Atalanta could be unlikely saviour of Juventus' season

New champion Inter Milan has booked its spot in Europe's elite club competition, with second-placed Atalanta guaranteed a top-four place by virtue of its better head-to-head record over Juventus.

Juventus players celebrates their victory against Atalanta after the end of Italian Cup final match.   -  AP

Juventus is normally preparing for a trophy-lifting party going into the final weekend of the Serie A season, but this year it faces the real possibility of missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 2011-12.

New champion Inter Milan has booked its spot in Europe's elite club competition, with second-placed Atalanta guaranteed a top-four place by virtue of its better head-to-head record over Juventus.

AC Milan and Napoli are both on 76 points, the former holding the best head-to-head record of the pair, while Juventus is one point adrift in fifth.

If Milan and Napoli win on Sunday, Juve's fate is taken out of its hands and it will be playing Europa League football next season.

While Napoli faces a seemingly easier home clash with Hellas Verona on Sunday, Juve's saving grace could come in Bergamo.

Milan travels to Atalanta in the standout fixture of the final weekend. While Gian Piero Gasperini's side know its Champions League spot is safe, it has never finished as high as second in the Italian top flight, so will not be letting up.

READ | Andrea Pirlo determined to continue at Juventus after Coppa win

"We have always done our duty, but we are not responsible for the fate of others, everyone is responsible for their own," Gasperini said.

"We have scored points and we will play to finish in second place, knowing however that we have hit our target."

Juve face a tough trip to Bologna, where victory is a must.

If Milan and Napoli both lose and Juve draw, they will all finish on 76 points, yet Juve's record in the head-to-head league with Milan and Napoli and its inferior goal difference to Napoli would see that finish fifth, barring a 10-goal defeat for the Naples club.

However, Andrea Pirlo's side will be buoyed by the fact it put in what several Italian newspapers described as its best performance of the season on Wednesday to clinch a 14th Coppa Italia crown, beating Atalanta in the final.

"We have to recover, to put our focus on Bologna, which will be the match of our lives," Pirlo told Juventus TV.

"We have seen it in this week's games, both with Lazio and with Crotone that they are honouring the championship and competing. We have to do our best and try to win the game, hoping that something positive can happen."

Champion Inter can sign off on a high with victory at home to Udinese, as it looks to stretch its record home winning streak in Serie A to 16 consecutive matches.

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