AC Milan get their 2016/17 preparations underway with a preseason match against Bordeaux at the Stade Armandie in Agen on Saturday night.
The match will be heavily scrutinised by rossoneri supporters globally as Vincenzo Montella takes the helm for the first time, with a lot to be determined about how the ex-Fiorentina boss will handle with the pressure of managing a giant like Milan.
Of course last season was far from pleasant for the Diavolo, as a late season collapse saw Milan slip out of sixth spot and miss out on the Europa League qualification places, while losing the Coppa Italia final ensured a bitter end to a poor campaign.
Cristian Brocchi stepped down as boss and moved to Brescia in the midst of many names such as Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini being linked to the vacant coaching role. In the end, Montella was appointed, and the work for next season begins now.
Bordeaux were far from impressive in 2015/16 as well, with Willy Sagnol leading his team to mid table obscurity in Ligue 1 table and compounding this with a Europa League group stage exit as bottom of the pile with zero wins.
Eventually, the team finished 11th with 12 wins, 14 draws and 12 losses, registering 50 points and a -7 goal difference.
Their current boss is Jocelyn Gourvennec, who led previous club EA Guingamp to a Coupe de France triumph in 2014.
A lot will be mentioned about just how Montella chooses to line Milan up, even in the first preseason match.
According to Sky, the coach will go with a front three of Bonaventura, Menez and M’Baye Niang from left to right, likely deploying a 4-3-3 formation.
In terms of the mercato, Milan have added just striker Gianluca Lapadula from Pescara and full-back Leonel Vangioni from River Plate, with players such as Suso and Gabriel Paletta returning from loan. Though it’s worth to mention that neither of Vangioni and Lapadula are called-up.
AC Milan’s Probable XI vs Bordeaux: Donnarumma; Abate, Paletta, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Poli, Mauri, Bertolacci; Niang, Menez, Bonaventura.
Stephan El Shaarawy joined Roma on a permanent deal, as did Simone Verdi to Bologna and Fernando Torres to Atletico Madrid, while Alex, Philippe Mexes, Christian Abbiati and Kevin-Prince Boateng were all released.
Bordeaux meanwhile have added goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni from Troyes and midfielder Jeremy Toulalan from Monaco.
However, striker Cheick Diabaté has left for Osmanlispor and midfielder Clement Chantome joined Rennes. Attacking midfielder Jussie was released.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
For Milan, this question is a lot more tricky than perhaps it should be.
Giacomo Bonaventura is the obvious name that springs to mind, as a creative player on the left side he will be given license to create and take risks as part of an attacking trident.
M’Baye Niang will cause issues too if he can show his recovery from injury is complete.
Bordeaux lost their top goalscorer from last season in Diabaté, but a lot will rest on the shoulders of Uruguayan international Diego Rolán.
The 23-year-old scored 10 times in all competitions during the 2015/16 season, causing Premier League clubs like Everton to be on red alert.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The two sides played out one of the best UEFA Cup ties in history, but Milanisti will not remember it for the right reasons.
Having taken a 2-0 lead to France in the quarter-final first leg, the rossoneri were left stunned as Bordeaux turned the tie around.
Didier Tholot gave theme fans hope in the first half, before a Christophe Dugarry double sent Milan home with an early exit.