Uefa Champions League – Match day 1 – Italian teams short analysis and Europa League

De Jong

First of all none of my forecasts came true, but that’s something very usual, here in Italy we aren’t in a different position in confront of the last year tournament, a prestigious achievement (Chelsea-Juventus 2-2) has been described from the Italian press as the most valuable result of all times, they just drew and journalist are describing it like a victory.

That’s the new level of the Italian football, last year when AC Milan didn’t lose with Barça it was seen like a victory too, now and then all our media are talking of these teams as real pretenders for the final. Let’s be honest for a moment, just the fact that you’re describing a draw like a victory is something weird. What’s more in my opinion what we saw yesterday is that Juventus plays really well, but lacks of a true forward, with a champion to line up in its attack perhaps yesterday’s match could have been a victory. The attack will be a problem in the coming matches, this is my point of view, but anyway Juventus made a great match for what it can. By the way astonishing goal of Oscar, the second one is a masterpiece.

On the contrary AC Milan performed really badly, a 0-0 against Anderlecht at home is something to be ashamed of. Allegri is now seen as a lame duck, but Italy Herald had already revealed when he is having is last and definite chance to not be fired (the 7th October, click here to read). I thing the reasons of this situations lay in either the club and the manager, the second one used a lot of players in the wrong position (Emanuelson, Boateng) without a clear reason, and moreover let Boateng playing without exploit the fantasy of Bojan, why? I think because the former Roma’s player was bought without is opinion, and now he’s just another salary to pay with very few chances to play. With all the respect for the players, if you put on the pitch Flamini-De Jong-Nocerino in the middle, left Bojan and El Sharawy on the bench and put Emanuelson behind Pazzini (not Drogba, Pazzini…) how many successful passages did you expect? How many chances to score? Allegri has lost the pulse of the situation…The club has its own responsibilities, because has made up a team without a clear idea, not too young, not too old, with the same high expectation (too high) and buying players just for their low prices, instead of buying them basing on their skills (someone a little bit more talented in the middle, even if not a champion could have been useful).

That’s it for now. This evening starts the first true phase of the Europa League, unusually with big expectations from the Italian clubs, at least is what they’ve said, anyway for Lazio a really tough match against Tottenham, but they’re really focused and excited after the great start in the Serie A and VIllas-Boas could be another key advantage for Lazio this evening…Napoli, let me say it honestly, should easily win, too wide the difference between the two clubs, even if Mazzarri decides to use only substitutes. Udinese is facing a negative period, and I thing that unless a miracle this evening they should aim to draw, because in my opinion they’ll lose otherwise.

Uefa Champions League, match day 1

Ahhhhhhhhhhh

Another Champions League is going to start, this is definitely my favourite tournament, the best of the best, no other competition has its complexity or its spectacularly, just remember that no-one has won it twice in a row for more than 22 years! It’s extremely difficult to prevail in this tournament and that’s why I really like it.

Unfortunately there are only two Italian teams in the first round, in the last years we had scored very few points in the European competition, especially in the Europa League, with the result of losing the third place in the ranking that Uefa draw to decide which is the best league in Europe, using the result of the clubs in the last 5 years in all European competition. In this way we have only right to 3 teams in Champions league, but Udinese failed to get through against Sporting Braga and now we have just 2 teams Juventus and AC Milan.

The last one plays today against the Belgian team Anderlecht in Milan, that’s not exactly the biggest hurdle at all, but to get a smooth way to the qualification, AC Milan needs to win. Zenit has strongly improved their team and I think they can challenge the Rossoneri for the first place. So to avoid troubles in the next matches Allegri and his team needs to get 3 points tonight. They’re facing a very tough moment in the Serie A because they lost 2 matches over 3; not a great start…My forecast AC Milan-Andrelecht: 2-1.

Juventus has its work cut out, they are going to play in London against Chelsea. To be honest Chelsea has got a stronger team, with a lot of experience in Champions, while the Italians has not. Playing straight away in London could be even worse, just remember what happened to Napoli last year…But Juventus plays very well, and has got a well definite structure since over a year and that could be useful when playing against teams like Chelsea which are more talented. Hazard will be a problem for Juventus defenders. My forecast Chelsea-Juventus: 2-0.

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!

Chelsea vs Bayern, the first won but…

I’ve always been a great sympathizer of Chelsea, and I am a big fan of Drogba and Terry, so I’ve been very happy for their win at Champions Leagues’ final in Munich.

But, there is a but, for the good of the football is that a good news? I do not think so. Chelsea played with all their energy and with their hearth, but also with an astonishing budget, and most important with an awful loss at around 70 million of pounds, while the Bayern spent their 120 minutes pushing and making a money. They have made a profit for more than ten years in a row, not always so huge, but still a profit.

Many believe that Financial Fair Play will change that, but it is not exactly the truth, because if it principles are really fair, its applications are less fair, and let the clubs do a lot of tricks to avoid to balance their books quickly. In other words this inequality will continue in the coming years.

So if a part of me is happy for what a great club like Chelsea has achieved, another part of me think that with a balance book in the same condition maybe Chelsea wouldn’t even be in Champions.

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.

The fast decline of The Italian Cup (“Coppa Italia”)

The trophy

In the last decades our national football cup, called “Coppa Italia”, has faced a steady decline that seems to be unstoppable.

Every team participating employs its players who usually sit on the bench, or sometimes give a chance to their youngster, no-one risks its biggest name, unless some particular rivalry exist between the clubs (for example the recent Milan and Juventus, or Roma and Lazio).

The cup once was a noble trophy something that could save seasons, even if it never reached the importance of the FA Cup. But in the last years our federation reached the bottom, they changed the rules at least 4 times, and even if you are the man who wrote them, they are so complicated that is almost impossible to talk about.

For example is not clear who can participate; is not clear why only the semifinals ave a return match and the other not; is not clear what you get at the end: you win a trophy, you get the chance to play the Supercoppa (like the Community Shield) and so what?

Furthermore the competition is played during the winter and in the evening because the televisions want to broadcast it in the prime time, a reasonable request, but why did the League agree?

So if you caught a glimpse to an Italian match of Coppa Italia you might think that the Stadium is full, actually it is not, our directors have been become as skilful as Hitchcock at least, so you could always see a full stadium even if there are 5-10,000 people only, the magician of the cameras and direction.

A lot of ideas have come out in these last years: open the tournament to every professional team such as the FA Cup or (my favourite) play the Cup during the Christmas period with the best 8 teams of the league, such as in the basketball, or give to the winner a place in the next Uefa Champions League.

As always in Italy there has been plenty of words but no facts, so we have to hear absurd debates on the opportunity that our national television (which is almost bankrupt) must take to buy for at least 15-20 million of euro the next editions of this unfair, unexplainable and uninteresting competition.

That’s what we deserve.

That’s all for today next time we will talk about the first shy news coverage of the anti-olympic arguments.