AC Milan is on the verge of winning a historic title as the season comes to a close

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On Sunday, Europe’s most dramatic title race will come to an end at Sassuolo, with AC Milan looking to break an 11-year Scudetto drought and declare their return to the throne of Italian football.

AC Milan is on the verge of winning a historic title as the season comes to a close

Stefano Pioli’s team are two points clear of incumbent champions Inter Milan and need only a draw to win the league for the first time since 2011.

Consecutive victories over difficult opponents Lazio, Fiorentina, and Verona were followed by a 2-0 home victory over Atalanta last weekend, which ignited wild celebrations at a sold-out San Siro stadium as if the title had already been won.

Ahead of the clash against Sassuolo on Sunday, Pioli has virtually his entire squad to choose from against a team that beat Milan 3-1 earlier this season and will be cheered on by an anticipated 18,000 spectators at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia for a title celebration that will spill over into Milan.

The issue is figuring out where they’ll be able to celebrate. The famed Piazza del Duomo in Milan is where fans congregate to celebrate victories, but on Saturday night the plaza hosts a concert, with a massive stage erected that will not be completely dismantled before the completion of Sunday’s matches.

There was still no official plan from the city’s public order organizations as of Thursday afternoon for when and where to organize celebrations, as the only other possible place is the San Siro, which will host nearly 70,000 Inter fans should AC Milan lose in the final.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi believes his squad can win the title, and the 46-year-old coach has experience with last-minute drama, having beaten Juventus to the trophy as a Lazio player 22 years ago.

Inzaghi was a scorer in Lazio’s 3-0 win over Reggina, which put his team in first place while fans in the stands awaited news from Perugia.

Juve’s match had been interrupted due to a violent storm, and when it resumed more than an hour later, Alessandro Calori scored Perugia’s winner at the opening of the second half, sending Lazio fans into the streets of Rome to celebrate their second league title.

“We must win while hoping they lose. But this has occurred before, and in football, nothing is certain “Last weekend, Inzaghi stated.

The season won’t even be over after the title is determined, because while Milan and Inter fans celebrate their victories over local rivals, Salernitana and Cagliari will be fighting for survival.

Salernitana are two points ahead of Cagliari, who are just above the relegation zone, and will have to overcome Udinese to stay up after only climbing out of the bottom three for the first time this season in May.

Cagliari are bottom of the table and already relegated, but if the two teams end even on points, Cagliari will finish ahead of Salernitana courtesy of Giorgio Altare’s 99th-minute equalizer at Salerno a fortnight ago.

Because of Altare’s bullet header, the two teams have an equal head-to-head record, hence Cagliari’s superior goal difference will keep them in the league and send Salernitana down.

Rafael Leao is a player to watch.

Leao, a forward from Portugal, has emerged as one of Milan’s most crucial players this season, particularly in the closing stages.

The 22-year-old has scored or assisted a goal in each of Milan’s five consecutive victories en route to the title, and he started the scoring last week to assuage home fans’ nerves.

AC Milan is on the verge of winning a historic title as the season comes to a close

In the summer, he is expected to extend his contract with Milan, which expires in 2024, as some of Europe’s biggest teams pursue the explosive winger.

Key stats

1 – Milan need a draw from their match to secure the title after coming out on top in their derbies with Inter.

10 – The number of weeks Milan have topped the league table at the end of each matchday.

Fixtures (times GMT)

Friday

Torino v Roma (18:45)

Saturday

Genoa v Bologna (15:15), Atalanta v Empoli, Fiorentina v Juventus, Lazio v Verona (all 18:45)

Sunday

Spezia v Napoli (10 30), Inter Milan v Sampdoria, Sassuolo v AC Milan (both 16:00), Salernitana v Udinese, Venezia v Cagliari (19:00)

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