Italian giants AC Milan can secure their first Serie A title in 11 years if they beat Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday

AC Milan have their Scudetto destiny in their own hands when they travel to the Mapei Stadium to take on Sassuolo on Sunday. Securing three points from the game will guarantee Stefano Pioli the Italian crown at the expense of arch-rivals Inter Milan.

The Rossoneri hold a two-point lead over their arch-rivals with one game to go. As long as they match Inter’s result on the day, Milan will be guaranteed a 19th Serie A title. A win will, if anything, guarantee the fate of the Scudetto, rendering Inter’s match against Sampdoria irrelevant.

Pioli’s men have been in good nick of late and have held their own in several tricky games well. This has seen them hold onto the Serie A summit despite Inter’s relentless pursuit. Milan, for their part, have shown much promise this season and securing the title will be a fitting end to their campaign.

Sassuolo, for their part, have little but pride to play for. I Neroverdi are capable of turning the heat on when needed and can spring a surprise or two. They got the better of Milan by a scoreline of 3-1 in the reverse fixture at the San Siro.

There are no easy games in the Italian top flight, and Milan will do well to remember it. Missing out on the title at the 11th hour will be a very difficult pill to swallow especially given the hype built up in recent weeks. Pioli and his men have control of their one destiny and will do well to seize the initiative early on.

The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up in what is proving to be a mouthwatering Serie A finale.

Team News & Tactics

Sassuolo

Alessio Dionisi’s debut campaign with Sassuolo has been underwhelming yet he could have a decisive say in where the Scudetto ends up. After all, denying Milan three points on Sunday will instead make Inter the masters of their own destiny.

The quartet of Abdou Harroui, Jeremy Toljan, Pedro Obiang and Filippo Romagna all look set to miss out for Sassuolo. Thankfully for them, none of them can be classified as key players and Dionisi will have the resources at his disposal to field a strong lineup.

He is likely to deploy his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Andrea Consigli will start in goal behind a back four of Giorgos Kyriakopoulos, Gian Marco Ferrari, Vlad Chiriches and Mert Muldur.

Maxime Lopez and Davide Frattesi will form the double pivot for Sassuolo and will face off against the likes of Sandro Tonali and Franck Kessie. The duo that comes out on top could very well dictate how the match pans out.

How well Sassuolo’s double pivot function will determine the freedom with which Hamed Traore, Giacomo Raspadori and Domenico Berardi get forward. Berardi, in particular, is a player to watch out for and can hurt Milan should they fail to rein him in. Gianluca Scamacca will lead the attack and should cause the Milan defence a few sleepless moments.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Kyriakopoulos, Ferrari, Chiriches, Muldur; Lopez, Frattesi; Traore, Raspadori, Berardi; Scamacca

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AC Milan

The 4-2-3-1 formation has served Milan well this season and it is difficult to see Pioli change it for the title decider. The Rossoneri boss should retain his winning formula and it will be a surprise if he chooses to do so otherwise.

With a full-strength squad at his disposal, the Milan boss can have his pick of players and field his best XI. Mike Maignan will start in goal behind the back four of Theo Hernandez, Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu and Davide Calabria.

Milan are currently on a 15 game unbeaten run in Serie A and have been aided by a rather strong defensive display by their rearguard. The Rossoneri back four have proven their worth in recent weeks and will be expected to carry the momentum forward this weekend.

Sandro Tonali and Franck Kessie have been at the heart of Milan’s good form this season and will form the double pivot. The latter, in particular, will have the opportunity to leave the San Siro on a high as his contract is set to expire in the summer.

Rafael Leao has been Milan’s dynamic attacker this season and is a sure starter on the left-wing. Alexis Saelemaekers will occupy the other wing while Rade Krunic should get the nod to don the attacking midfielder’s role. Olivier Giroud has struggled to make an impact in recent weeks and could make way for the lively Ante Rebic.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Hernandez, Tomori, Kalulu, Calabria; Kessie, Tonali; Leao, Krunic, Saelemaekers; Rebic

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Key Stats

  • Winning the Serie A will take AC Milan’s tally of Scudettos to 19, drawing them level with arch-rivals Inter Milan as the Italian top flight’s second most successful club.
  • Both teams have faced off 17 times in Serie A, with Milan winning nine matches and Sassuolo coming out on top on six occasions.
  • A win on Sunday will see Sassuolo win three games in a row against AC Milan for the first time in their history. It will also see them do the double over the Rossoneri for the first time since the 2014/15 campaign.
  • Sassuolo have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 15 home games this season. This is their worst streak in top-flight history.
  • AC Milan have already picked up 83 points this season, their highest ever tally since the three-point for a win era.

Player to Watch

Domenico Berardi

Berardi on Liverpool's radar (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Milan’s bane. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

The Italian international has something in for AC Milan and has tormented them unlike any other opposition in Serie A. Berardi has found the back of the net against Milan ten times, more than any other opposition so far.

He has also been involved in one or more goal contributions in his last three league games against Milan. Pioli’s men have been resolute at the back and they will be put to the test against Berardi on Sunday. Shackling the 27-year-old will make life easier for the Milan midfield that can then play the ball forward.  If there is one player who can rain on Milan’s parade on Sunday, it is Berardi. Milan will ignore him at their own risk.

Prediction

Sassuolo 1-2 AC Milan

Sassuolo are well capable of giving Milan a scare and will do just that. Pioli’s men have, however, shown in recent weeks that they have the bottle and mental fortitude to overcome adversity and deliver the required result.

Having built up to this moment all season, the onus is on Milan to turn up one last time and seal the deal in the Serie A title charge. The Rossoneri have better quality players who are also in a good nick of form. While it will not be easy, they will be expected to dig deep and get the job done.

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