It's an Anglo-Italian super-battle in the Champions League last 16 as Juventus take on Chelsea, Roma meet Arsenal and Inter play Manchester United. It is often said that the two countries and leagues are poles apart, so here are 30 comical cultural differences between Italy and England…
1) In Italy on Sundays, it's church, match, home for supporters. In England, its pub, match, pub.
2) In Italy, pasta and meatballs with a glass of red wine is the pre-match meal. In England, kebab and chips with a pint of beer on the way to the stadium does the trick.
3) In Italy, the police will allow you to throw oranges at a team bus. In England you'd go to jail.
4) Italian fans behave when going abroad, but go berserk at home. English fans behave at home, but go stark-raving mad when in Europe.
5) In England, fans sit on the stadium seats. In Italy they use them as weapons.
6) In England, the stadium stewards watch the crowd. In Italy, the stewards watch the match or, as in the case at Catania, are actually club Ultras.
7) In England, if you want something to eat at a game you have to go and buy it from the stadium snack bar. In Italy, you just shout 'A Bibitaro' at the guy selling snacks 20 metres away, and then push your money along the row of fans as he passes a cornetto back.
8) In England, if you are fast, strong and powerful, and can run nonstop for 90 minutes you are a great player, even if you have the touch and skills of a donkey. In Italy, if you are tactically and technically excellent, you are a good player, even if you have the speed and mobility of a snail.
9) In England, if SKY Sports says that Peter Crouch is the best player in the world, the whole country believes and preaches it. In Italy, if SKY Italia says that Simone Loria is the best defender on the planet, the whole nation cancels their satellite subscription.
10) In Italy, ‘the end justifies the means’, and shirt-pulling, diving, cynical fouls and fooling the referee are seen as important parts of the game. In England, these things are seen as cheating, and the philosophy that ‘the means justifies the end’ is followed, with fair play more important than winning at all costs.
11) In Italy, defending is an art. In England, defending is anti-football.
12) In Italy, if a team is 3-0 down, the players all give up, while the fans abuse the team, smash up the worst player’s car, and invade training the next morning. In England, if a team is losing 8-0, the players continue to fight and chase every ball until the last minute even though the cause is lost, while the supporters continue to sing and cheer on their heroes.
13) In England, a bad referee is incompetent. In Italy, a bad referee is corrupt.
14) In England post-weekend football shows are 99% highlights and 1% analysis. In Italy shows are 1% highlights, and 99% analysis (or slow-motion replays).
15) In England, you rarely hear from chairmen, who often mind their own business and stay out of the press. In Italy, the presidents are utterly insane at times, regularly making controversial remarks, with Palermo’s Maurizio Zamparini the most infamous.
Off The Pitch
16) In Italy, bribery and corruption is a part of life. In England, a backhander is a tennis shot.
17) In England, you are innocent until proven guilty. In Italy, you are guilty until proven innocent.
18) In Italy, children are first given alcohol when they are nine months old, and learn how to respect and enjoy liquor. In England, children are banned from drinking alcohol until they are 18, and then proceed to massacre the stuff.
19) In Italy, sons are cradled by their mothers until they are 40. In England, sons have their own house and are looking after themselves at the age of 16.
20) Italian men are already shaving before they are 11-years-old, and need to use a razor every day to stay smooth. English men don’t start shaving until they are 18, and then have to wait five years just to grow a little bit of stubble on the end of their chin.
21) In England, punctuality and timekeeping is extremely important. In Italy, being on time is arriving 30 minutes late.
22) In Italy, no one who travels by train buys a ticket. In England, everyone buys a ticket, even though the prices are a scandalous rip-off and it would be cheaper to take a taxi.
23) In England, breaking the law is something you usually keep to yourself. In Italy, breaking petty rules is a source of amusement and something worth boasting about.
24) Italians who go on holiday blend into the surroundings and will turn brown in the sun. The English, who spend most their holidays recovering from sunburn, have ‘tourist’ written all over them as they trudge onto the beach with Hawaiian shirts, and socks and sandles.
25) In Italy the idea of wearing head-to-toe sporting clothing is considered unfashionable. In England wearing anything other than head-to-toe sports clothing is considered feminine.
26) In Italy, no one queues up, instead pushing in at the last minute after pretending they know someone at the front. In England, people queue up for hours, and then when they are still turned away at the end, they leave without a fuss.
27) In Italy, politics is a matter of life and death depending on which side of the fence you are on. In England it is not as important as 'Big Brother', a show where a bunch of talentless nobodies do nothing all day.
28) In Italy, it is normal for two people of the same sex to greet each other with a hug and kiss on both cheeks. In England, you are not heterosexual if you do this.
29) In Italy, if you go to a dinner party, you are guaranteed a six course meal, a doggy bag, and you have to refuse even more food at least 10 times before the host finally accepts no for an answer. “Are you sure, you don’t want some more?”…”Yes, I am bloody sure!” In England, you are asked to bring a bottle with you, the sausage rolls and Quavers run out after 10 minutes, and you have to make a stop at the McDonalds drive-thru on the way back home because you are still hungry.
30) In Italy, TV babes include Juliana Moreira, Ilary Blasi, Christina Chiabotto, Ilaria D’Amico and Michelle Hunziker, to name just a handful. In England it's Jordan or Jody Marsh.
What are your views on this topic? Any other cultural differences between Italy and England that you can offer? Goal.com would like to know...
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com