Juventus could clinch Serie A title
ROME (AP) — Closing in on its third successive Serie A title, Juventus will be watching very closely when second-place Roma hosts an AC Milan squad that is on a five-match winning streak Friday.
If Roma fails to beat Milan and Juventus then wins at relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Monday, the Turin club will have clinched the championship.
With four rounds remaining, Juve holds an eight-point advantage.
Juve also holds the edge over Roma following their 3-0 win against the capital club in January. However the overall head-to-head record between the two sides won’t be finalized until the penultimate round when Roma hosts the Turin club. In the unlikely event that both teams are level on points before or after they face each other, their head-to-head fixtures will determine the destination of the title.
Here are five things to know about Serie A entering the 35th round:
RESILIENT ROMA: The Giallorossi are on a seven-match winning streak and refuse concede the title until it is mathematically out of reach.
“I still believe in the scudetto. Anything is still possible,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said Wednesday. “Although clearly we have to win all of our matches, starting with Milan. And if that happens then let’s see what Juve does with Sassuolo. If Juve doesn’t win, then everything will be wide open.”
With a 1-0 win at fourth-place Fiorentina last weekend, Juve clinched at least second place and direct entry to the Champions League.
“I want to stay at Roma, but with a competitive squad that can play the Champions League and fight for the scudetto at the same time,” said Garcia, a Frenchman who is completing an impressive first season in Italy. “We’re not going to play the Champions League to win it — because the way things stand now that’s not possible — but I want to at least be a factor in the group stage and reach the second round.”
MILAN SUITORS: Singapore tycoon Peter Lim has reportedly made a €500 million ($700 million) offer to purchase AC Milan.
The Gazzetta dello Sport splashed the offer on its front page Thursday and it didn’t take long for Fininvest, the holding company of Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, to issue a statement saying it “denies once again any possible sale for control of Milan.”
Lim met with Milan vice president Adriano Galliani recently, the Gazzetta reported, adding that Chinese beverage magnate Zong Quinghou is also interested in buying a stake in the club.
Serie A is slowly falling into international hands. Indonesian entrepreneur Erick Thohir spent upwards of €250 million ($350 million) for a 70 percent stake in Inter Milan in October, and a four-man group of Boston investors took control of Roma in 2011 to become the first foreign owners in Italy.
ROSSI’S RETURN: Giuseppe Rossi has begun training regularly with Fiorentina and could be included in the squad for Saturday’s match at Bologna.
Rossi led Serie A with 14 goals in 17 games before injuring the medial collateral ligament in his right knee following a hard tackle by Livorno’s Leandro Rinaudo on Jan. 5 — the latest in a series of knee problems for the United States-born forward.
EUROPA LEAGUE PLACES: Eight squads are still in the hunt for two or three Europa League places.
The fourth- and fifth-placed squads will qualify and sixth place could also gain a spot in the qualifying stages since the winner of the Italian Cup final between Napoli and Fiorentina also gets a spot.
With Napoli almost assured of finishing third and going to Champions League qualifying and Fiorentina likely to finish fourth or fifth, those clubs probably won’t need to use the Cup final spot.
The standings read: Fiorentina (58 points), Inter (56), Parma (51), Milan (51), Torino (49), Lazio (49), Hellas Verona (49), Atalanta (46).
DANGER ZONE: It’s a tight battle to avoid relegation with the five bottom clubs within seven points of each other and three set to be demoted to Serie B.
Chievo Verona has 30 points, Sassuolo 28, Bologna 28, Livorno 25 and Catania 23.
There is only one more direct meeting remaining among the five teams, with Bologna to host Catania in the penultimate round.
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