With half-hearted friendlies taking place all over the world and the good-time buzz of the EUROs dissipating like so much submerged Alka-Seltzer, it is time to get excited about an onrushing season of soccer.
The transfer market is roaring on with the ferocity of a Batman press junket; some squad clearouts have been brutal; the court cases are being dealt with as quickly as possible; Paris St. Germain have been bold and signed big names; Manchester United are panicking over their midfield; Everyone greedily eyes a Champions League trophy which can be won with heart alone.
In Italy, in particular, this is seen as important. Inter were, for one year, the dominant European force. They won a double and bullied everyone around them. They fell away shortly after, but Italy, as a whole, wants to progress.
AC Milan are rebuilding and rebranding. Napoli want to move forward. Juventus want to carry their fine Serie A performance of last season into the Champions League. Inter have had enough of biding their time.
Calcio is big business in Italy (OK, let’s not lazily infer match-fixing with weak puns about ‘business’, here). Fans in the country expect their teams to be amongst the elite and their television stations can whip up a frenzy better, even, than the hyperbole-addicted English. Now their national team has made it back to the top –albeit just to get spanked by Spain –and this can only spur them on.
Out of such fevered expectation and idle time comes works of great chutzpah and burla.
This is a video created by Italian group Mediaset. To celebrate their upcoming coverage of the Champions League they have created this parody of the movie Point Break where thieves dressed as the presidents of five of the biggest Italian clubs attempt to steal the Champions League trophy.
In this clip are the likenesses of Aurelio De Laurentiis of Napoli, Giampaolo Pozzo of Udinese, Andrea Agnelli of Juventus, Massimo Moratti of Inter Milan, and Adriano Galliano of AC Milan.
Can any of these teams challenge next season?
In truth, Europe may still be out of reach for these sides. If Juventus strengthen they could surprise, but the likes of AC Milan and Napoli look to have destabilized themselves by tossing away valuable assets.
The Scudetto may be a competition worth watching out for, though. Serie A will be fiercely competitive and there are more famous sides to consider. It will be intriguing to see if Juve can consolidate, or if teams like Inter bounce back.