This season’s Serie A title race may have disappointed, but luckily we have been blessed with an exciting battle for the two remaining Champions League spots and a thrilling relegation fight between Genoa, Empoli and Fiorentina. Yes, you read that right, the Viola are at risk of being relegated to Serie B later this evening.
With many fans and pundits hyping this youthful Fiorentina side before the start of the 2018-19 season, thinking they could finish in a Europa League spot, these same people are now pondering where it all went wrong for the Viola. Ever since Vincenzo Montella replaced Stefano Pioli in April, the Tuscans have drawn once and lost five in a row – an abysmal record that now sees them in this predicament.
What’s striking is the lack of goals from Fiorentina lately. Montella’s men have failed to score a single goal in their last four league games, dating back to the 2-1 loss against Juventus.
For the all the supposed firepower the Gigliati boast up front, Fiorentina’s demise has added more drama in the fight to avoid the last relegation spot. The Della Valle brothers started with the club in 2002, but 17 years later, the same owners could be the ones responsible to send the purple army down to second-tier football this time around.
Genoa is another team many didn’t expect to be in the relegation fight. Like Fiorentina, they’ve have struggled for consistency ever since Cesare Prandelli was appointed as their third Coach of the season. The Grifone have failed to register a single win since March – their last victory coming against Juventus.
With both Genoa and Fiorentina experiencing on and off-field issues, their clash later this evening couldn’t have been played at a more appropriate time. This relegation encounter, with two of Italian football’s historically decorated clubs, has the chance of going down in the history of relegation fights in modern Calcio times.
Higher up the table, the two remaining Champions League spots will be decided later this evening. It looks like Roma will need to settle with a Europa League spot. Seeing the Giallorossi mathematically clinch a top-four place would be a greater miracle than the comeback against Barcelona.
In Emilia-Romagna later tonight, we have the chance to witness a fairy-tale in modern Italian football. If third-placed Atalanta win their game against Sassuolo, La Dea secure a Champions League place for the first time in their 111-year history.
From a neutral’s point of view, seeing the Bergamo side qualify for Europe’s elite competition would be a breath of fresh air for Calcio. Seeing a side showcase their vivid brand of attacking football to a worldwide audience, with fewer finances and resources, would be extraordinary in an era where money dictates this sport.
Then there is Milan, still with a pulse and breathing down the necks of Inter and Atalanta. The Rossoneri have had a rollercoaster season, experiencing an underwhelming campaign in the Europa League and inconsistent patches in Serie A. Ever since the 3-2 loss in the derby against Inter, Gennaro Gattuso’s men haven’t been as menacing as they were when Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek couldn’t stop scoring.
The Diavolo need to ensure Empoli or Sassuolo can do them a favour later this evening. But first, Milan should focus on getting the win against SPAL, who are a difficult side to face in Ferrara. For the Milanisti, this week’s round is the most significant for them in recent times.
That leaves us with this week’s blockbuster: Inter hosting 17th-placed Empoli. Inter have managed to emulate last season’s unpredictable performances, especially the scenario when they had to secure fourth place in the last round against Lazio.
Realistically, the Nerazzurri should have secured a top-four finish a month ago, but one win in their previous five league games hasn’t done them any favours. Luciano Spalletti’s men will need to deliver a flawless performance against an in-form Empoli side, who are fighting to retain their Serie A status.
It all depends on which Internazionale turns up on the pitch. You would think a packed San Siro would motivate this Inter side to play with hunger – potentially giving Mauro Icardi the chance to redeem himself. However, Empoli – under Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli – have recently been playing a crisp attacking style of football.
In an Empoli fan’s dream world, they would love nothing more than to secure top-flight football for another season and see their Tuscan rivals Fiorentina drop to Serie B. The ideal scenario for an Interista would be securing Champions League football for a second consecutive season and seeing Milan get left behind.
If your team has nothing to play for on the last matchday, then grab yourself some popcorn and enjoy the action-packed finish to the 2018-19 Serie A season.
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