Friday, 11 May 2007

Serie A Wk 36: Relegation battle hots up

The battle to avoid the drop from Serie A hots up this weekend as Reggina take on Chievo in a relegation six-pointer at the Stadio Granillo.

No fewer than eight teams remain firmly in danger of joining already-relegated Ascoli and Messina, with just three points separating Cagliari in 11th place and Siena in 18th.

Both Reggina and Chievo lie level on 35 points - one point ahead of the final relegation position - and victory for either side would go a long way to securing their status in the top flight with just two games remaining after that.

Survival would mark a staggering turnaround for the Amaranto after their 11-point deduction at the start of the season for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal of last summer.

Walter Mazzarri's side have given themselves real hope of avoiding the drop after a run of six games unbeaten, and they will be desperate for all three points on Sunday considering they have to face Milan on the final day of the season.

The Flying Donkeys registered an invaluable 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Parma last weekend to reignite their survival hopes, and boss Gigi Del Neri will be hoping they can follow up that win by recording only their third away victory all season.

Parma, also on 35 points, will be hoping to put distance between themselves and their rivals in a must-win home game against second-bottom Messina.

The Gialloblu looked to have staged a remarkable fightback after winning three games in a row, but last weekend's disappointing defeat to Chievo has plunged Claudio Ranieri's side back into trouble.

Siena, on 34 points, currently occupy the dreaded third and final relegation slot and they will do extremely well to pick up any points from the visit of fifth-placed Empoli.

With the Bianconeri's end-of-season run-in looking extremely difficult, coach Mario Beretta knows his side must start picking up points soon, but Empoli will be desperate for victory to aid their own European push.

Of the other sides involved in the relegation dogfight, Torino (36 points) travel to high-flying Roma with only two points seperating them and the final relegation place. Toro's victory over Ascoli last weekend saw them go two points clear of Siena but they know it won't be easy against the capital side who have already secured second place and hold a strong advantage in the final of the Coppa Italia after hammering Inter 6-2 in Wednesday's first leg.

Livorno (36 points) play host to Sampdoria, Cagliari (37 points) travel to UEFA Cup hopefuls Fiorentina, while Catania (37 points) welcome Champions League finalists AC Milan in Bologna.

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