Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When in Rome

Last night Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Champions League Semi-final second leg to clinch their place in the final for the second year running.

This is a big deal. The club have won the competition only three times in their history, 1968, 1999 & 2008. A 4th title would be amazing but just getting to the final is a big thing simply because of the rarity of such an event (the last two years excepted).

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, I hoped United would attack straight from the kick off knowing that an early goal would mean Arsenal had to score 3 to progress. Getting 2 goals in the first 11 minutes was way beyond expectations and the game was virtually over with Arsenal needing to score 4 against one of the meanest defences in the world.

The other semi final is currently in progress with Chelsea meeting Barcelona so we'll have to wait a little while longer to see who we'll meet with a repeat of last year's final a possibility.

My main concern with the final being held in Rome is more to do with events off the field. The reputation of Italian football fans is well deserved. Recent visits by both Manchester United and Arsenal have resulted in English fans being attacked and stabbed by Roma's 'Ultra's'.

The Champions league final, especially if it's between two English teams will certainly be an attraction for the less savoury residents of Roma and when added to the reputations of English football fans, there's a strong possibility of trouble.

Uefa have long claimed to clamp down on crowd trouble but the small fines handed out to Italian clubs shows that it is not as high on their agenda as it should be and rewarding a city with such a recent history of trouble, the Champions league final, they are only seen to be rewarding their behaviour rather than demanding an end to the trouble.

1 comment:

  1. How crazy is that? Another CL final for United! I hope that the United supporters stay safe in the "City of Eternal Life".