Friday, 9 May 2008

[Serie A] Week 37 Preview

The champagne has been put on ice for Inter but corks could be popped on Sunday afternoon in Milan if they can see off Siena.

The Nerazzurri had been hoping to clinch their third straight Scudetto last weekend by beating city rivals AC Milan at the San Siro but the Rossoneri prevailed 2-1 to keep the title race alive.

It was the third Serie A defeat of the season for Roberto Mancini's side, who lead Roma by three points with two games remaining but holding the head-to-head edge with the Giallorossi.

"We face a final against Siena," said Mancini. "We just need to take three points from our next two games but I'm convinced that we will seal the title this weekend."

Despite Siena beating Juventus 1-0 last weekend to secure their survival, Roma expect no surprises come Sunday.

Except for a brief period at the start of the season when Roma led, Inter's dominance this season has been little contested until the last couple of months.

Roma, who play host to Atalanta, shot themselves in the foot last month by being held to a 1-1 draw against Livorno, a result that saw Inter take a six-point lead.

"I believe Inter will win against Siena," said injured Giallorosso captain Francesco Totti. "Despite a good season, we have so many regrets this campaign but I guess it's part of football."

A buoyant Milan travel south to meet Napoli under pressure to take home three points. The Rossoneri hold the last UEFA Champions League qualifying spot but are just one point clear of fifth-placed Fiorentina.

Cesare Prandelli's Fiorentina face a battle in Tuscany against relegation-threatened Parma, who sit third from bottom and in desperate need of maximum points.

Following semi-final victories this week for Inter and Roma, the Coppa Italia winners' reward of a UEFA Cup spot will now be allocated to the club that finishes seventh in Serie A as the cup finalists will already play in Europe next season.

As a result, the UEFA Cup chase between Udinese and Sampdoria has ended as both have secured a top seven finish in the standings.

However, it was confirmed on Friday that Udinese were one of seven Serie A clubs that had failed to gain a UEFA Club Licence - a UEFA criteria system that checks the club's stadium facilities and finances before entering them into UEFA club competitions.

The other clubs ruled out - Cagliari, Catania, Empoli, Livorno, Reggina and Siena - are not in the running for European spots anyway.

If Udinese's appeal to overturn the decision fails, the next highest club will be allowed to enter in their place. At the moment Genoa hold that eighth spot but Napoli, Palermo and Atalanta are all still in the running.

Udinese host an in-form Cagliari side looking to secure top flight safety with a win. The Bianconeri are one point clear of Samp, who travel to Sicily to meet Palermo. Genoa will be looking to end their impressive season on a high against Lazio.

At the other end, Livorno, who are five points adrift from safety at the bottom of the table, host relegation rivals Torino knowing that anything but a win will see the club relegated to Serie B. A win for the visitors will secure their safety for another season.

Another relegation battle takes place in Reggio Calabria as Empoli make the journey to Reggina in the hope of climbing out of the relegation zone and going level on points with their opponents with one match remaining.

Catania, sitting just one point above the relegation zone, travel to a Juventus side who have already confirmed a third place finish.

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