Serie A: Gianluigi Buffon set for final Juventus bow; Lazio, Inter Milan eye Europe
Gianluigi Buffon’s 640th Serie A game will be against Verona in the Allianz Stadium before he steps aside to consider the next move in his already storied career.Updated: May 19, 2018 12:06 IST
Agence France-Presse, Milan
Italy great Gianluigi Buffon will take his final bow in goal for Juventus on Saturday at the end of a 17-year stint with the Serie A champions.
The 40-year-old’s 640th Serie A game will be against Verona in the Allianz Stadium before he steps aside to consider the next move in his already storied career.
“Saturday will be my final match for Juventus and to end this journey with two cups... and the entire Bianconeri world by my side, will be very special,” said the former Italian international.
Buffon captained Juventus to a seventh straight Serie A title and fourth consecutive Italian Cup triumph this season.
“Gigi has been with us all the way on this long and eventful rollercoaster ride of a journey,” said club president Andrea Agnelli.
“When we descended into Hell in 2006 (demoted to Serie B after a match-fixing scandal), he stayed with us and played his part in our return to Paradise.
“We will be forever grateful for his loyalty.”
Apart from Buffon’s emotional farewell, the match will have no significance on this season with Juventus already crowned Serie A champions for the 34th time last Sunday in Rome while Verona have been relegated.
After the official awards ceremony, the match will be followed by an opentop bus tour by the all-conquering champions through the streets of Turin.
Lazio, Inter clash for Europe
On the pitch the big game of the final weekend of the 2017/18 season will see Lazio tackle Inter Milan on Sunday with the final Champions League berth at stake.
Lazio have the advantage in fourth with Inter three points behind, and the Romans need just one point to secure their place among the elite of European football next season.
But a win for Luciano Spalletti’s Inter would ensure a return to top European action for the first time since the 2013/14 season.
The clash could also decide who will be the top scorer for the season.
Lazio should be boosted by the return of top Serie A scorer Ciro Immobile from injury. Immobile leads the way on 29 goals with Inter’s Mauro Icardi just one behind.
AC Milan in sixth are already assured of Europa League qualification but need to hold off Atalanta to ensure direct entry into the group stages.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side have 61 points and host Fiorentina, who are four points behind in eighth but can still qualify for Europe with victory.
Atalanta, in seventh, are one point behind Gattuso’s side and the big threat to Milan’s sixth place as they travel to lowly Cagliari.
At the bottom of the table the relegation battle goes down to the wire with five teams involved.
Crotone have the most difficult task as they head to second-placed Napoli.
The side from Calabria are in the third relegation spot and look destined to join Verona and Benevento in the second tier.
But none of Chievo, Udinese, Cagliari and SPAL are yet safe.
Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli will be keen to add to their club record 88 points in their final game in front of the San Paolo Stadium faithful after a season where they came close to a first title since 1990.
First Published: May 19, 2018 10:26 IST