Serie A: The Last Round
Week 38 is finally here! The day for which all Juventus fans have been waiting – the day the Serie A trophy returns to the home of La Vecchia Signora! Last weekend, the Bianconeri mathematically secured their 28th Scudetto with a 2-0 result over Cagliari as Milan was defeated at by Inter in the derby, 4-2. The Juve faithful celebrated with a large crowd of supporters gathering in the streets of Turin. This week, they will celebrate with the players at the Juventus Stadium.
Juventus welcomes Lombardy side, Atalanta, to town as the Bianconeri aim to secure their second objective this season: assuring the undefeated record stays intact. Although his side has both hands on the Scudetto, head coach Antonio Conte has warned his players not to be complacent seeing that the season is not over and winning the league title means nothing if their efforts end here. Therefore, the ex-Juve captain has securing the Old Lady’s undefeated record and victory in the Coppa Italia final on May 20 against Napoli still on his to do list. No other team has gone unbeaten in the Serie A in 38 rounds. Sadly though, this occasion will mark the end of club hero Alessandro Del Piero’s illustrious Juventus career after spending 19 years with the Old Lady. Atalanta has had a remarkable season considering the club began the year with a 9-point deduction due to players involved in a betting scandal. Head Coach Stefano Colantuono issued a warning to Juventus that “we’re here to play our game”.
AC Milan will take on relegated side Novara at the San Siro. With second place already secured, this game is in reality a scrimmage for the Rossoneri who will aim to end on a high. In addition, this will also be the final game for Rossoneri legends Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Mark Van Bommel, Gennaro Gattuso and Gianluca Zambrotta as the club will be rejuvenating the team for the 2012-2013 season.
The final and third Champions League spot is still up for grabs with 4 teams in battle: Udinese, Lazio, Napoli, and Inter. Udinese currently lead the race with 61 points, followed closely by Lazio with 59, while Napoli and Inter have a slim chance with 58 points. Antonio Di Natale and his men will secure third with a victory and will fight to the very end to accomplish their dream – a feat that seemed unimaginable at the start of the campaign after the sales of Gokhan Inler to Napoli and Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona. However, traveling to Sicily to take on Catania at the Stadio Massimino will be no easy task. The Rossazzurri were in the running for a Europa League spot until last weekend, but the tie in the Sicilian derby against Palermo has ended those hopes.
The game of the day sees the Nerazzurri marching into Rome to take on Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. In order to claim third place, Lazio will need to win this fixture and hope for Udinese to lose. As a result of a poor head-to-head record, Udinese will keep their place in the occasion of a tie on points. Inter seem the most unlikely to qualify for the Champions League at this point seeing that the Nerazzurri need to secure victory and hope for two results to fall in their favour. Earlier in the week, Massimo Moratti assured Andrea Stramazzoni that he will remain on the Inter bench next season. The young tactician has instilled confidence and belief having only lost one game in seven match-ups, most notably a 4-2 result in the derby of Milan.
Walter Mazzarri’s Napoli will welcome Siena to the Stadio San Paolo in Naples. The Azzurri will need a miracle to qualify for the Champions League, but never say never because anything can happen in the Serie A. Edinson Cavani and Co. will berth a spot in Europe’s most prestigious club tourney with a victory over Siena and an Udinese and Lazio defeat in their respective matches. Good luck Napoli!
Other fixtures: Fiorentina v Cagliari; Parma v Bologna; Cesena v Roma; Chievo v Lecce; Genoa v Palermo.
…and that is the last word.