Tuesday April 17 2018
Ranieri: ‘CL to the wire’

Claudio Ranieri expects Serie A’s Champions League race to go to the wire - “the head-to-head clash between Lazio and Inter will be decisive”.

The Italian top flight is coming to the final sprint, with just six matches left in the Scudetto race, the European chase and the battle against relegation.

“Knowing their mentality, Juventus will not give a centimetre,” Ranieri told Gazzetta dello Sport, as he discussed the Serie A standings.

“Juve have a lot of merits, one of which is that they’re something of a war machine, with the ability to solve their problems in private with no controversy.

“Napoli are having a wonderful season, the problem is Juventus. They have a deeper squad and could rotate players.

“Those are the qualities of great clubs, players who feel like starters even if they’re not, and can be decisive in the final sprint.

“As for the Champions League, it’s a splendid race which will end in a photo finish. The head-to-head clash between Lazio and Inter will be decisive.

“[Lazio Coach Simone] Inzaghi is working well. Inter and Milan made big investments, but that’s not always who gets the best results right away.

“Lazio can be proud. I’m sorry for how they went out of the Europa League but four minutes doesn’t cancel out an entire season.

“Milan? It’s difficult. They have to win and hope things go their way. [Coach Gennaro] Gattuso is doing an extraordinary job.

“It’s not just grit and determination, Milan play good football. He didn’t let himself be conditioned by the skepticism, he thought about work and not about chatter.

“Sampdoria also play well, even if their results have dropped off in the past few months, while Atalanta have young players and a nice style of play.

“And Fiorentina have been launched, the emotional shock of Davide Astori’s death is propelling the team.”

Ranieri is a former Juventus and Roma Coach, and he was asked about their respective Champions League ties last week.

“Juventus’ elimination? I can understand that it wasn’t easy to stomach an elimination like that, in the 93rd minute after an extraordinary performance.

“You can give it or not give it [the penalty], it wasn’t 100 per cent clear. I’ve seen worse. The contact was there, but maybe VAR would have helped in this situation.

“As for Roma-Liverpool, I’d say it’s 50-50 because as a Coach I never feel defeated beforehand.

“Di Francesco will study Liverpool well, the Roma we say against Barcelona don’t start already beaten. The Reds are spectacular, but they’re not always so irresistible away from home.”

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