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Assessing the Contenders: Who's most likely to make the Europa League next season?

With only a few matches left in the Serie A season, we take a closer look at race for the Europa League next season

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There are only 5 matches left in the season, and Inter's recent run of form has seen the side back in contention for making Europa League places for the 15/16 season. With them back in the conversation we take a look at those who are trying to make Europe's second competition.

In Italy, teams finishing in 4th and 5th in the Serie A table make the Europa League. A third spot is given to the winner of the Coppa Italia (the final is being played between Juventus and Lazio). Since they are both in Champions League positions and unlikely to fall outside the top 5 in the league, the 6th place team will also make it into the Europa League.

(Napoli will not be included in this list since they are in 4th and are very unlikely to drop so much that they fall completely out of contention. AC Milan will also not be included since they are 8 points off Sampdoria plus with their main striker Menez suspended for the next four matches it is highly unlikely for them to challenge for EL spots.)

Sampdoria:

Currently in 5th place with 51 points, they are currently the team everybody else in this article is chasing. They aren't in the best form however, with their 1-0 win over Inter at the end of March being their last win, following that up with 3 draws and 2 losses. Mihajlovic's men finish out the season taking on Juventus, Udinese, Lazio, Empoli, and Parma. Given their recent form and a number of tough fixtures coming up, some expect to see Sampdoria drop out of European contention soon.

Genoa:

Sampdoria's rivals Genoa are only one point behind on 50 points and are eager to finish above them this season. They are in great form, winning 4 of their last 5 matches to cut down the gap and put them as serious contenders for the Europa League next season. Their final matches are against a struggling Roma side, Torino, Atalanta, Inter, and Sassuolo. Seeing as how well the team has been playing, and that they fixture list looks considerable easier than Sampdoria's, Genoa could very well end up as one of the teams that takes a Europa League spot next season. Their two matches against their direct competition (Torino and Inter) will be key for them however.

Fiorentina:

On 49 points, Fiorentina are still part of the chasing pack, but many are wondering how much longer that will last. They have lost 4 Serie A matches in a row which is their worst run of form since 2005. Their distraction can somewhat be excused though, they are in the semifinals of the Europa League and if they win that competition they would automatically go into the Champions League next season. Their upcoming fixture list has them facing Cesena, Empoli, Parma, Palermo, and Chievo (with semifinal matches against Sevilla and a potential EL final). The Serie A matches look to be the easiest of all the contenders, but they must stop this poor run of form in the league first. With EL matches seemingly taking priority that might not happen, but if they win the competition that will not matter, and if they go out against Sevilla expect them to take full advantage of their Serie A fixture list to close the gap.

Torino:

3 points back from Sampdoria on 48 points, Torino are still confident on their chances of making the Europa League. They are undefeated in their last 5 matches, winning 2 and drawing 3 (including a huge win over Juventus). Ventura's men take on Empoli, Genoa, Chievo, Milan, and Cesena before the season ends. Their strong Europa League campaign will make them eager to make a reappearance next season, and since their fixture list doesn't look too bad, it would be hard to write them off for squeezing it out. The games against Genoa and Milan will be must-wins for them however.

Inter Milan:

Finishing off the pack is our baby, Inter Milan. Level on points with Torino at 48, many did not think that the team had a chance of even contending for EL spots after the disappointing loss to Sampdoria. But just as that match was the start of a poor run of form for Samp, that loss was the kick-starter for Inter's resurgence. After that loss at the end of March, Mancini's men have gone on to be undefeated in their last 5 matches, winning 3 and drawing 2. Their final 5 games are against Chievo, Lazio, Juventus, Genoa, and Empoli. This is one of the toughest fixture lists of all the contenders, and given that they are at the back of the chasing pack, it looks a little hard to see Inter managing to sneak into the EL spots. But given their great run of form, it is certainly possible, and fans will be hoping that the team can pull it off.

So given all that the race for EL spots will definitely be a close one, with a lot of the teams facing the top sides and having important matches against each other. Inter have a chance but they will have to work very hard in these next 5 matches in order to make things happen. Most of you in the previous poll said that you would prefer Inter to make it into the competition next season so now all we can do is sit back and see how things go.