10th November 2017.
Over the course of the last six years, Serie A’s title race has been something of a formality. Juventus, under Antonio Conte and now Massimiliano Allegri, have cruised to the Scudetto year after year without any serious competition. However, in the famous words of Bob Dylan, for the times, they are a-changin’.
Competition in 2017/18 Serie A
We are finally immersed in the wonderful spectacle that is a competitive Italian league. After 12 games – AS Roma and Lazio have only played 11 – Napoli sit at the summit, one point ahead of reigning champions Juventus and two in front of Luciano Spalletti’s Inter.
Just behind the top three is Lazio, 28, and Roma, 27, with a game-in-hand to catch up the three teams ahead of them on 30, 31 and 32 points.
Milan were supposed to be in the mix, but problems with Vincenzo Montella’s selection policy and the overhaul of the squad has prohibited them kicking on and competing for a Champions League place.
There is now a sense of a rejuvenation in Serie A, something we have not seen in many, many years. It is a sheer delight to watch Italian football each week because of the unpredictability that is going to occur.
European Football at its Best
For this is the same reason why the Premier League is, arguably, the most enjoyed league in the world.
Like the English Premier League, Serie A is not the best competition in terms of quality. That has to be Spain’s La Liga. But not every spectator tunes in to be utterly wowed by the world-class dominance of Juventus – hence why Italian football went out of fashion through the Bianconeri’s six-year dominance.
However, what the average fan does enjoy, is competitiveness. And finally Serie A has a show every match day that promises great, attacking football with a great sense of ambition thrown into it for each team.
Highlights of Serie A 2017/18 so Far
Just last week, before the international break, Benevento, sitting bottom of Serie A without a win in 11 games, took a half time lead against Juventus in Turin. They might have gone on to lose the game, as expected, but they challenged spectacularly and did their bit to show that the Old Lady’s impenetrable reign is starting to diminish.
Fans want to see goals, but they also want to see a proper match being played. Tactics, mind games, a fiery atmosphere both on and off the pitch, and a winner and loser.
We have already seen a fantastic representation of this new Serie A: Derby della Madonnina. When Inter rose to triumph their across-town rivals Milan at the San Siro in a 3-2 extravaganza, it was one of the classics being portrayed. Plenty of talking points and a highly enthusiastic game played out.
Napoli, under Maurizio Sarri, are playing perhaps the second-best football in Europe right now – just behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. It is slick, tactical and pleasing on the eye to sit down and watch Napoli strut their stuff for 90 minutes.
Tactics, Defence and Goals
Italian football has predominantly been based around tactics and the art of defending; but, like in every walk of life, things come in and out fashion all of the time. What Serie A has done incredibly well is open the floodgates to goals, goals and more goals.
Ciro Immobile, of Lazio, has already scored 14 goals this season, leading the way in Italy. Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi have both scored 11, while Dries Mertens is just behind with 10.
There has not been more goals scored in any of the top European leagues this season than in Italy. That is not something which is expected of Italian football, but the goals are flying in and the league’s profile is back on the rise.
Serie A and Italian football is back in a big way. It has everything you could wish a league to have, apart from a new champion. Whether it is Napoli, who look best equipped to dethrone Juventus, or Inter, as long as there is a changing of the guard every so often, Serie A will continue to be popular.
This article has been written by Liam Canning for Soccer Box, where can shop for latest Serie A football kits, including the title race leaders Juventus, AS Roma, Napoli, Internazionale and Lazio.