In less than a month the Serie A season will be over and we will either be congratulating Roma’s first title since 2001 or Inter’s record equaling fifth straight win. For much of the season the Nerazzurri led by the formidable Jose Mourinho could boast about a healthy lead at the top of the league standings, the threat of a genuine title challenge was virtually non-existent.
If there were to be challengers to Inter’s supremacy the last team you would bank on would have been the team from Rome, who had got off to such an horrendous start. But after quickly appointing Claudio Ranieri, the Giallorossi found a new lease of life, a team spirit and most importantly – confidence. Ranieri’s team have now gone undefeated since October and have surged up the Serie A table as if their lives depended on it, leapfrogging title pretenders Milan and before eventually surpassing stumbling Inter a week ago.
But what of Inter? They are on the brink of having one of the most successful seasons in the clubs history. Then again it could be a campaign that ends up empty handed. Such is the nature of the beast that is football. Despite their recent downtrend domestically, the Nerazzurri have been superb in the Champions League. Out-thinking and out-classing both Chelsea and CSKA Moscow to reach the semi finals of the competition for the first time since 2003. A victory over Barcelona would see Inter reach the final of Europe’s premier competition- the first time in 28 years. They are still in the hunt for the Scudetto and are in the final of the Coppa Italia where – irony of ironies – they may be set to face Roma. The Roman side are to play their second leg semi final match later this week against Udinese. The Giallorossi take a 2-0 lead into that match and with this year’s final to be held at the Stadio Olimpico – what more motivation could Claudio Ranieri’s team require?
So where is the 2009/10 Serie A title headed? Both teams have four games to play, two at home and two away. Inter’s remaining matches are against Atalanta (H), Lazio (A), Chievo (H) and Siena (A). Both of the Nerazzurri’s home fixtures seem straight forward. Chievo have in reality little to play for and Atalanta seemingly do not possess the quality to threaten Inter at the San Siro. Having said that Atalanta will be fighting for relegation so that match could be tougher than expected. The final game of the season away to Siena could be interesting. Whilst Siena may be relegated by then, they will still be playing for pride and will – unlike Inter – have nothing to lose. The most mouth-watering tie for the Nerazzurri though will be away to Lazio. Will the blue half of Rome give it all to help their eternal nemesis?
Roma, who of course have the one point advantage at the top, look to have on paper the easier of the run ins. They have to play Sampdoria (H), Parma (A), Cagliari (H) and finally Chievo (A). The Giallorossi’s last three games are against teams that are floating in mid table and do not have too much to play for. The most interesting match and perhaps the one that could swing the title in Inter’s favour is Roma’s next match against Sampdoria. Samp are currently in fourth place and are chasing the final Champions League spot. Still Roma will have the advantage of being at home for that fixture.
Jose Mourinho may have to wish that the law of averages finally kicks in- and that despite Roma having been the best team in the league for much of the season, that ultimately they start to lose. After all unbeaten records, such as that of Roma’s are there to be broken – aren’t they?