MILAN (AP) — One thing is certain no matter what happens in Serie A this Sunday. Milan’s famous Piazza del Duomo will be overflowing with fan celebrations.
It remains to be seen whether the square in front of the iconic cathedral will be flooded with AC Milan’s red and black jerseys or Inter’s black and blue ones.
Milan need to pick up a point in their last game to end an 11-year drought for the Italian league title. They lead reigning champions Inter by two, as well as having better direct results, which is the first tiebreaker in Italy.
The Rossoneri will visit Sassuolo and, at the same time, Inter will host Sampdoria.
“We are very close,” said Rossoneri coach Stefano Pioli. “We have to maintain the same mentality, with the same preparation, with the same concentration and serenity that my players have. For me, it is the best virtue they have.”
Milan, buoyed by a five-game winning streak, succumbed in their last two matches against Sassuolo, but both at home. They have not lost at Mapei Stadium since 2016.
Although they have one of the youngest squads in Serie A, Milan have benefited from the contributions of veterans such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Olivier Giroud.
“The most surprising thing about my players is that they have shown a great level of maturity and personality,” Pioli stressed. “They should see not only the effort they put into their daily work, but the serenity with which they do it.”
“This is how we have been able to respond to the pressure of being leaders in the standings and the results that we had not predicted at the beginning of the season. But now we are in the fight,” he added. “My players have strong personalities. We need to go on like this a little longer.”
Inter also arrives stomping. The Nerazzuri have won nine of their last 10 matches, including the Coppa Italia final against Juventus — their second trophy of the campaign after also beating the Bianconeri in the Italian Super Cup.
But the only setback in that streak cost them dearly — a 2-1 loss in Bologna, in a rescheduled match.
“You have to look forward, not back,” Interista defender Alessandro Bastoni said. “We are preparing for the match against Sampdoria with the aim of winning it and waiting for the other result”.
“There is no doubt that there is some regret for the points that we missed, but it is no longer worth continuing to complain,” he added.
Inter will once again depend on striker Lautaro Martínez’s punch when trying to revalidate the scudetto. The Argentinian attacker, having broken his personal goalscoring cap in a season, scored a brace against Cagliari last weekend to take 25 for the campaign and 13 in the last 13.
“We are aware that we missed several points in games that we deserved to win,” Martinez said. “You must not lose faith. Our goal is to win our last game at home in front of our fans”.