Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Advantage England?

Well, not a single goal for a Serie A side in the Champs League this week. What are their chances of progress after such a drought? I am not entirely sure.

1) Inter. There are two ways of looking at their display. Either they cannot possibly be as poor again or they will be destroyed at Old Trafford. They were very fortunate to come away with a goalless draw but that is exactly what they did. An away goal from somewhere would put them in a very good position. If they get through, Mourinho looks even more "Special".

But why on earth did he play Rivas at the heart of the defence? It almost cost him very dear. And Muntari was woefully short of quality. I would give my highest marks to Julio Cesar with pass marks for Cambiasso and Zanetti. The jury is out on the rest. Where was the Maicon and Ibra magic?

2) Juve. The unluckiest of the Italian sides. They had some decent pressure at Stamford Bridge and lost a goal that might easily have been avoided. An away goal would have been particularly useful. However, they must have a strong hand when they get back to Turin. Chelsea looked eminently beatable.

3) Roma. I didn't see much of this game but the positive - like Inter - was that they were not mauled more severely. 1-0 can be overturned in the Olimpico if they turn on the style. But they will need to up the performance level a significant number of notches.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boring, boring Inter

Is it just me or has Jose Mourinho succeeded in making Inter really boring? I suppose that is always a criticism of winning teams but some have done it in more style than others. Sunday night's Milan derby victory was another example of the result being much better than the performance.

I am sure he does not care - nor did the Interisti celebrating at the end of the game. But I can't help feeling this is short-sighted. With Man Utd on the horizon it surely won't be enough to pack the team full of hard-working, physical players plus Ibrahimovic for a slice of magic.

I hope I am wrong but I have been less than enthused by the boys in black and blue of late. We shall see what happens come next week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beeb to show Beckham!

I can't quite believe it but it is entirely true. Italian football is returning to British screens on Sunday night and with the BBC.

Not a main channel, granted, a Match of the Day special on the Milan derby on BBC3. Just the same, it represents something of a breakthrough after the demise of Channel 5's coverage with the lovely Laura Esposto. Could it be the start of something beautiful?

Well, probably not, since it all relies on Mr Becks. Unless Milan can secure a deal with LA Galaxy his participation in Serie A will come to an end next month. And that will almost certainly kill stone dead any interest the Beeb might have in our games.

On the other hand, if they could keep the Spice Boy it might make Italian football more appetising for next season. And surely they wouldn't just make it a dedicated Milan Channel? Maybe we might see the occasional game involving other sides.

The only thing for certain is that it is good to get more exposure for Serie A - even for just one game. Hopefully the derby is a cracker and whets the appetite for more among the British viewing public. Tell your friends to tune in to BBC3 to ensure it gets good viewing figures and makes a strong case for more matches in the weeks and months to come.

I wish Chelsea would sack me

Oh to be the Chelsea manager, even for just one day.

I would happily let them sack me for much, much less.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Botched against Brazil

It was only a friendly, of course. They looked more motivated, it's true. But just the same, it still stings to lose to Brazil. Especially when the Azzurri were so poor for the first half.

Yes, we could have had a goal in the opening five minutes when Grosso's strike was ruled out. After that, however, the lights went out a bit. A slip by Legrottaglie and Pirlo dwelling on the ball cost us two goals. Montolivo failed to command the midfield and we struggled to get possession for any length of time.

The second half was a bit better. Zambrotta fought like a lion. If we had had 11 playing like him we might have had a chance. Not as downhearted now as I was last night but it was still a bit of a wake-up call for everyone.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Milan fluff their lines

It should have been a great derby night in Milan next Sunday, it may well still be, but the Rossoneri missed the chance to put a bit more pressure on Mourinho's men. A draw with Reggina was never going to be enough as Inter cuffed Lecce to slip further clear at the top of Serie A.

There was more bad news for Carlo Ancelotti as Juve sneaked back into second place with a hard-fought win over Catania. Their task was made even more tricky by daft old Vincenzo Iaquinta scoring a goal and then getting sent off in the opening few minutes. Still, they ground out a precious three points.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, should erect a monument to Sebastien Frey. He produced a string of stunning saves to keep Lazio at bay and, with minutes to go, Alberto Gilardino applied the coup de grace to take all three points. Even I must admit the Biancocelesti were mighty hard done by.

Finally, Roma's recovery continues apace with a confident drubbing of high-flying Genoa. Is it really too late for the Giallorossi to mount a serious challenge for top spot? Probably. Just the same, they should have been Inter's main antagonist this season. Maybe they can give us something to smile about in the Champions League. Second place in Serie A should not be beyond them.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Because he's worth it

Marcello Lippi always seems to know the right thing to say. He has come under pressure of late to call up Paolo Maldini for a farewell performance in an Italy shirt. "Not for the game against Brazil," said the Azzurri Coach. "But maybe we can arrange something."

What a wonderful idea. Not since Roby Baggio's swansong has a player more deserved a final cap as icing on their career cake. Imagine what kind of crowd you would get at the San Siro for such a friendly - no matter who the opposition were.

I for one would want to be there for a player I have watched and admired since he was a boy. In truth, it's a shame they couldn't have given him 30 seconds in the last World Cup just to let him add the winners medal to his collection - about the only thing he is missing.

Still, it spices up the friendly fixture list for the months ahead. Indeed, I will have to keep an eye out for cheap flights to Italy just in case there is a chance to pay my footballing respects. Other players may be great but Maldini is, well, Maldini...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gila ties with Del P

Good to see this is a patriotic blog. Gilardino ties with Del Piero in my survey on who is Serie A's top striker. None of this Amauri or Pato nonsense.

A propos of Amauri, quite glad to see him pick Brazil in the end. I know he is a strong player but if his heart is with the Verdeoro I for one don't want to see him in the blue of Italy. Now we have to prove he made the wrong choice at the Emirates next week.

Finally, David Beckham. He's proved me wrong so far, much better than Ronaldinho. He gives Milan something they have been missing - shape. He seems to find acres of space to deliver the crosses we all know he can produce. No wonder he doesn't want to go back to the Galaxy...