Where we left off in Serie A more than 100 days ago
MILAN (AP) — More than three months after Francesco Caputo celebrated a goal with a sign in Italian that read “It will all be OK. #Stayathome,” the Serie A soccer season is resuming.
Italy was one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus, with nearly 35,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19. It was also the first country in Europe to shut down its soccer league on March 9.
The last match before the suspension was between Sassuolo and Brescia. Caputo scored two goals that day in the 3-0 Sassuolo victory, displaying that hopeful sign after the first.
Caputo’s team will be one of the first to get back on the field this weekend, taking on Atlanta on Sunday in Bergamo — a city in one of the worst affected regions in Italy.
The first two matches will be played Saturday. Torino will host Parma before Hellas Verona takes on Cagliari. Also on Sunday, Inter Milan will play Sampdoria.
After those matches are played, every team in the league will have 12 games remaining.
Juventus is trying to win a record-extending ninth straight title and has a one-point advantage over Lazio.
Inter Milan, which had been level with Juventus at the top of the standings in February, is nine points behind with Sunday's game in hand.
Inter won the last of its 18 league titles in 2010. Lazio has only won it twice — in 1974 and 2000.
Lazio will resume the season on a record 21-match unbeaten run. The Rome club's last loss came at Inter in September.
But Lazio will likely need forward Ciro Immobile to keep scoring for that record to continue.
The 30-year-old Italian was leading the Serie A with 27 goals, six more than Cristiano Ronaldo, when the season was interrupted. He was also leading the race for the European Golden Shoe.
Immobile was also the Italian league’s top scorer in 2013-14 and 2017-18, and he's on track to break Gonzalo Higuain’s all-time Serie A record of 36 goals in a season.
After not scoring in November, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo netted 16 goals in 12 league matches before the break.
In his penultimate Serie A match before the shutdown, a 2-1 victory at Spal, Ronaldo scored for an 11th straight league game. That matched the Serie A record set by Gabriel Batistuta in 1994 and equaled by Fabio Quagliarella last season.
In two Italian Cup matches since the restart, however, Ronaldo has struggled to show his best form.
While Brescia and Spal look almost certain to be playing in Serie B next season, the race to avoid the third relegation spot is tight.
Brescia is in last place, nine points from safety, with Spal two points better off.
Lecce is the other team in the bottom three but is level on points with 17th-place Genoa. Six other teams are within seven points of the relegation zone.
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