Milan is back in the big time!
Seven years have passed since Rossoneri last heard CHAAAAMPIOOOONSSSS echoed around the San Siro, but last season’s fourth place finally ended its wait for Champions League football.
And yet, some will see the campaign as a small failure. Milan sat at the top of the Serie A tree for half the season and claimed the meaningless “winter champion” title with their lightning start.
But Stefano Pioli’s men fell away and could only see when bitter rivals Inter took back the trophy to the blue and black half of Milan. So the ambitions for the 2021/22 campaign are unclear, but are probably somewhere between winning Scudetto and sneaking into the top four.
A title push may be on the cards, and Pioli will rely on a quick start again. But how difficult are their first ten matches for the new Serie A season?
A tough start / Getty Images / Getty Images
Starting your season away from home immediately increases the difficulty level and Sampdoria is one of those places you can never guarantee that you will go away with three points.
Do not be fooled by their beautiful jersey pattern – it’s a tough, strenuous away day, and you have to fight hard for victory. However, Milan will be in a lively mood, and we want them to do business.
Nainggolan is not impressed / Vincenzo Izzo / Getty Images
Milan thought they had missed the Champions League qualifier last season after failing to break Cagliari into a devastating deadlock on the penultimate day of the match.
However, Juventus and Napoli offered them a suspension, and Milan crept into the top four on the final day. Still, it turned out that Cagliari is a tough opponent, and with fighters like Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman in midfield, you know you want a scrap.
Tough Opponents / Silvia Lore / Getty Images
At home again, but against a much tougher opposition. SS Lazio are starting a new era under Maurizio Sarri, and the former Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus coach wants to start well.
If the Eagles quickly take on their dynamic and expansive style of football, they could float to victory over Rossoneri. If not, Milan can cut those wings and move on.
Ronaldo looks at three points / Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images
We know that Juventus is not Juventus before, but there is simply no greater uphill than to receive the old lady in her own backyard.
Juve are back under the leadership of league winner Massimiliano Allegri, which makes them a much more frightening opportunity than under the shy Andrea Pirlo.
They may not be on top, but a trip to Turin is the toughest challenge you can face in Serie A.
New kids in the neighborhood / Getty Images / Getty Images
From one extreme to another. Venezia – and their beautiful, beautiful kit – earned the promotion to Serie A last year, and they are now ready to take their class and elegance to the top level.
Unfortunately, we can not see them as a threat to a side of Milan that will either buzz from a fantastic result in Turin or want revenge on whatever poor soul they face.
It’s you, Venice. Sorry.
Tricky customers / Gabriele Maltinti / Getty Images
Spezia pulled off a few surprises last season, but they almost ended up in a serious relegation battle. They finally escaped and will be looking to build on the first season experience.
However, Milan are also building on their own performances from last year, and we support them for being far too strong for this tough suit.
Danger men / MIGUEL MEDINA / Getty Images
Although Juve are the most terrible team in Italy, Atalanta are the most dangerous. La Dea can boast the ability to crush opposition in six or seven – as Milan themselves learned, after being hammered 5-0 and 3-0 in the last two seasons.
Rossoneri got an important last victory over Atalanta in Bergamo last season, which made its place in the Champions League in an impressive way.
Questions must be asked about how hard Atalanta tried, however, given their frosty relationship with Juventus, and the chance that they had to beat Bianconeri out of the Champions League qualifiers by simply rolling over.
Strong Opponents / Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images
Then comes Hellas Verona, a team that surprised many Serie A spectators last year. However, it will be a very changed side this season, mainly because coach Ivan Juric has left to join Turin.
His absence will surely make a difference for the team, and they could suffer a bit of a downturn in a potential second season syndrome campaign. Milan to get three points, here.
Experience bags / Mario Carlini / Iguana Press / Getty Images
Bologna is a seriously inconsistent side, and their ability to disrupt the big boys and crumble against the fighters makes them difficult to predict.
For that reason, we want Milan to get the job done in a professional way, so that their hosts do not get a surprise and finish the score quite effectively.
Il Gallo / Emilio Andreoli / Getty Images
To begin with, we had this down as 2/10, but the fact that the former Verona coach Juric is responsible means that Torino can not be as bad as they were last season. It’s literally impossible.
With that said, Torino’s squad is weak, and if Talisman Andrea Belotti leaves this summer, they could be in tight tight situations. So this should be a fairly routine match to finish Milan’s 10 races.