As typically is the case by late February, the race for the Scudetto is essentially on ice. Everyone’s favorite Turin-based club is thirteen points ahead of second-place Napoli, and although I am the type to believe in miracles, it would probably take the second coming of Jesus Christ for Juventus not to win Serie A this season. Napoli also look to be far out of reach in second place, with their nine-point lead over Inter looking only slightly less insurmountable than Juventus’ lead over them.
However, a quick look at the table shows that beyond first and second place, the race for the final two Champions League spots has devolved into a free-for-all. Even third place, which Inter had appeared to have sewn up months ago, is now definitely in play. Sure, Inter can complain about the shoddy way VAR has been used while defending their drop in form, but those of us who were around for either Luciano Spalletti spell at Roma can tell you that a winter slump is a feature of his managerial style, not a bug.
As of writing, Inter maintain a two-point lead over A.C. Milan and a three point lead over Roma. Factor in the high drama of Wanda Nara and Mauro Icardi that is roiling the Nerazzurri, the adrenaline shot Milan received this January in the form of Krzysztof Piątek, and the continued strong form of Roma (give or take a match), and that three point lead is definitely a tenuous one. Given this, it’s safe to ask: can Roma seize third place this season? Who will fill Serie A’s final two Champions League spots for the 2019-2020 season?
One thing is certain for Roma and Inter: failure to achieve a Champions League spot will most likely result in the sacking of the manager. Eusebio Di Francesco was on thin ice earlier this year, and although his job security seems to have grown back due to recent form and the explosion of Nicolo Zaniolo, the loss of funds that would result from missing the Champions League would almost certainly be a death knell for his time at the Stadio Olimpico. For Spalletti, he seems to have already alienated Inter’s star player (ring any bells?), and missing out on the Champions League despite a huge amount of money thrown into his squad would most likely spur a sacking. Gennaro Gattuso’s job is probably more secure than Di Francesco’s or Spalletti’s, but appearances can be deceiving. All three of these clubs crave sustained international attention, and the only way to do that is through consistent appearances in the Champions League. Just ask Jim Pallotta.
In my humble opinion, recent form indicates that Milan and Roma may leapfrog Inter sooner rather than later, but I want to use this article as more of a chance to hear from our readers. Think of it as a democratized, shortened version of our biannual questionnaire: predict those last two Champions League spots, gain internet glory if your prediction is spot on.
Who will get third place in Serie A this season?
This poll is closed
Other (just not Lazio)