In memory of the last titles of AC Milan and Inter in Serie A
Despite a decade of domination which has seen the Serie A title become a permanent resident in Turin, the winds have apparently changed this season as both Milanese clubs appear determined to fight the title against Juventus and bring it back to Lombardy.
After a 2010s catastrophe, Milan were relaunched under Stefano Pioli after his initial appointment in October 2019, and lead the league – narrowly ahead of Inter.
An interim spell saw Pioli awarded a two-year contract after a remarkable reversal after the COVID hiatus. He has since proven to be more than just a purple stain, however; Milan have lost only once so far in the 2020/21 Serie A season and are four points ahead of rivals Crosstown at the top of the table, with Juventus battling to find a place in the top four.
Inter show no signs of giving up, however. Antonio Conte’s side came one point away from the Scudetto last season and have been impressive throughout the current campaign as well. Despite losing in the first Derby della Madonnina of the season in October, Inter are more than capable of finding four points and continue to impress with Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Achraf Hakimi all standing out.
The 2020/21 season is exactly 10 years after when a team other than Juventus last won the Scudetto, which is, frankly, rather depressing. Things are different now, however, and it makes sense to look back at when the first two last reached the top of the mountain.
Milan led for most of the season in 2010/11 and won their first Scudetto since 2004 under Massimiliano Allegri.
The Rossoneri boasted of an obscene team, with a midfielder so good that Andrea Pirlo was (probably wrongly) a rotation. Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and later Mark van Bommel – who arrived from Bayern Munich in January 2011 – stood in the middle of the park as a debut Kevin Prince Boateng tied the midfielder in a scintillating attack, consisting of Zlatan ibrahimovic and Robinho.
Alexandre Pato, who managed to impress despite starting to suffer from what would become relentless injuries, turned with this second deadly front. All three have scored 14 league goals this season, with Ibrahimovic also recording 12 assists. Milan were simply unplayable and conceded just 24 league goals on their way to the title, with Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva forging an unforgettable partnership at the back.
They also doubled the league in the Derby della Madonnina that season. The second was a 3-0 victory in April, opening a five-point gap for Inter, which was essential in sealing Milan’s 18th Serie A title.
Inter, meanwhile, have last won the league a season before.
A star team from Jose Mourinho saw the Nerazzurri become the only Italian side to complete a hat-trick consisting of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League. A strong summer transfer window saw Inter bring in Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito to bolster the attack, while Lucio was signed to play alongside Walter Samuel in defense.
After winning Serie A the previous season, there were doubts how much more Mourinho could take Inter with. Those doubts were quickly dispelled, however, as his side scored 75 league goals but also conceded only 34, the least of the division to win the Scudetto. Milito thrived as a forward, backed by Sneijder, Eto’o and Goran Pandev behind, in an incredibly well-organized and deadly pragmatic defensive team on the counter.
Milito topped the Serie A scorecard with 22 goals in 35 games, while Eto’o supported as creator with 12 goals and seven away assists.
It is unfair for Juventus fans to suggest that everything has been down since then for Italian football, but we would be lying if we said no. Competition in Italy was drastically reduced throughout the 2010s, which coincided with Juve’s rise to power, but things look different with a new decade.
Titles are by no means won in January and to write off Andrea Pirlo’s Bianconeri so soon would be naive given the star’s power in the squad.
Regardless of who emerges as Italian champions 10 years after the last non-Juventus title victory, there is no doubt that Milan, Inter and others have resurfaced as Serie A slowly emerges as the one of the best leagues in Europe.