Serie A clubs returned to training on 18 May as Italy is set to follow the example set by Germany with a date ‘99%’ confirmed for a 13 June league restart.
But, is it the right thing to do?
With over 32,000 deaths, Italy has the third highest fatality rate with deaths linked to the coronavirus worldwide. They were also the first European nation to impose strict lockdown restrictions after cases spiralled in northern regions back in February. All in all, the country has been hit very hard and like a lot of countries around the world, they won’t recover overnight.
However, it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel with the number of daily new cases and deaths falling significantly, perhaps football is exactly what is needed to lift the Italian spirits as Germany has already been seen to do.
Germany has shown over the course of the last weekend that football can still take place to a satisfactory level during these difficult times. All of the games went ahead without any incidents and all of the hygiene and safety precautions were taken to ensure the wellbeing of the players, staff and officials.
Of course, no fans were present, which obviously affected the atmosphere and spectacle of the matches, but playing fixtures and finishing the season must take priority over the manner in which it is completed.
So, with the restart date of 13 June ‘99%’ secure, what is still to play for in Italy’s top flight?
As it stands, most teams still have 12 games to play and for the first time since 2011, Juventus may not be crowned Serie A champions. The Turin based side are only one point ahead of second-placed Lazio on 63 points having played the same number of games. History does not favour manager Maurizio Sarri as the Italian is yet to win a domestic league title during his managerial career. Undoubtedly, the reigning champions will want to finish the season and try to claim their 9th straight Serie A title and 36th overall.
Lazio have had a fantastic 2020 so far and are yet to lose a league fixture since Christmas. Nicknamed ‘The Eagles’, Simone Inzaghi’s side have a better goal difference than the current champions having scored 10 more than the Turin side. They also have the fewest league defeats so far this season and so finishing the campaign will be as important to Lazio as it is to any of the other teams in the division.
Inter’s chances of lifting a first Serie A title since 2010 are now slim after losing consecutive games to both Lazio and Juventus. Antonio Conte’s side are six points clear of fourth place Atalanta and so cementing their position for Champions League football next season will now be their primary target.
The fairytale ride for Atalanta continues as they look to secure champions league football for a second consecutive season. Having lost just once since the turn of the year and a quarter-final in the Champions League still to come, the Nerazzurri have got plenty to play for when the league resumes. Based in Lombardy, Gian Piero Gasperin’s side is situated in the worst affected region in Italy due to Covid-19 with over 15,000 deaths linked to the virus. They hosted the fateful first leg of the round 16 in the Champions League against Valencia which has since been referred to as a ‘biological bomb’. When the domestic league does restart, Atalanta will surely be one of the more apprehensive sides due to how badly hit Lombardy was.
Atalanta have performed fantastically this season but they can’t take their foot off the gas as Roma have 45 points, only three points adrift of that lucrative final Champions League spot. Paulo Fonseca’s side secured a dramatic 4-3 win over Cagliari in their final match before lockdown to keep their hopes of premier European football next season alive. La Lupa will not have it easy when play resumes though, as their first fixture is against Juventus. Roma have only claimed victory against the Serie A giants once in their last six attempts.
The bottom of the table is just as close as the top with five points separating 13th-18th. Lecce are currently 18th with 25 points and only below Genoa in 17th due to goal difference. Lecce will be desperate for play to resume and claw their way out of relegation. Spal and Brescia are at the bottom of the table in 19th and 20th respectively and the chances of them making a great escape are slim as Spal are eight points adrift of safety and have lost four out their last five matches. Brescia haven’t won a league game since 14 December and are almost a certainty to go down.
Naturally, form will go out of the window for many on 13 June, if that date is 100% secure, after three months without play. What will be interesting though, will be to see how having no fans in the stadiums will be received in Italy and if the model set in Germany, can be replicated.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk.