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

Italian football is on a high. After years in the mires, more than partly brought about due to the calciopoli scandal of 2006, there is reason for hope. One aspect of this hope is embodied in the fact that the Serie A, for the first time since the mid-1990’s, has more representatives in the Champions League knockout stages than either England’s Premier League or Spain’s La Liga.

For a league that has fallen down the pecking order, evidenced by its drop to fourth place in UEFA’s coefficient ranking system – which sees Italy given just three UCL spots this season – it is a welcome change and one that perhaps reflects a changing of the tide. Well, maybe.

The first legs of the first knockout stage of the Champions League continued to justify such optimism. Aside from Inter’s defeat in Provence, Napoli and Milan recorded tremendous home victories. Most significantly, their wins were achieved against English teams who in recent years have held an indelible dominance over Italian clubs, particularly when they have played host to Italian opposition.

For this reason, despite their first leg successes, it would be foolish to think that Milan and Napoli’s progression to the quarter finals is a foregone conclusion. It’s anything but. And one only has to cast an eye over the record of Italian sides’ results in the Champions League when playing on English soil since 2006 to understand why.

And it reads as such; 2 wins, 3 draws and 11 defeats. Such a record prompts caution rather than providing confidence ahead of Napoli and Milan’s ventures to London.

It may well be argued that neither Milan nor Napoli need to win in the second legs to progress. And, this is entirely true. A draw for both would be enough. But, as the record shows even drawing in England has often times proven too much to ask of the Italians.

Scoring goals has been a problem too for travelling Serie A clubs and scoring that all-important away goal will be the objective of Napoli and even Milan. But, with just eight goals accredited to Italian teams in England during this time it makes for a dismal scoring rate of just 0.5 goals per game. Away goals will come at a premium.

Contrast this to Arsenal’s scoring rate at home and Milan’s prospects of avoid defeat look dimmer. The Gunners have only failed to score once in their last 13 Champions League matches played at Emirates. In total they have claimed a resounding 38 goals making for a scoring ratio of 2.9 goals per game. They need to just better this average by slightly more than one goal and they could even the tie. This is presuming Milan are unable to score one of their own. Given that the Rossoneri have failed to score in a Champions League fixture in England since 2007, history-wise there is a good chance they may fail to do so again. Need it be mentioned that Arsenal are undefeated at home in Europe in these last 13 fixtures – they have only been held to a draw twice – and it goes without saying that Max Allegri should not allow for one bit of complaceny in his and his players’ approach to the game even with a four-goal advantage.

Chelsea have a relatively easier task than their London rivals if they are to overturn their 3-1 deficit against Napoli. They need just two unanswered goals against the Walter Mazzarri’s to progress to the quarter finals. They may not be the free-scoring machine that Arsenal are at home, however, scoring at an average of 2.25 goals they are not exactly prudish either. Similar to Arsenal they too have a great home record in Europe. In their last fourteen games at the Bridge they have been defeated just twice while they have only been held to d draw on two occasions.

Historically speaking, Chelsea and Arsenal should be odds on favourites to win their return legs against Napoli and Milan respectively. Italian victories seem unlikely while their chances of drawing are only slightly better. What seems most probable is that both Chelsea and Arsenal will score, the decisive factor will be just how many.

But, no matter what eventuates in the return legs of the round of 16, the achievements of Italian clubs in Europe this season have to be commended. And, should the return legs go in favour of Italy’s representatives, Inter included, their achievements will become monumental. History may dictate that this will not happen, yet, always at some point does the course of history alter and March 2012 could be when it does.

For a review of Milan’s eventual progress into the quarter finals, click here.

  • GG

    I must speak Frankly, Frank…..you must have worked many hours at your attempt to come up with ‘stats of convenience’ to justify your obvious distaste of a dominating ‘Italian league’ that has historicaly and continues to arguably be the best league in the world dispite falling rankings due SOLELY to calciopoli. You fail to mention that Italy’s 3 teams do not include Juventus as they have been decimated since 2006′s calciopoli. To compare……Take away ManU from EPL or Barcelona from LaLiga for 6 years and both leagues would likely be ranked below Greece and Turkey (11 & 12th). Italy has 3 teams despite Juve evening qualifing…take that for a stat. To even suggest that Arsenal have some sort of history that they can rely on against Milan is like saying you can stand in front of a speeding train today because you know the brakes worked last year, absolutely absurd. Oh and don’t tell me that you suddenly forgot that Italy is the toughest league to score in….so much for you 2.9 goals stat. Italy will always be a country of great soccer, not because they play better or they have some secret method, but because soccer is such a passion in Italy that even the Pope’s don’t mess with it…every church in the country has it’s own pitch. You don’t want me to get started on Italians and passion. Let’s be honest………..what do you think will happen when Juve are back as a top club….Oh that’l be next season you say……..talk to me in a couple of years with facts not ‘half stats’.

    • NM

      Great GG, thanks. if you speak of history, you forgot the very obvious stats, that none of the english teams left in the compettition have won the Champs league before. Wow

      Also say that italy has always won CL in the past.

      Remove MU & Liverpool, England has never won CL

    • CS

      GG I conqure…. In short. I feel that Mr. Tigani has no clue what-so-ever of what he is saying. You cannot come up with a conclusion based on “if’s” and “but’s” (8th paragraph and 3rd/4th line of this article).

      At the end of the day look who when through AC MILAN not Arsenal.

      Next time do a little more homework then going to Wikipedia my friend.

      FORZA MILAN PER SEMPRE!

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