As we enter the final week of action in Serie A – the race for the final two spots in the top four reaches an epic conclusion.
Four teams – Atalanta, Inter, Milan and Roma are all battling it out to join Serie A champions, Juventus and runners-up, Napoli in the UEFA Champions League next season.
With that being said – let’s take a look at the permutations and scenarios for all four of these sides battling it out for an all-important place among Europe’s elite next season.
After a gutsy 1-1 draw in Turin, the Bergamo based outfit are forced to battle for one more week in order to seal their maiden appearance in the Champions League.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have had an incredible season, showcasing a fantastic brand of attacking football which has mesmerised defences and won plenty of admirers in the process and ultimately has them closing on a historic feat in the history of football club.
The road leads them back home this weekend to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia where they host Sassuolo on Monday morning. Roberto De Zerbi’s side have been among an inconsistent bunch of mid-table sides in Serie A and are coming off a gutsy goalless draw at home against Roma last weekend.
In their previous meeting at the Mapei, Atalanta came away with a 6-2 win against the Neroverdi which should hold the home side in good stead this weekend along with Gasperini’s charges having not lost at home since February 17 against Milan.
Clinching Scenario: Win vs Sassuolo OR draw vs Sassuolo and Milan do not win against SPAL
The pressure is mounting on the blue side of Milan as Inter face a season defining contest this weekend.
After a demoralizing defeat on the road to Napoli, the Nerazzurri will need to pick themselves up when they face the equally desperate and fast-finishing Empoli at the San Siro. Luciano Spaletti’s men have been less than convincing in the second-half of the season and seem to be stuttering their way towards the finishing line with a range of inconsistent results and off-field dramas hindering their chances of securing a spot in the top four.
Their opponents Empoli have won their past three games including an impressive road win at Sampdoria and a demolition of fellow contender Torino this past weekend which has seen them climb out of the bottom three. Needing a win to survive a second successive season in Serie A – the stakes couldn’t be higher for both sides when they meet this weekend.
Clinching Scenario: Win vs Empoli OR Tie vs Empoli and Milan don’t win vs SPAL OR Loss to Empoli and Milan & Roma don’t win
It was only a few weeks ago where it seemed like it was all doom and gloom for the Rossoneri.
But after three consecutive wins and the stuttering form of the sides above them – the mood has begun to lift once again and their hopes of a return to the Champions League has been lifted once again. A gutsy win over Frosinone on the weekend showed the resolute of Milan who were able to grind out a result despite trying circumstances and extreme uncertainty around who will coach the club next season and whether Leonardo will continue on in his role.
This weekend, the journey for Milan takes them to Ferrara where they take on SPAL – a side they have not lost against in their three meetings since they were promoted last season. Their opponents have had an improved season which has seen them solidify themselves as a Serie A outfit with a mid-table finish on the cards.
Milan are the only team out of the four who are travelling this weekend but should still be able to get past a SPAL side who have nothing to play for except pride.
If the Rossoneri return to the Champions League, it will be a long-awaited five-year build-up of frustration which has had its ultimate pay-off as one of Europe’s sleeping giants will look to establish themselves as the giant they once were.
Clinching Scenario: Win vs SPAL + Inter don’t win vs Empoli OR Win vs SPAL + Atalanta don’t win vs Sassuolo OR Tie vs SPAL + Inter or Atalanta lose and Roma win by a goal difference margin.
It has been a difficult season for the Giallorossi who have had a steep fall since their Champions League semi-final birth last season.
A season which has seen them sack Eusebio Di Francesco and move on to ‘Il Dottore’ Claudio Ranieri to try and get them back in the top four has seen them fall just by the way-side of another side among Europe’s elite. After a goalless draw against Sassuolo on the weekend, the chances of Roma getting into the top four are slim and require a lot to go their way.
They face Parma at home this weekend in a match they simply have to win and win by a big margin in order to bridge the gap on Inter. Currently, the gap sits at six and will require Empoli to give Inter an almighty demolition on the road while Roma would need to win comfortably to try and bridge the gap.
Technically speaking, they are still a chance.
Clinching Scenario: Win vs Parma + Milan and Inter lose with Roma needing to win big and rectify goal difference margin over Inter.