x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Plenty at stake on final day

The Serie A season will have a dramatic climax after all.

The Serie A season will have a dramatic climax after all. While Inter Milan sealed the title without much suspense 10 days ago, on the final 90 minutes of the campaign next Sunday rides a great deal. Already established is that Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina will have some sort of participation in the Champions League next season. What is unclear, after the penultimate weekend, is whether it is the guaranteed income of a berth in the group phase, or the perilous lottery of a pre-qualifying hurdle.

Milan's 3-2 home defeat to Roma leaves them second in the table, but liable to drop to fourth if they lose against Fiorentina on the final day and Juventus get a point at least at home to Lazio. Dropping into fourth, where Fiorentina currently sit, means playing-off in August for a spot in the Champions League group stage, and under new Uefa rules that effectively abandon seedings, risking a two-legged tie against the likes of Arsenal, Lyon or perhaps Villarreal for the right to be in the lucrative, elite European competition from September. Fiorentina, Milan or Juve could each be facing that prospect.

At the bottom there remains an edgy tension, too. Lecce and Reggina are now relegated to Serie B but Torino and Bologna both cling to the precipice, joined on 34 points. Bologna are in the driving seat as they are at home to Catania. Their leading striker, Marco di Vaio, also has plenty of incentive this weekend. He will be seeking the goals, or perhaps just the goal, that would put him alone at the top of the Serie A scoring charts this season. He and Inter's Zlatan Ibrahimovic are both on 23.

So, not quite all to play for on matchday 38 in the Italian top-flight, but plenty still at stake. @Email:ihawkey@thenational.ae