Inter extended their winning streak to nine games against Bologna as their biggest title rivals AC Milan and Juventus dropped points with draws against Sampdoria and Turin on a packed Saturday action in Italy.
Those results have left Antonio Conte’s side eight points ahead of the top, a gap that could be increased to 11 points with an ongoing game against Sassuolo on Wednesday.
The Italian press has no doubts that the Nerazzurri are set to end Juve’s nine-year stranglehold on the Serie A title and claim their first ‘Scudetto’ since 2010.
“They won’t catch you now,” reads a headline from Corriere dello Sport.
“Inter, there you are: inside your Easter egg, the Scudetto,” said Gazzetta dello Sport.
La Stampa described the title as “one step away”.
As the headlines suggest, it’s hard to see anyone catching an Inter side who have won nine consecutive league games for the first time since 2007.
Conte’s side took until Week 22 of the season to overtake rivals Milan in first place, but since then the gap has grown steadily, scoring 21 goals and conceding three in their nine-game streak.
The Nerazzurri made full use of the extra preparation time they had over rivals in European competition, the result of their disappointing Champions League exit from the group stage in December.
But Conte has responded to claims that it is now Inter’s title to lose in the expected manner.
“There are 10 games left for 30 points, so nothing is done yet. We have done well so far, but it is still not enough,” he told Inter TV.
Inter’s title hopes have been aided by the faltering form of the two teams that previously looked like their most credible rivals: Milan and Juventus.
Both sides came from behind to win draws on Saturday, leaving Milan with two wins in their last five league games and Juve with one point in matches against relegation fighters Benevento and Torino.
After casually tumbling down points, questions have started to arise as to whether the two reputable clubs will even manage to finish in the top four and advance to the Champions League.
The victories of Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio on Saturday reduced the gap between Milan in second and Lazio in sixth to eight points, which could be reduced to five if the Romans won their game in hand against Torino.
Atalanta’s win over Udinese defeated them in third place against Juve, and Andrea Pirlo’s side will withdraw from the top four if they lose to Napoli on Wednesday.
Not qualifying for the Champions League would be unthinkable for a Juve side who have won the last nine Italian titles, but that is by no means an unrealistic proposition as an exciting season enters its home stretch.
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