MILAN, May 4, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Juventus host Bologna in a final title push on Saturday which could see them crowned Serie A champions for a record- extending seventh straight time by the end of the weekend.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side need six points from their final three games to secure the Scudetto but could seal another crown if they beat Bologna and second-place Napoli lose at Torino on Sunday.
Allegri has urged his players not to lose focus after last weekend’s thrilling 3-2 comeback against Inter Milan put them in the driving seat as Napoli lost 3-0 to Fiorentina, just a week after the euphoria of beating the champions.
“We’ve won nothing yet,” warned Allegri.
With home games against Bologna and Verona to come either side of a difficult trip to Rome, the title looks like Juventus’s to lose with Napoli having no room to manoeuvre in their final three games against Torino, Sampdoria and Crotone.
While Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio, stalwarts since Juventus began their dominant run in 2012, are used to success it would be the first title for winger Federico Bernardeschi and defender Benedikt Howedes.
“It is a fundamental match,” said Italian Bernardeschi.
“Winning Serie A would be my first major title, I’ve previously won the German Cup and German Supercup with Schalke 04 but never a league title,” added Howedes, who has started to settle into the team after an injury-marred debut to the season.
“The club’s slogan is ‘Fino Alla Fine’, and this is perfect because we’ve had a lot of games this season where we’ve been up against it, but we’ve stuck it out and struck right at the end. We never give up.”
– Roma raring for Euro return –
Juventus and Napoli are already assured of their place in the Champions League with the remaining two berths still up for grabs.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma, sitting third equal on points with Lazio, will want to assure their position in the tournament after their heartbreaking semi-final exit to Liverpool despite a rousing comeback to win the second leg 4-2.
Roma travel to Sardinian side Cagliari who are fighting for their Serie A survival just two points above the drop zone.
“We’re going to have to ask the lads to produce that little bit more,” said Di Francesco.
“It would be great if we could play in another semi-final. We still have to qualify for next year’s Champions League in Serie A but our performance should make us realise that we can compete in the Champions League.”
Lazio face a tricky task as they host Europa League hopefuls Atalanta, in sixth, and without Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile who has been ruled out for at least two weeks with a leg injury.
Immobile — the scorer of 29 league goals this season — is fighting to be fit for the crucial final match of the campaign against Inter Milan.
Inter who are fifth four points behind the two Roman teams, travel to Udinese looking for a lift after last week’s disappointment against Juventus in the San Siro.
AC Milan host Verona just days before they meet Juventus in next Wednesday’s Italian Cup final, which could qualify them for the Europa League.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side are one point off Atalanta in seventh with Sampdoria and Fiorentina also in the chase for the second-tier European competition.
If Verona lose to Milan they will be relegated to join Benevento in Serie B next season with third-from-bottom Chievo hosting fellow relegation candidates Crotone.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
AC Milan v Verona (1600), Juventus v Bologna (1845)
Udinese v Inter Milan (1030), Chievo v Crotone, Genoa v Fiorentina, Lazio v Atalanta, Napoli v Torino, SPAL v Benevento (1300), Sassuolo v Sampdoria (1600), Cagliari v Roma (1845)