Hugely intriguing season has been halted
If you’re a Serie A follower, there’s a hole in your life at the moment, as we all necessarily take stock and ponder the relevance of football, and wonder whether this season of all seasons will ever reach its end. I hope it does, and I wish I could tell you that I think it will, but right now predicting anything – even on a website whose purpose is to predict – seems a little rash.
If it did end here, then it would be a terrible shame. Not just for Lazio fans, who see the potential of only a third Serie A title moving closer and closer into view, but also for supporters of a rallying Juventus, an entertaining yet flawed Inter, and an Atalanta team whose journey in the Champions League has been one of wonder.
Right now, all we know is that Serie A is officially suspended until April 3, although a casual observation of what’s currently happening in Italy tells us that an early April resumption seems a long shot. And that leaves us with options. Should Euro 2020 be postponed on Tuesday, then Serie A could potentially be played to a conclusion in the months of May and June (and beyond if necessary).
The heat could be an issue in those months, but one that the League would surely be happy to surmount given the alternatives. One of those is to cancel the season, which would give us legal challenges, issues about European football and relegation, and a sense of unfinished business. Another is the idea of a series of playoffs, which might be seen as a viable alternative, but only if Euro 2020 blocks the route to June. If it doesn’t, then surely timing and a crammed schedule stops being as much of an issue.
That’s a tricky path for Leagues and television companies to negotiate, and I can only sympathise. It’ll be very hard to please everyone and all that we can do is try and think about what could happen for the rest of the season, presuming that it resumes.
Juve in pole position but Lazio threaten
There are 11 Serie A rounds remaining, and Juventus are currently [1.4] to win the title. Their dismantling of Inter behind closed doors in the penultimate game before the suspension solidified their chances in my mind. It’s been a tough campaign, and they’ve been a long way off their best, but my goodness Juve were GOOD that night, especially in the second half.
I never believed that dropping Miralem Pjanic and giving Rodrigo Bentancur his role would necessarily be the answer for Maurizio Sarri, but it was, and Aaron Ramsey‘s ability to play in a midfield three, rather than as a trequartista, or wide front man, also made a huge difference.
Now that it has clicked, Juventus could stroll to the title. But I suspect that this improved Juve will eventually knock Lyon out of the Champions League and that could lead to a congested programme for Sarri’s team, especially given the circumstances. Which continues to make Lazio an intriguing prospect at around [4.5] on the exchange.
Lazio are unencumbered by European commitments, they’ll appreciate this unfortunate break more than any other team, and they still have a trip to Turin to play a Juve team that they’ve dominated twice already this season. I think we can write off Inter now, but don’t overlook Lazio.
Ciro Immobile will surely be crowned as Capocannoniere and is short enough on the Betfair Sportsbook at 1/7. Cristiano Ronaldo is six goals behind him, and has only got that close by equalling a Serie A record. He would need a stellar finish to the campaign to get past Immobile, and I can’t see that happening.
Udinese could suffer relegation
With Atalanta seemingly solid in the top Four, the only other issue that remains is a relegation battle which was starting to look interesting as the season broke off. I think it’s pretty clear that it’s all been a bit too much for both SPAL and Brescia, and they’d need something approaching miracles, but I’m surprised to see Lecce as short as [1.5] to go down with them. They’re currently level on points with Genoa, and a positive result away from Udinese in 14th, which means that Udinese, Torino, Sampdoria and Genoa are still very much in the picture.
Lecce have battled like crazy under Fabio Liverani to even give themselves a chance, and they will not let this slip easily. They have Juventus and Lazio still to play this season, which is obviously a problem, but they also have home games against Sampdoria, Brescia and Fiorentina, and trips to Genoa and Udinese, which means that their destiny may yet be in their own hands.
Torino may have a game in hand, but have a tricky looking run-in, and Udinese’s looks even worse, with Atalanta, Roma, Lazio, Napoli and Juve all still to play. If you can find any of the [8.0] that’s knocking about for the Zebrette to go down, that might just be a bet, the best of the outright ones which remain.
For that to be relevant though, we need a season, and more importantly than all of that, we need to remember that football is only a distraction, and remain focused on the more important tasks in hand.