Monday, April 30, 2007
Of course, there is tension on the other side of the city too. Could the Rossoneri steal some of Inter's limelight by recording an amazing result against Man Utd? The English side put down their marker with a storming comeback against Everton while Milan edged past Torino. There is cause to believe that Milan have hit about their best form of the season but whether it will be enough remains to be seen. It would rival anything they have achieved before if they did get there.
I wanted to post something about the Rome derby too but it seems that fear was the main winner there. Neither side wanted to lose and compromise what has been a good season for both teams. I have recorded the game but don't know if there was enough in it to give me an incentive to watch the action...
Thursday, April 26, 2007
My sneaking suspicion is that Chelsea will make it through this time. I know Liverpool have a good pedigree in Europe but I see Mourinho's men as stronger all round. The longer it stays 0-0 at Anfield, the more likely the Blues are to progress. And then hopefully lose to Milan in the final.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
From a neutral point of view it was a cracking game. The usual Dida blunder gave Man Utd the lead but, unlike Roma, they did not fold and used all their experience (and an inspired Kaka) to go 2-1 ahead. To my mind, this was when Milan were playing their best stuff and early in the second half could have grabbed a third goal. Instead, Rino Gattuso limped off and fatigue set in which handed the initiative to the home side. An equaliser also put extra spring in Cristiano Ronaldo's stepovers but I think a 2-2 draw would have been a fairer result.
Still, credit to Man Utd for pushing right until the end and getting the winner. It should make for a cracking return in the San Siro. If Kaka stays in this form, if we get 90 minutes from Rino and if Gilardino gets some kind of support it could go our way. Nesta, by the way, was outstanding, I thought, back to his very best. A great Euro night and still a chance to stop the nightmare - an all English final.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I should probably have kicked off with Inter's Scudetto win but, for months, it has only been a matter of "when" not "if". We all have our take on just how much this title is worth. Certainly the elimination of Juve and handicap to Milan played a big part. Still, up until defeat by Roma you could not have asked the Nerazzurri to do any more. They will want to prove their credentials by winning again next year. Are they up to it? I remain to be convinced.
Finally, Milan go into battle for Italian honour against Man Utd on Tuesday. The Rossoneri have hit a run of form in Serie A in contrast to their opponents. A little bit of restored pride must be top of the agenda after the Roma debacle. I don't know if the old boys can do it, but I so hope so.
As a little extra, great smash and grab win for Fiorentina over Lazio. The Champions League may be gone but even UEFA Cup qualification would be amazing.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I had always hoped my son might be the first Rinaldi to score in the Premiership but no such luck. Our Brazilian cousin Douglas Rinaldi got off the mark for Watford against Blackburn on Wednesday night.
On an unrelated note entirely, well done to Roma for holding up Inter's Scudetto party. Weren't the Nerazzurro fans pathetic jeering their team after the game. How quickly they have adopted the attitude more suited to teams which win the league every year.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Elsewhere, Euro 2012 has gone to Poland and Ukraine ahead of Italy. Who knows whether recent violence cost the bid dearly. I suppose it is grudgingly nice for new nations to get a major competition. Certainly we have had our chances. Just the same it would be nice to see some of our stadia get an upgrade in the not too distant future.
And what is this about 100 milioni for Ronaldinho? Has Berlusconi gone cuckoo?
Monday, April 16, 2007
Credit to the Nerazzurri, too, however. They turned up the heat in the second half and when they got one back they were always going to get two. It was just a surprise that they didn't push on to get the winner. Perhaps they had Wednesday's clash with Roma in mind.
The Palermo performance makes the Champions League placings situation a little less clear. I had presumed they would drop out making way for, most probably, Milan. However, it now looks like Inter, Roma and Lazio could yet be joined by the Sicilians. That might yet leave the Rossoneri looking at the UEFA Cup along with the likes of Fiorentina and Empoli. So, while the Scudetto might be over by Wednesday night there are still a few issues to be deciced.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
It was all about experience on Wednesday night. They might be old but, by God, the Rossoneri have been there, done it and got exclusive selling rights on the T-Shirts when it comes to European competition. Of all the Italian sides they are the ones who have let us down least on the continental stage. Juve, Inter and everyone else don't stand comparison.
Carlo Ancelotti got the tactics perfect and soaked up a little early pressure before old chubby thighs, Clarence Seedorf, produced a brilliant low strike. Then he threaded a backheel to Pippo Inzaghi - dubbed the King of the Divers by the Germans - who finished in style (he was offside, but hey, who cares?).
The old legs did struggle towards the end as Bayern threw everything - including Oliver Kahn's hairpiece - in their direction. Still, Nesta, Maldini and Co held firm to get through to face Manchester United. I don't know if that is a blessing really, given the pounding they gave Roma. However, you have got to be in it to win it and this would be the sweetest ever triumph for Milan if they could see off the supposed might of the Premiership.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
It really is the last stand of the old boys tonight. My feeling is that Milan will have to get ahead early because they ran out of steam terribly in the first leg. They need one of their strikers to find some kind of form and then be able to play it on the break. I just hope that Bayern don't rattle the goals in like that English mob.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
In any case, maybe it was best that I had some time to meditate on this, my 100th post here, which will touch upon a familiar theme. Namely, the perception of Italy and Italian football in large sections of the English media. It is something of a personal crusade, as you are no doubt aware by now.
It all kicked off on Tuesday night in Rome when there was trouble between police and Man Utd supporters. Plenty of column inches were spent telling us how "heavy-handed" the Italian police were and then citing numerous previous incidents - including Anders Frisk being struck by a coin. I was watching the game in a pub on a small Scottish island and was the only one cheering Roma's goals. The general consensus seemed to be that "those Italians were at it again".
The following day's press coverage was largely laughable. Ignoring any thought of blame on the Manchester side it pretty much pointed the finger at Roma and Italy in general. A lot of nonsense about Raciti, mopeds being thrown in the San Siro and Ultras was written.
24 hours later, however, the mood changed. This time it was Seville and the Tottenham fans. Maybe there was an inkling that a common theme was emerging - English supporters abroad, rather than heavy-handed law and order. Both should shoulder the blame, not one exclusively.
The worrying thing, for me, is that there is a similar air of denial to the one which first circulated when hooliganism surfaced in the 1970s and 1980s. I hope it does not take another tragedy to get everyone to get their act together. There is no doubt there IS an issue about policing these games but there are also problems attached to several thousand English football fans travelling abroad together. I always imagine it like bumping into the biggest Club 18-30 holiday you have ever seen. At best, loud and offensive.
So please, spare us the sanctimonious headlines if there is trouble in Valencia when Chelsea visit tonight. No doubt we will also be on thug watch when Roma come to Old Trafford. The simple fact, I hope and pray, is that I can never remember there being any trouble when Italian fans travel abroad. Long may it continue.
I wish this post could have concentrated on matters on the field of play - where I will be watching intently in the days ahead. But, sometimes I feel a degree of balance is called for in the coverage of other matters - even if that means taking the opposite view to create debate rather than facile reactions based on stereotype and misinformation.
Monday, April 02, 2007
He looked in fine form - as the whole Roma team did - in the weekend draw with Milan. But it was his lines on the Premiership in general that I loved. It reminded me of Bobo Vieri when he said he would like to play in England - when he wanted to collect his pension.
"I've never liked English football," said France'. "Even if there are some great players there. I don't like England either because the weather is gloomy."
Take that Fergie! Time for a Totti tripletta...