Always watch Serie A

The Premier League prides itself on being the biggest and best football league in the world. It’s certainly the wealthiest, it arguably has the best collection of playing talent in the world right now too. 

Sky Sports and BT present the show as the grandest spectacle, with the greatest characters and stakes. 

All of that might even be true. The league definitely has the highest quality of coaching talent anywhere in the world.

But it’s not the only place to go if you’re looking for entertaining football.

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Serie A is in the midst of an absolutely classic season as well and it deserves greater recognition.

On a pure goals basis, it is the best in Europe. There has been an average of 3.0 goals per game, 15 games into the season. The Premier League can only manage a slightly less impressive 2.6 goals per game.

The spread of the goals is also far more even. Liverpool’s 43 goals from 14 games is 10 greater than second best Chelsea’s 33. Norwich’s eight goals also leaves the gap to the bottom looking a total chasm.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan’s 36 goals is only 25 better than Salernitana’s last placed 11. AC Milan, Napoli and Atalanta are all also managing 30+ goals so far.

The Premier League can brag about a historic three-way fight for the title, but Serie A can do one better. There are currently four sides who all look capable of taking the Scudetto.

It is still early days, but five points separates the top four of Napoli, Milan, Inter and Atalanta.

Each of those four come with their own remarkable story.

Napoli are Italy’s perennial underachievers. It took the great Diego Maradona to bring league triumph in the 1980s, but the closest they have come to winning the league since came under Maurizio Sarri in the 2010s.

Milan’s re-emergence as one of Italy’s best teams has been a long road, but they finally look like they can hang with the best of them. There have been a lot of lows since their last league win in 2011, but Stefano Pioli’s side are only one point behind the league leaders.

Inter Milan were gutted of some of their best players and their world class coach over the Summer, but shrewd transfer signings and great management by Simone Inzaghi has seen the holders maintain league challenging form while under dire financial straits.

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Last, but not least, Atalanta are one of European football’s great underdogs.

On a budget a fraction the size of any of their competitors, the Bergamo side have consistently over-performed what is expected of a club of their size, while playing an exciting and unique brand of attacking football.

Meanwhile, the mid table features the likes of Jose Mourinho’s Roma side and a struggling Juventus.

Mourinho has been up to his usual tricks in the nation’s capital. After a humiliating 6-1 loss in Europe to Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt, the veteran manager tore into his squad’s lack of quality. 

“We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple,” said Mourinho, via SPORTbible.

“If I could always play with the same XI, then I would. It’s risky, because we have a huge gap in quality between the two groups of players.

“I knew the limits of this squad, it is not new to me, but I still expected a better response. As I said, it’s my choice to play them, so my responsibility.”

Max Allegri re-joined Juventus in the Summer, having won the league title with the Old Lady in all of his five previous seasons at the club. However, it’s been a horrid start to the campaign for Italy’s most successful club.

Two points from the opening four games set the team back massively. Despite a four game winning run in the next games, Juve have only won three of their last seven league games and sit sixth in the table, 12 points off Napoli.

Sarri also returned to management in the Summer with Lazio. Their 29 goals scored and 29 conceded from 15 games is the tale of how that’s gone so far.

Most recently, they drew 4-4 with Udinese in a chaotic game that also saw three red cards — including one 10 minutes deep into stoppage time and in the immediate aftermath of a late equaliser.

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This season has also seen a number of high profile managers sent off. Luciano Spalletti was even punished for sincerely congratulating a match official on a job well done in Napoli’s 0-0 draw with Roma, where Mourinho was also sent off for the opposition.

In true Italian football style, there have also been off-field dramas including a search warrant of official club offices by agents from the Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s police force for financial affairs.

Investigation Prisma — yes, it has its own name — has seen Juventus, Inter Milan and Genoa among others accused of alleged false accounting, false company reporting and billing for non-existent transactions.

While the Premier League might be prime time TV for most people, the lesson everyone needs to learn is to always watch Serie A.

The Author

Declan Harte

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