Last night officially saw the end of Italian football as we know it; the performance from Milan in the San Siro was quite simply a disgrace. I really do not want to take anything away from Tottenham as they played well enough to deserve their victory but the game was a non-event.
Expectations for the weeks Champions League ties were high going into last night; Spurs have been very entertaining in their debut season in Europe’s elite competition and Milan had been playing open, attacking football under their new manager Massimiliano Allegri. Unfortunately for many neutrals the game was terrible; it resembled a Europa Cup game not a last 16 encounter in the best competition in the world.
The Milan team is still full of ageing players who simply cannot compete with any of their fitter, stronger counterparts throughout Europe; this is also a sad indictment of most of the Italian teams at the moment. The only players who still looked able to play at the top level on last night’s evidence were Nesta and Pato. In all honesty I felt sorry for both of them with some of the dross they had to play with. The incredible thing about top defenders is that they always have time to play the ball out from the back and although Nesta does not possess the speed of old his reading of the game and technical ability remains higher than most defenders in Europe.
It is strange how cycles exist in football; I grew up without a Sky box and watched Serie A when it was the best and most entertaining league in the world. On current evidence it remains well short of what it was and it is hard to see how it can recapture the glory days again. Many of the stadiums remain from Italia 90 and they are decrepit and rarely reach capacity. I find it a real shame that Italian football has sunk to these depths and really hope they can rise again – but it is getting harder and harder to see.
I have not touched on the Gattuso – Jordon incident as it was plain for everyone to see what a disgrace he was; UEFA should punish him to the full extent of their powers, there is no place in football for that behaviour!
Let us hope that tonight’s game at the Emirates is better than the garbage on display last night.