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|SoccerAnchor's Italian Serie A Preview: Round 38|
The final matchday of the Serie A season is upon us, but not every position has been settled. The final relegation battle is yet to be decided as Genoa or Lecce could be relegated, whilst Udinese are in the box seat to qualify for the Champions League, with Lazio, Napoli and Inter all in with a slim chance of making it...
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Fiorentina - Cagliari
Newly-appointed Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Guerini saw his side do enough to get a 1-0 win over Lecce last weekend, thanks to Alessio Cerci's goal in the first half. But with a long injury list, the Viola fans cannot wait to have their star players go off and recuperate over the summer. No Riccardo Montolivo or Stevan Jovetic for the Gigliati, as they look to end the season on a high.
Cagliari suffered their first loss at the 'home' stadium in Trieste last weekend to Juventus, ultimately conceding the Scudetto to the Bianconeri in the process. Despite the result, there was a lot of positive play from the Rossoblu, and the side were unfortunate not to be level at half-time. The attacking trident of Mauricio Pinilla, Thiago Ribiero and Victor Ibarbo also caused headaches, and the same could occur in Florence.
The Artemio Franchi has not been a happy hunting place for Cagliari, and so the Viola should end their season on a high.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-0 Cagliari
Juventus - Atalanta
The Scudetto has returned to Turin for the first time in six years - nine if you don't include Calciopoli - with Juventus securing the title last weekend in Trieste against Cagliari. The Bianconeri did have to do it the hard way, as the Rossoblu pressed hard for an equaliser. Juventus are also attempting to become the first side since Preston North End over 100 years ago to go through the season undefeated. This match has already been sold out, with Scudetto celebrations set to occur immediately after.
Atalanta can say this campaign has been a raging success, considering everything that occurred in the past summer. Without Cristian Doni - the club icon - the Orobici have managed to not only survive the drop, but consolidate a spot in the middle part of the table. It could have been more had it not been for the six-point penalty. Two-straight loss to Milan and Lazio means the Lombardy club want to end the season on a high.
Undefeated it will end up for Juventus.
Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Atalanta
AC Milan - Novara
With a Derby della Madonnina loss to Inter and defender Alessandro Nesta revealing this week he would be leaving the club after this clash, Milan have already begun the rebuilding process for next season and beyond. Bakaye Traore from Nancy has been signed, and a host of senior players including Massimo Ambrosini, Clarence Seedorf, Gianluca Zambrotta, Filippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso could be involved in their last-ever Rossonero clash.
Novara have absolutely nothing to play for this weekend, having already been consigned to their Serie B fate for several weeks. A strong 3-0 win over already-relegated Cesena last week meant Attilio Tesser ended the season on a positive. Marco Rigoni's hat-trick was also a good thing for the Rossazzurri.
AC Milan will be raging to rectify last week's loss, and send their champions off on the best possible note.
Predction: AC MIlan 4-0 Novara
Cesena - Roma
Cesena's compunding woes continued last weekend, as they were comprehensibly beaten by already-relegated Novara 3-0. Having shown some spirit prior to going down, the Seahorses have failed to keep that enthusiasm going since.
Luis Enrique has announced he will quit the club after this match, with either Andre Villas-Boas or Vincenzo Montella set to take over. On the field, Roma mat have had a 2-2 draw with Catania, but Francesco Totti missed a penalty within the first 10 minutes. He made it up, scoring a brace, but only a point was gathered from the match.
Roma should win, as Cesena won't be much competition.
Prediction: Cesena 0-2 Roma
Parma - Bologna
Parma are still the in-form side of the competition, having won their last six matches in a row. Certain of a top 10 finish, the Gialloblu will be aiming to finish ahead of Roma if at all possible. Sebastian Giovinco has certainly flourished in recent weeks, adding to his already high esteem that he is held in Italy.
Good new for Bologna fans, as Stefano Pioli has been confirmed as coach for next season. Steering the Felsinei to a 2-0 win over Napoli last weekend ensured the side kept its impressive 2012 run going, only losing twice this year. Captain Marco DI Vaio will play his final match for the club, before moving to the MLS.
The Emilia-Romagna derby is a great way to end the season, but neither side will claim the honours in this one.
Prediction: Parma 1-1 Bologna
Catania - Udinese
Catania are aiming for their highest finish to a Serie A season since 1964/65 if they can beat Udinese this weekend. A realistic aim it is, but Vincenzo Montella's men need to remain focused for the entire 90 minutes. A 2-2 draw against Roma saw two points dropped, as the Elefanti held a 2-1 lead with 20 minutes to go. This could also potentially be Montella's last match in charge, as last week's opponents are eyeing him up as a replacement for the departing Luis Enrique.
Udinese need at least a point to guarantee their participation in Europe next season, and secure the coveted third place in the standings. A draw may also be good enough, but Francesco Guidolin's men want all three points to end their campaign on a high. A solid 2-0 win over relegation contenders Genoa last week meant the Bianconeri are on the verge of equalling their best-ever season.
Catania at the Massimino have been solid all season, but Udinese have a strong record in Sicily.
Prediction: Catania 1-1 Udinese
Chievo - Lecce
Chievo has been known this season for its ability to run a tight defence and not score too many goals, but the exact opposite occurred last weekend against Palermo. A highly-entertaining 4-4 draw saw goals at both ends of the pitch, something Domenico DI Carlo would be happy and saddened about.
Lecce must win. There is nothing else the Salentini need to do in order to ensure their survival. They, of course, will be relying on Genoa to lose to Palermo, but all Serse Cosmi's men need to do is get ALL three points. Having coughed up the chance against Parma a fortnight ago, the Giallorossi failed to score at the Via del Mare against Fiorentina, which hurt the morale of the team. The BIG positive for Lecce is that Juan Cuadrado and Luis Muriel return from suspension.
Chievo have nothing to play for, whilst Lecce need the win.
Prediction: Chievo 1-1 Lecce
Genoa - Palermo
How important is this match for Genoa! Talk about life or death stuff. The Grifoni need one point to survive. The equation is that simple. But there will be no crowd support, as the match will be played behind closed doors, which doesn't help. Rodrigo Palacio - the man who has scored the Rossoblu's goals this term - will be suspended.
Fabrizio Miccoli will once again be the man to score for the Rosanero. He helped relegate Genoa's Ligurian rivals Sampdoria last season, and is known to be supporter of Lecce - the team that could survive the drop. Palermo have been woeful on the road this term, with only one win to their name, and the same can be said about their defence, as it conceded four times to Chievo.
Neither side know how to win, but don't expect a draw in this one.
Prediction: Genoa 0-1 Palermo
Lazio - Inter Milan
Deja vu once again, as Serie A fans will remember what happened on 5 May 2002. Inter required a win to secure the Scudetto against Lazio, but lost the match, as Juventus beat Udinese. The scoreline in that match was 4-2. Playing for an outside chance of a Champions League spot, Lazio's home form has been less than impressive. But the return of Miroslav Klose will have filled a lot of supporters' hearts with joy last week, as the Biancocelesti beat Atalanta 2-0.
Inter's season may be considered a disaster, but the Nerazzurri under Andrea Stramaccioni remarkably have a chance to play in Europe next season. Beating cross-town rivals Milan last weekend 4-2, Diego Milito's hat-trick has revived the club, giving them a chance of finishing things off in style.
La favola di 5 maggio 2002 will re-occur in my eyes, as the Biancocelesti should win.
Prediction: Lazio 2-1 Inter Milan
Napoli - Siena
Napoli also remain in the hunt for a spot in Europe's elite competition, and failure to reach it could mean several of the sides' higher-profiled names could be on their way out. A 2-0 loss to Bologna last weekend could not have come at a worse time for the Azzurri, but one bonus this week has been the re-signing of defender Salvatore Aronica.
Siena require several results to go their way, but could end up finishing in the top-half of the Serie A. Mattia Destro has been the hard working forward whose goals have helped immensely, but this could be his last-ever game for the Bianconeri. A disappointing 2-0 loss to Parma last weekend wasn't the way the Robur wanted to end their season at home.
With so much on the line, Napoli to win.
Prediction: Napoli 2-0 Siena