As of February 25th, 2015, Juventus is 9 points on top of the Serie A table. Unless they crash out unexpectedly, they are on course to win a consecutive 4th title. It has been a recurring theme that Juventus wins the league by a staggering amount – in the last season, they won the league by 17 points and in the 2012/13 season, they won the league by 9 points. In comparison with the other European leagues, Serie A seems to have become less competitive. What exactly has happened to the Serie A? Additionally, why is it so easy for Juventus to win the league, but struggle to do well on the Champions League stage?
Juventus has been dominating the Serie A after Inter Milan dominated the league from 2005 to 2010. However, unlike Juventus, Inter Milan also did incredibly well on the international level, becoming the first team in Italian history to win the treble in 2010. At the end of 2010, it seemed that Italy is at the forefront of European football. There were many great teams – Inter, AC Milan, Roma, Juventus – and the talent was overflowing. Yet today, Inter Milan is currently 8th in the league; AC Milan is not even competing in the Champions League; Napoli and Roma are doing well, but Juventus is perhaps the only real force in Italian football.
Even though Juventus is doing well in the Serie A, they have lacked the same fortune on the international level. Italian teams have won the Champions League 12 times, which is the 2nd most of any nation, with only Spain doing better with 14. However, in the past 11 years, Italians teams have only won the Champions League twice. Juventus has not made it past the quarter-finals since losing to Milan in the 2003 final. The way it is currently going, it might be a while until an Italian side wins another one.
Comparing Juventus to their Spanish (Barcelona and Real Madrid), German (Bayern Munich), and English (Chelsea) counterparts, they are nowhere to be found. Their international counterparts are all known to dominate both domestically and in Europe. Additionally, unlike the current situation in Serie A, the English league usually faces fierce competition with only a few points separating the top 4 teams. These teams have all proven they can hold their own in club football’s biggest competition in recent years. While performance in the Champions League doesn’t determine everything, it is a way to evaluate which clubs are doing well on the international level. This is a far cry from the times when Inter Milan were dominating the football world, AC Milan was still a highly competitive team, and Juventus was still rising up the league.
Something that may be contributing to this decline is the aging nature of many squads. Take Juventus for example – Buffon (37), Evra (33), Tevez (31) and Pirlo (35) are all nearing the twilight of their careers. However, it seems that the Serie A is also having trouble attracting young talent, as most of the younger players choose to join English, Spanish or German teams. Additionally, big stars have been continuously leaving the league. In 2009, the Serie A lost two huge stars in Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This loss may have been another step in the process of Serie A’s decline while setting up the supremacy of the Spanish and English leagues. The economic crisis in Italy may also play a factor, as many teams cannot find agreement with the local government on how renovations and upgrades to stadiums should be financed.
It is clear the current state of Serie A is in decline. Right now, the top team in Italy, Juventus, is a long way from the standards that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and Chelsea have set in European football. Some may argue that Serie A has now become a rather boring and predictable league that is void of much competitive spirit and quality. However, the nature of football is cyclical and it has shown the resurrection of teams that have fallen. It may be a long and difficult journey towards that one day that Serie A could once again reign supreme, but here’s to hoping that the Italian teams and fans will begin to work towards this goal.