Pedro, but Milik could also arrive.
- Milan’s Europa League run would depend on the teams that they are drawn with in the competition. If teams with less technical ability drop from the Champions League to the EL knockouts, then Milan can make a deep run and boost their revenue.
- The biggest threat for Milan is injuries. Milan have so far not made a signing upfront to be a back-up to Zlatan and seem to have placed faith in Colombo, Rebic and Leao. A lengthy lay-off for Ibrahimovic could de-rail Milan’s season.
- Milan’s Europa League run will be threatened if they draw difficult opponents