Serie A race turning into a repeat of last season

Serie A race turning into a repeat of last season

MILAN - Reuters
Serie A race turning into a repeat of last season

Juventus players celebrate at the end of a Serie A match between Juventus and Hellas Verona in Turin on Jan 18. Juventus won the game 4-0 as Tevez scored two. AP Photo

Juventus is steaming clear of the rest of the field, AS Roma is struggling to keep up, the two Milan clubs lurch from one crisis to another and Napoli is exasperatingly inconsistent.

The current Serie A season, which enters the second half at the weekend, is turning into a carbon copy of the last one.

Juventus, which won last year’s title by a massive 17 points from Roma, is five points clear at the top, having won 14 out of 19 games, and threatening to race away from the rest of the field again.

The club has an excellent chance to extend its lead further when it hosts lowly Chievo on Jan. 25 afternoon and second-placed Roma, which is once again the only team to put up a decent fight, has a difficult match away to Fiorentina later on the same day.

Best attack, defense

Although not quite as dominant as last year, Juventus still has the best attack, with 42 goals scored, the stingiest defense, with only nine conceded, and the league’s top-scorer, Carlos Tevez with 13 goals.

In midfielder Paul Pogba, it also has the player who is widely considered to be the most talented in the league.

Roma, after a promising start, has become bogged down in a series of drawn matches, just as it did last season.

Talismanic forward Francesco Totti, 38, has delivered a few magical moments, including a derby brace against Lazio which he celebrated by taking a selfie in front of the Curva Sud.

Rudi Garcia’s team has dominated most matches but sometimes lack a killer touch and has been held in four of its last six league games, but has an eight-point cushion over Napoli and Sampdoria, which are joint third  at 33 points.

Losses at home

Napoli, third last season, has beaten both Roma and Lazio, yet has surrendered precious points in draws at home to Empoli and Cagliari and defeat to Chievo.

Only seven points separate the team from 10th-placed Palermo and the clubs sandwiched in between include both AC Milan and Inter Milan, level on 26 points.

Milan has lost its last two home games, both against lower-placed opponents, and Inter has won only twice in eight outings since sacking Walter Mazzarri and bringing back Roberto Mancini for a second stint.

Both believe they can finish third, which would earn a place in the Champions League playoff round.
Inter hosts Torino on Jan. 25 while Milan visits direct rival Lazio, fifth with 31 points, on Jan. 24.

“The team follows me and we have to turn things around quickly,” said Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi. “We’re seven points behind third place and we have to try right until the end.”