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Special Feature – The Resurgence of Italian Serie A in Europe

After a season of much upside including their sixth consecutive Serie A title and a Coppa Italia victory over Lazio, the Bianconeri’s promising run to European glory was halted by another Spanish giant in the space of three years.

As fans of Juventus filed out of the gates, the tifosi must see this as one of their most successful in their recent Italian domination along with their Italian counterparts who helped to put the league back on the map.

Juventus’ came into the season on the heels of losing their midfield gem Paul Pogba but loaded up with Dani Alves, Miralem Pjanic and Gonzalo Higuain, who all played integral roles in their title defence and European run.

The squad was tested early but was able to get its form together to once again prove its superiority in Italy, which included a rise in prominence by Mario Mandzukic. The Croatian played an underrated role on the left-wing which helped resurrect his Juventus career and cement his spot in Bianconeri folklore with a superb overhead goal this past weekend.

Max Allegri must receive plaudits for the work he has done with the Bianconeri considering both AS Roma and Napoli had record seasons and provided serious competition in the league. His blessed defensive setup and shrewd tactics helped him get his side to where it is now and all credit must go his way for stapling Juventus as one of Europe’s best.

Roma and Napoli had indifferent seasons as they both contended until the penultimate day in the race for the title. However, the key separating factor was that Roma.

were not clinical enough in Europe which ultimately spelled the end of Luciano Spaletti.

Losing in qualification for the Champions League and early exit of the Europa League knockout stage marred a record season for Roma. In the meantime, they recorded the most points in Serie A history without winning the title.

Napoli’s attacking prowess was on full show as their exciting football demonstrated they have a lot more to offer on the European stage. A gutsy defeat to the eventual European champions saw Napoli win many admirers as players such as Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon had incredible seasons.

All in all, Napoli scored 94 goals in the league which broke the all-time record for most goals scored in Serie A history, as Roma only scored four less.

The return to prominence of AC Milan also was a major plus for Italian football. Vincenzo Montella was finally able to arrest years of unrest and sail his largely mediocre squad to the Europa League and a piece of silverware in the Supercoppa. With the added Chinese investment, his side is set to make even further inroads as it looks to build on a solid youthful base.

Meanwhile, their neighbours Inter look to end a rather poor year and turn their fortunes around with their rich squad and a coach who can lead them back up the table.

The real success story came from Bergamo, as Atalanta flew up the table with their strong but youthful, following Sassuolo’s suit from the season prior. The side, led by Gian Piero Gasparini, finished fourth and is set to lose plenty of quality including the likes of Papu Gomez, Andrea Conti and Matteo Caldara to bigger clubs, along with Franck Kessie, who has already joined Milan.

However, a season in the Europa League opens up new doors for the boys from Bergamo to hold their own next season as their exciting football and resilience was a real joy to watch.

This attacking show of brilliance from many of Serie A’s premier strikers exemplified the change from Italy’s stereotype of playing ‘boring football’. Six players scored more than 20 goals this season with a further six scoring over 15. There was a total of 1,123 goals in the whole season which eclipsed last season by 144 goals and as a result, was more than the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga, which have all been ranked as superior leagues in the UEFA coefficient.

This is coupled by the Azzurri playing back to their strengths after a superb Euro 2016 campaign. The squad, which is full of young talent and a plethora of middle-age and ageing veterans, has near perfect balance in all areas. If qualification can be sealed soon, winning the World Cup in Russia does not seem a a farfetched possibility.

With Italy set to receive their fourth Champions League spot back, we can expect another season of drama and added excitement. After years in the wilderness, the Italian football threat is coming back to the fore.

Fans and teams alike are starting to recognise their power and added quality which have eclipsed many sides throughout Europe. If Serie A had better exposure and continued investment in the game, especially in some of the lower-ranked clubs, we can expect to see the game rise dramatically.

Socially, Crotone’s consolidation in the league is massive for southern Italy as the nation has longed for a side in the premier division since Bari and Lecce’s demise.

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For the first time in a while there are nine sides (Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Lazio, Atalanta, Milan, Inter, Fiorentina and Torino) who all boast significant firepower and have the opportunity to push England in terms of competition among the top sides.

The way in which Italy is developing is a breath of fresh air and for the game in general; it is massive.

As the Italian version of Game of Thrones in terms of excitement, rejuvenation, shock and drama continues, who will be able to topple House Juventus next season?

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