Del Piero looking to end Juventus career on a high
Veteran striker Alessandro Del Piero looks determined to end his Juventus career on a high as the Serie A title race heads into the home straight.
In his final season with Juventus, Del Piero came on as a substitute to score the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Lazio on Wednesday that propelled his team back to the top of the standings. It was his 288th goal in 700 appearances for the club.
However, the clock is ticking down on his Juventus career, as the Bianconeri and Del Piero announced late last year that the player will leave the club at the end of the season.
''To draw or lose the game would have been football suicide,'' Del Piero said. ''I hope it turns out to be one of the most important goals I've scored in my career.''
Juventus leads defending champion AC Milan by a point and plays last-place Cesena on Sunday. Milan hosts Genoa on Saturday.
Both Del Piero and Juventus seem to be hitting top form at exactly the right time. Del Piero scored crucial goals against Inter Milan in the league and AC Milan in the Italian Cup recently, while his club - following a series of draws, have overtaken Milan with four straight wins.
''My personal path and Juve's seem to be going together,'' Del Piero said. ''It's a marvelous period for us, which energizes us and gives us joy.
''We're at the finishing line, we won't give up like Milan won't. It's a battle of nerves, tiredness, awareness, so many things. We're good, we won, now we have to think about the next game.''
Cesena has not lost in its past four games and, though it is 15 points from safety, it is seemingly determined not to go down without a fight.
Meanwhile, Genoa will be desperate for something against Milan as it looks to end a miserable run. It has not won in over two months and fans protested outside the stadium on Wednesday.
It faces a tough test at the San Siro as Milan can't afford to lose more ground against Juventus. Massimiliano Allegri's team beat Chievo Verona 1-0 on Tuesday for its first victory in five games.
The match also marked Gennaro Gattuso's return to action after six months out with an eye injury.
''It wasn't a good match to watch, but we played with what we had,'' Gattuso said. ''We showed all our experience, it wasn't easy. We knew we had to fight.
''We had an advantage of four points and we threw it away. But we are ready to fight. I don't see any reason for us to beat ourselves up and say we have lost the title.''
The race for third place is also hotting up, with Lazio on 54 points, Udinese on 51 and Roma on 50.
Lazio knows it needs to find some consistency after developing a habit of following up every win with a loss in the next game. It faces Novara on Sunday.
Roma, which beat Udinese to boost its chances of finishing third, hosts Fiorentina. Udinese faces an Inter Milan side still harboring hopes of finishing third and yet to lose a game under Andrea Stramaccioni.
Napoli is level on 48 points with Inter and needs to turn things around rapidly against fast-improving Lecce after three successive defeats.
However, Lecce comes into the game on the back of two impressive victories - against Roma and Catania - and has only lost one of its 11 games to leave it just two points off safety.
Elsewhere, it's Atalanta vs. Chievo Verona; Palermo vs. Parma; Siena vs. Bologna; and Cagliari vs. Catania.