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Juventus poised to claim third straight Serie A title


Juventus' coach Antonio Conte attends a press conference at the Juventus Stadium on the eve of the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match against Benfica. Photo - AFP

Rome: Juventus are ready to finally celebrate a third successive Serie A crown that has been practically in the bag for months when they host Atalanta on Monday.

Despite spirited opposition from AS Roma, Juve will be crowned champions for the 30th time if they beat Stefano Colantuono's Europa League-chasing side.

Antonio Conte's side could find themselves walking out at the Juventus Stadium against Atalanta with the title already secured if Roma, eight points behind with three games to play, fail to win at bottom club Catania on Sunday.

Since Juve thumped Roma 3-0 in January this season's scudetto been more of question of when rather than if, despite an astonishing campaign from Roma that has seen Rudi Garcia's side establish a club record points total of 85.

They have won nine games on the bounce, playing a scintillating style of football that has put the troubles of the past few years long behind them.

Garcia has already made clear his intention to stay at Roma and build a team that can pose an even bigger threat to Juventus next season, and has managed to ruffle some feathers by suggesting that teams facing relegation were not trying as hard against Juve as you might expect of a team facing the drop.

Saturday's Milan derby features two clubs struggling to find an identity and fighting for the Europa League scraps, with Inter Milan in fifth on 57 points and almost sure of a place in Europe and AC Milan lying way back in 10th, six behind their local rivals.

The derby will be Javier Zanetti's last as an Inter player after 19 years at the club, with president Erick Thohir already lining up backroom role for the 40-year-old Argentine.

"For now he needs to concentrate on the pitch, and then he will need to learn English and management. It's not enough to just about the sport," said Thohir on Wednesday.

The derby is also playing second fiddle to Saturday's Italian Cup Final, which will see thousands of Napoli and Fiorentina fans descend on the Italian capital to support teams looking to a positive end to very different seasons.

Napoli's second cup victory in three years would be some consolation for Rafael Benitez's side, who were tipped to challenge for the title but are a whopping 24 points behind Juventus.

For Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina it would be a sweet reward after a difficult season battling with long-term injuries to strikers Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi.

American-born Rossi should be on the bench and could even feature for the first time since Jan. 5, with the Italy international keen to impress Italy coach Cesare Prandelli ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil.

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