No Italian club will be in the quarterfinals of the European Champions League for the second year in a row. The disaster of Juventus, defeated 3-0 at home by Villarreal on Wednesday, opens the debate in Italy, the champion country of the last European Championship for national teams.
“A colossal failure a few days before the play-off for the World Cup in Qatar: the Italian champion of Europe, at the international level, is reduced almost to zero,” Corriere dello Sport was alarmed, very upset at having to “follow on television “The rest of the 2021-2022 Champions League, now without Serie A clubs.
Once again, Roberto Mancini’s Nazionale will have to try to lift the spirits of the ‘tifosi’, but to do so they must get a ticket to the World Cup. First they will have to beat North Macedonia in the semifinals of the playoffs on Thursday of next week and then they will have to beat Portugal or Turkey on Tuesday the 29th in a possible final.
Only one Azzurra player, Jorginho (Chelsea), is qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals. In the rest of the internationals, disappointment with their clubs is the general note, as is the case with Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marco Verratti (PSG) or Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) and Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan).
Inter was eliminated by Liverpool, putting up a fight (1-0 win in the second leg, after losing 2-0 in the first leg), but Juventus crashed against Villarreal with that setback in Turin 3-0, after 1 -1 achieved in the first game in Spain.
Massimiliano Allegri, a specialist in the Champions League (two finals, in 2015 and 2017, with Juventus), received a real lesson from Unai Emery, Villarreal’s strategist. He did not manage to do better than Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo, also defeated with the ‘Vecchia Signora’ in the round of 16 in the last two years.
The fiasco of the Italian clubs in this Champions League confirms the decline of a country that sees its ‘Golden Age’ further and further away.
Italy remains one of the countries with four Champions League places, but has only sent two clubs to the quarterfinals in the last four years (Juventus in 2019, Atalanta in 2020).
A rate of quarterfinalists (12.5%) much lower than that of the other countries that also have four places for the maximum European tournament: England 68%, Spain 41%, Germany 30%. Even behind France (25%), which has three places for the Champions League.
Villarreal’s manager, Unai Emery, tried to reassure Italian journalists by stating that ‘Calcio’ maintained “a high level, like Spanish, German and English football”.
But for former AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi, champion of two European titles (1989, 1990), the problem lies in a lack of ambition.
“We Italians always believe we are the saviors of the country. But to think that a single player can beat only eleven opponents makes no sense. The game is what makes the difference,” he stressed Thursday in the pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The criticism undoubtedly goes mainly to Juventus, who relied too much on Wednesday on the talent of their Serbian attacker Dusan Vlahovic, as they did with Cristiano Ronaldo in the past.
Atalanta and AC Milan were more ambitious in the game in the group stage, but without luck.
Italy will have to wait for the 2022-2023 season to try to reconquer the throne of European clubs, something it has not achieved since Inter Milan raised the “Orejona” in 2010.
alu / jta / jed / mdm / dr