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One of the most fascinating battles across Europe right now is undeniably the race for the UEFA Champions League spots in Serie A, which you can watch unfold live on TNT Sports and discovery+

However, behind them the race for the Champions League places has been tense, with plenty of twists and turns.

What makes it even more interesting is UEFA’s new rule that means the two best countries in terms of co-efficient will get an extra spot. Right now Italy seems a decent bet to earn one of those bonus spots.

So in a normal season one of the traditional big sides would be granted an extra spot. But this season? They’re fighting to even have a chance to make it.

Let’s run you through team-by-team as these clubs try to secure their place among Europe’s elite next season.

Bologna

  • Current position – 4th
  • Total points – 48
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 3
  • Points off fourth place – 0

We start with one of the best stories of the season across Europe. What Thiago Motta is doing with Bologna is nothing short of remarkable. A testament to what smart management and shrewd recruitment can do in the right circumstances.

As he points out, this is a big club. They have seven Scudetti to their name and they have one of the best average attendances in Italy. People like to refer to Italy’s Seven Sisters to refer to the traditional big clubs but Bologna – and the club we will talk about next – are really pushing to make a case for it being as many nine “big” teams.

So can they do it? Yes, absolutely. This is a team that has not been figured out and we’re into the final third of the season. They’re on a five-match unbeaten run and, perhaps crucially, most of their players are staying fit as we enter the run-in.

The other potential deciding factor? Their strong defence. Only the top two teams Inter and Juventus have better defensive records than Motta’s side.

Oh, and they have no extra European games…

Atalanta

  • Current position – 5th
  • Total points – 46
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 3
  • Points off fourth place – 2

At this stage if you predict Atalanta to finish outside of the European places that’s on you. Since Gian Piero Gasperini took over in 2016 Atalanta have finished inside the top seven places in six out of seven seasons, including four times in the top four.

That experience may be crucial here. Gasperini and the senior players at the club have been here before, they know what it’s like to be fighting for this kind of prize.

And they’re going to need that experience. Not only do they face three other members of the European Six as we’ve dubbed them, they also face Juventus (having just played Milan and lost heavily to Inter) as well as having double-legged ties in the Europa League and the Coppa Italia.

Can this squad cope? Like Bologna they don’t have a player who has reached double digits for the league this season.

If they are going to make it, the key feels as if it is going to be Ademola Lookman. The Nigerian hitman was leading the charge before he went to the Africa Cup of Nations. If he can pick up where he left off Atalanta should be a safe bet to at least finish in the top five. Atalanta and the team up next have the best scoring record of these teams.

AS Roma

  • Current position – 6th
  • Total points – 44
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 5
  • Points off fourth place – 4

This is where we are going to learn an awful lot about Daniele De Rossi and this Roma side.

What the legendary midfielder has done since he came in to take over from Jose Mourinho has been hugely impressive for just his second managerial role.

He has won five out of his six Serie A games but the teams he has beaten – Hellas Verona, Salernitana, Cagliari, Frosinone and Torino – are all matches Roma should win. The defeat against Inter certainly wasn’t embarrassing and they did well to get past Feyenoord in the Europa League, so there are certainly plenty of encouraging signs.

The Roma board did the right thing giving De Rossi a nice long runway, but now it’s time for him to take-off so we can see whether he can fly. After his hat-trick on Monday, it seems that De Rossi might be the man to get the best out of Paulo Dybala and don’t forget, Tammy Abraham is reportedly just weeks away from a return…

Fiorentina

  • Current position – 7th
  • Total points – 41
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 3
  • Points off fourth place – 7

Like Atalanta, Fiorentina have to juggle both Europe and the cup with their league commitments, as well as having to face Juventus and AC Milan in their run-in.

Vincenzo Italiano’s side have been very up and down this season and after going so close and losing in two cups finals last season it remains to be seen whether they will push harder in the cups to try and avenge those losses.

Fiorentina and the teams below are in an interesting position. None of them are in the Europa League so can’t qualify for the Champions League that way and they will need to make some real headroom to get into the fourth and fifth spots.

Lucas Beltran could go on an absolute tear and Nico Gonzalez remains one of the best players in the league. But it’s hard to know what Fiorentina are great at. Of the six teams they have the third-best attack and second-worst defence. We thought that at least one of their summer striker signings would propel them higher up the table. It does feel one of them will really have to go on a streak for them to make up the gap.

Lazio

  • Current position – 8th
  • Total points – 40
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 1
  • Points off fourth place – 8

Now, Lazio are interesting.

This is a team that beat an admittedly off-colour Bayern Munich side in the Champions League but have also lost to Fiorentina, Bologna and Atalanta in recent weeks which is why some may be surprised to see them so far off the pace.

It does feel as if we might be coming to the end of Maurizio Sarri’s time in the capital although they are still in the Coppa Italia and do have that second-leg against Bayern still to play. However with a host of exciting young Italian managers at the moment it is possible that owner Claudio Lotito might feel that a reboot is the way to go.

But it is still not entirely impossible that they reach the top four/five. They have just one game against their near rivals (that derby clash with Roma) and games against both Milan clubs but here are the current league positions of their other opponents – 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th.

An in-form Lazio on the top of their game could legitimately hope for at least 20 points from that cluster if not more. But there is no team week-to-week who feel harder to predict than this Lazio side. They are the lowest-scoring side of the six and if they don’t figure out that side of things it does not feel as if they can 1-0 their way up the table, not in this year’s Serie A.

Napoli

  • Current position – 9th
  • Total points – 40
  • Games against the rest of the European six – 4
  • Points off fourth place – 8

It feels a bit of a stretch to even have Napoli here. Eight points is a lot for any side to make up and even if they are the defending champions (which is really the only reason they are here) it looks like it could be far too much for this Napoli team.

Things are hard right now in Naples after another draw, this time 1-1 away at Cagliari. Yes Francesco Calzona has shown some promise since stepping as the team’s third manager of the season but don’t forget, he’s doing this alongside still being the full-time manager of Slovakia…

If Napoli can get past Barcelona in the Champions League, a big if, maybe can they have a bit of run but realistically the focus here needs to be two things. 1) Get into some kind of European competition by finishing in the top seven. 2) Figure out who is going to be part of the next iteration of this squad.

We already know that Piotr Zielinski will be going to Inter. Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will absolutely be linked with moves away too. Then you have players like Stanislav Lobotka who have also been mentioned in the past as possible departures. The core has to be decided.

Honourable mentions and final thoughts

We’ve mentioned Milan here a few times and realistically you can’t be 100% sure that either they or Juventus are fully out of the race. Milan are five points ahead of Bologna and Juventus nine so they both should be fine but it’s not as if either are totally convincing. For the record, Milan play two of the six as well as arch-rivals Inter. Juve have five plus they will actually play each other on April 28. As we said they should be fine, but may not be…

Further down the table it felt harsh to leave off Torino (10th) and Monza (11th), with both sitting a point behind Napoli, even Genoa are only three points behind them in 12th but we had to have a cut-off somewhere.

Once again Ivan Juric is showing himself to be the latest Torino manager who could be really interesting if he was given some more resources, whilst Rafaele Palladino (Monza) and Alberto Gilardino (Genoa) are right at the forefront of that young Italian coaching revolution we mentioned earlier alongside Motta. With Juventus, Milan, Roma, Lazio and Napoli all possibly looking for new coaches depending on how the season ends, they are all going to be in demand.

And finally don’t forget that seventh place might not even offer a European place. The final four Coppa Italia teams are Juventus, Lazio, Atalanta and Fiorentina. If Lazio or Fiorentina should win and finish outside of the top five then there will not be an extra place available for sixth place.

It is going to be another incredible finale to the season in Serie A, and you can watch it all live on TNT Sports and discovery+.
TNT Sports presents the premium live sports rights previously carried by BT Sport including the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Conference League, Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Investec Champions Cup, EPCR Challenge Cup, MotoGP, Cricket, UFC, Boxing and WWE. The streaming home for TNT Sports in the UK is discovery+, where fans can enjoy a subscription that includes TNT Sports, Eurosport and entertainment in one destination. You can also watch TNT Sports through BT, EE, Sky, and Virgin Media

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