Is Milan Now the Favorite in Serie A?

Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic smiles during a presentation during the Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Lecce at the San Siro stadium in Milan August 29, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

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.

0 thoughts on “Is Milan Now the Favorite in Serie A?”

  1. Gattuso is right-back? :D: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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Milan are definitely the team to watch, at least on paper. I think Robinho can deliver if approached properly. The main concern is how will Allegri fit Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Pato and Ronaldinho together. They might need time to gel.

          I think Robinho will come off the bench while Ibra will start. It will depend on performances and opponents.

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