Giampaolo Pazzini scored a double against Roma to lift Sampdoria to a precious 2-1 win and more significantly the Azzurri hopeful handed the title advantage to Inter while confirming his club’s European credentials ahead of Palermo and Juventus.
With Inter now in the lead, the only match which could see them potentially drop points will be away against Lazio who can secure their status in Serie A by winning their match with the Nerazzurri. It is difficult to see Inter drop any points in their remaining three games yet in football anything is possible so Roma must make sure to win their remaining fixtures to keep their hopes alive of winning the Serie A title.
As for Sampdoria they have achieved two precious wins in recent weeks against Milan and most recently Roma. Striker Pazzini must have done his chances no harm after his double-strike against the Giallorossi with the winning goal showing his predatory instincts in front of goal. Azzurri boss Marcello Lippi must be pleased to see Pazzini deliver some important goals after he had scored the winner against Milan last weekend.
Pazzini will be competing with Roma striker Luca Toni, Juventus attacker Vincenzo Iaquinta, Fiorentina hitman Alberto Gilardino and Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale for two or three spots on the Azzurri squad headed for South Africa 2010. A late addition might be Roma skipper Francesco Totti who appears to be interested in playing but has left it to Lippi and indirectly the Azzurri players to decide his fate provided he remains healthy. Totti’s main concerns are his fitness and how the international players perceive his return following several years in self-imposed exile from international football.
Pazzini’s late winner effectively rules out the possibility of seeing Juventus finishing in the coveted fourth-spot which permits Champions League participation. Juve did ease past Bari after a 3-0 win in which second-half substitute Iaquinta was in rampant mood scoring twice and having another mistakenly ruled out for a phantom offside call by the referee. Despite the victory the Bianconeri remain a massive 6 points behind Sampdoria with only 3 games before the end of the season. Juve will likely have to settle for a Europa League spot which is actually not something to be ecstatic about since this inferior competition (compared to the elitist Champions League) will exhaust Juve’s players and results in unnecessary distractions next season.
The next three rounds of Serie A football will determine whether Pazzini’s winner has handed the title to Inter and deprived Juve of Champions League football while paving the way for the striker to participate in South Africa 2010.