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Fiorentina can still technically qualify for Europa

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Anyone fancy Cagliari winning by 5?

ACF Fiorentina v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A
Thinking very hard about the maths here.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Following a shocking and well-deserved loss at the Franchi to relegation strugglers Cagliari last week, it seems that Fiorentina have pretty well torpedoed any chance they had at reaching the Europa League this year. After all, with just one match left (at the San Siro against AC Milan), it’ll take something outrageous for the Viola to make their way into continental competition.

+/- Points

6. AC Milan 10 61

7. Atalanta 19 60

8. Fiorentina 12 57

You’re an eagle-eyed observer, though. You can see that Fiorentina are just 3 points behind Atalanta, so if the Viola beat Milan and Cagliari beat la Dea, both 7th and 8th place are even on 60 points. So what happens then?

Well, in Serie A, the first tie-breaker is head-to-head record, and the second is goal difference in those head-to-head matches. Both clashes between Fiorentina and Atalanta ended with 1-1 draws, so neither of those is particularly helpful. The third tiebreaker, however, is overall goal difference in the league, and Fiorentina are, um, well behind in that. The fourth, in case you’re wondering, is total goals scored. The fifth and final tiebreaker is a coin flip.

So it’s not technically over. Take another look at that table up there. If some freakish set of results ends with Fiorentina making up 7 goals on Atalanta, they’ll be even on goal difference. Therefore, if Fiorentina win 0-4 and Atalanta lose 3-0, they’re even on both difference and total goals, and 7th place will be decided by coin flip. If Fiorentina score 5 5 goals more than Atalanta while making up that goal difference, they’ll finish 7th, as they’ve scored 53 goals this year to la Dea’s 57.

It’s a shame, as until 2005, a playoff match was held between any two teams even on points to decide a champion, European qualification, or relegation (although it hadn’t happened since 1964). So, when I say that the Viola are still in this, it’s pretty much only in the mathematical sense. Realistically, yeah, they’re toast.