Taking Back Europe

Milan are kicking off their return to Champions League with a four match preseason European tour that begins tomorrow in Nice, France. While rivals Juventus and Inter are still toying with Serie B sides this week, Milan will face a Ligue 1 side, Valencia in the Trofeo Naranja, Real Madrid, also in Champions League, and Greek side Panathinaikos over the next two weeks. Let Mourinho's Roma buy into Pepe's drama in their friendly with Porto, Milan are taking back Europe.

Leveling up for Europe

Obviously, these matches are just friendlies. But they are good warmups for the season, and certainly should be more challenging than the Serie B & Serie C sides we have played thus far. Milan's first destination takes us to France to face Ligue 1 side OGC Nice on Saturday. Pioli has most of his squad available now, except the recovering Ibrahimović, Kjaer and Kalulu who are expected to return soon from Euro and Olympic national team duties respectively, and Kessié, who will be playing earlier that day for his national team in the Olympic quarterfinals in Tokyo.

New players include Giroud, Maignan, and Ballo-Touré. We saw a few minutes of Ballo-Touré last week against Modena, but we may or may not see Giroud and/or Maignan make their debut in the Rossoneri jersey. Both players are making themselves known to the fans on social media, with Maignan posting a training video and Giroud interviewing himself

Ready for the challenge

Fans are getting excited to see if Pioli tries out new tactics given the changes in personnel. Certainly, some flexibility and less predictability this season would be a natural progression and may be particularly important in Europe. While the highlights of the Modena match featured some impressive goals, there is much work to be done for the other 88 or 89 minutes to be prepared to compete in Serie A, let alone the Champions League. Most of the younger players failed to impress at all against a Serie C side, and even the starters should have  been more dominant.

As for the rest of the tour, next week, Milan will travel to Spain midweek to face Valencia at home, a team we have faced a few times preseason, particularly in the Trofeo Naranja. On Sunday, August 8th, there will be a reunion with Carletto as we face Real Madrid in Klagenfurt, Austria. Brahim Diaz was recently spoke about how he and Ancelotti had had some lovely conversations about Milan before he was allowed to return on loan from the Spanish side, so that match should definitely be full of love and nostalgia. Finally, our European Tour finishes in Trieste, Italy, where we face off against Greek side Panathinaikos. 

So much history shaping future Champions

Preseason friendlies are rarely telling of anything, really, other than those matches may be the only playing time some players see before being shipped off on loan or sold. But there is a little extra magic and anticipation in the air this time. Milan are back home. We will be facing opponents who are worthy of our history. And we will see people who shaped our history, like Maldini and Ancelotti share an embrace or two as well. Most importantly, Milan are worthy of our own history again. These may be just preseason friendlies, but Milan are taking back Europe.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Unintended"

Our next match is a friendly
OGC Nice vs. AC Milan
Saturday, July 31 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)

Taking Back Europe Taking Back Europe Reviewed by Elaine on 1:03 AM Rating: 5
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