Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

It was a mixed week for Serie A clubs competing in Europe’s top competition.

An enthralling encounter with the world’s best side ended in disappointment for AC Milan, while city rivals Inter did just enough to earn qualification into the knockout stages with a draw in Turkey.

But for calcio fanatics, the highlight of this week’s Champions League action came from a 2-1 contest at the Stadio San Paolo; at the expense of Manchester City no less.

With two more goals from Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, Napoli were able to take a massive step forward in their bid for qualification out of the vaunted Group A. All the while, leaving the free-spending English side on the brink of elimination.

Napoli came into the match as clear underdogs, expected to give Roberto Mancini’s men a good test, but who ultimately were supposed to fall victim to the star power on display from the Manchester club, they didn’t.

The Azzurri’s attacking trident of Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik once again stole the show for the home side, involved as ever in the attacking exploits.

But that should not take the focus away from what was a solid defensive display, despite Salvatore Aronica’s best effort to gift the points away to the visitors. Hugo Campagnaro was a rock for Walter Mazzarri once again, and wingback Christian Maggio gave viewers worldwide a look at the engine that fans of the Italian game get to witness each and every week.

“This was a magical night and a very important victory. We created many scoring opportunities today and should’ve finished it off earlier to avoid the tension at the end,” Hamsik told Sky Sport Italia following the match.

With eight points from five games, Napoli now sit one point ahead of their Tuesday opponents. They travel to Villarreal on the final matchday looking to secure qualification to the knockout stages for the first time since Diego Maradona was at the club.

While they have struggled against smaller teams in the league this season, Napoli has risen to the challenge in the so-called “big matches” throughout the year.

Serie A supporters will be hoping they keep that trend alive against the Yellow Submarine, who are winless in the competition so far.

Meanwhile, Claudio Ranieri brought his Inter side to Turkey for a difficult road match with surprise outfit Trabzonspor.

While Napoli gained all the well-deserved headlines, Inter managed to very quietly secure top spot in Group B, despite being outplayed for large portions of their 1-1 draw.

A well-crafted goal from Argentine duo Ricky Alvarez and Diego Milito – which saw a quick one-two on the edge of the box send the former through on goal – was enough to get the job done. Halil Altintop’s deflected strike did put Inter on the back foot, but with a little bit of luck, they managed to hang on.

It was by no means a vintage performance from the Nerazzurri, but the point does allow Ranieri to focus on the club’s Serie A action in the coming weeks, while not having to worry about a one-off with CSKA Moscow on December 7 to ensure qualification into the Round of 16.

For a side still trying to find its feet after a horrendous start to the campaign (both domestically and on the continent), Inter can be satisfied with the result.

“In the Champions League, we have shown everyone that we have something extra, we’ll now try to bring this into Serie A,” Ranieri is quoted as saying on the club’s official website. “We are managing ourselves out of the quicksand, but we still have to improve.”

For their city rivals, it was a case of the exact opposite. A thrilling match – in which Milan did everything possible to match Barcelona – yielded disappointment for the defending Serie A champions.

In what veteran midfielder Clarence Seedorf called a “spectacular” showcase for football as a whole; Milan ultimately came up just short, succumbing to a 3-2 defeat.

Twice Massimiliano Allegri’s men fell behind to the Spanish side, but on both occasions they managed to fight back a draw level. The second of those two equalizers was a sublime individual effort from San Siro favourite Kevin Prince Boateng. The Ghanaian put the home crowd into a frenzy after leaving Eric Abidal for dead, before beating Victor Valdes with a driven shot to the near post.

Unfortunately for the home side, the Champions League trophy-holders were simply too much too handle. Lionel Messi cut the Milan backline apart with a superb pass to find Xavi only ten minutes after the equalizer from Boateng, and the Spaniard promptly gave his side all three points.

But while the match did once again expose Milan’s need for an injection of speed and mobility – mainly through the spine of the team – there were positives to be drawn.

After all, not many teams have been able to go head-to-head with the Catalan giants and find even a measure of success over recent years. Just ask the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United and for that reason Allegri said he was happy with the team’s showing on Wednesday.

“We leave this match with a defeat, perhaps deservedly, but with greater self-confidence than before. Barcelona played for 95 minutes the way they always do, while we created many dangers for them,” the former midfielder said. “Compared to the 2-2 draw in Barcelona we played with greater courage. This performance proves we are on the right track.”

The same can be said for Italy as a whole, despite what looks on the surface to be a disappointing two days of action.

One win, one loss and one draw; not the greatest record, but one that is laced with positives for Italian football.

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