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Bologna Almost There, But May Still Need a Point

Serie A - The battle to avoid the drop and race for European spots will go to the last day ...

Empoli v Torino FC - Serie A
Afriyie Acquah (with ball) got the ball rolling for Empoli today in the 27th minute, scoring against his former club, Torino.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

With one week to go, working out the relegation permutations in Serie A is like disentangling a bowl of spaghetti.

Bologna FC, Montreal Impact’s sister-club, knew going into this weekend that without playing, their Serie A safety could conceivably have been confirmed.

Either Empoli had to drop points today, or Genoa to lose yesterday. Neither happened, but it was agonizingly close. Forget about Empoli, they produced an astonishing display to win a third successive game and dismantle Europa League hopefuls, Torino, 4-1, but Genoa left it oh so late at home to Cagliari, who themselves ultimately ensured safety with a point.

The Sardinians had led from the 40th minute through Pavoletti’s strike at Stadio Communal Luigi Ferraris, but those watching connected with Bologna, rightly would not have been counting their chickens even as the game entered its last few minutes.

And of course everything changed in the 88th minute when Romagna’s glancing header deflected a cross which struck Cagliari’s Bradaric on the elbow. VAR was called and a penalty awarded. Criscito stepped up, kept his cool and equalized.

So it remains that Bologna may need another point, which they can achieve tomorrow evening in Rome against a Lazio side with fading European hopes.

But should the point they need not be won, the Rossoblu remain in the driving seat on the final day when they entertain Serie A runners-up, Napoli. While that’s going on, at the very same time Genoa will be trying to save themselves at Fiorentina, who still need a point themselves. La Viola have been in free-fall since mid-February without a win in 13, and should they lose to Genoa could still go down. It would tie the teams on 40 points but Genoa would have the better head to head record.

Empoli, whose heroics this weekend lifted them out of the bottom three, at Genoa’s expense, will still be many people’s favourites for the drop however. They must travel to Inter on the final day, needing to at least to match what Genoa do in Florence. And it’s against an Inter side in need of points themselves, being embroiled in a race for Champions League places with Atalanta, Roma and city rivals, AC Milan.

All looks promising for Bologna, even if they’re not yet in a position to relax. One final push is needed, and they’ll prefer it to happen tomorrow rather than having to wait for the final day.

That said, should neither Empoli nor Genoa win difficult fixtures next weekend, Joey Saputo’s Bologna will still be safe no matter what happens in their last two games.

Goal difference counts, but only if the head to head games between clubs on equal points are level. There’s plenty of possibilities.
Table for head to head records