AC Milan win Serie A title for 1st time in 11 years

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / Getty

AC Milan are finally champions of Italy once again.

After spending 11 long years in the wilderness, filtering through nine different managers, and enduring two ownership changes, the Rossoneri finished atop the Serie A standings on the final day of the 2021-22 season with a convincing 3-0 victory over Sassuolo.

Olivier Giroud scored twice, and Franck Kessie added an insurance marker to capture the club's first Scudetto since 2010-11.

At an average age of 26 years and 97 days, they're also the youngest team to win the championship since Serie A adopted three points for a win in 1994.

Stefano Pioli's side ended the campaign with 86 points, two better than Inter, who needed to win their final game and Milan to lose. In the end, Inter's 3-0 victory over Sampdoria made no difference.

Milan won each of their final six Serie A matches to ensure Inter couldn't retain their title.

The Nerazzurri left the door open to their city rivals when they lost their game in hand to Bologna on April 27. That match was originally scheduled for Jan. 6 but rescheduled because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Bologna's squad.

Milan had to overcome several challenges just to compete again. The club was at risk of financial ruin shortly after Silvio Berlusconi sold the club to little-known Chinese businessman Yonghong Li in 2016. Li defaulted on a high-interest €300-million loan from hedge fund Elliott Management in July 2018, eventually leaving Milan saddled with losses in the hundreds of millions and in the hands of activist investors. UEFA kicked the Rossoneri out of the Champions League and Europa League because of financial mismanagement, and the team cycled through a number of coaches in search of results.

It wasn't until Paolo Maldini rejoined the club in August 2018 as technical director that its resurgence began. With the help of sporting director Frederic Massara and CEO Ivan Gazidis, Milan lowed their wage bill and targeted young players with potential, notably Rafael Leao, Theo Hernandez, Fikayo Tomori, and Sandro Tonali. They also bet on veterans Giroud, Simon Kjaer, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to offer leadership to one of the youngest squads in Serie A.

Pioli was the only missing piece. Milan hired the journeyman manager after firing Marco Giampaoli seven matches into the 2019-20 season, and he led the club through the lockdown and onto a 27-match unbeaten streak. Although they couldn't compete with Inter last season, finishing 12 points behind in the standings, they managed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.

A year later, they lift their first major trophy in more than a decade.

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AC Milan win Serie A title for 1st time in 11 years
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