MILAN, May 5 (Reuters) - The Asti Spumante is on ice and the commemorative t-shirts have been printed, all that remains is for AC Milan to pick up a point at AS Roma on Saturday to seal a long-awaited scudetto.
A draw would give the Rossoneri a nine-point lead over second-placed Inter Milan, who could only match their rivals’ tally with wins in the three remaining games starting with a home match against Fiorentina on Sunday.
As goal difference does not count in Serie A and the head-to-head record of the two teams is used, Milan can be crowned champions for the first time since 2004 given they beat Inter in both fixtures this term.
“You talk about the scudetto only when it is sewn on to the shirt,” an unusually coy club owner Silvio Berlusconi told Italian television before reverting to his confident self.
“If we succeed, it will be the 27th trophy won under my ownership. After me, the club president who has won the most trophies was the great Bernabeu at Real Madrid and the Spaniards named the stadium of their capital after him...”
Winning the title after such a long wait for a European giant will make the triumph extra special for Massimiliano Allegri’s side while the fact they are set to end Inter’s five-year stranglehold on the scudetto makes it sweeter for Milan fans.
Inter are also bossed by last season’s Milan coach Leonardo, adding another twist to Italy’s championship race.
But taking a point at Roma will not be easy for Milan given the capital side are just a point behind city rivals Lazio in the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot which their new American owners badly crave.
Interim boss Vincenzo Montella is also trying to convince the board to keep him on with more impressive performances like last weekend’s last-gasp 3-2 win at Bari where captain Francesco Totti surpassed Roberto Baggio’s tally of 205 Serie A goals to stand fifth on the all-time scoring list.
Counting against Roma are the red cards for violent conduct which influential midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta picked up against Bari and means they will miss the rest of the campaign.
Another positive for Milan is the return of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from his three-game ban to possibly celebrate the scudetto while playing in the capital means Italian prime minister Berlusconi may be able to nip along to game while taking a break from government business.
If Milan do win or draw, the championship presentation is not expected to be held at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico but instead they will wait for the San Siro home game against coach Allegri’s former side Cagliari on May 14.
At the other end, second-bottom Brescia need to beat Catania at home on Sunday to make sure they survive for another weekend while Sampdoria’s city derby with Genoa could be crucial to their hopes of avoiding the drop.
(Writing by Mark Meadows; Edited by Patrick Johnston; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
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