Italy: Playoff berths and relegation on the line

This weekend, the Italian Football League (IFL) will commence week 11 with six teams battling it out either for a playoff spot or the right to stay in Italy’s top division of football.

Modena Vipers 33 @ Milano Rhinos 16

The Milano Rhinos and Modena Vipers will open the weekend’s action with what should be a tightly contested contest with both teams trying to avoid relegation.

After a flurry of wins in the IFL that brought them to 3-1, the Vipers suffered two heavy defeats at the hands of the Ancona Dolphins and Milano Seamen. Their offensive production has not been what it was and neither have the takeaways on defense.

The Rhinos have also struggled in recent weeks, but the same can be said for their entire season. A serious lack of consistency has left them last in defense and second to last in offense. 

Quarterback play has been a main concern for the Rhinos through the weeks with performances ranging from 200+ yards in some games, and barely breaking 50 in others. To beat a reeling Vipers squad and avoid relegation, signal caller Daniel Santacaterin will need to bring his A game and stop trying to force the issue.

Parma Panthers 4-2 @ Ancona Dolphins 43

The IFL’s Game of the Week is set to be a thrilling encounter between two teams fighting for third place.

The Parma Panthers made a clean sweep of the league last year, fielding one of best teams in Europe. But they have had anything but a heroic start to their 2022 campaign.

Following their demoralizing early season defeat at the hands of the Seamen, the Panthers suffered a string of injuries leaving them without key weapons on both sides of the field. Last week however, during their CEFL game against the Danube Dragons, they seemed to find their stride, defeating their Austrian opponents 21-10. 

If the Panthers can carry the same energy over to this weekend’s game, they should stand a good chance of getting on top of one of the best defenses in Italy and staying there.

Lazio Ducks 2-4 @ Mastini Verona 14

The final game of the weekend will be another relegation matchup. Mastini, only arriving in Italy’s top division this year, have struggled since the first game. They have performed admirably but have lacked the firepower to truly take the next step.

The Ducks on the other hand have had a woefully unlucky season. Their 2-4 record is not reflective of the quality that the team possesses.

Quarterback Calvin Stitt has gone from bad to excellent. His week one performance left a lot to be desired. In recent weeks however, the dual threat quarterback has shown that he can do it with not only his legs, but also his arm, often carrying the team on his back.

If the Ducks can get Stitt going early and provide him with the time needed to make plays, Mastini will have a long day ahead of them and an even longer night as they contemplate relegation.

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.