By Italian standards, Stefano Pioli is a rather reserved contemporary.

It was therefore worth noting that in the closing minutes of the game against Sassuolo Calcio at Reggio Emilia's Mapei Stadium, the AC Milan coach began dancing on the sidelines and making a heart shape with his fingers, in vogue among younger people.

The 56-year-old coach from Parma could be sure that nothing would stand in the way of the greatest success of his coaching career.

On Sunday evening, when the score was 3-0, AC Milan could no longer take their 19th championship title away, city rivals Inter were definitely left behind.

Eleven years after the last Scudetto for Milan, which Kevin-Prince Boateng (today Hertha BSC) celebrated with Michael Jackson's "Moonwalk" dance in the San Siro Stadium.

At the time of going to press for this issue, it was not clear which dances the Milan players would perform at the celebration on Monday evening.

Previously, the loss of a trophy was more of an issue.

The Tifosi in Reggio Emilia had stormed the pitch and ripped the medal he had just been awarded from the master coach's neck.

"It was my first," complained Stefano Pioli.

"I'm asking whoever took them from me to give them back." No one knows how much the medal thieves look down on the man to whom they owe much of their success.

Master coach Pioli has had an eventful coaching career without any major successes. He has coached Lazio, Inter Milan and AC Fiorentina, among others, with moderate success.

AC Milan hired him in autumn 2019 and wanted to replace him at the end of the season with the current Austrian national coach and former Red Bull football manager Ralf Rangnick.

However, because Pioli had an impressive 12-game unbeaten run after the 2020 pandemic break, he stayed in office.

Paolo Maldini, Milan legend and sporting director, made this courageous decision.

Ibrahimovic makes the difference

In January 2020, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also signed from the USA, who revived AC Milan together with Pioli in the autumn of his career.

The more than self-confident Swede, who was part of the championship title in 2011, is of course convinced that he himself was the key to success.

He convinced Pioli that the team would win the championship, he claimed.

In fact, the coach praised Ibrahimovic's motivational skills in the dressing room.

The 40-year-old is more and more available on the pitch, and his body rarely takes part in 90-minute missions.

"Milan needed a pilot, I came, did the pilot and we became champions," said "Ibra", whom they worship like a demigod in Milan.

How did AC Milan leave opponents like last year's champions Inter Milan (2nd), SSC Napoli (3rd) and series champion Juventus Turin (4th) behind?

Milan ended the previous season in second place.

After difficult years, Maldini and his colleagues had clear guidelines.

The US investment fund Elliott, which took over AC Milan from the Chinese previous owner Li Yonghong, drove an austerity course, but wanted results.

The contract of goalkeeper idol Gianluigi Donnarumma (today Paris Saint-Germain) was not extended last summer, the demands were too high.

Instead, Maldini focused on young, cheaper players who Pioli formed into an effective attacking ensemble.

Mention should be made in particular of the 22-year-old left winger Rafael Leão from Portugal,

the Italian midfield engine and local hero Sandro Tonali (22) and Theo Hernández (24), brother of Bayern player Lucas Hernández.

His solo run on the penultimate matchday in the 2-0 win against Atalanta Bergamo was also a show for the transfer market.

Change of ownership is imminent

Above all, Leão's increase with 14 goals this season and eleven assists is remarkable.

In Reggio Emilia, the Portuguese danced out his opponents three times on the flank, each cross was followed by a goal, the first two scored the French striker veteran Olivier Giroud (17th, 32nd minute), before Franck Kessié before the break made the final score (36th).

The "Corriere della Sera" raved about the "magic of the little red devils".

But Milan's offensive Art Nouveau is only one side of the coin.

Giroud, Ibrahimovic and former Wolfsburg defender Simon Kjaer balanced the panache with experience and mentality.

It is said that AC Milan will change hands again soon.

The US investment fund RedBird is said to have made an offer of 1.3 billion euros.

The championship title makes the club even more appetizing in the financial world.

In the end, all that remains is the question of Pioli's lost medal.

The Italian football league has promised a remedy here: If the thieves persist, a replacement copy will soon be sent to the master trainer.

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