Four games left. It’s the definition of the final stretch, with only four weekends of football before the 2018/19 Serie A season pulls down the curtain, clears its desk, packs its bags and goes home. It’s what you could refer to as the as clichéd ‘squeaky bum time’.
And nowhere in Serie A does ‘squeaky bum time’ currently feel more apt, like the top four race. With Juventus having sealed an eighth
successive title, without any challenge, and the relegation battle seemingly a straight fight between two sides, the battle for Champions League places is where the heat resides in Serie A this season.
With four games to go, Inter are in third place, three points ahead of fourth-placed Atalanta. Atalanta themselves are a point above Roma, who are a further two above Milan and Torino, with Lazio not far behind.
That’s the look the of the top-four race so far, with six teams very much in with a chance of grabbing two spots.
The race itself has been down to inconsistency as much as anything. It
says a lot that Inter, for all their issues this season, have hardly left third spot, while Roma, who have had a run of form that resulted in the sacking of Eusebio Di Francesco, are four points behind the
Nerazzurri. Milan themselves have played jump-rope with their form this season, going from sitting pretty in fourth and chasing third place, to dropping to seventh, and the fact that they still having a good chance of finishing third says it all. Yet they are only a point above Lazio, who have had a rather shoddy season.
Lazio are the lowest-placed of the top four challengers, and the bottom of the form book as well. In the past five games, Simeone Inzaghi’s side have won just once, and lost three times. Milan themselves are hardly any better, just a point more in that period, with the same number of wins.
Inter, meanwhile, might be unbeaten in
that run, but have drawn three. That form has led to the rather unfancied sides, Atalanta and Torino, to have their hats in the ring for the top four. Both teams have dropped only four points each in their last five games, with Atalanta currently occupying fourth place, and their performance this season has led to rumours of manager Gian Piero Gasperini being linked to bigger jobs.
Torino, meanwhile, have won two on the bounce, including a 2-0 victory over top four rivals Milan, and Walter Mazzarri’s team look to be clicking into gear late on. But this weekend sees them face probably their toughest test yet, with a trip to the champions and rivals Juventus for the Turin derby.
A defeat here could bruise morale and
momentum, yet a win, while unexpected, may well spur them on to a surprise Champions League place.
The standout game in the top four battle this weekend is Atalanta’s trip to Lazio. The hosts are in what seems like last chance saloon, a defeat here would leave them seven points adrift with only nine left
to play for.
Meanwhile, Milan host Bologna, Roma visit Genoa, and Inter have a trip to survival-chasing Udinese, who are in decent form
under new manager Igor Tudor.
It’s a race that’s likely to go down to the wire. But then, again, given the inconsistencies of the teams, they might just stumble over