Juventus took another leap towards their ninth Serie A title in a row with an impressive 3-1 win over Genoa. Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a rocket following an excellent solo goal by Pablo Dybala. Douglas Costa rounded off the goals for the Old Lady to lift them four points clear of second-placed Lazio.
Lazio kept the pressure up on their rivals, however, delivering a hard-fought 2-1 win over Torino shortly after. This was turning into one of the closest championships in some time. However, Lazio followed that win up with a 3-0 at the weekend at home to AC Milan. That defeat has put a serious dent in their title aspirations.
The last eight games of the season will be ‘cup finals’ for Lazio, and Juventus will be keen not to let their lead slip. Let’s take a look at the key fixtures that could decide who will be crowned Serie A champions this season.
Let’s start with Juventus, who are very much in the driving seat. Juventus only have to play two sides currently in the top four so have a generous run from now until the season commences. In saying that, they do have to play AC Milan and Roma too. Both Milan and Roma are enduring disappointing campaigns but could hurt Juventus with talented squads.
Sarri’s team will come up against fourth-placed Atalanta on 11th July. The Lombardi outfit are enjoying something of purple streak at the moment, winning six from their last six league games. Only Juventus can match that. Forward’s Josip Ilicic and Luis Muriel have been attracting many admirers with their 30 goals between them and one of the most dangerous partnerships in Serie A. Furthermore. The club are leagues highest scorers by some margin having bagged 84 in only 30 games. It will be a tough test for Juventus, but should they win the league trophy will be in their sights.
Lazio are four points ahead of Inter in third, and seven behind Juventus in first. Like Juventus, they have a good run in from now towards the end of the season and have every chance of not dropping any more points. They have lost only four games this season, one more than Juventus but have drawn five compared to the current leaders three.
Aside from the fixture against Juventus, the standout fixture for Lazio actually comes on the very last day of the season against Napoli. This is a notoriously fierce match up and one that fans will savour if the title goes down to the wire. In January this year, Napoli knocked Lazio out of the Coppa Italia winning 1-0, however, only two weeks before, Lazio had beaten them 1-0 in the league. Prolific striker Ciro Immobile, the league’s top scorer was the match-winner that day. It’s always close between them, and if Lazio have a chance of winning, there could be fireworks.
Of course, the big game is Juventus vs Lazio. In the reverse fixture in early December saw Lazio come from behind to stun Sarri’s men with a 3-1 victory. It was a match that had it all for the neutrals with plenty of chances, goals, missed penalties, and red cards. The match on the 20th July is looking likely to be a blockbuster and must watch for fans of the Serie A, and beyond.
Lazio last claimed the title precisely 20 years ago in the 1999/2000 season. Will this side manage to bring the trophy home two decades on?