Another weekend, another series of twists and turns in the Champions League race. Although Napoli have stamped out any hope of a title race this season, the battle below them remains as unpredictable as ever.
Six teams are fighting for the three remaining Champions League spots, and they all have one thing in common – an ability to spill points against any team, at any moment.
It was Inter, AC Milan and Atalanta’s turn to underline their inconsistency at the weekend, with the Milanese clubs drawing against Salernitana and Empoli respectively and La Dea falling to defeat at home to Bologna.
As things stand, Lazio look the likeliest to join Napoli in Europe’s top-tier competition next season. Maurizio Sarri’s side earned a crucial 2-1 win over Juventus that saw them pull seven points clear of Inter in fifth.
However, just five points separate AS Roma in third from Atalanta in sixth with nine games to go.
Then, there’s the great unknown of Juve. The Old Lady currently sit seventh, eight points outside the top four, but if they succeed in their appeal against a 15-point penalty for breaking financial rules, they will leap all the way up to second. That judgement will be announced next week.
The Serie A Champions League run-ins
All very exciting, then. So, with nine games to go, it’s time to look at who has got the toughest run-in.
Lazio – 58 pts: Spezia (A), Torino (H), Inter (A), Sassuolo (H), Milan (A), Lecce (H), Udinese (A), Cremonese (H), Empoli (A)
AS Roma – 53 pts: Udinese (H), Atalanta (A), Milan (H), Monza (A), Inter (H), Bologna (A), Salernitana (H), Fiorentina (A), Spezia (H)
AC Milan – 52 pts: Bologna (A), Lecce (H), Roma (A), Cremonese (H), Lazio (H), Spezia (A), Sampdoria (H), Juventus (A), Verona (H)
Inter – 51 pts: Monza (H), Empoli (A), Lazio (H), Verona (A), Roma (A), Sassuolo (H), Napoli (A), Atalanta (H), Torino (A)
Atalanta – 48 pts: Fiorentina (A), Roma (H), Torino (A), Spezia (H), Juventus (H), Salernitana (A), Verona (H), Inter (A), Monza (H)
Juventus – 44 pts: Sassuolo (A), Napoli (H), Bologna (A), Lecce (H), Atalanta (A), Cremonese (H), Empoli (A), Milan (H), Udinese (A)
Who has it hardest to reach the Champions League?
There are still a lot of big games between the sides involved in the top-four race to come, and it’s worth bearing in mind that head-to-head is the primary tiebreaker in Serie A should two teams end the season level on points.
But how do we work out who has the toughest task ahead of them? We’ve come up with this method; add up the current league position of the opponents each team has left to face, and divide it by nine to get an average.
The higher the average league position of opponent, the tougher the run-in. Or so you would expect.
So, using this foolproof method, here are the final rankings for the toughest run-ins in the top-four race…
Average league position of remaining opponents
|Team||Average position of opponents|
Considering the poor form that Inter are showing, they will not be happy to see that they theoretically have the toughest games to come out of everyone. As for Lazio in the driving seat, they may feel that the hardest work has been done already with their next opponents having a low average place in the Serie A table.