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Europe now closer than ever for Inter Milan

Genoa's recent denial by UEFA makes the path to Europe slightly easier for Inter, as they now only have to make up a two-point deficit to Sampdoria to clinch the final Europa League spot.

About two weeks ago several outlets (like Bleacher Report) reported that Serie A side Genoa had been denied their license to compete in European competition by UEFA due to a late payment on a tax bill and issues with paperwork for their stadium.

The club repealed that initial decision, but it was reported Wednesday by Football Italia that Genoa's first appeal has been officially denied by UEFA, again citing Genoa's late tax bill and their failure to name a suitable UEFA stadium to play in next season.

Following the denial of the appeal, Forza Italian Football reported yesterday that Genoa have expressed their intent to launch a further appeal through the Body of Arbitration of Licensing in order to regain their UEFA license. The club's lawyer has stated that Genoa's defense will be based upon the fact that the substance of the previously-submitted paperwork had everything lined out in order, even if it wasn't properly submitted by the hard deadline.

At this point, a reinstating of Genoa's UEFA license seems unlikely, and I'm sure many of you have considered the fact that this denial by UEFA could prove to be very important for Inter Milan going forward, as this ruling complicates an already tight race for the final Europa League spot in the Serie A table. Let's take a quick look at the clubs who are still in the running for Europe next season:

Genoa's denial by UEFA means that even if they do finish in the top six in Serie A, they are not allowed to compete in any UEFA-sanctioned tournament next season. This would obviously include both the Champions League (lol) and the Europa League. So that means, essentially, we can virtually erase them from the Serie A table as far as European qualification is concerned.

It would seem that the top four spots are pretty much nailed down at this point, considering that Napoli are 5 points ahead of 5th-placed Fiorentina with only two league matches left. And it doesn't seem likely that Fiorentina will drop out of Euro qualification either, since they are four points ahead of Sampdoria, who currently occupy the final Europa League spot.

This makes the path to Europe slightly easier for Inter, as they now only have to make up a two-point deficit to Sampdoria to clinch the final Europa League spot. The problem is, there are only two league matches left, so Inter would likely have to take at least 4 points (if not all  6) in order to even have a shot of moving ahead of Sampdoria in the Serie A table. Inter's two remaining fixtures are against Genoa (away) and Empoli (home), while Samp's remaining matches are against Empoli (away) and Parma (home). Both of Inter's matches are certainly winnable*, but it's easy to admit that Sampdoria's remaining schedule is easier. But that's the landscape – if Inter win both of their remaining matches, at least they'll know they did all they could to try to limp into Europe.