JUVE EYE HIS­TORY, TOTTI TO BID BYE BYE

Al­le­gri wants tre­ble as Serie A pre­pares for Roma legend’s farewell

New Straits Times - - Sport -

WHILE coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri rings the changes for Ju­ven­tus ahead of their bid for a his­toric club tre­ble, Serie A will wave farewell to leg­endary Francesco Totti in his fi­nal game with Roma to­mor­row.

Al­le­gri faces ar­guably the big­gest chal­lenge of his ca­reer when the Turin giants face Real Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in Cardiff on June 3.

But with a record sixth con­sec­u­tive scud­etto, and record third suc­ces­sive league and Cup dou­ble now in the bag, the 49-yearold coach can at least af­ford to rest key play­ers for to­mor­row’s fi­nal league out­ing of the sea­son at Bologna.

Al­le­gri has yet to name his start­ing line-up, but with Ger­many mid­fielder Sami Khedira side­lined and fo­cused on re­cov­er­ing in time for Cardiff, Venezue­lan To­mas Rin­con is look­ing for­ward to a rare start.

De­spite some brief respite af­ter fol­low­ing their 2-0 Cup fi­nal win over Lazio with a 3-0 romp over Cro­tone last week­end, he said the fo­cus is firmly on Bologna.

“We had two days off but we’re al­ready fo­cused on the game,” said Rin­con.

“As al­ways, we’re go­ing to Bologna look­ing to win. We’re in good shape and hop­ing to fin­ish the cham­pi­onship with an­other three points be­fore we start to fo­cus on the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

As Ju­ven­tus look to em­lu­ate In­ter Mi­lan, the first Ital­ian team to win the tre­ble, in 2010 un­der Jose Mour­inho, clos­est ri­vals Roma host Genoa look­ing for the win that would com­fort­ably se­cure the league’s sec­ond au­to­matic Cham­pi­ons League spot.

For once this sea­son, the Sta­dio Olimpico will be filled to ca­pac­ity but only be­cause Totti, hav­ing played 25 sea­sons with the Gial­lorossi, will make his fi­nal Serie A ap­pear­ance. Or at least hope to.

With Roma re­quir­ing a win to keep Napoli, one point fur­ther adrift, from snatch­ing sec­ond spot, coach Lu­ciano Spal­letti may rain on Totti’s pa­rade.

“Even though he de­serves all his ac­co­lades, and ev­ery­thing that comes his way when he re­tires, my job is to make sure Roma win,” Spal­letti said.

Totti not mak­ing an ap­pear­ance in his own fi­nale would do lit­tle for Spal­letti’s pop­u­lar­ity in a week in which he has been linked with the va­cant coach’s job at em­bat­tled In­ter Mi­lan, who have al­ready failed to qual­ify for Europe be­fore they host Udi­nese at the San Siro.

De­spite win­ning only one scud­etto, in 2001, the ‘King of Rome’ (Re di Roma) — as one-club man Totti has been known — is so re­spected that even the hard­line ‘ul­tra’ fans of city ri­vals Lazio are ad­mir­ers.

Totti is ex­pected to con­tinue his ca­reer with Roma, al­beit off the pitch, hav­ing signed a con­tract to work in man­age­ment along­side the club’s new sport­ing di­rec­tor Monchi.

But the 40-year-old icon is keep­ing fans guess­ing. Amid re­ports he could ac­cept an of­fer to keep on play­ing out­side Serie A, Totti said on Thurs­day: “From Mon­day I’m ready for a fresh start. I’m ready for a new chal­lenge.”

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

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