Italian Serie A Matchday 35 Preview: Will Roma Squander the Scudetto and Second Place?

Serie A

It is now that time of the season where we can finally acclaim a champion. Juventus can clinch the title with a win and if Roma fail to win against Milan on Sunday. If this is the case, Roma could also slip down to third place if Napoli win against Cagliari.

Napoli host Cagliari on Saturday at 12:00 pm EST (5:00 pm GMT) at the Stadio San Paolo to start the weekend. The visitors enter this game following a win against Pescara, but it was not without controversy as Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari walked off the field after being racially abused by a minority of Cagliari fans. Muntari was given a yellow card for protesting and was subsequently banned for one game. This is nothing new in the Italian game. This has been happening since I started closely following the league back when Messina midfielder Zoro stopped the game against Inter in 2005. What is disturbing about this is that the Lega Calcio or the FIGC (Italian FA) missed an opportunity to place a harsh punishment on Cagliari to show that there should be zero tolerance towards racism. To add insult to injury, the FIGC only gave Lazio and Inter a suspended sentence after a majority of their fans participated in discriminatory chants. Nothing will surprise me when it comes to the systemic racism in the Italian game.

The game itself should be an attacking one as Cagliari has the best goals for record and the worst goals against record in the bottom half of the table. They are led by their well-travelled talisman Marco Borriello, who has scored sixteen league goals this season, and he will be owed a free vacation by BeIN Sports’ Christian “Bobo” Vieri. Napoli should not take this game lightly because second place and direct qualification to the Champions League is at stake. They have also faltered in games against similar teams like Sassuolo. Look for the traditional front three of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon to start.

Prediction: The last time Napoli faced Cagliari, the Neapolitans won 5-0. Expect a similar result this time around: Napoli 3-0 Cagliari.

TV coverage in North America: RAI Italia

Juventus host Torino in the Derby della Mole on Saturday 2:45 pm EST (7:45 pm GMT) at the Juventus Stadium. This game follows an impressive 2-0 away win at Monaco in the Champions League. The hosts would like to continue their winning streak against their crosstown rivals to secure the title before the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on May 9. After starting on the bench in midweek, Juan Cuadrado should start on the wing with Stephan Lichtsteiner at right back. Dani Alves will mostly likely be rested for the second leg after his heroics on Wednesday. The visitors come into this game with no fear and with the chance of temporarily denying their rivals the chance to clinch the Scudetto. Torino will rely on Andrea Belotti, who is tied for the Capocannoniere with 25 goals. He will most likely be flanked by Iago Falque and Adem Ljajic.

Prediction: Juventus have not conceded a goal in a month and want to win to seal their sixth straight Scudetto. Juventus 2-0 Torino.

TV coverage in North America: RAI Italia

Milan host Roma on Sunday at 2:45 pm EST (7:45 pm GMT) at the Stadio San Siro. The hosts are in a dogfight for the last European qualification place and need maximum points to defend sixth place. The visitors need maximum points to keep their title hopes alive and to protect second place which guarantees direct qualification in next year’s Champions League. All of this means that we should expect an attacking game with both teams seeking the three points. Milan will rely on Carlos Bacca supported by Suso and Gerard Deulofeu on the wings. In midfield, Manuel Locatelli should play over Jose Sosa, if Milan have any hope in winning, because of his long range passing ability. The visitors will probably field Edin Dzeko upfront alongside Mohamed Salah on the right side. On the left side, it will be a toss-up between ex-Milan player Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti. In midfield, the trio of Daniele De Rossi, Leandro Paredes and Radja Nainggolan will probably start.

Prediction: Milan have a mediocre home record and both teams need the points. This means that the game will end in a draw. Milan 2-2 Roma.

TV coverage in North America: RAI Italia, BeIN Sports