Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Tigani On March - 3 - 2011

Italian Football Needs To Get Its House In Order

It has but been confirmed, as of the start of the 2012 season Serie A will only be allocated three Champions League spots. The confirmation came after all three Italian sides lost their first leg matches in the Champions League whilst Napoli was eliminated from the Europa League.

These results have made it impossible for Serie A to catch the Bundesliga in the UEFA Coefficient Rankings so consequently Serie A will remain in fourth spot.

Of course, it has not just been for the performances of Italian sides over the past few weeks that have resulted in the Serie A losing a Champions League spot. It has been the generally poor results of Italian sides in Europe over the last five years that have led to this outcome.

Aside from the Champions League triumphs of Milan in 2007 and Inter last season, Serie A clubs have failed to impress in Europe’s premier competition in recent years. In the last four editions of the Champions League, only on four occasions have Italian sides been represented in the quarter finals. For a league that has traditionally been regarded as one of the strongest in the world, this is indeed a poor showing.

However, when one looks at the Bundesliga’s record in the same last four seasons of the Champions League, it is interesting to note that it too has only been represented on four occasions in the quarter finals. When one considers that Serie A has provided two Champions League winning sides during this same time, it leads one to question why the Serie A has fallen down the pecking order with no chance of recovering. The answer is the Europa League.

Serie A clubs have long neglected Europe’s second tier competition. The allure of the Champions League is every Italian club’s aim and hence they focus their efforts on bettering their league position rather than performing well in the Europa League.

Often, and as evident in Napoli’s tie with Villareal, Italian clubs have fielded second string sides when playing in the Europa League and this has been a major reason behind the poor results of Italian sides.

In the last four editions of the Europa League, only on two occasions has an Italian side made it to the quarter finals. Whilst, German clubs have been well represented in the latter knockout stages of the competition though only on one occasion did a German club make it to the final.

There have been those from Italian quarters that have argued that UEFA’s ranking system is unfair. In some sense, it is. Victories in the Europa League are worth the same as a win in the Champions League, yet, the two competitions and the standard they exhibit are significantly different. Winning in the Champions League is a much greater accomplishment than winning in the Europa League.

UEFA has implemented such a system seemingly to give more value to what has always been the poor cousin of the Champions League; whatever new name or guise it has been given.

However, rules are rules and they are there to be played by. The Bundesliga has made the most of the system and it is being rewarded accordingly. Though it may be the case that the Bundesliga has not provided one winner of any European competition in the last four years whilst Italy has provided two, the Bundesliga is still deserving of receiving four Champions League spots at the expense of the Serie A and there are many reasons for this.

The Bundesliga has developed in leaps and bounds in recent years. Crowd attendances in the Bundesliga are now the highest of all European leagues. An interesting fact, off all the major ball sports in the world, the Bundesliga is third only to American Football and the Australian Football League.

German stadiums are one reason why Germans flock to see their teams play on weekends. They are amongst the best and most modern in Europe.

Financially speaking, clubs from the Bundesliga are amongst the most profitable too. Money is also been spent wisely, that is, youth development has become a major focus for German clubs. The number of starlets already making the grade for the German national team is testament to this.

In short, German football has got its house in order whilst the same cannot be said of Italian football, which at the moment seems to be all the things German football is not.

Typically, there has not been enough attention in Italy paid to the news that Serie A will only have three Champions League spots in 2012. But, it should. Italian football is in major need of reform. Poor stadia, financial malpractice and a lack of talent coming through are just some of the issues Italian football needs to address. If Italian football does not get its house in shape, like German football has done, then it will be a long time before it ever recovers.

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