AC Milan showed that they could enjoy a fruitful season under Filippo Inzaghi this year as they opened their Sere A campaign with a 3-1 victory over Lazio.
The Italian giants, who endured a difficult pre-season with poor results and the loss of star striker Mario Balotelli, were rampant as goals from Keisuke Honda, Sulley Muntari and Jeremy Menez ensured Inzaghi’s reign started with the best possible result.
Debutant Diego Lopez was also sensational, producing a series of stops throughout the game and saving a stoppage-time penalty from Antonio Candreva.
Summer of uncertainty
Many were tipping Lazio to cause an upset at the San Siro given Milan’s difficult summer both on and off the field.
Having seen both Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf depart after Milan’s lacklustre campaign last term, the European giants were criticised for appointing yet another novice in Inzaghi as the latter’s successor.
Balotelli joined Liverpool a week ago to fill the void left by Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona, having failed to fire as Milan failed to register a single point in the 2014 International Champions Cup held in Miami.
Club stalwart Kaka departed for the second time in his career to the sunny shores of the MLS, whilst former prodigy Robinho was permitted to head back to Brazil with Santos in a move that ended his turbulent time in Italy.
Reasons to be positive
Yet Milan’s battering of Lazio has shown that in spite of a difficult transfer window, the Italian giants can still return to the top of the game quicker than many expect.
After finishing outside of the European places last term, Inzaghi’s chief aim will be to return them to the Champions League at the first time of asking.
Their football at times was enchanting, with Menez and Lopez enjoying a pleasant induction to life in Italy’s top flight.
Stephan El Shaarawy missed out on a large chunk of last season through injury yet dazzled on Sunday evening in a timely reminder as to how much potential and talent he boasts.
He, of all the players at Inzaghi’s disposal, could define the Italian's reign in the managerial hotseat.
Torres and Van Ginkel
Further improvement may be yielded from the arrival of Chelsea duo Fernando Torres and Marco Van Ginkel on loan.
The Spaniard will see out the remainder of his contract in Milan for two years before possibly joining on a free transfer, whilst Van Ginkel will spend a year in Italy after recovering from an injury sustained early last season.
If Torres ends his slump and returns to the classy, prolific forward of old he may be able to fire Milan to the most unlikely of Scudettos.
Van Ginkel should add steel and composure to the midfield, and could provide the service for Torres, El Shaarawy and Menez to fire.