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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


No European Renaissance In Sight For Italy’s Deteriorating Serie A

Written by on July 31, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Serie A

A check of the record book speaks volumes. Over 57 editions of the Champions League (and its predecessor the European Cup) Italian teams have appeared in 26 finals and have won the competition 12 times.

No country has produced more finalists and only Spain has produced more winners with 13. Narrow the focus to the last decade and Italy still looks good. Three wins (Inter ’10 and Milan ’07 and ’03) matches the number of victories by Spain (Barcelona ’11, ’09, ’06) and England (Chelsea ’12, Manchester United ’08, and Liverpool ’05).

But perhaps only the most-blinkered fans of Italy’s top league Serie A would suggest that another successful… for more please click link to

6 responses to “No European Renaissance In Sight For Italy’s Deteriorating Serie A”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Great piece Bobby. I’ve been discussing the very same thing with my Italian friends on the soccer team.
    Serie A’s coefficient will most likely take a further hit this season. Although I thing that Juve will go hard after the Champions League, I don’t see the rest of the Italian squads competing.
    AC Milan has lost a lot and with the league competition becoming tighter for them, I could see them dropping out of the CL early. Udinese will be due for a drop, as usual after a good season. There advancement in the CL will have a lot to do with the Playoff draw. I doubt Inter or Napoli, who have also lost plenty, will care about Europa. Lazio and Roma will be competing hard for a CL spot, which will also add to the League battle. I really do think that it will all translate to a further drop in the coefficient.

    Compared with Portugal whose top teams will go hard after the CL and Europa. Even if Braga should get a bad draw and bow out of the CL, they will compete hard in Europa. I doubt Udi will.
    The league battles will also be easier for Portugals top teams, compared with Italy’s.

    I don’t see the coefficient ranking changing anytime soon. The top 3 are pretty entrenched, and 4 through 6 are as well, although there could be movement amongst them.
    Despite the cash influx at PSG it doesn’t mean the same is happening at other clubs. As per example Marseille is a mess financially, and others are dumping players as well.

    The country I see that could start making some leeway into the gap is the Netherlands. Russia has really come on strong with the influx of cash, but it’s still hard for them to get the in their prime stars due to league, climate and tremendous cultural difference. Although if you preform, you will be loved and idolized for your effort. Portuguese Danny comes to mind at Zenit.

  2. RUBICON says:

    Juventus coach Antonio Conte faces a lengthy ban after having a plea bargain application rejected at Wednesday’s match-fixing trial.

    Sorry, but anyone who gets hair plugs is kinda shady IMO!

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    I believe Conte offered to pay large fine (over 200k ?) and also a three month ban. This will mean that fine and/or suspension will be higher.
    But this is Italy. Siena tried to plea for a 5 point deduction and it was turned down. A 6 point deduction was accepted.
    So before I start believing Conte is going away for a long time, its still a wait and see.
    It will be interesting to see what Juve does.

  4. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    It is a great piece by Bobby, one that I am ever so glad he prefaces by talking about what as been accomplished by Serie A teams. There is not a league anywhere that you can statistically (trophies or final appearances) point out superior to Serie A… in fact I believe these last few years of austerity will serve the Italian game in good stead towards becoming self-sufficient, something we should have started working on 10 years ago. The recent disintegration of Malaga in Spain can only further support the case for Fifa Financial Fair Play … the Italian game is full of talented talent seekers that are budget limited. Watch Galliani make one or two remarkable signings late in August, do u remember Nocerino, KPB, etc. being shrewd is not lucky… the Pozzo family (Udinese) Roma, Palermo, Chievo, etc but moreover it will force the end of the legislators to perhaps facilitate the start of stadiums owned & furnished by the football clubs. Every tournament & every few years the anglo media loves to bury the Italian game… and what do we constantly do, win tournaments! How many trophies as England won… if trophy cabinets were made up of paper trophies the English would be world beaters! if Americans appreciated the game, that would learn how much better the Serie A & the Bundesliga play the game overall on a weekly basis than the EPL. EPL is a cash cow, but only one team spends freely, Man City. Chelsea are pursuing a new stadium & spending, wisely. Arsenal have constrictions, ManU the Glazers… your also wrong about the Europa League, I bet you anything that at least 1 Italian team get to the semifinal or 1 wins it. Napoli & Inter are looking very good! FORZA INTER & FORZA ITALIA!

  5. Andre says:

    The main point you make is undeniable and unfortunate. BUT… as someone who watches Serie A pretty closely I see two silver linings. The league now is more interesting than in years past. While the winner was an establishment club again last season there were times when teams like Napoli, Udinese, and Lazio were fun to watch and gave you the feeling they could compete, something that had been missing for a long time.

    The other positive is the style of play on the field. I am not talking about the biggest clubs, but mid-table teams and below seem more willing to experiment and be creative now than they have traditionally been. It is refreshing and fun to watch as a spectator.

    One thing in Serie A’s favor even in these tough times is the established and ingrained scouting networks Italian clubs have in South America. Any club with the money can buy superstar international players but for clubs that find themselves in these situations the ability to “buy low sell high” is crucial. Take a look at some of the players you mentioned who left Italian clubs. Pastore, Lavezzi, and Thiago Silva all came to Italy as promising but unproven players for very reasonable sums and were sold on for rockstar money, their clubs making more than twice what they paid for them.

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    Carmelo, Andre, I happen to agree with most of your thoughts. I think the futebol played in Italy has been exciting too watch and unpredictable. I too feel that Serie A has become very competitive. Unfortunately I think that has more to do with the “Big” teams dropping than smaller ones growing.
    Serie A has never been a selling league but it seems to becoming just that. Andre I agree that the names you mentioned are being sold at large profits, but these are big teams selling them. Napoli, Milan not Udi or Parma. Are you telling me that Serie A bigs are going to be like Portugals Benfica, Porto, etc…? I for one, hope not.

    As for Europa, Italian squads have completely ignored it.
    ’11-’12 – Udi – Sweet 16
    ’10-’11 – Napoli – out 1st knockout round, only team out of group stage
    ‘9-’10 – Juve – Sweet 16 (Roma 1st KO round)
    ‘8-‘9 – Udi – Quarter Finals
    ‘7-‘8 – Fiorentina – Semis
    ‘6-‘7 – Livorno & Parma 1st KO round
    That is not stellar performances at Europa. With Serie A only having two CL group stage spots and one qualifying spot, will that mean all out league play for those spots, meaning Europa ignored. Or will they compete harder in Europa? We’ll see.

    Italy has ignored infrastructure for a long time. Stadiums are old and Ultras have taken over them. Juve’s new stadium was filled 91.9% to capacity but that has more to do with the 41k capacity. Milan, Inter and Napoli had higher average attendance last season. Although the total is substantially better for Juve, overall attendance has been dropping.

    I’m of the belief that parity/parody isn’t best for leagues. We like to say its great but statistics, especially revenue wise, don’t back that up. You need big clubs to compete and succeed on all fronts. Cinderellas are good for Cup’s but not CL or league titles. Yes it’s exciting for Lazio to be in it until the end, but should have they won, would they continue growing or cash out. Most likely cash out and disappoint in the CL which hurts the league.

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