ROME – With only four games left to go, Italy’s Serie A has become a heated race for the final qualification place for next season’s Champions League.
Five sides, with a gap of just four points between them, are competing for fourth position in the Italian league, which would secure them a spot in the European tournament.
Juventus has 88 points and claimed the top spot on April 20.
But the battle to secure the remaining Champions League spots in the table is set to be intense.
Atalanta’s 2-0 win over Udinese on Monday increased the closeness of the competition.
Napoli, currently on 70 points and in second place, is guaranteed to participate in the Champions League next season, as is third-placed Inter Milan with 62 points.
Meanwhile Atalanta, AS Roma, AC Milan, Torino and Lazio are battling for the remaining fourth spot.
Following its recent victory, Atalanta climbed into fourth place with 59, a one-point advantage over Roma.
Milan, currently experiencing a streak of bad play, and Torino, are tied at sixth place with 56 points each.
Lazio trails behind in the seventh spot with 55.
Everything will be decided in the remaining four matches.
The most likely team is Atalanta, which has been boosted by 21 goals from Colombian striker, Duvan Zapata and is having a dream season.
The team has not lost since Feb. 23 thanks to its tactical organization and talent.
It also managed to reach the Coppa Italia final match, where the side will take on Lazio, who defeated Milan in the semis, on May 15.
Atalanta will play Lazio in Serie A on May 5, and if the Bergamo-based team claims the win, the capital side will lose its options to secure a Champions League place.
Atalanta then is set to host Genoa on May 11, followed by Sassuolo.
Both matches will be held at Mapei Stadium in the nearby city of Reggio Emilia, because of the remodeling works at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia in Bergamo.
Atalanta will face off against champions Juventus, a match that will not mean much to Juve which has already won its eighth successive league title.
Juventus will also take on fifth-placed Roma, which needs to defeat the champions at home in Turin.
Roma is set to play an away game against Genoa, the Ligurian side is fighting to avoid relegation.
For its final two fixtures, Roma is set to play Sassuolo on the road, and then host Parma.
On Friday, Torino will clash with Juventus in a Turin derby, best known as Derby della Mole.
Coach Walter Mazzarri’s squad, which includes Spanish winger Alejandro ‘Alex’ Berenguer, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Milan on Sunday.
The team is set to face off against Sassuolo, Empoli and Lazio in the last three matchdays.
Meanwhile, AC Milan has earned only five points in its last seven games, a performance which now threatens coach Gennaro Gattuso’s job and the team’s chance of securing a place in the European championship.
The Milanese squad must take advantage of the final stretch of fixtures, which still gives the team the chance to overcome its two-point deficit behind Atalanta.
The Milan side is to play at its home-pitch, San Siro stadium, against 14th-placed Bologna, then go on the road to square off against Fiorentina – who did not earn a single win in the last 10 league games.
Following that, Milan will host second-to-last placed Frosinone and will pay a visit to 13-placed SPAL in the last round.
There is still a chance for Lazio, four points away from the fourth spot but the Romans would need an epic comeback in the final stretch.
Coach Simone Inzaghi’s squad would have to defeat Atalanta on Sunday, and beat Cagliari and Bologna, as well as getting a victory over the host – and direct rival for the spot – Torino in the final matchday.
Spectators and pundits alike will know by May 26, when the last fixtures are set to be played, which team has won the most spectacular Champions League race in recent years in Serie A.