Serie A: Milan clubs face pursuers in race for top four places


As champions Napoli continues its victory tour at Bologna on Sunday, the remaining important business in Serie A could be wrapped up on the penultimate weekend of the Italian footballing season.

When Juventus, which started in second place on Monday, suffered a double blow in the evening with a 10-point penalty for illicit transfer activity that dropped them to seventh and then a dispiriting 4-1 defeat at Empoli, Lazio inherited second and was guaranteed a top-four finish.

The points deduction also put the two Milan clubs on the brink of securing Champions League places. They can help themselves, and each other, this weekend if they both beat teams that could catch them.

Inter Milan, which won the Coppa Italia on Wednesday and has an eye on the Champions League next final next month, is third, and on Saturday, hosts Atalanta, which is fifth.

Inter have a five-point edge on Atalanta, with Roma another point back in sixth, so while a victory over Manchester City in Istanbul would qualify them for next season’s competition, they can make sure by locking up a top-four place. A draw on Sunday will be enough.

“We have two league games and then the final in Istanbul for a great end to the season,” said Inter coach Filippo Inzaghi, after his team beat Fiorentina in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.

AC Milan, which jumped to fourth when Juventus was punished down, is two points behind Inter. Milan can be caught not only by Atalanta and Roma but by the wounded team they visit on Sunday evening, Juventus. If Inter does not lose, AC Milan knows a victory will be enough even with a round to go.

At the bottom, Cremonese and Sampdoria are already down. Hellas Verona is in the other relegation spot but just a point behind Lecce and two behind Spezia. All three face mid-table clubs with little to play for.

If Verona loses to in-form Empoli early on Sunday and Spezia beat visiting Torino on Saturday, and Lecce wins at Monza later on Sunday, Hellas will be doomed.

Key stats

52 – AC Milan has more league victories over Juventus than any Serie A other clubs, but its record against the Turin giants is still only won 52, drawn 56 and lost 67 in 175 league meetings.

23 – Victor Osimhen of Napoli has hit 23 goals and is three clear of Inter’s Lautaro Martinez in the race for the title of Capocannoniere, or Serie A top scorer.

Fixtures (GMT)

Friday: Sampdoria v Sassuolo (1845)

Saturday: Salernitana v Udinese (1300), Spezia v Torino (1300), Fiorentina v Roma (1600), Inter Milan v Atalanta (1845)

Sunday: Hellas Verona v Empoli (1030), Bologna v Napoli (1300), Monza v Lecce (1300), Lazio v Cremonese (1800) Juventus v AC Milan (1845)

Source link

Like it? Share with your friends!



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *