Next up in Lee Garrity‘s excellent journey around the European lower leagues is Italy.

The Serie B season ended in Managerial movements and controversy as match fixing allegations rocked Italy’s 2nd tier as both teams in automatic promotion spots were put under the spotlight.

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This week Andrew is joined by Adam Digby, Adam Bate and Paolo Bandini for a Serie A podcast special.

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So first of all I would like to thank everyone for reading/voting and commenting on the last piece. I have been blown away by the response and in all honesty it has made my task incredibly difficult. After Roma’s strong start Fiorentina and Juventus have come back strong and as we speak it is La Viola who sit top of the table. Well done to everyone who voted for Fiorentina.

I am pretty sure I have narrowed it down to 4 teams that I will sleep on and make a decision. Before I get to who I have left, I will explain who has been let go.

“The Old Lady” Juventus got 14% of the vote and so many strong arguments to follow them. So many good players and such a superb history. Great piece on the Juventus Offside giving 10 reasons to be a Juventus fan and there’s not many of those points I can disagree with.

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This weekend saw an abundance of great football matches and countless talking points, most of them centred around the match at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Liverpool in the FA Cup. Earlier in the day Sampdoria took on Roma at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and raised another talking point, one that is rarely brought up.

With Roma leading 1-0 away from home, substitute Juan sold his keeper Julio Sergio short with a horrible back pass, Sergio rushed out to win the ball Angelo Palombo skipped past him and Sergio could do nothing but bring the midfielder down. The referee had no choice but to point to the penalty spot and show Sergio a red card. Down to 10 men Claudio Ranieri then had to sacrifice Jeremy Menez to bring substitute goalkeeper Doni on the pitch.

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Only 5 games left in Serie A and things couldn’t be closer at the top, 4 points seperate the top 3, and 5 points seperating the 4 teams chasing that elusive last Champions League place and that’s what I will be concentrating on.  AS Roma’s 1-0 win away at Bari thanks to Marko Vucinic’s goal saw the Capital club take the top spot in Serie A, Inter Milan’s 2-2 draw at Fiorentina saw them slip from the top spot for the first time since Matchday 7. This gave A.C Milan the chance to pull within 1 point of Inter and 2 points off top spot, however they struggled against Catania at Home and Boriellio’s 80th minute goal saved a point for the Rossoneri.

Of the 3 teams Milan have the toughest run in, having to face Sampdoria, Palermo, Fiorentina, Genoa and Juventus all 4 teams still fighting for a place in European competition next season, and to make things worse for Leonardo’s men, only 1 of those games (Juventus) is at the San Siro, for me this rules Milan out of the title race, however they are safe for a 3rd spot, miracles can happen though, I can see them picking up 8 points from 15 and finishing on 72 points.

The race between Roma and Inter however is alot tighter, Inter a slight advantage with 3 home game to Roma’s 2, however Roma’s next game is the Rome Derby against Lazio so it will feel like a home fixture in venue, maybe not in atmosphere though. After tthat Roma have a home game against Sampdoria which will not be easy as Del Neri’s men are in the hunt for a Champions League qualifier place,  a trip to high flying Parma is next having a great season back in Serie A and finding themselves only 5 points away from Juventus in that last Europa League spot, Cagliari then travel to the Stadio Olympico and on the last day Roma travel to Verona to take on Chievo in which the Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium could be the scene for great triumph or disappointment.

Inter have a slight advantage in that apart from Juventus’s visit to the San Siro on Friday night (16th) none of Inter’s 4 remaining opponents are trying to qualify for Europe so the quality of team isn’t as high, this is balanced up with 3 of the teams, Siena, Lazio and Atalanta are all fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table and there is nothing more dangerous than a team fighting for their place in Serie A, Inter i’m sure however will feel strong enough to overpower these teams. Home games against Atalanta and Chievo should be 3 points each the destination of the title will be decided on Inter and Roma’s away performances.

My opinion is Inter will win 4 of the last 5 games and pip Roma to the title by 1 point, of course as with every league anything can happen, and with only 1 point seperating the teams, there will be a number of twists and turns I’m sure, as I’m sure will be the chase for the last Champions League place, Palermo sit in 4 th place right now, their games remaining include a visit from Milan and finishes with 3 away games at Siena, Sampdoria then Atalanta, that 2nd last games against Sampdoria will be an absolute huge fixture, with Sampdoria only in 5th place due to goal difference, it could come down to that game to decide 4th place. Before the crunch match with Palermo, Sampdoria have the small task of taking on Milan and Roma and finish with a very hard match when Napoli come to town.

Napoli themselves are 5 points off Palermo at the moment so with a good run, they could be in contention when they have to travel to Sampdoria on the last day they’re run in is slightly favourable Home games against Cagliari and Atalanta and away trips to Bari and Chievo, Napoli have the players capable of winning all 5 games, but they can be eratic and could lose them all too.

The last team trying to fight their way into the Champions League is no other than the “Old Lady” Juventus a very up and down season could be salvaged by a late run into that 4th spot, it’s not going to be easy though, the 5 games left starts and ends with trips to Milan, Inter tonight and Milan on the 16th of May in the middle they have home games against Bari and Parma and an away game against dangerous home side Catania. Juve’s away form has not been good at all, but again on their day they could beat all 5 teams, in my eyes however this will not happen, I am predicting 2 wins from 5 for Juve.

So after all 5 games have completed what are my predictions:

1. Inter Milan – 80 pts – Champions League Group
2. AS Roma – 79 pts – Champions League Group
3. A.C Milan – 72 pts - Champions League Group

4. Sampdoria – 64 pts -  - Champions League Play-offs
5. Palermo – 62 pts – Europa League Play-offs
6. Napoli – 59 pts – Europa League 3rd round qf
7. Juventus – 59 pts

Inter to pip the title from Roma, Sampdoria to take that last Champions League place, and the biggest shock would be Juventus missing out on all European competition.

Of course now that I’ve put my predictions on here, I will be completely wrong and it’ll be all change, should be an exciting climax to the season.

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