Straight from the dark heart of Italy
So it’s a dream come true for Portsmouth and probably Braga, Wolfsburg and Heerenveen as well.If AC Milan have their way it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for their UEFA Cup opponents because another season away from the Champions League and not only the financial ramifications but the untold damage to the club’s standing in Europe will be crippling.For a start, they will have to play in something called the Europa League - a name that conjures up solid Scandinavian sides and a raft of UEFA’s newest members.By the time the Rossoneri turn up at Fratton Park in late November, Carlo Ancelotti will expect to have six points from the matches at Heerenveen and home to Braga.
"I'm so happy, I've never been to Portsmouth before..."
If not, well so what. Three teams go through anyway and Milan have played in England on plenty of occasions, making it along with Germany and Scotland the countries they enjoy visiting on their European jaunts.The usual reasons abound: excellent grounds, although Fratton Park may not be Old Trafford or Celtic Park, fans close to the pitch, good hospitality and general all-round sporting respect. That great advocator of all things northern European, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “We always look forward to a trip to countries such as Holland and England where we have always been well received.”Udinese should have a straight-forward time of it as well even if Tottenham Hotspur suddenly find some form, with Spartak Moscow’s artificial surface the perfect carpet for Pasquale Marino’s men's short-passing game. Sampdoria, on the other hand, have certainly got the worst of the draw, coming up against former holders Sevilla and Stuttgart at home, but their progress will hinge on gaining positive results at FK Partizan and Standard Liege. Samp coach Walter Mazzarri has always been a morose sort so this was probably a ringing endorsement of his side’s chances when he said: “It’s going to take the very best Sampdoria and something more to get through.”If the Serie A presidents get their way, playing in the Europa League won’t be much of a draw anyway because Italy will have it’s own Super League sooner rather than later.
Serie B: Soon to be cast aside by the big boys?
Despite impending worldwide financial meltdown, the big chiefs believe there is gold in them there hills and are set to break away from Serie B, much in the same way the English Premier League came into being back in the 1990s.At the moment, Cagliari president Massimo Cellini has been the only one to open his mouth and utter that divorce is in the air. “Serie A will separate from B,” he informed the press after another summit meeting between the two divisions in Milan. However, Cellini and the other owners of the “lesser” sides in the top flight should be careful what they wish for.A “Superliga,” as mooted before by Silvio Berlusconi at the end of last season, would be just that and there would be no room, not only for the likes of Cagliari, but at least eight other medium-sized outfits.
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