The final midweek fixture for this season has arrived, but the same questions from Sunday still reign supreme. Roma has dropped out of the race for third, but Inter Milan have entered. Lecce had a chance to overtake Genoa on the table and send the Grifoni into the bottom three but failed. What will happen?...
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Chievo - Roma
Chievo registered a scoreless draw against Cagliari away from home on Saturday, but the Gialloblu have nothing to play for. Sitting comfortably in mid-table, the Flying Donkeys, though, have failed to find the back of the net in the last few encounters. Domenico Di Carlo will be aiming to rectify this on Tuesday, as he wants to end the campaign on a high note. Alberto Paloschi had beaten the goalkeeper, but his goal was chalked off for offside.
Roma had their chance to beat Napoli on Saturday as well, but could not hold the Azzurri defensively. Missing a host of players including Maarten Stekelenburg, Daniele De Rossi, Erik Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo, only il 'Capitano Futuro' will return for this one. Roma also lacked the movement in the final third to break down their opposition, as they took a host of shots from distance.
This is Roma's last chance for a spot in Europe. Lose, and Arrivederci to those hopes. Roma have not lost to Chievo since 2003, a run of 19 matches.
Prediction: Chievo 0-2 Roma
Napoli - Palermo
Napoli can thank Juan Zuniga for igniting the team after half-time, as his thunderbolt attempt on goal found Bogdan Lobont wanting. The wing-back's shot got the game on level terms, and when Edinson Cavani scored, the Partenopei looked like they could hold on. But for Walter Mazzarri's side, it felt like two points had been dropped, rather than a point earnt, as four teams now sit on 55 points, battling it out for the final Champions League place.
Palermo's record in the Sicilian derbies has come under serious scrutiny over the past few seasons, and the Rosanero failed to fully capitalise on home ground advantage against Catania. Coach Bortolo Mutti has told his players they must perform, and only three points matters. Fabrizio Miccoli will not be featuring in this match, meaning Igor Budan will partner Abel Hernandez.
Napoli want to break away and secure third place, and only a win will do.
Prediction: Napoli 3-1 Palermo
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Catania - Bologna
Marco Motta could have had given Catania the perfect start to the Derby della Sicilia had his diving header been able to beat Emiliano Viviano after only 25 seconds. Another defender in Nicola Legrottaglie managed to open the scoring after 25 minutes. What will concern Vincenzo Montella are the injuries to Sergio Almiron and Pablo Barrientos, as well as Cristian Llama.
The Bologna 2012 juggernaut continued on Sunday, as they took care of Genoa 3-2, but the Rossoblu had to hold off their fast-finishing opponents. Daniele Portanova may have opened the scoring, but it was Uruguayan sensation Gaston Ramirez that doubled the side's lead, by simply tapping the ball past Sebastien Frey. Gyorgy Garics also got on the scoresheet.
Catania seem to be another team at home, and in a sort-of direct mid-table battle, should win at the Massimino.
Prediction: Catania 1-0 Bologna
Cesena - Udinese
Cesena opened the scoring against the run of play through Luca Ceccarelli against Inter, but the already-relegated side fell in a heap and showed by they are going back down to Serie B, conceding twice. One positive for the Seahorses was the return of Adrian Mutu and Vincenzo Iaquinta to the starting XI, but needed more from the duo. The Bianconeri have a chance to influence how the season ends at the pointy end of the table, but losses to Juventus and Inter have helped their oppositions rather then their precarious position.
Udinese claimed a controversial 2-0 win over Lazio in the direct battle for third place. Antonio Di Natale had opened the scoring with 20 minutes to go, but there was a lot of conjecture over whether the final whistle had been blown. The Biancocelesti players stopped, but the referee revealed it had come from the crowd, and not him. This allowed Pereyra to shoot at an empty net, as Federico Marchetti pushed forward for a last-minute equaliser.
Udinese need the win, whilst Cesena are playing for pride.
Prediction: Cesena 0-2 Udinese
Fiorentina - Novara
Fiorentina supporters were hoping they could perform the Viola heroics they saw against Roma, but the team couldn't replicate it against Atalanta, going down 2-0. Having had a Stevan Jovetic penalty saved, the match went from bad to worse, as Valon Behrami's shoulder injury seems more serious than first anticipated. One positive to come out of that match was goalkeeper Neto's Serie A debut.
Novara are clinging on to Serie A survival by the skin of their teeth, but could go down this Matchday. Seven points behind Lecce, the Piemonte-based outfit need three wins in three matches.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-0 Novara
Genoa - Cagliari
Genoa fans had their hearts in their mouths after the Grifone failed to register a win against Bologna on Sunday. The Ligurians could have slipped into the bottom three had Lecce beaten Parma. Genoa were very flat in the first half, but lifted upon the entrance Davide Biondini, seemingly providing a more balanced formation. Rodrigo Palacio and Cristobal Jorquera may have gotten on the scoresheet, and Ze Eduardo came close to equalising late on.
Cagliari may have claimed a point against Chievo, but the Rossoblu are doing better at their temporary home in Trieste than at the Sant' Elia. Safe from relegation, the Isolani didn't create too many opportunities to score, but did keep it tight against their opposition. Expect another similar match on Wednesday.
Genoa's best chance at a win, and how crucial this will be.
Prediction: Genoa 1-0 Cagliari
Juventus - Lecce
Juventus swept aside relegation-bound Novara last weekend in the Piemonte derby 4-0. Mirko Vucinic's flick not only stunned the crowd, but opened the landslide. Alessandro Del Piero revealed the Coppa Italia Final would be his last-ever game for the Bianconeri. Arturo Vidal has been the catalyst for the Turin side's ability to stay at the top, as he has formed a strong relationship with Andrea Pirlo. Marco Borriello has scored twice in two matches, whilst Fabio Quagliarella re-signed a contract seeing him at the club until June 2015.
Lecce had a very good chance to get out of the bottom three, as the Giallorossi watched Genoa slip up against Bologna a few hours earlier. But a Sebastian Giovinco-led Parma came to play for the three points, and took them away from the Via Del Mare. The absence of Juan Cuadrado was noted, as Serse Cosmi's side lacked that X-factor. Esposito will be suspended for this clash.
Juventus to make it unbeaten in 36, and not concede.
Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Lecce
Lazio - Siena
Lazio have had their buffer at the top of the "race for third" eaten up. Now, four teams sit equal with the Biancocelesti on 55 points. Losing 2-0 in controversial circumstances to Udinese didn't help, and neither will the absence of Andre Dias for his involvement in a post-game scuffle for this match. Add to this the growing injury list the Roman club, and Edy Reja has a lot of work to do in order to get his best 11 out on the park.
Siena were expected to not put up a fight when AC Milan came to town, and did exactly that, losing 4-1 to the Rossoneri on Sunday. Mattia Destro had a glorious chance to score before half-time, but fluffed his chance. Erjon Bogdani, though, managed to pull one back, but it was too late. The Robur are safe from any form of relegation, but would like to finish higher than the position they currently occupy.
Lazio's injury woes are of a real concern, and Andre Dias' absence could mean Destro may score a few.
Prediction: Lazio 2-2 Siena
AC Milan - Atalanta
Still in the hunt for the Scudetto, coach Massimiliano Allegri knows he just needs continuing to win. The Serie A title is out of the Rossoneri's hands, and can only hope Juventus slip up. The positive news out of the club is that Antonio Cassano is starting to return to his former self, and Fantantonio scored his first goal for the club in 2012. Robinho and Clarence Seedorf will be fighting to get back into the starting XI, as they were dropped for the Sunday match.
Atalanta mathematically secured their position in the Serie A for next season, as it defeated Fiorentina 2-0. Andrea Consigli may have saved a late penalty, but German Denis and Giacomo Bonaventura were the ones who put the ball in the back of the net. The Argentine ended his non-scoring streak, meaning Stefano Colantuono is a relieved man. Maxi Moralez could have made it a bigger lead had his chip not been cleared off the line.
Another Lombardy derby, and another win to the home side.
Prediction: AC Milan 3-0 Atalanta
Parma - Inter Milan
Four-straight wins means Parma are the in-form side along with leaders Juventus. And it is because a player co-owned with the Bianconeri has taken the next step in his game. Sebastian Giovinco has been unstoppable, and he has single-handedly lifted the Gialloblu. From nearly being involved in the relegation battle, the Ducali are now safe, and looking at finishing at least in eighth place.
Inter are still undefeated under Andrea Stramaccioni, and now there is talk he could be secured for next season. Whatever the 36-year-old has done at the club, it has worked, to the point where the Nerazzurri are a realistic chance of making the Champions League. Conceding a goal in the 57th minute, Joel Obi equalised only minutes later and Fredy Guarin found Mauro Zarate alone in the six-yard box to header home for the win. Questions will be asked over whether Julio Cesar will start, as he injured his elbow prior to kick-off.
5-0 was the scoreline last time, and the form reversal for the Nerazzurri. Should be a lot closer this time around.
Prediction: Parma 1-1 Inter Milan