Previewing the final week of Serie A

Previewing the final week of Serie A

European Soccer

Previewing the final week of Serie A

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If you are a Serie A fan then the final matchday of the season should be an exciting one for you to watch. The title as well as relegation spots are still up for grabs, with several games earning can’t-miss status because of it.

Sunday’s action will be exciting as well as a bit mind-numbing with all the different tie-breaker scenarios that could play out. SBI Correspondent Dante Puglia will fill you in on all the different scenarios for this weekend in this detailed report:

By DANTE PUGLIA

Serie A, or any league for that matter, may have never come down to such a dramatic end on the top and bottom of the standings. The two teams vying for the Scudetto are one point apart in the table and have to go on the road to face teams trying to avoid relegation. There’s also the fourth and final Champions League spot up for grabs. What drama! What excitement! What a headache in trying to figure out all the details!

Well, SBI is trying to simplify all the scenarios that you’ll need to know when sitting on your couch drinking espresso on Sunday morning.

If any two teams are tied in the standings on points, Serie A uses the following tiebreaking procedures:

  • Head-to-head points
  • Head-to-head goal difference
  • Head-to-head goals scored
  • Goal difference on the season
  • Goals scored on the season

With that housekeeping sorted out, let’s hit the scenarios:

Scudetto Scenarios

Inter will win its 16th Serie A title with a win at Parma or a tie combined with a Roma loss/tie at Catania.

Roma can claim its fourth Scudetto with a win at Catania combined with an Inter loss/tie at Parma. If Inter and Roma end up tied on points, then the Nerazzurri will win Serie A for a third consecutive season since they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with four points to two. That 88th-minute goal by Javier Zanetti to help Inter salvage a 1-1 tie against Roma at home on Feb. 27 would be the difference maker for the title.

Survival Scenarios

Livorno is already relegated to Serie B for next season, and there are two spots remaining with the Tuscan club capable of having a direct impact on which team will join it.

Catania is 17th in Serie A on 36 points, while Parma has 34 and Empoli 33.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Catania

Catania can avoid relegation with a win over Roma or a tie combined with losses/ties by Parma and Empoli. If Catania, Parma and Empoli all lose, then Catania remains in Serie A to play a third consecutive season in the top-flight.

Parma

The only way Parma can avoid playing in Serie B for the first time since the 1989-90 season is by beating Inter combined with a loss/tie by Catania.

Empoli

Empoli needs help to remain in Serie A for a sixth consecutive season. The club needs a win over Tuscan rival Livorno combined with a loss/tie by Parma and a loss by Catania. If that happens, Empoli will tie Catania on points and the teams are tied on head-to-head points, but Empoli has a 2-1 advantage on head-to-head goals. The difference would be a goal from Alessandro Budel in the 78th minute of a 2-0 win at home on Feb. 24.

Champions League At Stake

Fourth-place Fiorentina is in position to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. It has a two-point advantage on fifth-place Milan with a game at Torino left, while the Rossoneri host Udinese, which has already clinched at least a seventh-place finish and a berth in the UEFA Cup. The team that fails to reach the Champions League will get the consolation prize of the UEFA Cup.

Fiorentina can clinch the Champions League place by beating Torino. It can also secure the spot with a tie or a loss if Milan loses.

However, if Fiorentina ties and Milan wins — putting them equal on points in the standings — Milan will get the Champions League berth due to having four points to Fiorentina’s one in the head-to-head series. The difference in the head-to-head matchup came when Alexandre Pato scored in the 77th minute in Milan’s 1-0 win over Fiorentina on Feb. 3.

Milan can also clinch Champions League play by beating Udinese combined with a Fiorentina loss/tie at Torino.

Intertoto Cup? Does anyone care?

There is also the small matter of the Intertoto Cup berth that would go to the eighth-place team, but that invitation is usually rejected. Napoli, which is currently eighth and two points ahead of Genoa has reportedly said it will not accept the invitation to Intertoto. The invitation will then move on to the next team in the standings until someone accepts it. If the teams don’t care about this, then why bother?

Well, there it is. That’s everything you need to know about the final day of Serie A. What will happen? Will Inter choke on the final day like in 2002? Who knows? It’s bound to be insane with lots of tension. Find an Italian friend and enjoy the madness. Better yet, find an Inter fan and watch him squirm.

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