The FA Cup brought about another famous upset with a rampant Rochdale while the city of Milan goes to opposite extremes with its two teams
They call it the magic of the cup. And what a magical night it was for third tier Rochdale. In the stadium where Harry Kane made his professional debut, the striker scored again for Tottenham, but it wasn’t enough, with the hosts booking their ticket to a Wembley replay with a last gasp equalizer.
Rochdale made the most of Tottenham’s defensive distractions, with Ian Henderson finding his sixth goal in this competition and Steve Davies sending the Crown Oil Arena wild by netting the equaliser in the 93rd minute. Pure magic.
The difference between the current form of the Rossoneri and the state they were in before Gennaro Gattuso took over is all in the results against Sampdoria. A 2-0 loss last time round, a 1-0 victory this time. Giacomo Bonaventura was on the scoresheet as Gattuso’s men landed their fifth win in six Serie A games to continue their European chase, a chase that now focusses on the Europa League, but that could become a Champions League challenge. Milan are now in sixth, seven points behind Inter in fourth: it’s possible.
They are back. If the Champions League demolition of Paris Saint Germain was not enough to show how Madrid are hitting top form, the five goals they put past Real Betis are just another demonstration of the European champions’ strength. Cristiano Ronaldo is La Liga’s top scorer in 2018, and Los Blancos are making the most of the talent of Marco Asensio, decisive against PSG and able to net a brace also at Betis. The squad depth is the added value to the immense quality Real Madrid can produce, and if the title race is done and dusted, the Champions League continues to remain a real objective.
What is happening to the Nerazzurri? What happens every season it seems. Inter’s mental strength is the weakest in Italian football, and negative results have demolished the team, just like in the past two seasons, under Roberto Mancini and Stefano Pioli. Coach Luciano Spalletti had brought serenity and immediate results, with the Nerazzurri up at the top of Serie A in late November. Since their loss to Udinese – the first of the season – on the 16th of December, Inter have only won once, the latest disappointment being this weekend’s defeat to Genoa. Tough times this side of Milan.
Nothing is lost, as there will be a rematch to be played at Wembley against Rochdale. But if it’s true that the FA Cup tie did give some good news – Lucas Moura finding his first goal and Kane that can’t stop scoring – Mauricio Pochettino also tested some players, and the likes of Toby Alderwerield seem far away from their best form. Spurs did their usual: amazing against a top European team like Juventus, average against a League One club.
After a tremendous win against Villarreal in the Europa League (3-1 result), and going 2-0 up in the first half at Lille, nobody would have thought that Lyon would blow away the three points. Instead, Bernard Traore’s double was cancelled out in the second half by the team 17th in the Ligue 1 table, with Lyon remaining fourth on 59 points, but losing ground to Marseille.