Serie A cut down to size after Champions League debacle

March 13th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, March 13 (DPA) The Italian Serie A football tournament continues in a subdued tone this weekend after its three remaining teams were eliminated from the Champions League.
As happened last year, three English sides took care of reminding Italy’s football buffs that, despite the Azzurri’s world title, their home league is no longer the best in the world, as some prided themselves on some years ago.

Leaders Inter Milan were possibly the most disappointed as they again failed to proceed past the round of 16 despite the supremacy displayed in Italy in the past three seasons.

Holders Manchester United sent them packing, as Liverpool did in 2008, leaving new Inter coach Jose Mourinho to vie for the home title and the Italian Cup.

“Today I have a great certainty that the scudetto will be ours,” Mourinho said. “I understand that all of Italy will be happy because Mourinho was eliminated, but this is not my problem.

“I say we did not advance only due to bad luck. With Porto I won (in 2004) doing even less.”

After losing 2-0 at Old Trafford, Mourinho’s side look to retain their seven-point lead over Juventus when they welcome Fiorentina late Sunday.

Inter have 63 points from 27 games with 11 games remaining until the end of the season.

Juve, who were eliminated by Chelsea, drawing 2-2 at home but going out 3-2 on aggregate, welcome lowly a Bologna side Saturday led by league top striker Marco Di Vaio.

Also Saturday, Genoa visit Cagliari hoping to leapfrog Fiorentina and occupy the fourth available Champions League berth.

Roma lie level with Genoa and are also keen on playing in the Champions League again after Arsenal eliminated them on penalties, but have a hard task Sunday away to in-form Sampdoria.

Well positioned to play in the next European season are third-placed AC Milan, who won their seventh continental crown in 2003 over Juventus.

The Devils visit Siena Sunday, when Lazio welcome struggling Chievo, Udinese take on Catania and Palermo host troubled Lecce, who hope to leave the drop zone with the help of freshly hired coach Luigi De Canio.

Napoli also switched helmsman this week, welcoming former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni ahead of a visit to bottom side Reggina.

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