AC Milan analysed: the beginning of a new era? – Football international

Every day Sport/Voetbalmagazine takes a close look at a top foreign club. We look back on the past season and look ahead to the challenges in the future. Today: AC Milan.

Strong and weak points

Strengths and weaknessesAt the start of this season, not too many people saw one of the favorites for the title in AC Milan. However, the Rossoneri became vice champions in 2020/21 and the Champions League was reached for the first time in years. “It’s really strange that nobody thinks we can take the title,” coach Stefano Pioli was also surprised about the lack of faith in his team. The big favorite, partly due to the return of Max Allegri, was Juventus. But look how that turned out… In the end AC Milan finished the league as champions with 86 points, the highest number the club ever reached in Serie A. In the 34 games they lost only four times and took only 31 goals against, giving it the best defense in the league. Take that, bookmakers! What made this team rise above itself was the mental strength within the group of players. Lost one game due to a late goal, causing the competition to creep closer, then it simply rectified that imbalance in the next game with a strong performance. Here and there a point was lost, but at the end of the day AC Milan proved to be the most regular team in Italy, not easy in a competition full of unexpected turns. made a difference, some new and young stars were also decisive for Milan this year. Think Rafael Leao, who completely blossomed, Sandro Tonali, who became the leader of the Milan midfield after a bad season, or Theo Hernandez, the man who orchestrated the attack as a left back. Not to mention the young duo of Fikayo Tomori-Pierre Kalulu that formed the backbone of the best defense of the Boot and solved Simon Kjaer’s absence without any problems. You would almost forget that last year Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the man of the team, but since the summer he has struggled with one injury after another and thus had almost no physical influence on Il Diavolo’s game. Although you can also say that his absence also had an impact on the performance of the team. This season it turned out to be a bit more difficult for Milan to score. With 69 goals scored, it is only in fourth place in that standings and only slightly better than Hellas Verona and Sassuolo, who fell outside the top seven in Serie A. Top scorers were Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud, who was certainly not always allowed. hope for a base. Most matches were won by the smallest difference, while Inter, Napoli and Juventus often won by several goals. If Milan wants to continue its hegemony next year, it will therefore have to change something on the attacking front. The coach: Stefano Pioli Before he was appointed as the new T1 in the red-black part of Milan in October 2019, Stefano Pioli could not show too many credentials. He had just completed two successful years at Fiorentina, but they followed a very brief and painful stint at Inter, where the #pioliout was already popular before he was hired. At Milan, Pioli seemed to make another unsuccessful attempt to bring the glory of yesteryear back to San Siro, especially after the arrival of Ralf Rangnick in February seemed almost certain. Partly due to an excellent transfer window a month earlier and Rangnick’s rejection, Pioli stayed in the saddle and also got the credit to build his squad. And look where that decision took Milan. It is in stark contrast to the German’s brief stint as head of Manchester United. Who even remembers that Pioli was almost allowed to take his bags after only a few months? In the meantime, the T1 has become a hero for the Milanese supporters. He is the man who brought the club back to the top with its first CL entry and now its first title in 11 years. The man suddenly has plenty of credit. What makes Pioli an excellent coach is his people management. He is like a father to his group of players, who sing ‘Pioli on fire’ on the bus every time after the game. “I’m in love with this group,” the Italian coach admitted a while ago. And that love seems to be clearly mutual. Player of the Season: Mike Maignan Brought in as champion of Lille, Mike Maignan had no easy task. The French keeper had to accommodate the departure of national number 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma, who had just opted for more money and an adventure at PSG. Although Milan hadn’t played it well in the contract extensions by bringing in Maignan as a replacement even before it was certain that Donnarumma would leave. In any case, Maignan surprised friend and foe by making the transition as smooth as possible. Who of the Milanisti is currently still thinking of Donnarumma, who has not had a great period in Paris? With 17 clean sheets, just 21 conceded in 23 games and eight goals (according to the Expected Goals Against) against Maignan, he was arguably the player of the season. In addition, Maignan was also out for a month in October and November, which immediately made clear his importance for the team. His replacement Ciprian Tatarusanu conceded 10 goals in the 6 games in which the 26-year-old Frenchman was missing. But not only between the posts, Maignan also had a major impact on Milan with his feet. He gave an assist to Rafael Leão against Sampdoria. In other words, Milan could not imagine a better replacement for its own youth product. The future In January, hardly anything was spent on new names. Only the young Serbian talent Marko Lazetic (Red Star Belgrade) was brought to Milanello. It caused some unrest among the fans, because the competitors did lash out in the transfer market, with Juventus leading the way. This summer it seems to be quite the opposite at Milan. Even before the takeover by the American investment fund RedBird, there was already considerable speculation about large transfers. Almost every name has already been mentioned at Milan. The one who will almost certainly come to the Italian champion is Divock Origi. In addition, football players such as Noa Lang, Sebastien Haller and Renato Sanches have been linked to the club for months. And what about Alexis Saelemaekers? The Red Devil did not have a very good season – his start was excellent but he disappeared from the squad after New Years – and would now be used as small change to bring a more attractive player to San Siro, genre Nicolò Zaniolo. not much is clear yet about the future of the 19-time champion. What exactly do RedBird and big man Gerry Cardinale want to do with the club and what money do they have available? It will all become clear in the coming months, though everyone will be asking the question: has Milan’s new era really kicked in or will it collapse again in the months and years to come?