AC Milan’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are hanging by a thread and its hopes of returning to Europe’s top club competition may now hinge on Juventus’s case and a potential new points deduction.
A new ruling in a case centred on Juve’s transfer dealings is expected on Monday after Italy’s top sports body in April cancelled a decision to dock the Turin club 15 points, ordering a new hearing.
Italian media report the new punishment is likely to be a nine-point deduction that could be applied to the current campaign or postponed until the 2023-24 season.
Should the punishment be enforced with immediate effect, Juventus would drop from second in Serie A on 69 points to behind AC Milan.
Milan, which was knocked out in the Champions League semis by neighbour Inter Milan on Tuesday, will hope this is the case, after another disappointing display in a shock 2-0 loss by lowly Spezia last weekend kept it fifth on 61 points.
It has won only two of its last seven league games and is four points off struggling Lazio, in fourth.
Lazio has itself won only once within the past month but its previous unbeaten run of seven wins in eight games earned it some breathing space.
Milan, which hosts already-relegated Sampdoria on Saturday, needs to win its three remaining games and hope one of the teams above it stumbles.
Sampdoria should pose a limited threat. It has gained 18 points so far and will end the campaign with its lowest Serie A points total since the league adopted three points for a win in 1994-95.
Juventus faces a Europa League semifinal second leg trip to Sevilla on Thursday with the tie poised at 1-1.
A victory in the final would ensure a spot in next season’s Champions League and would push its top-four worries into the background.
“We only have to think about (what happens on) the pitch, it’s a game to play and the whole team wants to reach the final,” coach Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference ahead Thursday’s clash.
However, amid uncertainty over its situation, Juve will want to bag three points in Serie A when it travels to 14th-placed Empoli on Monday.
Juventus has won all five away matches against Empoli under Allegri.
Juve is unbeaten in its last four games (with three wins) and has won the joint most games against sides currently in the bottom half of the table this season (14, level with Napoli and Inter).
Champion Napoli hosts third-placed Inter Milan on Sunday when Lazio travels to 12th-placed Udinese.
Jose Mourinho’s sixth-placed AS Roma takes on Salernitana at home on Monday.
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