Juventus: Catania Comeback Dooms Champions League Chances...or Does It?

David TenenbaumContributor IApril 28, 2011

TURIN, ITALY - APRIL 23:  Alessandro Del Piero (R) of Juventus FC celebrates scoring with Milos Krasic during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and Catania Calcio at Olimpico Stadium on April 23, 2011 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

I never believed the cliche that a two goal lead is the most dangerous lead to hold in soccer. Yes, there's the risk of complacency, but it is still a two goal lead. I always thought that this was just something coaches said to scare their players into not getting lazy.

Saturday's game has greatly shaken my skepticism.

Juventus did played very well throughout the first 80 minutes of the game. They went up a goal off of a Del Piero penalty kick, although I must admit I felt the foul called on Il Capitano was a bit dubious. Of course, I was still very glad that the penalty kick had been called, but I wasn't really convinced it was a foul. Trust me, I'm USSF certified.

A little while later, Del Piero scored again. This second goal was definitely my favorite goal (from any league) of this current soccer season. Krasic crossed the ball right to the goal, where Del Piero awkwardly chestbumped it in. Honestly, it looked as if Del Piero had been walking into the goal and the ball just happened to be kicked in front of him. That's not to say the ball wasn't hit with force, it was. I just liked how it looked like he 'walked' it in.

After that Juventus cruised for most of the game, though Catania did cause some trouble. Everything was fine until the 81st minute, when the Juventus defense (more specifically, Fabio Grosso) faltered for a moment. This allowed Catania to score, so now Juve's lead was cut down to one goal.

Minutes later, a free kick (which was easily as controversial as the earlier penalty kick) gave Catania an opportunity to equalize. Thankfully for them, Francesco Lodi did just that. The game was tied, and time was almost out.

Of course, the game ended in a draw. Juventus continued their unbeaten streak, but they had lost crucial ground in the Champions League race. The fact of the matter is that they will most likely not qualify for the Champions League now. Fourth place Lazio (60 points) is seven points ahead of seventh place Juventus (53 points). Roma and Udinese lie in between, and they are trying just as hard as Juventus to get that final Champions League spot.

Juventus, coincidentally, play Lazio next week. If Juventus want any chance at qualifying for the Champions League, they must win.

Assuming Juventus win, they will be four points away from Lazio. But, if Udinese and/or Roma win (Roma plays Bari, Udinese is facing off against Fiorentina. Both are favored, but Serie A is definitely not a league where the favorites always win) then Udinese is in fourth, Lazio inf ifth, Roma in sixth, and Juventus in seventh. Lazio and Udinese play the week after that, so one team will most likely be gaining a solid (and possibly decisive) edge in the Champions League race.

Juventus do have an easier schedule after the Lazio game, playing Chievo Verona and Parma. Though Parma has two players (Sebastian Giovinco and the infamous Amauri) who will want to prove something to their old team. Juve's final game is against Napoli, who lie in third place.

Basically, there's a very small possibility that Juventus will qualify for the Champions League. The Europa League is a strong possibility, but even seventh place doesn't guarantee it.

Juventus should be rooting for any team but Palermo to win the Coppa Italia, If Roma, Inter, or AC Milan win, then the third Europa League spot would go to the seventh place team. Right now that team is Juventus. Hopefully they can bring themselves up the table, if not they must rely on one of those three teams.