Will 2022 be the year AC Milan end their 11-year wait for a Serie A title?

By Oliver Fisher -

It has been 11 long years for AC Milan fans since their team last won the Serie A title. During that period, Juventus won the league for nine straight seasons in a row, with Inter finally breaking their stranglehold on Serie A in 2020-21 – a victory that also took them one title ahead on Milan in terms of total titles (19 vs. 18).

For a giant of European football, 11 years is a long time. For their fans, it feels like a lifetime. However, as we hit the midway point in the 2021-22 season, there is genuine reason for optimism amongst Milan fans.

The team currently sits in second place in the table, just two points behind Inter having played a game more. A surprise defeat to lowly Spezia cost them the opportunity to regain top spot in mid-January – a game marred by controversy after a poor late refereeing decision cost Milan all three points.

With the game poised at 1-1 heading into the final minute, Milan thought they had snatched a late winner through Junior Messias when he slotted the ball home following a pass from Ante Rebic. Unfortunately, the referee, Marco Serra, had already blown for a foul on Rebic, not letting play continue despite the obvious advantage to Milan. The players were fuming and their anger was compounded when Spezia grabbed a 96th-minute winner that condemned Milan to their fourth defeat of the season.

Despite the shock defeat, Milan still find themselves in a strong position heading into the second half of the season and a potential head to head battle with city rivals Inter is one that has got fans from around the world watching on with interest.

Signs of revival

The signs of a revival have been coming for a couple of seasons now and despite losing out on the Scudetto to Inter last season, they did finish runners up but 12 points adrift of their city rivals. They did win four out of their last five games to clinch the runners up spot ahead of Atalanta, Juventus and Napoli in a closely fought end to the season.

The second-place finish in 2020-21 represented their highest league finish since the 2011-12 season and the success on the field was put down to the appointment of Stefano Pioli as their new manager in late 2019. Pioli picked up a team low on confidence, having lost four of their first seven games of the 2019-20 season. He did manage to turn things around that season, taking Milan on a 10-match unbeaten run including wins against Juventus, Lazio and Roma.

This run led to Pioli being awarded a two year contract extension and he carried on where he had left off last season, leading the team to the runners-up spot and claiming qualification to the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

Not the finished article

Milan are far from the finished article, however, all the signs of an awakening giant are there to see. A mid-season wobble saw them lose back to back games against Fiorentina and Sassuolo which put a dent in their title ambitions after going unbeaten for the first 12 games of the season.

In their first season back in the Champions League after a seven-year absence, they were drawn in a very tricky group along with Liverpool, Atletico and Porto. They managed just one win in their six matches, beating Atletico at the Estadio Metropolitano, however, they collected just four points and finished bottom of their group, failing to qualify for the Europa League and ending their season in terms of European football.

Domestically, they have secured their place in the Coppa Italia quarter-final where they will face Lazio.

If Milan hope to equal city rivals Inter’s record of 19 Scudetto titles this season, they will need more consistency as they head into the second half of the season. With no European distractions, they can turn all their attention to domestic matters and whilst they would love to win the Coppa Italia – a competition they have not won since 2003 – the Serie A title remains their primary focus.

Whilst there is optimism amongst Milan fans, especially given the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season, Inter remain firm favourites to lift their 20th Scudetto in 2022, drawing them ever-closer to Juventus (36 titles). Betway Sports has Inter at 1.25 to lift the title this season, with Milan second-favourites at 9.00 and Napoli at 10.00.

Milan fans will be hoping Pioli can take the team one step further this year, avoiding a 17th runners-up spot and claiming the Scudetto title that Milan fans so crave. Whether they can overcome the odds to pip Inter to the title remains to be seen, however, the performance of the team over the past two seasons give fans reason for optimism.

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