Sunday September 17 2017
Wk4: Too much, too little

The Serie A quality gap is growing fast and it’s not going to help anybody to stay on this path, writes Susy Campanale.

Benevento Coach Marco Baroni said it all after a 6-0 defeat at the Stadio San Paolo: “There was simply too much Napoli for us to deal with.” Maurizio Sarri’s men are a handful for most opponents, but this weekend saw the line blurred between minnows and cannon fodder. It’s the first time since 1960-61 that three teams have a perfect record after four rounds in Serie A. This is not a positive statistic.

Back in October 1960, it was Inter, Juventus and Roma who were out in front at this stage. This time around, Napoli have replaced the Giallorossi in that trio, but the basic problem remains the same. Are they just that much better than the chasing pack or are their opponents that much worse?

Statistics aside, when looking at the performances in Week 4, they made sorry viewing. Benevento were decimated by injuries and never had a chance, but Hellas Verona were granted no such excuse for their truly execrable showing against Roma. This was a side beaten 5-0 by Fiorentina last week and should by rights have lost 8-0 at the Olimpico, had Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko taken even half their chances.

This Verona outfit is genuinely worse than the Pescara that was swept aside last season. Like the Delfini, they were promoted from Serie B and celebrated by changing most of the team and their playing style. It’s a recipe for disaster. Fabio Pecchia’s days are numbered and the players even managed to tackle each other in the box, which has to be some sort of first.

What is the point of having these teams in the top flight? They just take up time, space and money. We’d be doing everyone a favour – including Hellas – if they just handed over the points along with the pre-match pennants and went home, sparing us the 90 minutes of football massacre. The way they played on Saturday, I think they’d actually take that offer.

It is often said that the reason for Italian teams struggling in Europe is that Serie A doesn’t make them accustomed to tough tests. I always shrugged off this idea as ridiculous, but on the strength of the last few weeks, they may well have a point. We don’t have the resources or committed fanbase of the Premier League, so stop trying to copy their business model. There are too many clubs in Italy and not enough money or consequently talent to go around. Serie A must be reduced to 18 teams, or ideally the 16 it was in the league’s heyday, therefore cutting out the cannon fodder, spreading the resources more equitably and reducing the packed fixture list.

At least calcio is once again a haven of impressive hitmen. You can’t accuse Serie A of being boring when there are 34 goals in one round, hat-tricks for Paulo Dybala and Dries Mertens, plus Ciro Immobile and Nikola Kalinic proving an old-fashioned centre-forward can make a huge difference to a team. The Capocannoniere race is going to be more fascinating than ever this season, even if it means having to look at Mauro Icardi’s bleached bonce.

Here again, the quality gap just keeps growing. Look towards the foot of the table and you’ll see some pitiful numbers. Crotone are yet to score a single goal, Sassuolo got two, Verona and Benevento have one apiece. Dybala alone has scored as many goals as the bottom five clubs put together.

This situation benefits nobody. Verona fans aren’t simply glad to be in the top flight again, they are embarrassed at being put through 38 weeks of humiliation. It’s just too much for the smaller sides to handle and too little to really test the big guns. 

Have your say...
It is a similar story in all the other leagues too. There is a huge gap and CL money means the gap just keeps on widening. Serie A has improved n is more competitive now than in yrs. The only thing I can see halting that is the ridiculous bureaucracy stopping Italian clubs owning their own grounds. I get that the past is important in Italy but come on! Italy has a crisis mindset. It's like it's needed before they can perform but if the PL is so superior then Everton forgot 2 tell Atalanta that!
on the 21st September, 2017 at 7:24am
Bologna deserved the win over Inter..outplayed them hands down!
Inter the ones always complaining about contentious decisions against them lol what a joke..the hypocrisy never ceases!
on the 20th September, 2017 at 12:09am
"I'm not interested in hearing about Sassuolo's injury list as that happened because of d amount of games played "

@ Dennis. Sassuolo lost half their starting 11 prior to the europa league group stage. It had nothing to do with too many games played, the season had just started. They also sold Sansone.
on the 19th September, 2017 at 1:58pm
Speaking of Atalanta & Everton, didn't Sassuolo beat Bilbao 3-0 in their first game last season? Which side went d furthest of the 2? I'm not interested in hearing about Sassuolo's injury list as that happened because of d amount of games played & isnt that d point of this article in d 1st place? Besides lets not ignore the amt of suspicious results that happen at d end of season in Spain & Italy especially involving the small sides relegation battles. Too many cannon fodder in the 5 top leagues
on the 19th September, 2017 at 1:37pm
Too many teams in Serie A and to those bringing up other leagues' results; it just means there are too many teams in those leagues too and they should be reduced also. I am all for teams like Spal,Benevento& Crotone playing for the 1st time but that is tempered with whether their fans savor this experience with high attendances. Funny how ppl use the excuse of wealth to alibi Italian teams losses to the likes of RM and then say Atalanta beat £150m spending Everton. U cannot have it both ways
on the 19th September, 2017 at 1:28pm
2. Youth system would thrive because of this foreign cap and many would be in club staring line-ups out of necessity.

The Bosman ruling changed everything and was the start of the end for the Azzurri!
on the 19th September, 2017 at 2:06am
@ dami
I advocate for a cap on foreigners but not a total ban... that can never happen now.
When Italy won the WC in 1982 (and yes I witnessed this!) there was a cap on foreigners playing in serie A clubs prior to that World Cup for the very reason to help the National team become stronger and it worked a treat!
It worked on 2 fronts
1. Clubs would mainly invest in foreign superstars ie. Zico, Maradona, Ronaldo, Platini, Falcao, Cerezo, Socrates..all role models for the youth.
on the 19th September, 2017 at 2:01am
The best way to propel Serie A upward is a reduction in government powers. There's too much regulation and interference in stadium building in Italy. The reason Serie A doesn't have the resources you speak of is precisely because we don't follow the premier league model. They have new stadiums with no running tracks and the seats are always full. This produces a better viewing experience for the customer watching at home and wins the league big tv deals. In short, capitalism is the answer.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 9:13pm
Reducing seria A teams to 18 or 16 is destroying the league, what will you say about Man City thrashing Watford 6-0 away from home and Liverpool 5-0, Man U 4-0 against Everton, while 4-0 for Liverpool against Arsenel, Dortmund 5-0 against Colon, Bayern M 4-0 against Mainz, Monaco 6-1 to Maselle , PSG thrashing of Mitz and Tolouse and so many more, the solution is government should allow teams to have their personel Stadiums not renting
on the 18th September, 2017 at 8:59pm
@ Ferban Why not? Would it breach their human rights. How come players are not allowed use their hands? It's a sport. It consists of arbitrary rules designed to make it compatitive and interesting. Despite what the media and some fans think the transfer market is not actually part of the sport.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 8:52pm
I think Susy is mad that Icardi has gone bleach blonde...she misses that handsome brunette ;)
on the 18th September, 2017 at 8:11pm
what is susy bambling about? is it icardi's hairdo that irritates her milan veins? common susy other leagues across the continents shares the same story. could you write a little interesting articles like how Inter have become a scudetto challenger once again, oh and forgot about yeah ac milan downturn after so much garbage shopping! haha
on the 18th September, 2017 at 5:49pm
many leagues only have a few teams that can compete, madrid and barca, celtic and rangers (of old), bayern munich and Dortmund, PSG and monaco, sporting and porto, only the prem is competitive (and recently) because the money given to clubs is ridiculous,s I mean sanchez preferring Swansea (or whoever) over top Italian teams, come on, its money, simply money that has italian teams being outclasses in the en, but they have done ok considering the financial deficit.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 4:31pm
All the other top 5 European leagues have 20 teams bar Bundesliga and I dont see it impacting them, if the league is reduced then the current 16th/17th placed teams become the worst in the league and they will subsequently become poorer sides, it's all relative. Serie A is much better now than 5 years ago, have patience, it has been rebuilding ever since 06 which can't be done overnight. Serie A of today is a quality league and very enjoyable, we have a proper title fight this year too.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 3:51pm
here we go again with the Serie A being in crisis. I dont think I can ever remember a period where calcio fans haven't moaned or criticised the league. Banning foreigners is the dumbest thing I've heard. A classic comment which comes up on here regularly. The small sides in Serie A are far superior to the 'competitive' EPL, if you actually watched them, the bottom sides in the EPL are genuinely awful teams who can barely play football, but everyone believes the media hype around the league.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 3:47pm
Real, Barca and Atletico thrash the smaller sides: La Liga is a competitive league for having 3 strong teams contending for the title.

Juve dominates in Italy: Serie A is a weak league because Juve is the only strong side and doesn't face competition for the title.

Juve, Napoli, Inter, Milan all do well: Serie A is a weak league because Benevento and Verona can't beat the top teams.

What? Oh yeah, those double standards again.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 3:02pm
Eighteen is a better number.

And the pitch of Crotone...?
on the 18th September, 2017 at 1:46pm
We all watched Atalanta beat Everton. Yes,they finished top 4, but they're still a provincial club on a tight low budget. Everton spent over a 100 million pounds this summer, and they were shamed off the pitch. Don't underestimate our Provincial sides. Last year Genoa beat Juve, Napoli drew against teams like Pescara, Genoa, Palermo and Sassuolo. Roma lost to Sampdoria,Atalanta and drew with Empoli and Cagliari. Give the smaller teams a bit of credit.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 1:33pm
First of all, kind fixture list for some clubs, secondly anything may happen once in a blue moon and it is one off event.

Susy shall not disregard fans of Benvenuto and other smaller teams, which are living the dream and must show respect to all those fans and thus herself too.

Last season, Atalanta was among top teams and Lazio as well not with resources available to them...
on the 18th September, 2017 at 1:23pm
What about La Liga? Top teams regularly thrash lower sides and they seem ok in Europe.

Give it time, Crotone struggled early last season then improved dramatically. Others will too.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 12:49pm
i am surprised no one has suggested that it should be illegal for a player to play for a club who home ground is more than 7 miles away from there place of birth. kills transfer fees, demands the use of local players and takes money out of the equation. Come on lets be serious reducing league numbers will also reduce the level of tv revenue for clubs. Banning foreign players will make Italian football irrelevant in world football. The real issues is the lack of patience and forward thinking.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 12:46pm
Look at how well Benevento played during the first three weeks. Then, they end up having half of their first team out and people are criticising them. What nonsense from you people. Serie A is still the best league. You should not just judge a team based on one loss when half of their team were out.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 11:43am
@Maldini's Heir

You can't limit transfers to 4 a season.

If clubs need the money/players want to move/club has been relegated, then you can't keep players around.

Loans could be limited. Perhaps max of 3 season-long loans for the established clubs and 6 for the newly-promoted ones, which gradually decreases to 5 and then 4 over several years until they've become "settled" in the top division too. That way they have more of a fighting chance and might give the top teams a harder time.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 11:20am
in the summer, 1 transfer per team in the winter, loans limited to 2 loans per player and rules requiring X number of players to be from the youth team. All of that would be permitted under EU law, would balance out Serie A and make us more competitive in Europe because we'd actually have coherent squads.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 9:46am
Every league in every sport in every period in history had teams that finished at the top, finished in the middle and finished at the bottom. Indeed it's hard to imagine how a league could work without teams finishing in that order. Milan beat Foggia 8:2 on the last day of the season in 91/92 and the Serie A record win remains 8:0 so I'm not sure we need to panic too much. Sensible changes would be to reduce the number of teams to 18, limit squad sizes to 25, limit teams to 3 transfers per team
on the 18th September, 2017 at 9:43am
@ Marco The cap on foreigners cannot be re-instated unless Italy leaves the EU. Are you advocating that? Equally Spain Germany and France don't seem to have this issue. So maybe it's not foreigners but Italian clubs, particularly owners, directors of sport and agents, who are the problem? Certainly nobody made Italian teams transfer twice as many players as the other top leagues this summer.
@ The rest I agree with reducing Serie A to 18 teams also because we need to reduce the number games.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 9:38am
This article doesn't really measure up.

Serie A's top 1/3 or so teams lost far more games last season than the so-called "competitive" EPL, so that stat alone debunks much of the argument.

In fact the EPL's top 1/3 teams had far less defeats than any of the other major leagues.

Serie A's bottom teams aren't great, but no league has strong teams near the bottom either. Nowadays, you have to be pretty bad to get relegated.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 9:05am
I actually think top teams in Italy are just a lot better than the lesser teams. It doesn't mean the games are meaningless otherwise what would be the point of other leagues around Europe?

Look at Spain for example, Barca, Real and Atletico have recently been the standard bearers in Europe and the other Spanish clubs, most notably Sevilla have been the Europa League's best teams so to say that this is detrimental to Italian football is not necessarilly true considering their Spanish domninance.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 8:39am
No I disagree as you look at elsewhere, Premiere League, Bundeliga, Primera Division, there are high scores as well. Not just in Serie A. Number of teams in Serie A is not an excuse. Just 2 teams more, not 10 teams and actually only more than the Bundeliga. The problems lies at the Stadium and the commercial path. Serie A needs revolution. Ultra fans that causes troubles in the stadium does not help the case of the security in the stadium which will make fans stay away from matches.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 8:05am
Surely it would follow that pl clubs would be dominating in Europe if it was simply down to having a competitive league. It sounds like scapegoating to accuse the minnows of contributing the lack of European success rather than the fact that juve are the only club to have anything like the revenues which the likes of bayern man u man city chelsea real barca psg can boast. When clubs are intelligent in how they operate you can close the gaps just look at atalanta and sas.
on the 18th September, 2017 at 7:48am

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