The glory days of soccer for the northern Italian city of Milan ended abruptly two years ago. FC Internazionale and AC Milan, which share the municipality’s Stadio San Siro, have been turning back the clock with their slow starts to the season.
Inter fell, 2-0, to Siena Sunday, starting off with two home defeats for the first time since 1936. Inter is in sixth place in Serie A with a 2-2-0 record (6 points), but is not competing in the Champions League.
Actually, Inter appeared revived for most of the game against Siena, but fell victim to a clinical finish by 36-year-old midfielder Simone Vergassola on a second-half counterattack.
Milan has a 1-3-0 record (3 points) and is in 15th place, only the fourth time the Rossoneri have lost three of their opening four matches — and the first time since 1940-41 — and are facing a home game Wednesday against Cagliari that could determine the fate of coach Massimiliano Allegri. Brazilian Robinho is expected to return from injury for Milan.
In 2010, Inter took the Serie A scudetto for the second successive season and won the Champions League for the third time — giving the city a record 10 European Cup titles.
That year, Milan was third in Serie A and a Champions League quarterfinalist. Milan won its seventh European Cup title in 2007, then won the World Club Cup in ’08 and reached the semifinals of the Champions last year.
The demise of Inter and Milan reflects a gradual decline in Serie A. But the league has plans for a revival, based on modernization. This operation has started with clubs taking control of their stadiums. Juventus was the first to build a stadium, and the club’s reorganization has resulted in a Serie A title and a team that appears capable of competing in the Champions League following a 2-2 tie at defending champion Chelsea last week.
Udinese is also constructing a stadium and AS Roma is planning to do so.
Serie A’s situation is not as dire as the English league’s was in the 1980s, when it was faced with outdated stadiums and outmoded managerial methods, which led to tragic consequences.
Nourished by television money and guided by government-mandated standards, the rebranded Premier League has become the richest soccer league in the world.
There was a reminder of how low English soccer had to go before it began reviving when the Hillsborough Independent Panel findings absolved spectators from blame in the 1989 tragedy during an FA Cup match in Sheffield.
The crowd at Anfield Stadium choreographed the words “The Truth” before the Liverpool-Manchester United game Sunday, acknowledging the panel’s report. United defeated Liverpool, 2-1, on a late penalty kick by Robin Van Persie.
Real Madrid’s visit to Rayo Vallecano was postponed Sunday after power lines were cut to Estadio Vallecas.
Rayo president Raul Martin Presa blamed “futbol terrorists” but was unable to explain what that was supposed to mean.
Among the most plausible theories for the act is that Rayo supporters were the culprits, protesting the club’s decision to increase ticket prices by 25 euros for this contest. The game was played Monday, Real Madrid taking a 2-0 victory on a 13th-minute goal by Karim Benzema and a late penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona has dominated Spain’s La Liga, winning five successive games with a 15-3 goal differential. Real Madrid (2-2-1, 7 points) is off to a slow start. Last season, Real Madrid had a 32-2-4 record, winning the title for the 32d time, with a plus-89 goal differential.
Rising in RussiaFormer Revolution star Clint Dempsey has been MLS’s most successful export, recently signing a contact with Tottenham worth more than $7 million annually, making him the highest-paid US player ever. Yura Movsisyan, formerly of Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, has maintained a lower profile than other MLS exports, but Movsisyan has struck it rich in Russia. Movsisyan leads the Russian Premier League with eight goals in nine games for FK Krasnodar. When Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup, its starting strikers were Robbie Findley, 24, and Movsisyan, 22. Findley scored 12 goals, tied for third in the MLS in ’09. Of the top 10 scorers in ’09, Findley is the only one to have moved on, going to Nottingham Forest in 2010; he is now on loan from Forest to Gillingham. Movsisyan totaled eight goals during the ’09 regular season, transferring to Randers FC in Denmark, then earning a 2.5 million euro transfer to Krasnodar last year. Movsisysan had 14 goals as Krasnodar finished in ninth place last season, its first in the top division. Krasnodar is in 10th place this year. Movsisyan has also scored five goals in 17 appearances for Armenia’s national team, which is preparing for a World Cup qualifier next month against Italy . . . Lee Nguyen, the only member of the Revolution to play in all 30 games this season, underwent surgery on his right shoulder. The midfielder had five goals and two assists . . . American midfielder Michael Bradley resumed training with AS Roma after a thigh injury sidelined him for nearly a month.Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.