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Serie A Week 31 Thoughts: Juventus Still Odds-on To Win Scudetto

by Fake Eric Cantona
Mar 31, 2014 7:16 PM EDT



The chance that Roma may overtake Juventus in the scudetto race is slim. Extremely slim. Such a feat would require unlikely stumbles by Juventus, who have 7 league matches remaining. And only 3 of those matches could pose threats: the unpredictable Udinese, the equally unpredictable Atalanta, and the rather steady Roma.

Were Jose Mourinho involved, he would have already announced that the race is over.


Before last Sunday, Juventus enjoyed a deeper lead. However, Napoli bested Juve 2-0. Juventus manager, Antonio Conte, lashed out against Napoli's spending in the offseason:

“We have invested 25m this season and recuperated this with the exits of [Alessandro] Matri, [Emanuele] Giaccherini and [Luca] Marrone. Benitez must review his calculations and as I think they spent more than 100m. [...] They have spent all this money and are still 17 points behind us.” (note: was Conte being sarcastic?! Those "exits" didn't need any recuperation whatsoever...)
Napoli, who has seen their top talents poached seasonally, has endured steeper challenges to remain in Champions League contention. In retrospect, this is a team who recently fielded Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, as well as Morgan De Sanctis. But they have not retained talent, other than the now-talismanic Marek Hamsik.

Were Conte allowed to go back in time, perhaps he would have congratulated Napoli on being only the second team to best his squad during the season.

Over the course of the season, Juventus have proven themselves to be the best. There are no valid accusations of Calciopolo anymore. This team of Bianconeri is disciplined and extremely talented. There is a possibility in the offseason that PSG may seek to acquire the services of Paul Pogba, and may use Marco Veratti as a bargaining chip. Pogba's skill level is still increasing. Pogba's power level may be over 9000! In which case, Juventus should take all measures to retain Pogba. He will be a key player in the continued success of Juventus in the following seasons.

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Rudi Garcia, who is in his first Serie A season, managing Roma, has experienced great success. One should be mindful that Roma were supposed to a team rebuilding, following the sales of Erik Lamela, Pablo Osvaldo, and Marquinhos. They offloaded their starting goalkeeper, Stekelenberg. They hadn't enjoyed a head coach for longer than months since Luciano Spalletti left, years ago.

The unheralded signing of ex-Arsenal Ivorian, Gervinho, has proven to be a success. Gervinho has immediately developed chemistry with Federico Balzaretti on the left flank. Mattia Destro has recovered some whatever illness rendered him overweight in the offseason, and has produced game-deciding goals.

Possibly, the lesson for all other developing teams should be to invest in a solid defense. The back line partnership of Mehdi Benatia and Castan has been one of the best in Italy. Roma has conceded only 15 goals so far. In the words of AC Milan's VP Adriano Galliani "it is always the best defense which wins the league." Well, almost.

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Earlier today, Inter Milan blew a 0-2 lead over Livorno, to conclude the game 2-2. Walter Mazzarri would have been sacked under previous Inter owner Massimo Moratti. One must assume that Mazzarri is on borrowed time under Erick Thohir. Fans of opposing teams are hoping that Thohir does not drop the axe...

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Clarence Seedorf is still in his teething phase as the manager of AC Milan, but so far he has shown that the team his teeth of its own. The reemergence of Kaka over the previous match week, along with the growth of Balotelli cannot be overstated.

Taking a cue from the segment about Roma, Seedorf's priority should be to strengthen his defense to what Milan enjoyed before the sale of Thiago Silva to PSG. Remember that in Silva's final season as a member of the Rossoneri, Milan enjoyed a position at the top of the table. And Milan has struggled since Thiago Silva's departure. With a stronger back line, Milan will rise back to the top of the table.

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If Sassuolo are relegated at the end of the season, where will the 19 year old striker Domenico Berardi go? Juventus own part of his rights, but may not have a place on their squad for him just yet. It would be possible that the best team to place him on would be Fiorentina, under Viola's manager, Montella. Montella knows the striker role well, and can guide Berardi into being a potential asset for the Italian national team.