Five Takeaways from Champions League Action: Napoli Soar, Juventus Falter

This midweek hasn’t exactly been a joyous one for Italian clubs in general. Now surely Napoli collected another victory – booking their place in the round of 16 – but the Partenopei’s splendid form is hardly considered news at this point.

As for the rest of the pack, the results varied between positive draws, humiliating defeats and everything in between. So let’s recap the Italian clubs’ latest outings in the Champions League and the rest of the European competitions.

Something’s Gotta Give

Since the start of the campaign, Juventus have been digging deeper and deeper, seemingly in an attempt to discover new lows. At some point, someone has to say “enough is enough”.

But apparently, this someone won’t be club president Andrea Angelli, who once again reassured us all that Massimiliano Allegri will maintain his job.

Perhaps the under-fire manager isn’t the sole person to blame for the latest embarrassment which came in the form of a defeat at Haifa, but then again, you can’t sack the entire squad and replace all players in the middle of the season.

For now, the management’s plan appears to be maintaining the status-quo and hope for the better.

Yet, things are heading further south…

Harsh Defeat for Milan

While Juventus have no one else to blame but themselves, Milan were once again on the wrong end of a harsh and debatable refereeing call in Europe.

Last season, the Rossoneri were the victims of dubious decisions, especially during an encounter against Atletico Madrid, which ultimately cost them a place in the round of 16.

On Tuesday, Stefano Pioli’s men received a major blow when the official gave Chelsea an early penalty for a “soft” challenge from Fikayo Tomori on Mason Mount, while also giving the defender his marching orders.

From then on, the Blues were on an open road to victory against a 10-man Milan who were left with many reasons to complain.

Nonetheless, the Italians can still turn the tide in their favor with positive results in their final two group stage outings against Dinamo Zagreb and Salzburg.

The Best in Europe

With all due respect to Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Real Madrid and any other European juggernaut, Napoli are currently the best team in Europe both in terms of results and performances.

The fact that the Partenopei have already reached the Champions League knockout stages in what can be considered as a tough group is telling enough. The Southern Italians have already beaten Liverpool, Rangers and Ajax (twice) while never failing to score less than three goals.

For how long will they maintain this surreal level remains to be seen, but for now, Luciano Spalletti’s troops are an absolute joy to watch.

So let’s enjoy their extraordinary displays while they last.

Barcelona Resurrect Inter

Prior to the first clash against Barcelona, Inter were a side in shambles. The Blaugrana were supposed to run riot against the hapless Nerazzurri. Yet, it was the Italians who collected four points from their two thrilling clashes against the Catalans.

But while the first meeting at the Giuseppe Meazza was characterized by controversial refereeing, the Camp Nou clash turned out to be a fabulous technical battle on the pitch as well as thrilling tactical duel between the two managers on the dugout.

At the end of the day, Simone Inzaghi’s team is on the cusp of qualification following an epic 3-3 draw, but more importantly, Inter have rediscovered their hunger, organization and ability to gain positive results after two exhausting yet exhilarating contests against the Catalan giants.

New Priority for Fiorentina?

Since the start of their continental adventure in the Europa Conference League, we said that Fiorentina don’t have enough depth to produce decent results on two fronts.

In hindsight, one would suggest a half-rotation in Europe, while trying to keep the squad fresh for the domestic challenges, who are often deemed more important than a third-tier European competition which offers little in terms of prize money.

However, the Viola don’t qualify to European competitions every year. In fact, they’re unlikely to seal a Top 7 finish as things stand at the moment.

So since they may not be around next season, they might as well make their current adventure count.

After beating Hearts in back-to-back encounters, Vincenzo Italiano’s men have boosted their qualification hopes, and perhaps they can replicate Roma’s European success from last season, and keep the trophy on Italian soil.

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