When did Serie A become so bad?

At the time of writing this, Juventus are ten points clear at the top of the Serie A, firmly on course to win a fourth title in succession. Last season they won the league by 17 points, in 2012/13 they boasted a nine point gap between them and second place Napoli, and in 2011/12, they won the title by a slightly more modest four points.

In the past three years then, Juventus have won the league by an average of ten points, so what exactly has happened to the Serie A? Why is it so easy for Juventus to win, but still always stumble on the European stage?

Juventus have inherited the crown from Inter Milan, who have been champions in five of the last nine seasons, with their last title coming back in2010. Inter (under Jose Mourinho) became the first team in Italian history to win the treble that season, leaving them at the forefront of European football.

 

It was also the last of a record-equalling fifth successive title. Fast forward five years, Inter Milan are tenth in Serie A, AC Milan aren’t even in Europe this season, and teams like Napoli and Roma look good, but not good enough, if we’re being completely honest. Juventus are therefore the only real force in Italian football right now.

Milan used to be home to two of European football’s greatest sides. The last time an Italian team other than AC or Inter Milan won the Champions League, I was two (Juventus in 1996). I’m now 20. AC Milan whimpered out of Europe last season, finishing eighth and disproving the myth that great players become great managers, as Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi found out.

Milan are now an ageing side, trapped in the upper echelons of mediocrity with no chance of returning back to the top anytime soon. Don’t let statistics fool you either. Italian teams have won the Champions League 12 times, the second most of any nation, trailing only Spain with 14. But Italian teams have won the Champions League just twice in the past 11 years, and it looks like it’ll be a while before that changes.

Inter have slowly regressed since Mourinho left, finishing ninth (2012/13), and fifth (2013/14) in recent years. They were taken over by Erick Tohir in 2013, and have since spent a fair bit of money trying to climb back to the top, but it’s been tough for the blue side of Milan. They are currently tenth, one place ahead of AC Milan.

Five years ago they parachuted Italian football to new heights, nowadays, their squad is comprised of the reject players from other clubs, like Xherdan Shaqiri (although he is too good for Inter in my eyes), Lukas Podolski and Davide Santon – all good players, but are they enough to carry this Inter side to glory again? Probably not.

 

Perhaps even more worrying for Juventus is the ageing nature of their squad. A core of Gianluigi Buffon (37), Andrea Barzagli (33), Andrea Pirlo (35), Patrice Evra (33), Carlos Tevez (31) and Giorgio Chiellini (30) doesn’t seem to the most youthful of teams, while their star player and building block for any reemergence as a European superpower, Paul Pogba, seems like he’s on borrowed time.

How long before Pogba wants to play among the world’s greatest, on a daily basis? It may be a long-time before Juventus get anywhere near that status. Right now, Juventus’ are a long-way off being near the standards that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and maybe now Chelsea, have all set in European football.

And Juve are meant to the be the good Italian team, which is now becoming such a boring and predictable league, seriously devoid of the competitive spirit and, to be frank, quality that is essential to help great teams grow and compete against one another.

Roma are another decent side, with some even better players than the league table would suggest. Miralem Pjanic and Kevin Strootman are classy players who wouldn’t look out of place in many top teams and their January influx of fast attackers like Victor Ibarbo and Seydou Doumbia leaves Roma as Juventus’ current closest challenger.

However, Roma haven’t won a Serie A title since 2001, the same year Napoli got relegated. This is where the real problem lies – if Juventus are domestically dominant, how dominant are they when compared to the rest of Europe’s giants? Not very.

At least in Germany, Bayern Munich are known to dominate both domestically and in Europe, while Borussia Dortmund can take it to any team on their day. In Spain, this is also true as Real Madrid, Barcelona and now Atletico have proven their worth in club football’s biggest competition in recent years.

 

Chelsea won it in 2012 and usually make deep Champions League runs. It pains me to say, but it seems only a matter of time before Manchester United are once again competing on Europe’s biggest stage, while Arsenal have…

Okay, Arsenal can’t be included in this discussion, as they’re just not in that Chelsea/Real Madrid/Bayern Munich/Barcelona bracket, but still, you get my drift. Juventus haven’t made it past the quarter-finals since they lost to Milan in the 2003 final.

Between 2003 and now, they have made the quarter finals three times, the round of 16 twice, with the rest culminating in group stage exits, and even worse, not even qualifying for the Champions League (in part down to the match fixing scandal, but still, that’s simply not good enough).

When you throw Juventus in with the big boys, they are nowhere to be found. Performance in the Champions League isn’t everything, but if the top team in Italy peaks at the quarter finals stage, we are a far-cry from a half century ago when Inter were kings of the world, Milan were still relevant, and Juventus hadn’t even begun to dominate yet.

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Ajay Rose

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12 thoughts on “When did Serie A become so bad?

  1. a main reason in the decline of Serie A, besides Juventus, all other clubs are renting their stadiums from the local municipality therefore not making revenues as other teams in the other top leagues. Add the slowing in the Italian economy the last 7 years, owners becoming more conservative and investing less in their clubs.

    As for Inter, considered to have won 5 in a row, 2 of them were off the field, revoked from Juventus, which later on found not guilty. Juventus has always been the domestic powerhouse of Italy. Since they made it back to the top flight, they projected and worked on entering another golden age. That they are dominating the domestic league is not a surprise. That it has not yet translated to European glory, Manchester City boasts one of the best rosters in the world too, yet they havent made their mark in Europe yet. Juventus is currently in the last 16 and with results over Dortmund (who are currently struggling) would put themselves in the best 8 teams.
    It is an Italian concern that the youth leagues are saturated by foreign kids. If that is a problem, i cannot say. but as long as teams dont own stadiums, they wont be able to compete. Roma is working on building their own stadium.

  2. This article is plagued with ignorant and borderline stupid statements. The decline of Serie A has its origins in money that makes it hard for teams to compete with other leaguesJuventus and a few other teams can use their names to lure some young players and former big names to play for them. Others cannot afford that luxury. Will things change? Likely because there is a big football tradition in Italy but the change will not occur in the next couple of years.It only takes a glance at Serie A to realize that the Tevez is the top scorer of the league ahead of much younger players. Some of these playerscould only be replaced by investing millions. Barzagli has not played a single game this season and Evra is a starter only due to the injury suffered by Asamoah. Perhas you should include Ogbonna, Bonucci and Rugani in your list.
    Many names like Vidal, Marchisio, Coman, Sturaro and Pereyra are missing with others like Zaza, Berardi on loan. When Pogba leaves, Juve will see a large influx of cash that would strenghten the squad even further. Do you have doubts that Juve will regain its powerhouse status in Europe? I do NOT!

  3. Per above article .. “Juventus have inherited the crown from Inter Milan”. It was actually AC Milan who won the scudetto in 2010/2011 and then Juve 2011/2012 – present day

  4. Italian Football is getting over rated. The problem with Italian Football is corruption and you have the mafia in the middle of it. So far the Barclay and the Spanish Primera are the 2 top Euro Football Leagues so far cause they let to many good foreigners in their league.

  5. the problem is not foreign players. Because the the premier League is full of them. The problem is that the top players rather play in more prestigious teams and leagues because they can get better contracts And play in European competition and ever since Serie A lost a spot in champions league it’s harder to get more Italian teams to compete in Europe Unfortunately team like AC Milan and inter lost there Status so they are forced to buy players that have past their prime. there is also a huge decline in attendance because of Hooligans and tv sponsors have pulled out a lot of money too. Their games aren’t as televised as before.

    Their was and article posted how much revenue top teams made and Real Madrid made a whopping $800 Million, And Man. U was second, Juventus made less than half of that of Real Madrid and AC Milan made less than $200M, which is also why teams like Milan and Roma are building their own stadiums and down sizing. I think there will be a time when it will gain it’s status in Europe again but that will take time and money.

  6. You underlined the problem, but went for the wrong conclusions. Basically the problem is money. Italian teams, even Juventus, can’t compete with the now super rich. Think about all the players bought in recent years from Italian teams (Cuardado, Lamela, Cavani, Benatia, Jovetic, Marquinhos just in the past two years). All went for money nobody in Italy can match impoverish the league that basically has to rebuild on a regular basis.
    Plus, most of them had a turbulent recent history, with takeovers (Roma), scandals (Juventus), relegations (Napoli) and financial crisis (Fiorentina, Milan and Inter). In such a context it is hard to create stable competition and a healthy league.

  7. serie a is still one of the best leagues…….recent europa league proves that……….it will take time but serie a will be better than premier league one day as of 90’s and 2000’s

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