When Serie A returns on June 20, over three months will have passed since we were treated to the delights of Italian football.
And the hiatus couldn’t have come at a worse time. More often than not in recent years, Juventus have had the title sewn up by now – but that couldn’t be further from the truth this season; the title race is open, Champions League football is up for grabs, the relegation battle is going down to the wire.
Absolutely nothing has been rubber stamped yet, meaning everything is up for grabs as we enter the home straight. Let’s take a look at the league’s current standings and where the battles at both ends of the table will be won and lost.
What had been a three-horse race has now been narrowed down to just two thanks to Inter’s collapse prior to the postponement of the league.
Antonio Conte’s men had been hot on the heels of Lazio and Juventus, however, having been beaten away from home by both of them in their last two league outings, their nine-point deficit seems too much to claw back, though they do hold a game in hand over their rivals.
Juventus currently lead the way on 63 points with Lazio just a point behind on 62, and with the two still due to face each at the Allianz Stadium, this one could go right down to the wire.
Simone Inzaghi’s men have arguably the most favourable run-in of the two, but that’s not to say their remaining fixtures are easy. Lazio host AC Milan as well as facing the prospect of a tantalising final day trip to Napoli in what could be a crucial last game of the season.
For Maurizio Sarri’s men, they also face Milan, as well as fourth-placed Atalanta, before a mouth-watering final day clash with Champions League hopefuls Roma.
With Juventus, Lazio and Inter looking to have a place in next year’s Champions League in the bag, just one spot remains.
Fourth spot is currently occupied by Atalanta, with Roma just three points behind. A further six points behind Roma are Napoli, but a nine-point gap looks a tall order to bridge at this stage of the season.
The bad news for Roma is Atalanta have a game in hand, the worse news for Roma is Atalanta were absolutely flying prior to the league’s postponement. Four wins in their last five league games, including two seven-goal hauls.
The pair have similar run-ins, with both facing Milan, Inter, and Juventus before the season is out. Atalanta’s first game back sees them face title-challengers Lazio, while Roma host Sampdoria.
Similar to the battle for the Champions League, it looks as though only one spot is left to be decided in the relegation scrap.
Both Brescia and S.P.A.L have looked lost causes for some time now, with the former nine points adrift and the latter seven points adrift, and both harbouring a shocking goal difference.
The final spot in the relegation zone could go to any of about seven teams. Lecce currently occupy said spot on 25 points, though only by virtue of goal difference, with Genoa on the same points tally, Sampdoria just a point ahead and Torino a further point ahead.
With all still due to play teams towards the top end of Serie A, it’ll be fixtures between teams around them that will decide who avoids the drop.
A final day clash between Sampdoria and Brescia may well decide whether Claudio Ranieri’s men retain their top-flight status. Elsewhere, Sampdoria travel to Lecce before hosting Genoa.
For Lecce, they face the unenviable task of clashes with Milan and Juventus in their first two games back. Life gets a little easier after that, with an away day at Genoa before two vital home games against Brescia and Sampdoria.
Despite only goal difference separating them from the bottom three, Genoa are in the enviable position of still having to play all three teams below them. With both Sampdoria and Genoa also to come, Davide Nicola’s men know their future is well and truly in their hands.
Torino may well be two points off the drop with a game in hand, but their fixture list offers little comfort. With clashes against Juventus, Lazio, Inter and Roma to come, their home games against Brescia and Genoa could be crucial in their bid for survival.