As in this year’s Premier League between Liverpool and Manchester City, the championship in Italy was decided on the last day.
The season-long Milan derby finished at the last breath and crowned “Rossoneri” as the Queen of Italy.
Over the years, there have been many occasions when Serie A has been decided on the very last day, some of them with AC Milan as protagonist.
Precisely on five occasions, three defeats and two victories, which with Sunday’s one balances the count.
In 72-73 losing against Verona on the last day conceded the Scudetto to Juve’s rivals, something that was to be repeated in 2005-2006, the year before the scandal “Calciopoli”; again in Verona, the scene of Milan’s defeats, an important 2-1 defeat allowed Maradona’s Napoli to overtake them, which then ended with the championship on the last day with the victory against Lazio.
On the victorious side of AC Milan’s history there are the 87/88 season in which they managed to take the Scudetto at the very last from Maradona’s Napoli and then the most recent one in 98/99 with the historic victory in Perugia that allowed them to win the Scudetto at the expense of Lazio.
Coming up to this year’s championship: this was one of the most hard-fought in 10 years after Juventus’ clear dominance.
The best players in the season in terms of data, continuity and WSF Performance Index for Milan were: Sandro Tonali, Franck Kessié, Theo Hernández and the goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
The Italian player born in Lodi in 2000 has had his best season in his career: not only in terms of his performance, but mainly because of the impact he has had on the team’s play also in terms of personality.
Coming from a complicated season like the previous one, in which he seemed to be leaving in the summer, this year Tonali has taken over the reins of the midfield, becoming a fundamental piece for coach Pioli.
He has an average WSF Performance Index of 6.4 with 86% successful passes and an average of 35.5 passes completed per game, ranking first among all his teammates in terms of kilometers traveled per game (~10 per game).
He records more than 1.1 interceptions per game, the highest number among the players analyzed, and wins 50% of duels attempted per game, combining quality and quantity.
Moreover, he made 5 goals and 2 assists, including some very heavy ones like the strike against Lazio in the final minutes and the brace against Verona to keep Scudetto hopes alive.
Since September 2021, the Ivorian player has established himself as one of the cornerstones of Milan’s midfield, but now some market rumors have him leaving at the end of this season.
However, he reconfirmed the good performance of the previous year by bringing solidity and concreteness to the midfield.
Despite his absence at the beginning of the year due to the African Cup of Nations, some injuries and the competition on the pitch with Bennacer, who had a good season this year, in Serie A he played 24 matches with an average of 76 minutes per game. In this final part of the championship, considering the disappointing performance of Brahim Díaz, coach Pioli has opted to move him further up front: playing in the three behind the first forward and reinventing him in this new role has given the team much more balance.
Kessié has a WSF Performance Index of 6.3, with a successful pass rate of 88% out of 42 attempted and only 2 yellow cards, which is a great achievement for a midfielder that tries 8 duels per game and has the task of breaking up the opponent’s maneuver.
In recent years the continuity and quality that Theo Hernández is adding to AC Milan’s left wing is beyond any questions.
This year, he is the third highest scorer among defenders in Serie A, after Molina and Criscito. He scored 5 goals and with his 6 assists and this puts him in the first position among the defenders involved in their team’s goals.
He has an average WSF Performance Index of 6.4, which has not been affected by his bad temper that led him throughout the season to receive 5 yellow cards and 2 red ones. He is also the player who attempts the most duels 10 per game, after Leão (on average 11 attempts of which 5 successful) and wins 63% of them.
He is also very involved in the team game, despite his ability to set himself up on his own, shown in the last goal in the 37th match against Atalanta: indeed, he has an average of 36 completed passes in the current season.
The most interesting statistic is undoubtedly the amount of key passes (1.7 per game) making him one of the main points of Pioli’s game, able to accelerate, manage the ball or serve his teammates as needed during the game.
Among the most riveting surprises, there is the contribution of Mike Maignan, called to a difficult task: to substitute a goalkeeper of the caliber of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
However, the AC Milan management was forward-looking in their choice considering that he had a record 21 clean sheets with Lille the year before in Ligue 1 and nobody did better than him in Europe that year.
This year he not only reconfirmed himself, signing 16 of his 17 total clean sheets of the team, but also demonstrated great qualities of personality and technique either with his hands and his feets.
It was also thanks to his fundamental saves that AC Milan can claim the best defense in the league: thanks to the cooperation of his defensive department, he is not in the top 10 goalkeepers in Serie A for saves (79 in total), but he still has a WSF Performance Index of 6.3, which testifies to his responsiveness when he was called into play.
The most interesting statistic that concerns him and testifies to his skill with the feet is the assist he made for Rafael Leão on matchday 25 against Sampdoria directly from a goal-kick.
Last but not least, an honorable mention must be made precisely for Rafael Leão named MVP of the season. After a first period when his performances were fluctuating, this year can be defined as the one of his consecration. Not only stats testify this (in total 11 goals and 8 assists), but mainly his continuity of performance in all the 34 matches he played: all over the season he has maintained a WSF Performance Index of 6.3, proving to be the Milan’s ace in the hole when the team needed his quality to change the direction of the matches.
After years, the Serie A was fought until the very end, with several protagonists who want to be reconfirmed next year and the return of AC Milan to the big leagues.
Who will take the crown next year?
by Giorgio Patania, Elisa Zanchetta