Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Final Whistle

It all comes down to this final match. 90 minutes of football in which anything can happen. Milan have been through everything this season, averaging 7.8 players out per match for over half the season, being on the wrong end of a number of egregious referee errors and suspensions, and more. Yet here they are, needing only a single point or even just our head-to-head record above Inter to lift their first Scudetto trophy in 11 years. Of course, they face Sassuolo, who have been a bit of a Kryptonite team for them, at least at the San Siro. But this match is away, at the Mapei Stadium, where Milan have won their last five matches against the Neroverdi. Could it possibly happen? The biggest question will be asked of the man of the middle, the answer at the final whistle.

Will he do his job correctly? Or will he have the final say in Milan's Scudetto hopes?

Sassuolo come into this match in 10th place, and while their position on the table could change a spot or two, they have nothing to gain and nothing to lose from this match other than taking away our Scudetto. They beat us 3-1 at the San Siro in November, and will not be doing us any favors, because Magnanelli, their captain, is retiring, and this is his last match for them. So although Milan fans have reportedly purchased 18,000 of the 21,000 seats at the Mapei, Sassuolo will want to give him a proper sending off in front of their "home" crowd. 

Sassuolo come into this match riding a 3-1 victory over Bologna last weekend. For that match, Dionisi lined up Consigli; Müldür, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogério; Frattesi, Mattheus Henrique; Berardi, Raspadori, Traore; and Scamacca. He has recovered Maxime Lopez, but will be missing Toljan, Obiang, and Romagna to injury, with Harroui in doubt due to fitness as of this writing. Dionisi will not be speaking at the prematch press conference, giving the retiring captain, Magnanelli, that honor, but Dionisi did comment on the match this week.

Just keep Berardi from scoring on us for once. Please.

Milan are unbeaten in 15 matches, with eight clean sheets in their last 10 matches. Pioli will have the headache of giving players playing time without sacrificing any quality or harmony in the most important match of the season, which could see him lift his first major trophy to finally get his mother off of his back (although I am certain that is not what he is thinking about.) The only player he will not have available is Kjaer, who will likely be there in Viking spirit and perhaps appearance. For some players who are out of contract, this could also be their final Milan match. Everyone has question marks about Ibrahimović, and winning the Scudetto may actually serve to answer some of those questions, as he could retire with a trophy, like he has said he would like to. 

This man is ready to lift at least one more trophy.

The team have received support from all over, including winners like Tennis star and Milan fan Jannik Sinner, who wrote "Forza Milan" on a camera lens after beating Inter fan Fognini at the Internazionali d'Italia tournament in Rome last week. More support came on Wednesday from former Milan player and newly crowned Europa League winner Jens Petter Hauge, who is waiting for Sunday, "When Milan win the title, my season will be complete."

Will the match be decided on the pitch, between the two teams, though? Or will Doveri, the one with the whistle, or Aureliano, the man in the VAR booth in Lissone decide it? This season has seen too many shamelessly bad calls, with neutrals everywhere noticing the blatantly obvious beneficiaries of goodwill from the referees, Inter, who still have not had a single red card in a match all season. Meanwhile, the consumer protection agency, Codacons, of their own accord, filed a complaint with the FIGC, asking for the Milan-Spezia and Spezia-Lazio matches to actually be replayed because the officiating was so damaging to the results, the season, and the consumers who were affected by them. 

No one deserves a trophy more than Pioli.

Win, draw, or lose, I will be okay with the result if it is decided between the two teams in a sporting way, with fair referee calls. Obviously, after everything Milan has been through, watching them play so consistently throughout the season, and being so consistently overlooked, I would love nothing more than to see them lift one of the two trophies prepared for whomever wins the season at 18:00 CEST on Sunday. What I will never be able to forgive is if the trophy is decided in one match or the other by the men with the final whistle. 

This post inspired by the music of Cake's "The Distance"

Serie A Week 38
Sassuolo vs. Milan
Sunday, May 22 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.
or viewed LIVE on CBS Sports in the U.S.

Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Final Whistle Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Final Whistle Reviewed by Elaine on 2:00 AM Rating: 5
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