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Juvenile Junkie
12-08-2011, 06:27 AM
Ah,the age old battle between EPL,La Liga and Serie experts,journo's and pundits continues.

COMMENT

By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor

And so the job was completed. Tentatively, but tremendously, Napoli made their way into the knockout stages of the Champions League on Wednesday night. A second 2-0 victory over Villarreal in Group A was enough to stave off any concern that they’d fall at the final hurdle, and it is Italy, rather than England, who take a third place in the last 16.


It was not one of their greater displays; for an hour they looked sluggish. Weighed down by the expectation – by the responsibility – they offered only fleeting glimpses of their usual ability to make chances from their own territory. But their hosts never looked convincing in their quest to upset the form book and secure their first point of the campaign.

When Gokhan Inler collected Marek Hamsik’s pass and delivered a magnificent left-foot strike inside Diego Lopez’s near post, the pressure was released. The relief and the joy mixed to unveil a more exuberant Napoli, and soon after Hamsik side-footed home when Edinson Cavani’s run distracted two near-post defenders at Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner. The job was done. The travelling supporters began their celebrations, Naples erupted, and Manchester sank to its knees.

As much as the victory in Spain mathematically clinched their spot in the draw on December 16, it was their results in the head to head with Roberto Mancini’s mega-money Manchester City that earned them their right to continue on in the Champions League.

The opening night draw at Eastlands could have gone either way, but the Vesuviani held firm and even led at one point, as City showed the greater nerves of the two newcomers to the revised competition. Then a fortnight ago it was Napoli who turned less possession into more chances, and ultimately more goals. They had been cleverer, more wily, shown greater experience, and a greater ability to come to terms technically with football at the top level. City’s denouement arrived at San Paolo.


And it is to that grand cauldron in Naples that Champions League football will return in February or March. As it will to San Siro as Italy takes three representatives to the knockout stages. It is a unique feat in this season’s competition. Spain lost Valencia and Villarreal, England said goodbye to Manchester United as well as their noisy neighbours, while Germany’s champions Borussia Dortmund will play no part in European football after Christmas.
The trio of countries that will have four clubs at the top table next term are left with only half as many in the second half of this year’s version, while Italy stands proud. Not that you’d know it looking at the co-efficient table for this season.

The achievements last night, combined with last week’s Europa League results, take Italy up to fifth in Uefa’s standings. Yes, FIFTH! They leapfrogged Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium and Cyprus thanks to Napoli’s win and the progression of Inter and AC Milan.

The best-performing country in the Champions League so far is actually losing ground on the other competing nations for that fourth spot at the big table. Why? Because Roma and Palermo realised they had better things to do than spend up to 19 weeks this season playing in the Europa League when they could be preparing for the altogether more important prospect of Serie A football. Had the Rosanero gone for broke and taken the competition seriously, an appearance in the final would have extended their season by 50 per cent, while for the capital side it would have been an extra 17 matches. Their exits at the first hurdle, to FC Thun and Steaua Bucharest respectively, undoubtedly improved the quality of their league campaign – you only need to look at Juventus’ form to see what free midweeks can do. But Italy is still paying for having its priorities sorted.

Napoli’s win gained the country four bonus points for progression to the knockout stages, plus an extra point for a last-16 appearance, but that then gets divided by seven – the number of Italian participants in Europe when the season began back in June – making a 0.714 gain for the peninsula. To put that into context, Stoke City’s three Europa League wins this season have gained England 0.750 points.

The farce continues this morning. Italy should be taking a bow right now. A struggling Inter have shown grit and character to make the last 16, Milan set the tone with their 2-2 draw in Barcelona on opening night and clinched their progression two rounds early, while Napoli came out of the ‘Group of Death’ unscathed. But Italy stands fifth in this season’s tally.

CO-EFFICIENTS EARNED IN 2011-12 BY COUNTRY
Co-efficient
CL-only co-efficient*
England 11.750 14.500 (3rd)
Spain 11.071 14.000 (5th)
Germany 10.083 14.333 (4th)
France 9.333 13.833 (6th)
Italy 9.071 16.333 (1st)
Portugal 8.833 15.500 (2nd)

* Derived from results gained by teams qualifying for the CL group stage, positions in brackets not including countries outside of Uefa's top six

Like British bankers – rewarded for bringing the country into near-financial meltdown with bonuses and handouts – so England’s clubs will get away with their dire Champions League form by remaining at the top of the co-efficients. Of the top six countries in the table right now, Italy have gained a greater mark if taking only Champions League group results into account – and that is the way it should be.
Football should be about savouring victories, not working out two divided by seven every time a team from your country wins. That’s why when the first draw of the knockout stage is made next week, this writer will be weighing up which of Italy’s teams might be able to make it further down the track towards May’s final in Munich, rather than working out where the next 0.286 points might be coming from.

AC Milan, Inter and now Napoli are in the last 16, and clubs like Manchester United, Valencia, Dortmund and Manchester City are not. It’s a huge reason to be cheerful, even if Uefa don’t necessarily agree. Congraulations to Napoli and to Italy. Keep up the good work.

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Tomsta666
12-08-2011, 06:33 AM
Oh looky here!!

Another JJ thread trashing England and English football!! :rolleyes:

I'll give you props dude, you're nothing if not consistant!! :cool:

VanHooliganX
12-08-2011, 06:46 AM
Oh looky here!!

Another JJ thread trashing England and English football!! :rolleyes:

I'll give you props dude, you're nothing if not consistant!! :cool:

I doubt this thread would've existied if Villareal didn't suck and United won against Basel.

Steve Austin
12-08-2011, 01:47 PM
Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after Thread after thread after thread after thread after thread after... ;)

Seriously though, everyone else here gives unbiased views, why can't you?

Btw, I hope Milan win or go far.

Wade Barrett 1979
12-08-2011, 03:40 PM
I just have one thing to say, about the intelligence of this article:

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhhahahahahahahahaha hahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahaha!!

That is all!!

VanHooliganX
12-08-2011, 03:42 PM
Does anyone know when the Europa League draw is anyway?

Also no i'm not embrassed to say that. Upset maybe but not embrassed. I've waited quite a few years to get into Europe and I enjoy watching us play.

Wade Barrett 1979
12-08-2011, 03:51 PM
Does anyone know when the Europa League draw is anyway?

Also no i'm not embrassed to say that. Upset maybe but not embrassed. I've waited quite a few years to get into Europe and I enjoy watching us play.

Draw is December 16th! They draw round of 32 and 16. Round of 32 played 16th and 23rd February!

THE HEARTBREAK KID
12-08-2011, 04:01 PM
the thing is.. this guy is greek LOL why he wants too show the world that the premier league or english football is rubbish is a mystery!!

Already looking forward too the next thread dude :D LOL

and Van i think the draws are on the 16th or 17th of december, going too be so weird watching United on thursdays,

Tommy Thunder
12-08-2011, 04:05 PM
JJ, you never fail to make me laugh out loud with your threads!!

Keep up the good work son!

VanHooliganX
12-08-2011, 04:08 PM
the thing is.. this guy is greek LOL why he wants too show the world that the premier league or english football is rubbish is a mystery!!

Already looking forward too the next thread dude :D LOL

and Van i think the draws are on the 16th or 17th of december, going too be so weird watching United on thursdays,

JJs trying to win funniest member of the year award i'm telling ya ;D

Also thank you wade and THBK :) I hate missing draws.

I can imagine that being weird though. I follow a lot of sports so matches come very quick on days dates at times so i've adjusted but hopefully Celtic, Fulham and Birmingham can join Man utd, city and....Stoke? :S

THE HEARTBREAK KID
12-08-2011, 04:16 PM
JJs trying to win funniest member of the year award i'm telling ya ;D

Also thank you wade and THBK :) I hate missing draws.

I can imagine that being weird though. I follow a lot of sports so matches come very quick on days dates at times so i've adjusted but hopefully Celtic, Fulham and Birmingham can join Man utd, city and....Stoke? :S

no worries mate :D

yh stoke have already qualified i belive!! :)

Wade Barrett 1979
12-08-2011, 04:17 PM
JJs trying to win funniest member of the year award i'm telling ya ;D

Also thank you wade and THBK :) I hate missing draws.

I can imagine that being weird though. I follow a lot of sports so matches come very quick on days dates at times so i've adjusted but hopefully Celtic, Fulham and Birmingham can join Man utd, city and....Stoke? :S

I'm happiest for Stoke! It's good to see a different team in Europe, plus the Britannia is one of my favourite grounds, after Anfield!! Also, Big Up for the Midlands posse! :p

VanHooliganX
12-08-2011, 04:19 PM
I hope the draw is kind to Stoke. I'd love them to do well.

inb4 Valencia, Athletico Madrid, Sporting Braga, Ajax or PSV. Or Anderlecht if its a rainy day lol

Wade Barrett 1979
12-08-2011, 04:21 PM
JJ, you never fail to make me laugh out loud with your threads!!

Keep up the good work son!

It's a maelstrom of reactions, with his threads! I'm pissing myself, shaking my head in disbelief and feeling a strange sense of pity, all at the same time! :D