Juventus set to break more records with title 1 point away
MILAN (AP) — Juventus is set to break a slew of records in Serie A — again.
The team’s 2-1 win over AC Milan this weekend, coupled with Napoli’s draw against 10-man Genoa, has left Juventus needing only one point to secure a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title.
That should be more than doable at relegation-threatened Spal on Saturday, even with the exertions of a midweek trip to Amsterdam for the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals against Ajax.
If Juventus does get the point it needs at Spal, the team would become the first Italian club to clinch the title with six matches to spare. The previous record of five matches was set by Torino in 1947-48 and matched by Fiorentina in 1955-56 and Inter Milan in 2006-07.
“Winning eight titles in a row isn’t easy,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “I hear talk of a title race that is not very interesting but it is more credit to Juventus than lack of credit to the others.
“Napoli is doing what it should be to win it, and should be congratulated. But I think even more compliments should be given to Juve, because we have gone above and beyond.”
It will be Allegri’s fifth league title in as many years in charge of Juventus, continuing the streak started under predecessor Antonio Conte.
No club in Europe’s top five leagues has won eight in a row. Lyon came close, winning seven straight French league titles.
If Juventus ends the season with at least six victories and a draw, it will finish with 103 points, surpassing the all-time Serie A record of 102 points it set in 2013-14. If it wins all its remaining matches it would have won 34 out of 38 games, breaking another one of the records it set that season.
AC Milan’s dismal record at Juventus continued, but perhaps it shouldn’t have.
Milan hasn’t beaten Juventus in Turin since 2011, when current Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso scored the winner for a team which was then led by now Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
However, Milan sporting director Leonardo has lashed out at what he called “very clear refereeing errors,” adding that “the referee was inadequate.”
The focus of Milan’s ire was a penalty which was not given, with the score still 0-0, despite Alex Sandro stopping Hakan Calhanoglu’s cross with his arm. After reviewing the play, referee Michael Fabbri decided it was involuntary.
“It’s the seventh year that Milan haven’t left a match against Juventus in Turin with points,” Gattuso said. “There have been some refereeing mistakes but also mistakes that we could have avoided ourselves.
“We could have been better, but also luckier ... I don’t know who decided not to give a penalty but I’m not looking for excuses.”
The call could prove costly for Milan’s chances of qualifying for next year’s Champions League. It still occupies the final berth but is above Atalanta on its head-to-head record, while Roma and Lazio are just behind.
There are three points separating Milan in fourth and seventh-place Lazio, which has a match in hand. The two meet at San Siro on Saturday.
For a brief moment on Sunday, Inter Milan fans turned their ire from Mauro Icardi to Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli was at the San Siro to watch his former team’s 0-0 draw against Atalanta. When he was shown on the big screen, he was resoundingly jeered.
Icardi had a mixed reception in his first appearance at home since early February, after ending a nearly two-month standoff at Genoa on Wednesday.
There was applause from some sections and boos from others when Icardi’s name was read out, while a banner was displayed with the words “welcome back captain.”
Icardi has been stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract negotiations.
There were also chants against him from a section of hardcore fans, but they were jeered by the rest of the stadium.