It's a battle for Europe! It's a scramble to avoid Serie B! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the last month of Serie A.
Friday, April 25
With just eight points separating them from leaders Juventus, Roma are still technically in the title race. So, despite having clinched second - and an automatic entry to the Champions League group stage - last weekend, they're not likely to take their foot off the gas against Milan. That's unfortunate for the rossoneri, who, after winning their last five in a row, are sitting just outside the Europa League places. Then again, a season outside Europe may be exactly the cure to fix an ailing Milan.
Saturday, April 26
Bologna vs. Fiorentina6 p.m. local, 12 noon ET at the Stadio Renato Della`Ara, Bologna
Fiorentina still have an outside shot of reaching the last Champions League place, particularly given Napoli's lengthy list of missing players. But they'll need to defeat a desperate rossoblu side who, after Sassuolo's victory over Chievo last week, are now officially in the relegation places. Expect a dull match in which the hosts try their best to keep the viola pinned back, banking on a draw being better than nothing at all.
Inter Milan vs. Napoli8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET at the San Siro, Milan
This match should've been a time for Napoli to do the double on Inter, getting further revenge on ex-boss Walter Mazzarri while sewing up third place at the same time. Except Napoli have a lengthy list of players missing, and they may head to the San Siro with a stitched-together backline. Undefeated in five, Mazzarri would sure love an impressive win, as his future at Inter is still uncertain.
Sunday, April 27
Hellas Verona vs. Catania12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. ET at the Bentegodi, Verona
With four games left and six points from safety, Catania still can save themselves. Last week's victory over Sampdoria was a good start. But Verona would sure love the chance to get itself slapped with a slew of Uefa fines as it takes its fans on the road in Europa League, and a win over the pretty-much relegated elefanti could mean a move to the top six - should the results fall their way, of course.
If Parma want to hold on to their Europa League spot, they're going to have to do a whole lot better than a missed penalty, a red card, and a 2-0 loss. In fact, a win against the isolani is pretty much necessary, what with the fact that Milan, Torino, Lazio and Verona are all within two points of sixth. And since last week's win over Genoa pretty much guaranteed safety for Cagliari, they should be nice enough to do Parma a favor...
It's another Europe vs. Relegation battle. Lazio's frantic back-and-forth draw with Torino last weekend left both sides two points out of sixth, but against Livorno, the biancocelesti have a chance to slip back into the Europa spots. Livorno have lost their last three in a row and have picked up just two points from their last six, so even with the return of Davide Nicola, it's tough to see them getting a win.
It's the only non-relegation non-Europe...wait. Wait wait. Chievo's loss to Catania last week means the Flying Donkeys are just two points above the relegation zone. Go on, Sampdoria!
Udinese's only goal for the four remaining games of the season is to try and trip up any side aiming for a certain position in the table. They did it last week with Napoli, ensuring that the partenopei have yet to clinch third, and if Torino aren't careful, the zebrette will make sure their dreams of a European adventure shrivel up and die.
Hey, thanks, Serie A gods, for putting the only match that has absolutely no effect on either the relegation battle or on the war for Europe in its own nifty unique time slot. Yes, this makes sense.
Monday, April 28
Last time these two sides met, Carlos Tévez scored a hat-trick. Sassuolo even allowed Federico Peluso a goal. Can we expect anything different this time? Well, Juve may trot out a weakened squad, having one eye to a must-win second leg against Benfica next week. If they do and Sassuolo manage to get something out of this match, the neroverdi just might get to avoid a trip to Serie B.