AC Milan are 2/5 to beat Sampdoria on Sunday (17:00 GMT). Little wonder, you may think, as they finished second in Serie A last season, just four points shy of Juventus.
But over the summer they lost two of their key players: classy Brazilian defender Thiago Silva and imperious striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, both joining Paris Saint-Germain in a big money double deal.
Silva’s poise will be badly missed, with the arrival of the strong, quick, yet at times erratic Cristian Zapata doing little to replace the qualities he brought to the team. Likewise, Ibrahimovic scored 28 league goals last season – 38% of the team’s total – and Milan will therefore have to hope that new signing Giampaolo Pazzini hits the ground running. His strike rate of five in 22 starts for Inter last season hardly inspires confidence.
Bet365 betting odds on this Serie A game:
2/5 AC Milan, 7/2 Draw, 7/1 Sampdoria
Milan’s opponents on the opening day are Sampdoria, who last season secured a return to Serie A at the first attempt, albeit through the playoffs. They have made some solid signings and in coach Ciro Ferrara have a man desperate to prove himself following a failed spell at Juventus a couple of years ago.
Sampdoria will be determined to show they are deserving of their place back in the top flight. With Milan weaker than last season and with many of their more experienced players – Gattuso, Nesta, Seedorf, van Bommel – having left, the scene is set for the newly-promoted side to at least nick a point.
Betting Tip: With that in mind Sampdoria +0.5 (37/20 at Bet365) is our pick.