Their weekend win over Lazio moved Atalanta to within a point of Inter in the standings.
Roma will have to find a way to get points when they take on Juventus next weekend as there are even with Atalanta on head-to-head, but the Orobisi have a considerably better goal differential.
Torino are right behind the Giallorossi – just two points back – after its 1-1 draw at Juventus this weekend. They are five points back of Atalanta for fourth. However, their last string of games includes Sassuolo, Empoli and Lazio, which could make crawling into the Champions League a difficult possibility.
Milan are currently in seventh place with their match against Bologna this afternoon. A win and Milan will surpass the Toro for sixth and bring them even on points with Roma. They do have a much easier path to qualification with matches against Bologna – who sit in 17th overall – and Fiorentina who are winless in their last 11 matches.
Finally, there is Lazio. Their loss Saturday against Atalanta dealt a serious blow to their chances to even qualify for European football next season. They are eighth in the table and, while mathematically, they can still qualify, those chances seem bleak.
Of course, both Lazio and Atalanta will have their Copa Italia final sandwiched in the middle as well, so it makes for an extra match both teams will have to prepare for and play.
They match up against Bologna, who is in a relegation battle, followed by Torino and Cagliari sets up a difficult path for qualification for Simone Inzaghi’s side.
But, the eyes are really on Inter and Atalanta.
Le Dea will have a set of difficult matches themselves with Genoa – who is also in the midst of trying to stave off relegation – Juventus and Sassuolo as well as the Copa Italia. Another wrinkle is that while two of those matches are home matches, they will be played at the Mapei Stadium as the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia is already being renovated ahead of next season.
However, Atalanta did use the Mapei Stadium as their home location for their Europa League campaign this season.
Inter, on the other hand, may have a bit better path laid out. Already in third – and second out of reach now – the Nerazzurri will face off with already-relegated Chievo with a shot to either gain distance or keep pace with Atalanta.
However, it could be the match with Napoli that could push Inter over the top. A win in both of those matches and Inter will secure Champions League football next season. Dropping points and it could come down to the last match day to determine placement – doesn’t that sound familiar?
Inter will close out the season with Empoli, who are battling relegation themselves which could mean an energized side or, if all is settled, a lackluster one for the Nerazzurri to face on the last day.
As there are just eight points separating second and eighth place and five points between fourth and sixth, the last three match days in Serie A promise to be very interesting.
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