- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

ROME (AP) - While Juventus is striding toward its third consecutive title with an eight-point lead atop Serie A, questions are arising over the future of coach Antonio Conte.

Will he stay or will he go?

In the meantime, Juventus should have little trouble Saturday against relegation-threatened Bologna. And second-place Roma faces a tough test at fourth-place Fiorentina.

Also, Inter Milan visits Parma in a matchup of the fifth- and sixth-place clubs, and AC Milan hosts Livorno.

All of this weekend’s matches will be played Saturday due to the Easter holiday.

Here are five things to know about the Italian league:


CONTE‘S FUTURE: Conte’s current contract is due to expire after next season and while Juventus wants to sign him to a longer deal, there is a feeling that the coach would like to keep his options open for an eventual move abroad.

“We have spoken and by mutual agreement decided to postpone everything until after we’ve won something big, which could be the Serie A title or the Europa League,” Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta said Wednesday.

Conte has not hid his desire to coach elsewhere in Europe, such as in the English Premier League.

Italian media are already speculating on possible replacements, with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone leading the list ahead of recently fired Zenit St. Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti and former AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri.


SEEDORF’S FUTURE: Even with four consecutive wins, speculation continues to swirl around new AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf.

The latest reports indicate that the club’s Italian players are upset with his choices, with fullback Ignazio Abate in danger of missing out on Italy’s World Cup squad due to limited playing time.

While Seedorf signed a 2 1/2-year contract when he replaced Allegri in January, Milan youth coach Filippo Inzaghi could be a replacement option for next season.


MONTELLA VS. ROMA: As a coach, Vincenzo Montella is winless in five matches against the squad he starred for in his playing days.

Perhaps Montella can change that statistic when he manages Fiorentina against Roma this weekend.

When he coached Catania, Montella drew twice with Roma. With Fiorentina, Montella has lost all three meetings with the Giallorossi

Then there’s this: Roma is the only team of the 27 he has coached against in Serie A that he has not beaten.

Montella scored 83 goals for Roma and helped the squad to the 2001 title.


RUDI’S HOPE: Lately, it seems that every time Roma wins, Juventus responds with a victory of its own.

And with Juventus hosting Bologna shortly before Roma plays at Fiorentina, it’s difficult to see the title race getting any closer this weekend.

“We’re playing a match at Florence that seems difficult, and it is, while Juventus’ game seems easy,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “But you never know. When you finish a round and the gap remains the same it’s tough, but right when it seems nothing more can happen maybe a surprise will come. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.”

Roma hosts Juventus in the penultimate round.


SEEKING A STRIKER: Inter Milan’s new Indonesian owner Erick Thohir is hoping the squad maintains its fifth-place position to qualify for the Europa League.

He’s also looking ahead to next season.

“We will definitely take a forward in the market,” he said. “I know that the names of (Edin) Dzeko, (Alvaro) Morata and (Fernando) Torres have been tossed around, and if one of them joins us it would be good. We’ll try to take Italian players but considering the history and philosophy of the club we’re not obligated to.”

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