Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri warned that his side would be back to their attacking best in the Champions League next week despite finishing their Serie A campaign with a 3-1 home defeat against Roma on Saturday night.
It was Juventus’s second consecutive defeat since sealing a ninth Serie A title in a row, just days before their Champions League campaign resumes against Lyon. “It can be good for us to have a little fear,” said Sarri as his side target a first elite European title since 1996.
“We had an unconscious, inevitable drop after the victory against Lazio. The physical energy can be recovered quickly, the psychological one must be reassured immediately, in order to give everything against Lyon.”
Sarri’s side need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit in their last 16 home game against Lyon. “I am convinced that the game on Friday will be a great stimulus, and that we’ll go onto the pitch with a completely different attitude,” added the former Chelsea and Napoli coach.
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for the final match with nothing left to play for against fifth-place Roma. Argentine Gonzalo Higuain spearheaded the Juventus attack breaking through after just six minutes in the Allianz Stadium.
But Diego Perotti inspired a Roma fightback setting up Nikola Kalinic to nod in the equaliser after 23 minutes. A Perotti penalty before the break and a second six minutes into the second half condemned Juventus to their third defeat in four matches. The team later lifted the trophy at an empty Allianz Stadium as they celebrated winning the ‘Scudetto’ for the 36th time.
Inter Milan took second place with a 2-0 win over direct rivals Atalanta in Bergamo, finishing the season just one point behind Juventus. “There is still a big gap with Juventus,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte whose side won a three-team battle for second place.
“Juve has a much better structure on and off the pitch. Now the others are trying to work to catch up. We must be smart to understand how to do this, not to go from depression to excessive euphoria.”
Danilo D’Ambrosio nodded in Inter’s first goal after just one minute in Bergamo with Ashley Young doubling their lead after 20 minutes with a stunning curling shot to boost confidence ahead of next week’s Europa League tie against Getafe.
Atalanta’s 17-match unbeaten league run going back to January 20 ended. But coach Gian Piero Gasperini said it was the best preparation for their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain. “This game with Inter gave us a nice wake up call, it was the best thing that could have happened to us,” said Gasperini.
“It was the best game we could find in anticipation of the Champions League. In the last few weeks we have played more confident football, taken our foot off the gas a little, but tonight we have understood that you cannot play like that against this type of team, and it will be the same with the PSG.”
Lazio finished fourth, equal on points with Atalanta, having been pushing for the title just one point behind Juventus when the season resumed on June 20. Simone Inzaghi’s side fell 3-1 to Napoli but forward Ciro Immobile scored his 36th goal of the season to equal the record for the most goals in a Serie A campaign.
The 30-year-old Italy international tapped in after 22 minutes to match Argentina forward Higuain’s record of 36 goals, set while playing for Napoli in the 2015-16 season. Immobile will also win the European Golden Shoe for the continent’s top scorer this term, having overtaken Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski’s tally of 34 in midweek.
Napoli warmed up for their Champions League last 16 second leg game over Barcelona with a win, but lost captain Lorenzo Insigne, who scored on the night, to injury.
In the San Siro, Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty but scored his 10th league goal since January as AC Milan finished in sixth place with a 3-0 win over Cagliari. The season was to conclude last night with Lecce and Genoa playing Parma and Hellas Verona respectively hoping to avoid joining Brescia and SPAL down in Serie B. Genoa, in 17th, are just one-point ahead of Lecce, who occupy the final relegation berth.
Italian Serie A results
Brescia 1 (Torregrossa 49-pen)
Sampdoria 1 (Leris 41); Atalanta 0 Inter Milan 2 (D’Ambrosio 1, Young 20); Napoli 3 (Fabian 9, Insigne 54-pen, Politano 90+2) Lazio 1 (Immobile 22); Juventus 1 (Higuain 5) AS Roma 3 (Kalinic 23, Perotti 44-pen, 52); AC Milan 3 (Klavan 10-og, Ibrahimovic 55, Castillejo Azuaga 57) Cagliari 0
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