Sunday, August 18, 2019 | ePaper

Juve look to bury Champions League misery with another Serie A crown

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Juventus turn the page on yet another Champions League disappointment as they focus on sealing an eighth consecutive Serie A title at home on Saturday.
Massimiliano Allegri's side host Fiorentina needing just one more point to lift the Scudetto for a 35th time, days after a shock 2-1 defeat (3-2 on aggregate) to Ajax.
The Turin giants have won the Scudetto more than any other team in Italy with AC Milan and Inter Milan trailing second best with 18 each.
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will have to settle for a Serie A title in his first season in Italy after missing out on a sixth Champions League title.
The 34-year-old was inconsolable after the defeat to Ajax and has remained silent on social media since, with his spectacular hat-trick in the last 16 against Atletico Madrid, and two diving headers over two quarter-final games against Ajax not enough.
"He told me he doesn't perform miracles," his mother Dolores Aveiro told the Portuguese press.
"He was sad. He would have liked to get to the final but it will be for the next time."
Juventus can equal the record for the earliest the title has been won with five games to spare achieved by Torino in 1948, Fiorentina in 1956 and Inter Milan in 2007.
Juventus have won their last seven home Serie A matches against Fiorentina, but coach Vincenzo Montella will be looking for a surprise on his return to the Tuscany hotseat.
Fiorentina have gone eight games without a win and have slipped to tenth, 13 points off the Europa League places.
"I expect a fierce Juve after their elimination from the Champions League, like all the great teams they are used to turning the page and starting again quickly," said Montella.
"We will, however, go without fear, also taking into account that next Thursday we will have another important match with the Coppa Italia semi-final against Atalanta."
Second-placed Napoli host Champions League hopefuls Atalanta on Monday after crashing out of the Europa League 3-0 on aggregate to Arsenal, with no Italian team now left in European football this season.
"We suffered a bit in the second half of the season but we want to finish the season well," said Ancelotti, as Napoli are seven points ahead of third-placed Inter Milan.
"We want to secure the second spot as soon as possible."
Atalanta are just two points adrift of the elite European places.
Inter Milan and Roma go head to head in a clash which could have an impact on Claudio Ranieri's side's Champions League ambitions.
"Playing Inter, who are fighting for a Champions League place but aren't too far ahead of us, is a nice challenge," said former Inter coach Ranieri.
Juventus are certainties for a Champions League return with second-placed Napoli well-placed seven ahead of Inter who are in turn five ahead of their city rivals.
But behind the top three the battle is tight with Roma a point behind AC Milan in fifth followed by Atalanta, Lazio and even Torino -- who are five points adrift -- still in the running with six games to play.
Ranieni -- who coached Inter Milan for six months in the 2011-2012 season -- believes a win would give his side "real impetus".

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