Four years ago I wrote a blog on how we must support Juventus in the League and in Europe as a strong Bianconeri meant a strong Serie A. As it turns out, they have become too strong in Serie A and everything has become too predictable again, but they still need our support in Europe.
Just three-and-a-half seasons ago Serie A had four Champions League entrants, but a lack of progress in Europe’s two competitions saw one spot lost to Germany. Unless the situation changes and Juve, who are Italy’s biggest and most successful outfit, get firmly back on track and start winning things abroad as well as at home, it will only stay like this.
Italy is in fact starting to slip further behind in the UEFA co-efficient rankings and it needs as much success as possible, as the country sits precariously in fourth spot. Rankings are, as UEFA explain, “based on the results of all European clubs in UEFA club competitions” and “take into account the results of all clubs from each association and are used to determine the number of entries an association is granted for forthcoming seasons.” Meanwhile, “the club coefficient rankings take into account the results of each club in UEFA club competitions and are used to determine a club’s seeding in club competition draws.” These rankings are drawn on results attained over the last five seasons.
Today the country leaders are Spain, who over the past five years have collected 93,855 points, while England are second with 84,177, Germany third on 80,927 and Italy fourth on 66,272 with Portugal fifth and closest on 60,966.
As the only club left in Europe Juve are Italy’s last chance to repair some of the damage and repel the aggressive overtures of Portugal, who still have two clubs, Porto and Benfica, left in Europe to earn points. Ranked on Betfair as 10/11 favourites to win the competition outright, even if Juve fail to progress and Italy slump into fifth spot under Portugal, it won’t actually see Serie A loose a place, at least not for the immediate future. However, what it will do is batter Serie A’s fragile morale a little bit further and given its finances and status, it is something that is not needed.
So Juve are once again, like times past, Italian football’s would-be saviours and consequently need all the support they can get. Of course it’s difficult for fans of other Italian clubs to get round supporting the Bianconeri. Yet the bottom line is that a Juve victory in the final that they will host will benefit Serie A as a whole. A win will earn the association more points, open the doors to more representation and if for nothing else, keep Portugal’s wolves at bay.
There are a few things in their favour, but overall the Old Lady has failed to set Europe alight, compared to their absolute League domination. Whatever you think of Coach Antonio Conte reprimanding Napoli for spending too much money, his answer that they only spent €25m over the summer is actually one of the reasons they are behind other European clubs with nothing like their history.
This has led to a squad that has not enough quality to reproduce its Serie A superiority and consequently cannot compete against top European clubs. Recently they have also suffered injuries and with a team that has played twice a week for some time now they also are tired.
Yet Juve showed against Lyon that they can overcome tough opposition away from home with patience. But above all they showed their determination. Although their domestic dominance is not repeated in Europe their sheer grit is and history teaches us not to underestimate Juve getting the job done.
Winning the Europa League may not be as financially or professionally rewarding as the Champions League but a European trophy can only help Juve journey further along the path to regaining her rightful status in Europe. As Italy’s sole representatives remaining on the continent, they also carry the country’s co-efficient hopes, and therefore should carry its support. So, Forza Juve, for the good of Italian football.