Serie A title race far from over despite Lazio defeat

Juventus' match is at home to relegation-threatened Lecce, which has shipped 15 goals on its way to losing the last three games.

Luis Palomino

Atalanta's Jose Luis Palomino scores against Lazio at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo, Italy on Wednesday.   -  AP

Serie A's resumption after the coronavirus stoppage could not have gone much better for titleholder Juventus, which won its opening match and saw rival Lazio and Inter Milan both slip up.

As Juve extended its lead over Lazio to four points, it was hard to avoid the familiar feeling that the Turin side was about to ride off into the distance, just as it has done in previous seasons, and claim a ninth successive title.

“This defeat complicates the road towards the title,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, after his side squandered a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 at Atalanta on Wednesday.

“We hadn't lost for 21 games but Atalanta were one of the worst opponents we could have faced on our restart. Now we have to get our energy back and make sure the players recover. We haven't even been lucky with the fixture list.”

Looking at the weekend's fixtures, Inzaghi's gloom may seem justified.

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Juventus' match is at home to relegation-threatened Lecce, which has shipped 15 goals on its way to losing the last three games.

Lazio has a tougher proposition at home to Fiorentina on Saturday while Inter Milan, eight points behind Juve in third after its 3-3 draw at home to Sassuolo on Wednesday, visits seventh-placed Parma on Sunday.

Yet it is far from over. Even though the Serie A season ends in just over one month's time, there are still eleven matches each still to play -- which in terms of games is almost one third of the season.

And there are plenty of chances for Juventus to slip up -- it has to visit AC Milan and must host Lazio, free-scoring Atalanta, its neighbour Torino and fifth-placed AS Roma.

Juve has already lost twice to Lazio this season, been held by Milan and always find Atalanta a tough nut to crack.

It is not as ruthless as it was under Massimiliano Allegri when it had an uncanny knack of grinding out results without dominating games.

Maurizio Sarri was brought in this season to make the side more exciting to watch. But the 61-year-old has never won a league title, is still trying to impose his high-tempo passing style and is under huge pressure to deliver another title. It is likely to be a fascinating finale.

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