The six games left in Serie A will have everything to say about who qualifies for the biggest competition in league football: the UEFA Champions League.
Serie A has four places in the competition, and the first three seem virtually unassailable. Inter Milan looks set to secure another scudetto, with a formidable 10 point lead on Juventus and Milan, and 20 points over the fourth place cut-off.
Juventus and Milan will battle for runner-up in the league, and that will be a great race, but they are also all-but assured a Champions League berth.
The real dogfight will be the battle for fourth place, and the lucrative spot in Champions League qualifiers that comes with it. The big draw of the competition is of course the prestige and drama, but the multiple millions of euro that the high-profile matches put into a club's coffers are also pretty important.
AS Roma, after a depressing and shocking display in the much-vaunted Roma-Lazio derby (going 2 goals down in the first 5 minutes, getting 2 second-half red cards, and finishing the game with 9 players can rarely qualify as a success), are back in the hunt.
After last weekend's 3-2 victory against Lecce, and the losses suffered by Genoa (0-1 to Lazio) and Fiorentina (2-3 to Udinese), the point totals of the three teams battling for fourth are as follows:
Genoa: 57 points (fourth place),
Fiorentina: 55 points (fifth place),
Roma: 52 points (sixth place).
It is tough to say who has the more difficult challenge in front of them, but each team has a shot.
This weekend Fiorentina will be at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, as Roma tries to effectively put six points into their drive for fourth place, and la Viola will try and put their stinging defeat to Udinese behind them, and maintain their eyes on the prize. Genoa will be away at Bologna.
While the rossoblu can feel confident about facing a relegation-bound team with a 1-0-5 record in their last games, they will also be nervously checking over their shoulders. The only sure thing at this point of the season is that there is much money and glory on the line, and time is running out.
The endgame is being played.
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