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Italian charge gathers pace

Published: Thursday 17 March 2005, 17.51CET
With three Serie A teams in the last eight, the Italian media are buoyant. features

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Published: Thursday 17 March 2005, 17.51CET

Italian charge gathers pace

With three Serie A teams in the last eight, the Italian media are buoyant.
The last time three Italian teams reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals two years ago, the triumvirate advanced to the last four and two of them, AC Milan and Juventus FC, contested a final won by the Rossoneri in Manchester.

Model example
With FC Internazionale Milano again joining their northern rivals in the latter stages following Tuesday's elimination of holders FC Porto, the country's biggest sports paper, Gazzetta dello Sport, revelled in the continued success of Serie A clubs in Europe. "Italian football may have a thousand internal problems but on the pitch we remain a model to follow," it said. "Those who fear an all-Italian final must be seriously worried now."

Adriano back
As well as echoing those sentiments, the Corriere dello Sport believes Inter have every chance of etching their name on the European Champion Clubs' Cup for the first time in 40 years - particularly as star striker Adriano roared back into form with a hat-trick in the 3-1 second-leg victory against Porto. "Inter have Adriano back, and as they are out of the race for the Scudetto, they can preserve their energy for the Champions League and go a long way in the competition."

'Triumphant return'
The Corriere della Sera hailed "a triumphant return for Italian football", adding: "We still have three teams in the competition - the same three which reached the semi-finals two years ago. If they avoid derbies in the next round, surely they can repeat that fantastic result of 2003." If Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, FC Bayern München, Olympique Lyonnais and PSV Eindhoven will be hoping for an Italian pairing in Friday's draw, so too is Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti - provided his side are not involved.

'Biggest threats'
"I would prefer not to face another Italian team in the quarter-finals," said the man who masterminded Milan's triumph at Old Trafford. "Honestly, I would like [Inter and Juve] to face each other because I think they are the biggest threats to our chances of winning the Champions League." The Gazzetta dello Sport concurred, saying: "The victory against Porto can become a huge turning point in Inter's season. The smile is back on Adriano's face and that is very good news for Inter - he is an artist."

'End of an era'
While the Roberto Mancini era kicks in for the blue half of Milan, the Portuguese press are downbeat about the passing of one in their country. A Bola said: "After two and a half years of success in the UEFA Cup and Champions League, Porto suffered their first big defeat in UEFA competition since the summer of 2002. The Dragons not only lost a game to one of Europe's biggest clubs, they also saw the end of an era."

Last updated: 18/03/05 9.52CET

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