Juventus needs one point against visiting Fiorentina on Saturday to clinch a record eighth successive Serie A title that is unlikely to brighten its mood after a bitter exit from the Champions League. A 2-1 home defeat to Ajax in the tournament's quarterfinals Tuesday put a damper on a title party that was postponed last weekend as the reserve-loaded Bianconeri lost 2-1 at lowly Spal. Juve's league triumph is not at risk, given a 17-point lead on Napoli with six games left and will set the longest winning run in the major continental leagues. Most Juve fans, however, would have gladly exchanged it for a European title they last savored, for the second time, in 1996, and some are complaining that the Bianconeri took a step backward, missing the Italian Cup they won in the past four seasons.
Napoli, meanwhile, is the last Italian squad in continental contention but have to overcome a 2-0 deficit against Arsenal as they host them Thursday in the Europa League quarterfinals. The second-placed Neapolitans welcome in-form Atalanta on Monday to close matchday 33, which has the other nine games set for Saturday to observe the Easter Sunday festivity. Napoli has one of four Champions League places all but secured, and Inter Milan is poised to retain the third but must avoid a slip-up against visiting Roma. The Romans sit six points adrift of Inter, and one behind AC Milan, who occupy the fourth elite berth before visiting Parma.
Atalanta, however, also lurk a further point behind Roma in the Europa League zone. "It'll be a very important match against a direct rival," Inter defender Milan Skriniar said. "It's absolutely a 'must win' for us. We could go nine points clear of them, and this would be really good for us." Ups and downs have marked Roma's season, who switched coach in March, hiring Claudio Ranieri for his second spell at the Giallorossi. "We've slipped up in matches that look easier on paper and it means we've dropped points," the young Turkish talent Cengiz Ünder said. "There are some games we really should have won. "Over the last two weeks, however, we've started to improve with Ranieri. We've won two games [1-0 against Sampdoria and Udinese] on the trot and we need to keep this up."
Lazio, the other Rome side, moved within one point of the Europa League zone by winning 2-0 against Udinese Wednesday and will host relegated Chievo. The other fixtures are Genoa vs. Torino, Udinese vs. Sassuolo, Bologna vs. Sampdoria, Cagliari vs. Frosinone and Empoli vs. Spal.
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