It’s good to know that there will be three sides from the Serie A in the Champions League round of 16 representing Italy. While AC Milan and Inter Milan had already secured their qualification mathematically for the knockout stages of the tournament, there was still a doubt whether Roma would manage to get the needed result, and move on to the next round.
Good thing they managed to draw 1-1 away from home against CFR Cluj, it was a well-fought match by both sides. Borriello scored to put Roma ahead around 2o minutes into the match, but Cluj fans will be disappointed that Borriello was offside (classic Pippo Inzaghi, perfectly fooled the linesman), the Roma forward made a piercing run towards goal, and curled it around the Cluj keeper with his left foot.
Cluj reacted and created some chances, but it was Roma which truly threatened to score another couple of times. Menez probably should’ve been awarded a penalty for being obstructed as he was running towards goal, and Totti and Borriello had some good chances which they should’ve tucked away. Burdisso even hit the crossbar with an extremely precise header, but it seemed like the ball wouldn’t go into the net for a second time for the giallorossi. Cluj equalized in the dying minutes of the match, a header from Traore, who had been lively all match, got a resounding cheer from the home supporters, but they knew that they wouldn’t manage to qualify.
Although AC Milan were already qualified mathematically, that didn’t stop Allegri’s side from doing their best to give Serie A a bad reputation. The rossoneri lost 2-0 at the San Siro to an Ajax team which created most of the opportunities between the two sides. While Massimiliano Allegri started with a relatively weaker team than previous matches, with Ronaldinho, Bonera, Yepes, and Amelia all getting starts, the result was still disappointing. Amelia played well in goal, and the two goals he conceeded were due to some bad defending by the Milan backline, and an incredibly unstoppable top-corner strike by Alderweireld.
So where do the three Italian sides go from here? The potential opponents seem very difficult, especially because all three Italian sides finished runner-up in their groups. Can all three Italian sides progress past the round of 16? Am I being a bit too optimistic hoping that there will be two Italian teams in the semi-finals this season? A lot of wishful thinking, and very few solid performances from the Serie A sides in Europe…
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