Highs And Lows For Italian Sides In Champions League

by Niccolo Conte on November 4, 2010 · 8 comments

This Champions League midweek had some highs and some lows for the Italian sides in the tournament. And if you're interested in awesome match reports and other Champions League news, be sure to visit my latest article on Champions League Talk regarding the midweek action!

Let's start with the positives, Roma won 3-2 away from home against FC Basel! A great result for Ranieri's side, led by Menez who played very well, and by Totti who scored from the penalty spot.

Menez got the first goal, a sly finish from the edge of the box, taking advantage of general distraction to give Roma the lead. Then Totti doubled from the penalty spot, with the keeper having almost reached the Roma captain's spot-kick. After the two goal flurry by Roma, Frei pulled one back in the second half to give Basel some hope, but Greco crushed that when he scored Roma's third in the 76th minute. Shaqiri pulled one back for FC Basel at the end of the match, but the result was in Roma's hands.

Three important points which help Ranieri's side rise up to second in the table with six points behind Bayern Munich which has a perfect record and twelve points. Roma will host Bayern at the Stadio Olimpico the next Champions League matchday, and I think that any giallorossi fans should be happy with a draw for that game.

The other two matches for Italian sides weren't as positive as Roma's. AC Milan at home drew 2-2 with Real Madrid, and Inter Milan suffered a 3-1 loss away against Tottenham.

AC Milan conceeded the first goal at the 45 minute mark when Higuain took advantage of ay disorga­nized Milan back line, to spin around and finish coolly past Abbiati. But in the second half, Allegri made a key substitution, bringing Inzaghi for Ronaldinho. Inzaghi went on to score two goals (of which one was offside by about a meter, and he was right next to the linesman), and surpass Gerd Muller's all time goalscoring record for the Champions League/European Cup with the Italian's 70th goal in the competition.

But Mourinho is a sly and lucky man, and in the 94th minute of the game, substitute Karim Benzema picked out another substitute Pedro Leon with a defence-splitting through pass, and Leon finished through Abbiati’s legs for a lucky equalizer. Most certainly heart-breaking for AC Milan fans, but epic for any fans of Jose Mourinho.

As for Inter Milan, the match was a sad tale for Benitez's side, and it was Gareth Bale who was the hero of the night for Tottenham fans. Gareth Bale literally made Maicon seem like a 16 year-old who had just been introduced to professional football. Maicon was made a fool of dozens of times by Bale who provided two assists for his teammates in their 3-1 win. It's strange that Benitez didn't try any tactical changes to stop the player, even as he realized during the match that Bale was tearing Maicon to shreds.

While Tottenham played brilliant attacking football, Inter Milan was cautious, sluggish, and defensive. The goal was a moment of brilliance by an undertone Samuel Eto'o who despite his average performances, manages to score goals. Right now Inter Milan are second in the table due to goal-difference, with Tottenham first. Inter will need to pull out two wins at home against Twente, and away at Werder Bremen if they want to have any chance of winning the group, but even if they come second, Tottenham fully deserve first place.

What were your thoughts on the Champions League midweek for Italian clubs? Share your thoughts below!

8 comments… read them below or add one

1 David H November 4, 2010 at 3:03 am

Benitez basically left Maicon alone when he took off Muntari for the naive Nwankwo. Nobody can defend Bale all alone, but Tottenham’s 3rd can be excused since they had to push up trying to score.

As for Milan-Madrid, well, a draw was the right result. Madrid peppered the Milan goal area (not necessarily always the goal itself) & of course Pippo’s goal was offside. Too bad, though, since I hate Madrid & love Pippo, but you almost have to expect Milan to give up silly goals. Nice to see Casillas look stupid, though. He’s maybe the 3rd best Spanish goalkeeper & shouldn’t have been anywhere near the pitch this summer.


2 David H November 4, 2010 at 3:05 am

And who the hell is Greco? I consider myself a reasonably well-informed Romanista, even if I am in Texas, and I’ve never heard of the man. Glad he’s on our side, though!


3 christian ceccarelli November 4, 2010 at 5:45 am

Milan worked hard to get their 2-1 result with much sweat and determination . . . and what do they do?! . . . throw it all away! The team let Inzaghi down! When will our teams learn to fight to the last bolw of the wistle! This you don’t see from the EPL teams, they keep coming at you right up to the last second!
Milan got their goals by puting preasure on Real, who crumble quite easily under constant preasure and did look fearfull of Milan round their third of the pitch.
I’m absolutely sure that if Milan got their heads out of their stupid asses and played strong, threatening, tacticle football right to the end they’de have won, possibly even adding another!
And this goes for all our teams! Look at what Napoli achieved against steaua bucuresti when 3-0 down! If teams apply this mentality from start to finnish we wouldn’t end up with teams that can only manage draws! We’re so much better than this!!!
Lets hope Milan learn from this, though sadly I very much doubt they will!
IDIOTS!! . . .


4 Ewan Smith November 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I was the same David. I knew very little about Greco, but I have definitely joined his fan club now after that goal. Still leaking avoidable goals, but delighted with the 3 points.

Milan would have took a point before the game, but having come so close they will be gutted. Madrid should have been out of sight at half time, but up comes that annoying little man Inzaghi.

As for Inter, I can’t believe that Bale was still allowed so much room after what happened at the San Siro. I was certain he would be man marked and doubled up on throughout the game. Benitez will do well at Inter, but not because ability as a coach because he has shown he has no imagination in his tactics or ability to adapt when necessary.


5 Rami S. November 6, 2010 at 12:19 am

Hi Ewan,

I cannot believe Benitez did not make a serious effort to limit Bale after his 3 goals in Milan the previous round. The Nerazzurri are likely to finish the season empty handed unless Benitez can start to play to the best abilities of the squad and the injury list gets smaller.

As for Milan, the goals exposed once again the full-back position as Zambrotta applied no pressure to the passer before the goal was converted. The result was fair but to concede in injury-time in the Champions League is unacceptable.


6 francis walsh November 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Full marks to the Spurs. But lets touch on some things. Firstly, It’s very
funny the amount of press this victory is getting, and for that fact the
level of disrespect that the Champions have received. Tot did what they
needed to do win. I knew Inter was not walking out of there with three
points. Everyone in England acts like they’ve won the group already. It’s
still a tight affair, and trust me Inter will still be top when the new draw
is done.
Secondly, yes I’m going there, the players sitting this game out was more
interesting than the squad that was playing. I have been a supporter of
Rafa all through the mud-slinging attacks, but I had to wonder the reasons
for his choices tuesday.
Why was Milito not in the game at half time? Why was Stanton not in the
game at all, especially after Muntari hurt himself? Stanton is younger and faster and could have at least kept up with Bale.

Well there it is


7 Niccolo Conte November 6, 2010 at 2:19 am

Wow, thanks for all the comments, and keep them coming!

@David, Greco is a young midfielder of which I caught a few glimpses of in the preseason for Roma, he might’ve even scored a goal in the preseason, and he looked like a complete midfielder with a smart sense of the game. It’s interesting that he played such an important part for Roma, and we might see more of him to come throughout the season.

@Christian, I agree with you, although the win would’ve been fantastic for AC Milan, I couldn’t imagine them pulling it off. The team is unbalanced, and personally I think that Berlusconi should’ve saved about 20 million Euros and not have bought Robinho.

@Ewan, I agree quite a bit with your point about the nerazzurri finishing empty-handed. I remember two years ago, when Mourinho first became coach, things were looking much worse. Mourinho was scraping results in the Serie A, playing bad games in the Champions League against Anorthosis and Panathinaikos, and overall, doing worse than Benitez is now.

And finally @Francis, everything you said is true. It seems like Benitez is a VERY defensive manager. And while the Italian media was talking about how scrupulous and meticulous he is with tactics, I saw a big error against Tottenham, leaving Bale a free left side to cross from. I hope that Benitez begins to make some sense with his substitutions and starting 11 choices, because although they’re in disarray, Inter seem to be the Serie A’s best option for a Champions League run.


8 Rami S. November 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I still think Inter will not win CL or Serie A. Perhaps the Coppa Italia but it really is not something to be happy about since it’s a very marginal competition.

I think Real Madrid, Barca and Chelsea are the main contenders to win CL this season.


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