Stefano Pioli
Stefano Pioli. Image Credit: AFP

Milan: Stefano Pioli’s new era at crisis-club AC Milan begins on Sunday with a must-win game against lowly Lecce, as Claudio Ranieri starts his reign at basement club Sampdoria at home against former club Roma.

The top four Italian teams — Juventus, Inter Milan, Atalanta and Napoli — are all warming up for Champions League action next week.

But the focus in Serie A will be on the two new coaches, who arrived over the international break.

Pioli, 53, took over when Marco Giampaolo was sacked after just seven games, while Ranieri, 67, replaced Eusebio Di Francesco, who he also succeeded as Roma boss last March.

Former seven-time European champions AC Milan are in trouble on and off the pitch with reports this week of losses for last season hitting a record €146 million (Dh597 million).

It is hoped that Pioli, who has never won a trophy in his 16-year coaching career with clubs including Inter Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Bologna, can bring stability to the club.

“Our ambition is to fight for the Champions League,” said Pioli. Milan are 13th position, 10 points behind leaders Juventus.

Title-holders Juventus host Bologna before their Champions League home game against Lokomotiv Moscow, as second-placed Inter Milan travel to Sassuolo before they play Borussia Dortmund.