Is the Bundesliga set to surpass Serie A?
It is now widely accepted that, after a long stint as the world’s most glamorous championship in the 1980s and 90s, Serie A has fallen behind the Premier League and Spain’s Primera Liga.
Problems with hooliganism and the 2006 match-fixing scandal have not helped and attention is now moving to whether the Italian top flight can repel competition from the Bundesliga for third place.
With Italy’s representations all out of this season’s Champions League before the quarter-finals, former Germany coach Rudi Voeller recently told Reuters that he is hopeful the German championship can overtake Serie A in the European rankings and wrestle away its right to a fourth slot in the competition.
Earlier this month, Italy’s top sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport published a survey that suggested the Bundesliga has already beaten Serie A back into fourth, with the French league not too far behind in fifth.
The survey looked at a series of factors aimed at measuring the championships’ pulling power. These included percentages on how full the stadiums are and the number of players with at least one international cap, estimated revenues for this season, the players’ average ages and the value of their salaries and transfers.
Serie A clearly has plenty of issues to address although Gazzetta may have gone a bit far with its conclusions.
The weakness of the survey was that perhaps it did not give enough weight to the enduring appeal derived from Italian sides’ history of success in Europe.
“Italian teams have reached the final of the Champions League 10 times over the last two decades and AC Milan won it just two years ago, so the situation is not that alarming,” Italian football federation vice president and former European Cup winner Demetrio Albertini told Reuters.
Nevertheless, with history continually in the making, Serie A had better watch its back.
PHOTO: Werder Bremen’s Claudio Pizzarro celebrates after scoring against and ultimately eliminating AC Milan in their UEFA Cup match at the San Siro, February 26, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo