Milan fans were left with mixed emotions after the 2020-21 season, despite a second-placed finish in the league which marked their best in nine years.
Milan didn’t lose a league game until January; however, they did not have the vital catalyst to keep up their lead and were overwhelmed by city rivals Inter. They did, nonetheless, have a compelling season, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14.
With elite players like Franck Kessie, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and newly marked prepared forward Olivier Giroud under the oversight of Italian coach Stefano Pioli, they might have the chance to overwhelm their opponents this time around.
A glance at the recent past
Under Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri have had somewhat of a resurgence. With 18 Serie A title and seven UEFA Champions League trophies Milan still remain in the elite list of European clubs, but their recent performances haven’t reflected that.
Nonetheless, more than a long time since they last won the league, and it has been over thirteen years since they last won the UCL. They haven’t qualified for the UCL since 2014, showing how low their levels have become as of late.
It’s not absurd to accept that current fans were nearly disregarding Rossoneri’s heritage — until they began performing extraordinarily well again recently.
AC Milan had gone unbeaten in 28 consecutive games in all tournaments before losing to Lille late last year, following their setback over Genoa in the previous season’s Serie A. They have started the current campaign well too, winning both games.
Why Milan could emerge victoriously
Results business: Milan’s record under Pioli suggests that this is a team who have found their groove again. They had the best form in Serie A post-lockdown in 2019-20, and last season had a real chance to win the league.
Cognitive benefit: It’s important to note that, unlike Juventus and Milan, AC Milan were not expected to win the Scudetto last season and that is still the case. Given their recent failures to finish in the top four, a much more achievable target is to consistently be in the top four.
Moreover, because they might not have as much risk as to the other clubs, a probable drop in form in the following weeks would have little impact. However, a lack of stress, in general, would provide them with a cognitive boost, allowing them to play without anxiety and take more significant risks.
Rivals overhaul: Milan’s strength is without a doubt their continuity. With the exception of Atalanta, all the other teams vying for the top four have made wholesale changes, be it in management, playing squad or both.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Zlatan has attained several accomplishments in recent months, proving that age is just a number. In October, the Swede will turn 40, but he has shown he can still contribute game-winning efforts in big matches.
The new baseline: While there aren’t many bonafide world-class players in their squad, they also have a long list of players who would start for many European clubs. As a result, Pioli will use the five substitues rule to make the most of his squad’s depth.
The Rossoneri are now renowned for their intense playing style, so having five subs will help them maintain that intensity for more extended periods.
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Milan topped the table for most of the season before losing it to Inter. Stefano Pioli has a quality group that will build on their recent success in the coming season.
Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu were among the players who left during the trade period. Nevertheless, they kept Franck Kessie and signed Mike Maignan, the French Ligue 1 champion from the previous season, as well as Giroud and other new faces.
Milan will again pose a solid threat to Juventus in the season ahead, with one of their key players, Brahim Diaz, stating that their main goal is to win the Scudetto. He acknowledges that they will have stiff opposition but believes that their team is capable of winning the title after 11 long years.