Simone Inzaghi congratulated Milan on their "extraordinary" Scudetto triumph but vowed Inter will come back stronger next season.

Inter beat Sampdoria 3-0 in their final game of the 2021-22 season on Sunday, though it was not enough to stop fierce rivals Milan from claiming a first Serie A crown since 2011.

The Rossoneri had to lose if Inter were to pip them to top spot, but they showed no signs of final day nerves in a comfortable 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

It is only the second time in seven such instances in the three-points-per-win era that Inter have missed out on top spot despite registering 80 points or more.

Their final tally of 84 points were two fewer than Milan managed, with Stefano Pioli's men winning their final five games and going 15 without defeat to conclude the campaign.

While proud of his own side's form in the second half of the season, Inzaghi was quick to praise Milan for seeing out the job.

"Congratulations must go to them because they had an extraordinary season," he told DAZN. "Congratulations to them for managing 86 points.

"Over the last 30 points on offer, we managed three points more than Milan. I am proud of what we have done.

"In February we had a double-header with Liverpool in the Champions League and that had an impact [on our league form].

"Now, in the next few days, we will analyse where we could have claimed the extra victory that would have turned the season from beautiful to extraordinary."

Inzaghi may have fallen just short of retaining the title Inter won last season, but the ex-Lazio head coach won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in his first year in charge.

He is the third manager in Inter's history to win at least 25 matches in his maiden Serie A campaign, after Aldo Olivieri (1950-51) and Jose Mourinho (2008-09).

Reflecting on the campaign as a whole, Inzaghi said: "It has been a challenging journey. But we lifted two trophies and only lost to Liverpool and Real Madrid in Europe.

"Nobody likes being second, but this season will be hard to forget."

Milan and Inter have finished in the top-two spots in successive seasons for the first time ever and will be much fancied to battle it out for the Scudetto again next time around.

After losing a number of key men ahead of this season, Inzaghi is hoping for a positive transfer window to help Inter bounce back in the 2022-23 campaign.

"I'll meet with [chairman Steven] Zhang with a cool head and we'll discuss the future," he said. "We have to do things well because we have fans who deserve to be brought joy.

"[Romelu] Lukaku, [Achraf] Hakimi and [Christian] Eriksen were big losses. We've worked hard to stay competitive and the hope is we can make our squad more competitive."

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

Milan have been crowned as Serie A champions for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign after beating Sassuolo.

Stefano Pioli's men went into the final day of the season knowing they simply needed to avoid defeat to clinch their first Scudetto in over a decade.

The Rossoneri had established a two-point lead over rivals Inter – against whom they also held a head-to-head advantage – at the Serie A summit. 

And they made sure of their success with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Franck Kessie.

Milan travelled to Sassuolo having made light of a challenging run-in, winning five consecutive games to tee up their historic triumph, as they matched the Nerazzurri's tally of 19 Italian top-flight titles. Only Juventus (36) have more than the two Milanese giants. 

While Inter avoided handing the title to the Rossoneri following a hard-fought 3-1 win over Cagliari last weekend, their result against Sampdoria on the final day was ultimately immaterial as Milan made their advantage count at the end of an absorbing title race.

The Rossoneri's last title triumph came under the tutelage of Massimiliano Allegri some 11 seasons ago, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato, and Robinho each scoring 14 Serie A goals apiece as Milan finished six points clear of Inter.

Pioli's men have been able to rely on a fantastic defensive record to get them over the line, conceding just eight league goals since the turn of the year.

Indeed, 11 of Milan's 17 Serie A clean sheets this season have come in 2022, and last week's crucial 2-0 win over Atalanta marked the first time they had kept five consecutive home clean sheets in Serie A since a run of six under Carlo Ancelotti in 2002.

The Rossoneri's title win also marks the first major trophy of Pioli's coaching career, and the club's first trophy win since the 2016 Supercoppa Italiana.

Milan are top dogs in Italy for the first time in 11 years after holding off fierce rivals Inter to finish top of Serie A.

The Rossoneri finished the season with six wins in a row, and no defeat in 16, culminating in a 3-0 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday.

After falling just short in Stefano Pioli's first campaign at the helm when finishing second, Milan can finally celebrate a first Scudetto since 2010-11.

While it may only have been a little over a decade since Milan last reigned, a lot has changed both in a sporting and non-sporting sense.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how the world looked around the time of the club's most recent triumph in 2011.

 

First of many for Djokovic, McIlroy makes his mark

Novak Djokovic is favourite to win Wimbledon for a seventh time next month, though he was yet to claim his first crown at SW19 when Milan last lifted the Scudetto.

The Serbian went on to add the US Open to the Australian Open he also won that year, overtaking Rafael Nadal to become world number one in the process.

Tiger Woods was the highest-earning sportsman that year – some things never change – yet it was Rory McIlroy's name on everyone's lips after taking the world of golf by storm.

McIlroy carded a 69 in the final round to break the US Open scoring record with a 268 as he became the youngest winner of the tournament since Bobby Jones in 1923.

A number of major sporting events took place that year, with New Zealand beating France in the Rugby World Cup final and Japan triumphing in the women's football equivalent.

India saw off Sri Lanka to celebrate Cricket World Cup success on home soil, meanwhile, and Netherlands beat Cuba in the Baseball World Cup.

Deposed leaders fall

In the world of politics, hundreds were killed and thousands more injured during violent clashes in Egypt to protest against government corruption and poverty.

Fidel Castro resigned as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba after serving in the party for 45 years. He died in 2016 at the age of 90.

A 10-year search for Osama bin Laden came to an end when the al-Qaeda founder was killed by special forces in Pakistan.

Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed during the civil war, leading to widespread ramifications.

A year of world-shifting events culminated in the United States withdrawing its last troops from Iraq, eight years after the war had begun.


Winter is (almost) coming

Television has come a long way over the past decade, not least in terms of the countless streaming services and wide array of boxsets to appease anyone and everyone.

Back when Massimo Ambrosini lifted the Scudetto in 2011, arguably the most popular series of all time, Game of Thrones, was still midway through airing its first season.

Suits, Homeland and The Killing also premiered that year, while over in Italy, 48-year-old painter Fabrizio Vendramin (us neither) won the second season of Italia's Got Talent.

Beyond painters, erm, painting to an audience of millions, the big TV talking point that year was Charlie Sheen being fired from Two and a Half Men for "self-destructive conduct".

Relight My Fire

The importance of certain technology, not least smartphones, has only grown in the past 11 years.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, played a huge part in that up until his untimely death at the age of 56 in October 2011 after battling pancreatic cancer.

One of the standout product launches of the year was Amazon's Kindle Fire, which undoubtedly helped chairman Jeff Bezos on his way to becoming the world's richest man.

Whether Milan's current crop can stand the test of time, unlike the Kindle, remains to be seen.

For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

 

 

His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

 

Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

Inter's reign as Serie A champions came to an end on Sunday despite rounding off their campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over Sampdoria at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri needed to beat Sampdoria on the final day and hope Milan lost against Sassuolo if they were to pip their fierce rivals to top spot.

Inter completed their half of the bargain thanks to a couple of goals for Joaquin Correa after Ivan Perisic had opened the scoring early in the second half.

But it did not matter as Milan were three goals up at half-time against Sassuolo and protected that advantage for a 3-0 win, meaning they – and not Inter – were crowned champions of Italy.

 

At least three goals had been scored in the previous six league meetings between Inter and Sampdoria, but neither side could find a way through in a relatively low-key first half.

Lautaro Martinez grazed the outside of the post with a header and was thwarted by Emil Audero from the best of Inter's opportunities.

The Inter striker was denied again by Audero after the restart, although Simone Inzaghi's side soon found their groove.

In what could be his final game for the club ahead of his contract expiring next month, Perisic picked out the far corner four minutes into the second half to give his side lift-off.

Correa swept in a first-time finish to double Inter's lead, and the Argentina international added another on the turn two minutes later to completely kill off the contest.

Perisic was carried off on a stretcher after sustaining an injury in the build-up to that third goal, which proved to be the last of the meaningful action on the day Inter's spell as top dogs in Italy officially came to an end.

Olivier Giroud scored twice as magnificent Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Serie A title with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo.

Milan only needed a point at the Mapei Stadium on the final day of the season to dethrone city rivals Inter and they made it mission accomplished in style.

There were no sign of nerves from the rampant Rossoneri as the outstanding Rafael Leao set Giroud up for a double and also laid on the third goal for Franck Kessie in a totally one-sided first half.

Stefano Piolo's side eased to victory in a party atmosphere in Reggio Emilia on Sunday, finishing two points clear of Inter to finally claim the Scudetto once again.


Milan swarmed all over Sassuolo from the start, Giroud forcing a save from Andrea Consigli with a bullet header before Fikayo Tomori had an effort cleared off the line.

The Rossoneri were totally dominant and a huge contingent of away fans erupted in the 17th minute when Leao robbed Kaan Ayhan on the halfway line and burst down the left before picking out Giroud, who put the ball between Consigli's legs.

Leao was also the architect for the second goal just after the half-hour mark, dispossessing Gian Marco Ferrari and pulling back from the byline for Giroud to sweep home.

Sassuolo were unable to live with Leao and he surged down the right before laying into the path of the onrushing Kessie, who fired home brilliantly with his left foot nine minutes before half-time.

Milan were in complete control and there was party atmosphere as their supporters were spared final-day tension following a dream first half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a great reception when he replaced Giroud 18 minutes from the end of what might be his last game for Milan and the striker had a goal ruled out for offside against Leao.

Hamed Traore rattled the post late on and that was as close as Sassuolo came to a consolation as Pioli celebrated with his players and staff on the touchline before the final whistle was blown.

The inevitable at Camp Nou has arrived along with the end of the season in LaLiga.

Xavi's rebuild and transformation of the Barcelona has lingered over this past season, despite the need to recover from their slow start.

According to reports, the Blaugrana are not wasting any time.

TOP STORY – XAVI CLEAR-OUT TO BEGIN AT BARCELONA   

Xavi has informed a number of Barcelona's players that the club is intending to sell them, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Riqui Puig, Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza and Martin Braithwaite have already been notified they are not in the club's future plans.

The four of them have been peripheral figures under Xavi, since he took over as head coach in November, but he had avoided contract talk with the press during the season.

While the 42-year-old has confirmed he has spoken to those four players "and others", it appears to be only the start of a sizeable squad transformation.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, the Barca boss has confirmed they are in talks to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Goal reports.

– Napoli have rejected a €90million (£76m) bid from Arsenal for Victor Osimhen, according to Calciomercato.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a final offer for Paul Pogba, but Juventus are confident their offer of a €14.2m yearly salary will be sufficient.

– The Daily Mail is also reporting that Inter want Ivan Perisic to agree to a new contract amid interest from Tottenham and Chelsea.

Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus will look to bring more experienced players into the squad ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

Juve's disappointing season ended with a whimper on Saturday as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi.

Alfred Duncan opening the scoring for a Fiorentina side who were far and away the superior team, before a late penalty from Nicolas Gonzalez finished the Bianconeri off.

It was the first time Fiorentina have won a Serie A home clash against Juventus since January 2017.

The game marked the end of Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi's Juve careers, and Allegri acknowledged that the club, who have been linked with free transfer moves for Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria, will need to replace their experience.

"I am happy because we have unity of purpose," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We have many players, several will have to leave. Chiellini has stopped, Bernardeschi and Dybala are at the end of their contracts.

"Then there is the transfer market, but everything must be done calmly and clearly. The team must be arranged calmly.

"In the 11 there are already young people, we have five. [Dusan] Vlahovic, [Manuel] Locatelli, [Matthijs] De Ligt, [Federico] Chiesa, and then [Fabio] Miretti is playing well.

"The team grows, it is normal that a mix is ​​needed within the team otherwise with all young people it is more difficult to win.

"Experience is needed. We will need balance in the team."

Juve ended the Serie A season with eight fewer points than they did under the leadership of Andrea Pirlo in his maiden campaign, yet Allegri believes that is not a true representation of what he has achieved since he returned to the club.

"There is a psychological aspect because we had to chase from the start and knew once we lost to Inter and had secured fourth place, the results after that didn't entirely reflect the team and are somewhat false," he added.

"After that push to get back, once the motivation was lacking, we lost intensity.

"We also know that we need to score more goals, play with more intensity, we have to keep the good things from this season and improve those that didn't work as well."

Juventus suffered one final indignation in a disappointing season as Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala ended their Bianconeri careers with a 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina.

Although Juventus have finished fourth in Serie A, this has not been a campaign to remember and this was one more slog, with Alfred Duncan opening the scoring for a Fiorentina side who were far and away the superior team.

The hosts had more to play for, admittedly, with this win securing a place in next season's Europa Conference League.

But for Massimiliano Allegri and his Juventus team, 90 minutes of mediocrity was a dismal to finish, particularly with the long service of Chiellini and Dybala coming to an end at the Artemio Franchi. A late penalty from Nicolas Gonzalez finished them off.

Fiorentina snatched the lead in first-half stoppage time when Juve failed to clear their lines from a ball hoisted hopefully into the box by Sofyan Amrabat

Giacomo Bonaventura prodded the ball away from a cluster of defenders, and Duncan lashed in from 12 yards for his second goal of the season.

Veteran defender Chiellini, having taken a blow to the face that saw blood pour from just above his left eye, was substituted at the break, replaced by Daniele Rugani. It was hardly how he would have wanted to bow out.

Fiorentina had 71.5 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes as the Bianconeri turned in a drab display.

Gonzalez then sent two shots just over the Juventus crossbar as Fiorentina pushed for a second goal early in the second half, while Bonaventura was denied a penalty after going down under a challenge from Adrien Rabiot.

Substitute goalkeeper Carlo Pinsoglio, who played the entire second half, kept Juventus in the game with a double save in the 78th minute from Krzysztof Piatek's header and Bonaventura's shot from the rebound. In keeping with the rest of the game, they showed little sign of taking advantage of the lifeline.

When Leonardo Bonucci tripped Lucas Torreira in stoppage time it was an obvious penalty, and Gonzalez made no mistake, finding the bottom-right corner.

Simone Inzaghi insists Inter's season will be defined as a success even if they fail to win the Scudetto.

Inzaghi's side head into the final matchday of the Serie A campaign two points behind leaders and fierce rivals Milan, who require just a point at Sassuolo to win the title due to a superior head-to-head record.

Inter host Sampdoria, who have won just one of their last 19 league visits to the Nerazzurri, knowing the Serie A title is out of their hands as they rely on Stefano Pioli's Milan faltering on Sunday.

Regardless of the title outcome, Inzaghi views the season as a success after winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, while making the Champions League last 16, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"We have won two cups, expressed ourselves well, returned to the Champions League last 16 and are fighting for the title on the final day of the season," Inzaghi said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"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."

Inter sit on 81 points heading into the final day, and 80-plus points have been enough for the Nerazzurri to win the title on five of the previous six occasions they have passed that mark.

However, should Milan avoid defeat at Sassuolo, the 2021-22 campaign will follow suit with the 2019-20 term when Inter finished second behind Juventus, despite collecting 82 points.

Inzaghi will be bitterly disappointed should Inter miss out to neighbours Milan, but he does not expect to come under criticism for failing to defend the title that Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri won last season.

"I have an excellent relationship with Antonio, there is mutual respect," he said of Conte. "Comparisons are normal, but I have never given those any weight.

"The club has always been with me from day one. It will have been a satisfactory year for our work anyway.

"The coaches are always under scepticism, we knew how things were and the demands of the club. Along the way we realised that we have gone beyond expectations."

Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic has hinted at a move away when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Asked about a renewal after the Coppa Italia win, Perisic told Mediaset: "I don't know, but with the important players [the club] doesn't wait until the last moment."

But Inzaghi assured there will be discussions with the Croatia international, who he feels is a special player.

"I think he went further; until you train a player you can't realise," Inzaghi said when asked if Perisic has lived up to expectations.

"Perisic has always been special to watch. He has had an extraordinary season – I think he has outdone himself.

"There will be a meeting with the club. I hope there will be progress. He is an important player for Inter. There is a great, open relationship and we will take stock of everything."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is eager to play an important role when Milan look to clinch the Serie A title at Sassuolo on Sunday. 

Victory at the Mapei Stadium will see the Rossoneri win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010-11, which was during Ibrahimovic's first stint with the club. 

The Swede returned in January 2020 and in 72 appearances in all competitions has scored 35 goals – nine more than any of his team-mates in the same time frame – at a rate of one every 129 minutes. 

Ibrahimovic, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, has also contributed 11 assists for a total of 46 goal involvements. Rafael Leao is second on 42 for Milan but has played 28 games more. 

Although only 11 of the 40-year-old's Serie A appearances this season have come as part of the starting line-up, head coach Stefano Pioli believes he has been crucial to Milan's title challenge behind the scenes. 

Asked if Ibrahimovic was keen to play an important role against Sassuolo, Pioli replied: "A lot, like all of us. 

"We are experiencing an important moment. The season will finish tomorrow. There's a difference between winning and losing, and everyone must think they can be decisive. 

"Zlatan has brought a strong mentality and quality. He has more football intelligence than anyone else. He has been a reference point and has been instrumental in the growth of the team, which have been good at following his lead. They have become stronger players with him." 

Sassuolo have won each of the past two Serie A meetings between the teams but Milan are on a run of five straight away league wins against the Neroverdi. 

"Today, in my opinion, we deserve to be first. We've been the best team but also need to be [against Sassuolo]," said Pioli. 

"It's a difficult game. Nobody has given us anything this season and tomorrow will be the same. I just think about preparing as best as possible, knowing that we have reached this point with solid foundations. 

"Sassuolo can surprise you. It will be a complicated match tactically and physically, but we know how to fight and suffer." 

Title races are the best, aren't they?

Months of games, so many ups and downs, goals scored and conceded, and yet it can all still come down to the finest margins in the closing minutes of the last day.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the winner is showered with praise; the loser is taunted and booed until my throat is sore.

With one matchday left, the title races in both Serie A and the Premier League are going to the final 90 minutes. Milan and Manchester City have their destinies in their own hands, but Inter and Liverpool are looking to respectively pounce on any stumble.

There is the potential for exceptional drama in Italy and England, but can the Nerazzurri and the Reds have much hope of pulling off the improbable and wrestling the respective title from their rivals?

Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the more dramatic title races from recent history that show anything is possible.

Every goal matters

The Eredivisie provided about as tense a finish as you could imagine in 2006-07, with PSV Eindhoven and Ajax unsurprisingly the main characters.

A strong title defence from Ronald Koeman's PSV began with 18 wins from 21 games, and just one defeat.

However, losing four and drawing four of their next 12 games coupled with Ajax winning five of six leading into the final day meant they were neck and neck on points heading into the last game.

Despite being behind on goal difference, a tremendous effort from PSV saw them pip their rivals after an emphatic 5-1 win over Vitesse, while Ajax could only muster a 2-0 victory over Willem II, losing the title by a single goal.

When goals made no difference in LaLiga

In the same season, Real Madrid made a disappointing start in LaLiga, drawing their first game 0-0 with Villarreal at home before going on to lose seven of their first 21 league matches.

After drawing four games in a row between mid-February and mid-March, title hopes seemed to be over for Fabio Capello's men, only for nine wins in 11 games to send them into the final day level on points with Barcelona.

Barca thrashed Gimnastic 5-1 away from home to do their bit, but Madrid eased to a 3-1 win against Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Blaugrana had a significantly better goal difference of +45 compared to Madrid's +26, but that mattered not as the tie-breaker came down to head-to-head record, which was in Los Blancos' favour having beaten Barca 2-0 at home and drawn 3-3 at Camp Nou.

"Agueroooooo!"

Following Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, the club had grown year-on-year and by the 2011-12 season, felt they were ready to mount a challenge at the top of the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini's side started well enough, winning 11 of their first 12 games, but three defeats across December and January dented hopes, while two losses and two draws in a five-game period in March and April all but killed them.

That was until five wins in a row coincided with Manchester United losing to Wigan Athletic and dramatically drawing 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford.

City beating United on matchday 36 swung things in the Sky Blues' favour, and they went into the last day needing only a win against lowly QPR to seal it.

In typical fashion, they made it hard work for themselves, finding themselves 2-1 down heading towards the 90th minute. United had won 1-0 at Sunderland, which meant City needed two goals or they would have lost the title in agonising fashion.

An Edin Dzeko header made it 2-2, before Mario Balotelli slid in Sergio Aguero for one of the most famous goals in English football history, giving City their first top-flight title since 1969.

 

The ultimate last day head-to-head

It was like something out of a Hollywood film. All the previous nine LaLiga titles had been won by Clasico giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in 2013-14, Atletico Madrid believed they could spoil the party.

Barca were the pacesetters, winning 13 of their first 14 games, while Real Madrid were struggling after losing to both Atletico and Barca.

Diego Simeone led his team to an incredible 16 wins from their first 18 games, but a 0-0 draw with Barca made it look like it would be the tightest of run-ins.

Indeed it was, with Real coming back to the party after an 18-match unbeaten run, though back-to-back defeats to Barca and Sevilla stopped them in their tracks.

Gerardo Martino's Barca were wobbling too, losing three out of seven games between February and March, and then drawing with Getafe and Elche to give Atletico their chance on the final day.

As if it could not have been more dramatic, Atletico went into the last game three points clear, but needing a point to clinch the title, away at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Blaugrana, but Diego Godin's header handed the crown to Atletico.

When six were not on the beach

You may not be as familiar with this final day, but it stands as one of the most remarkable in the history of the game.

Never mind two or three, there were six clubs that could still claim the Ligue 2 title going into the final round of matches in 2016-17.

Strasbourg, Amiens, Troyes, Lens, Brest and Nimes all in with a shout with one game remaining, all separated by three points at most.

Technically, the drama was not really with the winner of the title, but the other automatic promotion spot that was up for grabs, with Strasbourg able to hold on to top spot following a nervy 2-1 win against Bourg-Peronnas, but it was a 96th-minute strike from Emmanuel Bourgaud sealing a 2-1 win at Stade Reims for Amiens that provided unbelievable drama, taking the aptly named Unicorns from sixth to second.

I did not think I would be advising Inter and Liverpool to go into their games with an "Amiens mindset", but there we are.

Tammy Abraham capped a memorable first season in Serie A with a slice of history as Roma defeated Torino 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday. 

A first-half double saw Abraham become the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the Italian top flight, surpassing the previous mark of 16 set by Gerald Hitchens at Inter in 1961-62. 

The only Roma player to score more than the England international's haul of 17 in a debut Serie A season with the club was Rodolfo Volk, who registered 21 in the 1929-30 campaign. 

Abraham has also found the back of the net nine times in 13 appearances in the Europa Conference League this season and is hopeful of capping a memorable campaign with a victory in the final against Feyenoord on Wednesday. 

"I would have loved to get three, to score a hat-trick for my team, but the most important thing is we won," he told DAZN. 

"I fell in love with this club on the first day and I'm always going to help the team as much as possible with my goals and assists. It's been a good year for me. I'd like to build on it and hopefully we can finish with a trophy and this will be the perfect year." 

Asked if he will stay at Roma, Abraham replied: "I love this club. They've given me the opportunity to show myself and my heart is here. We'll see what the future holds but my heart is here." 

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