PARMA, ITALY - MAY 02: Sebastian Giovinco celebrates after scoring his second team goal during the Serie A match between Parma FC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Ennio Tardini on May 2, 2012 in Parma, Italy. (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Scudettos and third places and relegation battles, oh my!
Just last week, it seemed that the scudetto was already in the hands of Juventus. But thanks to a horrific blunder by Gigi Buffon, Andrea Bertolacci equalised for Lecce. Meanwhile, Milan managed a 2-0 win over Atalanta, bringing the rossoneri back to within one point of the title. Juve could still clinch by the end of the weekend, but it's harder going now.
Meanwhile, the race for third has thinned a bit, with Napoli and Udinese the only two sharing that coveted spot. But if either slip, both Lazio and Inter are still waiting for their chance at the Champions League.
Saturday, May 5
Lecce v Fiorentina (18:00 CET/12:00 ET)
This match really shouldn't matter. 42 points should be enough to keep the Viola safe. Yet if both Lecce and Genoa win their final two matches, that could leave Fiorentina, Lecce, and Palermo all sitting on 42 points (Cagliari is there now, too, but their final match is against Fiorentina so we're assuming they take those three points). I'd love to explain to you what happens if three clubs end up in the final relegation zone spot, but my head hurts enough already. A Viola win would really help with my sanity.
Pick: Lecce 0-0 Fiorentina
Both these clubs thought they were making a run for Europe. But Catania's injury struggles saw them drop to tenth last week, while Roma are officially out of the Champions League hunt. Two final wins could see them enter the Europa League again, but considering this season's experience, bowing out to Slovan Bratislava, the giallorossi don't really deserve a shot at a European tournament. Let Luis Enrique take more time lovingly shaping his squad into mini-Barcelona.
Pick: Roma 2-1 Catania
Sunday, May 6 (all matches 15:00 CET/9:00 ET unless otherwise noted)
Hey, this match wasn't supposed to matter. That's why it's the early one, you see. But, oddly enough, two final wins by Parma could very well see them into Europa -- that is, if Roma, Inter, and Lazio all fail. Considering Parma have won their last five matches, and are unbeaten in eight, this seemingly laughable dream could very well become a reality. Barring some suspicious accident to Sebastian Giovinco, of course.
Pick: Siena 0-3 Parma (One Giovinco goal, two assists)
Atalanta may have nothing to play for, but that doesn't mean they're going to roll over and let the biancocelesti take all three points in Bergamo. Lazio squeaked out a draw last week against Siena, but they needed a penalty by Cristian Ledesma to do so. Considering the number of injuries to the visitors, that's likely the only way they'll manage to score against a steady La Dea.
Pick: Atalanta 1-1 Lazio (own goal, Atalanta)
Oh dear god, I can't watch. The terrifying inconsistencies in the partenopei form this season make it nearly impossible for Napoli fans to do more than pace around and drink during the final matches. It's more than simply a Champions League spot that's at stake -- it's the knowledge that without entry into that exclusive club, Napoli will likely lose, at minimum, Edinson Cavani.
Pick: La Trappe Quadruple 2-1 Stone Ruination IPA
Novara have Bertolacci to thank for officially ending their one-season run in Serie A. With both these clubs relegated, I think they should play a game of Calvinball instead. Who would even notice?
Pick: Novara Q-113 Cesena
Hey, remember what I said about the relegation zone? Palermo are near it. I've already given you the details. Go do your own table math, please. I need more coffee
Pick: Palermo 0-0 FFD
Ah, here we're getting to the good stuff. Udinese are even on points with Napoli in third place, but they'll need the partenopei to drop points if they want the Champions League, as head-to-head record determines finishing position in Serie A. On the other end of the table, Genoa are in a precarious position, just three points above the relegation zone. If they don't pick up points, they could end up even with Lecce, and it could come down to goal difference in the relegation race.
Pick: Udinese 2-3 Genoa
Juve need to grab all three points and have Milan fail to win against Inter in order to clinch the scudetto before the final week. With the match taking place in Trieste, it'll almost be like a home match for the Old Lady -- but not that it matters, as we all know this won't be a loss for the unbeaten table-toppers. No, what will be more painful to faithful juventini is being forced to cheer bitter rivals Inter. Alas, this is what table-watching does to us.
Pick: Cagliari 1-3 Juventus
It's not only a Milan Derby, it's a Milan DERBY. A win for the rossoneri keeps them in the title race. A win for Inter puts them back in Champions League contention. A draw does neither side any good whatsoever. Will we finally see both Milan sides play some thrilling calcio? One can only hope. Stay tuned for a more detailed preview of this match.
Pick: Inter 2-3 Milan