MILAN (AFP) – Juventus have already sealed their ninth Serie A title in a row, but the league’s single-season scoring record could yet be broken and the battle against the drop is going down to the wire.
AFP sport looks at five talking points before the final round of Italian top-flight games this weekend.
IMMOBILE TARGETS RECORD
Ciro Immobile needs just one more goal to equal the scoring record for a single campaign as Lazio make the short journey to Napoli for their final game.
The 30-year-old forward already has 35 goals and can match Gonzalo Higuain’s record of 36 goals, made playing for Napoli in the 2015-16 season.
Immobile is already basically assured of winning the European Golden Shoe for the continent’s top scorer, having overtaken Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski’s tally of 34 against Brescia midweek.
Lazio are fourth, but still in the running for second place, while seventh-placed Napoli have nothing to play for in the league except defending the record of their former teammate Higuain.
Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli are also warming up for their meeting with Barcelona in the Champions League last 16, return leg.
TRIO RACE FOR SECOND PLACE
Three teams – Inter Milan, Atalanta and Lazio – are in the running for second place.
Inter and Atalanta will go head-to-head in Bergamo with Lazio’s last game at Napoli.
Antonio Conte’s Inter have 79 points, one point ahead of both Atalanta and Lazio, with the northeners ahead of the Romans, who they held 3-3 in the Stadio Olimpico and beat 3-2 at home this season.
“We’re masters of our destiny, second place depends only on us,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
Atalanta are also preparing for their Champions League quarter-final clash against Paris Saint-Germain next month in Lisbon.
They could beat last season’s best-ever finish of third, which gave them Champions League qualification for the first time. This season they are in stunning form, are unbeaten since January 20 and just two off the mark of 100 league goals.
TIRED JUVE EYE U23 TEAM
Maurizio Sarri said he might field his Under-23 team, now coached by former Italy great Andrea Pirlo, in their final game against Roma in Turin after falling to a miserable midweek defeat at Cagliari days after sealing their ninth consecutive Serie A title.
Juve are preparing for their Champions League last 16, return leg against Lyon, where they trail 1-0, and are missing key players such as Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa through injury.
“We are the only ones in Europe who have played five games in 12 days, the league has created big problems for us,” said Sarri.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of finishing the season as top scorer look over as the 35-year-old trails Immobile by four goals.
Lecce and Genoa will face Parma and Hellas Verona respectively at the weekend hoping to avoid joining Brescia and SPAL down in Serie B.
Genoa, in 17th, are just one-point ahead of Lecce, who occupy the final relegation berth. If both teams finish equal on points, Genoa will stay in Serie A, with Lecce heading back to the second tier after just one season in the top flight.
IBRA TURNING CLOCK BACK AT MILAN
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and AC Milan take on mid-table outfit Cagliari looking to cap an impressive run since football returned to Italy from the coronavirus lockdown.
Only Manchester City with 34 goals have scored more than Milan (32) in Europe’s top leagues since the restart.
Ibrahimovic, 38, has scored six times since the lockdown, including four in the last three games, with the club unbeaten in eleven Serie A matches, their best run since April 2013 (14).
The ‘Rossoneri’ have also scored at least two goals in six consecutive Serie A away matches, their best run since 1964 (nine).