Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Serie A title race: AC Milan and Inter Milan set to battle to the wire for the Scudetto with four matches left

Four matches to go until we finally discover who is going to win the Scudetto this season as AC Milan and Inter Milan head down to the wire (you can catch all the action on Paramount+). After Napoli stumbled in the last few games with a draw against Roma and losses against Fiorentina and, surprisingly, Empoli, the race is now down to the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri. Inter Milan lost their match against Bologna on Wednesday in shocking fashion after a late goalkeeping error gifted Bologna a second goal.  That match was their game in hand, which was supposed to be played last January but was postponed thanks to Covid. It might prove to be their undoing. The loss from Simone Inzaghi’s side broke a streak of four wins in a row, including high-stakes matches against Juventus and AS Roma that seemed to, if not seal the deal, at least make them clear cut favorites to win the Scudetto. But this season has proven to be completely unpredictable in Serie A and now AC Milan are clearly the ones that have a leg up. The late win against Lazio on Sunday combined with Inter’s loss gave Stefano Pioli’s side’s hopes a major boost. Though their next four games will not be easy. 

AC Milan and Inter Milan’s remaining schedule

AC Milan

dates provisional

  • Sunday, May 1: Fiorentina (h)
  • Sunday, May 8: Hellas Verona (a)
  • Sunday, May 15: Atalanta (h)
  • Sunday, May 22: Sassuo (a)

AC Milan will play this week against Fiorentina at home and the may be catching the Viola at the right time. Fiorentina had a very bad week and lost three games in a row against Juventus in the Coppa Italia’s semifinal and then against Salernitana (2-1) and Udinese (4-0). Those last two results made their Europa League dreams a bit more complicated but they are still on track if they manage points down the stretch. Manager Vincenzo Italiano will expect a reaction against AC Milan this week and for this reason it should be fun to watch for neutrals, with both teams needing points. Then Milan play against Hellas Verona away and Atalanta at home. Gasperini’s side is also in the race for a Europa League spot so will also be a difficult match for the title chasers. The last match for Pioli’s team will be against Sassuolo, one which is not an easy opponent for the big teams even if they are not fighting for a particular target this year. 

Inter Milan

dates provisional

  • Sunday, May 1: Udinese (a)
  • Friday, May 6: Empoli (h)
  • Wednesday, May 11: Juventus (Coppa Italia Final)
  • Sunday, May 15: Cagliari (a)
  • Sunday, May 22: Sampdoria (h)

Inter Milan, on the other hand, seem to have an easier month ahead, but only in theory. The Nerazzurri will face Udinese away this Sunday, the same club that’s won four game of their last six and destroyed Fiorentina away. Then Simone Inzaghi’s team will play against Empoli at home before playing the Coppa Italia’s final against Juventus on May 11 at the Stadio OIimpico in Rome. Inter Milan have a chance to win their second trophy of the season there, after beating the same Juventus last January and winning the Supercoppa Italiana. The last two games of the season will be against Cagliari away and Sampdoria at home, two teams that will likely be fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation until the end. So, not so easy for Inter Milan after all. 

Why AC Milan are now ahead, but not by much

The ebbs and flows of the season have meant that both of the teams from Milan have had stretches where they looked the most likely to take the crown. AC Milan looked strongest during the months of February and March, when Inter Milan stumbled after losing the Derby della Madonnina on February 5 and seemed to carry the psychological impact of that loss forward, leading to a string of losses and dropped points. Inter had been the best team until that game, positioning themselves comfortably ahead, but dropped points left and right after that loss, hemorrhaging their lead until the March International break. 

The time off stabilized things. Inzaghi’s side kicked back into gear after beating Juventus in the Supercoppa and won the three games after that match before the sudden shocker at Bologna. Now it’s AC Milan who are two points out ahead again and have their fate in their own hands. Even if the Nerazzurri win all the four matches left, AC Milan can win three and draw one and still be the title winners at the end of the season. Another reason why they are the frontrunners as of now is the psychological side. The Rossoneri are now the ones with all the good vibes on their side. They’ve got the lead, they’ve got the chance to win their first title since 2010/11, they’ve even got a little bit of cussion. All they have to do is not mess it up. 

The only concern might be the pressure on their shoulders. If they can manage that, they are expected to win their first Scudetto after eleven years. Of course, this season in Serie A, nothing has gone according to expectations, and with four matches remaining there’s time for one (if not two or three) more turns to the tale.

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