Late winner keeps hope aflame
An impressive 3-2 win over new Serie A Champions Inter Milan has kept Juventus in the hunt for the Champions League qualification places, but it remains out of their hands. Inter had seemingly snatched a draw when Giorgio Chiellini turned into his own net in the 83rd minute, but a late winner from Juan Cuadrado secured Juventus all three points.
Despite the victory, Juventus still have to hope that one of Atalanta, AC Milan or Napoli slip up before the end of the season in order to have any hope of finishing in the top four in Italy.
The possible permutations:
Atalanta lead the Juventus by three points with one game to go, and provided they achieve any sort of result against AC Milan on the final day, will play in the Champions League next season. Napoli, who host midtable Verona on the final day, sit just one point clear of Pirlo’s team, and need to win their game to ensure that they too reach the top tier of European football.
Were Atalanta to lose and Juventus to win their game, Gasperini’s side would drop out of the Champions League places (provided Napoli won). This is due to the Serie A’s method of choosing between sides level at the end of the season. Whilst the Premier League and others use simple goal difference, the Serie A opt for head-to-head results and head to head goal difference, as outlined here.
Across the two fixtures between Atalanta and Juventus, Pirlo’s side have taken four of the six points on offer, meaning that they would finish above Atalanta.
AC Milan too are in a strong position. They sit level on points with Juventus at present but they have a game in hand on their rivals, playing Cagliari later this evening. They then head to Atalanta on the final day of the season. Even if they were to drop points against Atalanta, they would finish above Juventus were they to win their game against Cagliari.
As above, it would come down to the head to head between the sides. In the two fixtures between Milan and Juventus, each side has one victory and one defeat, but Milan have scored 4 goals across those ties, whilst Juventus have managed just 3.
This single goal would mean that Milan would finish above Juventus if they finished level on points, effectively meaning that a win tonight secures AC Milan’s position in the Champions League next season.
For Juventus to qualify for the Champions League next season, therefore, they need Napoli to drop points or Atalanta to lose on the final day of the season. A draw for Atalanta would be enough to see them into the Champions League, whilst Napoli still need to win.
However you spin it, its been a terrible season for Juventus. Whilst losing out on Champions League football next season would be a huge blow, questions will have to be asked even if they squeeze in.