In the Spanish La Liga, five points currently separate the top four clubs on the standings table. In the English Premier League, the top-four spread is six points. In the German Bundesliga, it's 17 points. In the French Ligue 1, it's 24. Compare those figure to the Serie A, where just three points separate the top four soccer clubs on the league standings table, and it's clear to see that Italy's top-flight division is the fiercest competition in all of European football this season.
Indeed, fueled by the early season struggles of Juventus and the comeback of Inter Milan, the Italian Serie A has been an unpredictable battle this season. As of the matches played during the weekend of January 9th, Napoli are leading the way in the league with a tally of 41 points. Juventus and Inter Milan are two points back, with Juve enjoying the advantage thanks to superior goal difference. Fiorentina round out the top four, with a point tally of 38.
The Changing Landscape of Italian Football
Already notable is how the current top four in the Serie A differs from last year's top four. At the conclusion of the 2014/15 season, Juventus had 87 points and a record of 26 wins, nine draws, and three losses. The Zebras finished the year 17 points ahead of the rest of the field. Roma and Lazio rounded out the top three (with 70 and 69 points, respectively), while Fiorentina and Napoli were back in fourth and fifth place, both more than 20 points shy of the top slot.
This season, the first change is that Juventus are no longer as dominant as they have been for the past half-decade. Juve could still very well win the Serie A title in 2016: they currently have a five-game winning streak across all competitions and a nine-game winning streak in the Serie A. In the domestic league, they haven't lost or drawn a match since before Halloween. That record inspires confidence, and it shows why Juventus have been able to overcome a poor season start-where they dipped as far as 17th on the league standings table-to put themselves back in the running for the title.
The Rise of Napoli and the Fall of Roma and Lazio
Also notable this year is the impressive rise of Napoli and the disappearance of Roma and Lazio from the top of the table. Roma aren't too far back: they're currently in fifth place with 34 points-seven points off first place. Lazio, meanwhile, have dipped to ninth, with 27 points from 19 fixtures.
In the Bundesliga, 17 points separate the top four soccer clubs; in the Serie A, the top 12 teams are within 17 points of first-place. In other words, both Roma and Lazio could still orchestrate comebacks and score top-five finishes for the 2015/16. That factor of unpredictability is what will make the Serie A so exciting to follow over the next few months.
The closeness of the soccer teams and point totals in the Serie A doesn't discount what Napoli have done this season, though. In the 2014/15 campaign, Napoli played solid football, winning 18 games and scoring 70 goals-just two fewer than Juventus.
Napoli have used their offensive skill to become Italy's top football club this season. Nineteen games (or halfway) into the campaign, they've already scored 38 goals-on pace for an impressive 76 for the full season. They've also boosted their win percentage from 47.4 to 63.2 (and cut their loss percentage from 28.9% to 10.5%). And if the Napoli's most recent match-a 5-1 win against Frosinone-the soccer club isn't slowing down. In all likelihood, the 2015/16 Serie A will come down to a battle between Napoli and Juventus-though Inter Milan, with the best defense in the league, could be the wild card.
Which football club do you think will come out on the top of this intensely competitive Serie A season? Will Juventus notch a fifth national league title in a row? Or will another team finally sneak into the titleholder position? Share your thoughts with Soccer Box, we are active on multiple social platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Google +.