While it was a great Champions League group stage for the Italian sides, the Europa League group stages are proving to be more difficult for the Italian sides in the Europa League. In fact, all of the Italian sides have been eliminated except for Napoli, who might be able to pull off a good result and qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. This truly doesn’t help the UEFA co-efficient in which the Serie A is doing worse and worse, and hopefully Napoli will manage to scrape through when they play their next (and last) Europa League match on Wednesday, the 15th of December.
Sampdoria were beaten at home 2-1 by PSV Eindhoven, and although the match was about to finish as a 1-1 draw, it was a late winner by Toivonen which secured three points for PSV. Pazzini had put Sampdoria ahead in the 45th minute, and it seemed like it could’ve been Sampdoria’s lucky night to fight back and have a chance to qualify for the next round, but it wasn’t. Toivonen scored in the 51st minute, and then scored the late winner which crushed any of Sampdoria’s hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Juventus also failed to qualify after drawing 1-1 away against Lech Poznan. The home side took the lead after just fifteen minutes with Rudnevs, and by the time Iaquinta scored the equalizer in the 83rd minute, the field was engulfed in snow. Players were slipping, they had to switch to a high visibility ball, and the match probably should’ve been suspended. But it doesn’t change the result for Juventus, and they have failed to go through to the knockout stages.
Palermo also drew in their Europa League match, the final result was 2-2, and the Renzo Barbera stadium saw their team take the lead with Rigoni with a long range effort in the 23rd minute. But in the second half Sparta Praha equalized after being awarded a penalty when Goian brushed by Kweuke, and Goian was sent off because it was his second yellow card. With just ten men on the field, Palermo earned a proper penalty which was scored by Pinilla to give Palermo a temporary lead. But just a couple of minutes later Praha equalized with Kucka, and to add even more bitterness, Pastore was sent off in the 90th minute after receiving his second yellow card. And so, a third Italian side manages not to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Napoli drew 3-3 away against Utrecht, and it was Cavani who scored a fantastic hat-trick to make sure that Napoli stay in the competition for their next group stage match against Steaua Bucarest which will be key in deciding which team will qualify for the knockout stages. Napoli scored first with Cavani, but then conceded three goals, and right before halftime Cavani pulled one back to make the score 3-2 for Utrecht. Then in the second half Cavani scored a penalty to give Napoli an important draw, and a chance to be the only Italian side left in the Europa League.
I think that it’s a shame that the Serie A sides did so badly in this competition, and I can only hope that Napoli manage to go deep in the competition and uphold some respect for Italian sides in Europe. What are your thoughts regarding the poor display from the Italian sides in the Europa League? Can Napoli progress through to the knockout round, and maybe go deeper? Comment below!