The Italian championship has created a reputation for being one of the toughest in Europe, famous once upon a time for its iron-clad defenses and highly tactical approaches to the game, but nowadays things are much more different in one of Europe’s most important leagues.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, Italian football was the world’s best league, featuring the best players of the time. In fact, something that highlights this condition was that from 1989 to 1998, there was an Italian presence in 9 of the 10 UEFA Champions League finals played in that period. Names like Marco Van Basten, Jean-Pierre Papin, Didier Deschamps, Ronaldo (the Brazilian), Zinedine Zidane, Lothar Matthäus, Edgar Davids, etc., were part of everyday life in Italian football.
Not receiving as much foreign investment as other leagues like England because Italian clubs have traditionally been owned by some of the country’s wealthiest families and businessmen. Currently, you can see foreign investment in clubs like AS Roma, Inter, or AC Milan but without the level that you see in, for example, Manchester City, Chelsea, or Paris Saint Germain. However, the Italian championship has, so far in the current season, the second-highest goal average of the main European leagues over Spain, England, France, or Holland and only below Germany.
Although Serie A has been dominated in the last decade by Juventus, who won 9 titles in a row, last season Inter broke that streak, trying to set a trend that is one of those that maintains the most uncertainty in the middle of the season. Next, we will talk about the main candidates to win Series A:
The Interista club began the season with the news that their manager, Antonio Conte, would not continue after being in charge of leading the team to win the last edition of Serie A. However, the Inter board cleverly obtained the services of Simone Inzaghi, one of the most outstanding managers in Italy during his five years in Lazio. With Inzaghi, Inter made some new signings such as Dzeko, Calhanoglu, Dumfries, Gosens, and two players he was very familiar with such as Joaquín Correa and Felipe Caicedo, with the intention of supplying the significant losses of, mainly, Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku, which, it is worth mentioning, was one of the reasons that led to the departure of Conte, who did not agree with these sales.
Inter is the highest-scoring team in the tournament with 53 goals in 22 games played (most teams have 23 games), which is impressive when you consider the loss of the Belgian striker who was their main scorer last season. This season, Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez have compensated for those goals, in addition to being more evenly distributed among the rest of the players. Lukaku was also the leading man in assists in the league last season, but that aspect has been handled quite well by Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella. Inter has a 4-point lead over its two closest competitors with one game in hand for both.
Since their return to Serie A just over 15 years ago, Napoli has steadily risen to become regular contenders for the title despite not having won Serie A since the Maradona era. Despite being known for his attacking style of play, manager Luciano Spaletti has managed to form a solid defense. In fact, it is the best in the current Serie A, receiving only 16 goals in 23 matches in which experienced players such as Koulibaly, Mario Rui or goalkeeper Ospina stand out, who, it is worth mentioning, is the one with the cleanest sheets in the tournament (along with Inter’s Handanovic) with 10.
The goals of the team are fairly distributed among several players, among which Mertens stands out with 7 goals, although Insigne, Osimhen, Zielinski, and Fbain Ruiz follow him with 5 goals each.
After the years of success, mainly during Carlo Ancelotti’s time, Milan has returned to form a less competitive team making a considerable investment with signings such as goalkeeper Maignan, Giroud or Ballo-Touré and making the transfers of Tonalli and Tomori permanent. Additionally, they brought players on loan such as Brahim Diaz, Florenzi, or Bakayoko.
Despite these new signings and keeping most of the relevant players from last season, Milan’s main star remains Swedish veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is the club’s top scorer in Serie A, scoring 8 goals in 15 games, being an important piece for the attack of the Rossoneri club, which is the second best in the tournament with 47 goals in 23 games, only behind the leader Inter.
For a couple of seasons, it is the revelation club in Italy that has stood out for two specific aspects: their attacking playing style and their success in signings. In the first aspect, the main responsible is manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who bets on a 3-4-1-2 formation with a very marked tendency to go on the attack that helps the wing-backs and strikers have a greater role.
In terms of transfers, Atalanta has opted for little-known players such as Robin Gosens, Ruslan Malinovsky, Marten De Roon, Berat Djimsiti, Remo Freuler or Timothy Castagne who have given the club great sporting performance and, in the case of the Belgian, a great financial profit when he was sold.
Atalanta are 10 points behind Inter with the same number of games played and one less than Napoli and Milan, a condition that can help them in case some of these teams have a bad run.
Juve is in fifth place in Serie A, 11 points off Inter with a game more played than them. The scenario is not really favorable for the Bianconeri team, but Juventus is a club that has dominated Italy in the last decade. In the January transfer window, they were reinforced by Vlahovic from Fiorentina, one of the fashionable strikers in Europe for the last year and a half, and one of the revelations in Germany, midfielder Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Inter is the main candidate to win the tournament again. However, when the UEFA Champions League resumes, the Neroazurri club has a complicated tie with Liverpool, which could lead them to lose focus in Serie A and this could open the way for their pursuers, mainly Napoli and Milan.