Who Will Win Serie A's Europa League Race?

Richard HallContributor IApril 17, 2014

Will we see Milan in the Europa League?
Will we see Milan in the Europa League?Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

This season has again seen Juventus powerfully dominate the Italian top flight, with Roma following closely behind. Napoli too seem to be almost sure of a Champions League spot, whilst Fiorentina also will finish in Europe as they face the Neapolitans in the Coppa Italia Final.

This leaves the Europa League places up for grabs, and with fifth and sixth place allowing for teams to feature in the competition, the battle is heating up.

The final two places will seemingly be fought out between five teams, all with a good argument to say that they deserve one of the spots.

Inter are sitting at the top of the pile in fifth spot and perhaps would be the bookmakers' favourites to qualify. Their last game saw them thrash Sampdoria 4-0 away, and on the face of it, that would suggest that they will finish strongly.

Closer examination, however, shows three draws and a win in their last four games. It should be noted that they threw away good leads twice.

The fixture list ahead is also daunting, as they face fellow hopefuls Parma, Napoli, Milan and Lazio before the end. The Nerazzurri could go into their last game against Chievo already out of the hunt.

What of Parma's chances?
What of Parma's chances?Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Parma are two points behind Inter and have had a great season. Unbeaten from November until the end of March, their run was brought to an end by Juventus. This caused a minor breakdown in their European dream, as they fell victim to double defeats in Rome, with Lazio and Roma both rolling over them.

Some form has been brought back, as they beat Napoli and drew with Bologna. With that said, the next game against Inter is key. Should they beat the Nerazzurri, then only Torino and perhaps Sampdoria could hamper their chances between now and the end of the season.

Torino are on 48 points, just three outside the qualification places. They have had a majestic season with the front two of Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci forming a deadly partnership. Their goals have kept Toro in with a fighting chance, recording three wins in their last three.

The fixtures ahead are a mixture, however, as they have to face Lazio, Parma and Fiorentina before the end of the campaign.

By their own admission, Milan’s season has been shambolic. Clarence Seedorf has steadied the ship to a degree, but is still under immense scrutiny and is perhaps not expected to be in his role next summer.

Much may depend on his ability to qualify for Europe, a task which has seemed beyond them for most of the campaign.

Four wins in four may suggest that fans should sit up and take note, but the nature of the wins suggest otherwise. Their displays have not suggested that they are a team that can maintain this momentum, and with games against Roma, the derby against Inter and a tough away tie against Atalanta, it would be a surprise if they made it through.

Lazio, an outside bet?
Lazio, an outside bet?Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Lazio are also sitting on 48 points and are in mixed form. Two wins, a draw and two defeats in their last five suggest that they may not have the legs to make it to the European places, but they have an outside chance.

If they manage to beat Torino in their next match at home, they will have Livorno and Hellas Verona to face before a game against Inter, who themselves will be coming off the back of some tough fixtures.

The way in which the Romans' matches pan out just may see them gain some momentum.

To predict is quite simply to guess this season, as it is at the end of most campaigns. Form often goes out of the window, and when teams suddenly have nothing to play for, then the nature of some games changes.

The romantics would have Parma and Torino charging into Europe on the back of a nostalgic wave. The realist would perhaps prefer the two Milan clubs due to the sustainability of a challenge and in turn the coefficient.