Serie A is not as good as it thinks it is

March 4, 2011

SOCCER-ITALY/Serie A leaders AC Milan visit Juventus this weekend in one of the showcase matches of the Serie A season but hardly anyone is expecting a “good game”.

I can count on one hand the number of top class matches in Italy this term where excitement, technical proficiency and flair have won the day.

The rest of the season has been largely turgid and although Milan look like snapping up their first scudetto since 2004, their struggles in the Champions League show they are not a patch on some of the remarkable Rossoneri sides of the past. 

Milan are shaky at fullback, currently have three ballwinners playing in midfield who struggle to find that defence-splitting past while upfront Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano are all very good but none are “great”.

Once mighty Juventus are enduring another horror season and look like finishing outside the Champions League places again. Their 1-0 win over champions Inter Milan last month should have reignited their campaign but they then went on to lose 2-0 to Lecce and Bologna.

That game against Inter underlined everything that is wrong with Serie A at the moment. Juve doggedly battled for a 1-0 home win but there was no guile on show at all from either side. It was attritional, like Serie A has always been, but the difference is that in the 1990s there was quality as well with the likes of George Weah and Roberto Baggio pulling the strings.

Last weekend’s top-of-the-table-clash between Milan and Napoli turned out to be a damp squib with the Rossoneri winning 3-0 and Napoli barely having a shot. The amount of misplaced passes especially in the first half was unreal. Yes it was raining but these are meant to be the very best players.

Despite Inter being European champions (thanks of course to a Portuguese coach and a side mainly made up of foreigners), Serie A’s troubles in Europe this term means Germany have taken their fourth Champions League qualifying spot from 2012/13.

Maybe Juve v Milan will surprise us and be a good game but with the hosts now led upfront by Alessandro Matri, a man who is costing 15.5 million euros but has not played for a modest Italy side yet, it makes you wonder where Italian soccer is heading.

Maybe Milan will reverse their 1-0 deficit when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League last 16 second leg next week but few Rossoneri fans actually think they will, exposing the ragged confidence even of the Serie A leaders.

PHOTO: AC Milan’s Robinho (L) challenges Christian Maggio (C) and Paolo Cannavaro of Napoli during their Italian Serie A soccer match at San Siro stadium in Milan, February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini


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Well said, Mark. I can hardly find a better, insightful analysis… As a Napoli fan, I was at San Siro that day and was disappointed at the lack of real pathos, also among the usual passionate Napoli fans!(No chants in the stands and many fans leaving the stadium before the final whistle) I also was at AC Milan v Tottenham and remember when a defiant Redknapp said English soccer is better than Italian…

Posted by AntoCiancio | Report as abusive

Wonderful insightful post, Mark. I’d love to say this is not true but was at San Siro as a Napoli fan and witnessed how downhearted my fellow Neapolitans were that night — more for the lack of pathos than for the loss itself. Many left the stadium before the final whistle and — contrarily to my expectations — no Neapolitan chants enlightened that rainy night. I had also been at San Siro for AC Milan v Spurs and still remember Redknapp saying how good English soccer was compared to the Italian game…is there a way to buck this trend?

Posted by antociancio2 | Report as abusive

Good stuff, i have to say though like Sandro Nesta said this Milan side is not built for the CL, we have to wait til next season. The serie A doesn’t look up for it in Europe right now but one thing is for sure Milan is putting a great team together. As a Milan fan i wish our forwards would help more in the defensive phase, press more, if they could do that then we could do better in Europe….

Posted by jesonyx | Report as abusive