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Soccer

Milan braced ahead of Sunday Scudetto showdown

Milan coach Pioli believes his team have been the best side in Serie A this season, and he challenged his players to maintain that performance level ahead of Sunday’s final-day showdown at Sassuolo.

Update:
AC Milan fans wave flags inside the stadium
ALBERTO LINGRIAREUTERS

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli believes his team have been the best side in Serie A this season, and he challenged his players to maintain that performance level ahead of Sunday’s final-day showdown at Sassuolo, with the Scudetto on the line.

League leaders Milan’s task is a simple one: A draw or win at Sassuolo will be enough for Pioli’s side to secure their first league title in 11 years. Defeat would allow champions Inter Milan to retain the trophy should they beat Sampdoria.

Milan have led the way for much of the campaign, with their 15-match unbeaten league run ahead of Sunday’s final round of fixtures keeping them clear of the chasing pack, two points above Inter.

“We have been the best so far but we must be the best tomorrow as well,” Pioli told a news conference on Saturday. “We prepared for the game carefully and calmly.

AC Milan's Italian head coach Stefano Pioli
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AC Milan's Italian head coach Stefano Pioli MIGUEL MEDINAGetty

“It never matters what you did until yesterday, we have a great opportunity. We have built it and deserved it but we must make it happen.

“I see the same behaviour of the players, and they are calm, even though inside there must be so many thoughts and emotions. I usually don’t sleep much after the matches, and I hope it’s like that tomorrow.”

Pioli also said that veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has endured a frustrating campaign with injury setbacks, is keen to leave his mark on the season.

“Ibrahimovic would love to start tomorrow – like all of us,” Pioli added. “Ibrahimovic has been very important for us. He brought a mentality, quality, intelligence and personality that a young squad like ours needed. He remains a reference point. His team-mates have been equally as good in following him.

“Tomorrow a championship will close. Now there is a difference between winning and not winning.”

Inzaghi happy with Inter season ahead of title showdown

Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi said he was pleased with how his side’s season has gone even though they need rivals AC Milan to slip up on the final day of the Serie A campaign if the champions are to retain the Scudetto.

Milan need a point at Sassuolo on Sunday to be sure of their first Serie A title in 11 years, while Inter must beat Sampdoria at home to have any chance of sneaking in at the last.

COMO, ITALY - MAY 20: Head Coach Simone Inzaghi of FC Internazionale gestures and reacts during the FC Internazionale training session at the club's training ground Suning Training Center at Appiano Gentile on May 20, 2022 in Como, Italy. (Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)
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COMO, ITALY - MAY 20: Head Coach Simone Inzaghi of FC Internazionale gestures and reacts during the FC Internazionale training session at the club's training ground Suning Training Center at Appiano Gentile on May 20, 2022 in Como, Italy. (Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)Mattia Pistoia - InterGetty

Inzaghi, however, highlighted that the importance of winning the Coppa Italia and Suppercoppa to how the campaign can be judged.

“We have won two trophies, reached the round of 16 of the Champions League, and we are here to play for the Scudetto on the last day,” he told a news conference on Saturday.

“I can say that the objectives have been achieved, even in a difficult year. The team has had a great year and I am very happy. It would be extraordinary to win the Scudetto as well, but we have given everything and we know we have given satisfaction to our fans.”