The defending champions AC Milan started their Serie A campaign with a win over Undines that was far from convincing. Their schedule does not get much easier with a Atalanta trip to Milan to Atlanta on Sunday, while injury-plagued Juventus visit to Sampdoria the following day.
Under Stefano Pioli, Milan have had successful starts to seasons, winning their first two games in the past two campaigns. However, Atlanta proved in their victory over Sampdoria that they have a formidable defense.
However, Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atlanta team has dropped its last three games against Milan and will be trying to avoid going four games without a victory for the first time in 26 years.
Nevertheless, Pioli acknowledged that his team is far from ready for the new campaign. He will also be unhappy about the manner his defense let two header goals against Udinese after allowing just four Milan have work cut out with trip to Atlanta all of last season when they won the title.
We were disappointed that we gave up goals so quickly, he remarked. “We need to get the games off to better starts, and we can technically do so. We need to work much harder (in defensive phases).
“The state is already excellent. We have a chance to dominate the game and feel stronger than our opponents if we run a lot and (do it) properly.”
The immediate worry for Gasperini is the offensive player Duvan Zapata’s poor performance.
The Colombian opened the previous campaign with nine goals in 12 games before faltering and scored just once in his final 13 league appearances, a streak that dates back to December.
Two of Massimiliano Allegri’s new signings, Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria, who each had a goal and an assist in Juve’s 3-0 victory over Sassuolo, are currently out with injury, Milan have work cut out with trip to Atlanta preventing them from helping Juve improve on two straight fourth-place finishes.
However, Allegri will rely on two-goal hero Dusan Vlahovic to continue torturing Sampdoria, Atalanta trip to Milan one of his favorite foes, who he has scored five goals against in four starts.
Romelu Lukaku was welcomed back to Inter this season, and the Milan have work cut out with trip to Atlanta Belgian striker needed just two minutes against Lecce to make his Serie A debut. The next opponent for Simone Inzaghi’s team is Spezia, against whom they have won six straight games.
Free-scoring Napoli plays Monza for the first time in 22 years after scoring five goals throughout the opening weekend with five different goal scorers.
However, having lost two of their previous four games against promoted opponents, manager Luciano Spalletti will be cautious.