On the pitch, an official has the authority to add time to a match to make up for injury or ensure that both clubs actually play 45 minutes in the half. In the Serie A standings, there is no added time, and for the three clubs at the bottom the ticking clock is a doomsday one.
Relegation is never a fun process, but it will be particularly painful this year. As Serie A forms its own league, e.g. the English Premier League, the amount of revenue available to top-flight clubs will be much more than the current pot; those sitting just below the top level will not only lose prestige but stand to lose a good chunk of change as well.
With five matches remaining, supporters of the bottom 3 are fervently hoping for one last push from their clubs. Let’s take a look at each and see if they can survive in Serie A:
18th, 31 points, -12 goal differential
In their fourth season in Serie A, Atalanta looks to have the best chance of escaping the relegation zone. They are four points behind Bologna, but actually have a narrow edge in goal differential.
The good news for the club is that three of their remaining five matches are at home, where they are 6-4-6 and have a +4 goal differential. And one of those four matches is May 2 versus 17th place Bologna, who has a terrible away record. The do face, however, two of the top for clubs (@ Inter, v. Palermo) as well as Fiorentina and Napoli, who have a shot at a Champions League spot. If they can secure some points in their next two matches, they have a chance to move into 17th and possibly survive.
19th, 29 points, -22 goal differential
Siena was the only one of the bottom three to win this weekend, surprising a slumping Bari club. While the victory moved them up in the standings, it may have been a pyrrhic victory. They are six back of safety currently, and only two of their remaining five matches are at home.
In order to make a serious run at 17th (and this may be the best they could hope for), they need six points from their next two matches: @ Catania and @ Udinese. They beat both clubs at home earlier in the year, so it is not inconceivable. But it is critical, as their next three opponents are Palermo, @ Fiorentina, and closing the season with Inter Milan.
20th, 26 points, -28 goal differential
The club that has scored the fewest goals in Serie A is in trouble. They sit nine points off seventeenth and lost a must-win match this weekend against Udinese. Their carousel of managers has not led to them striking gold, and it does not look good for the Amaranto.
Livorno, however, may have the easiest schedule of the bottom three. Only two opponents are in the top ten (@Sampdoria, @ Parma) and they face Catania and Lazio at home. The fact that they have not won since January 10, however, may be the telling statistic.
Predictions – Enjoy Livorno and Siena for the remaining five matches – barring a miracle they will move down a level. Atalanta, however, seems to have a chance to escape and replace themselves with Bologna or even Lazio. It will take some work, but don’t be surprised to see Atalanta pull out a miracle.