5 Reasons Why Juventus Should Be Wary of AC Milan
Juventus have started the season perfectly, claiming the Supercoppa and winning both Serie A games to send out a message that the Old Lady is as strong as ever.
The Bianconeri will be favourites for the title once more, but in a period where Milan appear to be unsettled and in a state of flux, the Rossoneri are a dangerous opponent.
Milan have not been talked up nearly as much as Napoli and even Fiorentina over the summer as dark horses for the Scudetto, but Massimiliano Allegri might just have what it takes to mount a surprise challenge that should make Juve wary.
The Superstar Trequartista Has Finally Arrived in Kaka
Feng Li/Getty Images
Milan finally brought in a top-class playmaker to operate in the hole behind the Rossoneri's front two.
It did not work out with Los Merengues on the pitch, with Kaka always struggling to shine in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo—the other Galactico that signed for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.
Kaka is still in excellent condition though, and while he was not utilised in his preferred role, he still delivered quality from the bench throughout his time in Madrid, it was his inability to make himself a difference maker that made his time so unsuccessful.
With just 85 league matches in four seasons and a decreased workload for the Selecao, we can expect Kaka to be a young 31-year-old.
In that role just behind the strikers, Kaka will be able to thrive, especially as he offers much more than the blistering speed that largely defined him as a player in his prime.
Carlo Ancelotti said as much in an interview with Eurosport, “(He wasn’t) at Zinedine Zidane’s level, but almost. The second-best player I’ve coached and definitely the most intelligent."
Milan have a system that appears to be a simpler way of playing compared to Juventus, especially in Italian football, which should be to their benefit.
Kaka is the final piece to be able to ensure that the 4-4-2 diamond can be a highly effective system for the Rossoneri.
Reinforcements Coming in January
Keisuke Honda has been coveted by Milan, and it was hoped that a deal could be struck to bring him to the club this summer.
With Kaka filling the much-needed void as a playmaker, Honda will now arrive on a free transfer in January, which will be a superb signing for the Rossoneri.
Technically sound and capable of playing a little deeper to accommodate himself and Kaka, Allegri will suddenly be able to demand a slicker passing game that will appease the fans, who crave beautiful football.
With more options and added competition to arrive midseason, if Milan can keep pace until January with a squad attempting to operate under new instructions, Juve could be in trouble, as Milan will certainly be better come the second half of the season.
Montolivo Can Shine in His Preferred Role Now
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Riccardo Montolivo has been under pressure since his move from Fiorentina to Milan, mainly because of the man that he was replacing, Andrea Pirlo.
While Pirlo has gone on to shine with the Bianconeri, to compare the two would be unfair, since Montolivo has not only been tasked with providing creativity from deep—a role that he particularly enjoys.
Since Milan have lacked a pure trequartista, the burden of creativity has fallen on Montolivo to perform both roles at both ends of the pitch.
This has been a strain on the player, who has also accepted a leadership role within the squad, receiving the captaincy on several occasions.
Now that Kaka has been signed, Montolivo can go back to shining in a deeper role, helping Milan to develop a passing game out from the back, which is what Pirlo has done so well at Juve.
Do not write off Montolivo breaking out this season in a similar role, the one that Milan actually hoped he would perform when he signed two years ago.
Balotelli to Inherit Best Striker in the League Tag from Cavani
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Mario Balotelli performed magnificently last season, which is more impressive now when you consider that the options for Allegri to utilise in support of the Azzurri forward were much less than they are now.
With 12 goals in 13 matches, Balotelli showed form that would put him in comparison with any forward in Europe.
After adding his first goal of the season last weekend, Balotelli will now be ready to take his game to the next level with the arrival of Kaka and a greater diversity of attacking options to partner him in Milan's attack.
With Edinson Cavani's departure from the league, Balotelli will now inherit the mantle as Serie A's best striker.
Memories of that Kaka-Shevchenko partnership have now come flooding back after the Brazilian returned to the club, and with a steady supply from deep coming Super Mario's way, the Rossoneri can have legitimate aspirations of mounting a title charge based around this potent duo.
In his last two season with the Rossoneri before his move to Madrid, Kaka made 23 assists in the league, which can easily be replicated here in this campaign.
The bulk of those assists will be directed at Balotelli, and if he can secure the capocannoniere title, the Rossoneri will be close to the scudetto too.
Deep Options in Attack
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Milan have plenty of options in the squad and now have a deep enough attack to be able to rotate during the season and maintain enough firepower to secure a title push, while also ensuring progress into the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Alessandro Matri and Giampaolo Pazzini are traditional centre-forwards who will offer great stability in a two-pronged attack.
While Robinho will be able to push Stephan El Shaarawy for a place just off Balotelli, adding fierce competition in the striking department.
With an array of options now at Allegri's disposal, we can fully expect him to carry out the instructions from above to generate a more attractive brand of football.
With such a variety of forward options, Milan will be able to mix up their approach depending on the opponent.
Forwards such as Matri and Pazzini will give Milan that penalty-area threat when sides opt to drop deep, while Robinho, El Shaarawy and even M'Baye Niang can give you added pace and trickery to hurt sides who play with a high line.
With almost all of these options proven in Serie A, Milan can now stake claim to having one of the best front lines in the league.