Shock relegation on the cards? Five things we think will happen in Serie A’s final gameweek
With the European season drawing to a close, it’s now almost time to say goodbye to Serie A until August.
While Juventus have already wrapped up the Scudetto and Chievo and Frosinone’s relegations are confirmed, there is still a bit to play for going into the final weekend.
At the top, Atalanta, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma are fighting it out for the final two Champions League spots. Meanwhile Genoa, Empoli, Udinese and Fiorentina are all looking to avoid relegation.
So, what will have happened come Sunday evening with Serie A is over for another year? Read on for Squawka’s predictions.
1. Atalanta qualify for the Champions League for the first time ever
Atalanta recently suffered heartbreak, losing the Coppa Italia final 2-0 to Lazio. But La Dea look set to nurse their wounds with Champions League football.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have been one of the stories of the Serie A seasons, playing exciting high-intensity football which has caused various problems to their opponents across the campaign.
Leading the line has been Duvan Zapata, who has directly contributed to 29 goals in Serie A, scoring 22 himself and recording another seven assists. He is helped by the presence of Papu Gomez, who turned down the chance to leave Atalanta a few seasons ago in order to help them in their quest for Champions League football. And they seem likely to get it.
Atalanta go into the final game of the season with their destiny in their own hands. Beat Sassuolo and they will be in the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in the club’s 111-year history.
Even a draw or even defeat could still see Atalanta qualify, if results elsewhere go their way, but Gasperini’s men should have enough to see off 10th-placed Sassuolo and go out on a high.
A bizarre side note to end the season on, Atalanta are officially at home for their final game but with their ground being restructured, the match will take place at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium.
2. AC Milan grab the final Champions League spot
With Atalanta in third, that leaves Roma, AC Milan and Inter Milan to fight it out for the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Inter have the advantage going into the final weekend, sitting fourth on 66 points – one clear of AC Milan and three of Roma.
Though Roma are still mathematically able to qualify for the Champions League, they require a lot of luck. As well as winning their game against Parma, Roma need both Inter and Milan to lose. But not only that, Roma will need a six-goal difference shift between themselves and Inter which is just one requirement too many to ask for.
On paper, Inter will fancy their chances of finishing fourth, given their opponents are 17th-placed Empoli. But the Nerazzurri have not been in good form, winning just one of their past five games, including a 4-1 defeat last time out against Napoli. At the same time, Empoli have built up an impressive run to move out of the relegation zone, winning their past three games.
Inter are in danger of dropping points, even losing, giving Milan the opportunity to swoop in with a win over 11th-placed SPAL
Important to note, though, is that – should any of the four top-four contenders from Atalanta to Roma finish level on points – league positions are determined on head-to-head records. Below is a breakdown of what that means in real terms.
Atalanta have the head-to-head advantage over Inter, but not Milan. They drew both their games with Roma 3-3.
Inter have the head-to-head advantage over Milan, having beaten them both games this season, and Roma.
Milan have the head-to-head advantage over Roma.
3. Fiorentina say goodbye to Serie A
If the race for fourth seems complicated, the relegation battle takes it to another level. With Serie A taking giving head-to-head precedent as a tie-breaker, 15th-placed Fiorentina are in danger of relegation going into the final weekend.
The Viola currently sit three points clear of 18th-placed Genoa, but the two face each other on Sunday in what may be a winner-takes-all situation. Genoa know if they beat Fiorentina, who have been in a torrid run of form, they are guaranteed to finish above their opponents on head-to-head – after a goalless draw in the previous fixture.
Udinese are currently level on points with Fiorentina but a Genoa win would see them safe regardless of their own result, based on goal difference in a three-team head-to-head mini-league with the other two teams. If Udinese were to lose, however, Genoa would need to beat Fiorentina by two goals to finish above the Viola.
But Genoa should be able to count on Udinese beating Cagliari, leaving Empoli’s result to shape who goes down.
As previously mentioned, Empoli can shock the San Siro with a result, potentially a win – which would see Fiorentina relegated.
In short, wins for Genoa, Empoli and Udinese to send Fiorentina down.
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4. Quagliarella to seal Capocannoniere with a goal
If Atalanta’s ascent has not been your story of the season, then there’s a good chance Fabio Quagliarella is. The 36-year-old appears to have only got better with age, becoming a key part of the Sampdoria side that have secured ninth.
Going into the final weekend of the season Quagliarella sits on 26 Serie A goals, four clear of Duvan Zapata and Krzysztof Piatek, and five of Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a rather fitting end, Quagliarella’s Sampdoria face Ronaldo and Juventus in the final game of the season, with the Portuguese forward likely to make one final push for the Capocannoniere.
Ronaldo scored twice against Sampdoria in a 2-1 earlier in the season, but the reply was scored by none other than Quagliarella who will be looking to go out on a high, securing the Capocannoniere with another goal.
Juventus may win the game, and cap their league-winning campaign off well, but the day will be all about Quagliarella and his remarkable goalscoring season.
5. Chievo to confirm lowest-ever Serie A points tally in current format
With some teams having nothing to play for this weekend, the Serie A matches are being spread over two days. In one of the two games on Saturday, already-relegated Chievo and Frosinone face off with nothing but pride on the line.
Well, Chievo do have something to fight for. They may be guaranteed to finish bottom, currently sitting eight points behind their opponents, but Chievo will be hoping for a win to avoid an unwanted record.
Thanks, in part, to a three-point deduction for false accounting, the Flying Donkeys have 16 points from 37 matches. Should Chievo fail to beat Frosinone, they will finish with the lowest ever tally in a Serie A season consisting of 20 teams, in which three points have been awarded for a win.
The current record-lowest tally was recorded by Pescara in 2016/17 when they managed just 18 points, made up of three wins and nine draws.
But Chievo look unlikely to win on Saturday, confirming their place in the history books.