Congratulations to Juventus on their Serie A championship and (presumable) undefeated season!
A bitter pill to swallow for this Milan fan, but the Bianconeri were the most consistent team all year and in the end deserved victors.
All that’s left for Serie A this week is to figure out which club ultimately secures the third and final Champions League spot next year and which team will join already relegated Novara and Cesena in Serie B next season.
Only the games that actually matter, after the jump!
All matches to be played Sunday, May 13
Race for Third
Catania v. Udinese – Udinese are masters of their own destiny. Currently in that lucrative 3rd spot and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over 4th place Lazio, the Zebrette need just one point to join Juve and Milan in next years Champions League.
While not as sexy as the Napoli team many (including myself) would rather see in Europe, Udinese rely on good defense backed by great goalkeeping which can take a team far in Italy. How far it can take them in Europe remains to be seen, as they haven’t qualified for the tournament proper in a while. Maybe that’s our answer.
But Catania are no easy out, especially in Sicily. So Guidolin’s men will have to bring their very best or see all that CL money, and the players it might buy, slip through their fingers.
I think they get it done in the end, but just barely. 2-2, one more European run for Di Natale.
Lazio v. Internazionale – A big match even without the circumstances, Lazio still have a chance to finish third, although they both need help.
Inter could draw level on Udinese with points but unless there is a serious upheaval in goal differential they would lose out in that tiebreaker after splitting the season series.
But Inter won’t want to be cut out of Europe altogether so both of these teams should be putting their all into this match.
Lazio’s fortunes really took a downturn with the loss of top scorer Miroslav Klose, but the German looks set to return on Sunday.
Meanwhile Inter have been inspired under new coach Stramaccioni and no doubt delighted in keeping Milan from the scudetto (though they did hand it to their other heated rivals).
This is a tough one to call and, as I think Udinese will get the point they need, the result will ultimately be moot.
But Lazio need to win to make anything happen at all, so I’ll say they take it 3-2 and force Inter fans to take of the rose-colored glasses they’ve been sporting recently.
Napoli v. Siena – Like Lazio, Napoli must hope Udinese lose. But if that does indeed occur a full three points will see Napoli qualify level on points due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
And with no disrespect to Giuseppe Sannino’s solid Siena side, the Azzurri do seem to have the easiest last round fixture.
They’ll have to get it done without the disqualified Cavani though. Expect Pandev to be the motor driving Napoli yet again this week.
Looking at total domestic season performance, do Napoli really deserve 3rd? I say no, but now that they have one season of top-level European competition combined with Serie A under their belts, I would certainly expect them to do better whenever their next chance comes.
Despite a win on Sunday, I just don’t see that being next season.
Fight for Salvezza –
Chievo Verona v. Lecce – Lecce and Genoa tied both of their games this year, so the tiebreaker will be goal differential which currently gives Lecce the advantage.
Keep in mind though that Lecce are the side currently in the relegation zone, 3 points behind Il Grifone.
Chievo have little to play for except a top ten finish, so Lecce and the surprisingly potent duo of Davide Di Michele and young Luis Muriel should have more of an impetus to see this match through.
But the Veronese surely won’t roll over, leading me to believe this could be the match of the weekend.
I say Lecce leave it late and win 1-2. Whether it matters will be decided at the same time, not too far to the West.
Genoa v. Palermo – The dynamic Palermo side that began this campaign surely would have doomed Genoa. But the Rosanero lost the plot, and Genoa will find ample opportunities behind the Sicilian backline.
But with top-scorer Rodrigo Palacio out suspended, Genoa are in real trouble. They will need to rely on 8 attacking players (Sculli, Gilardino, and Jankovic) with 8 fewer goals between them.
Add in the fact that Palermo’s undisputed leader Fabrizio Miccoli grew up in the Province of Lecce and is an avid supporter of the Apulian side and you get another match full of passions and intrigue.
In the end, I think we can look forward to the Derby della Lanterna between Genoa and Sampdoria next year: in Serie B that is.
2-4 Palermo, Genoa get the drop.