When looking at a 2021/22 AC Milan season review, the first thing that comes up is lifting their 19th Scudetto. After over a decade of disappointment since Milan’s last Serie A title in 2011, the Rossoneri are back on top.
AC Milan Season Review: Italian Champions
A Hot Start
Milan finished second in the table last season behind city rivals Inter Milan. Although it was mildly disappointing not to lift the Scudetto that campaign, Milan finally made the Champions League again. Expectations were high, at least compared to previous standards, entering the 2021/22 season last August.
They went undefeated in their first 12 games of the league season. This included 10 wins, with points only dropped versus Inter and Juventus. Those still remain strong results, of course.
The Champions League was another story. Milan struggled mightily in a group that contained the likes of Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, and FC Porto. In the long run, however, that was okay. It was already an accomplishment to be back in Europe’s star competition, but Milan needed to focus more on domestic success to re-build the brand and passion among the team and fans.
Never Looking Back
After Milan’s hot start, the team rarely let go of first place in the league. There were times when they went through a couple of draws in a row, or a surprising loss here and there, but no other Italian teams were perfect either. Inter took hold of first place a couple of times while Napoli remained close. Milan, however, always found a way to bounce back in excellent fashion.
The most pivotal match of the Serie A season came on February 5th against Inter. Ivan Perisic opened up the scoring for Inter right before halftime. It looked like disappointment would sprout for Milan, while Inter were going to head towards a consecutive Scudetto.
This, of course, didn’t end up happening. Olivier Giroud happened.
Giroud took over the second half for the Rossoneri, scoring two goals in three minutes to ice the match. One of these goals included a brilliant spin and perfect finish that Samir Handanovic had no chance of stopping. Giroud was brought to Milan due to his veteran experience as well as his tendency to win trophies. He scored 11 goals throughout the Serie A season, but his two most important ones came in this match.
It’s also important to note that Giroud scored another crucial brace in the last matchday versus Sassuolo, a victory that won Milan the league.
Going back on the theme of never looking back, Milan had a very strong season of 26 victories, eight draws, and four losses. They weren’t high-scoring with just 69 goals in 38 matches, but the defence was impeccable. Milan had the best defence in Serie A, only conceding 31 goals.
Breakout Players and Youth
First off, Milan had a variety of veterans who played strong roles. Giroud was excellent, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Simon Kjaer (although injured halfway through the season), and Alessandro Florenzi had good bursts of play but were also leaders.
The team’s bread and butter, however, was youth.
Rafael Leao is blossoming as a star. Leao, in fact, won Serie A’s Player of the Year award. He finished the campaign with 11 goals, 10 assists, and the souls of Serie A defenders. Fikayo Tomori emerged as the team’s best defender as well as a true leader on and off the pitch. Sandro Tonali looks more and more like the next coming of an Andrea Pirlo/Gennaro Gattuso hybrid, while Theo Hernandez furthered his stance as the best fullback in Italy. Of course, there were many other starring performances from other players such as Pierre Kalulu, Ismael Bennacer, Mike Maignan (Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year), and Davide Calabria.
Milan’s starting lineup averaged an age of just over 26-years-old, making them the youngest team to win Serie A in the three-points-for-a-victory era.
Milan’s players will surely enjoy their time off this summer. They’ve earned it. Paolo Maldini and company, however, will be busy. There are plenty of rumours surrounding arrivals in all positions. One is getting increasingly close.
The team already has a very strong youth foundation, and should only be adding to it. There are departures coming as well, but Maldini looks to have planned ahead of time.
Milan are the Italian champions once again. Their goal will be to repeat this next season but to also earn success in the Champions League, a competition that they’ve won seven times.
The club as a whole may also see major changes and perhaps an influx of cash. Only time will tell. Regardless of what happens, the 2021/22 season for Milan will go down in history as one of the most important. The Italian giants are now waking up.