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Inter Milan’s colourful coach Jose Mourinho has hit the headlines again for a foul mouthed rant at an Italian journalist, the latest in a number of spats with the soccer-obsessed media here.
The Portuguese has admitted using offensive language, said he made a mistake, but has not publically apologised. He also said there was no physical contact during the incident outside the team bus following Inter’s 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Sunday.
Mourinho, who has lamented the grilling he gets from Italian media so much that reports have speculated he could quit in May, said he snapped because the journalist had been standing by the team bus for months despite his protests.
On the pitch things have been up and down too with Mourinho suspended from the dugout on Sunday after being dismissed for sarcastically applauding the referee in a 2-1 defeat at Juventus earlier this month. He has promised not to get sent off again soon.
There’s a big difference for reporters like me between covering AC Milan and Inter Milan at their shared San Siro stadium.
For Milan games in the Champions League, the press get a lovely buffet spread before kickoff. Hot pasta, salad, maybe even some nice chicken and good Chianti.
Going into the last round of Champions League group games, Italy was the only nation with a chance of having all four entrants in the last 16.
The Italians were getting quite excited about this, especially as they have the Germans on their tail in the fight to keep the four berths in future seasons, but Tuesday’s woeful performance by Juventus in a 4-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich ended Serie A hopes of a clean sweep.
Juventus have been fined 20,000 euros rather than receive a stadium ban for an offensive chant their fans sing about Inter Milan’s black striker Mario Balotelli.
As songs go, it is pretty insulting. “Se saltelli, muore Balotelli” (If you jump up and down, Balotelli will die).
Out of eight Spanish and English teams playing in the Champions League this week, only Arsenal were victorious.
Was this a blip for the two powerhouses, or is it another indication that Europe’s top club competition is becoming more balanced?
Resurgent AC Milan host Real Madrid in the Champions League later having beaten the Galacticos 3-2 at the Bernabeu two weeks ago.
Meanwhile Inter Milan are seven points clear in Serie A after just 11 games. All would seem to be rosy in one of Europe’s greatest soccer cities, but in reality Italian football is in the doldrums.
A half empty San Siro didn’t even whistle after Inter Milan’s 2-2 draw with Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.
The Nerazzurri faithful are very used to average performances in Europe, they’ve not won in eight games and haven’t triumphed in the competition since 1965.
Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ignored the predictable boos on his first return to Inter Milan without answering the sceptics who still doubt his ability to finally make a mark in Europe.
Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in the Champions League Group F opener prompted more questions than answers for both sides, even if Barca shaded the contest in terms of chances and technical ability.
Boy, the Champions League is back with a bang. How much juicier can you get than holders Barcelona at Inter Milan in their first game?
If the Spanish champions against their Italian counterparts wasn’t enough, we’ve got the added spice of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o playing against their former clubs at the first possible opportunity following their extraordinary close-season swap deal.
It is a bit early to be making judgements on the new Inter Milan (especially after a lacklustre first league game) but the 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan at the weekend suggests the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap could completely change their way of playing.
Ibrahimovic, who scored on his Barcelona debut in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Gijon, was everything to Inter. He was the target man, the talisman, the go-to man when a flash of inspiration or a goal was needed.