Is Milan Now the Favorite in Serie A?

by Robert on September 1, 2010 · 12 comments

In July, I wrote a post for this site ask­ing AC Milan fans for calm.  The club had been quiet on the trans­fer mar­ket and Sil­vio Berlus­coni had gone pub­lic in say­ing he intended to build his youth acad­emy to help the team.  I said at the time that if the club did not acquire any big names, they would be title con­tenders but would not be favorites.

Flash for­ward forty plus days.  Ibrahi­movic.  Robinho.  Boateng.  The club worked the trans­fer mar­ket hard in the wan­ing hours and secured some of the biggest names avail­able on the mar­ket.  They also grabbed Sokratis from Genoa, a smaller pro­file sign­ing that helps their defense.  In exchange, they dumped the aging Marco Bor­riello, over­rated Hunte­laar, and backup striker Dominic Adiyah.  As the dust set­tles on the sum­mer trans­fer dash and the own­er­ship begins to show off the new presents to the fans, the ques­tion is:

Is Milan now the favorite to win the Serie A title?

If Alle­gri decided to stick to a 4–3-3, here is the lineup the club could field in com­ing weeks:

Keeper: Amelia

Defend­ers: Antonini, Thi­ago Silva, Nesta, Bonera

Mid­field: See­dorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini

For­wards: Ibrahi­movic, Ronald­inho, Pato

Bench: Robinho, Boateng, Inza­ghi, Antonini

The biggest impact the addi­tions have on this club is to make the for­ward posi­tion younger and more deadly.  Ibrahi­movic has the abil­ity to dom­i­nate on the offen­sive end and pro­vides a con­sis­tent scor­ing threat this club lacked from the for­ward posi­tion last sea­son.  Ronald­inho, while at times dom­i­nant, came into camp out of shape and was dis­in­ter­ested at times last year.  If he is phys­i­cally unfit to play or the club needs a spark, a younger Robinho can sub in or start in his place.  On the bench is the all-time lead­ing scorer in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion in Inza­ghi.  So your front line has youth, expe­ri­ence, height, quick­ness, and speed.

A con­cern expressed by Nic­colo in the pre­sea­son was Milan’s aging in the mid­field.  Kevin-Prince Boateng, who showed great poten­tial in the World Cup (as well as a need for his game to mature), pro­vides that young depth and long-term starter the club was seek­ing in the off­sea­son.  The unher­alded sign­ing of Sokratis also pro­vides some tal­ented depth for the back­line, which at times strug­gled last year and had a pen­chant for allow­ing care­less goals.  If he’s healthy, Amer­i­can national Oguchi Onyewu also gives the club a tal­ented defender off the bench.

Another aspect is the emer­gence of Alexan­dre Pato.  Scor­ing twice on Sun­day and look­ing very good in the pre­sea­son, this could be his break­out sea­son and at age 20 a pre­cur­sor to many suc­cess­ful sea­sons for AC Milan.  The moves this sum­mer allow him to mature within a sys­tem where he is not the biggest name or has all the offen­sive pres­sure on him.

On the other hand, the expen­sive acqui­si­tion of Robinho can arguably be throw­ing money at an under­achiever.  After excelling at a young age in Spain, the Brazil­ian clashed with man­age­ment and the EPL cul­ture in Man­ches­ter City, lead­ing to his sale this trans­fer sea­son.  Man­age­ment likely hopes pair­ing him with Ronald­inho will lead to a resur­gence and com­fort on and off the pitch.  Also, the club’s defense is still solid but not spec­tac­u­lar and was a weak­ness last sea­son, espe­cially against Inter Milan.

So, does AC Milan now have the tal­ent to be the favorites in Serie A?  Going into the sea­son Inter was the con­sen­sus favorites and the club has kept its key play­ers, espe­cially Maicon.  I also give them the edge in man­agers with Bentiez’s expe­ri­ence.  I still con­sider Inter Milan the favorites for Serie A but the gap has closed con­sid­er­ably and the Milan der­bies this year will be epic.

Agree or dis­agree?  Share your com­ments below or on Twit­ter @roberthayjr.

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12 comments… read them below or add one

1 Soulik September 1, 2010 at 9:43 am

Gattuso is right-back? :D Nice joke.
Bonera on the left side is another mistake.
I think that Allegri will make this lineup in the next match opposite Cesena.

Abbiati - Antonini, Nesta, Silva, Bonera - Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini - Ronaldinho, Ibrahimovic, Pato

with subst. during the match: Boateng, Robinho, Papastathopoulos


2 Robert September 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

Good point, I got my left and right confused when listing the potential lineup (which as anyone who knows me can tell you happens often).

But what do you think, better than Inter?


3 Brickthrower September 1, 2010 at 10:53 am

I think you’re on the money Soulik. How long (or should I say losses) you think before guys like Nesta, Pirlo, Seedorf lose the starting role.


4 Niccolo Conte September 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

AC Milan have certainly decided to go for it this year, I guess Berlusconi thought something like, “They’re not getting any younger, I got to spend”.

But to say that they’re better than Inter, I’m really not sure, I guess it just makes the Serie A a whole lot more exciting.


5 Angelo Amara September 2, 2010 at 3:54 am

Borriello aging? he is 28 years old this year for God’s sake!


6 Joe Ginto September 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

I could be completely off base here but I think the addition of Robinho might just unsettle this group. He’s a selfish little twat who won’t much like being pushed off the ball and will pout the moment he’s not the focal point. You can argue the slew of fellow Brazilians will keep him in check and perhaps that’s true.
I like the Ibra signing but I think letting go of Borriello was a mistake and I think Nesta is on his last legs. A wonderful player but he can’t be relied upon and if you take him out then you have a center back pairing of Thiago and Gooch? Thiago and Sokratis? Not bad but certainly not scudetto-winning stuff. Also, I just don’t believe in their fullbacks (Antonini, Zambrotta, Bonera, Yankulovski). Again, not horrible but…
Pirlo & Seedorf still have it, by the way. Whether they can keep it up in a hugely difficult CL group and Serie A is another story altogether, but wow are they magnificent.


7 Robert September 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

Joe -

Agreed that the defense is still a bit suspect. That could be a major impediment to their return to the top spot. I think Robinho should be ok. Consider the situation he came from - a club that throws money around to acquire the big names, demands immediate success, then discards players when a shinier name is available. I think that is unsettling for anyone, especially in a foreign country with little to no support system. I think AC Milan is a much much better situation for him.

Thanks for the comments!


8 slaton September 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Interesting though a line up of
Antonini, Nesta, Silva, Flamini
Boateng, Strasser
Robinho Ibrahimovic, Pato

On the Bench- Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Bonera, Papastathopoulos
would be prefered injecting youth and pace into the line up and giving proper support to the defence. The Pirlo Seedorf Ambrosini Axis limits the team by making them too slow to react and cover if the ball is lost. The defnders then look weaker than they are often because they are forced into one on ones and as anybody knows the player with the momentum normally has the advantage. They may be technically our best players but in addition to their minimal contribution to reactive team defence they are often dead tired by the 70th minute Seedorf sometimes earlier. But you know all this the team can benefit by them playing less minutes especially against tired teams that have been run off their feet by the line up I’ve proposed.


9 Rami S. September 3, 2010 at 9:44 am

Milan will take time to gel and for 2 key players (Robinho + Ibra) to settle while Boateng is still getting familiar with the squad and the system.

I think Inter have the biggest squad in Serie A and have the experience it takes to win but even last year the Nerazzurri won because of the mistakes of others (specifically Roma losing to Sampdoria).

If Nesta remains healthy, Thiago continues to grow and new players perform then competing in Europe could happen since it’s not a 38 round leage but rather an elimination process after the group stage in the CL.


10 Rob McCluskey September 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I’m not sure why they signed Robinho in the end, although they now have 4 VERY good front players

After watching the game against Lecce they’ve got me excited, they could have won that game 20-0! Ronaldinho looks back to his best and I’m just Ibrahimovic will fit in with the Milan system a lot better.

I think the most important thing for them is Nesta being back, they’ve missed him so much while he’s been injured!


11 Rami S. September 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Hi Rob,

Pato + Ronaldinho and Ibra are certain to start as they will fit with the sytem employed. The question is regarding Robinho and whether a midfielder such as Seedorf will be sacrificed to make way for Robinho.

They will be exciting but no guarantees they can win the big games when Ibra and Robinho are settled and playing regularly. They are not a balanced team.


12 Rob McCluskey September 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Give Robinho a sort of free role in midfield?

If they were to do that then Gattuso would need to play, or Seedorf would be asked to play as an anchorman.

They are quite unbalanced, but I know a lot of people that have a soft spot for Milan. With the players in their team its just really exciting to think what they might be capable of.


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