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Thursday December 29 2016
Can Italy dominate Europe again?

Napoli and Juventus topped Champions League groups, as did Roma and Fiorentina in the Europa League.

Italy has long been one of the powerhouses of continental football; in fact, only Spain can claim to have produced more UEFA European champions. Although Italian football clubs have been strong in Europe since the 1960s, their most recent period of dominance came in the late 1980s and 1990s. Italian clubs were then the wealthiest in Europe, and the world’s best players flocked to play in Serie A.

Between 1989 and 1998, there was only one Champions League Final that did not feature an Italian club, as first Milan and then Juventus established a consistent presence at the top level of European football. Even a smaller club such as Sampdoria was able to enjoy a spell in the spotlight, pushing Barcelona to extra time in the 1992 Final.

Yet as the new millennium approached, Italy’s dominance waned. At one time, bookmakers would have routinely marked up the Italian entrants to the Champions League among the favourites, but such has been the decline of Italian teams in Europe that in recent years only Juventus have kept Il Tricolore flying in the Champions League betting markets.

The decline was gradual, but unmistakable. Milan still won the Champions League twice, in 2003 and 2007, and Inter lifted the trophy as part of a Treble in 2010, but those successes have been dwarfed by the eight Champions League titles that have gone to Spain since 2000, and equalled by the rising power of the English Premier League, which has produced three winners.

Money was the main reason for the decline. As foreign investors moved into the Premier League with huge revenues from TV rights, and Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid scrambled to catch up, the best footballers moved away from Italy to England and Spain, and the Calciopoli scandal of 2006 further tarnished the reputation of Italian football.

Unable to attract the world’s best players, the quality of Italian domestic football began to decline, and the top Italian teams struggled to assemble squads capable of competing both in Europe and domestically.

The relationship between a team’s European and domestic form can be complicated, and this subject is explored in depth in this article from 888sport, but the Champions League is the pinnacle of club football, and the failure to attract the world’s best players has made it hard for Italian clubs to compete in this tournament.

Only Juventus, with their huge resources, have managed to remain competitive at a European level. In 2015, they became the first Italian team to reach the Champions League Final in five years, and they have been dominant domestically.

However, the signs for Italian football are promising. The takeover of Roma by American investors in 2011 was a new development, and this led to the club becoming the main domestic challengers to Juventus. Inter can also be expected to improve, thanks to its new Chinese owners. If the pattern of foreign investment grows, and the global stars return to Serie A, there is every chance that Italian clubs will once again be dominant in European football.  

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
azzkikr cry me a river while you envy The Old Lady =)
on the 16th January, 2017 at 11:13pm
Roma, Napoli and one of the Milan clubs must build new 55.000 arenas while Lazio and Fiorentina must imitate Juventus' 41.000 seater stadium. The other Milan club must remove the third tier at San Siro to create a 55.000 seater stadium. Only then will Italy rise again. The other clubs should aim at 15.000-28.000 seater stadiums.
on the 16th January, 2017 at 11:11pm
Italian teams need to build revenue from their own stadiums/sports precincts. They also need to offer a visually attractive spectacle similar to the bundesliga and premier league - especially with highlight shows and packages. They also need to improve access to watching SERIE A as many countries have inferior accessibility. Italy has millions of tourists every year and should be leveraging off that. Some kickoff times as well are questionable for global audiences.
on the 5th January, 2017 at 6:23am
We will not succeed in europe until we start using italian defenders instead of these over priced,overated and over paid
foriegn players who only come to italy for the money.Italian clubs never used to lose at home in europe,clubs used to fear italian clubs not any more
on the 3rd January, 2017 at 9:47am
Azkikkr, Juventus is a joke in the CL? They were in the final and outplayed Barcelona who won on the basis of a poor refereeing decision. Pogba was pulled to the ground by Alves. There's no question that that was a blatant penalty. 2-1 there and Juve wins the CL. Year before they went out to Bayern under a questionable call, and last year similarly fell apart after taking the game to Bayern. How is that a joke, you joker?
on the 3rd January, 2017 at 4:47am
This is ridiculous. It doesn't state the obvious, that in the 80's and 90s you were only allowed to have 3 non domestic players on the field at any time. That means that all teams in Europe had to have 8 from their own country. The Italian league wasnt strong just because it could get the best foreigners as the best foreigners would only make up 1/4 of the team at any given time. It was the best because it had the best tactics, minds and had room to develop its own talent within its own league.
on the 3rd January, 2017 at 4:40am
Sorry but I do not understand this article. Italy are not even close to winning in terms of club competitions in Europe so where is the question of domination coming from? Win at least 1 trophy then we can start discussing domination.
on the 2nd January, 2017 at 10:17am
Not until we see new stadiums build almost all across the board. A mentality change among the italian people is also needed.

Getting sugar daddy owners only takes you so far, just look at PSG who has done nothing in the CL. The entire league needs to improve. 18 team league would be good as well.

Serie A is a one horse show currently and not competitive. The reason Rubentus are a joke in the CL is mainly because they get so little challenge in the Serie A.
on the 31st December, 2016 at 11:22pm
Best for Italian clubs to produce their own players like Milan or buy them young from clubs like Atalanta, Sassulo and keep them in Italy . The so called decline of Serie A should keep most big clubs that hoover up talent away.
Hopefully Napoli and Juventus can make their mark in the Champions league this year, and co-efficient wise are not far off third place and the extra champions leage spot but I guess that no longer matters due to the upcoming changes and 4 teams per major league
on the 31st December, 2016 at 3:51pm
The one factor which works in serie a favour today is the quantity and quality of young Italian players in the top flight. That for me was the factor in serie a strength in the 90s more than any factor even some one as great as ronaldo was competing against the likes of vieri del piero inzaghi montella for the Capocannoniere tittle. still is going to be quite some time before serie a clubs have anything like the financial resources of the epl elite, find it own way to make up the difference
on the 30th December, 2016 at 5:03pm
choice between playing football in italy and living in milan, rome, turin, florence, etc.. or playing in england and having to live in manchester, liverpool or london....well thats an easy choice - ill choose pasta and an espresso anytime thank you!
on the 30th December, 2016 at 2:20pm
Yes indeed d future of italian football is bright as sunshine.
on the 30th December, 2016 at 9:59am
Juve won't reach the final this year. Not by playing like chicken. We used to have the solid rock in Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini and Barzagli but that rock is began to eroded. Our midfield is now filled with inexperienced or injury prone players. Allegri is basically rely heavily on luck to get results, he cannot blend the new superstars like Pjanic and Higuain into the team. We maybe, just maybe, can go past Porto but that's it.
on the 30th December, 2016 at 9:26am
It's very sad, that the correlation between money and winning is very true.

When we speak of football today, we speak about TV, sponsorship, owners, foreign owners, image rights, agents, and pretty much anything that is away from the field of play.

Football has changed for the worse, and I fear that it will soon (if it hasn't already) push away future generations due to the greed involved.

Let's see rules introduced to somehow make $$$ less significant and save the game.
on the 30th December, 2016 at 2:09am

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