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

Frank Lopapa On May - 10 - 2012

Relegation Battle All But Settled on Final Day

With Serie A rolling into the last match-day, we are settling into one more scrape for survival. Fiorentina officially achieved salvation with a 1-0 victory over Lecce  on Saturday. Novara and Cesena have officially been relegated and will see each other again in Serie B. Both Lecce and Genoa lost last week to Fiorentina and Udinese respectively, meaning there is still a three point gap between the two teams in seventeenth and eighteenth place. Lecce need to travel to Verona to face a Chievo side that has been safe for weeks and has nothing to play for. Genoa, meanwhile are hosting Palermo, who like the Flying Donkeys are already safe.

Chievo have been in cruise control lately as they have drawn the past three matches, including last week’s thrilling 4-4 draw against Palermo. Lecce have the advantage in that the Veronese side probably won’t be going all out as they look to close out the season comfortably in midtable. Lecce, on the other hand, will be playing for their Serie A lives after suffering a tough 1-0 loss at the hands of Fiorentina last Saturday in a match where they dominated possession and had nearly three times as many shots on goal as their opponents. In the previous match, Lecce battled to a 1-1 draw at Juventus despite behind reduced to ten men. The Salenti have been playing hard of late, but results haven’t gone their way as they have gone winless in the past five matches, including three defeats. With the exception of a 2-0 defeat at home to Napoli, the Giallorossi have in the other losses only been defeated by a single goal.

Meanwhile, on the other side of northern Italy Genoa will host an extremely lackluster Palermo side that haven’t won a match since the very beginning April, a 3-1 triumph over Bologna. Despite the poor form, Lecce native Fabrizio Miccoli will make sure to everything he can to help his hometown side avoid the drop.

“We will play with the utmost passion on Sunday. Of course, I’ll give more than anyone else,” Miccoli noted in an interview earlier this week.

Genoa also have the distinct disadvantage (advantage?) of playing in an empty stadium due to the bizarre fan disturbances at the Marassi a few weeks ago in Genoa’s 4-1 loss to Siena. The Grifoni actually won a match last time out, defeating Cagliari 2-1 thanks to goals from Rodrigo Palacio and Bosko Jankovic. However, Genoa will be without the aforementioned Palacio as well as Slovakian midfielder Juraj Kucka due to their red cards against Udinese. Losing Palacio is a major blow for Genoa’s chances of winning, as the Argentine has been one of the few bright spots for the Rossoblu, scoring 19 goals in 32 matches this season.

Regardless of results on Sunday, the relegation battle may continue well after the end of the season. The ongoing investigation into match fixing has resulted in three Serie A teams being named as suspects; Novara, Siena, and Atalanta have all been notified that they are under investigation for fixing results last season when they were all in Serie B. As Novara are already relegated, that leaves the status of Siena and Atalanta up in the air. The Bergamo side suffered a points deduction at the beginning of the season due to their involvement in another betting scandal, however, it remains to be seen if they or Siena will face any punishment. It, of course, depends completely on the conclusion of the investigation whether these two sides will be punished, and what the punishments will be; they could range from straight relegation to points deductions either on this season’s results or the next. A ten point deduction on this season’s total for either Atalanta or Siena would see both sides drop into Serie B, which would be unfortunate given their exellent performances on the field this year.

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