Football Features

Ageless Giroud and Titan Tomori: seven stats as AC Milan seal Serie A title with thumping Sassuolo win

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:59, 22 May 2022

AC Milan smashed Sassuolo 0-3 to win their first Serie A title in over a decade.

The Rossoneri last won the Scudetto in 2010/11 before enduring years of Juventus dominance and Inter’s title win last year. They fell from grace massively from their dominance in the 2000’s, but they have slowly been rebuilding themselves and now have reaped the rewards with a glorious 19th Serie A victory.

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Milan came into the game today knowing that a win would see them crowned champions but if they slipped up in any way, Inter Milan would be right on their tail, ready to pounce and retain their title.

And sure enough back in Milan, three goals in eight second-half minutes gave Inter a 3-0 win of their own over Sampdoria. They did what they had to do, but they needed Sassuolo to take AC Milan apart.

Not only did Sassuolo not do that, but they got blown away by the Rossoneri in a truly dominant display. A surging run down the left from Rafael Leao saw the ball squared to Olivier Giroud and a decade on from his miracle title win with Montepellier, the Frenchman was in no mood to mess about and drilled the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs.

15 minutes later, Leao was again in dominant form down the left, winning the ball back then beating his man before cutting the ball back into the middle of the box and yet again Giroud showed up to slap the ball into the net with his legendary left.

Less than five minutes after that, Rafael Leao was once again the catalyst as a driving run down the right flank this time put him in position to slide the ball back to the edge of the box where Barcelona-bound Franck Kessie arrived and thumped the ball into the back of the net.

At 0-3 the game was over. The incomparable Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the second-half, though it was ruled out for offside in the build-up. In the end it didn’t matter as Milan held out to bag the win and the Scudetto.

Stefano Pioli was delighted and rightfully so. The Italian coach has been slowly rebuilding Milan since taking over in 2019, and has done such a good job that when the club planned to replace him with Ralf Rangnick in 2020, the fans revolted and the club ended up keeping and extending the coach who respnded by guiding Milan a second place finish last season before going one better this time.

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This new-look Milan squad is a real roughneck crew wth a colourful mix of personalities all brought together by Pioli. This squad has led to some superb stats that have made up this Serie A title win:

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: the title machine

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has won 12 league titles throughout his career as a football (he’s actually won 14 but two were stripped following Calciopoli). He won the Eredivisie twice, La Liga once, Ligue 1 four times and after today it’s five separate Serie A triumphs.

There is almost no one you’d rather have on your side in a title race than Ibrahimovic. He’s a born winner and excels at raising the levels of all around him.

2. Olivier Giroud: old but gold

AC Milan have long felt that their no. 9 shirt was cursed but Olivier Giroud shattered those concerns with a superb debut season in Serie A. Despite being 35 years-old, Giroud scored 11 goals in the league, making him the oldest ever player to score double figures in his debut in Italy. Serie A has long had a reputation as being a place for veteran talent and Giroud is living up to that.

3. Mike Maignan: the clean sheet king

Last season Mike Maignan kept the most clean sheets in Ligue 1 as his Lille side won the title. He joined AC Milan in the summer and then kept the most clean sheets in Serie A as his Milan side won the title. You can’t ask for much more than that.

4. Rafael Leao: the rock of the run-in

Rafael Leao, the Portuguese hero from the run-in, has really emerged in the second-half of this season. Leao has at least one direct goal involvement in each of the last six Serie A matches, with three goals and five assists over that period. Leao, more than anyone, has carried Milan over the line and at 22 years-old is bursting with potential.

5. Franck Kessie: leaving in style

Franck Kessie is all but confirmed to be joining Barcelona on a free transfer thsi summer, and many Milanisti have felt that the Ivorian hasn’t been quite as good as possible since that move was “confirmed,” but today he signed off in style, helping seal the title with his final game.

Kessie ended the game with 51 touches and a game-high 38/40 passes completed (95% completion), 1 tackle, 1 interception and of course a simply sublime strike to make it 0-3 and seal the title.

6. Theo Hernandez: the goal-getting genius

While this isn’t really a stat from todayu, it would be a mistake to overlook Theo Hernandez, one of the most dynamic full-backs in the world. The former Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid wing-back has really found himself in Milan and scored an absolute stunner to settle things as Milan beat Atalanta in gameweek 37 to put themselves on the verge of glory. That goal was his 18th in Serie A since joining Milan, more than any other defender in that time.

7. Fikayo Tomori: the title race’s dominant defender

Fikayo Tomori. The centre-back was loaned out to AC Milan midway through last season and proved such a hit at the San Siro that the club exercised their £25m buy option to make his deal permanent.

Today Tomori was the dominant force in defence with 4 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 clearances (all team-highs). And when looking at Milan and Inter through the whole season, no defender has more tackles (73) and interceptions (45) this season while only Milan Skriniar had more than Tomori’s 77 clearances. Taking the risk and moving abroad has paid off handsomely for Tomori.