Juventus‘ early Serie A title party was once again delayed for another week yet again by an unfazed SPAL in a league matchday 32. The would-be champion was defeated 2-1 at 13th-place SPAL on Saturday evening and hit with just their 2nd defeat of the Serie A campaign so far.
Juventus needed just a point to wrap up the Serie A title for the 8th consecutive season, and they came into the match resting the majority of the 1st team players including Cristiano Ronaldo, after a pulsating and exhausting UEFA Champions League quarterfinal 1st leg match against the young and energetic Ajax side at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Juve gave many of her fringes players an unusual start, the likes of 17-year-old centre-back, Paolo Gozzi Iweru became the youngest debutant in Serie A this season and was paired in defence with a veteran, Andrea Barzagli(who has not seen regular games either), there were caps for Cyprus’ Grigoris Kastanos, Englishman Stephy Mavididi among other young Juve call ups, it was the youngest starting line-up in a Serie A match for the Old Ladies in 20 years with an average age of about 25 years.
SPAL though sits in the bottom half of the Serie A table are on a good run of form lately, winning 3 out of her last 4 including wins over Lazio and Roma. SPAL has not had it rosy against the Bianconeri, the last time she won over Juve was in Feb 1957 when she defeated Juve 3-1in a Serie A match on home soil. SPAL were happy they won’t have to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo, a man who has scored 19 league goals in just 26 matches, about 2/3rd of the total league goals (30) scored by the team.
SPAL started the match with confidence, they fancied their chances against a young Juventus side and took the early ascendancies. However, it was Juve that went into the half time break with a 1 nil lead. Juve’s right back, Joao Cancelo took an ambitious shot and it was deflected in off Juve’s stand-in striker, Moise Kean on the half-hour mark. Kean has been a revelation for Juve this season, the 19-year-old has been a worthy backup to Ronaldo so far, scoring 6 goals in as many starts.
SPAL came off the break blazing, scoring their equalizer just 4 minutes into the restart, SPAL’s Pasquale Schiattarella swung in a corner kick and it was nodded in by on-loan Torino defender, Kevin Bonifazi. SPAL completed the fightback in the 72nd minute, veteran and 37-year-old striker, Sergio Floccari‘s neat finish from inside the box was enough to earn a 1st win over Juve in 62 years.
Juventus, surely saving their best arsenal for the UCL quarterfinal 2nd leg tie at home against Ajax this midweek. A point in their next home fixture will secure 8th Serie A title in a roll, the party can then begins.
IN OTHER NEWS;
Napoli seems to be the hot favourite to secure the 2nd automatic UCL spot with just 4 matches to go, the Naples team had a comfortable 3-1 win at Chievo, a Kalidou Koulibaly double and Arek Milik sealed Napoli’s victory. The remaining 3rd and 4th places are still up for grabs, and it is being fiercely contested for between Inter Milan(currently on the 3rd place), AC Milan(on 4th place), Roma and Atlanta on 5th and 6th respectively. AC Milan and Roma recorded a slim 1 nil win each on Saturday. Milan needed a late Franck Kessie spot-kick to overcome Lazio at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, while Roma’s Edin Dzeko scored in the 67th minute to hand Roma the win over Udinese. Just 5 points separating 3rd from 6th on the Serie A log table, with both Inter Milan and Atalanta having a game at hand each, Inter travels to Frosinone tonight while Atalanta host Empoli on Monday night.
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