Serie A 2012, Week 30 Preview And Fixtures: Examining The Table

Massimo Ambrosini of AC Milan and Pablo Cesar Barrientos of Catania Calcio compete for the ball during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Catania Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Week 30 brings tough tests for clubs chasing either the scudetto or a European position.

With just eight matches left in the Serie A season, it's time for some serious table watching. Let's break this down.

Title Contenders

Everyone knows it's just Milan and Juve competing for this season's scudetto. Lazio are twelve points back from the leading rossoneri, so nothing short of catastrophe would allow the Roman club access to the title. This weekend is bracketed by matches featuring the top two, and neither will have an easy time of it. Catania host Milan in the first match of Week 30, and the Stadio Angelo Massimino promises to be foreboding. The rossazzurri have lost just twice at home, conceding only nine in the process -- on level with Juventus and Udinese. Sitting in seventh, two behind Roma, Catania are seeking sixth place and a European position. Milan, meanwhile, have the second leg of their Champions League tie with Barcelona coming up midweek, giving Max Allegri plenty of food for thought. The coach will be weighing the importance of the title race against the horror of the Nou Camp. At one point, Milan surely thought this match would be a simple affair, but with the hosts on a sparkling run of form, choosing which team to field won't be an easy decision.

At the other end of the week, Napoli travel to Juventus, hoping to be the ones who finally end the Old Lady's unbeaten run. Three points would put them level with Lazio, but it will require the perfect synchronicity of the Holy Trinity to conquer in Turin, as well as an unassailable back line -- something the partenopei haven't exactly been known for this season. Just one perfect free-kick from Andrea Pirlo and it's likely that all three points will go to the bianconeri.

European Dreaming

Lazio may be currently holding court in third place, but they're constantly looking over their shoulders, sensing the shadow of Vesuvius -- not to mention the continued tenacity of Udinese. The zebrette have fallen quickly, picking up three points from their past four matches, and face a tricky test against Siena, who have lost just once in their last five matches. Napoli, of course, are stuck with a vicious match against Juventus. Considering Lazio travel to Parma, who are spiraling downward quickly, this could be the moment when the biancocelesti secure their hold on the final Champions League place.

Roma, of course, are not technically out of the race for third, but a battle for a Europa League position seems more likely. At this point, they should be more worried about Catania's form than actually trying to overtake Udinese and Napoli, who sit four points above. Hosting lowly Novara this week gives them a chance to pull away in sixth, as the rossazzurri do battle with Milan.

And of course Inter still remains, one point behind Catania. But how much of a thought will many be giving to the battered and beleaguered nerazzurri? Genoa can't seem to do anything right these days, but with such disorder surrounding Inter, their visit to the San Siro will still be a difficult test for new Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni.

Staying Alive

Determining which clubs could still be safe in Serie A would involve way too many mathematical calculations for a Saturday morning. A glance at the table reveals that Cesena is all but done for, sitting bottom, ten points from safety and six back of Novara. Against the Seahorses, a win for Lecce this weekend could do wonders for their survival, although they'd still remain two back of Parma.

A more worrying sight for fans of Serie A is the position of Fiorentina in the table. The Viola have had a tough time of it over the last couple seasons, but the sacking of Siniša Mihajlović did nothing to stem the outpouring of blood. They're even on points with Tuscan rivals Siena, and although it would take a fantastic run of form from Lecce, or even Novara, to send them down, Fiorentina certainly can't be comfortable with their position.


Saturday, March 31

Catania v AC Milan (18:00 CET, 12:00 ET)

Parma v Lazio (20:45 CET, 14:45 ET)

Sunday, April 1 (all matches 15:00 CET, 9:00 ET unless otherwise noted)

AS Roma v Novara (12:30 CET, 6:30 ET)

Bologna v Palermo

Cagliari v Atalanta

Fiorentina v Chievo Verona

Inter Milan v Genoa

Lecce v Cesena

Siena v Udinese

Juventus v Napoli (20:45 CET, 14:45 ET)

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