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Lazio add new twist to Serie A title race

16 April 2015, 15:12

Milan - Lazio's charge up the Serie A table has given a new twist to the championship and a win at leaders Juventus in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash (1845 GMT) would add further spice.

Stefano Pioli's side travel to Turin on the back of eight successive league wins which have lifted them into second place, ahead of neighbours AS Roma.

Another win on Saturday would cut Juve's lead to nine points with seven games left, just enough to keep Massimiliano Allegri's team looking over their shoulders as they chase a league, cup and Champions League treble.

Should Lazio lose, however, Roma will have a chance to re-take second place when they host lowly Atalanta on Sunday (1300 GMT).

Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan clash at San Siro on Sunday evening (1845), with both teams mired in midtable and struggling to even qualify for the Europa League.

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Milan are ninth with 42 points, seven adrift of the Europa League places, and Roberto Mancini's Inter are a point and place below them.

Juventus coach Allegri said recently he hoped to effectively seal the title with wins against Parma and Lazio, but a shock defeat against bottom-of-the-table Parma has scuppered those plans.

Until early February, Serie A had threatened to become a replica of last season with Juventus on top, followed by Roma and Napoli and a then seven-point gap to Sampdoria in fourth. Lazio were sixth following a home defeat to Genoa.

Lazio's run, in which they have conceded only two goals, combined with the indifferent form of Roma and Napoli, has completely changed that.

Their main target remains a second-placed finish which would guarantee a place in the Champions League group stage next season, their first appearance in the competition since 2007/08.

A win on Saturday would also equal Lazio's club record of nine consecutive Serie A wins, achieved under Sven-Goran Eriksson in the 1998-99 season.

"We must remained focused and keep working with attention," said Pioli.. "We are satisfied but we haven't obtained anything yet, there are still a few games left before we can celebrate.

"We have now recognised the potential of this team and the club is giving us the ideal conditions to work."

Pioli's appointment in June was given a lukewarm response for Lazio fans as the 49-year-old had until then had something of a chequered career, mainly at unfashionable clubs.

His previous job had ended with the sack after two-and-a-half years at Bologna, mostly spent battling relegation.

"Pioli's secret is humility," midfielder Felipe Anderson told Lazio's official radio station.

"We've won eight Serie A games in a row and he keeps telling us we've achieved nothing. We continue to work and sweat both in training and in matches."

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- Reuters


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