Serie A Key Battles to Watch This Weekend: Juventus to Capture League Title?
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As we enter the final furlong of Europe's domestic leagues, we now have a clear picture of those teams who had the legs to gallop all the way to victory over the course of the season.
With the engravers at the ready and trophies being decked in team colours, can Juventus now take their own place in the hallowed, yet ephemeral, hall of league winners?
Manchester United have wrapped up the Premier League title, whilst it feels like months ago since Bayern Munich—spearheaded by the triumvirate of Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery who defeated Juventus in the Champions League—finally put their challengers out of their misery and vanquished the Bundesliga.
And so attention turns to this Serie A weekend. With second-placed Napoli 11 points adrift, a victory for Juventus would seal the title regardless of how their bridesmaids fare.
Whilst at the other end Pescara, the team who originate from a big fishing town, have made a rod for their own back as they have cast the net in search of survival but are now winless in 15.
After last weekend succumbing 3-0 to a Napoli team that still had vague hopes of a title win, the basement boys face a tricky away tie to Genoa—unbeaten in three—who, at the start of the season, would not have envisioned themselves being embroiled in a relegation scrap.
This weekend carries many caveats: title triumphs and a resounding relegation.
Juventus's potential joy and Pescara's impending doom are not intrinsically linked through results this weekend, but the Bianconeri could potentially do the relegation favourites a favour.
As they face Palermo—a team separated from the relegation zone by goal difference—victory for Juventus would not only see them retain their trophy, but it could prolong the inevitable for Pescara.
Who will survive the relegation battle?
But, for Pescara to live to fight another Serie A day, they would need to end that torrid consecutive defeat streak and overturn a Genoa side fighting for their own survival.
And that's before we mention that home games against AC Milan and Fiorentina—with an away tie against Catania in between—comprise Pescara's final few games. It would take the most optimistic of romantics to envisage them in Serie A next season.
For Juventus, capturing this season's title will be one of the most savoured of recent years.
As last week's Serie A preview detailed, they have exhibited a masterclass in how to balance the prodigious talented youth—Paul Pogba is a resounding example—with the more experienced heads of Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Giorgio Chiellini.
Elsewhere in Serie A, there is a huge game in the battle for fourth spot: Whilst it no longer yields qualification to the Champions League, a top-four place does bring around respect and kudos. Fiorentina entertain Roma as the home side boast a six-point advantage.
The visitors, though, arrive having recorded a thumping 4-0 victory over Siena last week—for whom relegation also looks certain—masterminded by the impressive Pablo Osvaldo.
AC Milan fans were happy to see Mario Balotelli make a goalscoring return to the side: they managed to come from behind to defeat Catania, hoping that will prove a springboard as the Rossoneri welcome Torino this weekend.
Saturday, 4 May (All times CET)
Chievo vs. Cagliari, 18:00
Fiorentina vs. Roma, 20:45
Sunday, 5 May
Juventus vs. Palermo, 15:00
Genoa vs. Pescara, 15:00
Catania vs. Siena, 15:00
AC Milan vs. Torino, 15:00
Napoli vs. Inter Milan, 20:45
Which game are you most excited about? Will this week be as clear-cut as it appears? Will it be a deserved title for Juve? Where did it all go wrong for Pescara? Let me know your thoughts—either in the comments section below or via Twitter.
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