GdS: Five crucial challenges that Pioli must tackle in the 2022-23 season

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan did what many thought was improbable last season by winning the Scudetto, and there are some big challenges ahead in 2022-23.

La Gazzetta dello Sport picks out five challenges in particular that Stefano Pioli must tackle when he makes his return from a well-earned vacation and begins preparations for the new campaign. It will be a different season, but with even more ambitious goals.

Defend the title: Winning is difficult, but doing so as favourites carries extra pressure. Inter were favourites to win the league in 2021-22 and now it seems that the Rossoneri will be tipped to defend their crown in 2022-23 with another derby against their city rivals on the cards and a battle for the second star.

The best Milan coaches like Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti have gone on to be serial winners after obtaining their first and that will be the (tough) ask of Pioli too.

European stage: Milan want to go further in the Champions League. Only in 1996-97, in 1999-2000 and in the last season have the Rossoneri failed to get out of the group stages but a tough draw (vs. Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto) gave many youngsters some experience. Now the challenge is to go a step further.

Integrate new additions: Pioli has been fantastic at helping new signings like Bennacer, Rebic, Diaz, Theo Hernandez, Leao and Tonali grow and the same will have to happen now with other new and young faces that will arrive. The targets include Charles De Ketelaere, Sven Botman and Noa Lang and there is the additional challenge that they may not arrive in time for the start of preseason given the change in ownership.

Handle with care: Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be back in action until 2023 after undergoing surgery on his knee. Then, Pioli will have to manage a new situation and will have to decide how to use the Swede based on his conditions and if he can really have him behind Origi (set to arrive) and Giroud in the pecking order.

Filling the void: Pioli faces a big question: how do you replace Kessie? The Ivorian was a fundamental and versatile option to the Milan boss and while Renato Sanches looks set to come in and replace him, they are not the same player. Renato’s injuries are a cause for concern and so it is another situation to micro-manage.

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