Who Will Win the Battle for Italian Top Flight Safety?

Richard HallContributor IApril 23, 2014

CATANIA, ITALY - APRIL 19:  Fans of Catania during the Serie A match between Calcio Catania and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Angelo Massimino on April 19, 2014 in Catania, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

As the title race in Italy is virtually over, attention is shifting to what is going on at the bottom of the table.

Five teams are looking to battle it out in the final games of the season, all hoping not to slip into Serie B. Some look like they will struggle much more than others to maintain their top flight status but many twists and turns could still occur between now and the end of the campaign.

Catania prop up the table at present, sitting on 23 points. They only have five wins to their name all term and have scored the least amount of goals. Most people’s favourites for relegation, they will be bitterly disappointed should this be the case, as their arch rivals Palermo are due to come back up into Serie A next season.

A win against Sampdoria in their last game may give them some hope but with fixtures away at Hellas Verona before they host Roma, the future does not look bright. Should they get something out of these games then the final two games against relegation-threatened Bologna and then Atalanta may be a reason to hope.

Livorno are arguably in more trouble than Catania even though they lie two points ahead of them. They have conceded seven goals in their last two games and have not won a match in their last six outings. The Tuscan side are in free fall and despite having produced some decent performances this year they look doomed to return to Serie B only a year after coming up.

The fixture list does not make great reading for their loyal fans, with Lazio at home being followed by Udinese away. Add to this a derby against Fiorentina and a tough away tie to Parma and it would seem the smart money would be on them to go.

Sassuolo came up to Serie A with few fans and even fewer hopes but have given themselves reason to be proud. The newly promoted Serie A minnows always looked like they would be a dead cert to go straight back down due to their lack of resources. There have been highs and lows in this campaign, a 0-7 defeat to Inter was countered with a 4-3 win against Milan but time may now be running out for the plucky little club.

They sit level on points with Bologna and occupy the final relegation place; however, hopes of getting out of this look slim as their fixture list is tough to say the least. They welcome Juventus before travelling to play Fiorentina in games that would take a herculean effort to win. Genoa at home maybe the only real chance of points before they go away to Milan on the final day.

Bologna, as previously mentioned, sit on the same points as Sassuolo, their campaign has been a disaster. They will be hoping that their team has the quality to see them through the remaining fixtures but these are by no means a dead cert.

The Derby of Appennino against Fiorentina is always hotly contested and this comes before an away tie at Genoa. A good old-fashioned relegation "six-pointer" against Catania follows before they play away at Lazio on the final day. This perhaps is not the hardest run in out of all of the bottom teams but it still leaves no room for complacency.

The final team in the mix is Chievo as they sit on 30 points only two from the drop. The team from Verona have conceded 50 goals this term and have lost 20 games. It is a campaign full of regrets but they at least have Alberto Paloschi in form. His 13 goals this season will give the Flying Donkeys room to dream and they will need his goal-scoring prowess in the coming games.

Sampdoria away is a game they will want to get points from as it will help them create an early gap. Torino come to town in their sparkling form and will not be a push over before they play Cagliari. The Sardinians are on 36 points, one place above Chievo, and they will not want to be dragged into the relegation fight. The final game of the season is against Inter at home and so they will want to be safe by then.

It would look like Livorno, with their run in, would be favourites for the drop with Catania. The Sicilians perhaps are just three points too many away from where they need to be.

The final place will be interesting as it will mean that both Chievo and Bologna will have to at least produce one victory each to guarentee survival. That means it will be impossible for Sassuolo who will more than likley also return to Serie B. This being said they do have the right mentality for this run in but on paper it just seems too much.

There are doubtless surprises, shocks and upsets to come in the remaining games but on paper each team looks like they have a tough time ahead. It perhaps will be a solitary win in a game that nobody expects that could throw any predictions out the window. It will be exciting and it will be dramatic and that is why the fight for Serie A safety will be one of the highlights of the season.