Champions League fight going down to wire

With the Serie A title already wrapped up it is the minor details that need to be ironed out in Italy this weekend, starting with the race for a Champions League place.

Updated: May 13, 2011 10:05 IST
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Rome: With the Serie A title already wrapped up it is the minor details that need to be ironed out in Italy this weekend, starting with the race for a Champions League place.

Three teams are realistically still in contention for fourth place and a berth in the Champions League qualifying round next season.

Udinese currently hold that crucial fourth place with Roman neighbours Lazio and Roma two points behind and hoping for a helping hand.

Juventus had also been in the running until Monday when they blew a 2-0 lead at home to Chievo to draw 2-2.

They trail Udinese by five points and it would take an extremely unlikely turn of events for them to snatch fourth place now.

However, it is Juve's own recent nemesis Chievo who the Romans will be looking to do them a favour when Udinese travel to Verona on Sunday.

All three teams have one home and one away match remaining so they will be looking for each other to slip up when travelling away.

Udinese, however, have the toughest looking home match to come as they finish the season against Milan.

Even so, defender Maurizio Domizzi says theirs is the position to be in and he's called on the club's fans to come out in force to support them.

"Udine is close to Verona, it wouldn't be either a long or tiring journey, there's a big stadium for those who think it's worth being numerous at the Bentegodi."

"There are still two games to go and we've got similar games to the others. A two-point advantage is not negligible, it's an important gap for us."

Lazio play at home to Genoa on Saturday so could put the pressure on the others if they win.

Roma, like Udinese, will be on their travels and head to Catania, who like Genoa and Chievo have nothing left to play for this season, being out of both European running and clear of the threat of relegation.

Above this battle, Napoli need just one point to be mathematically sure of third place and a spot in next season's Champions League group stages.

But they are also playing for second place and they host the team immediately above them.

Inter Milan have a four-point lead over Napoli so even a win for the southerners might not prove enough but forward Ezequiel Lavezzi is still keen for them to finish a great season on a high.

"We still need one point and we'll get it. Our fans need to stay calm and support us on Sunday," he said.

But he also admitted there was a bit of bitterness over what he sees as a missed opportunity.

"Before the season began no-one thought we could finish so high but the reality was that we always did well," he said.

"We could have won it but because of our mistakes and inexperience we didn't do so."

"We messed up in two important occasions against Milan and Udinese, we lacked something."

At the bottom the only thing still to be decided is who goes down alongside Bari and Brescia.

Sampdoria are in the danger zone and know they may have to win their last two games to stay up.

They host Palermo on Sunday and can expect perhaps less than committed foes.

Palermo reached the Italian Cup final in midweek, beating Milan, and already last weekend had started resting players in the league.

Lecce are two points above Samp but have a local Puglia derby away to Bari to come on Sunday.

Cesena, who host Brescia, and Bologna, who travel to Fiorentina, are still not safe but a win would be enough for both.

Fixtures (1300 GMT unless stated):


Lazio v Genoa (1600), AC Milan v Cagliari (1845)


Fiorentina v Bologna (1030), Bari v Lecce, Catania v Roma, Cesena v Brescia, Chievo v Udinese, Parma v Juventus, Sampdoria v Palermo, Napoli v Inter Milan (1845)

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