There are still two games left this season, but, as Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up Week 36, there is not a lot to play for.
If Serie A was a school they would be bringing out the board games. All the real lessons are over and more than one mind has already drifted to the summer holidays. A midweek round of matches just about confirmed the final grades for all its students.
Juventus were already champions and their victory in Bergamo - courtesy of Alessandro Matri - suited both sides. Results elsewhere meant any fears Atalanta might have had of relegation were banished. The match, however, was not the love-in you might imagine as crowd trouble held up proceedings for several minutes in scenes which everyone could have lived without.
The Bianconeri, having celebrated 31 Scudetti when the record books show 29, seem intent on pursuing their own personal agenda. Their stated aim is to beat the club’s championship-winning points haul record of 91 set by Fabio Capello’s team of 2005-06. That title, of course, was one of those taken off them by the Calciopoli verdicts. You just know they are never going to let that one lie. And Inter fans, for their part, will continue to point out that Antonio Conte’s side cannot match the 97-point tally their team managed in 2006-07.
One of the few concrete verdicts from Wednesday night was Napoli’s confirmation as Champions League group stage qualifiers with a win over those beach-towel carriers from Bologna. Having shipped six to Lazio, at least Stefano Pioli’s men held out until the second half before succumbing to Edinson Cavani and company. But the San Paolo side were never going to miss out on the chance to secure second place against a defence with more space in it than an episode of Star Trek.
It is job almost done in third place, too, as Milan downed the sunken Dolphins of Pescara who have already dived into Serie B. A penalty, as if they needed it, opened the 90-minute torture of home goalkeeper Mattia Perin. That it only finished 4-0 probably had more to do with kindness than any real reflection of the gap - in quality and motivation - between the two sides.
Fiorentina at least did their bit to keep some notional pressure on the Rossoneri for that last Champions League spot. They edged out Siena thanks to another strike from their defensive bomber Gonzalo Rodriguez. Their lack of the ability to kill an opponent off could have cost the Viola dear once more. As it is, they have a Europa League spot almost in the bag while their Tuscan opponents were all but consigned to the second division.
Roma’s shock home smash and grab defeat to Chievo left the door open to rampant Udinese to rise further up the table and they took it at poor Palermo’s expense. That is six wins in a row for the Friuli boys and, as Francesco Guidolin points out, his players have finally got to know one another. They could be bound for Europe again - no doubt with a whole new bunch of signings - while Fabrizio Miccoli’s tears at full time underlined that the Rosanero are on the brink of demotion.
Also on the rise were Lazio with a 3-1 win against a calamitous Inter side which cannot wait for this campaign to end. When Samir Handanovic starts making mistakes, you know things are going badly. And a Ricky Alvarez penalty which went skyward seemed to sum up the Nerazzurri’s season. It was the kind of blunder which will have him scrambling around YouTube trying to delete every piece of footage being posted. Ogenyi Onazi, on the other hand, will be watching his super strike for the Biancocelesti over and over and over.
Elsewhere, Parma won the battle for best mid-table team with Cagliari while Sampdoria managed to get the point they needed against Catania to ensure they are in the top flight next season. The job was also just about done for Torino and Genoa after they played out an Italian-style draw. A share of the spoils was favourite with the bookmakers before kick-off and the match action did little to change that impression, even if the demanding Granata support jeered their players for not pushing harder for the win. They might yet live to regret that course of action but, in truth, it looks like the traditional end of season pragmatism of Serie A will be rewarded once more.
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