Before we preview the Juventus match tomorrow, I think it is best we take a minute and talk about a few teams actually still in Europe. Sorry Juventini, but you know it’s true, and you will be back, but at the moment you are the odd man out. Which means winning the Scudetto is that much easier for you, but hey no big deal right?
Last night those that tuned in were treated to another Italian victory over a London team, this time it was Napoli 3-1 over Chelsea, a follow up on Milan’s 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal. Today Inter take the field, against French opposition, but the Serie A versus EPL banter has always been the focal point. Two struggling EPL teams have literally been put to the sword by Italian teams, and while EPL pundits are quick to say well Arsenal and Chelsea were woeful, they will be the ones sorry at the end of the day as they didn’t recognize what I believe to be the beginning of a new era for Serie A.
The past few seasons have seen a strong showing for the EPL presence in the CL. While they haven’t won many outside of Liverpool and Manchester United, all the while Milan quietly showed up in 3 finals, winning two and Inter getting one of their own, but who is counting right? How about the fact that Barcelona has made a "bit" of noise as well, but the point being is that money was the golden ticket in the CL. If you spent it, and spent it well mind you, you could assure yourself the depth and talent to be successful in Europe’s biggest competition. But times they are changing, with money not being what it used to be in the current economic climate and Financial Fair Play being a very real thing, teams are not longer able to buy blindly to buy a winner off the shelf, instead they have to build a team systematically and the Italians, and to some extent the French, have joined the Bundesliga in this progressive process. Sure you can’t count out Barca and Madrid, but the mighty big spending EPL teams have fallen, and just about anybody can be next?
At the end of the day, you can say what you want about Italy’s 7 goals to England’s 1 over the last 180 minutes. You can say the EPL teams were poor, or that Italian’s simply dominated home turf on "unplayable pitches," but those all sound like excuses. Not to mention, both Milan and Napoli can still go to London and lay quite an egg, but something tells me reversing the past week’s results will not be that easy for the Londoners. Arsenal and Chelsea both appear to be in shambles on the balance and defensive side of the ball, two traits crucial to be successful, and Italian sides are starting to build their strong defensive fortresses once again, with the heavy emphasis on the word build. Instead of buying the next big thing, teams like Milan, Napoli and Juventus are buying what they can, more so based on traits needed to be successful then unrealized hype, at the end day making for a more cost effective process. Mesbah, Zuniga, and Pepe are all prime examples of Italian teams buying smart efficient players to fit the system as opposed to breaking the bank for a player who is merely happy to get paid.
So while I am certainly not here to write the eulogy of the EPL, not yet at least, I think Serie A fans should continue to bide their time and let the play do the talking. Let the EPL fans sink themselves along with their teams, if it and when it happens in the next two weeks. Next season Serie A will be back even stronger with the return of Juventus and Milan, and the potential for a team like Napol to be Serie A’s version of a Liverpool, a CL contender, but a domestic enigma! Cheers to Napoli and all their fans, it was a special night, and one to remember, now keep on rolling!