AC Milan players celebrate their 2-0 win over Atalanta in the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Atalanta Bergamo at the San Siro stadium in Milan on May 15, 2022. AFP
Whether the square in front of the iconic cathedral is a sea of red-and-black AC Milan shirts or swarming with the blue-and-black of Inter Milan remains to be seen..
Milan needs only one point in its final match to end an 11-year wait for the Serie A title. It has a two-point lead at the top of the standings over defending champion Inter and also has the better head-to-head record, which is the first tiebreaker in Italy.
Milan heads to Sassuolo in the final round of matches while Inter hosts Sampdoria at the same time.
``We're really close,'' Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. ``We need to keep going with the same mentality, with the same preparation, with the same concentration and serenity that my players have, which I think is their best trait.''
Milan, which has won its last five league matches, lost its past two games against Sassuolo but both were at home. The team hasn't lost at the Mapei Stadium since 2016.
Milan has one of the youngest squads in Serie A, but the players have been aided by veterans such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud.
``The surprising thing about my players is that they are showing a level of maturity and awareness,`` Pioli said. ``You should see not only how hard they work but the serenity they have while doing so.
``So we are overcoming the pressure which comes from the standings and the results that we didn't expect at the beginning of the season but we're fighting for now. My players are really strong. We need to keep this up for just a little bit longer.''
Inter is also on an impressive recent run of results. The team has won nine of its last 10 matches, including the Italian Cup final against Juventus _ its second trophy of the season after also beating the Bianconeri in the Italian Super Cup.
But it is the one other match in that streak that cost the club dearly _ the 2-1 loss at Bologna in their rescheduled game.
``We need to look forward, not backward,'' Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni said. ``We're preparing for the Sampdoria game with the aim of winning it and we'll then see how other results have gone.
``There's no doubt that there's a lingering sense of regret for the points we've dropped along the way, but there's no point in dwelling on it.''
Inter will again rely on forward Lautaro Martinez to propel its title push. The Argentina international, who had already broken his personal record for the season, scored two against Cagliari last weekend to take his tally to 25 for the campaign and 13 in his past 13 matches.
``We're aware that we've dropped some points in games we deserved to win,'' Martinez said. ``We'll keep on believing. Our aim is to win our last home game in front of our fans.``
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