Pack up the fancy kits, throw away the plane tickets and settle back into the calcio rhythm. Italy had a turbulent time of it this week in Europe, with both Inter and Napoli getting knocked out of the Champions League, while Udinese fell to AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League. Now the burden of representing the peninsula falls entirely upon Milan, who are also keen to keep up their title bid.
But despite the lack of European advancement, the dream of next year is still very much in the minds of many Serie A clubs, owners, and fans. While Milan looks to be pulling away with the title, the scramble for third -- and, let's face it, even second, with the way Juventus are playing -- is growing increasingly convoluted. Can Roma still make a push? Will Udinese, so bright at the start of the season, continue to fall? Will we see Napoli in the Champions League again next season?
While certain squads might be failing to live up to expectations this season (Fiorentina, Palermo, and, of course, Inter) it doesn't seem like any of them will meet the same fate of Sampdoria last time around. Cesena seem almost certain to drop down, Novara has barely a chance, and even Lecce remain six back of safety. It almost makes one hope for a bit of a meltdown at the weekend, just to watch the exciting race back toward Serie B.