Milan Prepare To Party In Rome With Scudetto

AS Roma vs AC Milan
Italian Serie A
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday, 7th May 2011
18:45 GMT (20:45 CET)

AC Milan's 1-0 home win over Bologna might not have been much of a spectacle, but it had been enough to restore their eight-point lead over their city rivals, Inter at the top of Serie A. With just three games remaining, and Milan holding the head-to-head tie-breaker, the Rossoneri need just a single point to seal their first title since 2004.

"We are 99.9% there. I think now we can say yes [the title is won]. We hope to seal it on Saturday, in our match at the Olimpico against Roma," declared Milan's manager, Massimiliano Allegri. His captain, Massimo Ambrosini, concurred, saying: "We would have to be idiots now to let the Scudetto slip away". Only the vice-president Adriano Galliani took a more cautious tone. "For now we are only mathematically assured of second place," he noted.

The absence through injury and suspension, respectively, of Alexandre Pato and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, each responsible for 14 league goals so far this season, were supposed to represent the last great hope for Milan's title rivals, a crucial blow at a critical moment to the side who have been top since mid-November. Without them Robinho would be forced into an unfamiliar role as prima punta - the forward-most point of the attack - while Antonio Cassano would have to play from the start despite enduring concerns over his fitness.

Allegri has deployed the attacking options at his disposal skilfully, and not for nought are Milan the second highest scorers in Serie A this year, but his has been a victory, too, for pragmatism and defensive discipline. The manager has continued to vary his formula throughout depending on the opposition before him and players available to him and here too lies the strength of this Milan side: where others have been over-reliant on their starting XI, Allegri has been able to rotate with great success. Among the many happy side-effects of this policy has been the far greater freshness of his players down this final stretch.

However. Francesco Totti who moved past Roberto Baggio and into fifth on Serie A's all-time goalscoring charts with a brace in Roma's eventful win at Bari will have his say on the party. Anything less than a win for Roma will serve Milan with 18th league title triumph. Will the history repeat itself? The Rossoneri won their 17th Scudetto back in 2004 at the same venue, Stadio Olimpico.

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