Juventus KO puts spotlight on Roma and Inter
One down, two to go...
Although with Roma and Inter facing the daunting task of having to overcome two more English sides on Wednesday, maybe Ã¢ÂÂtwo to go outÃ¢ÂÂ would be a more appropriate description.
Juventus did as Claudio Ranieri asked in the opening period, playing with plenty of pace and invention as demonstrated by Vincenzo IaquintaÃ¢ÂÂs finish from David TrezeguetÃ¢ÂÂs neat flick.
For half an hour, Chelsea were on the back foot. Then Didier DrogbaÃ¢ÂÂs free-kick took the wind out of the home side's sails Ã¢ÂÂ even though it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt given there was a feeling that the equaliser was going to come sooner rather than later.
Pavel NedvedÃ¢ÂÂs early loss certainly didn't help depriving the Bianconeri of crucial experience later in the game, while Giorgio ChielliniÃ¢ÂÂs headless chicken challenge on Drogba after already being booked highlighted a lack of savvy when the outcome was still in the balance.
Del Piero watches another one get away
All in all, the Old Lady need not hang her head in shame but nor can she hold it high.
Much more was expected from Alessandro del Piero, who was given the free role he has demanded for so long, but lacked the legs to support the front two.
Maybe it was asking too much of a thirtysomething who does his best work in-and-around the penalty area to drop back and help out a very lightweight midfield.
The blue shirts were bulging to bursting point with muscle, compared to the relatively puny physiques of Tiago and Claudio Marchisio in black and white Ã¢ÂÂ surely Christian Poulsen would have been better suited to go mano-a-mano with Mikel or Ballack?
Or maybe not, which highlights one key difference between the teams: the quality of the imported talent.
If Juve want to compete in the latter stages of the Champions League, they need to attract better quality players from other leagues to supplement home talents such as Marchisio, Sebastian Giovinco and air-head Chiellini.
In the end, Chelsea were bigger, stronger and better organised. And, a finalist last season, they behaved like a team at home in the big-game environment.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs that sort of temperament that Inter and Roma need to bring to their matches.
The weight of expectation hangs heavily over both: Inter because they havenÃ¢ÂÂt been in the final since TV was in black and white, and Roma because the final is in their own stadium.
Jose Mourinho has plenty of experience to call upon, but packing the midfield and leaving Zlatan Ibrahimovic isolated in attack may not be the way to nick that all-important away goal.
And given the fragility at the heart of the Inter defence, who's to say one goal would be enough anyway?
Roma need to stick together. But not that close
Roma are capable of finding the net and conceding in equal measure, but if they can focus on the fact that it's Arsenal they're playing and not themselves then it could be a night to remember in the Stadio Olimpico.
The gameÃ¢ÂÂs not up for the Italians just yet, but weÃ¢ÂÂll take one from three by the end of Wednesday evening.
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