After Bayern loss, Juve faces last-place Pescara
ROME (AP) — Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from their stinging defeat to Bayern Munich when the Serie A leader hosts last-place Pescara on Saturday.
In the Champions League on Tuesday, Buffon looked unprepared as David Alaba scored just 25 seconds into their Champions League quarterfinal from far beyond the area.
Even though the shot was deflected by Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, Buffon was slow to react.
After the first-leg match, which Bayern won 2-0, Bayern great Franz Beckenbauer remarked that Buffon looked like a pensioner.
“I can’t object to anything that that wise man Beckenbauer said. I’ve just got to keep my head up and await the next match. There’s also the second leg,” Buffon said. “With this type of job errors happen. I’m upset because I cost us the match. I’m upset for myself, for my squad and for my fans.”
With the second leg next week, Juventus will likely rest some key players against Pescara, which it beat 6-1 in November.
Also this weekend, third-place AC Milan visits fourth-place Fiorentina, while Roma faces Lazio in the Rome derby on Monday.
With eight rounds remaining, Juventus holds a comfortable nine-point lead over Napoli. Milan is 11 points back and Fiorentina trails by 17.
Napoli, which seems more concerned about holding off Milan in the race for second than catching Juve, hosts Genoa on Sunday.
Since Mario Balotelli’s arrival in January, Milan has been the Serie A’s top performer, outscoring the opposition 8-0 in its last four matches, all victories.
Still, Milan is wary of Fiorentina, which has been lauded for its play and quick Barcelona-style passing game under first-year coach Vincenzo Montella.
“Fiorentina is the principal opponent in the race for the Champions League,” Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said.
The top two finishers in Serie A qualify directly for the Champions League while the third-place finisher gains access to the final playoff round.
“I’ve complimented Montella for this season, I’m a fan of his football,” Galliani said. “Here at Milan we’ve always tried to win with beautiful play, from Arrigo Sacchi onward. Football is a show and every club should entertain their fans and lovers of this sport.”
While Fiorentina’s midfield has been extraordinary, the club’s attack has struggled, and standout forward Stevan Jovetic is out for two weeks with a leg injury.
Also, fifth-place Inter Milan hosts Atalanta after beating Sampdoria 2-0 on Wednesday in a match that had been postponed due to snow last month.
After getting eliminated from the Europa League by Tottenham last month and losing to Juventus last weekend, Inter’s victory gave some breathing room to under-pressure manager Andrea Stramaccioni.
“It was important to win again,” said Inter forward Rodrigo Palacio, who scored both goals. “It gives us some confidence.”
Elsewhere, it’s: Bologna vs. Torino; Catania vs. Cagliari; Sampdoria vs. Palermo; Siena vs. Parma; and Udinese vs. Chievo.