Soccer-Serie A heading towards another anti-climax
MILAN, April 20 (Reuters) - With Juventus charging towards yet another title and the relegation battle virtually decided, Serie A appears to be approaching yet another anti-climax.
A 2-0 win at Pescara last Saturday left the Turin side eight points clear of AS Roma and 10 ahead of Napoli with just six games to play in what appears to be an uncanny repeat of the last few seasons.
The Turin side have won five Serie A titles in a row, the last four of which have seen either Roma or Napoli trailing in second anything from nine to 17 points behind.
Roma and Napoli have again been the only challenges this season, doing their best to make a fight of it.
Roma won nine out of 10 games before they were held 1-1 by Atalanta last week while there is little doubt that Napoli, the league's top scorers with 75 goals, have been the most entertaining team to watch.
Yet neither have matched Juve's relentless consistency and knack for grinding out results.
Since their last defeat at Fiorentina in January, Juventus have chalked up 11 wins and two draws, scoring two goals in eight of those games, one goal in another four and keeping nine clean sheets.
"You win titles with games like these, by picking up difficult points on your travels," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri after a 1-1 draw at Napoli earlier this month.
Incredibly, Juventus have won their last 32 home league games and there is little reason to suspect that run will end on Sunday when they host a Genoa side who have won only once this year.
Roma should also win at bottom club Pescara on Monday while three points are well within Napoli's capabilities when they visit Sassuolo, who have had an indifferent season.
With Lazio a further nine points behind in fourth, the main question is now whether Napoli can pip Roma for second place which would guarantee a place in the Champions League group stage rather than the playoff round which has become a graveyard for Serie A teams.
At the other end of the table, relegation also seems a foregone conclusion with Empoli (26 points) enjoying a five-point cushion over the three relegation places which are occupied by Crotone (21), Palermo (16) and Pescara (14).
Crotone threatened to stage a great escape with two successive wins but Empoli's shock 2-1 win at Fiorentina last week coupled with Crotone's 1-1 draw at Torino has left the team from Calabria with an almost hopeless task.
(Writing by Brian Homewood)