In the third matchday of European competitions, Serie A sides managed to pull off positive results in general, even if Milan’s humbling defeat at the Stamford Bridge and Roma’s last gasp loss to Real Betis ruined what could have been an excellent midweek for Calcio’s representatives. So let’s recap the most significant action related to Italian clubs in our five takeaways from the European competitions.
Napoli on Another Level
Last Tuesday, Ajax suffered a smashing 1-6 defeat at home, their worst in all competitions since 1964.
Interestingly, the butcher in this story isn’t the almighty Real Madrid, nor the terrifying Manchester City, but rather southern Italian side that is still searching for its first Scudetto title since 1990.
Nevertheless, Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli have consolidated their position as the ultimate bogeyman of this edition, at least in its early stages, with three routings at the expense of Liverpool, Rangers and most recently the Dutch champions.
The nine points from three fixtures and the +11 goal difference say it all. The Partenopei are simply majestic.
A Sign of Life at Inter
Following a catastrophic start to the Serie A campaign, Robert Lewandowski was supposed to serve as the executioner who takes Simone Inzaghi out of his misery.
But in an unexpected twist of fate, Inter displayed signs of life at the most crucial of timings, producing a solid display at the back to nullify Barcelona’s threat while punishing their opponents on counter attacks.
The Nerazzurri’s slim victory didn’t come without controversy, but the Italians will pay little heed to what Xavi had to say about the whole VAR debacle, as this victory puts them on the right path towards qualification, and could also serve as the flint that revives their whole campaign.
Not So Bleak for Milan
In West London, Milan succumbed to a comprehensive 0-3 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. The Premier League giants looked head and shoulders above their Italian foes.
Yet, the impact of the encounter is far less dramatic on the Rossoneri’s qualification hopes than what the final result might suggest. After all, this was only the first defeat for Stefano Pioli’s men in the current edition, and the first win for the Blues.
Despite Chelsea’s early troubles, they remain the natural favorites to top the group, and as we said in our early predictions, Salzburg should be Milan’s direct rivals for the second spot.
The Italians still have two remaining European fixtures at home, including a final matchday battle against the Austrians, which will probably be the decisive clash.
Little Too Late for Juve?
After sustaining two defeats at the hands of PSG and Benfica, the Old Lady’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages were already hanging by a thread.
This week, Juventus did their part by earning a routine win over Maccabi Haifa, but even so, the football gods still found a way to further doom the Italians who might just be cursed on the European stage.
This time, the damnation came from Lisbon, where Benfica shared the spoils with their Parisians visitors, making life even harder for the Bianconeri who might need to win all of their remaining group stage fixtures if they wish to avoid an undesirable Europa League adventure.
Roma Must Choose Again
Last season, Roma earned their maiden European trophy by winning the inaugural edition of the Europa Conference League. The club’s supporters can still recall how José Mourinho shifted the club’s attention towards the continental competition at the expense of the domestic league – they eventually finished 6th in the Serie A table.
Despite their exciting summer transfer campaign, the capital side still lacks depth. While the club’s starting lineup looks splendid, the Special One can barely afford to rotate, especially at the back.
Following the Giallorossi’s thrilling win over Inter last weekend, Roma almost maintained the same formation for their Europa League contest against Real Betis. At the end of the match, the Spanish visitors snatched a winner while the Italians were looking slightly tired.
Therefore, Mourinho doesn’t possess the personnel to battle on two fronts, nor can he afford to exhaust his best stars by playing them twice per week.
The Portuguese tactician might have to prioritize a competition for the second season in a row, but this time around, he could opt for the opposite option, especially with the Scudetto race looking more open than ever.
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