TOTTI TO RE­TIRE

Ready to work as di­rec­tor af­ter the end of the sea­son

New Straits Times - - Sport - TERME LUIGIANE

RE­TIRE­MENT-BOUND Francesco Totti said he re­mains fo­cused on help­ing Roma se­cure a top-two fin­ish de­spite the prospect of watch­ing from the bench when they bid to stop Ju­ven­tus se­cur­ing the Serie A ti­tle to­mor­row.

The 40-year-old Totti ended months of spec­u­la­tion over his fu­ture by con­firm­ing this week he is ready to work along­side sport­ing di­rec­tor Monchi when he hangs up his boots at the end of the month.

Known as ‘Il Re di Roma’ (King of Rome) for the best part of a ca­reer spent en­tirely with Roma, Totti will be given a farewell worth of roy­alty when they host Genoa on his swan­song on May 28.

De­spite a de­cid­edly un­der­whelm­ing end to a sto­ried ca­reer that has been over­shad­owed by spo­radic, cameo ap­pear­ance from the bench and dis­agree­ments with club of­fi­cials, Totti says he re­mains com­mit­ted to the cause.

“We have Ju­ven­tus against Roma on Sun­day, that’s all I’m think­ing about be­cause we want to fight all the way to the end in this cham­pi­onship, and Roma comes first,” said Totti.

“There will be plenty of time to talk (about me) after­wards.”

With a seven-point lead on Lu­ciano Spal­letti’s hosts and three games re­main­ing, Ju­ven­tus need just a point at the Sta­dio Olimpico to se­cure a record sixth con­sec­u­tive ‘scud­etto’, and the first tro­phy of a tar­geted tre­ble.

Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri’s men face face Lazio in the Ital­ian Cup fi­nal on May 17 be­fore fo­cus­ing on Real Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal on June 3.

But Al­le­gri is keen to make sure Juve get the job fin­ished quickly.

“We’ll go into the fi­nal look­ing to win, but in the mean­time we can’t for­get we need a point against Roma. Oth­er­wise, it will come down to our (next) game against Cro­tone,” he said.

Roma are with­out striker Edin Dzeko, who leads Serie A on 27 goals, as he re­cov­ers from a calf strain and are still sweat­ing on mid­fielder Radja Naing­golan.

Roma would do well to take at least a point from to­mor­row’s clash if they are to keep Napoli at bay in their dogged pur­suit of the league’s sec­ond au­to­matic Cham­pi­ons League qualifying spot.

Napoli are just one point fur­ther adrift in third be­fore a trip to Torino where a draw would se­cure at least a third-place fin­ish. Lazio, away to Fiorentina, are seven points be­hind them in fourth.

As Juve, Roma and Napoli look ahead to Europe’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion, north­ern ri­vals AC Mi­lan and In­ter Mi­lan — both now Chi­nese-owned — face an­other un­der­whelm­ing end to the sea­son.

But the pres­sure is firmly on In­ter, who sacked coach Ste­fano Pi­oli in mid­week amid a se­v­engame win­less run in­clud­ing five de­feats and claims by pun­dits that In­ter’s mer­cu­rial play­ers are the prob­lem.

Pi­oli took over from Dutch­man Frank De Boer two months into the cam­paign but the club, af­ter ini­tially tar­get­ing a Cham­pi­ons League spot, risk fall­ing short of even qualifying for the Europa League.

AC Mi­lan, in sixth and still on course for a Europa League spot, are away to high-fly­ing Ata­lanta, who are fifth with a six-point ad­van­tage on the Ros­soneri.

In­ter, three points adrift of their city ri­vals, host Sas­suolo to­mor­row when youth team coach Ste­fano Vec­chi will take over un­til the club find a re­place­ment for Pi­oli.

With Palermo and Pescara al­ready rel­e­gated to Serie B, Cro­tone host Udi­nese look­ing for the win that would boost their top flight sur­vival hopes.

The Cal­abri­ans sit third-from­bot­tom with a four-point deficit to Em­poli, who are away to Cagliari.

TO­DAY: Fiorentina v Lazio, Ata­lanta v AC Mi­lan; TO­MOR­ROW: In­ter Mi­lan v Sas­suolo, Bologna v Pescara, Cagliari v Em­poli, Cro­tone v Udi­nese, Palermo v Genoa, Sam­p­do­ria v Chievo, Torino v Napoli, Roma v Ju­ven­tus. AFP

We have Ju­ven­tus against Roma on Sun­day, that’s all I’m think­ing about be­cause we want to fight all the way to the end in this cham­pi­onship, and Roma comes first,

FRANCESCO TOTTI

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