The spotlight is certainly on Serie A ahead of a huge weekend in the hunt for Champions League football with the Scudetto seemingly wrapped up by high-flying Napoli.
Inter Milan, Lazio and AC Milan occupy the remainder of the top four in second, third and fourth place respectively, but no side is yet certain of a spot in the top four come the end of the season.
Just three points separate Inter and AS Roma in fifth, with Jose Mourinho’s side sandwiched in between AC Milan and Atalanta in sixth.
All those sides, as well as Juventus in seventh, have a shot at a top-four finish this season, and this weekend could prove vital with four sides in the running facing each other.
Lazio host Roma in the Derby della Capitale on Sunday afternoon before Juventus travel to Inter later on that night.
THE END OF MOURINHO’S TIME IN ROME?
There has been speculation around Jose Mourinho ahead of the game and where the former Inter Milan boss’ future might lie.
Eurosport Italy’s Davide Bighiani has been in touch to give his insight on Mourinho, and to preview the blockbuster weekend.
“[The] feeling [with Mourinho] is still good: what’s a bit strange is Mourinho’s attitude towards society,” Bighiani explained. “It almost seems to lay the foundations for a farewell at the end of the year; but it is still early to talk about it.
José Mourinho (Roma)
Image credit: Getty Images
“Mourinho will do everything to keep Roma in the top four in Serie A, but at the same time, he won’t give up on his Europa League goal.
“We all remember the big party in Rome after the Conference League victory.”
Roma can move into the top four and overtake Lazio with a win on Sunday night.
“It’s a Champions League challenge, given the standings: Lazio on 49, Roma on 47, and both have the possibility of taking a place in the top four,” Bighiani said. “A derby in such high positions hasn’t been seen for a while.
“[Maurizio] Sarri’s Lazio can beat anyone in Serie A on their day, Mourinho’s Roma will in all probability let Lazio play the game, and counter-attack [on them].”
Lazio striker Ciro Immobile has scored nine goals this season and is joint-sixth in the league goalscoring charts, but the Italian’s availability for Sunday is uncertain because of illness.
“Lazio hope to have Immobile as they must forget about Europe [after being eliminated from the Conference League] and do it as soon as possible, while Roma will be galvanised by the next round against Real Sociedad.
“Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto will be key for Sarri’s side, while Mourinho will bet on Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham, hoping to see him scoring again.”
JUVENTUS CAN STILL QUALIFY FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Juventus were stuck with a 15-point deduction earlier this season, hampering their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League through the traditional league route.
They are into the last eight of the Europa League where they will come up against Sporting Lisbon as they look to secure CL qualification via this competition, but there is a feeling they can still qualify with a top four finish in Serie A.
“Morale is high at Juventus,” Bighiani suggested. “Victories in the league now come regularly and progress in Europe is also positive.
“The only weight on the Juventus players remains the -15 points in Serie A. Allegri is trying to regain a place in the next Champions League despite the -15: it is a difficult but not impossible mission given that the other big teams have slowed down, all except Napoli.
“Paradoxically, Inter still have three goals this season: Coppa Italia, Serie A (but only for second place) and the Champions League. Going to the [Champions League] final isn’t impossible, given those quarter-final and semi-final [draws].
“Juventus strongly want to participate in the next Champions League: winning the Europa League would allow it.”
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