Serie A Season Preview: Milan
28.8 || Seamus
Time to do it all again. Living up to last season's exploits will be difficult, but Milan were always a club who set themselves high standards.
With May's Champions League victory still fresh in the mind, Carlo Ancelotti's charges embark on a new season, but not with the optimism that many would think they'd have. For the Rossoneri's pre-season form has been indifferent, and the team's lack of goals is a worry to many of the tifosi.
But since when have pre season friendlies been a good indicator of a team's fortunes when the real stuff starts?
The club have made the wise move of not going out and spending willy-nilly when encouraged by a bit of success. Brazilian Cafu and Kaka have arrived, as well as experienced full-back Guiseppe Pancaro from Lazio.
That centre-back that many expected has not yet arrived, and with speculation that Roque Junior could be on his way out on loan, the Rossoneri may be left a little short at the back. Martin Laursen is a reliable replacement for Alessandro Nesta or Paolo Maldini, but one has the feeling that the club would really have liked Barcelona's Charles Puyol on board by now.
New signing Kaka may play a larger role than many people think. He impressed in Saturday's friendly with National Bucharest, and coach Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear he will fight for his place like everyone else. And what of last season's biggest disappointment Rivaldo? He hasn't had the benefit of a full pre-season behind him, and will be forced to make an impact from the bench, more often than not.
Milan are certainly well covered for holding players in the midfield. Fernando Redondo, Massimo Ambrosini and the impressive Rino Gattuso will fight it out for one or two places (depending on Ancelotti's formation). Andrea Pirlo's craft and vision of passing will also priove improtant.
Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzagjhi will start the bulk of the matches in tandem up front. There aren't too many other options. Jon Dahl Tomasson is a steady performer but nothing more, while young Marco Boriello lacks experience. Many Milan fans wanted a strong target man to arrive, a player capable of scoring headed goals regularly, but he has been forthcoming. The fans' favourite Shevchenko badly needs an injury-free season.
HOPES FOR THE SEASON
The Scudetto may just be number one priority after the Rossoneri missed out by such a margin last season. But will the Rossoneri be able to get over their complex against Serie A's lesser lights? If so, they will seriously challenge Juve for the title. In Europe, a semi-final place in the Champions League will be the least everyone expects.
Milan are strong all over, but while they will improve on last season's 3rd place, they won't topple Juve just yet. 2nd place.
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