Wed, Oct 31, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Juventus look to avoid further controversy

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Catania goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, right, makes a save against Nicklas Bendtner of Juventus in their Serie A match in Catania, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Champions Juventus will aim to make it 49 matches unbeaten when they host Bologna today, while followers of Serie A will hope there is no repeat of the refereeing controversies which marred some weekend matches.

Juventus were beneficiaries of at least one wrong refereeing decision on Sunday, defeating Catania 1-0 to maintain a three-point lead over SSC Napoli, despite their hosts having a valid goal disallowed for an inexistent offside.

Catania have not been the only team complaining of inconsistency, but since then the focus has been on Juve — a team considered almost untouchable by some rivals.

Juventus director general Beppe Marotta on Monday was forced to “categorically reject” all notions of a conspiracy revolving round the Old Lady of Turin.

However, it is only now that Italy’s most titled Serie A club is finding redemption, several years after a Calciopoli match-fixing scandal saw Juventus stripped of two league titles (2004-2005 and 2005-2006).

Catania president Antonino Pulvirenti, who was ordered off the bench on Sunday, later complained that protests from the Juve bench had forced the referee to change his mind and disallow the goal.

Claims that the assistant referee is a Juve fan have since been made, and denied. However, the events have raised questions over the professionalism of officials in one of the world’s top leagues.

AS Roma dropped two points at home after Udinese were awarded a contentious late penalty, while SS Lazio, beaten 2-0 at ACF Fiorentina, also had what seemed like a perfectly valid goal ruled out.

It prompted outspoken Palermo president Maurizio Zamperini to tell Radio Radio: “The penalty against Roma in the final moments is just unbelievable. I’m amazed that we constantly fail to bring in technology.”

On paper, Bologna have little chance of causing an upset at Juventus Stadium.

Juve’s closest challengers, Napoli, were a pale shadow of themselves during a 2-0 defeat there on Oct. 20 and Bologna are coming off a 3-1 home drubbing to Inter.

Inter’s seventh win of the campaign on Sunday was made in Argentina, with goals coming from Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso, all of whom should be fit for the visit of UC Sampdoria to the San Siro.

Expectations of an Inter victory are so high that the focus has already turned to the Juve v Inter clash — a huge northern derby — at the weekend.

Now third, only four points behind Juve and one behind Napoli, Inter club president Massimo Moratti admitted they, and others, could have closed the gap further had it not been for the Catania refereeing blunder.

“Everyone has thought about that, Napoli must have thought the same, but although yesterday [Sunday] seems dramatic at the moment, it will all blow over in a few days’ time,” Moratti told the Inter Web site. “What matters most is that things have happened due to error and not for other reasons, and since this was definitely a case of error, the season will balance itself out.”

Elsewhere today, Lazio, who slipped to fourth just behind Inter on Sunday, host a Torino side who have only two wins in nine games, while Parma’s recent resurgence means they could be a test for visiting Roma.

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