ROME (AP) Juventus clinched its third straight and 30th overall Serie A title Sunday without even playing.
With second-place Roma losing 4-1 at Catania, Juventus’ eight-point lead became insurmountable because Roma only has two matches remaining.
Juventus, which has three games to play, can celebrate when it hosts Atalanta on Monday although the Turin squad’s players and coach Antonio Conte were already seen celebrating outside their team hotel wearing championship T-shirts.
”It’s much more satisfying when you win on the pitch. But it’s still very gratifying,” Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon said.
The title was a bit of a consolation for Juventus after it was eliminated from the Europa League semifinals by Benfica on Thursday – missing out on the final in its home stadium.
”I was sleeping, resting up for tomorrow’s match,” said striker Carlos Tevez, who leads Juve with 19 goals in 31 matches, on Sky TV. ”But my teammates woke me up and there was a lot of excitement. Although I was hoping to celebrate the title before our fans tomorrow.”
In Sicily, Mariano Izco scored for Catania in the 26th and 34th minutes. Gonzalo Bergessio also netted for the hosts in the 55th after Roma captain Francesco Totti pulled one back in the 37th. Then Pablo Barrientos added another for Catania in the 79th.
The loss ended Roma’s nine-match winning streak, and the Giallorossi put up little resistance against a Catania side fighting to avoid relegation.
Roma, which had already clinched second place and the last direct Champions League berth, was hoping to keep the title race open until next weekend when it hosts Juve. However, Roma coach Rudi Garcia said Saturday the title race was over and complimented Juve on its near-perfect season.
”We did everything wrong today,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. ”The only thing I didn’t get wrong was when I said yesterday that the season was over. Although I wasn’t expecting a match like this. … I’ll expect a response next Sunday.”
Juventus has won all 17 of its home matches and lost only two away games.
Both Tevez, who signed from Manchester City, and striker partner Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) – who has 15 goals – joined Juventus before the start of this season and were key players in the title run.
Juve’s defense featuring Italy stalwarts like Buffon in goal and defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci was just as solid. And midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo is still performing near his best at 34.
There was controversy two years ago when Juventus celebrated what it claimed was its 30th title, although it actually only had 28 championships then since two were revoked following a 2006 match-fixing scandal.
It’s the first time Juventus has won three straight since taking five consecutive titles from 1931-5.