by Ciaran Fletcher
Juventus claimed their fifth successive Serie A title, after rivals Napoli narrowly lost 1-0 at third-placed Roma. Juve, who were languishing in 12th place and 11 points off the top as recently as 28 October, won an astonishing 24 out of 25 games to claim a record 32nd league title.
The Old Lady beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Sunday, and after Napoli’s failure to win in Rome, will collect the trophy at home to Carpi. Juventus’ success represents a major turnaround in fortunes after the club were stripped of two league titles and relegated to the second tier due to their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal of 2006.
Gianluigi Buffon, who was part of the squad that had those titles stripped, claims that this season’s achievements are his best ever: “This is the most beautiful Scudetto because if the first [of the five, in 2012] was exciting because it was unexpected, this is exciting because it was so difficult.”
Elsewhere, Hellas Verona were relegated to Serie B, despite a 2-1 win over giants AC Milan. A stoppage-time stunner from Luca Siligardi gave Verona the victory, but a win for Carpi against Empoli ensured Hellas were relegated back to the second division after their 2013 promotion to the top flight.
Relegation rivals Frosinone and Palermo faced each other at the Stadio Comunale Matus, with the away side Palermo claiming a crucial three points thanks to goals from Alberto Gilardino and Aleksandar Trajkovski. The result means that Palermo jump above Frosinone into 18th place and three points from safety with three games remaining.
Inter Milan kept their faint Champions League hopes alive after a comfortable 3-1 home victory over Udinese, thanks to a first goal for Eder and a double from Manchester City loanee Stevan Jovetic. The game incidentally made Serie A history, as neither side’s starting line-up featured an Italian player for the first time since the league began in its current format in 1929. Roberto Mancini’s side currently lie in fourth, five points behind Roma.
Finally, Sassuolo fans welcomed the news that manager Eusebio Di Francesco will remain at the club after signing a new three-year deal. The 46-year-old elected to remain at Sassuolo, despite being the subject of interest from Milan, Fiorentina and the Italian National team. The Neroverdi continue to dream of a Europa League spot, and sit just one point behind AC Milan in sixth thanks to a 3-1 victory away at Torino.