BLOG ITALIA
Monday March 19 2018
More Scudetto traps lie in wait

SPAL's surprise draw blew the title race wide open again, but Susy Campanale warns in the final weeks there could be similar slip-ups for Juventus and Napoli.

The closer we get to the end of the season, the more hidden dangers lurk in every fixture. It’s no coincidence that SPAL tripped Juventus up and re-opened the Scudetto race, because they’re precisely the type of team that can will continue to cause upsets.

I have said before that Serie A is too big at 20 sides and needs to be reduced to 18 or, ideally, the 16 I used to watch in my youth. The mid-table malaise is too vast and clubs like Sampdoria, Udinese or Torino get to rest on their laurels far too early. Once Europe is out of reach, or considered too much of an inconvenience to really push for, and safety is secure, they’ve got the flip-flops on in March and are just waiting for their summer vacation.

Unexpected results always pop up in the final weeks of a Serie A campaign and this will be no different. Aside from Benevento, whose ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory is truly unmatched, it’s wide open in the battle to avoid relegation. They all saw Crotone’s comeback last season and know it can be done, especially with so many unmotivated middlers floating around.

SPAL stalling the Juventus run of 12 consecutive Serie A victories was no fluke. Leonardo Semplici’s men have always been more courageous than most newly-promoted clubs and were unfortunate not to have better results throughout the season. They more than earned their point at the Stadio Mazza and the crowd in Ferrara were sensational, precisely the kind we want to see in the top flight. It ended 0-0, but no buses were parked. The teams simply matched each other blow for blow and Juve found an opponent even more motivated than them.

Napoli would’ve befallen the same fate had it not been for Raul Albiol’s first Serie A goal in two years. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne hit the woodwork at the San Paolo, but Genoa gave them more than a few scares at the back too. In recent weeks, the Grifone have been a real problem for strong opposition, beating Lazio and Inter, taken down with the last kick of the game by Milan. Davide Ballardini has transformed the team and they are not entirely safe from the drop yet.

Milan had to fight tooth and nail for their victory against a Chievo side in crisis, while Bologna ended a run of five consecutive away defeats by forcing Lazio out of the top four. Sassuolo visibly wanted it more than Udinese at the Dacia Arena, earning their three points and sending the Friulani to a fifth straight defeat. Massimo Oddo acknowledged the problem with the Friulani, which is that the moment they felt safe from relegation and too far away from Europe, they plateaued. No motivation, no results.

Roma earned a 2-0 victory at Crotone, but it was far from easy going, especially with a rotated squad. Only Atalanta ran riot with Verona because Josip Ilicic was having one of his good days. When he has those, he’s devastating. They are rare, which is why the Slovenian is playing for Atalanta and not Real Madrid, but fascinating when they do come around.

With all this in mind, we have to look at the run-in for the Scudetto and read it in the context of the final rounds. On paper, it might seem simple enough that Napoli will play Sassuolo, Chievo, Milan and Udinese in the build-up to the showdown with Juventus. However – aside from the Friulani – these are all teams with something to play for and will be desperate for every scrap of a point.

In the same period, Juventus are up against Milan, Benevento, Sampdoria and Crotone. Even if the Bianconeri march through all those games, plus the Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid and the Coppa Italia Final with Milan on May 9, the last two rounds could yet be decisive.

Here is where the fixture list gets interesting. Napoli close out with a trip to Sampdoria and host potentially-desperate Crotone, who let’s not forget looked doomed to the drop until the last round of the 2016-17 campaign. Juventus must visit Roma in the thick of the hunt for a top four finish and then host Hellas Verona, who may or may not already be relegated by then.

Not only is the Scudetto race far from over, I wouldn’t call it even after the head-to-head in Turin. There are more SPAL-style slip-ups along the way for both contenders.

Have your say...
yet again another inter fan who pretends the evidence wasn't found to show they were very guilty in speaking to influence refs, but just hid the evidence long enough, must be so hard for you to have lied and cheated, got away with it, only to see a massive plummet again once the other teams recovered,form is temporary class is permanent interchomp (not a typo)
on the 25th March, 2018 at 10:05am
Juventus has close to 70 trophies though.
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 1:04am
RobbiejuBe you dont like to be remembered about historic clean sport feats and yet you say your poor soul team "Have Been" winning the past 7 years, LOL, you HAVE NOT won anything yet this year so don't count your eggs so fast.... and let me remind you INTER won 5 consecutive scudettos after your team of corrupts were found to be buying everyone in Serie A to win titles, so what is so great about that? Never in Serie B or C like Ronaldo said. LOL. Forza Inter
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 9:53pm
We will win the double again, give the CL a good shot, knocked out Barca last year, RM 3 years ago. Fear no one. There is no one in Serie A that has done better in the last 8 years so fans of these has-been regional teams struggling in EL and purposely getting knocked out of Europe should probably go post on their club's website and ask them why they cannot compete if they are allegedly so much better than Juve.
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 12:10pm
Hey Glass House, you ask "why would anyone want to write about inter?" well I'll tell you TFRW:
* Is the only team not to have been relegated EVER out of Serie A
* Is the only team to have ever won a Triplete
* Has Mauro Icardi who is going to be the Capocannonieri now just two goals shy of the leader
* BECAUSE IS THE TEAM WHO BRINGS THE MOST FANS TO THE STADIUMS IN ITALY - ASK THE ZEBRAS OR THE COUSINS?
Now if that is not enough, INTER cruised through their victory, Mauro scored a Poker! CL in
on the 21st March, 2018 at 8:05pm
Juventus were a little tired & a bit unlucky. Maybe you should review the stats.
SPAL registered 35% possession & zero shots on goal. That’s horrible for a team at home. Juventus 65% possession & 12 shots on goal. How do SPAL deserve a point?
on the 20th March, 2018 at 6:39pm
honestly why would anyone want to write about inter i mean seriously because they won a game and that is supposed to signify some sought of huge impact upon the league if you want to write about inter lets talk about the 7 draws and 3 defeat since they played juve on the 9 of dec or is easier to bash the blog writer for not finding this remarkable. honestly if we are to talk about a club why not sas or bologna or calgari who had significant results on the weekend?
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:46pm
It's a top run in to the Scudetto that will keep the fans well entertained.

EXCITING !!!
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:17pm
Always appreciate the content on this site, and from Susy in particular. It is the best place for news on Italian football in English.

If you feel so badly about the site, then create your own. The same people constantly complain and attack the author. It is a little too transparent.

Is there a possibility of a football-italia podcast in the future? That would be great.
on the 19th March, 2018 at 1:57pm
why are people who have weak knowledge of italian seria A writing on this website? football italia blog used to be better 10 years ago, now its a joke and i wonder how they are allowed to be labelled as seria A experts when they simply dont know anything about the italian league. Susy please stop writing about the italian league , least till you do your research properly. forza roma
on the 19th March, 2018 at 1:43pm
Susy, if you wonder wy no one takes you seriously this "article" is the proof.
Blinded by your hate of Inter, you act like a teenage fan and refuse to mention when Inter wins.
0-5 away at Samp, and with Lazio dropping points, Inter became huge winners of this round in Italy, but not a single mention.

Is it too much to demand a real journalist from FI?
on the 19th March, 2018 at 9:28am
so all this talk of scudetto and you dont mention juve have a harder a run in, still needing to play inter, milan, roma and napoli. while napoli have milan and juventus to play. really get the research done and then write please. Forza inter
on the 19th March, 2018 at 8:25am
Hahaha Juve are so scared that they will face Real Madrid in UCL, they failed to beat club like SPAL. And their fans keep prasining this old-crippled team just because their lucky win at Wembley.
on the 19th March, 2018 at 12:51am

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