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By Sean Teixeira – Summer Staff Writer
After a three month pause, the Serie A is returning today. The Italian league is set to play out the remaining 12 weeks of the season plus 4 rescheduled games, having the final matches on August 2nd. Italian soccer kickstarted this weekend with the semi-finals and finals of the Coppa Italia where Napoli claimed the crown following a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over league leaders Juventus. The league now takes center stage, with a title race, European positions and a relegation battle all still to be decided. Here’s all you need to know before Parma vs. Torino at today at 1:30 PM EST.
Looking at the Standings:
- Juventus (63pts) Lazio (62pts) and Inter Milan (54pts and 1 game in hand) have been challenging for the top of the table all season
- Juve are chasing their 9th straight Scudetto title and Lazio are seeking their first since ‘00
- Inter Milan have lead for a number of weeks during the season, however they have fallen off the pace after two losses just before the pause to Juve (2-0) and Lazio (2-1)
- Matchday 34 will be pivotal in deciding in this race, with Lazio traveling to Juventus
- Other significant matchups include Inter vs 4th-placed Atalanta (Matchday 38), Juve vs AC Milan (Matchday 31) and Lazio vs Napoli (Matchday 38)
Lately, it’s been a long time since a Serie A season went by without Juventus lifting the trophy at the end of it. They have claimed the crown for 8 consecutive seasons and once again find themselves atop the table down the stretch. Upcomers in Lazio have been relentlessly consistent this season, amazingly making it to this point without ever being in first place and yet they find themselves just one point back. Inter Milan put up a good challenge, but seem just a bit too far to catch the top two, but crazier things have happened. Circle July 20th on your calendars, with Lazio visiting Juve in what will have lots to say in the title chase.
End of Season Prediction: Juventus continue their dominance over Serie A, and claim their 9th consecutive title. Lazio – 2nd place, Inter Milan – 3rd place
Fight For European Positions
- Atalanta (48pts and 1 game in hand) hold 4th place and the final Champions League slot
- Roma (45pts) and Napoli (39pts and 1game in hand) currently occupy 5th and 6th for the final Europa League places
- AC Milan (36pts) Hellas Verona and Parma (both 35pts and 1 game in hand) slightly trail this grouping
- With Napoli winning Coppa Italia they secure Europa League for next season, allowing the highest finisher of the trailing three to also qualify
The European race has the potential to morph in a variety of different ways on a week to week basis with the nature of the league. With so many teams vying for a select group of places. it will make for constant movement after every dropped result. High flying Atalanta, the league’s far and away highest scoring team, look certain to hold their position in the Champions League. Roma looks equally poised to secure their spot in the Europa League. That final slot will be a dog fight, but it will be hard to deny AC Milan’s quality to swipe the final spot.
End of Season Prediction: Atalanta- 4th (Champions League)
Roma- 5th Napol – 6th AC Milan – 7th (Europa League)
- Current Relegation Zone: Lecce (25pts), SPAL (18pts) and Brescia (16pts)
- Genoa (25pts), Sampdoria (26pts) and Torino (27pts) find themselves just above the drop zone
The relegation battle will be a rare marathon and a sprint challenge. Sadly for SPAL and Brescia, it would appear that their fates in Serie A are mostly settled. A cancelled season was probably their more likely option of survival at this point, and the remaining games will be difficult for them to rally from their respective deficits. Motivation will be plenty for the four other teams that find themselves in the heated battle. Only 2 points separates the 4 teams that will be desperate to avoid the final drop slot.
End of Season Prediction: Lecce, unable to salvage enough points in the remaining games, joins SPAL and Brescia in the relegation zone.
What to Watch For
- The race for the Golden Boot is between Lazio’s Immobile (27 g) and Juve’s Ronaldo (21g)
- Juventus, Napoli and Atalanta and still currently in the Champions League. Juventus and Napoli both still have Round of 16 second leg matches to be played, Atalanta have already qualified for the Quarterfinals.
- Roma and Inter Milan are both in the Round of 16 in the Europa League
- A playoff system is set to be discussed by league officials in the event the season is postponed again
- Under health protocols, all matches will be played without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Temporary rules for remainder of season allow for 5 substitutions per team
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