Juventus extends record streak to 7 Serie A titles
MILAN — Juventus has extended its record streak to seven Serie A titles after its 0-0 draw against 10-man Roma on Sunday was enough to secure the trophy with a match to spare.
There was even more reason for the team to celebrate as coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has now won four successive league and cup doubles at Juventus, suggested he’d remain in charge next season despite reported interest from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.
“If they don’t fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too,” he said.
Second-place Napoli won 2-0 at Sampdoria but Juventus got the point it needed at the Stadio Olimpico to win its 34th Serie A title. It has a four-point lead over Napoli with one round left.
The result also completed another double for Juventus, which had beaten AC Milan 4-0 in the Italian Cup in the same stadium on Wednesday.
“We have to congratulate Napoli, which kept pace with a great Juventus. It’s hard to see these four years being repeated,” Allegri said. “I congratulate everyone who works for Juventus and the fans but the most credit goes to the players. With a team like this, with these men and these players, it’s easier to achieve your targets.”
The end of the season has seen several twists.
Juventus was six points clear a month ago but had its advantage slashed to a point in the space of a week. That left many pundits — including Allegri — naming Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli as favorite for the title.
“The greatest merit of the (Juventus) team was that they were always able to keep their calm because in football things can change in a second,” Allegri added. “You need to take it one step at a time without getting overwhelmed by enthusiasm when things are going well and you need to never stop working in the difficult moments. You need to work well on a mental level because if you have too many surges and dips of mood, you’re not going to win.”
At the Olimpico, Roma — which had already qualified for the Champions League — had the better of the game’s few chances but its prospects of winning the match diminished when midfielder Radja Nainggolan was sent off 22 minutes from time after picking up two yellow cards in five minutes.
Despite the numerical advantage Juventus still barely threatened. Paulo Dybala had put the ball in the back of the net at the start of the second half but the Argentina forward was narrowly offside.
It mattered little as Juventus clinched the title with only a match against already-relegated Hellas Verona to play.
No club in Europe’s top five leagues has won as many league titles, although Real Madrid is only one behind.
“Behind their successes there is a mentality which has been built over the years,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. “It is also a solid and united club, even in difficult times. This anger and this desire to win has to be an example to all the teams.”
A number of players could leave Juventus at the end of the season, notably club captain Gianluigi Buffon, although the veteran goalkeeper has yet to confirm his retirement.
Napoli moved to 88 points with its victory at Sampdoria, beating its club points record ahead of the final round.
Arkadiusz Milik curled a delightful effort into the top left corner in the 72nd minute, seconds after coming off the bench, while Raul Albiol headed in a corner eight minutes later.
The referee halted the match for three minutes in a period between the two goals because of continuous anti-Neapolitan chanting by Sampdoria fans.
Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero went over to urge the fans to stop but was also insulted by the ultras.
The contest for the last Champions League place is heading for a thrilling finale in Serie A after Lazio was held to a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Crotone.
Lazio remained fourth, three points head of Inter Milan, which it faces next week in the final game of the season with a place in Europe’s premier club competition at stake.
Despite the impressive result, Crotone slipped into the relegation zone, below Spal on their head-to-head record. It visits Napoli in its final match.
Any one of five clubs could be relegated on the final day of the season.
Cagliari managed a surprise 1-0 victory at Fiorentina to damage its opponent’s Europa League hopes and climb out of the bottom three.
It moved a point above Crotone and Spal, which lost 2-1 at Torino.
Udinese is a point further ahead after a 1-0 win at Hellas Verona end its dismal run of one point from 13 matches.
It is level with Chievo Verona, which had a 2-1 comeback win at Bologna.
Fiorentina remained eighth, three points behind Atalanta and the final Europa League spot. The defeat meant AC Milan secured its spot in the Europa League despite Atalanta scoring late to rescue a 1-1 draw in a bad-tempered match which saw a player from each side sent off in separate incidents.
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