Thursday, 3 May 2007

Champions' League Semi-Finals

So on Tuesday Chelsea Boy and I went to watch Liverpool-Chelsea in an Irish pub on Piazza Esquilino. It turned out, almost inevitably, to be full of glory-hunting Reds from Nebraska/Korea/Ireland /North Africa, and there was much squealing at the telly and a guy shouting 'We won it 5 times' in Mid-Western accent despite having never even been to the UK let alone Anfield. You can imagine how popular this was with CB and me. I've never liked Liverpool (you'd struggle to find a Romanista who does, though for me it predates my giallorosso-ness, being based on a natural antipathy to the smugness of Red fandom and its relentless self-mythologising, further intensified by a long-term relationship with a Toffee) and I was very much hoping for a Chelsea-Milan final.

Ah well. CB, who has been going regularly since he was 11 or 12, and has been a season-ticket holder for most of that time, was... not happy. Actually he took it pretty well considering. He did vent a small amount of rage at the Nebraska boy, who looked terrified (CB having most of the physical attributes of your stereotypical Chelsea fan, being 6'3, solid, and with a shaven head.) The match was woeful and I won't risk boring you by referring to the actual football at all.

In my wisdom I decided to enliven the proceedings by getting monumentally drunk.
The 6 or 7 pints weren't a problem, it was the 3 extra-large grappas afterwards which may have been not such a good plan. Especially since we'd not had any dinner. I turned out not to be able to, er, walk. Whilst CB went to get a taxi he made me hug a lamp-post in a (sadly fruitless) effort to keep me vertical. Apparently it took us a long time to get home. Then I fell asleep on the kitchen floor and my poor housemate had to get up and help CB put me to bed. I awoke in the morning substantially dressed, including earrings, hair ornaments, contact lenses etc and with no recollection of the evening's later stages but, to compensate, a fine collection of cuts, grazes and bruises. Curiously, my self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of CB's amusement had not been a great success, rather managing to increase his impotent fury and contributing to a profound gloom the next morning. (I slept through most of that, mind).

So, Milan-Man Utd were up next. For once I fancied a rather sober match-watching experience and we went to a local pizzeria instead of the pub. I was a trifle conflicted since though I was very keen for Milan to knock out Man U (revenge, long-term ABUism, love of Maldini & Gattuso, sense of loyalty to Serie A after the abuse we've collectively taken) my fear was - and remains - that Milan will bottle it in a rematch of the 2005 final. Man Utd on the other hand have never been afraid of the Scousers and would have been a better option for keeping the trophy from their self-satisfied grasp. As it turned out these musings were irrelevant in the face of the overwhelming awfulness of Man U on the night. They looked as though they'd never played in the rain before, their defence was absolutely non-existent, their midfield as insubstantial as Gattuso's control of his temper, their attack merely woeful. Milan sliced them open like a carving knife through polenta.

It was, thankfully, an entertaining game (except for the red side of Manchester, I daresay) which was sorely needed after the borefest of Tuesday. No interminable lumping of speculative long-balls up the pitch here. Since you ask, during the match I drank a litre of lightly sparkling water. I have to say though that Liverpool's defence will trouble Milan a lot more than poor Vidic did. If they can keep Kakà quiet, and exploit the space down the wings better than Giggs & Ronaldo managed, Liverpool will have a very good chance of adding to their infuriating tally of European Cups, not least since Dida is extremely error-prone and easily caught out from set-pieces. Nonetheless, it ought I think to be a good game. I can't see it feels right wanting Milan to win - the pictures of Berlusconi dancing around with delight, accompanied by Galliani gurning in a frankly terrifying way - were seriously unpalatable. But Milan are much more than their proprietor and deserve to be respected for their history just as (begrudgingly) the other lot do.


Pat said...

I would like to think Man U were stopped from playing well by Milan rather than Man U playing bad.

As for the final, everyone says if Liverpool can close down Kaka they can win. But lets not forget doing that opens space for Seedorf and Pirlo who are finally hitting their straps. Also, I'm pretty sure a Milan defence with Nesta and Maldini/Kaladze can deal the Crouch-Kuyt, Especially with Gattuso tracking back and if Ambrosini plays like he did the other day, good night Liverpool.
This won't be revenge, this will be an average squad getting walloped by a good one.

Anonymous said...

Classy. Do they have alcoholics anonymous in Rome??

I agree, it was more a great Milan performance than a bad Man Utd performance.

Anonymous said...

che serata, eh spangly!!!

TrentToffee said...

Good on yer girl. I don't like those red f*ckers either. Not because I'm a Toffee, I'm simply prejudiced against scousers. Work that one out.

Spangly Princess said...

I would say rather that Man U failed to do anything to impede Milan's play. Yes, the rossoneri played beautifully but they were left to rampage around without let or hindrance. They had all the time on the ball they wanted whereas as soon as Man U had possession they were being harried and pressed - credit to Milan - but also panicking and making sloppy errors - discredit to them.

Antonio Gurrado said...

The irony was that Milan played home and I watched it away.

martinobhoy said...

I agree that several large grappas was probably the only way to get through the Liverpool v Chelsea match.

a.c.t. said...

Grazie ;-)

It was definitely the best Milan performance I've seen in a while. 'Milan sliced them open like a carving knife through polenta'- love that.

de vertalerin said...

I thought the ManU defence was awful, I don't think I've often seen anything as bad as the way they fannied around to concede the first goal.

Off to watch the (women's) FA Cup Final on Monday - Arsenal Ladies going for the quadruple. Chew on that, Maurinho.

Anonymous said...

"their midfield as insubstantial as Gattuso's control of his temper"
hahaha excellent line

- Juventino