Football: Baggio has incentive to foil Juventus

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ROBERTO BAGGIO stands between his old club and their 25th Italian league title when his Bologna side meet Juventus in Turin tomorrow.

With two Serie A games to play, Juventus have a four-point lead over second-placed Internazionale and will lift the title if they win.

First, however, Juventus have to overcome, Baggio, now 31 but in excellent form with 20 league goals for Bologna this season. He will be highly motivated and not only because he would enjoy beating a side which off-loaded him amid acrimony at the end of the title-winning 1995 season.

Baggio's main motivation, though, is that Sunday's game offers him probably his last chance to convince the national coach, Cesare Maldini, that he is worth a place in Italy's squad for next month's World Cup finals in France. Maldini is expected to be in Turin for a last look at Baggio's form.

Bologna have the incentive of trying to secure one of Italy's two places in the Intertoto Cup, a back door into next season's Uefa Cup.

Juventus want to wrap up the title contest tomorrow and leave themselves 10 days for peaceful preparation for their European Cup final against Real Madrid in Amsterdam on 20 May.

If Juventus do not win tomorrow and Inter beat Bari, then the title contest will go down to the last day, 17 May, something Juventus would obviously like to avoid.

Borussia Monchengladbach, one of Germany's leading clubs, will find themselves in the Second Division if they fail to beat VfL Wolfsburg today. Kaiserslautern, who have become the first promoted team to win the title since the Bundesliga started in 1963, visit Hamburg for their last match.

Lens will come up against the Auxerre European factor as they seek to win their first major trophy, the French league championship, today.

Lens, two points ahead of Metz in a two-horse race for the title, need to draw away for the first time this season. An attacking side, Lens have won nine and lost seven of their away games. However, Auxerre must win to secure a Uefa Cup berth and are preparing as if they were playing in Europe.

The wily Guy Roux's Auxerre side, champions in 1996, have acquired considerable European experience over the years, including the last eight seasons in a row, and will be no easy opponents on their own pitch.

Metz are at home knowing they must beat Olympique Lyon, who are the favourites to clinch the last Uefa Cup berth which Auxerre - three points behind Lyon - are hoping to snatch with a home victory. Any other result will leave Lyon in the Uefa Cup and consign Auxerre to a second successive season seeking qualification through the Intertoto Cup.