Since Juventus’ nine-year stranglehold on Serie A was broken by Inter Milan in 2020/21, the Italian top flight has emerged as one of the most competitive and entertaining leagues in world football. There have been three different winners in the last three seasons; the aforementioned Inter, their neighbours AC Milan and most recently Napoli who brought a 33-year wait for their third Scudetto to an end. Furthermore the Italians are running the show in European competition as well. AS Roma, led by the incomparable Jose Mourinho, secured their first ever European trophy in 2022 by winning the inaugural edition of the Europa Conference League with a 1-0 win over Feyenoord. In doing so they became the first Italian side to claim European silverware since Inter in 2010. This historic achievement was built upon the following season when Mourinho once again led I Giallorossi to a European final, this time in the Europa League where they ultimately came undone in a penalty shootout against Sevilla. Success on the European stage has not just been limited to the nation’s capital though as Inter reached a Champions League final last season and Fiorentina reached the Europa Conference League final as well. As a result, last season was the first campaign since 1997/98 that all major European finals featured Italian representation. It marks a significant improvement in the footballing fortunes of
Bel Paese’s biggest clubs but where does the Serie A now rank among Europe’s other top leagues?
This season’s campaign is still in its infancy but already there are signs that laying claim to the Scudetto is going to be a titanic tussle for the title. Few had anticipated Napoli’s ascension to the title last term, barely anyone even predicted they’d finish in the top four, but no one is underestimating their potential this time round. They will however have a tough task in retaining their crown after the departure of the man who masterminded their rise, Luciano Spalletti. His successor Rudi Garcia was an underwhelming choice for many and so far it has shown. Two defeats to Lazio and Fiorentina in their opening eight games leaves them on 14 points, seven behind pacesetters Milan. Using this betting odds calculator you can see that Milan are currently the second favourites to win the league at 11/5. Time is still on the Frenchman’s side and with little to separate the top contenders on paper, he could yet make up the lost ground. In some ways though, Gli Azzurri’s early struggles perfectly exemplify the competitive nature of the league. There are so few domestic competitions across Europe where last season’s champions would find themselves so significantly off the pace courtesy of a couple of subpar results, and when it comes to the Serie A it’s due to an abundance of challengers. Before a ball was kicked, there were seven teams with a realistic opportunity to fight for the title this season; by modern standards that is unprecedented. Napoli may well have run away with it last term, sealing the Scudetto with several games to spare but only four points separated the chasing pack in second, third and fourth spot. The year prior, Milan claimed their 19th title and the margins were closer still. Two points separated the eventual champions from their fierce rivals Inter in second place, with Napoli ominously lurking only a few points behind in third. Year-on-year it seems more teams are entering the fold; only four points split the top four sides in the opening stages and with the champions loitering close behind, the Serie A promises to feature one of the most exciting and competitive title races across Europe this season.
Few leagues in Europe could hope to match the unpredictability of the proverbial title merry-go-round that is currently unfolding in Italy over the last few seasons, but where they are perceived to perhaps lag behind the best leagues in Europe is the quality of opposition and subsequent opportunity for upsets. To get your fair share of that, historically you would look no further than what is often touted as the best league in the world, the English top flight. What has made the Premier League one of the most must-watch and enticing products of the last three decades is the genuine possibility for a big gun to fall to defeat out of the blue. There are a handful of leagues not only in football but perhaps world sport where the quality of opposition has been so consistent throughout the competition. For years, on any given day a team in the bottom half could put together a sterling performance to topple a title contender and create a seismic shift at the top of the table. In this sense, the Premier League has provided the greatest test of anyone’s mettle in European football for decades. However, despite recent challenges from Liverpool and Arsenal that took the title race down to the wire on multiple occasions, they have ultimately fallen short of unseating the Cityzens as the undisputed kings of English football. Pep Guardiola’s relentless City have established a monopoly on the Premier League crown, winning four of the last five titles and that run has threatened to undermine the well-established trope of the Premier League remaining THE destination for thrilling upsets and unpredictable drama.
Last season the top three teams in Serie A dropped a total of 18 points against the bottom five, the same figure accrued by the Premier League’s top three clubs. Statistics show that over the course of the last five seasons the Premier League has an edge in terms of providing gripping title races with the average points between the top two standing at 7.4 points compared with the Serie A’s higher average of 9.2 points, but almost every other significant metric demonstrates a changing of the tide. The average points difference between first and fifth over the last five seasons is 26.6 points for the Premier League compared with Serie A’s 20.2 points. There have been eight different teams in Serie A’s top four over the last five seasons compared with the Premier League’s seven. Only two sides have won the Premier League in the last five years whereas four teams have claimed the Scudetto in the same period. There’s still a long way to go this season and the Premier League might yet flex its muscles, but as things stand the Italians are emerging as a new superpower, determined to take the moniker of the most competitive league in the world and make it their own.
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