Serie A: Alessandro Del Piero enjoys fairytale ending at Juventus
Kieran Beckles takes a look at Alessandro Del Piero's final game for Juventus and Filippo Inzaghi's perfect ending at AC Milan
Del Piero and Inzaghi say goodbye to Serie A
Alessandro Del Piero capped a special career in Turin with his eighth Scudetto and his 290th goal in Juventus’ 3-1 win over Atalanta on Sunday night in his final home game. The 37-year-old made 704 appearances for the Old Lady over a career spanning 19 seasons, which saw the striker win the Champions League. He can make it two Coppa Italias with victory over Napoli on 20 May. Not to be outdone by his former team-mate at Juve and fellow World Cup winner, Filippo Inzaghi scored in AC Milan’s season finale against Novara. It was the 38-year-old’s 300th appearances for the Rossoneri, and the 126th of his Milan career but first of the season. Inzaghi may trail Del Peiro in terms of Serie A titles but the striker, aptly described by Sir Alex Ferguson as being “born offside” for his tendency to get caught on the wrong side of the last defender, won the Champions League twice under former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Juve complete unbeaten season
Antonio Conte’s Juventus outfit became only the second side in history to complete an unbeaten season in Serie A. The Old Lady eased to victory over Bergamo outfit Atalanta to finish with 84 points after 23 victories and 15 draws. The Turin side emulated the achievements of Fabio Capello’s great Milan side of 1991-92, who were the first team to avoid defeat in a season. Luca Marrone put the newly-crowned Italian champions ahead before Del Piero curled the ball in from the edge of the penalty area in the 28th minute. An 83rd-minute own goal by Stephan Lichtsteiner threatened to spoil the Juve party before defender Andrea Barzagli converted a penalty in stoppage time to seal the win. Conte’s side must avoid defeat in their next 21 games to match Milan’s 58-games without a loss in Serie A.
Udinese secure final Champions League place
Udinese booked their place in next season’s Champions League courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 win at Catania. Francesco Guidolin’s side, who were knocked out at the play-off stage by Premier League outfit Arsenal last August, will look to go one better this time around and join Juventus and Milan in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition. Veteran striker and Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale capped a perfect Sunday – he was named in Cesare Prandelli’s Italy squad for Euro 2012 – and scored in the 19th minute before Diego Fabbrini sealed the victory. It leaves Lazio and Napoli, fourth and fifth respectively, in the Europa League, while Internazionale will not be competing in Europe next season after a tumultuous campaign.
Prandelli mixes things up for Euro 2012
Italy head coach Prandelli certainly raised a few eyebrows with an interesting selection for next month’s European championship. Controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was included along with stalwarts Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo. Udinese’s Di Natale, 34, was included, while former West Ham United man Alessandro Diamanti is also part of the 32-man party after scoring seven goals from midfield for Bologna. There will be plenty of youthful exuberance, with Siena striker Mattia Destro, Atalanta winger Ezequiel Schelotto, and 19-year-old Pescara midfielder Marco Verrattialso selected.
Goal of the week: Del Piero’s 290th Juventus strike
This edition’s goal of the week goes to Del Piero, who gave the Juventus supporters a perfect parting gift with his 28th-minute strike and 290th of a sparkling career.