Two mouth-watering derbies could well dictate the destination of the 09-10 scudetto. The first, on Friday evening, sees the Derby d’Italia take centre-stage as Juventus take on current champions, Inter, at the San Siro. The Nerazzurri lost top-spot last weekend and will face a tough battle to regain it as the Old Lady aims to make a late charge into the top four. Current leaders, Roma, will also face a tough battle as they go head-to-head with bitter cross-town rivals Lazio. The third team in the chase for the scudetto, Milan, travel to Genoa to play Sampdoria, who are also fighting it out for a place in next season’s Champions League. The Rossoneri, although difficult to beat, have passed up several opportunities to put pressure on Inter and Roma in recent weeks. A victory is a must now with the possibility that the top two may struggle in furious derby circumstances.
The chase for Europe is also heating up, in particular the intriguing battle for the remaining Champions League spot. Palermo, who are currently linked with bringing Federico Macheda back to Italy, have held forth position since late February and will be intent on holding onto it. The Rosanero will be favourites as they travel to Cagliari who are without a win in nine games. This disastrous run of form has seen the Rossoblu fall from their position as European contenders to mid-table mediocrities and saw the dismissal of head coach, Massimiliano Allegri, only weeks after being awarded the Panchina d’Or. Palermo will have further reason to feel confident as their closest rivals for forth, Sampdoria and Juventus, both have very difficult games at home to Milan and away to Inter respectively.
Away from the race for a Champions League spot, a win for Napoli against Bari will go a long way to securing them a place in the Europa League. If they do not win at the Stadio San Nicola however, it may open the door for Parma to edge closer to seventh but only if they can win at home to Genoa, who sit in tenth, only one point behind the Gialloblu. The team sandwiched between Parma and Genoa, Fiorentina, face relegation strugglers, Atalanta.
The three teams that occupy the relegation zone have been cut off from the rest and may run out of games in their attempt to remain in Serie A. Atalanta look the most likely to get out of trouble but will need a victory against the outfit from Florence. Bologna, who are on a run of five defeats in a row and have not kept a clean-sheet in two months, face a difficult trip to Udinese, who themselves will feel that one last win will ensure their participation in Serie A next season. The bottom two clubs, Siena and Livorno are both on their travels and play Catania and Chievo respectively. Catania have a very good home record at the Stadio Angelo Massimino in recent times and may, realistically if not quite mathematically, condemn Siena to Serie B. Chievo have only won three times in their last seventeen games so hope remains for a late, although very slim, Livorno survival attempt.
Game of the weekend
The Derby della Capitale edges it on this occasion with Lazio, still threatened by relegation, playing host to city rivals Roma, whose inspiring form and position as Serie A leaders could make this a tumultuous occasion. The reverse fixture ended 1-0 to i Giallorossi.
Blast from the past
When discussing Serie A’s past, you cannot ignore either Inter or Juventus. Prior to the Calciopoli, neither side had even been relegated. The highest scoring games, in which Inter were the home team, were prior to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza being built and were two 6-1 Inter victories in 1911 and 1913.
On this matchday
10 years ago – 1999/00
The last round of games saw Juventus discard the scudetto, surprisingly losing at Perugia, while Lazio brought the title back to the Stadio Olimpico with a 3-0 victory over Reggina.
Five years ago – 2004/05
Amazingly Lecce’s 5-3 victory over Lazio was not the highest scoring game of the weekend. This honour was Parma’s 6-4 victory over Livorno, with Alberto Gilardino scoring four and Cristiano Lucarelli bagging three.
One year ago – 2008/09
Diego Milito was the toast of Genoa with a hat-trick against city rivals in the Derby della Lanterna. The third arrived in stoppage-time as Sampdoria pushed forward in search of an equalizer.
Week 34 fixtures
Friday April 16th
Inter vs. Juventus – 19.45 – Live on ESPN
Saturday April 17th
Chievo vs. Livorno – 17.00
Sunday April 11th
Atalanta vs. Fiorentina – 14.00
Bari vs. Napoli – 14.00
Cagliari vs. Palermo – 14.00
Catania vs. Siena – 14.00
Parma vs. Genoa – 14.00
Sampdoria vs. Milan – 14.00 – Live on ESPN
Udinese vs. Bologna – 14.00
Lazio vs. Roma – 19.45 – Live on ESPN