AC Milan: The Rise of a Once Historic Club

At the top of Serie A with an undefeated record, AC Milan hopes to return to the Champions League and regain its seat among the most respected clubs in the world.

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AC Milan is one of the most reputable soccer clubs in the world. The Italian team holds seven Champions League titles and 18 Serie A titles, a feat unmatched by many other clubs. Though Milan has a prominent status in the soccer world, over the last few years it has suffered a drastic setback. Many have claimed that the team has lost its prestige, as it failed to reach the Champions League for almost a decade. This year, however, Milan has risen above all other Italian teams. Undefeated at the top of Serie A this season, the team hopes to return to the Champions League and regain its seat among the most respected clubs in the world. But how has AC Milan maintained its good run thus far?

A main contributor to Milan’s unbeaten run is current manager Stefano Pioli. A former soccer player, Pioli understands the tactical and strategic elements of the sport. During his appointment in October 2019, Milan was in desperate need of change. The club was ranked 13th in the league, close to the relegation zone, and only picked up seven points in the first nine games. As expected, Pioli breathed new life into the team: in the second half of the season, the club went on a 10-match victorious streak in the league. He operates Milan in a predominantly 4-3-3 formation, which morphs into 3-2-2-3 when defending. This tactic is crucial because it allows the team to quickly transition into attack and brings the full backs forward in play. The players quickly adapted to the fluid transitions, and the formation is working well, as this strategy is at the root of the club's winning streak.

Milan’s improvements in the attacking squad over the last few years have also helped it remain undefeated. In the January 2020 transfer window, the club retrieved well-known forward Zlatan Ibrahimović from MLS club LA Galaxy. Having played for multiple teams in Europe, he possesses a leadership quality that has helped the squad regain its confidence. Even at the age of 39, Ibrahimović is still a constant threat going forward with his incredible aerial capability and clinical finishing. The club made other additions to the attacking line as well. Rafael Leão joined Milan from Sporting CP in 2019, and improved as a winger. He has made a fiery start to this season, with three goals and three assists in 10 games. Striker Ante Rebić also joined the club on a loan deal in 2019 and extended his stay in 2020. Rebić helped Croatia reach the 2018 World Cup Final, and had 15 goals and five assists last season. These new additions to the squad have been instrumental to Milan’s imposing start to the season due to their attacking ability.

Milan has also kept their lead with strong, gifted midfielders. One of them is Sandro Tonali, an Italian talent on a loan deal from Brescia. Tonali made an impact for Brescia during their promotion season to Serie A in 2019. His defensive prowess and game-reading ability has helped Milan progress in the current season. Another midfielder who is crucial to Milan’s current unbeaten run is Frank Kessié. Kessié joined Milan in 2017 from Atalanta on a loan deal, and penned a permanent deal in 2019. He is an expert penalty taker and links well with attacking players. Milan has also added other talented midfielders to their squad, such as Brahim Díaz and Alexis Saelemaekers. Díaz joined Milan on a loan deal from Real Madrid in 2020 for game time. As an attacking midfielder, Díaz boosts creativity on the pitch and assists in attacking plays. Saelemaekers joined Milan from Anderlecht on a loan deal in 2020, and became an important player for Pioli’s side, showing the results of his hard work at the end of last season. These midfielders have all shined for Milan this season, bringing their expertise and determination to game after game.

Furthermore, Milan has modified and strengthened its back line, with additions such as Theo Hernández, a French left back who joined from Real Madrid in 2019. Manager Pioli uses him as an attacking full back, pushing forward to deliver crosses and returning to defend. Hernández performed well for Milan in his first season, with seven goals and five assists in 36 games. Center backs Simon Kjær and Alessio Romagnoli have also made an impression for the “Rossoneri.” Kjær joined Milan from Atalanta in 2020, and is an important defensive player for the club. After suffering from many injuries when he arrived, Kjær recovered and began to feature in the starting lineup. Romagnoli has been at Milan for over five years, and is the current captain of the squad. He has started almost every single game since his appointment as captain in 2019, and his versatility and composed nature make him a very talented player. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is also pivotal in Milan’s defense, having started for the club since he was 17. As one of Italy’s most gifted prospects and one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he has amazing shot-stopping abilities and a large aerial reach to punt the ball away. A strong defense, attacking-minded fullbacks, and an aerially gifted goalkeeper have all contributed to Milan’s exciting run in the league.

With all of the changes in the Milan squad, it is no wonder that it is currently on top of Serie A. Ibrahimović’s experience helped the young squad adapt and improve their skills, and the wingers have greatly contributed to the goals for Milan. Tonali and Kessié serve as a good two-man pivot in midfield, improving both attack and defense. Midfielders Díaz and Saelemaekers have better creativity and advancing during attacking play. Additionally, Milan has one of the best back lines in Serie A, with transformative full backs alternating in attack, strong center backs blocking the opponents from the goal, and a young goalkeeper with strength and technical capability. I predict that the “Rossoneri” will earn a spot in the Champions League, and that if they are consistent in the upcoming months, they will surely win the league title. However, Pioli needs to rotate his squad and bring out the strongest roster in the hardest games. Many Milan fans are jubilant at the club’s revival and excited for what's to come with the new squad and manager. Once filled with legendary players, Milan might return to glory as one of the best clubs in the world.