JUVE EYE HISTORY, TOTTI TO BID BYE BYE
Allegri wants treble as Serie A prepares for Roma legend’s farewell
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.