Match day 33 and still no closer to finding out or gaining some sort of pre-knowledge as to which final two Italian sides will join newly crowned champions Juventus, and inevitable runners up Napoli in the 2019/20 Uefa Champions League.
Each and every side still vying for a spot in Europe’s premier competition can stake a claim for why they deserve to be there.
Inter, currently in third, have a nice, comfortable 5 points cushion on cross city rivals Milan, with a further point on 5th (outside) placed Roma. The nerazzurri have enjoyed a season once again full of on and off field dramas, but have held their nerve and own well enough to see themselves consistently maintain that third placed standing.
Recent dropped points to direct rivals Lazio, Atalanta & Roma have recently left Inter fans in a state of confusion. On one hand, holding a direct rival to a stalemate this late in the season (with the points advantage that they have) can be considered a good result, delaying any sort of rival gains in the standings. Most interesti however take a more pessimistic view of these results, claiming these are the ones there for the taking, the ‘6 pointers’ which had Inter just won one of those three mentioned, this article may very well have just been about occupying that final (4th spot) instead of 3rd as well.
In terms of the others chasing the pack, Milan have still looked in all sorts tactically. Gennaro Gatusso has desperately attempted to reinvigorate his beloved Milan with the ‘Grinta’ never say die attitude he lived and breathed during his heyday, but the mental capacity of his team has negatively geared more than once, with the rossoneri collecting only 1 win from there last 6 domestically. They currently sit in 4th position, with less than a game separating them from 7th placed Torino, whom they travel to next week (i know…right). We also can’t forget that illusive Coppa 2nd leg (against Lazio) which will fall smack bang in the middle of match day 33 & 34.
The Roman clubs are still digging and clawing hard. A few weeks back you would have been forgiven for thinking Roma were about to throw in the towel for their campaign. After sacking Di Francesco and bringing in experienced manager Claudio Ranieri as a care taker, the Roman’s have turned back to basics, and in such have grinned out a series of successful wins and gained a point against Inter at the San Siro today, although some Romanisti faithful will claim this result has negatively impacted their cause for a UCL spot.
Cross town, the Laziali faithful would have been forgiven just over a fortnight ago for thinking they were completely in the driver’s seat for a top 4 finish. A 0-1 win at the San Siro against Inter positioned them perfectly to jump AC Milan into 4th position as they only trailed by 2 points, with a game in hand. Following this, a 1-0 defeat to SPAL and a 2-2 draw to Sassuolo, combined with a 1-2 loss to cellar dwellers Chievo, and Lazio now find themselves in 8th position, but still only a single match outside the top 4. We also can’t forget that illusive Coppa 2nd leg (against Milan) which will fall smack bang in the middle of match day 33 & 34.
Coming out of Bergamo, Atalanta have been the form team for large chunks of the campaign. A consistent season by Gasperini’s men with some outstanding performances from the likes of Duvan Zapata and Josep Illicic has seen them maintain the vision of European football all season long, with current sites firmly set on a top 4 finish. They sit in 6th position, only 3 points away from Milan in third, with a game in hand (against LAZIO….si 😉
With Mazzari’s pragmatic Torino occupying 7th position with 53 points also, he will have his troops rallied up and ready to go next week as he welcomes Gattuso and the Milanese soldiers to town.
One thing is for sure, we are staring down the barrel of an even more exciting run in and battle for the final UCL places then we saw last season (can it get any more anxious for Inter fans?)
Below are each teams remaining fixtures for the run home, who do you fancy scrapping through in the 3rd & 4th places? Comment below!
Inter: Juventus (H), Udinese (A), Chievo (H), Napoli (A), Empoli (H)
Milan: Torino (A), Bologna (H), Fiorentina (A), Frosinone (H), SPAL (A)
Roma: Cagliari (H), Genoa (A), Juventus (H), Sassuolo (A), Parma (H)
Atalanta: Napoli (A), Udinese (H), Lazio (A), Genoa (H), Juventus (A), Sassuolo (H)
Torino: Milan (H), Juventus (A), Sassuolo (H), Empoli (A), Lazio (H)
Lazio: Sampdoria (A), Atalanta (H), Cagliari (A), Bologna (H), Torino (A)