Milan close in on Serie A crown

ROME - AC Milan will be crowned Italian champions on Sunday if they beat Bologna and Inter fail to win at Cesena and coach Massimiliano Allegri has no doubt the club's transfer strategy is behind their impending success.

Milan, seeking their first title since the 2003/04 season, are eight points clear of their city rivals, who have dominated the scudetto for the past five seasons. With four matches left they are also nine ahead of Napoli.

Much of the praise for the club's success this campaign has been heaped on new coach Allegri, who has handled his top players well and managed to give little away to Italy's demanding media.

"I feel lucky to have arrived in a year when Milan made such a big investment," the 43-year-old ex-Cagliari coach told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"The club signed important players both in August and January, which has left its mark. Don't forget Inter were big favourites at the start of the season.

"I'd love to be part of a new era here. We have a strong squad and I'm sure the club will continue to build. Next season the Champions League will be our main goal."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's arrival from Barcelona to partner another summer signing, Robinho, paid instant dividends. The mid-season signing of Antonio Cassano and the return of Pato from injury have made sure goals have continued to flow freely.

Robinho scored the winner last Saturday at Brescia and Milan are looking for their fifth consecutive win when they host Bologna on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic will miss the game due to suspension, as does Mark van Bommel, while midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo are back in contention.

After back-to-back defeats, third-placed Napoli host Genoa on Saturday while fourth-placed Lazio, a point above Udinese and four clear of rivals Roma, face seventh-placed Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday in the battle for next season's European spots.


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