With the title sewn up and the relegation candidates all but confirmed, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the 2014/15 Serie A season is over with three rounds remaining.
However, as has so often been the case in the recent years of Bianconeri dominance, the desperate chase for those illustrious European spots is providing some thrilling and unpredictable results.
Lazio had a golden opportunity on Sunday evening and for the first 20 minutes, it looked as though they would seize it with both hands.
Roma’s 2-1 defeat in San Siro against Milan was a bitter pill to swallow for their Champions League hopes, and doubly so because the winning goal was scored by one of their own - Mattia Destro.
Napoli would’ve been confident of taking advantage, but made the same mistake as Juventus by not accounting for the stunning togetherness Parma are occasionally capable of. The 2-2 draw at the Tardini sparked ferocious rows, not least between Gonzalo Higuain and Antonio Mirante, as the relegated and bankrupt Crociati prevented Rafa Benitez’s side from climbing to within a point of third place.
Given this context, Lazio’s 1-0 lead after a blistering start when Marco Parolo came close to a second looked to have put the ball in the Biancoceleste’s court. But it wasn’t so. Referee Davide Massa had a whirlwind of criticism to face at full time after he controversially sent off Mauricio, allowed Inter’s equaliser to stand despite two Nerazzurri players blocking Federico Marchetti’s view in offside positions, and then proceeded to send off the Lazio goalkeeper in the second half to leave them with nine men.
The Aquile’s performance in such circumstances was hugely impressive. Thanks to substitute Etrit Berisha’s penalty save, it looked as though Lazio might do enough to earn a point. But it wasn’t to be, and a tough evening for Laziali was made even tougher when former hero Hernanes netted his second of the night to condemn the Romans to defeat.
The clash at the Stadio Olimpico was certainly a thriller, but only one of many in week 35. In fact, this was the first Serie A gameweek since the 2004/05 season that every team has scored. Not only that, but the 42 goals scored this weekend is the highest total of the season. It appears that the end of season pressure is bringing out the best of calcio.
The Europa League fight is also in the balance. After Genoa’s 5-1 demolition job of Torino at the Marassi, the Granata now face an uphill battle to put themselves in contention again. Instead, only three points separate Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Genoa and Inter for the remaining places.
At the other end, Cesena’s relegation was confirmed with a heartbreaking 3-2 home defeat to Sassuolo in which they threw away a 2-0 lead. A 3-2 win for Atalanta in Sicily against Palermo should be enough to secure their Serie A status, as although Cagliari did well to take a 1-1 draw from the Juventus Stadium, they remain eight points off survival.
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