ROME: Defending champion Juventus will set a league record of 73 straight rounds atop Serie A when it hosts Lazio at Stadio Delle Alpi on Saturday. What the Turin club really cares about however, is ending a run of four straight draws by clinching its 25th win of the season. That will be a decisive step toward its 29th title.
With four rounds left, Juventus leads second-place AC Milan by five points. Juve had led by 12 points at one stage.
The questionable form of strikers David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second part of the season, as well as that of key midfielders Emerson and Patrick Vieira has been cited as a reason for Juventus' recent decline.
Trezeguet has netted 20 goals so far, but only two since February, while Ibrahimovic has only six none of them in the last two months.
Juventus' offense has scored only three goals in the last four games and finding the net is a must for Fabio Capello's side.
Capello and Juventus players have not been talking to the media since fans jeered the team following its elimination in the Champions League quarterfinals by Arsenal.
But it was known that forwards including veteran captain Alessandro Del Piero, Adrian Mutu and Marcelo Zalayeta, who usually start from the bench underwent special training and tests earlier this week.
Against Lazio, Juventus will be without suspended midfielder Mauro Camoranesi. Emerson is returning from injury and Lilian Thuram from suspension.
Lazio, sixth in the table, is coming off three wins and one draw in the last four games. The Roman club will rely on striker Tommaso Rocchi to keep alive its chances of clinching a UEFA Cup berth.
AC Milan, which travels to lowly Messina, could be distracted by its Champions League duties. It plays FC Barcelona in their second-leg semifinal on Wednesday.
Milan lost the first leg 1-0 at San Siro last Tuesday as it's expected to focus on Barcelona more than on Messina.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti has long conceded the Serie A title to Juventus and said recently the Champions League final in Paris and second place in Serie A are his team's priorities.
Striker Filippo Inzaghi, who missed the first leg against Barcelona with a fever, was expected to start at Messina to test his chances of playing on Wednesday. AP