Serie A laments Champions League shipwreck

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Italians hate to be left out of any gathering where the spotlight will be shining brightly on those in attendance.

So it must have been with a heavy heart and a sad sigh when La Gazzetta Dello Sport got down to reporting the fact that the English Premier League are once again dominating the Champions League – the “English Cup” as they have renamed it.

“Premiership party and only Barca are invited,” they forlornly lamented at the thought that each of the three conquerers of Serie A sides are one step – or two legs - from the big dance in Rome.

All roads lead to Rome... for the Premier League

After berating Manchester United for only drawing with Porto in the first leg, Il Corriere dello Sport had to concede that Sir Alex Ferguson had got it right second time around.

“Manchester went to Portugal with the mindset of dominating the opposition and they did so,” was one line from the editorial before the inevitable was asked: “Would an Italian side have done that?”

Probably not was their own take, not as long as they continue to possess the mentality of going out not to lose rather than to win.

Delving back through the European games this season, the paper could only come up with one parallel to United where an Italian side were involved, and that was Juventus against Real Madrid – the same Real who were then humiliated by Liverpool.

In fact, weren’t those two ties against the Spanish the last time Alessandro Del Piero had a decent game?

"How very dare you sir" 

As the season has worn on, so Ale has become a shadow of his former self. And in turn Juve have lost their spark that even the arrival of Inter this weekend is nothing more than the chance to restore some pride for the Old Lady.

Jose Mourinho’s side have done their best to keep the title race alive – dropping points whenever the opportunity presents itself – but Juve have time and time again failed to take advantage.

10 points separate the sides ahead of the grandly-titled “Derby of Italy” but such is the gulf that the game cannot even be described as a title showdown.

A home win will change little, although it is not as if Mourinho will want to grant his nemesis Claudio Ranieri any flicker of pleasure, never mind his hand.

Ranieri has been given a vote of confidence for next season, although it has come with a warning that the runners-up spot in the league or the Italian Cup is a minimum requirement for the remainder of the campaign.

"That's close enough Jose" 

It is a long way from the proclamations at the start of the season when all roads led to Rome, but those outspoken assertions have long since receded into the mists of time and now it’s a case of beggars can’t be choosers.

That goes for Italian football in general, but here's hoping that Juve and Inter take the first step towards that winning mentality in Turin.

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