Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Lopapa On April - 26 - 2012

The Fight for Survival

With only four games left in the season, the teams at the bottom are making sure they are not in the drop zone come a month from now. Thus far only Cesena has been mathematically relegated thanks to their 1-0 defeat to Juventus on Wednesday. Novara will almost assuredly be the next team to be officially relegated, having to face Juventus at home on Sunday. So that leaves us with Lecce, who saw their six game undefeated streak come to an end Wednesday with a 2-0 loss to Napoli. The giallorossi are still within a shout for survival with their nearest rivals Genoa only a point ahead.

At the beginning of the season not many expected Genoa to be where they currently are today, sitting a single point above the relegation zone. Much of the talk recently about teams that were too good to go down focused on Fiorentina and their terrible form this season; however, a recent good run of results, including wins away to Milan and Roma, have seen the Tuscans slowly move away from danger and up to 14th place. Genoa have been largely midtable for most of the season, but after a fourteen game winless streak now find themselves in 17th for the fourth straight matchday. A terrible defense, despite the abilities of Sebastien Frey, are mostly to blame as they have given up the most goals in the league at a whopping 63 compared to scoring a more reasonable 44. To put that into perspective, Genoa have scored the same amount of goals as fifth and eighth place Udinese (who are still in the hunt for a Champions League place) and Catania.

Things finally came to a head last weekend against Siena, when during an eventual 4-1 loss, the Genoa ultras forced the match to be stopped, and ordered the players to give them their shirts as they were “not worthy” of them; amazingly, all the players complied save for Frey and Giuseppe Sculli. Genoa supporters are hoping now that the bottom doesn’t fall out and find themselves playing in a Serie B derby against Sampdoria next season.

Technically no side from ninth to seventeenth is officially safe from the drop yet, however, Parma, Atalanta, and Chievo are all virtually assured of survival. Bologna can also guarantee themselves another season in the top flight with a result at home to Genoa Sunday, a match shaping up to be huge for the grifoni; their relegation rivals Lecce face an in-form Parma side. Below Bologna are Fiorentina, Palermo and Cagliari on 41 points; with six points separating them from the relegation zone and with only four matches left to play, they are all more or less safe, but getting as many points as possible is still a top priority.

Which leads us back to Lecce and Genoa. The rossoblu have the slightly easier run in, with their toughest match to come being an away trip to Udinese, who may still be fighting for a Champions League place a couple weeks from now. Other matches include away to Bologna and homes matches against Cagliari and Palermo. The next match against Bologna is crucial, as a win coupled with a Lecce loss will boost their chances of survival tremendously while a loss could in fact spell out the end even with three left to play. Matches against Cagliari and Palermo are potentially six pointers as both sides may find themselves closer than they would like to the drop if neither side can get a result this weekend.

Lecce host a just-about-safe Parma side that is riding high with three straight wins, then are away at Juventus, followed by a home match against Fiorentina (who also need a result this weekend against Atalanta to ensure their own survival), and finally close out the season facing Chievo in a tricky away match. Lecce are definitely in better form than Genoa at the moment, however, when Lecce are facing Juventus away Genoa are hosting Cagliari and the Genovesi are more likely to take points away from that match than Lecce are at Juventus.

It’s really hard to say who will end up being the third team relegated, as it may really end up coming down to the final matchday. The complete chaos Genoa are in right now coupled with Lecce’s decent form of late may in fact give Lecce the edge in the fight for salvation over their rival; however, to complicate things further is the ongoing calcioscommese investigation, with more teams and more players finding themselves involved, including a Siena side that is for the most part safe. If they end up being charged with any wrongdoing, a massive points deduction may loom, or even automatic demotion. The race for survival may continue well into the summer if it comes to that.

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