Not just Celtic set to blow 10 in a row as Andrea Pirlo’s grip slips at Juventus


IT is not just Celtic who are in danger of capitulating in their bid to claim a tenth successive league title.

Over in Italy, Juventus’ decision to parachute in club legend Andrea Pirlo for his first managerial post looks set to cost them dearly, as the Old Lady’s grip on the Serie A scudetto grows weaker by the week.

Sunday night’s 2-0 defeat to Inter leaves Juve trailing the two Milan teams by quite a distance down in fifth place. And, although there is still more than half a season in which to play catch-up, it doesn’t look good for Cristiano Ronaldo and co at this juncture.

In a cruel twist of fate, one of the scorers in the San Siro at the weekend was former Juve player Arturo Vidal – Nicolo Barella got the other – with Inter’s win overseen by Antonio Conte who previously managed the defending champions.

Third-placed Napoli kept up their own faint title hopes with a crushing 6-0 of Sampdoria but it already looks like being a straight two-horse race between the Milanese giants, with Milan in action away to Cagliari last night.

While it looks like a changing of the guard is on the cards in Italy, over in Germany the dice continue to fall favourably for Bayern Munich.

A rare recent slip-up from Hansi Flick’s men had fleetingly opened up the possibility of a new Bundesliga champion being crowned for the first time since 2012.

But, as has so often happened in the subsequent nine years, the chasing pack again failed to capitalise.

Bayern didn’t play until Sunday but would have taken great comfort in seeing all of their so-called title rivals slip up before them, with only one of the other top seven clubs – Union Berlin – savouring a victory.

RB Leipzig’s stuttering challenge took another backwards step when they could only draw with Wolfsburg, as did Borussia Dortmund at home to second-bottom Mainz thanks to Marco Reus’ last-minute penalty miss. Bayer Leverkusen were beaten in the capital on Friday night.

That gave Bayern plenty of motivation ahead of their own match against Freiburg and goals from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller eased them through to a 2-1 win. Their lead at the top now stands at four points.

In Spain, there was further disappointment for Barcelona in a so-far underwhelming campaign when they were beaten in the Super Cup Final by Athletic Bilbao.

Ronald Koeman looked set to claim his first trophy since being appointed as manager in the summer only for his team to concede an equaliser in the 90th minute. Inaki Williams then won it for Bilbao in extra-time.

The game, however, will ultimately be remembered as the one in which Lionel Messi was sent off for the first time in his Barcelona career.

The referee missed his swing at Asier Villalibre in the closing seconds of extra-time but the incident was picked up by VAR and Messi was shown his first red card after 753 games for his club.

The forward has been dismissed twice for Argentina – on his debut in 2005 and again in 2019 – but never for the Catalans. To make matters worse, the potential four-game ban he will receive carries into cup and league matches.

In France, PSG are back on top of the Ligue 1 table following their 1-0 win away to Angers on Saturday. With new boss Mauricio Pochettino absent after testing positive for coronavirus, Layvin Kurzawa scored the only goal of the game.

Their title chances were given an additional boost on Sunday when rivals Lyon surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Metz. Lille’s 2-1 win over Reims means they join PSG at the top on 42 points, with Lyon a further two points back.


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