Serie A Week 38 preview – All eyes on first and fourth

Much of Serie A’s issues were settled after week 37. All that remain are two massive matters – who will take the Scudetto and who will claim the last remaining Champions League position?

Inter are very much in the drivers’ seat. They travel to relegated Siena knowing that a victory would secure top-spot and their fifth consecutive Serie A title, edging them even closer to claiming a second ‘Stella d’Oro al Merito Sportivo’ , or ‘Golden Star for Sporting Excellence’ to don on their famous blue and black shirt. Of their seven victories this season, Siena have won four of them at home, all against opposition from the bottom-half. In fact, they have only amassed four points from games against teams in the top ten and not a single one from any of the top four. It did take two late Inter goals to grab 4-3 victory in the reverse fixture in January, which will give Siena and Roma tifosi hope. A draw for the Nerazzurri will be enough to hand the Scudetto to Roma for the first time since 2001, once they take all three points against Chievo. The Giallorossi will be hoping for a final day miracle to prevent them from ending a gallant season trophy-less. Claudio Ranieri, who is refusing to bite back in an attack by José Mourinho, insists that his team will keep fighting to the bitter end.

The other remaining issue is the battle for fourth. Sampdoria claimed a significant victory against Palermo last weekend and would hope to finish the job of Champions League qualification at home to sixth placed Napoli. The side from Naples have qualified for the Europa League and have lost just one of their last nine. Palermo, who until recently had spent two months in the top four, travel to relegated Atalanta in the search for a win that would propel them into Europe’s top competition and the multi-million euro jackpot that follows, providing that Sampdoria fail to win. The Rosanero may need more than one goal as Atalanta have failed to score only once in their last nine outings, although last week’s relegation may mean the mood at the camp is less that positive.

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All other European places are settled. Milan and Juventus will finish third and seventh respectively, earning them both qualification for Europe, regardless of the result against each other at the San Siro. As one of Serie A’s standout fixtures, much focus will be given to the game, as two Italian giants, with no pressure on the result, lock horns.

Livorno have the opportunity to scramble off the bottom of the table with victory away at Parma, although they have only one victory to their name in the last 18. Bologna can also jump up the league with victory over Cagliari and thus complete their journey from relegation-contenders to comfortable finishers. Tenth face eleventh as Bari entertain Fiorentina and eighth placed Genoa tackle Catania in Sicily. The Golden Boot front-runner Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale will look to build on his 26 league goals against Lazio.

Game of the weekend

The top of Serie A is the focus as Inter travel to Siena 90 minutes away from their 18th Scudetto. Should they struggle to overcome their already relegated opposition, all eyes will turn to the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi to see if Roma can capitalise and claim their fourth championship.

Blast from the past

Juventus travelled to the San Siro in April 1997 against a Champions Milan, who by then were struggling form-wise. The Bianconeri dominated proceedings and won 6-1 with goals from Vladimir Jugović (2), Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri (2) and Nicola Amoruso. Diego Simeone grabbed a consolation for the Rossoneri.

On this matchday

10 years ago – 1999/00

A thrilling 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

Wins for Fiorentina and Siena dragged 15th placed Bologna into the relegation zone. The team would contest a play-off against Parma, in which they were defeated over two legs and subsequently relegated.

One year ago – 2008/09

A win for Genoa over Lecce was not enough to qualify for the Champions League although they finished level on points with fourth placed Fiorentina and had better ‘goal difference’ and ‘goals for’ columns.

Week 38 fixtures

Saturday May 15

Milan vs. Juventus – 19.45 – Live on ESPN

Lazio vs. Udinese – 19.45

Sunday May 16

Atalanta vs. Palermo – 14.00

Bari vs. Fiorentina – 14.00

Cagliari vs. Bologna – 14.00

Catania vs. Genoa – 14.00

Chievo vs. Roma – 14.00

Parma vs. Livorno – 14.00

Sampdoria vs. Napoli – 14.00

Siena vs. Inter – 14.00 – Live on ESPN

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