Football

Published: Thursday April 24, 2014 MYT 9:42:07 PM
Updated: Thursday April 24, 2014 MYT 9:43:14 PM

Roma running out of games in pursuit of relentless Juve

(Reuters) - AS Roma have bravely kept the Serie A title race alive by winning their last seven games but are now running out of matches as they chase relentless leaders Juventus.

Juventus could wrap up their third successive title over the course of a four-day Serie A weekend if Roma fail to win at home to AC Milan on Friday and Antonio Conte's side beat relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Monday.

Roma coach Rudi Garcia, however, is banking on his side beating Clarence Seedorf's Milan and on battling Sassuolo taking at least two points off Juventus.

"I still believe in the scudetto, of course I do," Garcia told the Mediaset sports channel.

"Everything is possible now. Of course, we must win every match, starting on Friday. If we do that we can wait until Monday, hoping that Sassuolo do what they have to do because they are playing for their survival.

"Sassuolo are a good team and it's a positive moment for them. Of course, if Juventus win, the contest will be almost over, but if they don't win it will be open again."

Sassuolo, making their Serie A debut this season, are joint 17th with Bologna on 28 points and they have already made their mark, beating Milan 4-3 in January and prompting their opponents to fire coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Roma have cut Juve's 14-point lead to eight in the last month after winning a game in hand and seeing their rivals lose 2-0 at Napoli. But that turned out to be a rare slip by Juventus, who have won 10 of their last 11 league games.

With four matches each to play, Juventus have 90 points from 34 games, and Roma, already guaranteed second place and Champions League football next season, are on 82.

Roma are hoping that they can at least keep the title race going until they host Juventus on the penultimate weekend of the season. In the meantime, Garcia is making plans for the Champions League.

"I want to stay at Roma but I want a squad that is capable of taking on the Champions League and fighting for the scudetto at the same time," he said.

"We are not going to play in the Champions League for the sake of playing in it."

"We won't play to win (the competition) because at this very moment it's not possible, but we want to be serious competitors in the group stage and at least get to the second stage."

In other matches, Napoli need a win at fifth-placed Inter on Saturday (1945 BST) to make sure of a third-place finish and the Champions League playoff round.

There is still plenty of drama in store at the bottom with only seven points separating Chievo in 16th (30 points) and Catania at the bottom (23). In between are Sassuolo and Bologna (28) and Livorno (25).

Catania visit Verona (Sunday 1130), Livorno host Lazio (Sunday 1400), Chievo are at Sampdoria (Sunday 1400) and Bologna entertain fourth-placed Fiorentina (Saturday 1700).

Davide Nicola, fired as coach by Livorno in January, returns to the hot seat, having been re-hired on Monday to replace Domenico di Carlo.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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