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Friday November 15 2019
Serie A travel sickness

This season marks 10 years since an Italian club won the Champions League. Martin Mork takes a closer look at the struggles of Serie A sides in Europe...

Juventus have been Italian football’s lone rider among the elite clutch of clubs over the last few years, reaching two Finals in five seasons. Yet they are the only team from the peninsula to play in a European Final this decade. Indeed, this term marks 10 years since Inter won the Champions League so are Serie A sides in need of new tactical ideas or a new mentality?

Italian football is still under reconstruction after the Calciopoli scandal from 13 years ago. It set the whole football community in Italy back a few years and they struggled to keep up with other countries. Nonetheless, Serie A looks like regaining some of its lustre. Cristiano Ronaldo’s return is impossible not to mention as his arrival is significant proof of Juve’s position in Europe - he wouldn’t have joined the Bianconeri if he didn’t believe they could win the Champions League.

However, they also need help from the other top teams in Italy. Juventus need to be pushed by other competitors at home to keep them awake, particularly in April or May. Napoli did a few years ago, and Juventus played in a Final. Inter have started well this year but might have to strengthen during the January transfer window to keep competing after the winter break.

There’s still a long way to go for the rest, though - Celtic claiming their first-ever win in Italy, Inter crumbling at 2-0 up in Germany, Roma being as unpredictable as ever and Napoli, who have thrown away a great position after beating European rulers Liverpool. Then there’s Atalanta, whose squad has been hit by a whirlwind and must feel dizzy after collecting only one point in four rounds of their debut Champions League campaign.

Football has moved on from the Catenaccio style, which plundered its way through frustrated foreign sides trying to find a way past the solid defensive lines from Italy, before being raided by world class-attackers from a period when you could argue that 50 of the stars from Serie A clubs could be in a top 100 list of the best players throughout history. 

The quality isn’t the same anymore, and without the best players you need intensity and high pressure to compete in Europe. The lack of experience in that area is still something the Italian teams need to work on. There’s a big difference travelling to the Paolo Mazza to play SPAL in Serie A to playing away at Vitality Stadium against Bournemouth or at Ciudad de Valencia to take on Levante in La Liga.

The so-called ‘lesser’ sides apply a different mindset. Mostly it’s not about dropping two points but winning one against a top team. Instead of putting up a fight, they prefer to sit back and suck the life out of the game, in doing so sapping all the intensity that you see in other European Leagues.

Making an error in Serie A is less likely to result in a goal conceded than if you do against an aggressive side who play with nothing to lose in Europe, remembering that these are also the best teams from their respective nations. We have proof that Italian clubs can play with such intensity, though – that they may beat Liverpool at their own game or to turn around a 2-0 deficit to still go through to the next round by throwing everyone forward in the return leg. 

We have witnessed a Cagliari side this season employing such adrenaline and unorthodox tactics, in the same way Atalanta have cemented their position among the top four in Serie A.

Still, the overall mentality of Italian football has to change to help the bigger teams get used to a high intensity wherever they go. Whether those further down the food chain opt to change theirs remains to be seen.

Have your say...
Italy has the best mangers in the world.the reason our teams are doing bad is because teams are buying overpriced foriegners who are crap and only coming here to top up thier pensions they are not imterested in the club
on the 21st November, 2019 at 4:04pm
in school did they teach you how you measure decades? the start with a 0 and end in a 9. so inter are the only other team that went to the final in this decade, but much to the dislike of many including the autor of this article, they won.
on the 15th November, 2019 at 9:26pm
As much as we all like to keep politics out of football, the bottom line is very political. It's all about state bureaucracy and red tape. Clubs desperately need new stadiums that they own, that fill up and have no running tracks.

The premier league is the best league in the world because of a little thing called Capitalism. A football league is a "product" and the prem is the best of the bunch. In turn, world class managers, players, money, viewers flock to it.
on the 15th November, 2019 at 1:53pm
Great article. Hopefully more teams will begin to apply the mentality of Atalanta and now Cagliari in order to mark the long awaited rebirth of Calcio.
on the 15th November, 2019 at 1:52pm
As Abidzaroma said the first thing is to allow new stadia to be built. Until this happens the clubs are being held back in terms of prestige and revenue streams. Also stadia for only football build a better atmosphere which could garner a few extra points in Europe. Juve did it and we've all seen how that has help them. The politicians in Milan are a disgrace!
on the 15th November, 2019 at 1:42pm
For a start, let every club in Italy to build & have their own stadiums. As long as this doesn't happen, Italian clubs are always behind Premier League, La Liga & even Bundesliga.
on the 15th November, 2019 at 12:07pm
THE OLD GREAT ITALIAN FOOTBALL DOES'NT KNOW IT HAS VINTAGE TASTE TO IT. WE LOST OUR VALUES AND LOST OUR ZEAL TO CONTROL THE WORLD FOOTBALL. WHO WAS THE LATEST HERO THIS UNIQUE LEAGUE HAS OFFERED? ALEXIS SANCHEZ EIGHT YEARS BACK AND DI NATALE ANOTHER EIGHT YEARS BACK. SO YOU BACKED IN WORLD CUP WINNING YEAR 2006 LAST OF THE LEGENDS. YOU SEE WE NEED TO ARANGE THE NEXT CUP WORLD CUP SOON ITS OUR TURN. OUR LEAGUE DONT PERFORM IN THE MIDDLE OF TRANSFER BUSINESS ANYMORE. WE COLLECT THE SECOND JEWEL.
on the 15th November, 2019 at 11:29am

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