Uefa Europa League 2012/13 Draw

Uefa Europa League 2012/13 Draw

After the yesterday Champions League draw, today has been the big day for the very less important tournament, Europa League. Unfortunately since its start Italian teams haven’t put a lot of effort on trying to win the award, from a financial point of view it could seem a right decision (the reward for such a long competition are very poor), but in fact it is not, because this trophy contributes heavily on the scores that determines how many teams each nation could qualify for the Uefa Champions League. So it comes as no surprise that the Italian football is now in the 4th place of this ranking well behind Bundesliga which is the last league that could qualify 4 teams for the bigger European award and, that Portugal and France are now very close to Italy. Anyway let’s consider the today draft.

Udinese hasn’t been very lucky, in the group A they have reached Liverpool, Anzhi and Young Boys. The English team is one of my favourite but is only a far relative of the Benitez’ Armada that reached twice the finals in the Uefa Champions League, and now they struggle to find an identity, they have recently bought the talented Fabio Borini from Roma, a great forward in my opinion who will leave his mark on this season, but they still lack something as a team I think more than on the single players. Suarez, is a poor racist but a great player, while Carroll is definitely not up to scratch (he’s still not up to scratch but is now on loan). Rodgers as new coach could be the right choice but for now we have seen his former team Swansea still playing a great football, while his new one is playing badly, was the last season a great one thanks to him or the Swansea club organization? We’ll see. Anzhi the very rich team of Samuel Eto’o and of the troubled Caucasus area could be a real danger, especially because the Cameroonian is a real champion and could win matches all alone and I think it won’t be easy to play at their home field. Young Boys as usual happens with Swiss teams are undervalued by Italians, we think that Swiss can only ski or make chocolate, but history tells us that they’re well organised and that it’s very difficult to score, at their stadium they could beat anyone. I think that Udinese is weaker than the last year, unless Muriel grows really fast, he’s a potential champion, someone so strong that Sanchez the former Udinese player now at Barçelona would seem an amateur, but unfortunately we have no guarantees on his growth, this fact, the sold of two key players this summer and another year on the shoulder of their captain and main scorer Di Natale could be an obstacle too big to avoid. My forecast: 1. Liverpool; 2. Anzhi 50% – Udinese 50%; 4. Young Boys.

In the group F Napoli will face PSV Eindovehn, Dnipro form Ukraine and AIK from Sweden. It doesn’t seem a mission impossible for the azzurri. PSV is not the great team of the past, but never trust Nederlands teams, they’re always a danger, moreover their new coach is Advocaat one of the most experienced and winner coach on the market, they have signed Mark van Bommel also, so it’s necessary to keep them in mind if you want to win the group. Dnipro and AIK are not exactly famous teams and honestly I don’t think they will be such a difficult hurdle for Napoli. The Italian team has sold Lavezzi to PSG but has signed Insigne a young talented forward and has kept its base, I think they could have only two issues, the first one they want to focus on the Seria A more than on Europe, that’s clear, the second one their coach Mazzari is not skilled enough for a European tournament (and in my opinion for the championship too). My forecast: 1. Napoli; 2. PSV; 3. Dnipro; 4. AIK.

In group H Internazionale will face Russian Rubin Kazan, Partizan from Beograd and Neftçi from the remote Azerbaijan. Inter is the strongest team of the group, but, they have signed a very young and inexperienced coach, they struggled too much in the qualification stages against weaker teams, and they want to focus on the championship more than on Europe too. Moreover Rubin is a tough challenger, Partizan is not so good but when they play at home could be difficult to get some points. Neftçi should be the victim of the group. My forecast: 1. Internazionale FC; 2. Rubin; 3. Partizan; 4. Neftçi.

In group J Lazio has its work cut out, they will face Tottenham, Panathinaikos and Maribor. Maribor is the weakest team of the group, even if a lot of good players have recently started a career from here. Panathinaikos has faced troubles with the ownership, and I think they’re far weaker than some years ago, they have let go their most important players, the only thing that could work for them is that is always difficult to play in Athens. Tottenham is the strongest team, they have plenty of talented players, the loss of Modric is not so big, I don’t think he is so strong, but they’ve a new coach Villas Boas who is not a guarantee after his first year in Premier League. But they have kept most of their players and are an ambitious team, if they don’t focus too much on the championship they will win the group. Lazio has got a new coach, but a very weak transfer market, just two players signed, and only one of them seems a good one, but they’ve only Klose as a talented scorer, if he wasn’t fit they’d face troubles. Moreover the environment doesn’t seem a quiet one and in my opinion they are going to face a troubled season. My forecast: 1. Tottenham; 2. Lazio; 3. Panathinakos; 4. Maribor.

Uefa Champions League Draw

Uefa Champions League 2012/13 Draw

Uefa has just made the annual draw of the Uefa Champions League, the most exciting football competition in the world. This year only two Italian teams have reached the group stage, while Udinese lost its qualification match. That’s a very sad news but honestly Italian football cannot compete with the three big championships at the moment in Europe, Premier, Liga and Bundesliga, so we have to make do with that.

Juventus is in the Group E with Chelsea, in my opinion the strongest team in the group, and with insidious Ukrainian team Shakthar, while the Danish side shouldn’t be a big obstacle for the bianconeri. They face only two slight problems, they don’t play in Champions from quite a lot of time and maybe some of their key players lack the experience on that stage (Vidal, Bonucci, Matri, Quagliarella, etc.) and, that Conte will be disqualified for the whole group stage. While Shakthar that perhaps has less quality that Juventus, is used to play the Champions and at home could be a tough team to play against. Maybe Nordsjælland is not that bad but history says that Danish teams don’t go far in this competition…Chelsea is definitely the most improved team in Europe after the summer transfer market, in my opinion even more than PSG, they finally bought a man of pure fantasy like Hazard, the player they have lacked since Zola and they could really aim to win the Premier and to reach semi-finals of Champions, even if I think this is the strongest Chelsea since the Mourinho era no-one has won the major European tournament two times in a row since AC Milan in 1989-1990, thus I don’t think Chelsea will this year. My forecast: 1. Chelsea; 2. Juventus 65%-Shaktar 35%; 4. Nordsjælland.

AC Milan has been drawn in the group C, the revolutionised team has a difficult road to travel. Zenit is a consolidated team, it won twice the league in the last two years and it is now at the top of the league, what’s more this year the Russian championship follow the European calendar playing from autumn to spring and since they have an Italian coach I think they will benefice of the news already this year. They have a very good team with a strong base that play together since a while, and Mr. Spalletti is a very good coach, so be careful Milan, you’ve got a contender for the first place. Anderlecht like many times Belgian teams are very difficult to play with, they close every space and are very good at their home stadium, anyway I don’t thing they could go through the next stage. Malaga is a weakened team with an experienced coach, it’s difficult to say if they will be competitive because of their troubles with their owners, I think it will be very difficult for them to go through. AC Milan has faced a huge change recently and now is a totally different team from the one that classified 2nd in the last Serie A. I think that the transfer market hasn’t gone as it should and now they are definitely weaker than before. Bojan is a talented player but scores few goals, Pato is always being injured, Robinho scores 3 goals and misses 30, Pazzini is an honest player but not a champion, and behind them things are not very different. My forecast: 1. AC Milan 50% – Zenit 50%; 3. Malaga 50% – Anderlecht 50%.

Let’s we hope to have fun! Just another thing I’m really happy for Iniesta who has won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, he really deserves it!

It’s Champions League’s time for Italian teams

Road to Monaco

Today 15th February in an icy Italy Ac Milan is the first Italian football team to play the round of 16 in the Uefa Champions League.

When more than one month ago the management of Italian teams find out which teams they will have to beat to reach the round of 8, almost everyone was satisfied. Ac Milan and Napoli made a good first part of the competition, and they would have met two English team which were facing a bad season Arsenal and Chelsea. Inter was trying to save its season and drew Olympique Marseille, not exactly the strongest team in Europe.

But sometimes things change, especially in football. Today we can look at Napoli and Inter that are playing very badly and that have achived almost nothing this season and Ac Milan, which is leading the Serie A but with two more games than Juventus, in big trouble because this season it has been unable to win a single match with main opponents. They played quite well against Barçelona, but they got a defeat and a draw, and very badly with Inter, and especially with Juventus, even with Udinese, which is third in the league but not exactly a main team, they played not so well.

Moreover they have a lot of players injured, and some internal problems, they said Berlusconi is not so happy with its coach, Ibrahimovic feels too much pressure when has to play important matches, Pato is always in infirmary and in the end the team is the oldest of Europe.

I think the last data is the most important of all, in the last years Ac Milan was always defeated by English team, usually younger than them and that run a lot more than the Rossoneri.

Arsenal meanwhile has shown some improvements and a great Van Persie, one of the strongest player of Europe at the moment.

If I had to make a forecast I would say: 50% of chance for Ac Milan to pass and 50% Arsenal. For this evening match I would say 2-2.

For the other teams I write something the next week.