It was a strange mood in Turin this weekend as Juventus secured the 2018/2019 Serie A title. After a rough Champions League exit mid-week, the chance to secure their eighth straight Scudetto a little sour. However, it is still an incredible achievement for a team of players far different from the ones to hoist the first of this run.
Juventus Secure Serie A Title While Top Four Race Continues
Juventus Clinch Title
It was not just a strange week for Juventus, but a strange game against Fiorentina as well. The Tuscan side were playing their second game under new coach Vincenzo Montella, but The Vampire’s side were up for it straight away. Fiorentina came out flying, getting at Juventus and causing problems at the back.
They were rewarded for their hard work with a goal through Nikola Milenkovic. The big Serbian full-back pounced on a loose ball in the box to give La Viola an early lead and, for the next 25 minutes, it looked like they would get another. Federico Chiesa had one of those games where he did everything he could but score. The Italian international hit the bar and the post in the space of 15 minutes.
However, when you don’t take your chances against Juventus, it comes back to bite you. The advantage that Fiorentina had been pressing on ended when Alex Sandro flicked a corner under Alban Lafont’s left side. Just like that, from almost nowhere, Juventus had equalized; just the type of goal that a title-winning side scores.
Even Fiorentina looked like they knew the chance had gone. They came out very flat to start the second half and Juventus pounced on it. They had been pushing to take the lead before German Pezzella scored the winning own goal but, once it was scored, all the life came out of the game.
It was a strange performance on a strange day to be crowned Champions of Italy again. There is a lot of disappointment associated with this season for Juventus but winning an eighth straight Scudetto is enough to hide that for now.
Inter Milan 1-1 Roma
What was supposed to be a clash of top five teams turned into a one-way siege. Claudio Ranieri’s Roma are now four games unbeaten after sitting back and absorbing pressure at the San Siro on Sunday. They took a bet that Inter did not have enough creativity to break down a low block, and it seems they were right.
It was the perfect strategy if you score early. They got that all important goal from a lovely curled finish from Stephan El Shaarawy. The ex-Milan winger’s goal came after a strong opening 30 minutes from Roma. They defended strong and used every opportunity to get forward. They would’ve won this game if not for their finishing.
Inter eventually took total control of the ball, which Roma were fine with allowing them. So Borja Valero, Milan Skriniar, and Stefan De Vrij basically just passed the ball back and forth for about an hour. Valero ended up completing over 120 passes but barely created anything. Even the goal Inter scored had nothing to do with him.
The left-footed cross from the right-back Danilo D’Ambrosio was excellent, the decoy run by Mauro Icardi was even better, but the diving headed finish from Ivan Perisic was the best, and it ensured that the points were split.
The top four race went completely crazy this weekend as the race to secure Champions League football comes to an end. Inter have all but locked up their third place spot as they currently have a six-point lead over fourth place; a place that is jointly occupied by AC Milan and Atalanta. Roma are just a point behind, and Torino are just three points back.
The easiest schedules belong to Roma and Milan. The biggest clubs in the race only have one game between them against a rival for this spot; Milan’s trip to Torino next weekend. The other three sides all have to play each other, and that is where the Europa League places will be won or lost.
It seems like Atalanta or Milan should be the favourite for the Champions League place. It would be great to see Atalanta in the Champions League. That front three of Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic and Alejandro Gomez is way better than anything Milan offer going forward. As much as Milan fans wouldn’t want to hear it, Atalanta in the Champions League would be fantastic.
Milan are going to be the side most desperate to hold onto that fourth spot. They are in the midst of the first hopeful rebuild in about eight years. That rebuild crucially depends on Champions League football next season. Miss out and they could once again be under the keen eye of Financial Fair Play.