Four rounds to go in Serie A, but we already have out first relegation victim.
Sorry Cesena fans (I know there must be some of you out there) but after two seasons in the top flight the Seahorses return to Serie B.
Who would have thought the attacking force of Adrian Mutu and Vincenzo Iaquinta couldn’t get it done? (Everyone)
Novara look set to be the next to join them, though Milan fans hope they can continue to show the heart they’ve displayed all season and knock off one more big opponent.
Juventus’ lead looks secure, 3 points clear with the head-to-head tiebreaker over Milan, but anyone who has followed this sport with any consistency knows that anything can happen.
This goes doubly for the race to third, with Lazio, Roma, Napoli, Udinese, and now in form Inter all still making a case.
Saturday, April 28
Cagliari v. Chievo Verona – A win for Chievo should bump them into the top ten while Cagliari are still far too close to the bottom three for comfort.
The Sardinians trounced Catania in an impressive display midweek, while Chievo’s offensive woes continued drawing a blank and falling 1-0 at Atalanta.
This may not be the best advertisement for the beauty in the beautiful game, but both teams still have plenty to play for with 4 rounds remaining.
I like Cagliari at home again, 2-1.
Palermo v. Catania – This season’s second Derby di Sicilia could not feature two teams on more opposite runs of form. Catania has been playing some great football, despite the midweek hiccup at Cagliari.
Palermo meanwhile, have dropped like a rock after a strong start and are one of three sides sitting just six points above relegation.
Throw in the turmoil now affecting the Rosanero and this match looks like the Elefanti’s to lose. Trigger-happy Palermo owner Zamparini has been banned from calcio for a year due to irregular transfer activity which brought current PSG starlet Javier Pastore to Sicily.
It is a derby though, and a heated one at that.
I’ll take a shot against current form and predict this one goes to Palermo in a thrilling, wide open contest. 4-3 Palermo!
AS Roma v. Napoli – They’re the longest shot left to secure third and if Roma fail to beat Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday you can officially stick a fork in their Champions League challenge for good.
Napoli have pulled back into serious consideration with two comfortable wins over bottom-dwellers and are just one point off of floundering Lazio.
This match should feature some serious style and attacking flair, a great representation of some of Serie A’s new school.
The Giallorossi are without Erik Lamela, banned for spitting on Juve’s Lichtseiner last weekend. Osvaldo and De Rossi are also sidelined for disciplinary reasons.
Closer to full strength and coming off two wins, rather than two tough losses, Napoli should keep the pressure on the other club from Rome with a 0-2 win over their city rivals.
Sunday, April 29
Bologna v. Genoa – After the craziness in Genoa last weekend, Il Grifone are surely enjoying therir time away from home. It didn’t translate to results in Milan on Wednesday, though they played a much more competitive match.
Bologna too showed fight in drawing the Rossoneri last Sunday, and these two desperate sides could produce a highly passionate display this weekend.
With home field advantage and a much more solid defense, Bologna will get it done, 2-0.
Atalanta v. Fiorentina – Fiorentina have really turned it on. Unbeaten in four and climbing steadily away from the drop, one more win will make Viola fans feel a whole lot better.
But Atalanta are a solid club, and this will be another very competitive match.
The home side will miss the steady presence of midfielder Luca Cigarini, but should still be able to slow down the men in Purple.
Internazionale v. Cesena – Just one fluke victory before you go, please Cesena? I predicted Inter would land outside the CL at the season’s outset and got laughed at. Make it come true Mutu!
I’d even settle for a tie, but I guess I should be honest.
3-0 Inter, Sneijder on target.
Lecce v. Parma – Lecce stand to crawl out of the relegation zone if Genoa fall to Bologna.
The Apulians were unbeaten in 6 before falling to Napoli on Wednesday. Parma are currently in ninth place but are a beatable side for sure.
Lecce’s miracle run to la salvezza could, and I believe will, turn the corner this week at home, 2-1.
Novara v. Juventus – Discarded Milan products have been killing the Rossoneri all season. Pirlo’s form has been pivotal to Juve’s success while Marco Borriello’s late goal relegated Cesena and maintained the Bianconeri’s 3 point lead.
I hold out hope that two of the four bottom of the table clubs they have left to face can take points off of Juve, but the Old Lady of Italian football looks more likely to use the last few weeks for victory laps.
Hate, hate, hate to say it. 1-3 Juve.
Siena v. AC Milan – Milan were so much more dynamic with Cassano and Boateng in the line-up during the second half vesus Genoa that I can’t help but imagine what might have been without all the injuries this season, both in the league and in Europe.
Domestically though, they were still up four points at one point, even with all the injuries, so they made the bed they currently lie in.
Every game is a must win now, and Siena are no pushover. But if Milan still want to be champions even just in their fans’ eyes, they must pull another gritty one out in Tuscany on Sunday.
Udinese v. Lazio – This is another huge match in the race for third. Lazio are the current holders even though they have won just once in 8 Serie A matches! But they maintain their slim lead by virtue of the fact that Udinese (who earlier had the best chance of surpassing them) have only one victory in 9 consecutive games!
I have to feel that both of these teams are lucky to still even be fighting for the spot, let alone be among the frontrunners.
Udinese are the sentimental favorites due to the death of Morosini two weekends ago. But then again who isn’t the sentimental favorite when playing against Lazio?
I like the Zebrette, and Di Natale, to keep this race red-hot.
3-2 Udinese in a great match to close out the weekend.