Sunday, December 21, 2008

Italy v England - Part I

I have a feeling I may write about this a few times but, just the same, for an Italian Scot the Champions League draw was mind blowing. I knew there was a good chance of Serie A going head to head with the Premiership in at least a couple of ties. But all three? It is a truly awesome prospect.

Certainly, it will answer a lot of questions. Last season there was plenty of crowing about how well the English performed - justifiably so. However, now our boys have a chance to hit back in style. A 3-0 triumph would be too much to hope for, would it?

The pick of the ties is Inter v Man Utd. Italy's undisputed best team for the last few years against Europe's reigning champions. At least the Nerazzurri have Mourinho's supposed hoodoo over Sir Alex on their side. However, having watching Inter in action against Siena, I struggle to hold out that much hope. Still, if anyone from Italy was going to knock out Ronaldo and company it would surely be the Special Uan...

There is plenty of intrigue to the Juve v Chelsea clash. Of course, Claudio Ranieri goes back to the club that ditched him because he could not win enough. How sweet it would be if he could rub their noses in it? I don't know if the Bianconeri are ready for the challenge but they showed against Real they are no pushovers.

Finally, Roma take on Arsenal in a match it is hard to know what to expect from. Which team will show up for either side. In their pomp both teams are irresistible. Unfortunately, they don't always turn up in the best fettle. I liked the fact that the pundits seemed to think Roma were the easiest of the Italian sides to draw. That can only play in their favour.

Forza Serie A!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who is around the corner?

All eyes will be on the urns on Friday as our brave Italian sides look to make progress in Europe. The question is, who would be the best teams for them to land. Here I make my usual pathetic attempt to forecast what will happen.

There has to be a good chance that Inter go English. Either that or they might land Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Porto. My natural inclination would be that the Portuguese would be the best draw. However, a shot at Man Utd or Liverpool might do them good.

On paper, Roma and Juve should have a better chance of an easier draw thanks to winning their groups. The fates have thrown the Giallorossi and Real Madrid together plenty of times in the past but they would probably like to dodge them this time - along with Lyon. Villareal, Atletico and Sporting Lisbon look more tasty or even Arsenal. And how about Juve v Chelsea to cap it all off.

Who knows? Friday will have the answers...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Big week in store

Roma, don't mess it up now. The hard work has been done, a glorious victory over Chelsea secured and a revenge mission completed against Cluj. Please, get the point you deserve and need against Bordeaux.

Inter and Juve, don't do it Italian style. Win your last group games to proudly enter the later stages of the Champions League rather than going in with a whimper. I know you don't need a victory or even a point but, just the same, give us something to cheer. (Inter, you owe us on that score. Juve, no pressure, you did great deeds against Real).

And finally Fiorentina, my little Fiorentina. You may be out of the CL but how about setting the record straight in the UEFA Cup? Last season's elimination to Rangers still sticks in the craw. It might be a meagre consolation but make sure you don't mess it up against Steaua...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pretty, precise and pointless

I like to think I am more open minded than some of my more extremist relations. My first love will always be Italian football but I am willing to look at other options. So, when people keep raving about Arsene Wenger's baby Gunners, it is only natural that I would have a look.

Unfortunately for them (or for me), I picked the night they walked into a brick wall in the form of Burnley. Adolescent Arsenal started the game full of hormonal vigour but when they got clean through on the keeper a major problem emerged. They couldn't actually stick the ball in the net.

Credit the home goalkeeper, a man who looks like he swallowed Angelo Peruzzi whole. He made some fine saves but some of the shooting was fairly feeble. Having missed their opportunities, the boys from the Emirates were made to pay.

I read somewhere recently (I think Champions magazine) that this team will win the Champions League by 2016 (that's Arsenal, not Burnley). But on this evidence I have my doubts. It looked like the youngsters lost heart and were often out-muscled by solid, hard-working professionals. It all sounds reminiscent of Emmanuel Adebayor's recent admission that the team couldn't be arsed against lower level opposition (I paraphrase slightly).

That, it seems to me, is Arsenal's biggest problem. They seem to believe that teams should lie down before their beautiful football - but they don't. Instead, they fight them by every means possible. Maybe this new generation will have the toughness for the battle but, from what they showed on Tuesday, it was far from evident.

Anyway, enough of this English stuff. I feel like Udinese tonight! Udinese tonight!