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The Final Stretch: Who qualifies for UCL?

Do the Nerazzurri have a shot?

FC Internazionale v Chievo - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Thirty-six down. Two to go. Two matches remain in the Serie A season for each team. The final two UEFA Champions League spots are still up for grabs. It comes down to five teams. Inter Milan, Atalanta, AC Milan, AS Roma, and Torino all, statistically, have a chance to achieve top four.

Realistically, it is a four-team race as Torino need a lot to go their way to have a chance. Let’s take a deeper look at each team.

First off, the Nerazzurri. The boys in black and blue need one win. If Inter can manage a victory on the road against Napoli or at home versus lowly Empoli, they will be in the top four. That is the simplest way Inter can manage it. There are other ways the Nerazzurri can secure the top four as well.

If AS Roma and AC Milan lose either of their final two games, Inter lock up a top four spot. Four points clear of Roma and Milan in 5th and 6th gives Inter a good amount of breathing room. However, that’s not good enough for the Nerazzurri faithful as they know how difficult this team likes to make it. Just do all the Interisti a favor, win against Napoli.

The sensation of the season is up next, Atalanta. What a season it has been. Currently sit in fourth place with a massive fixture upcoming against Juventus. The pressure is on and can they come through again. 8-3-0 (W-D-L) in their last 11 Serie A matches and now have to face the champions where they have to get a result.

ACF Fiorentina v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Milan sits in 5th place, three points behind Atalanta and holding the tiebreaker. When the two teams met twice this season, Milan came away with a 3-1 win and a 2-2 draw. Atalanta go to Turin to face a Juventus team with nothing to play for. A point will be enough as long as they can win on the final day of the season, home to Sassuolo. Can this team keep fire or will they finally flame out?

AC Milan has had a wild season. At one point, they were in third cruising towards the UCL. Now they sit in 5th, sitting on the outside looking in. Can they pull it off? They are home to relegated Frosinone and away to safe SPAL. Milan have the fixtures you want at the end of the season. On paper, both these should be easy wins.

As we all know, nothing comes easy in Serie A. Gattuso and Milan have not made anything easy on themselves either. A 0-1-3 run of form in mid March/early April put them in a very tough position. They now have to hope one of Inter or Atalanta drop points. A lot of question marks are still surrounding this team, but a Champions League qualification could solve a lot of problems.

AS Roma v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

AS Roma, a strange season for the capital club. To start they looked like an outsider team, they caught fire in the middle and are in it at the end. The Romans lose out on the tiebreaker to Milan but drew Atalanta and Inter both times they faced this season. Unfortunately for them, the next tiebreaker is goal differential where Inter are +26, Atalanta +29, while they find themselves at +17.

Going into the final two games of the season, they find themselves in a spot where they really need to win both while getting help from others. They are away to Sassuolo then come home to the capital to play Parma to finish off the campaign. Sassuolo does not have anything to play for while Parma has to fight to stay up. Both are winnable games but the Sassuolo game is a true test.

Winning on the road is never easy in Serie A. Roma are 6-6-6 on the road while Sassuolo have only lost four games at home going 5-9-4. To achieve top four, Roma need one of, or both, Inter/Atalanta to drop points while winning both of their respective games. They will also need to get more points than Milan in their final two games. A long road ahead but it can be done.

Torino FC v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Finally, it all ends with Torino. They need a miracle and everything to go their way. There have certainly been crazier things to happen but mathematically they are still in it. They will need to win their final games at Empoli and home to Lazio to have a chance. After that, they need Roma to achieve three points or less while Milan can only get four points from their final two. That’s only to get to 5th. To get to 4th, they need Atalanta to only get one point in their final two.Torino hold the tiebreaker over them with a win and draw earlier this season. Like I said, it is possible but for everything to go their way, it is a stretch.

I did this write up with five games to go and my top 4 prediction was Juventus, Napoli, Inter, Roma. I said I really wanted Atalanta to pull it off but I felt the cup final would mess with them.

They are coming off that loss on Wednesday and we now get to see how they respond on short rest. With the final games remaining, I actually think Milan will sneak in to that fourth spot with Inter claiming the third spot. I think the game against Juventus is the game that really crushes Atalanta. Juventus may have nothing to play for, but they still have one of the best players of all time on the field in Cristiano Ronaldo. He can score at will and it will be a fun game to watch. I’ll be hoping the cinderella story continues!

What are your thoughts on the final two games this season? What games are you most interested in watching? Who are your top four? Let me know in the comments!