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Wednesday December 12 2018
Calcio's glass is half-empty

When only recently relishing the prospect of four Italians in the Champions League Round of 16, Giancarlo Rinaldi is left with a bitter taste from his half-empty glass.

Like steam from a piping hot plate of pasta, it is amazing how quickly confidence can disappear. If you had asked me a few weeks ago about Italian clubs' Champions League performances I would have been much more bullish. At the end of the group stages, however, it felt much harder to say if my grappa glass was half-full or half-empty.

You see - like a competitor on 1980s darts quiz show Bullseye - Serie A had a tantalising glimpse of what it could have won. A qualification clean sweep - four out of four in the first season back with such representation - was within their grasp. Then, suddenly, it all slipped away more easily than Mo Salah being marked by Mario Rui.

A first warning sign of how quickly the bubble of bravado can be burst came from Italy's biggest and best. Over two matches, Juve dominated Manchester United and yet suffered a rare defeat in Turin. It would not be fatal for their prospects, of course, but it should have served as a warning to others. This particular English lesson, sadly, was not learned.

It was Inter, poor old Inter, who first proved they had failed to read the runes. With qualification at their mercy, Luciano Spalletti's side came to England and were outsmarted by Spurs to put their progress in doubt. They completed the deal with a spectacular failure to outperform the Premiership side in a home game with PSV while the Londoners travelled to Barcelona. This was not Pazza Inter, Crazy Inter, it was more Downright Infuriating Inter.

You had to feel a bit more sympathy for Napoli but one draw too many left them in a sticky situation for their trip to Anfield. Carlo Ancelotti's side were undefeated before their final game and had produced some lovely football, but again found crossing the Channel a step too far. A spirited last 20 minutes or so was insufficient to get the result they needed and they, too, fell by the wayside. The competition will lack a little dash of peperoncino spice in their absence.

It is not all doom and gloom, of course, as Roma proved you can still progress even in defeat. If Napoli and Inter were unfortunate in the way their groups panned out, the Giallorossi did enjoy a splash of luck from other results. Make no mistake, Eusebio Di Francesco's side had earned their progress, but when their rivals started tripping one another up it did make their task a little simpler. They have time now to sort things out, but thus far in the competition they have looked a shadow of the side that thrilled us so much last season.

And, of course, there was Juventus - who have started to seem like a law unto themselves in Calcio terms. Juventus Stadium slip-up and a meaningless trip to Young Boys aside, the Bianconeri were impeccable in their group matches and underlined their credentials as would-be winners. It all started with a red card for Ronaldo in Valencia, but might it end with him picking up the trophy in - of all places - Madrid? He will no doubt believe it is his destiny to do so.

Drawing overall conclusions for Serie A is always a tricky task, but it would seem fair to say that - apart from its grand Old Lady - it is still short on Champions League quality.

Deep down it is hard to avoid the feeling that the Europa League might be more the level of our continental representatives outside of the boys in black and white. There was something there to build on that we glimpsed at times but not, ultimately, with enough consistency to get more than half of the Italian teams through. We had some magic moments, but in the end, they failed to deliver the 100 per cent qualification that was a genuine possibility at one stage.

Having had a bottle of Barolo in our hands, we have had to settle for a disappointing house red. And that can only leave a bit of a bitter taste, no matter how full your glass may be.

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Have your say...
Futhermore, it doesn't matter that Atalanta destroyed rich Everton or that Roma were denied 2 clear penalties v Liv, or that Italian sides hit 25 goals past great epl defences last season, or that Roma and Juve walloped Chelsea and Spurs. All that matters is tv money - it's the new trophy. So what if epl sides have only 4 Champ Lge trophies in nearly 35 years? They have more viewers in Malalysia - that's the new trophy. I don't know why you people doubt me, parcukaparticularly given my wisdom
on the 17th December, 2018 at 10:41pm
im Afraid I have a sad act doppelgänger that is wanting to be me but can’t, so is trying to use my name to write weird comments, I’m sure his parents are the ones to blame though, cretins. Nice to know I have a fan boy though ha. Although my fan boy did articulate some of my points parcukaparticularly about EPL begin superior. I don’t know why you people doubt me. I spoke and you all mention the usual nonsense only for English teams to slaughter Italian teams. Alex, Liverpool battering Roma?
on the 17th December, 2018 at 8:26pm
BOSS

Sorry, you said head2head record, not knockouts...my bad lol

Yes, Italy has a comfortable head2head lead over Premier League. Hard to believe given all the money they spend and they still have a poor record!

Their record against the Spanish is atrocious lol. No win in the Premier Legue's last 13 straight games against Spanish teams.

Such an embarrasement!
on the 17th December, 2018 at 11:40am
Boss apart from Juventus, when was the last time a Serie A team knocked out a Premier League team from ANY competition?

Premier League teams have a superior KO record apart from Juventus.
on the 16th December, 2018 at 9:31pm
When the zealot speaks, you zealots listen

That's how I roll. My mom told me I'm the most knowledable person she knows when it comes to all things football.

I'll change to March though, Juve may find the Xmas period sticky. Man City had their title wrapped up in December last season but Juve won't have it that easy. Just easy enough that'll it'll be over by March - April at the latest - you have been told.
on the 16th December, 2018 at 11:06am
I confirm Serie A is hopeless again via Derby della Mole last night. 2 penalty incidents for Toro are totally ignored last night.
on the 16th December, 2018 at 8:15am
You low information zealots know that I am right. You may actually make some progress if you heed my words and stop making pathetic excuses, you know, live in the real world. I see that the only good team in Italy won again tonight. The title will be wrapped up by the end of February. You have been told. 
on the 16th December, 2018 at 12:36am
seire A has a pretty superior head-on-head record against the BPL teams over the years so they were unfortunate to go out the other night.

Yes Inter should have won but Spurs couldn't beat a youth team of Barca and Loserpool lost half their group games. Madness that they went through!

MU went through after stealing a result in Turin and beating The Young Boys with a last minuter goal lol

Man City did OK but they were in an easy group and guardiola always gets destroyed in the knockouts
on the 14th December, 2018 at 11:25pm
I can't stop laughing after I read Gravina keeps Serie A in 20 teams...........

And He still stated that after the 1D5L disaster......
on the 14th December, 2018 at 4:15pm
The Italian teams are lacking that killer instinct, Inter and Napoli started off so strong in the CL, I thought this is it, the return of Seria A in full force in the CL, four teams, but Inter and Napoli threw it away, heartbreaking. We need to play more attacking, creative no mercy football, kill off teams with two to three goals, it is the only way forward.

Last night's game with AC Milan, was torture. Gattuso was mad to take off Patrick Cutrone, as AC wasn't controlling the game.
on the 14th December, 2018 at 3:43pm
OK, I've calmed down. My verdicts were all a bit haywire.

Napoli aren't thrash - they lost once, Loserpool 3 times, so the latter should really be out, not Napoli, but the CL groups are lopsided and Virgil VD should've been off.

Italians don't suck. They are a match for most of the poor Int. teams but Ventura is to blame for me I think so

The gym idea is real. My mother got me one and put it in my cellar room and it changed my life. So if it can make me fit it can make Serie A players fit!
on the 14th December, 2018 at 1:18pm
We can always remain hopeful, yet recent history should teach us that Italian football has no room to be bullish at the moment. Let's be honest, Serie A has drunk all its Barolo and is instead dominated by cheap imports. Below par imports who only serve to restrict the production of a new crop of Barolo vintage!
on the 14th December, 2018 at 11:31am
Its not gattuso who got us to 4th place its the fact that roma, lazio and some other teams underperform this season.

We have neither won more games or have much more points nor do we play better football than at the same point last year when montella was fired. Its just luck that some other teams drop as much points as we do this year.

This team looks clueless and we just rely on luck (2 late romanogli goals...) to win against „smaller“ teams, or it takes some individual highlights (suso...)
on the 14th December, 2018 at 11:30am
Inter and Napoli each had a golden opportunity to show the world they were CL material and failed. They could have knocked out Tottenham and Liverpool - that would have been a huge statement. Instead the English teams sent them home to lick their wounds. Maybe they should take EL seriously because they have to be modest and work harder. Currently aren't good enough. Better luck next year.

Nothing bad to say about Roma. They qualified and this time last year heroically topped their group.
on the 14th December, 2018 at 6:23am
There are still too many average players on Serie A teams to effectively compete in Europe. Juve is really the only team that is stacked. Even with these players it's been only this year that Allegri has been forced to be less pragmatic after the Mgmt brought in CR7 with the intention of winning the CL. Serie A should really focus on incorporating younger players faster. More players with pace, physicality that can move and pass the ball faster would really help when competing in Europe
on the 14th December, 2018 at 5:24am
Coaches like Allegri is the real cancer to Italian football. He has a squad full of attacking capabilities but always defend first, attack later.
on the 14th December, 2018 at 3:08am
FORZA JUVE!
on the 14th December, 2018 at 3:08am
OMFG... ya realize every Italian team in Europe lost on the FINAL DAY ! First Juve lost with full all out squad. already qualified, but Lucky to not end up 2nd!

Roma lost AGAIN. qualified too but CMON. don’t see them going further.

Napoli went into last round in 1st, needed a draw, 3rd...ELIMINATED.

Inter couldn’t ask for better chance...vs PSV instead of Barca.could only muster tie. ...ELIMINATED.

Lazio barely finishes 2nd. On winless streak.

Milan ...needed just a draw. lost ELIMINATED !
on the 14th December, 2018 at 1:30am
@ Miroslav I'm not going to support the removal of a manager who has got us to fourth in the league. I too have raised concerns about Gattuso but ultimately we can't go around firing managers every few months. Gattuso has done enough to warrant staying as manager for now. We'll judge him hopefully at the end of the season. If we finish in the top 4 he stays, if we don't he goes. And if he goes we hire a manager that actually has some experience and proven track record.
on the 14th December, 2018 at 1:28am
@ Matt and John Smith I agree completely. Serie A needs to take a long hard look at itself. What's particularly infuriating for me is when Serie A clubs and supporters boast about how tactically superior it is. It's not tactically superior. Clearly. Look at this week. Tactics should get the most out of the players whereas many Serie A teams' tactics inhibit players. They then go to other leagues and perform at a higher level domestically and in EUROPE. It's got nothing to do with money.
on the 14th December, 2018 at 1:24am
And now we add Milan to the list. Italian teams 0-1-5 this week in European competition. Honestly Italy should have one spot in the CL for Juventus and no Europa League spots whatsoever, and I say that as a devotee of calcio. Utterly, utterly embarrassing. If I had to rank the embarrassments from most to almost most, I'd say Milan-Inter-Lazio-Roma-Napoli
on the 14th December, 2018 at 12:17am
Serie A will stay a b-league as long as they have rotten stadiums and focus so much on defending. Five defeats and a draw this league. Wrong approach/attitude!!!
on the 13th December, 2018 at 11:22pm
As much as i loved him as a player, now we can only hope to get a proper coach and then try to qualify for the cl next year.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 11:06pm
I really hope we can get rid of this clown gattuso now.

I wanted to say this before someone comes in here sayin it was no penalty, because i dont give a damn about it.
The only thing that counts is: we were outclassed and outplayed by olympiakos (atm 3rd in greece).

The substitution of cutrone for laxalt is the drop that spilled the glass for me. I tried to be not so negative about rino i really did but now i just want to see him leave!
on the 13th December, 2018 at 11:04pm
Inter even when the get favourable decision the still can't do it. Handanovic should have been sent off in the 1st tie against PSV and Barca Spurs went their way. They are satisfied with the treble and don't want any more success.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 9:51pm
If Inter don't cheat they don't draw.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 9:44pm
So what are the answers. As follows: Buy treadmills and learn to run for longer than 10 mins Do sprints seeing as Italians are slow do weights seeing as Serie A is physically inferior Learn to press hard and high; intensity Adapt to the modern game, incorporate Spanish and English structures for commercial improvement “Italians spend hours concentrating on tactics” stop that rubbish cuz that clearly ain’t working. Spend that time in the gym Sports Psychs to prep cowardly teams - away games
on the 13th December, 2018 at 6:40pm
“But Napoli would have won if the referee gave a red card” - yeh dimwit, and Napoli would have been down about 10-0 if Liverpool could finish properly. Ifs and buts. Don’t blame the referee for Napoli (the purported tough guys) got scared of a crowd full of fat chavvy English men. Don’t blame the ref for Albiol consistently passing the ball to the wingers only for the dwarf wingers to head the ball straight into a packe dout Liverpool midfield.

Verdict: Napoli were, are and will be trash.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 6:35pm
“But if we had English money, we’d always win the CL” - really? So how have Athletico and Dortmund done so well in recent years? People are very quick to forget that Milan spent a fortune on pretty much a new time and yet were forced to use their straightened hair to to polish the Arsenal players’ boots only last season. People also want to forget Juve and Inters spending.

Verdict: Serie A has money. They spend it poorly (except Juve). They sell poorly (salah, couthino). Dumb AF.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 6:31pm
“If only we had a modern stadium, we’d win the CL every year” - why of course you would. Makes perfect sense. Explains how Juve keep winning the CL annually since they made their stadium...oh wait.

A fancy arena, with shiny seats, green grass and a nice atmosphere certainly adds to the spectacle. But I’m afraid it makes no difference to wetting your pants at the Kop, kicking every ball astray, being physically inferior and begging the ref for a free kick. Verdict: Serie A need to use the gym.
on the 13th December, 2018 at 6:25pm

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