Another week in Serie A, another 10 matches spent watching sides battle it out for those precious few European positions. Ok, that's not exactly true -- the match between Bologna and Sampdoria is pretty much pointless. And we've got a Sicilian Derby, straight up with a relegation-battle twist. Sigh. The FIGC is really wrecking my narrative, here.
But there's still that heated battle for the Champions League. If Milan slip up against Juventus, Napoli could pull seven points clear, but they have to beat an on-fire Cagliari. And then there's Fiorentina, anxious for a Juve victory (how often have those words been spoken?) because that means they'll be within one point of third place. Well, if they win, of course. There's always that minor detail.
Saturday, April 20
Genoa failed to pick up more than a point in the Derby last weekend, so they remain even with Palermo down in the relegation zone. Atalanta have no concerns about safety, so whether they decide to go easy on Genoa is really up to the whims of German Denis.
Oi there, Udi, how'd you come within three points of Europe? And how do you do this every single season? Next thing we know they'll be the side in second place. And then they'll sell everyone, fail to win a Champions League match and Italy's coefficient will fall even further.
Sunday, April 21
all matches at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise stated
Inter Milan v Parma (12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. ET)
Over the last couple weeks, Inter have engaged in some sort of calcio fight club, resulting in an injury list that's longer than ... longer than a really, really long thing, like a river, or something geological, or this comparison, which has rather run away with itself, but in doing so has only served to prove my point, which is nice.
Anyway, the actual point is that Parma should have an easy time of it. Amauri will score two hat-tricks and Roberto Donadoni will step up to coach Inter next season. Mark my words.
Pescara last picked up a point on February 10, and last won on January 6. An automatic three points should just be added for any side that's set to face the Dolphins in the remainder of the season, and the Pescara players should be allowed to go on a nice long extended vacation.
Well, this match seems necessary.
How to make a Sicilian Derby even more exciting? Add Palermo's relegation battle, the rosanero astonishing three-match undefeated run, and the fact that Palermo actually managed to win the reverse fixture. With Catania picking up just two points from their last three, their European hopes have withered and died -- so all they've got left is to send their rivals into Serie B.
With Milan playing Juventus later in the day, there's no way the Viola won't be aware of the fact that a win could put them within a point of third place. Should Fiorentina manage to keep their wits about them, three points should be easy -- Toro will play for a point, but Vincenzo Montella's men are adept at breaking down defenses and causing their opposition to weep in dismay. Either that, or Adem Ljajic will fall over in the penalty area again.
Cagliari are the most threatening side in Serie A right now. No, I'm being serious. In a run of five unbeaten, the Sardinians have managed to beat Fiorentina, reduce Catania to speculative shots in a scoreless draw, and make easy work of three points against Inter. This is not the side Napoli want to be facing this weekend, not when a win could mean extending their lead in second to seven points.
Siena's win against Pescara puts them two points above the drop, so an abundance of caution on both sides means this is likely to be the most boring match in the history of ever.
Mario Balotelli's suspension was reduced from three matches to two, but he still misses out on the trip to Turin. Fortunately, Massimiliano Allegri kept Stephan El Shaarawy on the bench for the majority of last week's clash with Napoli. Unfortunately, that's likely to mean very little against a side that wants to clinch the scudetto sooner rather than later.