Six teams, three places: Who are the favourites in Serie A’s thrilling Champions League chase?

With three Champions League places on offer in Serie A behind Napoli, a six-team race is well underway. But how are the run-ins looking, and who has the best chance of securing a top-four finish?

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Although it might be just a matter of time before Napoli lift the Serie A title, the race below them for the remaining three Champions League qualification places is as close as ever, with six teams fighting for a top-four finish and just six points separating second and seventh.

While Lazio lead the race to be the best of the rest on 61 points, Juventus are just a point behind after having their 15-point deduction for capital gains fraud suspended, AS Roma and Milanese duo AC Milan and Inter are all tied on 57 points, and Atalanta remain within touching distance two points worse off than the trio.

With Matchday 33 fast approaching and just a month until the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign, we assess the chances of each club. Who is most likely to qualify for the Champions League?

Inter’s Nicolo Barella in action in the Champions League. [@Inter_en]

Lazio: Form on the slide

As well as losing back-to-back Serie A matches, the Biancocelesti conceded four times between Matchdays 31 and 32 – as many as the 10 games before those losses to Torino and Inter respectively – and the advantage they held over their rivals looks less daunting to the chasing pack.

On Matchday 33, Lazio have the opportunity to get back to winning ways at the Stadio Olimpico against Sassuolo, before a heavyweight clash with Champions League rivals Milan.

A run in that sees them face Lecce, Udinese, Cremonese, and Empoli, should ensure that they cling on.

Juventus: Back in the running

Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic celebrate for Juventus (@juventusfc)

The Bianconeri had been on a wonderful run of form in the wake of their capital gains points deduction, but then went on a three-game losing streak that only ended with an unremarkable draw with Bologna on Matchday 32. Then, an Arkadiusz Milik equaliser provided some personal redemption for missing a penalty earlier in the game.

With Lecce next up, the Old Lady might finally return to winning ways in Serie A, but they also have a two-legged Europa League semi-final to contend with and face two Champions League rivals, Atalanta and Milan, during the final weeks of the campaign. If they can navigate their way past the Lombardy-based duo without defeat, they will be in the hunt on the last day.

Juventus also face Cremonese, Empoli, and Udinese.

Inter: Fighting on three fronts

Inter players celebrate a Champions League semi-final. [@Inter_en]

Having reached the Coppa Italia final and with a Derby della Madonnina Champions League semi-final on the horizon, the Nerazzurri may struggle to find the consistency required to mount a challenge for a top-four finish, despite back-to-back wins over Empoli and Lazio.

Inter face Roma before their continental clash with Milan and must also meet Atalanta on the penultimate matchday, therefore, they will view fixtures with Hellas Verona, Sassuolo and Torino as must-wins. They will then be hoping that a Napoli side who will have already won the title are already thinking about their holidays when they meet.

AC Milan: Everybody at the bottom, but…

AC Milan’s Rafael Leao celebrates. (@acmilan)

After a last-gasp draw with AS Roma, AC Milan will face 19th-placed Cremonese and then welcome Lazio to the Stadio San Siro and, having not lost in over a month, could be finding form at just the right time. However, the Champions League semi-final with Inter could allow Spezia to take something from the Rossoneri, as they meet between the two legs.

Should the Rossoneri fall to their bitter rivals in Europe, fixtures against Serie A strugglers Sampdoria and Hellas Verona should provide six points to strengthen their qualification aims. However, travelling to Turin to face Juventus on Matchday 37, could prove even more crucial should they not take maximum points from those at the lower end of the table.

Roma: Europa League silverware and top-four finish?

Tammy Abraham celebrates for AS Roma. [@OfficialASRoma]

Having had two points ripped from their grasp by Milan, AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho will not want that to happen again when former club Inter arrives at the Stadio Olimpico on Matchday 34, but with Monza, Bologna, Salernitana, Fiorentina and Spezia as the other sides to face during their run in, the biggest risk is underestimating non-top seven opponents.

However, after leading the Giallorossi to Europa Conference League glory last season, the Portuguese tactician will also want to add another medal to his collection and could well be eyeing a Europa League final with Juventus in May. Should they go all the way and lift the trophy in Budapest, their league finish would be somewhat irrelevant.

Atalanta: Peaking just in time?

Duvan Zapata celebrates an Atalanta win. (Photo: Atalanta BC Facebook)

With seven points from the last three and, like Lazio, the only Champions League qualification chaser without continental action to navigate through, La Dea are ideally placed to launch an assault on their more illustrious rivals, and will play four of their remaining six games at the Gewiss Stadium.

However, Juventus will travel to Bergamo alongside Spezia, Hellas Verona and Monza, and they have to face Inter at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Therefore, defeat to either of those top-four rivals could derail them and Atalanta have a smaller margin for error than the others.

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