Dreaming costs nothing for third-placed Juventus
Juventus are blending hopes and dreams ahead of the final stretch of a season that saw them return to the Serie A after a year spent in the lower division. ( dpa )
The Serie B season to which they were sentenced in a corruption trial seems to be entirely forgotten, largely thanks to a safe third place and to a recent defeat of leaders Inter Milan, which followed by a month that of second-place Roma.
Inter have struggled badly in the last two months, but still lead an unrelenting Roma by four points, although the gap has been reduced from 11, with seven games left.
As football buffs gear for a neck-and-neck title race, Juve seem to lay in wait on 58 points, which could become 61 after their match against troubled Palermo this weekend, pushing them to within four points of Roma and within eight of Inter with one game in hand.
"The fun part begins now," coach Claudio Ranieri told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We have eight finals before us and maybe we'll manage to add the icing to the cake.
"Results come when you aim high and this is my frame of mind. As long as mathematics doesn't rule it out, I believe in it. Of course, it is the other teams who have to lose it, but this has happened in the past."
Title holders Inter, meanwhile, welcome back midfield mainstays Esteban Cambiasso and Patrick Vieira from injury, but may have a hard time in a Lombardy derby with Atalanta, who last week won 2-1 at AC Milan.
Roma took a heavy blow in midweek as Manchester United beat them 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in a Champions League quarter final.
It will be hard to reverse the upset in England, but the elimination could be good news for Roma's title hopes as they will be able to focus on their chase of Inter.
A solid Genoa visit Roma at the Olimpico Saturday afternoon, a couple of hours before AC Milan resume their pursuit of a Champions League berth at home to lowly but in-form Cagliari.
Fiorentina have a tough UEFA Cup game against PSV Eindhoven Thursday evening, and will have to promptly recover their energies for Sunday's home game with second-from-bottom Reggina.
A visit to Siena awaits Udinese after last weekend's leapfrogging of Milan, Sampdoria, now level with the Milanese Devils, host Livorno, while Torino take on bottom side Empoli and and struggling Catania welcome Napoli.
Mid-table Lazio are away to lowly Parma after celebrating this week the 44th birthday of goalkeeper Marco Ballotta, now the oldest player ever in the Serie A. He is also the oldest to have played a Champions League game last December.