Blog Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks):
So far this year there have been many twists and turns in the Serie A campaign. As we approach the final 8 rounds of the season, it looks set to be one of the most exciting ends to the league in years. Fans of Italian football are in for a treat as this seasons climax will be thoroughly entertaining with many big matches to come and many questions to be answered such as, can Napoli go all the way and lift the title? Who will finish in third place? Who will beat the drop at the bottom end of the table? And who will lift the Coppa Italia at the end of the year?
Going into the last 8 games of the season only three points separate Napoli and Juventus in one of the most hotly contested title races in years. Under Sarri, Napoli have been sensational this year and with Higuain in the form of his life Napoli will never have a better chance to win the league title. Juventus on the other hand had a slow start but have come back like true champions going on a 15 match winning run and winning the recent crucial clash against Napoli, 1-0. Juventus and Napoli both have some tricky matches in their run-ins. Juventus have to play Milan and Fiorentina away and face Lazio at home, while Napoli still face two tough away trips against Inter and Roma. Points are sure to be dropped by both teams and it remains to be seen who will capitalize on these slip-ups. With some mouthwatering clashes ahead, this year’s title race looks set to go right down to the wire.
The battle for third place is also set to go right down to wire. Roma look favorites to finish in third now but sit only 5 points ahead of Inter and Fiorentina. Since Spalletti took charge, Roma have looked a revitalized team, the addition of El Shaarway was the best piece of business in the January transfer window. The Pharaoh looks like he is finally showing his class once again, returning to form under Spalletti who placed a lot of faith in the young winger. Both he and Roma are thriving under Spalletti's system. Not far behind Roma are Inter and Fiorentina. Inter have had a disappointing campaign so far, falling short of title expectations set after a great start to the season. Despite this, Mancini's men look to have put a nightmare start to 2016 behind them and their form has picked up again as they look regain Champions League football. Failure to qualify for the Champions League could see Inter face backlash from UEFA over Financial Fair Play. Fiorentina complete the three horse race for third place. Like Inter, Paulo Sousa's men had their fans dreaming of the title after a great start to the season, but they never really had the squad to make a serious title challenge. Third place, however, is a real possibility even though it seems that every year Fiorentina seem to always fall at the final hurdle. For the last three years the Viola have been knocking on the Champions League door, maybe this year they'll finally break into European's elite competition. The battle for third place is going to be intense and exciting. Providing fans with many nail-biting moments.
Down at the bottom of the table the relegation battle is set to be a real scrap, even Torino and Atlanta on 33 points in 13th and 14th place are only six points off the drop. It's incredibly tight at the bottom but the real fight for safety looks to be between Frosinone, Carpi, Palermo and Udinese. Two of those four teams will more than likely go down with Hellas Verona way off the pace at the bottom already doomed. Frosinone and Carpi both in their first year of Italy's top flight have done better then many expected. At the start of the season most people including myself had them as dead certainties to go down. Yet, both have given themselves a fighting chance of staying up. Palermo and Udinese have both recently changed managers in a bid to avoid the drop. Palermo have been a mess this year with Zamparini giving no manager enough time to provide any results. Udinese have been slowly drifting closer and closer to the bottom without anyone ever really noticing that they are in danger. However, now it is clear that they face a relegation battle. They recently appointed Gigi De Canio to help guide them to safety. It remains to be seen who'll be playing in Serie B next year, but there will definitely be a lot of twists and turns from now until the end of the season.
After Serie A is done and dusted on May 15th we still have the hugely important Coppa Italia Final clash to look forward to on the 21st of May. Milan face Juventus in what could be a potential job saving game for Mihajlovic. Berlusconi has not placed a lot faith in Miha but has suggested that a Coppa Italia Final win would be enough for the Serb to save his job at Milan. Juventus however will look to retain the trophy they won last year and will be hoping it will complete another double for them if all goes well for the Bianconeri in Serie A.
The final part of the Serie A season looks set to be an exhilarating ride not to be missed. All that's left to do now is to sit back and enjoy the ride as the season unfolds.