Only a few seasons ago Italy’s top league was regarded as a defensive, Juventus-dominated turn-off but now it is game on
There was a time when Italians might have been insulted by the suggestion of theirs being the third-best football league in Europe. Serie A was always il campionato più bello del mondo – the most beautiful championship in the world. How else to describe a competition that produced 12 European Cup finalists between 1983 and 1998, a place where you could watch Diego Maradona take on Franco Baresi, or Zinedine Zidane battle Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or?
Nobody is blind, though, to the power shift since. Between TV deals and billionaire owners, Premier League clubs became able to offer wages the Italians could not match. Barcelona and Real Madrid kept pace by using the Champions League to solidify their status as global brands. Serie A’s most marketable teams were too busy squabbling over the Calciopoli scandal.