Serie A promotion watch: Derby win will see Sassuolo promoted

Dino Panato

There's only four games of the Serie B league season left, meaning the scramble for promotion is heating up. Here are the games to keep an eye on this weekend.

Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local:

Modena vs. Sassuolo

Assuming you don't have a social life, watching this derby game is definitely how you should spend your Friday. Sassuolo have stylishly romped to a position seven points clear at the top of the table, and have done so in Modena's Stadio Alberto Braglia, borrowing their neighbours' stadium with their own too small for use. A win against their local rivals here will leave them only a couple of points from sealing the title, though will mean they're promoted to Serie A. But, Modena won't make it easy. Four points adrift of the playoffs, they still have a lot to play for.

Saturday, 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. local:

Reggina vs. Brescia

Brescia suffered an unlucky 4-2 defeat at the hands of Hellas Verona in the last match, leaving themselves a couple of points short of a playoff place. Cripplingly inconsistent and woeful away from home, surely not even the rondinelle can fail to win away at a Reggina side in a royal relegation mess.

Varese vs. Cittadella

Varese were unlucky to miss out on promotion last season, when they battled through to the playoff final only to be beaten by the team that finished a place below them in the table, Sampdoria. Now a couple of points inside the top six, they're on course for the playoffs again, though hardly with a comfortable buffer. Playing an erratic, mid-table Cittadella side at the Stadio Franco Ossola this weekend, this game could be harder than the league table would suggest.

Ascoli vs. Hellas Verona

Ascoli have been unquestionably Serie B's most shocking underperformers this season. At the start of the campaign they looked up for a promotion challenge, though have slumped into one of the two relegation playout places -- despite boasting one of the division's top strikers, Simone Zaza. They host a Hellas Verona side currently third, only a point adrift of second place and an automatic promotion spot. If promoted, a Veronese derby in Serie A might make Chievo worth watching -- for once.

Livorno vs. Vicenza

Livorno are the team currently keeping Hellas out of second place by a single point. They're seven points off the league leaders, and also host a relegation-threatened side this weekend. Vicenza have picked up two consecutive wins but are still in the bottom three, so chances of the biancorossi helping Hellas and taking points from Livorno this weekend look slim.

Padova vs. Novara

Novara are the funny old game's funny old team. Relegated from Serie A last season, it looked for all the world like they were in a second consecutive relegation fight, winning only three of their opening 17 Serie B games. Since then, they've won 15 of 21, and are now tucked up nicely in the playoff places, with a six-point buffer. Sadly, the Piedmontese's run of seven consecutive wins came to an end with defeat against Modena last time out, so they'll hope to get back to winning ways with a victory over Padova this round. It won't be easy, with Fulvio Pea's side five points off the playoffs themselves.

Sunday, 6:30 a.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. local:

Empoli vs. Cesena

This game, between Empoli -- who are all but assured a playoff place finish -- and mid-table Cesena doesn't seem too significant, other than the fact that the hosts are almost definitely going to finish in the top six. However, it is much more important than that -- it is a game which will have ramifications for every team with promotion hopes. That's because there's a rule in Serie B which stipulates that if the gap between fourth (Empoli's position) and third (Hellas Verona's position) is ten points or more, the top three will be automatically promoted and the playoffs will be cancelled. With that gap currently a nervy nine points, the Tuscans must bounce back from last week's heavy 3-0 defeat at Spezia with a win.

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