On Sunday afternoon I sat down with two fellow West Ham United fans at my local.
“Finalmente,” exclaim the Italian football fans.
After eight long years of Juventus’ dictatorship, the race for the championship is open and most surprisingly it is not only Inter to challenge the Old Lady, but a third scudetto contender has emerged: Lazio.
Apart from the Juventus supporters, who definitely will not welcome the change, as well as the arch rivals of Inter and Lazio, Milan and Roma, the rest of the boot applauds the new regime.
The 2019-20 Serie A season started as a two-horse race, with Antonio Conte’s Inter heavily tipped to be a scudetto contender, but few predicted that with more than half the season gone, Lazio would be only one point behind the two most successful teams in Italian football history.
Lazio’s run quickly picked up pace in the shadows of the two front-runners, which culminated in a 2-1 win against Juventus in early December.
Inter lost focus for a while and slipped four points behind the champions. Conte’s ability to reset the minds of his players was a crucial factor in halting the slide. A perfect example of the former Chelsea coach’s ability was on display on Sunday in the local derby, where Inter were able to come back from 0-2 down at half time to emphatically win 4-2.
Juventus, on the other side, have lost two games out of the last three. Former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri is leading Juve now, and they lost on the weekend against surprise package Verona.
Now, with 14 rounds to play, Inter and Juventus sit on top with 54 points, while Lazio trail by one. The Biancocelesti will host Inter next Saturday and the Nerazzurri will travel to Turin in three weeks’ time.
These two games will be the most important for Conte’s team to be the master of their destiny and for his tifosi to either celebrate or despair.
All the neutral fans can just enjoy to finalmente have a contest for the final title.