Saturday, October 21, 2017

Serie A preview: Milan close in on title

The Serie A title race could come to an end as early as Sunday, when leaders AC Milan host Bologna at the San Siro.

Milan are eight points clear at the top of the Italian top flight and within reach of their first Scudetto since the 2004-05 season, a trophy they can clinch if results fall their way at the weekend.

Their closest challengers are bitter rivals Inter Milan, in second, and Napoli, a further point behind in third and tussling with Inter for the top two.

Inter and Napoli both play on Saturday, the former at Cesena and the latter at home to Genoa, and should both fail to register a win Milan can wrap up the title against struggling Bologna with three games left in the season.

Although unlikely, current form suggests this scenario is not altogether unforeseeable for Massimiliano Allegri and the Milan squad.

Inter’s form has been questionable lately, especially away from home, where Leonardo’s men have not managed a win in the league since a trip to Sampdoria in late February.

Cesena, meanwhile, have climbed out of the relegation places with an improved run of form through the last two months, losing just one of their past nine games and none at home.

Napoli’s form has also taken an ill-timed dip, conceding second place to Inter with back-to-back losses to Udinese and Palermo.

Mid-table Genoa have reason to feel confident ahead of their trip to the Stadio San Paolo following consecutive wins over Brescia and Lecce, and seem to have picked up a gem in on-loan Udinese striker Antonio Floro Flores.

Assuming Inter and Napoli manage a point or less from their encounters, Milan will have the simple enough task of defeating Bologna – on a four-game losing streak – to wrap up their title.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Udinese can move provisionally into the fourth and final Champions League place on the table – occupied by Lazio – if they find a way past visiting Fiorentina.

Roma will surely maintain their grip on a Europa League spot with a visit to Serie B-bound Bari, while Sampdoria and Brescia fight it out at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in a relegation dogfight.

Lecce take their relegation-threatened campaign into a crucial encounter at Chievo, Catania do the same at Cagliari, while Parma and Palermo will both aim for a third straight win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Finally, Juventus’ slim hopes of stealing a Europa League berth could be dealt a death blow with a visit to Champions League hopefuls Lazio on Monday.

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