This past week was a disappointing week for the Serie A in the Champions League, to say the least. As it is well known, all 3 remaining Serie A teams were eliminated in the Round of 16. Although Roma and Juventus put up a good fight in their matchups, Italy’s top clubs fell short in Europe’s biggest competition.
The fact that no Serie A teams made the final 8 highlights a disturbing trend for Serie A fans. Going back to the 2005-06 Champions League the number of Serie A teams advancing to the quarters has decreased every year since then.
2005-06: (3) – Milan, Inter, and Juve in the quarters
2006-07: (2) – Milan and Roma in the quarters
2007-08: (1) – Roma in the quarters
2008-09: No team in the quarters.
Since the induction of the Round of 16 knockout stage in 2003-04 only Milan has progressed past the quarters. If you go back to the beginning of the century only 1 tournament has there been more than one Serie A team in the semis, that was the 2002-03 tournament. Milan beat Juventus in a boring final that whose only drama was the PK Shootout.
Let’s see, with the exception of AC Milan, Serie A teams have struggled recently in the Champions League because of a lack of a playmaker in the middle and a reliable clutch goal scorer.
Roma have a playmaker in the middle, Francesco Totti but he’s basically carrying the attack by himself and to get to at least the semis Totti needs help.
Nagging injuries have slowed Totti as well. Plus, Roma doesn’t have a reliable #9 striker/finisher to score in the box. If they did, Roma would have gotten past Arsenal.
Juventus have a playmaker in the middle, Alessandro Del Piero but he’s older and is not the passer or set up man like Totti.
La Vecchia Signora miss a consistent, reliable goal poacher in the Champions League. David Trezeguet has been good for Juve in Europe but not reliable or clutch especially in the knockout stages, injuries haven’t helped Trezeguet either.
Inter Milan haven’t had either. In recent memory, Nerazzurri have not had a #10 creator/playmaker in the middle to run at defenses and create opportunities for teammates. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has yet to score a goal in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The squad Inter has now is good enough to win the Scudetto but not the Champions League. Mourinho needs to get Kun Aguero and Samuel Eto’o, if he becomes available.
AC Milan have both a playmaker in the middle and a reliable clutch goal scorer. Rossoneri have a fast playmaker with great vision and dribbling, Kaka. Get Pippo Inzaghi the ball in the box and its gonna be in the back of the net. Milan can count on Kaka and Pippo Inzaghi to get the goals needed to succeed in the Champions League.
Maybe its just a cyclical thing with English Premiership teams taking their place now as the best performing league in the Champions League but if Serie A teams want to re-establish their place as an elite league, their teams are going to have to get faster, younger, and find consistency in the #10 and #9 positions.