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Juventus on verge of Serie A title as Roma look to gatecrash party

Buffon: The Scudetto’s not ours yet, but we’re on the right track

Image Credit: AFP
Juventus’ players celebrate after a goal in the Coppa Italia final against AC Milan at the Olympic stadium on Wednesday.
Gulf News

Milan: Juventus aim to claim a seventh consecutive league title at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday but opponents Roma will be determined to gatecrash the party and secure a spot in the Champions League.

All-conquering Juventus claimed a fourth consecutive Italian Cup with a 4-0 win over AC Milan in Rome midweek, and need just a point to add the Scudetto to complete the double for the fourth year in a row.

“The Scudetto’s not ours yet, but we’re on the right track. We’re close,” warned goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon who reached the milestone of 300 clean sheets for Juventus in 655 appearances on Wednesday.

Roma, in third place, need just a point to ensure top European football next season as they hold a four-point advantage on fifth-place Inter Milan in the race for the top four with two games to play.

“Playing for a draw isn’t in my make-up,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco. “You go out onto the pitch to win.

“The game could always end in a draw, but I don’t like talking about permutations.

“I can assure you that I will try to convince my players that we need all three points.”

However, if fifth-placed Inter Milan lose on Saturday at home to Sassuolo, then the top four will be confirmed for Roma. Lazio, in fourth, two points behind Roma, travel to Crotone, who are hovering two points above the drop zone.

In any case, Di Francesco’s aim is to postpone the Juventus party for a week, sending the multiple champions back home to Turin to complete the double in their final game against already-relegated Verona.

That game in Turin could also be the swansong for 40-year-old Buffon who has said he will retire at the end of the season.

“I’m very proud because we’ve done in seven years what only men with a capital M can do,” Buffon told Juventus TV.

“It’s incredible. At one point in the season, we said, ‘if we want to be monsters, we have to win the Scudetto again, try to win the Italian Cup and the Champions League.

“We didn’t succeed in the Champions League, but we still did something unimaginable.”

Second-placed Napoli travel to Sampdoria with their ambitions now a club points record for the season after practically handing Juventus the title last week with a 2-2 draw against Torino.

Below the leading group, three teams are involved in a battle for the final Europa League spot.

AC Milan, in sixth, had been hoping for a Cup win, which would have guaranteed them a place in the Europa League group phase.

Instead Gennaro Gattuso’s side face a direct clash at European rivals Atalanta as they recover from their blunders, which handed Juventus the Cup.

“We weren’t good, we weren’t up to it, the rest doesn’t really matter. Now for 180 minutes we have to be Milan, all together,” said Spanish midfielder Suso.

Atalanta are a point behind Milan in seventh, with Fiorentina, who will play Gattuso’s side on the final day of the season, a further two points behind hosting relegation-threatened Cagliari.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Benevento v Genoa (1400GMT), Inter Milan v Sassuolo (1845)

Sunday

Crotone v Lazio, Verona v Udinese, Fiorentina v Cagliari, Torino v SPAL, Bologna v Chievo (all 1300), Atalanta v AC Milan (1400), Roma v Juventus (1845), Sampdoria v Napoli (1845)

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