A fixture of startling significance takes place this Sunday when Serie A winds down.
Unlike the non-events on final day in La Liga or the Premier League, both the short and long-term futures of fourth-placed Lazio and fifth-placed Inter Milan will be forever changed by events at partisan Stadio Olimpico. So too their crown jewels of Serbia centre midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and – occasional – Argentina centre forward Mauro Icardi.
Access to the long-missed riches and prestige afforded by Champions League-qualification shall be afforded to one. For the vanquished, stasis at best – degradation at worst – as they miss out yet again.
Historical resonance counts for little in this Darwinian era. Fail to compete in the Champions League and enriched competitors, gorging at Europe’s top table, will soon subsume your traditional standing.
This has been the story for Lazio since 2007/08’s group-stage exit.
Simone Inzaghi is currently at the helm of an intriguing side. Avoid defeat and a repeat of 2016/17’s late-season collapse will be prevented.
Only victory will do if they want to end six years in the wilderness, thanks to last weekend’s shock 2-1 loss to Sassuolo.
This interminable stretch means club captain and current superstar striker Icardi has never heard the competition’s iconic adaption of Zadok the Priest before exiting the bowels of San Siro.
These tones could see a contract finally inked that cancels out an alluring €110 million (Dh476.4m) price tag for a marksman with 28 goals in 34 matches this term.
With majority owners Suning Holdings Group constrained by a changing of the political winds in Beijing plus the burdens of Financial Fair Play, an injection of capital from the Champions League would reignite a project losing its lustre.
Suning had a net spend of €139.4m (Dh603.7m) in their first season. Second time around, a drop to €26.8 (Dh116.1m) has caused consternation.
A similar tale can be told at Lazio, albeit without rich foreign owners.
Inzaghi holds supreme promise. Under him, 12-goal midfielder Milinkovic-Savic makes talk of a €100m (Dh433.1m) move to Manchester United plausible.
Champions League football would allow Inzaghi to take the next step and help convince his 23-year-old charge to hold fire.
Seven-time-successive champions Juventus will also watch on. With Napoli set to be broken up, the identity of their next challenger should be revealed by events in Rome as one sleeping giants stirs and the other continues in its slumber.
Massimiliano Allegri has indicated his intention to stay at Juventus amid speculation linking him with the managerial vacancy at Arsenal.
The 50-year-old has steered Juve to a seventh consecutive Serie A title and is a reported target for the Gunners, whose manager Arsene Wenger stood down at the end of the season after almost 22 years in charge.
However Allegri does not appear to be going anywhere, as he revealed his intention to start planning for next season with club officials.
He said in quotes reported by Juve’s official Twitter feed: “Next week, I’ll meet with the club as we start to make the team competitive again just like every year.”
Juventus face Hellas Verona on Saturday in their final match of the Serie A season.
Juventus were confirmed as Serie A winners for the seventh season running following a goalless draw with Roma.
Napoli had effectively handed the title to the Bianconeri after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Torino last weekend, which left Juve all-but mathematically guaranteed another crown.
Needing just a point at Stadio Olimpico, Juventus picked up the draw required to confirm a 34th Scudetto.
Roma, who had Radja Nainggolan sent off in the second half for two bookable offences, were already guaranteed a Champions League place after Inter Milan lost at home to Sassuolo on Saturday but they extended their advantage over rivals Lazio in the race for third to two points.
Napoli recorded their first win in three games with a 2-0 success at Sampdoria.
Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik struck from distance with 18 minutes remaining, with Raul Albiol heading in a second after 80 minutes.
Earlier Lazio had missed the chance to cement their Champions League place after needing a late goal from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to draw 2-2 at relegation battlers Crotone.