The Race for Champions League

In both Italy and France there are three teams apiece desperate for the last two remaining Champions League spots

Behind the towering giants of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain lie a pack of teams vying for a highly coveted Champions League spot. They’re after the football, the prestige, and most importantly – the money.

Can Inter upset the balance?

Napoli have disappointed many, not only themselves in the last couple of weeks. After a fierce last minute win away to Juventus to pull themselves back into contention for what would have been their first Serie A title since 1990, they’ve promptly squandered it by losing and then drawing to lesser opponents.  

Napoli have though secured their place in the Champions League for next season, but it will feel hollow compared to what they could have had.

Meanwhile Inter are looking to edge their rivals from the capital Lazio and Roma.  The Roman teams have been mainstays in second and third place for most of the season. Inter have spent big and are desperate to test their resolve against Europe’s big boys. Once a regular feature of Europe’s elite, with a glittering history, Inter haven’t seen Champions League football for six years and they’re gasping for it.  

Roma’s most difficult fixture will be at home to Juventus on 13 May and they’ll be hoping to pick up maximum points. A point should see them safe though, and they’ll fancy their chances against a Juve side that has gone off the boil in the last month.  

The most mouth-watering fixture here is when Lazio and Inter go head to head on 20 May. This could be the one that swings it. Lazio dropped points last week and will be without key target man Ciro Immobile for the remainder of the season.

Big three final fixtures

Inter                                                 Lazio                                       Roma

Sassuolo (h) 12 May

Crotone (a)

Juventus (h) 13 May

Lazio (a) 20 May

Inter (h) 20 May

Sassuolo (a) 20 May

Only one point in it

Lyon have turned the French race for Champions League football on it’s head. With eight straight wins they’re one of Europe’s most in form teams at the moment.  

Only a month ago they were well behind Marseille and Monaco. It looked like there was nothing of interest left in France. It was only in early February that they lost away to Monaco 3-2.

Similarly Marseille are in much better form than their wealthy neighbours. After qualifying for the Europa League Final in extra time away to Salzburg last week they are flying high. Meeting Atlético Madrid in the final will be a big ask and Marseille will want to secure Champions League football before that tie with three straightforward ties against lesser opposition.

Monaco are sitting in third place with a game in hand on their rivals from along the Cote d’Azur. They’re in the worst form of the three, having lost two of their last five matches. They’ll take some encouragement from their neighbours’s Europa League Final distractions, which saw Marseille lose two valuable points last night by drawing against Guingamp.

Big three final fixtures

Lyon                                               Marseille                                  Monaco

Strasbourg (a) 12 May

Saint-Etienne (h) 12 May

Nice (h) 19 May

Amiens (h) 19 May

Troyes (a) 19 May

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