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Juventus set for decisive Serie A matchweek with Champions League spot at stake

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Juventus FC, Italian football's most successful club of all time, have won the Serie A title a record 36 times but are on the verge of missing out on UEFA Champions League football for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

After winning the Scudetto nine consecutive times since the 2011-12 season, Antonio Conte's Inter Milan finally brought an end to Juventus’ winning streak this season by claiming the 2020-21 Serie A title.

As if missing out on the Serie A title wasn’t enough, I Bianconeri could now also miss out on a spot in Europe’s elite tournament next season should their rivals fail to drop points this weekend.

Juventus’ dismal outing in 2020-21 season

Given the star-studded squad that manager Andrea Pirlo had at his disposal this season, to say that they have had an underwhelming campaign would be an understatement.

Despite big-name players like Arthur, Alvaro Morata, and Federico Chiesa joining Juventus last summer to further strengthen a side that boasts five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, the story has been different altogether.

The Old Lady were eliminated in the UEFA Champions League’s round of 16 by Portuguese club FC Porto and lost the Supercopa Italiana to SSC Napoli. Their only chance of winning silverware this season is the Coppa Italia, where they are scheduled to play Atalanta in the final on Friday.

Will Juventus qualify for the Champions League?

Juventus’ 3-2 win over Inter Milan last week means they sit fifth in the Serie A points table with 75 points after 37 matches. With Inter and Atalanta already in next season’s Champions League, Juventus find themselves a point behind third-placed AC Milan and fourth-placed Napoli with both teams on 76 points after 37 games and in the race for the two remaining spots.

Hence, Juventus' qualification hopes for the UEFA Champions League next season are not in their own hands. If Milan, Napoli and Juventus were to win their remaining Serie A game, the Old Lady will miss out on Champions League football. 

To qualify, they need to beat Bologna on Monday, May 24 and then hope that Milan and Napoli either lose or draw their respective games. If Juventus draw their last match while Milan and Napoli lose then the head-to-head between the three teams will be the deciding factor since they would be tied on points.

Unlike the Premier League where goal-difference separates teams on equal points, the Serie A relies on the head-to-head record between the sides for that particular season.

The only case where the head-to-head can be a decider going into the final week of the Serie A campaign is if AC Milan or Napoli lose and Juve draw their game. Even in such a scenario, Milan would still qualify for Champions League football since they lost 3-1 and won 3-0 against the Old Lady earlier in the season.

Napoli, on the other hand, beat Juve 1-0 before losing the reverse fixture 1-2, which means they would be tied on points and head-to-head as well, leading to goal-difference coming into play in the Naples-based club’s favour. All things considered, Juve must win their game at any cost and hope that one of the other clubs two drop points.

Serie A’s final gameweek will see Milan going on a tricky visit to second-placed Atalanta, whereas Napoli host tenth-placed Verona. While Napoli are expected to get the better of Verona, Milan’s fixture isn’t that straightforward. 

However, none of that may even matter if Juventus can’t beat Bologna in their final game. The Old Lady haven’t lost to Bologna since the 2010-11 Serie A season.

Featured Image: AFP/ Isabella Bonotto

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