Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
As impressive as two Champions League triumphs are, Chelsea’s appointment of former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will not leave their Premier League title rivals quaking in their boots.
Ancelotti ended his reign at Milan on Sunday after eight years, following top flight stints at Parma and Juventus, all of which amounted to just one Serie A scudetto.
Some may say the Champions League is harder to win than a league, so two is a phenomenal achievement. He also won two domestic cups, two UEFA Super Cups and a World Club Cup, but Chelsea will be expected to challenge for the Premier League next season.
Outgoing temporary boss Guus Hiddink succeeded where his predecessor, Luiz Felipe Scolari could not, in giving a hint of the current Chelsea squad’s potential this season with a third place league finish, a Champions League semi-final and the FA Cup*.
Just three years ago Juve were facing up to the fact they’d be playing in Serie B after being found guilty of match-fixing.
Now, they sit third in Serie A with two games to go but that is not good enough for the Old Lady of Turin. The risk they might miss out on an automatic Champions League spot was too great.
A Champions League with unfancied Porto, two Premier League titles with Chelsea — the first in fifty years — and the scudetto with Inter Milan in his first season.
Is there anything Jose Mourinho can’t do?
Roberto Mancini, who led Inter to the last three titles, should take a lot of the credit but Mourinho didnt try to stamp his authority on the team too much. After a bit of an experiment at the start of his reign, he realised Mancini’s tactics were the best with the personnel available.
Nerves are totally understandable at the end of the season with so much at stake.
Even seasoned campaigners get afflicted by the jitter bug, with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan losing the lead twice in a 2-2 draw at Chievo on Sunday with a fourth straight scudetto almost theirs.
Adriano looks to have played his last match for Inter Milan after failing to return to the Serie A leaders from international duty with Brazil this month and announcing he was taking a break from football.
President Massimo Moratti said last week that Inter were considering extinguishing the player’s contract, which runs until the end of next season.
After years of racist chanting from the stands, Italian soccer has finally realised it has a problem.
Inter Milan goalscorer Mario Balotelli, born in Palermo and of Ghanaian descent, was racially abused by sections of the Juventus crowd during Saturday’s 1-1 Serie A draw in Turin.
It is now widely accepted that, after a long stint as the world’s most glamorous championship in the 1980s and 90s, Serie A has fallen behind the Premier League and Spain’s Primera Liga.
Problems with hooliganism and the 2006 match-fixing scandal have not helped and attention is now moving to whether the Italian top flight can repel competition from the Bundesliga for third place.
Serie A clubs are understandably upset about English sides scooping up youngsters such as Federico Macheda from their academies.
Lazio President Claudio Lotito cried foul after the 17-year-old, a product of the Rome club’s youth system, scored a stunning winner for Manchester United against Aston Villa in his Premier League debut on Sunday.
During a typical football discussion at a Milan pub recently, a friend made a comment which really stayed with me.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest there is to Van Basten.”
After thinking about it, I realised he was probably right. Ibrahimovic’s touch for a big man and his ability to score wonderful goals really do mark him out as special. It is right to talk of him in the same breath as one of Holland’s finest.
The sight of Serie A sides flopping in the Champions League has become a familiar one and although the three teams eliminated this week were a little unlucky, a mental block against English opposition is developing.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, was hired in June largely to boost their hopes of challenging Europe’s elite after years of failure.