Champions League Misfortunes Could Be Turnaround Point For Italian Soccer

By Riccardo Di Julio
Filippo Inzaghi
IconSport/USA TODAY Sports

It is not a surprise that Italian soccer is not living the best of its days. Hit by a strong economic and structural crisis in the last years, the overall results of its clubs in international competitions have been extremely poor, as they don’t correspond to the prestige of such a historic country.

Of course, there have been some fortunate exceptions to this situation, such as Inter‘s unquestionable domination in 2010, when the Nerazzurri won five titles, including their third Champions League in history. However, these kind of episodes have only been sporadic and do not really hide the structural problems of Italian soccer, which has significantly stayed behind compared to other countries.

Instead, such events are only the product of unique scenarios in which a specific team temporarily becomes as strong as it can ever be as a response from a negative situation. But in reality, that specific victory would not reflect the real conditions of the entire system. For this reason, Inter’s glorious adventures in 2010 can only be considered as a positive isolated event in an overall negative environment.

Moreover, they also represented the very last success for Italian soccer in Europe, considering that no team has even reached the semifinals of any tournament after that. On the contrary, the biggest achievement since 2010 has consisted in the two magnificent performances of Napoli in the Champions League editions of 2011-12 and 2013-14.

Despite having respectively reached only the round of 16 and the group stage of the tournament, the Partenopei can be more than proud of their results, as they have had the bad luck of facing authentic titans of the soccer world such as Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and even Mancherster City, which was actually eliminated by the Italians in 2011.

On the other hand, as far as the Serie A giants are concerned, European results have been extremely under the expectations. As a matter of fact, even if AC Milan has always be able to qualify to the playoffs and to always have better performances in Europe than in the domestic league, the current squad of the Rossoneri hardly stand a chance against the biggest teams of the continent. Consequently, their merit of progressing from the group stage is rapidly canceled by how little they will be able to compete later on in the tournament.

In addition, the situation of Juventus is even more lamentable as, historically speaking, the Bianconeri can hardly ever match the results great obtained in Serie A to the ones obtained outside of Italy’s borders. To this concerned, despite two and a half years of absolute dominance in the domestic championship, the Old Lady has ingloriously being eliminated already in the group stage of Champions League in a very accessible group.

Ironically, however, the bitter destiny of both Juventus and Napoli could potentially end up being more beneficial than the one of Milan. In fact, despite not receiving the appealing economic contributions expected for qualifying from the group, both the Bianconeri and Partenopei will now compete in the Europa League, and so, they have a great chance to add points in the UEFA Rankings, and more especially, to finally achieve an international title again.

Perhaps starting from the Europa League is just what Italian soccer needs. Considering how unrealistic it is to be able to win the Champions League at this moment, these two clubs absolutely must take advantage of their misfortune in order to rise again. By doing this, Juventus and Napoli would be helping the entire country, considering that the UEFA co-efficient are mostly determined by the results obtained in the Europa League, more than anything else.

For this reason, fans should not be very disappointed by the elimination of these two clubs from the Champions League. With them in the Europa League, in addition to the competitive Lazio, and especially Fiorentina, Italy has a strong chance to finally wake up.

For Milan, instead, as suggested by their precarious situation in Serie A, moving on to the next rounds of Champions League is almost only a dream. Unfortunately for them, however, the opportunity to rise again in Europa League won’t be available, at least for this year.

Riccardo Di Julio is a Soccer Writer for Follow him on Twitter @Italcatenaccio and add him to your network on Google.

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