With Inter Milan already crowned champions, a nerve tingling battle for the three remaining Champions League places available to Serie A sides takes centre stage this week as all twenty side negotiate two rounds of matches. Antonio Conte’s charges won the Scudetto last Sunday without kicking a ball after closest challengers Atalanta fell 13 points behind the Nerrazzuri with just four rounds to spare. Currently level on 69 points with Juventus and AC Milan, Gian Piero Gasperini’s Bergamo based side lead a five team contest for three places on account of a superior goal difference.
Fifth placed Napoli are without influential trio Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen and Nikola Maksimovic (Covid-19) but have an early chance to exert pressure on the top four when the travel to face a Spezia outfit trying to stay afloat in Saturday’s early kick off. Victory at Spezia will temporarily propel Napoli to second place on 70 points. Gennaro Gattuso’s usually prolific Naepolitans squandered a glorious opportunity to keep their European destiny in their hands when they conceded a last minute equaliser to Cagliari at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. On Tuesday, the 1987 and 1990 Scudetto winners also open round 36 at home to Udinese.
Atalanta boast the division’s most lethal strike pair in Colombians Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata and will be aiming to get back to winning ways away to relegation bound Parma after being held to a 1-1 draw at Sassuolo in a drama filled game in which they were reduced to ten men and top scorer Muriel missed a spot kick. Serie A top scorers for three consecutive seasons, Atalanta are favourites to bag an extra three points when they host Benevento on Wednesday, the same day Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan face a tricky visit to Torino’s Stadio Olimpico Grande.
Most attention will be in Turin where dethroned champions Juventus lock horns with AC Milan in the first of three mouthwatering ties for the Old Lady. Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo rediscovered his magic at the most opportune time to help the Bianconeri to a fortuitous 2-1 win at Udinese. The Portugal star will once again be the go to player as Juventus aim to inflict their eleventh victory over Milan in their last thirteen encounters. Gaffer Andrea Pirlo has earmarked the Turin game as a must win as he faces a midweek trip to stubborn Sassuolo before hosting new champions Inter Milan on Sunday, May 15.
Spezia v Napoli, Udinese v Bologna, Inter Milan v Sampdoria, Fiorentina v Lazio
Genoa v Sassuolo, Hellas Verona v Torino, Parma v Atalanta, Benevento v Cagliari
Parma v Crotone, Juventus v AC Milan
Napoli v Udinese
Cagliari v Fiorentina, Atalanta v Benevento, Sampdoria v Spezia, Torino v AC Milan
Inter Milan v AS Roma, Sassuolo v Juventus, Bologna v Genoa, Lazio v Parma
Crotone v Hellas Verona