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Milan and Inter lose golden chance to make progress in Serie A title race


It’s official – Milan is (finally) winter champion!

I Rossoneri has reached halfway through the season, and with 19 games contested Stefano Pioli’s men occupy a prime spot at the top of the Serie A table, having collected 43 points – losing just twice.

It’s a significant achievement for this generation of young players, and one that statistically favors them in their quest to wear the Italian crown at the end of the season – after all, the winter champions have won the scudetto 19 times out of the league. . Last 26 seasons.

So why don’t they celebrate Saturday night?

Well, it may have something to do with the fact that Milan were beaten 3-0 at home by Atalanta, achieving their worst performance of the campaign by an absolute kilometer. I Rossoneri was outmatched in every aspect by La Dea, who equaled his host man for man, won every individual battle on the pitch and did not give in until the final whistle.

The visitors started on the front foot, got their goal, then waited their moment to pounce, repeatedly pushing back their naive opponents. For the hosts, this was not necessarily a test of reality per se, but a sign of the size of the mountain they must be prepared to climb if they are to end their drought title.

As much as it was a tired display and below par for Milan, it was mainly a mind-blowing team performance from Atalanta. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men are capable of producing as ruthless 90 minutes as this fairly consistently, and although they have struggled to find their rhythm this year, they have slid smoothly through the gears at San Siro.

Currently fourth in the standings and seven points behind the top, can we really rule Atalanta out of this epic title race? Not yet.

What will certainly have added to Milan’s tensions is the fact that rivals and closest title challengers Inter were fighting in Udine at the same time. The win for I Nerazzurri would have put them on a level playing field with the pace makers, and facing a Udinese side who have won just four times this season is as good an opportunity as any.

Fortunately for Pioli and co, their rivals let this golden ticket slip through their fingers. Inter created few meaningful shots on Udinese’s goal on Saturday, recording just four efforts on target in a frustrating display.

The swagger and fluidity of their recent victory over Juventus was gone, and those classic insecurities began to creep into their game. It was a rambling team performance, based more on the hope that a colleague would produce. a moment of magic, rather than relying on its reliable system to see them beyond the line.

And as if to embody the struggles of his team, Antonio Conte was rewarded with a red card on the sideline, bubbling and exploding among the officials. Move people, nothing to see here.

In the end, a point wasn’t a terrible result for Conte and his men, but it was a huge missed opportunity in their race to close the gap to Milan and knock Juve from their perch. In this case, the two Milanese clubs have given a lifeline to I Bianconeri, who will move seven points behind the leaders with the victory over Bologna on Sunday, while still holding a game in hand.

Lorenzo Pellegrini, Paulo Fonseca
Roma stayed in the race with victory over Spezia | Silvia Lore / Getty Images

Not to mention AS Roma in third, SSC Napoli in fifth with two games in hand and an SS Lazio side starting to hit their own pace. This title could really go to anyone this season.

For Milan and Inter, however, Saturday night was a psychological battle – and they both lost. The duo must get up and start again in the middle of the week, as they face each other in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.

Another piece of silver to win? Absolutely. But this is not the main price offered. The possibility of having one over your bitter rivals and crushing them at the same time? This is the real trophy.

No time to complain, guys. Onward and up – until Tuesday.