The Italy national football team is older than a century and one of the most skilled in the world. Italian clubs might not have the same legendary glory that they had earlier, but they are still considered formidable opponents. The Serie A is right there with Bundesliga, La Liga, and Copa America in terms of popularity and revenue—But the country’s performance on the world stage is a little shaky right now.
Let’s analyze what’s wrong and, more importantly, why.
FIFA World Cup
Sadly, Italy’s chances are quite dim in the World Cup 2026. Previously, the national men’s team has already missed the opportunity to qualify for FIFA twice in a row (2018 and 2022). In 2022, Italy lost to world #67 North Macedonia, which was quite disconcerting.
With Russia suspended, there’s one less competitor in the UEFA association, but that’s unlikely to be a huge boost. Currently, on a popular sports betting Canada platform, Italy has odds of +2000, worse than the top teams like Brazil, France, England, and Argentina but also teams like Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and Portugal.
Notably, Italy ranks #5 in goals scored after Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and France. The national team has won four FIFA World Cups (1934, 1974, 1990, and 2014), second only to Brazil with five (and sharing the position with Germany’s four).
It’s not “behind” in any way. The team is just on a break, which we hope will be over sooner than later!
The Women’s World Cup is a different story. We recently talked about who could be Italy’s stars of the Women’s World Cup this year, and we came up with Valentina Cernoia and Laura Giuliani.
Not exactly poised to strike it big, the team can certainly make a run to the knockout stages.
Italy’s European performance is quite legendary. From clubs like AC Milan and AS Roma to the national clubs performing on par with teams like Barcelona, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich—Italian talent has never shied away from making waves throughout the continent.
AC Milan and Inter Milan are noted particularly for their tactical intelligence and resilience, making them clubs worthy of the biggest continental competitions.
Here are some numbers:
- Italy ranks #4 in UEFA’s club coefficients for 2022/23, following England, Spain, and Germany.
- AC Milan has the most titles (7) after Real Madrid (14) in the Champions League, whereas Juventus ranks #5 in total performances (32).
- Italy has also won 9 UEFA Super Cups, ranking #3 only after Spain and England.
Whether it’s Di María’s 38 assists or Inzaghi and Ibrahimovi’s 50 and 49 goals in Champions League matches, Italians continue to set examples.
The talents are no longer stuck in the solidity of defense mentality. However, defenders and goalkeepers will always have a special place in our hearts (Gianluigi Buffon, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, etc.).
Italians have also had exceptional attackers ranging from Francesco Totti and Alessandro del Piero to Sandro Mazzola, Giuseppe Meazza, Andrea Pirlo, and Roberto Baggio.
Today, however, Italian qualities are quite rare on the world stage. Though there are certainly excellent players with skills that put them in the prodigious or technically-gifted brackets—The country is churning out fewer than ever stellar football athletes.
The Azzurri’s remarkable accomplishments sit calmly now, but their tactical prowess and defenses are known all over the world. Whether it’s organizational strength or defensive discipline, Italian talent has produced some of the most spectacular action in international football.
The coaches and managers have also shown considerable qualities in strategy and making effective game plans.
All of this has led to Italy having a tradition of defense, but it’s closer to a well-rounded and balanced approach between attack and defense than just all-out, impenetrable defenses.
Italy’s national professional league, Serie A, has produced some of the most dramatic moments in football history. The teams at the top for the 2023/24 season include Atalanta, Bologna, Cagliari, and Empoli. Internationally successful teams like Inter Milan, Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan, and Roma are a little lower.
But the tournament might not be doing so well after all. With the clubs spending the lowest in two decades this year, Serie A is not at all in good standing vis-à-vis other European leagues.
That being said, with Italy’s excellent track record in nurturing young talent, it’s reasonable to think that Serie A will be back on track in no time.
Italy’s legacy is one that cannot be eroded in a couple of decades. For example, the national men’s team is still the second-most successful national team in the world. The 70s and the 90s might have been golden eras long past, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have what it takes to be on the top of the pedestal once more.
Image from: unsplash.com