06 January 2007

Turning the Tables

The Serie A season isn't quite half over (the giro andata will finish on the 19th matchday, next weekend; usually that would happen before the winter break, but this year it was pushed back until after the holidays due to the Calciopoli appeals). So this is a good time to look back and see what has happened and what could have happened to the Serie A table.

If you remember when the arbitration results came in and Lazio received a big 8-point boost, Gazzetta published tables of how the classifica changed with the various alterations to the penalties to Juve, Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina, and Reggina. How would those be holding up now, eighteen matches into the season? It's not very useful to examine the original primo grado penalties, because those put Juve, Fiorentina, and Lazio all in Serie B and can't be drawn upon for accurate comparison.

After appeals
B -17JuveB 11th

After arbitration (current classifica)
-3Lazio5thUEFA Cup
B -9JuveB 3rdpromotion playoff

With no penalty
Fiorentina4thChampions Qual.
Milan5thUEFA Cup
Lazio6thUEFA Cup
Juvein A?

It's pretty obvious to see that Lazio benefited the most from the final, reduced penalties. Fiorentina is slightly better off than after the initial appeals, seeing as they now have a six-point buffer between their 14th spot and the relegation zone. Looking at a table with no penalties factored in, you can see that Lazio is playing essentially on a level with Viola and Milan. This is good news for this season, as it means that they will not catch Lazio, but is also good news for the future because it is a sign of the biancocelesti's ability to run with the top teams in Serie A.

Just a final note on Juventus, the wild card in this scenario. It's impossible to know how they would be faring in Serie A this season, especially since the demotion to B prompted a lot of changes to their roster. But this is nearly certain: Juve will at least have a chance to move back up to A next year. They sit one point out of a tie for the lead in Serie B and are tied with three other teams that are currently in the promotion playoff zone. While it looks like there will be fierce competition for those 3rd through 6th spots that earn a playoff spot, Juve will probably not have to scrap for one of those positions. They have already made up a 9 point penalty (by keeping an undefeated record), so they are earning points at a rate greater than Napoli, Genoa, and Bologna, with whom they are currently tied.

The implications? Lazio will have a serious chance for Champions League qualifying this year, and should be able to secure a UEFA Cup spot. Next year will be the real test, when Juve, Roma merda, Inter, Milan, Lazio, and Fiorentina are all gunning for the top spots. The biancocelesti still have to take it game by game this season. Next up: Siena.

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