Nine out of ten Serie A matches this weekend have potential implications on the scudetto, the battle for Europe, or the race to avoid the drop. Let's all cross our fingers that Round 34 brings as much excitement as Round 33. Last week, Palermo snatched a point in the dying seconds of the Sicilian Derby, keeping their faint hope of seeing Serie A next season alive. Napoli also left it late into stoppage time before they grabbed all three points against Cagliari, keeping them securely in second. Finally, Fiorentina toyed with Torino, letting them come back from 3-0 to reach 3-3 before scoring a late game winner.
Boring, boring Serie A, eh?
Saturday, April 27
Neither side has reached the magical 40 point mark, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they're both safe. Thanks for giving us another pointless match to kick off the weekend, fixture gods! Fortunately, all the other matches hold so much more promise.
Udinese got all Udinese on us at the end of the season -- suddenly, they've leapfrogged Catania, are even on points with Lazio and could slip into fifth place if Inter lose. Cagliari really have nothing to play for, but probably aren't too happy about Napoli's last minute victory last weekend, and will be keen to make amends.
If any of you cruel, cruel readers are cheering on Pescara's demise, you'll be saddened to know that the Dolphins can't be officially relegated until next weekend. A win, however, could see Juve take the title. Napoli, for their part, might be seven points above Milan in second place, but that's still not comfortable enough, and need to lock down all three points to keep the gap intact.
Sunday, April 28
all matches at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted
This one has implications at both ends of the table. If Roma actually want Europa League play, they're going to need to actually beat relegation contenders, rather than simply snatching a draw. Fortunately for the giallorossi, Siena haven't managed a result against non-relegation contenders since February 10, when they played Bologna. Then again, prior to last week, February 10 was the last time Pescara picked up even a point. Roma sure have something special.
You want pretty football? Watch something else. Chievo's main goal in life is to earn as many draws as possible, while Genoa are fighting to climb back out of the drop. This one's gonna be ugly, folks.
Are the rosanero actually going to pull off a dramatic rise from the bottom of the table? Yes, they're still in the relegation zone, but Palermo are unbeaten in four, picking up eight points in that time, which is certainly their best record of the season. Their recent strategy seems to be "let Josip Ilicic do whatever he wants," and against Inter's injury-ravaged side, it should work once again.
Did you know Lazio have won just once in their last seven league matches? I didn't either until just now, but that certainly explains how they've slipped out of the European places. Guess Vladimir Petkovic constructed an elaborate ruse involving smoke, mirrors, and Miroslav Klose at the beginning of the season, and it's all crashed down around them. Parma need to pounce and reach that magical 40-point mark.
Everything's blooming up Viola for Vincenzo Montella's men, but a win here could mean sunshine and lollipops for Fiorentina. They've closed the gap on Milan, in third, to just a point, and if any side can oust the rossoneri it's Fior.
This derby would be better if Juve actually considered Torino as rivals. As it stands, the only way we'll see any real excitement is if Napoli lose on Saturday -- Juventus are going to want that victory parade. Sampdoria are without a win in their last six, so Montella needs to throw caution into the win and go for all three points.
Seven points out of second. Hanging on to third by just a point. Sure, Milan are better than they were at the start of the season, but that's not going to matter if the rossoneri can't find their way into the Champions League. With the death of their European dream, Catania have lost some of their "oomph" factor, but if all they want is a point, it's quite likely that's what Milan will have to be content with.