Chaos reigns before Juventus celebrate league win at Roma
Rome: Juventus`s clash with AS Roma was set to be Sunday night`s Serie A showcase but neither club knows what time the match will start as the fallout from Saturday`s Italian Cup final chaos continues.
Antonio Conte`s Juventus travel to the Italian capital flush with the success from their third straight league title, which was handed to them before Monday night`s 1-0 win against Atalanta after Roma collapsed 4-1 at Catania on Sunday.
The match was due to kick off at 1845 GMT but is now set to be moved forward following the outbreak of violence before the Italian Cup final, in which three Napoli fans were shot at following clashes in the Tor Di Quinto area of the city.
The Ministry of the Interior is worried about the prospect of revenge attacks on Roma fans from Napoli supporters, who will be returning south from their dead rubber match with Sampdoria.
Napoli, who sealed third place and a Champions League playoff spot with a 3-0 win over Cagliari on Tuesday, will play two matches behind closed doors for a number of offences carried out by fans on Saturday evening, including a pitch invasion, throwing of flares and smoke bombs and booing the national anthem.
The match kicked off 45 minutes late as false rumours of the death of a Napoli fan circulated and the sight of the organisers holding discussions with "ultra" leaders has sparked soul-searching around the violence that continues to blight the game in Italy.
"It`s not possible that a sporting event becomes an almost event of war," said Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.
"We decided with (Prime Minister Matteo) Renzi to intervene at the end of the season when we will choose the new measures to come into force for the new season."
Striker Mattia Destro returns for Roma after serving a three-match ban for hitting Cagliari defender Davide Astori last month.
With Giuseppe Rossi scoring in his first league game since January in Fiorentina’s 4-3 defeat to relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Tuesday, Destro will be keen to use the final two games of the season to impress Italy coach Cesare Prandelli ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.
While Sunday’s clash makes no difference to league placing, both clubs look towards the close season with some doubts lingering over the future with Conte refusing to commit himself to Juventus and Roma working on the final touches to a new long-term contract for Paris Saint-Germain target Miralem Pjanic.
"Miralem is a remarkable talent and there has never been any question about him leaving...he knows how very important he is to me in my midfield," Roma coach Rudi Garcia told French magazine Surface.
"What matters is that we can offer him a project that matches his talent and there are all the elements in place to make him stay."
With the title and Champions League spots wrapped up, all that remains to be decided are the Europa League and relegation place, with six teams fighting for European football and five scrambling for Serie A safety.
Sixth-placed Torino host Parma on Sunday, only a point ahead of their opponents, while Inter Milan, who are only two ahead of Torino after losing the Milan derby 1-0 last weekend, will be hoping to seal their place in Europe with a win against Lazio, who lie 10th level on 53 points with Hellas Verona but are only four points behind Inter.
Inter’s match with Lazio will be Javier Zanetti’s last for the club after nearly two decades of service should under-fire Walter Mazzarri choose to play him. Mazzarri was roundly criticised for not doing so during their defeat to Milan.
They will be without their hardcore fans in the San Siro’s Curva Nord, which was closed by authorities for two matches following offensive chants during last month’s goalless draw with Napoli, a punishment that was extended to three matches for racist chants directed at Milan striker Mario Balotelli last weekend.
Catania take on Bologna on Sunday in a huge survival shootout, although their hopes of Serie A football for next season were dented by Sassuolo’s bizzare win at Fiorentina, which moved Eusebio Di Francesco’s side up to 16th on 31 points, one above Chievo Verona and two points clear of the drop zone.
Bologna sit third-from-bottom on 29 points, three points ahead of their hosts.
A win would lift them out of the bottom three should Chievo not win at Cagliari or Sassuolo lose at home to Genoa, while condemning the Sicilians to the drop.