Despite Napoli sitting on the cusp of the Scudetto, the battle for a place in the top-four in Serie A is set to go down to the wire with as many as six teams fighting for a place in the Champions League next term. European football, especially the Champions League, is crucial for top clubs, not only demonstrating a symbol of prestige but also offering huge financial benefits. Lazio, Juventus, Milan, Roma and Inter are all in contention to finish inside the top four as head towards a climactic end to the Serie A campaign and they will be the focus here, whilst Atalanta still have an outside chance as well.
Leading the way of the aforementioned six clubs, Lazio currently occupy second place. Maurizio Sarri’s side recorded a crucial 1-0 win against Roma in the Derby della Capitale last month and have gone on to win all but one of their four games since. Although they lost 1-0 at home to Torino last time out, they look the most likely to secure a top-four finish, also defeating Juve at the beginning of April.
Mattia Zaccagni has been pivotal over on the left flank and scored the winning goals in those big games mentioned above – what more does he need to do be called up to Roberto Mancini’s squad? Defense has been equally as important and the Biancocelesti have conceded the joint-fewest goals in the league alongside leaders Napoli, with Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolo Casale forming a formidable partnership at the heart of the backline.
Remaining fixtures: Inter (A), Sassuolo (H), Milan (A), Lecce (H), Udinese (A), Cremonese (H), Empoli (A)
Without a win in three in Serie A, Juventus getting back their previously deducted 15 points has proven to be huge in the battle for the Champions League. The Bianconeri have now jumped to third in the standings but their heavy schedule seems to be impacting them since they are without a single victory in any of their last four in all competitions, also exiting the Coppa Italia midweek against Inter. Massimiliano Allegri needs to spark an improvement in their offense since they have scored just two goals across their last five games.
Calls for the sacking of Allegri have heightened as well and pressure really is now on the 55-year-old, meaning he will need a strong finish to likely still be in the job by next season. Star forward Dusan Vlahovic has been struggling too and has just eight goals to his name in Serie A thus far. A clash with Milan in the penultimate game of the season could prove vital.
Remaining fixtures: Bologna (A), Lecce (H), Atalanta (A), Cremonese (H), Empoli (A), Milan (H), Udinese (A)
Set to play in a mouth-watering all-Italian semi-final clash against city rivals Inter in the Champions League, you couldn’t blame the Rossoneri for shifting their focus in recent weeks away from Serie A. Stefano Pioli seems to have Luciano Spalletti’s number after knocking the Partenopei out at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League and let’s not forget about the 4-0 dismantling either at the Diego Maradona in league play. Rafael Leao appears to be getting back to his best and is demonstrating MVP levels of play like last term to lead a strong end to the season.
Milan managed to return to winning ways last time out in Serie A as they defeated Lecce 2-0 at the San Siro. That was actually their first league win since the triumph in Naples and despite still clinging on to fourth spot, they are level on points with Roma in fifth. With a critical clash ahead at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, focus has to be on Serie A for now and they need to find a bit more consistency domestically too.
Remaining fixtures: Roma (A), Cremonese (H), Lazio (H), Spezia (A), Sampdoria (H), Juventus (A), Verona (H)
Inconsistency also remains the common theme for Jose Mourinho‘s Roma this term and they dropped points once more in a disappointing display away to Atalanta last time out. The Giallorossi were never really in the game en route to a 3-1 defeat and have now moved into fifth but are still level on points with current champions Milan. They still have the Europa League to focus on, which could also earn them Champions League qualification, and are still yet to play both Milan clubs, so there are plenty more twists and turns ahead.
Injuries have been important too, as well as trying to juggle fitness. Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Spinazzola and Nemanja Matic only featured off the bench on Monday and Dybala is a potential doubt ahead of the monumental match-up this weekend. Roma will also have to defeat a tricky Monza side after the Milan game, before hosting Inter. The next few weeks will be significant for the Giallorossi.
Remaining fixtures: Milan (H), Monza (A), Inter (H), Bologna (A), Salernitana (H), Fiorentina (A) Spezia (H)
Simone Inzaghi continues to prove his worth in the cup competitions but to the detriment of Inter’s performances in the league. A semi-final clash against Milan awaits, as well as a Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina. However, the Nerazzurri have dropped to sixth in the table as a result and have just one league victory in their last six. Inter have also suffered a mammoth 11 defeats in Serie A this term too, with some questioning Inzaghi’s role as head coach.
Arguably having one of the toughest run-ins to end the campaign, it looks difficult at this stage that Inter will finish inside the top four, especially with Champions League and Coppa Italia fixtures to play. A 3-0 win away to Empoli in their last outing will give the Nerazzurri a boost in confidence, however, and they are just two points off of Milan and Roma. Victory in the Champions League would also secure qualification next term but that would mean they would have to get past Milan, as well as either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final. It will be interesting to see how Inzaghi goes about his business at a such a decisive time of the season.
Remaining fixtures: Lazio (H), Verona (A), Roma (A), Sassuolo (H), Napoli (A), Atalanta (H), Torino (A)
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