Juventus host Hellas Verona on Saturday in a Serie A clash which will see Max Allegri’s champions in full celebration mode.
Juventus secured their seventh successive title with a 0-0 draw against Roma last weekend which guaranteed that second-placed Napoli cannot catch the Turin-based side at the summit of the table.
Allegri will lead his side into Saturday’s game with the overriding pleasure of getting his hands back on the Serie A crown which he has now lead his side to in each of his four seasons in Turin. The lifting of the trophy will inevitably steal the show on Saturday.
For Verona, the game will be of a highly contrasting nature of despair. The away side are 19th in the league and, with ten points between themselves and Spal in 17th, Saturday’s game will do little more than consign them to the relegation which has long been confirmed.
Juventus’ 0-0 draw in Rome last weekend earned the away side the point that was needed to secure the title. It came just four days after their storming 4-0 victory over AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final, in what was a greatly triumphant week for Allegri’s side.
Prior to the cup final, Juve had bounced back from a shock 1-0 defeat to Napoli, which had threatened to blow the Serie A title race wide open late on, with successive wins over Inter and Bologna to ease them on their way towards domestic supremacy.
Verona travel to face the rampant Juve on a contrasting run of form which reflects their position at the opposite end of the table.
Since beating Cagliari 1-0 at the start of last month, Verona have gone on to lose each of their last six games, most recently a 1-0 defeat at home to Udinese last weekend.
That losing streak has plummeted Fabio Pecchia’s side into the abyss of the Serie A basement, and a trip to the home of the rampant champions offers little promise of light relief at the end of this weekend.
The away side can take little encouragement from the defeat suffered at home to the champions when the sides last met this season back in December.
A Paulo Dybala-inspired Juve comfortably brushed aside the hosts on that occasion, as the Argentine hitman scored a brace within five minutes to put Verona to the sword in a 3-1 victory for the Turin outfit.
Former Juve defender Martin Caceres had cancelled out Blaise Matuidi’s opener to equalise for Verona, but ultimately the class and winning knowhow of Allegri’s side prevailed.
Saturday’s game could be decided by which side’s number ten has the greater impact on the game. For Juventus, Paulo Dybala’s performance in the previous match between the two teams serves as all the evidence required in depicting the decisive influence which Juve’s second striker can have on a match.
The Argentine forward’s pace, movement and intelligence in behind the main striker can provide the greatest threat for his side, with a unique ability to pop up at vital moments with killer contributions. A winning goal against Tottenham at Wembley in March showcased Dybala’s abilities to English fans with aplomb in the Champions League last 16.
Verona, meanwhile, possess the talents of veteran Italian attacker, Alessio Cerci. The Verona number ten made a high profile move to Atletico Madrid in 2014 following a highly impressive two-year spell at Torino.
Though that move to Spain proved unsuccessful, the 30-year-old has been a regular for Verona since his permanent return to Italy last summer. Cerci will likely provide the away side’s most influential point of attack on Saturday and could be one for the Juve defence to keep a watchful eye on.
Juventus have just one injury concern ahead of the final week of the campaign, with iconic defender Giorgio Chiellini set to miss out with a muscular injury which also consigned the Italian to the bench for last weekend’s trip to Roma.
Legendary Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, meanwhile, is set to make his final appearance for the club which he has served for 17 years. Buffon recently confirmed that he will depart at the end of the season, and Saturday’s game could be as much a celebration of the goalkeeping great’s career in Turin as it is of his side’s retention of the Serie A title.
Verona, meanwhile, also have just one injury problem of their own, with midfielder Mattia Zaccagni continuing to recover from knee ligament troubles which have kept him out of action since November.
Though Verona will be hoping to take a positive result away from Saturday’s trip to face the champions to give their fans something to cheer about following a miserable season which will see them comfortably relegated on Saturday, Fabio Pecchia’s team will struggle to live with the home side’s quality and the momentum which Allegri’s side have gained from an all-conquering past week and the celebration of a seventh successive title success.
Score prediction: Juventus 4-0 Verona