Thirty-three games have been played and five remain. Juventus are champions again but there remains much to play for. Napoli are comfortably in 2nd ahead of Inter Milan and AC MIlan who round out the top four.
The top eight teams are still in contention for qualification of the UEFA Champions League which is given to the top four. Sampdoria, whom sit in 9th, is the only team outside the top 8 still fighting for a place in Europe. Let’s take a deeper look into the top four race.
Inter Milan: Currently in 3rd place with 61 points. Five points clear of 5th place Atalanta. Inter sits in a pretty good spot in terms of points but they have the toughest schedule remaining of all the teams. Inter Milan drew the Old Lady, 1-1 Saturday in the Derby d’Italia. Juventus have won the Serie A title for the 8th straight campaign and have bullied Inter in recent meetings.
After that Inter go on to face Udinese on the road. Not the easiest game as Udinese need points to stay out of relegation but Inter should secure all the points. Inter home to Chievo means 3 points. Then, the Nerazzurri travel to Naples and end with a home game with relegation battling Empoli. Overall, two hard games, one game where Inter usually drop points and two games they should absolutely win.
AC Milan: Tied for 4th with Atalanta on 55 points. One point clear of AS Roma in 6th. They have no room for error and going on the road to Torino for a high stakes matchup isn’t ideal. Milan are 1-2-2 in their last five overall and haven’t looked the same since the Milan Derby.
Milan’s next 5 fixtures are @Torino, vs. Bologna, @Fiorentina, vs. Frosinone, @SPAL. AC should really win at least three of these games but going on the road to Torino and Fiorentina is where they could drop points. They are going to have to rely on their defense and Krysztof Piatek to carry them if they want to get top four.
Atalanta: Tied on points with Milan and heading to the Coppa Italia final to face Lazio. The winner of that final will secure at least Europa but both clubs have higher aspirations. Unbeaten in 10 straight games has Atalanta in a spot no one saw except themselves. They don’t have the easiest of schedules but the way they have been playing, I’m not sure it matters.
Here is what their fixtures are: @Lazio, vs. Genoa, @Lazio (Cup Final), @Juventus, vs. Sassuolo. The two matches away to Lazio and one to Juventus are going to prove difficult. The biggest challenge facing them is the Cup Final.
A midweek game where they may have to rest players on the weekend and depth will be tested. Can they step up on the weekend or do they prioritize one or the other? I really hope they go for the Cup. How often do you get a chance at silverware. Every team in Serie A wish they still had a chance at that trophy. Go for it. The key for Atalanta is Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Dario (Papu) Gomez. Both have been on fire this season and can they keep riding the flame going for the final six games? Time will tell.
AS Roma: it really has been a weird season for the Roman club. They sold Radja Naingollan to Inter and acquired star prospect Nicolo Zaniolo. Zaniolo has been as great as Roma would want this season but that hasn’t put the team where they want to be. The expectation is Top four and they sit in 6th, trailing Milan and Atalanta by one point.
Roma does not have too hard of a final five fixtures: vs. Cagliari, @Genoa, vs. Juventus, @Sassuolo, vs. Parma. They really should drop points if any in two of those games. Evaluating Juventus at this point is tough, they have nothing to play for and Roma has everything. SPAL proved that when they went on to beat Juventus 2-1 at home. Sassuolo is the other test on the road. Sassuolo has definitely fallen off since their great start but 14 draws show they are tough to beat. They will make Roma earn the points and it will be something the Romans have to do.
Torino: The team that resides in 7th is Torino. Three points back of 4th and massive game looms on Sunday. Home vs Milan. This game alone will give them a massive opportunity to make the UCL if they win. Beat Milan and they will be even on points with them.
Their other four fixtures are @Juventus, vs. Sassuolo, @Empoli, and vs. Lazio. Not the easiest of schedules and a derby to end the season. Torino-Lazio is going to be an epic battle that very well could decide the final European spot.
Lazio: They sit in 8th with 52 points. Only four points behind 4th place. The biggest challenge for them is the same as Atalanta. How do they prioritize their lineup/schedule when it comes to the cup final?
They go @Sampdoria, vs. Atalanta, @Cagliari, vs. Lazio (Cup Final), vs. Bologna, and @Torino. Games that could go either way but every game is winnable. They should be there at the end. Will this season end like last or will there be cheers of Top four?
Sampdoria: The last team that can still battle for Europe. They sit in 9th with 48 points, seven points back of Roma for the last Europa league spot. The biggest match for them comes on Sunday when they are home to Lazio. They have to win this game if they want to get to Europe.
After the Roman club, they go @Parma, vs. Empoli, @Chievo, and finish home to Juventus. Three winnable games and may be able to beat Juventus on the final day to secure a place in Europe. What a way to finish the season that would be!
I think these are going to be an awesome final set of five matches. As an Inter fan, I just know the Nerazzurri are going to make it as tough as possible. Not having an easy schedule doesn’t help but Inter has the roster to play with anyone. There is no excuse for them to finish any lower than 3rd.
I see the table finishing like this: Juventus, Napoli, Inter, Roma, AC, Torino, Atalanta, Lazio, Sampdoria.
I really want to believe in Atalanta. I think they are the best story but in a weird way the Cup game messes them up. If they weren’t playing in the final, I would put them in the Top 4 over Roma. I wish they could win the final and make top four, absolutely could happen but unfortunately I do not see it. Milan is the toughest to look at. They had been in awesome form up until the derby.
Then Inter beat them and Juventus came back against them to crush their hopes. Milan has become too reliant on the brilliant play of Piatek. They rely on him scoring wonder goals and he isn’t Cristiano Ronaldo. He is going to regress to the mean and I am a big believer in that. Lazio also gets hurt from playing in the final.
The final Europa spot will come down to their game versus Torino with Torino finding a way. Sampdoria has too big of a hole to dig out of. A solid season from them and so close to Europe. No matter the results, this should be a great end to the season. Maybe next year we will have a title race!
How do you feel about my predictions? Don’t agree? Agree? Let me know in the comments!