Before the days of multi-billion pound TV deals the Italian Serie A was one of Europe’s most competitive leagues, with tough tackling defenders like Paolo Maldini and Marco Baresi battling against the creative mights of Zinedine Zidane and the Brazilian Ronaldo. But after numerous allegations of match fixing and the crumbling reputation of the two Milan clubs which has led to a sustained period of dominance from Juventus, Serie A has lost its competitive appeal – especially for the money driven oligarchs that hold the reigns to success in this era of bureaucratic dominance.
However, Serie A has reinvented itself over the past few seasons, with Juventus, Napoli and Roma all competing for the coveted Serie A title, whilst both Inter and A.C. Milan are challenging for the final Champions league spot having formerly been plunged into obscurity by financial troubles. European heavyweights have also made the jump to Italy over the past few seasons, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon and Carlos Bacca all moving across the Mediterranean from big Spanish clubs.
Home grown Italian talent is also starting to reappear once-more, with Dominico Beradi (Sassuolo, aged 21) and Gianluigi Donnarumma (A.C. Milan, aged 17), who are both first team players for their respective clubs and look set to take a youthful Italian national team by storm over the coming years. Huge imports and exports have also created a much needed buzz around the reformist nature of Serie A, with diminutive PSG midfielder Marco Veratti a product of Pescsara’s youth system a good example, whilst Paul Pogba – one of the worlds most sought after players, arrived in Turin with Juventus on a free transfer from Manchester United.
Big-name managers have also been exerting themselves on the league; Roberto Mancini, Antonio Conte and Massimo Allegri have all taken on the envious task of reinvigorating fallen giants Juventus, Inter and A.C. Milan, with varied degrees of success to show for their troubles. But this enthusiasm shows that the prospect of a lucrative and competitive Italian league is most certainly on the cards once again for the insatiable faction of Italian football fans. Distinguished Jose Mourinho has even been touted with an emotional reunion with Inter – who he won the Champions League and subsequently the treble with under his guidance.
The strong backbone of defenders that have personified the Italian game for so long, seem to be as fruitful as ever, with gallant defenders Giorgio Chiellini , Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci all living up to the heady heights of gargantuan stalwarts like Lilian Thuram and Alessandro Nesta – men who are rightly regarded as some of the finest defenders of their generation. The box to box mid-fielders – who have themselves dictated the style of play that has personified the past decade of Italian football, are once again looking to strut and fret their stuff, as players like Marek Hamsik and Paul Pogba bring their cultivated attacking performances to the fore front of Italy’s prospering football sovereignty. With their performances going some way to eclipsing the consummate ease with which Andrea Pirlo orchestrated glorified pieces of art throughout his 20-year career in his homeland.
Meanwhile the predatory instincts of Filippo Inzaghi, Gabriel Batistuta and Roberto Baggio have been somewhat replicated in the exploits of Argentinian duo of Gonzalo Higuain (81) and Mauro Icardi (48), who have scored almost 130 goals between them over the past three seasons – a phenomenal rate in what is traditionally a defensive league.
The players and managers are clearly more than capable of re-routing the path of this money driven autocracy that has ostracised numerous Leagues from the substantial wealth needed to compete with the elitist powers of English and Spanish football that have come to dominate our television screens in the recent past. The tough virtuosity of Serie A is the perfect counter balance and one that continues to tap into the heart and soul of Italian football – tough tackling and inspirational creativity. Poetic visionaries clash with industrious dignitaries to mould a nonconformist ballet of the masses, which is played to the tune of thousands of passionate supporters.
The future is bright for Serie A – fans and players alike will once again fight for the badge under the roof of one collective noise and one collective aim, as greed and hypocrisy of past financial woes take a back seat. Passions will spill over from the terraces as the adorn of a League much maligned by the fat cats in Zurich, finally takes centre stage, with Lazio and Roma contesting titles with Inter, A.C. Milan, Napoli, Fiorentina and Juventus as had been the norm for decades prior. Rampaging full-backs, ball winning mid-fielders, rock solid centre-backs and clinical finishers will all be prominent once more – as Italian football is reborn.