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Serie A – Slow? Boring? Defensive?

Written By Andy Golding:
‘Dull, Boring, Defensive, Slow’, these are the general perceptions of non Calcio fans,
It is time that neutral fans got rid of their stereotypical views of Italian football and begin to appreciate Serie A for what it is now, the truth is that the days of catenaccio (bolt) are long gone.

If goals means excitement and entertainment then it is interesting to note that last season, Serie A outscored the English Premiership by 44 goals, whilst this season so far outscoring the Spanish La Liga, which is renowned for free scoring, excitement and flair. However looking at the face of it La Liga has had Barcelona and Real Madrid fighting the top two since 2003/04 seasons, with the exception of Villarreal in 07/08 and Valencia in 2003/04 in comparison to Serie A which has had four different top 2 finishes since 2003/04 and three in the Premiership.

Despite this, last season the Bundesliga was the most competitive league in Europe, whilst France’s Ligue 1 wasn’t too far off, although Serie A arguably has more stars, however to ensure the league’s competitive advantage in a marketing perspective, it is important to ensure that stars like Diego, Eto’o, Ronaldinho etc… remain within the league, especially since there is a lack of money circulating within the league in comparison to their European counterparts, and on the verge of conceding defeat to their fourth Champions League spot to the Bundesliga.

Admittedly since the Calciopoli scandal in 2006 Serie A lost some competitive edge with Internazionale seemingly edging towards another Scudetto title, however it is refreshing to see a new wave of attacking and high tempo style football being adopted by many teams in Italy, a trend that perhaps started with former Roma and Lazio coach Zdenek Zeman at Lecce who were renowned for their attacking 4-3-3, an unimaginable move at the time that started to break the conservative style of play.

Additionally, Serie A has brought many elements of surprise and unpredictability which will do no harm to the competitiveness of the league. Not many at the start of the season would have imagined new boys Parma and Bari to exceed all expectations, or to see Lazio fighting for survival in a relegation dog fight, or even Palermo to be challenging for a champions league spot.

So how is it despite these facts that in the words of Russell Crowe “Are you not entertained?” in the movie blockbuster – Gladiator, do fans still disregard Serie A? Perhaps it is to do with the poor performances in Europe over the last few years? and the lack of exposure Serie A has abroad? an issue that has already been addressed with China announced as the host of the Italian Super cup for the next three years, and readjustments to certain fixture times, a strategy that has already been adopted in the English Premiership, whilst the Milan derby last season was aired on British freeview television.

Serie A is showing signs of intent to make their product more marketable, however it won’t be long before the myths of defensive, uninspiring football are banished by neutral fans, instead giving Serie A the respect that it deserves.

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