With eight teams all facing the very real prospect of sliding in to Serie B, Football Italia analyses a fierce relegation battle.
Words: Elio Salerno
The 2017-2018 edition of Serie A is proving to be one the most intriguing and intense the peninsula has observed in a number of years.
It is arguably the most hotly contested league in Europe with everything still left to decide as we round the final bend toward the finish line.
There is a well-documented title race, while the clamour for Champions League and Europa League qualification is wide open, but it is the relegation dog fight that is perhaps the most difficult to call.
There are currently seven sides scrapping to stay in Italy’s top flight and that is discounting the all but relegated Benevento. Genoa and Bologna have given themselves just enough breathing room, but with tough games to come and teams below them still to play, they could yet get dragged in with the others.
The next week could prove pivotal, with three games in the space of seven days and nine points on offer, the picture at the bottom could change drastically. This weekend sees a number of those teams at the bottom face off. As the pressure builds, we take a look at the relegation run in with part one of our investigation.
Udinese (13th on 33 points)
Massimo Oddo’s team are in free-fall. They are currently on an eight game losing streak, the longest in the club’s history.
They have collected just four points in 2018 and face fellow basement scrappers Cagliari this weekend. Sitting six points above the relegation zone, they can ill afford a defeat in Sardinia against a team that are just four points away.
The Zebrette’s destiny remains in their own hands, but momentum is everything and they are in desperate need of a jump start. Far from safe, the run in will see Udinese face Crotone, Benevento, Verona and Bologna- all sides who are chasing them.
Sassuolo (14th on 30 points)
European football at the Mapei Stadium seems a lifetime time ago. Sassuolo have failed to match the success of recent seasons and now are now teetering above the bottom sides.
Three points and four places separate them from third-bottom Crotone but fans of the Neroverdi have reason for optimism. Despite just one win in five they are undefeated in that period and collected highly creditable draws against Napoli and Milan.
They will be aiming for six points from their next two games as they welcome Benevento this Sunday before travelling to Verona midweek. Four points is a minimum requirement from those two when you take a look at what’s coming Sassuolo’s way. Their remaining games look tough, with Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Inter and Roma all to play.
Chievo (15th on 29 points)
Chievo are part of the furniture in Serie A, yet seemingly spend their existence at the wrong end of the standings.
You always feel that The Flying Donkeys will accrue enough points to survive again, because that is just what they do! The timing of Chievo’s fixtures appears tricky, next up is a home game against a resurgent Torino.
That’s followed by a huge six pointer in mid-week against a side two points below them in the shape of SPAL. With Inter and Roma to follow, if Rolando Maran’s team fail to collect points they could find themselves in the bottom three by the time they face another relegation rival, Crotone. Games against Bologna and finally Benevento could save their season.
Cagliari (16th on 29 points)
If you are a Cagliari fan then the prospect of Serie B football is a real possibility. Matching Chievo’s points tally, they also sit two points off third-bottom Crotone and four points off second last Verona.
The Rossoblu have the most difficult fixtures to navigate through. Five of their remaining seven games come against sides from the top half with Inter, Sampdoria, Roma, Fiorentina and Atalanta all to play.
fter three straight defeats, Coach Diego Lopez has two home games coming up – with Inter sandwiched in-between - against Udinese and Bologna, there is an obligation to collect six points from those. Any other outcome leaves the Isolani in an alarming situation.
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