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Can AS Roma do it again.......or is it finally Inter-time?

04/11/2002. They say calcio has lost its charm. No longer is the Serie A considered to be 'il più bel campionato del mondo' – or the best league in the world – and no longer is it said to be the favorite hunting ground of the world's finest footballers. No Italian team has made it past the group stages of Europe's elite club competition for the second year running and Spanish, English and German football is said to be preparing to rid Italy of their fourth Champions' League berth. Yet, in Italy, the passions are as high as ever as May 5th draws closer and the whole country is waiting with baited breaths to see who shall be crowned Campione d'Italia.

A horse may lose its way, but never its breed: And calcio is no different. Italian clubs may have lost their way in recent times, but it only takes one peek at the trophy cabinets of clubs like Juventus, AC Milan, Internazionale, Roma and Lazio to see what they are truly capable of. To doubt the breed of these clubs would be a sin of the highest order. Italian representation has surely failed to shine at the European level, but domestically the league still holds captive millions around the world.

Week 30 ended with FC Internazionale de Milan firmly perched atop the Serie A charts, and should they hold on, Hector Cuper would have succeeded where many a man has failed. But, in hot pursuit are the Roman army of Capello and Turin giants, Juventus. With only three points separating the top three, a photo-finish is definitely on the cards and the fact that clubs that are trailing have often won the scudetto race in the closing rounds will only add to the tension.

Moreover, it may well be the first time in the history of the city of Milan that both Inter and Milan fans will be cheering for the same team. Provided Inter win their next two clashes, their title may well be delivered to them by none other than their eternal rivals AC Milan who themselves face the daunting task of traveling to the Delle Alpi before hosting a testy Roma side at the San Siro.

No game in Serie A is easy and especially so in the closing stages when almost everyone is fighting for something or the other. Inter, Juventus and Roma all face tricky fixtures, both home and away and the two Milan clashes coupled with Inter's visit to the Stadio Olympico to play Lazio on the last day of the league appear to be season deciders.

Remaining fixtures for big three:
Internazionale: Brescia (H), Chievo (A), Piacenza (H), Lazio (A)
AS Roma: Parma (H), Milan (A), Chievo (H), Torino (A)
Juventus: Milan (H), Piacenza (A), Brescia (H), Udinese (A)

The battle for fourth spot is also heating up with Bologna, AC Milan and Chievo Verona all vying for that vital UCL berth. Bologna appear to have the spot practically sealed considering Milan need to battle Juventus and Roma while Chievo need to overcome Inter and Roma to challenge the rossoblu for that berth.

Remaining fixtures for next three:
Bologna: Piacenza (H), Perugia (A), Lazio (H), Brescia (A)
AC Milan: Juventus (A), Roma (H), Hellas Verona (A), Lecce (H)
Chievo Verona: Lecce (A), Inter (H), Roma (A), Atalanta (H)

Things are beginning to take shape at the foot of the standings as well. Venezia have finally been confirmed for the drop with La Viola, once famous for the likes of Batigol, Chiesa, Rui Costa, Toldo and more eminently Roby Baggio are sure to be punched a ticket to Serie B by Zaccheroni's Lazio this coming weekend.

Lecce too, look primed for relegation. After a roller coaster season that at one point looked headed in the right direction, the salentini are finally stuttering to a halt and are prime picks to drop down to Serie B. Amazingly, no less than eight clubs are possible candidates for the dreaded fourth and final spot, which often results in a relegation playoff. Although Torino and Atalanta have taken significant steps towards ensuring their safety, Piacenza, Perugia, Brescia, Udinese, Parma and Hellas Verona will all have to battle to the last minute on May 5th to avoid the drop.

With World Cup 2002 hovering over our heads, it is safe to assume that fans and footballers alike will have to cope with the distractions that come with preparing for a Mondiale. Season finales are set to be accompanied by pressure and only the fittest will survive. In such trying circumstances, one might wonder what the outcome will be.

Soccerage.com predicts that AS Roma will retain their scudetto on a dramatic last day, Bologna will clinch the final Champions League berth, Milan and Lazio will head off to the UEFA Cup and Lecce, Fiorentina and Piacenza will join Venezia in Serie B. Hector Cuper's reputation for finishing second will continue to haunt him while Chievo's European dream will end in disappointment. But, most importantly, Serie A will yet again prove that drama is not uncommon on Week 34.

In closing, we leave you with our best XI for the Serie A season 2001-02:

GK: Francesco Toldo (Internazionale)
DF: Walter Samuel (AS Roma), Marco Materazzi (Internazionale), Salvatore Fresi (Bologna)
MF: Javier Zanetti (Internazionale), Marcos dos Santos Assunçao (AS Roma), Eugenio Corini (Chievo Verona), Cristiano Doni (Atalanta)
FW: Francesco Totti (AS Roma), Dario Hubner (Piacenza), Christian Vieri (Internazionale)

BENCH: Frey (AC Parma), Oddo (Hellas Verona), Bonera (Brescia), Nedved (Juventus), Montella (AS Roma), Trezeguet (Juventus), Di Vaio (AC Parma)

COACH OF THE YEAR: Hector Cuper (Internazionale), but frankly should go to Capello if he manages to mastermind yet another scudetto.

Lo Scrivano

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Ha---the wise guys at soccerage...hmmm. what can i say. many times they have been wrong, i juts hope that this time, they are right.

Can you imagine Inter slipping away?, many of them would commit suicide, they won't get this close/lucky in many years...

Forza Roma.....
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