Roma travel to Cagliari on Sunday hoping to maintain slim hopes of a last-ditch title charge but have Serie A history, as well as a determined Juventus side against them.
Rudi Garcia’s side reignited hopes of a first scudetto since 2001 with a 4-2 win over Parma on Wednesday in a game that had been postponed earlier this season.
The win reduced the gap to leaders Juventus to eight points and although no Italian side has managed to overcome such a deficit with seven games remaining Roma are reinvigorated.
“Juventus are doing really well, so are Napoli, but we’re still ambitious and we won’t give up,” said Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic. “In football, anything can happen.”
Roma’s bid was given fresh impetus last week when Juventus succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Napoli, a setback which coach Antonio Conte partly blamed on his side’s endeavours in the Europa League.
Juventus, who beat Lyon 1-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday, are even more determined to make the final of this season’s competition as the May 14 final will be held at their own ground.
Although no team has overcome an eight-point deficit with seven games to play, the memory of Juve’s dramatic scudetto loss to Lazio on the last day of the 1999-2000 campaign has drawn comparisons.
In 2000, Lazio trailed Juve by nine points with eight games remaining and went on to reduce the deficit to just two points heading into the final match.
Lazio’s only chance was to secure a win over Reggina and for Perugia to defeat Juventus.
As Lazio won 3-0, a downpour at the Juve game forced a long delay and added to already existing final-day tension.
Perugia, much to everyone’s surprise, took the fight to Juve and ultimately secured a 1-0 win when Alessandro Calori beat ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar.
In the wake of the past week’s events, the “Perugia incident” has been dusted down and given an airing, although the general feeling is that a repeat won’t be on the cards this season.
“It’s totally different this time. I don’t think there will be another Perugia,” former Juve midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi told Corriere dello Sport.
“This year Conte’s side will prevail, even if Roma are having an amazing season. So far, there haven’t been any similar scenarios to what happened 14 years ago.
“If Juve get over their next two games, it’s all over.”