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The title run-in: where are we now?

After a monumental derby win which not only shattered Inter's title ambitions but apparently their confidence in their coach and in themselves, Milan find themselves five points clear of the city rivals and the rossoneri have one hand on the scudetto...right? Wrong. There's still a team called Napoli only 3 points behind Milan. In other words, two slip-ups could see Milan loosen their grip on the title. Leonardo's Inter aren't playing like contenders but if Eto'o finds his form and Leonardo's 4-2-WHAT formation starts winning games 3-2 again they might just be able to exploit any Milan mistakes (however unlikely such an Inter resurgence seems at this point). So let's take a look at some of the crucial fixtures that await the three teams in the remaining 7 weeks.


Milan's last week away game at Udine has an ominous look about it and it makes me uncomfortable just looking at it. In the 6 games before that, Milan absolutely has to make sure they are at least 3 points ahead of any competition before the team travels to Udine. In other words, we need to win the title before that fixture. The last thing we need is a must-win away game against the trickiest counter-attacking team in the league that might also need 3 points on that day for their European aspirations. Napoli plays Juve but the Old Lady can't be relied upon to stop them and Inter will be hosting Catania who in all likelihood will have nothing to play for.

One of the toughest challenges that awaits Milan is only 4 days away however, as Milan travel to Firenza. Napoli and Inter play two very winnable games on the same weekend, and a Milan slip-up would swiftly turn the table into a horror show, as Napoli could level with us and Inter come within 2 points. Speaking of leveling, convincing wins against both Napoli and Inter make sure that, if two teams end up with the same number of point at the end of the season, Milan will be the ones lifting the trophy.

Enough with the grim speculations. Most things still work in Milan's favor. Leonardo's Inter is laughable and will almost certainly fail to win at least 2 games until the end. Napoli's fixture list is no easier than Milan's, with the home game against Udinese, an away game against Palermo and an away game against Juve as big obstacles. And then there's...Week 37. Or, as I like to call it, Milan's week. This is when the scudetto needs to be won if it's not already in our hands! Milan host Cagliari as Napoli and Inter have what could be a second place showdown in Naples and, depending on the score, at least one competitor will be fully out of the race.

There are other things working in Milan's favor. Milan certainly play the best football on the peninsula at the moment and their title run will receive a huge boost with the return of Mr. Title and Signor Sleepy.

I fully expect Zlatan to be as hungry as he can be when he makes his comeback and should be enough to make sure Milan don't slip up against teams like Bologna and Brescia that should park the bus from minute one. Pirlo on the other hand will be crucial in allowing Milan to dominate possession against the likes of Roma and Fiorentina. I am deliberately leaving the game against Udinese out of these calculations because, once again, I don't want to think about what that game could turn into if the title isn't safely in our hands before it kicks off.

All in all, Milan is close to the first scudetto since 2004 but it will take a good amount of effort to make sure we don't foolishly let it slip out of our hands at the last moment. A win against Fiorentina would go a long way in keeping Napoli at a safe distance. Stay tuned for the preview on Friday and enjoy reminiscing about the derby triumph until then!