While the Coronaviras has played a small role in Lazio sitting top, the unlikely nature of their rise to the Serie A summit has caused many to ponder whether this signals the end of Juventus’ stranglehold on the domestic scene.
Two seasons after returning to the top-flight in the wake of Calciopoli, the Old Lady won their first of eight consecutive Serie A titles as well as four Coppa Italia crowns, but find their status as champions under increasing pressure from the Biancocelesti and Inter.
The Turin club’s almost unopposed success is often seen as an example of the weakness of Serie A, rather than in the context of developments in all five major leagues on the continent.
Since the 2012/13 campaign Bayern Munich have won every German Bundesliga title, whereas, in France only Monaco in 2016/17 helped avoid a similar clean sweep by Paris Saint-Germain.
La Liga is often presented as a thrilling two-way battle between Barcelona and Real Madrid, when the reality is that Barca triumphed seven times in the last decade. With the help of similarly over-hyped marketing departments, it has almost gone unnoticed that, since 2016, Manchester City have lifted half of the domestic trophies in England.
Along with the Spanish duo and City, Juventus have broken the 100-point barrier within the last five years. Once thought to be an almost impossible feat at that level, those records have become an indication that these clubs will continue to dominate.
However, that record is unlikely to be equalled or surpassed, but due to an expectation that before this decade is over the championship will move to an 18-team format, that is endlessly mooted. The Bundesliga highlights how that does not guarantee more competition though.
There is hope, as in the case with Lazio, that these domestic monopolies can be overturned with RB Leipzig and Liverpool either challenging or champions elect, but are they models that can be sustained long term?
Like those clubs, Atalanta and the Biancocelesti have reaped the rewards from giving a coach time and allowing a core group of players to improve and grow collectively, however, often providing only short-lived success compared to a financial superpower like Juventus.
Whether you are convinced that a European Super League may eventually arrive or not, the views of Bianconeri chairman and head of the European Club Association, Andrea Agnelli, on European entry should concern Italian clubs.
The 44-year-old hinted at the belief that La Dea should not have access to the Champions League, “without international history and thanks to just one great season.” The Bergamo-based side deserve huge praise for those achievements on a budget nine times smaller than the reigning champions.
Someone might also like to ask what Agnelli regards as “international history”, given Juventus have gone 24 years without winning a continental trophy.
Atalanta’s success also stems from long-term recruitment and coaching strategies, which other Serie A clubs will no doubt look to replicate, however, it must be supplemented with additional activities, such as stadium redevelopment and increasing commercial revenues.
Sadly, too many Italian sides appear restricted by their own local authorities when it comes to building new stadia or refurbishment, and Juventus’ infrastructure looks likely to extend the financial disparity further before the rest even get started.
Unfortunately, while challenges to the traditional powers form an exciting new narrative each season, they often fall away during the latter stages or, as was the case with Monaco in France, become so rare they quickly fade from memory.
Rather depressingly, the devouring of domestic honours by the Bianconeri looks set to continue for the foreseeable future and the rest of Italian football must simply welcome any crumbs of hope and optimism falling their way.