Alessio Tacchinardi is certain Juventus won’t experience another ‘Perugia’, but sees the Bianconeri ailing in Roma’s late charge.
The Giallorossi have closed up the gap at the top of the table to eight points after winning their game in hand over Parma yesterday, whilst talk of a possible comeback in the title race has been on the cards since Juve lost 2-0 at Napoli last weekend.
However, considering back to the 1999-00 campaign, when the Old Lady lost a similar lead in the title race, to lose on the final day to Lazio, after defeat at a rainsoaked Perugia.
For one former midfielder who played alongside current Juve boss Antonio Conte on that day 14 years ago, however, there will not be a repeat.
“It is very different. I think that this time there will not be…another Perugia,” Tacchinardi began in conversation today with the Corriere dello Sport.
“This year I think that Conte’s Juve will win the title, even if Roma are having an extraordinary season. To date, there are no similarities to 14 years ago - if Juve escape from the next two games unscathed then it will be over.
“It seems to me that they also have a fairly easy schedule from here to the end, but if they experience any other obstacles then the path could become uphill.
“There is some hope for Roma from this point of view, partly also because Juve are not going through a fantastic period of form. But they still have many bonuses in their favour.
“Among other things, today is also the commitment in the Europa League against Lyon. If Juve can manage that then it is over. But if they do not win on Monday against Livorno then they are at risk again.
“Today I say they should not take any risks, but by Tuesday the scenario could have changed.”
The 38-year-old former defensive midfielder continued, admitting to the psychological strain that this time of the season has.
“There is still a big points difference, but the situation that is key will be against Livorno on Monday. I do not think that there are many similarities between this Juve and mine.
“But sincerely, if Juventus do not win then Roma would move even closer, then the fear of not succeeding could take over and in that case things become more complicated.
“We know this. If they were to go into Monday night with just [five] points between the teams, then the anxiety could take over at that point. It’s amazing to think that Roma are still so close with all those victories. It has become a delicate situation that must be managed with the mind.
“There is no doubt, Juve have dominated the championship. But now a thin line stands before them, beyond which they can win or see everything collapse.
“I think they will make it, but the possibility exists that they could fall and if they were to at this point, it would be tough.
“In the final few days [in 2000], we were feeling anxious, partly because we had no more petrol in the legs. When you are in those conditions, the ball becomes heavy.
“In that season we arrived at the end cooked - to manage an advantage you need extraordinary physical condition. That Juve were anxious, Lazio had won the head-to-head, they had the better condition.
“Even today for Juve, the comeback from Roma can allow for fear to take over. It seems to me that the Bianconeri do not have a lot of fuel in the legs, they are at 50-60 per cent condition. Roma are definitely better.
“But Juve are balanced, they know how to win and they know how to handle the pressure. They are still clearly favourites. Over the past two months, Conte has been able to hide the decline, however, by the results.
“I think he was burnt alive by losing the League that day. But he can handle delicate situations. He has important players, has lived a similar situation as a player and will capitalise on this.
“Even if they have to suffer. Juve come into the final stages on their legs and they also seem psychologically in trouble. But I think that they will bring home this Scudetto even if they have to fight to the end.”
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