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Projecting Serie A’s Top Four: Where Does Roma Stand?

The computers seem to think Roma is a safe bet to return to the Champions League next year.

SS Lazio v AS Roma - Serie A
The computers think Roma will outpace Lazio and Inter down the stretch.
Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

As the season enters it’s home stretch our beloved Giallorossi have plenty to play for. Thanks to last week’s astounding result against Barcelona, Roma are the only Serie A team still playing in European competition. If playing in the Champions League semifinals isn’t stressful enough for the fans, there’s still plenty to play for in the league as well. After yesterday’s 0-0 draw in the Derby della Capitale, Roma remain tied for third with their city rivals. However, both capital clubs sit only a single point ahead of Inter Milan.

This is important because the difference between finishing third or fourth rather than fifth in the league is about a lot more than bragging rights. Unlike in past years where Serie A only had three available spots for the Champions League, they will have four in next year’s competition. With Juventus and Napoli comfortably occupying the top two spots in the table, there are two more available spots for three teams. With the standings so tight, the race for the Champions League places will be hotly contested. Something has got to give.

So what are the chances that Roma can finish ahead of one or both of Inter and Lazio while still competing in the Champions League? Well, according to ESPN’s affiliate site FiveThirtyEight, they’re pretty good. Each week the site runs their Soccer Power Index (SPI) for leagues around the world. In the most recent edition, which was updated after yesterday’s draw, the answer is pretty good.

Current projections based on FiveThirtyEight’s SPI.

Based on the current projections, Roma has an 84% chance of qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the Top 4. Meanwhile, Lazio has a 59% chance and Inter has a 55% chance. The Giallorossi are projected to finish with 73 points while Lazio and Inter are projected to finish with 71 points apiece.

For the 73 point projection to play out, Roma would need to secure 12 points in their last six matches. That would mean a combination of either four wins or three wins and three draws versus the following remaining schedule: v. Genoa (12th place), @SPAL (17th), v. Cheivo (16th), @Cagliari (14th), v.Juve (1st), @Sassuolo (15th).

It’s a scenario that seems totally plausible if Roma play up to their potential. However, only time will tell if Roma can handle a jam packed schedule of midweek fixtures and make the computers look smart. If things go astray in the league keep in mind that Roma can always qualify by winning the Champions League final. Now wouldn’t that be an even sweeter way to qualify?