Fabio Capello may have stole the off pitch headlines last night with resigning, surprising to some, maybe a bit less to others, but it was a busy European and African night, with Juventus grabbing a 2-1 win over AC Milan in the Italian Cup, Barcelona beating Valencia and Zambia stunning Ghana, setting up the final against the Ivory Coast.
So where to begin? With what people usually care about I guess, Barcelona. A 1-1 draw at the Mestalla was a good enough launching pad for Guardiola’s men to dominate at the Nou Camp, beating Valenica 2-0, setting up a final against Bilbao. Both teams have a combined 48 Spanish Cups to date.
Something to learn about Barcelona? Not super strong, or super sweeping. They just don’t have it on most nights this season, but it looked easy enough. Fabregas missed a couple of sitters in front of the keeper while Valencia found it hard to trouble the shaky Barca defense, although that has more of a value to it when they play away from the Camp Nou.
In Italy, it was more proof that despite the tight title race, Juventus are simply the better side this season. The slowness, the predictability and the overall fatigue looking AC Milan side we’ve seen too many times this season was in full effect. Juventus, enjoying two surprising goals from Martin Caceres, might be heading for a double this season. This was also a very good indicator of what we might see two weeks from now at the same venue, when the two meet in league action. For Milan, title deciders are abundant right now, with Udinese waiting around the corner during the weekend.
But the real important matches were way down south, in Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to be exact. For some reason, people didn’t give the Ivory Coast the favorites tag. I understand Ghana being regarded as the number one African side these days, but putting Mali ahead of Drogba’s lads? Despite the 1-0 score, it wasn’t even close.
The big stunner happened earlier, when Emmanuel Mayuka scored a brilliant goal to give Zambia a place in the final for the first time since 1994. For the Ivory Coast, it’ll be chance to win a first title since 1992 and put 2006 and that disappointing final behind them.