It’s round 30 in Serie A and there are several exciting races heating up.
While Milan and Juventus continue to duke it out for the Scudetto, 3 other continue to vie for the last Champions League spot and a few more lurkers might still be trying as hard as anyone really tries to get into the Europa League.
The bottom three is still in doubt as well and if you like watching the joy of a good relegation escape in England, you’ll love the the extreme-tebowing that goes on when an Italian minnow gains salvation.
Last week in Serie A was a bit low scoring, so let’s hope these key battle produce some more fireworks this time around.
Saturday, March 31
Catania v. AC Milan – Don’t sleep on this one Rossoneri fans. Il Diavolo did very well to hold Barcelona midweek, but Catania are no pushover, especially at home.
The Elefanti are currently 7th and still within a shout of European qualifying. They have been steady defensively and spread the goals around, not missing the services of Maxi Lopez (departed for Milan) at all.
He might just be the difference for his new side though, as I feel Ibrahimovic (back) should be rested for the next leg of the Barca tie.
It’ll be another tough fight, and Allegri needs to prove he can get the men roused for all challengers.
Parma v. Lazio – Parma are desperately trying to stave off Lecce and avoid relegation. They were unlucky not to take all 3 away at Cesena last weekend but giving up 2 goals to the bottom side will cost you. Lecce kept pace and now Lazio are coming to town.
It’s not easy to compliment the Biancocelesti, but they have really earned the third spot with another rock solid campaign. Napoli or Udinese could still pip them as we near the home stretch, but Edy Reja’s men won’t open the door for them this week.
Sunday, April 1
AS Roma v. Novara – Part of me wonders if Roma would be better off not qualifying for the Europa League. They have a good young squad mixed with some aging but still effective anchors in the midfield.
If they can ever figure out how to string long stretches of good performances (victorious or otherwise) they could certainly secure the 3rd CL spot. With their players though, long trips to Lithuania might render the task actually much more difficult.
Novara aren’t mathematically out, and we know they can take big scalps. With little to lose, they are a dangerous side.
Should be an unexpectedly good one in the Eternal City, finishing 3-2 Roma.
Bologna v. Palermo – Bologna’s weakness is scoring while Palermo’s weakness is defending. It will be fun to see a battle between two long-serving Italian strikers in Bologna’s Marco Di Vaio and Palermo’s Fabrizio Miccoli, both leading their clubs in goals and assists.
The real striking stat her though is, Palermo are totally winless away from Siciliy. They’ve taken 5 points in their travels all year.
It’s hard to go against a pattern like that.
2-1 to the hosts.
Cagliari v. Atalanta – A lot has been made of Atalanta striker German Denis’ excellent campaign, but La Dea’s real backbone has been her defense. Older duo Manfredini and Lucchini have stuck in well, giving up only a fourth best in Serie A 29 goals thus far.
The play of one-time Italy youth national 1st choice keeper Andrea Consigli also deserves special mention.
Cagliari’s anemic offense will find it tough to crack their visitors on Sunday.
Fiorentina v. Chievo Verona – Ugly match alert.
Both sides play capable defense but neither possesses the creativity to break the other down.
Far from the flowing Fiorentina we saw in the mid 00’s, the hosts are disappointingly close to the drop and need a few more wins to make survival absolutely sure.
I’ll stick my neck out and say La Viola somehow come through this one victorious.
Jovetic is due, his last 2 tallies coming from the spot against Udinese in a shock victory.
Internazionale v. Genoa – Inter now have a coach you’ve never heard of and it might be the best decision they’ve made all year.
Andrea Stramaccioni takes the reins of Il Biscione after a miserable run which sees them 8th in the table and 10 points from Champions League football next year.
The new boss was the Primavera coach, and a good one at that, so it’s time he unleashed the youngsters. Inter tifosi will appreciate all the excitement being back on the pitch. The beautiful San Siro pitch.
Genoa’s porous defense should be their undoing here, but this Inter squad is certainly capable of blowing it.
Tough to call, but I’ll be honest, I see Inter as 1-0 victors.
Lecce v. Cesena – Well, Parma couldn’t take 3 precious points from the Seahorses, but Lecce get the chance at home. Not that that’s something they necessarily savor, seeing as their record is better away this year.
Still, I declared my hunch that Lecce somehow crawl out of the relegation zone and this game is a must have as they enter a difficult stretch before welcoming their relegation rivals to the seaside in late April.
I’ll take the Salentini to pull it off, 2-1.
Siena v. Udinese – Two very organized squads go at it in this one. Both like to stay compact and wait to pounce on mistakes, but Udinese may have to press this one more, allowing Siena to seep into the cracks left behind.
Should be a good match to watch if you’re a fan of TACTICS!
0-1, the Zebrette prevail in the end.
Juventus v. Napoli – This is a huge game. Juventus need to keep pace with Milan while Napoli are desperate to qualify for the Champions League again. They’re currently 4th, 3 points back of Lazio in the last spot.
Both teams are full-strength, and both teams want it bad.
Napoli are one of the last teams left with a shot of taking all 3 off of Juve, though the new stadium has been impenetrable. Still, With Cavani in good form and his usual suppliers all healthy, I think this is the week Juventus get their blemish.