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The title is decided, but Serie A's Champions League chase is the best in Europe

Published on: 08 May 2021

Juventus host AC Milan in Serie A on Sunday evening for what will be a hugely important game in Italy's Champions League qualification race.

It would have been hard to imagine at the beginning of the 2020/21 season that Juventus, having won nine straight Serie A titles, would be scrapping in Matchday 35 to make it into the top four, but that's how badly wrong things have gone since Andrea Pirlo succeeded Maurizio Sarri in Turin.

Milan, for their part, also might have expected to be in a better position by now. Leading the chasing pack at the season's mid-way point, the Rossoneri were unbeaten and crowned winter champions, but their form has fallen off the edge of a cliff in 2021.

The two giants of Italian football are now locked on 69 points with 34 games played each - Atalanta are also in the same position, though they will have played already relegated Parma by the time things kick off in Turin on Sunday - and one of the two is likely to miss out on the top four.

The ones to keep up with

Napoli and Atalanta have found form at the right time, which La Dea have tended to do under Gian Piero Gasperini.

Atalanta have lost just twice in Serie A since the beginning of December, and they have lost just once in their last 14 games, drawing three of those. What's more, two of those draws came with 10 men. Their defeats came against Inter and Lazio, though they still have a better head-to-head record than the Roman side, should that need to be a decider.

Napoli have lost twice in their last 14, to Atalanta and Juventus, but they'll have the edge over Gasperini's side should they finish level on points.

Twists to come?

Having already played this weekend, and winning 4-1 at Spezia, Napoli have three winnable games to come. With Udinese, Fiorentina and Hellas Verona left - three teams with nothing to play for - it would be hard to imagine them not claiming maximum points and making themselves almost impossible to knock out of the top four.

Atalanta, meanwhile, play relegated Parma, relegation-threatened Benevento, Genoa and AC Milan. Their Matchday 38 meeting with Milan could be a straight playoff for the Champions League place, and they'll have faced Juventus in the Coppa Italia final just days before their crunch match in Bergamo. They did beat the Rossoneri 3-0 at the Stadio San Siro earlier this season, so they might be able to afford dropping points by then.

After Milan, Juventus have to play Sassuolo, champions Inter and Bologna, while Milan will take on Torino, Cagliari and Atalanta after their trip to Juventus.

Lazio had looked like contenders until Matchday 35, only to fall to a shock 2-0 loss away to Fiorentina on Saturday.

Source: m.allfootballapp.com

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