Juve looking to make light of the weather in Serie A

04 February 2012 02:46

The weather has been playing havoc with football fixtures in Italy all week but Serie A leaders Juventus have survived the big freeze and managed to cement their grip on the standings, without even playing.

Juve's game at Parma was called off leaving them an anxious 24-hour wait to see if they would lose the league leadership.

But AC Milan crashed 2-0 at Lazio meaning Juve held on to top spot ahead of the visit of Siena this weekend.

"The midweek games provided a table that still makes us smile," said Juve captain Alessandro Del Piero.

"With a one-point advantage (over Milan) and a game in hand we have to take advantage of the opportunity to escape, even though it's still too soon to stop and look at the table."

There is still almost half the season to go but there's a feeling that things are falling into Juve's lap.

However, with temperatures of up to minus 10 Celsius expected in the north this weekend, the weather promises to have yet more of a say.

Already three scheduled evening games have had to be brought forward to the afternoon to give them a better chance of going ahead.

What this has done is reopen a raging debate in Italy about the state of stadia in the country.

Juve are the only club to own their custom-built stadium while everyone else rents theirs from the local council.

Those other stadiums are mostly old and out-dated with poor facilities and no contingency plans for icy conditions.

When games are called off in Italy it is rarely because the pitch is frozen but because the areas around the ground used by fans are deemed too dangerous.

And while Turin is one of the worst affected areas in the country, the Juventus Stadium has held up well to the snow.

"We're first in the table but we're already concentrating on the next match on Sunday against Siena at the Juventus Stadium," added Del Piero.

"Last Saturday we gave a great demonstration of efficiency (in dealing with the weather conditions), so thanks to the people who worked hard to allow us to play and the fans to enjoy a great spectacle."

The efficient stadium is indicative of a well-oiled Juve machine that remains unbeaten this season and has proved beyond doubt now that they are capable of putting successive, miserable, seventh-placed finishes behind them and challenging for the title.

And if anything, their rivals seem to be facilitating affairs.

Lazio had previously slipped away by losing at Inter Milan, who were on a seven-game winning run until the last week where one point from six has dropped them eight points behind Juve having played a game more.

But Lazio then threw a spanner in Milan's works, leaving their coach Massimiliano Allegri insisting that Juve and not the champions are now the title favourites.

They also face a much tougher weekend game as they host Napoli, themselves beset by problems an inconsistency.

Napoli have been highly impressive when playing supposed big teams, beating both Milans and Manchester City.

But their continued inability to put lesser teams to the sword -- they have drawn nine games in the league -- has seen them fall right out of title and probably Champions League contention.

However, it would be no surprise if the giant-killing Napoli turn up on Sunday.

Heavy snowfall in Rome has forced the postponement of the AS Roma v Inter Milan match this weekend, city officials announced on Friday.

Officials in Forli, who govern the region of Cesena, added that the Cesena v Catania match -- also scheduled for 1500 on Saturday -- risked being called off because of adverse weather conditions.

It has been decided that all of the weekend's remaining matches will kick off at 1500, although the Genoa v Lazio fixture will start as scheduled at 1230.



Cesena v Catania (TBC)


Genoa v Lazio (1130 GMT), Chievo v Parma, Fiorentina v Udinese, Juventus v Siena, Lecce v Bologna, Novara v Cagliari, Palermo v Atalanta, AC Milan v Napoli, Roma v Inter Milan.

Source: AFP