Zohaib Ahmed is a sports journalist whose profession is to report and edit but whose passion is to predict and bet. He’s been in the industry for more than a decade and has worked/written for various bookmakers/tipsters. His expertise is in cricket, football, MMA, boxing and basketball.
Owing to financial and some other reasons, the Italian Serie A has lost some of its luster over the past 10 years or so. But before that, it used to be a true powerhouse in European football, on par with the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga, if not higher. Today, Serie A sides not named Juventus are not considered a major threat in Champions League, although they have shown steady improvement.
But before we delve into present day scenario, let’s briefly revisit Serie A’s origins first and how it got to where it got to. Organised topflight football first began in Italy in 1898 but was played under a variety of names and shapes – mostly split between northern and southern teams.
In 1926, the split was removed and by the 1929-30 season, the Serie A, as the round-robin league we know now, had taken shape.
The Juve-Milanese dominance
The inaugural season in 1898 was won by Genoa but details of the first 30 years are scant. Once the format was revised in 1929, the league was won by Ambrosiana-Inter – the side now known as Inter Milan – followed by five straight Juventus title triumphs.
Since then, Juventus have remained the most consistently dominant champions, often stringing together lengthy sequences of titles, almost to the point of making the league a bit monotonous for the fans as well as punters.
The Old Lady, as they are affectionately called, have won a staggering 36 titles out of 123. It amounts to an almost unbelievable 29 per cent of all Serie A seasons. Meanwhile, AC Milan and Inter have won 18 titles each, giving them a combined percentage of another 29, which when coupled with Juve’s haul, accounts for 58 per cent of all titles.
Everyone else have won just 42 per cent, which demonstrates that Serie A has basically been a three-team division.
Generally speaking, teams and clubs from biggest cities of a league tend to replicate their host cities’ size and can become more successful than small-town rivals. But in Serie A, this principle of sports economics does not hold.
AS Roma and SS Lazio, the two most prominent clubs of Italy’s largest and capital city Rome, have a combined total of five Serie A titles. The city saw its last title triumph in 2000-01 when Roma won. It’s been 20 years of drought since.
In the present stretch, Juventus have been riding another one of their almost never ending title waves. After being relegated to Serie B due to Calciopoli scandal and climbing back in the top division instantly, Juve reclaimed the title in 2012 and have since notched nine titles on the bounce.
However, they could not do 10 straight as Inter Milan, under Antonio Conte’s leadership, snapped their streak. The Nerazzuri are unlikely to repeat as Conte left this summer and the club is in a massive financial crisis.
Inter’s local rivals AC Milan have also been weakened this summer due to the departure of Gianluigi Donnarumma to PSG. They can still remain in the mix though due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic still being with them. The exciting Atalanta, Luciano Spaletti-coached Napoli and Jose Mourinho-led AS Roma give the fans the hope that the upcoming season will be another exciting one.
As explained above, the Italian Serie A is almost always a three-horse race. In the past 20 years, no one other than the two Milan sides and Juventus have claimed the Scudetto – a decoration worn by Serie A winners.
Their oligopoly is unlikely to be challenged any time soon as the Milan sides have rejuvenated themselves lately whereas Juve hog the most talent, including the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo.
Thus, if looking for outright bets in Serie A, the safest bet will be to pick one of these three.
Last season was a bit of an upset as Juventus failed to win the league and Inter triumphed. Inter can be backed to repeat at odds of 3.20. Those who expect Juventus to bounce back can back them at odds of 1.955. The real value, though, could be in Milan, who are a whopping 11.0 to win the title. Mourinho’s Roma also have tall odds of 16.0 if folks think the Portuguese can revive the sleeping giants.
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Frequently asked questions
Is the Italian Serie A defensive?
The Serie A had long had a reputation for being a tactic-heavy and defensive league, where goals were hard to come by. Of course, for a league that has been home for defensive behemoths such as Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Nesta, a reputation for being stingy is not out of place.
However, that has changed in recent years, with the 2019-20 season seeing Serie A teams score an average of 3.04 goals per match – a scoring rate inferior to only German Bundesliga’s (3.21).
Whether the newly discovered freescoring ways are down to CR7’s influence or something else, we don’t know. What we do know is that the Serie A gets more than its share of golazos.
When does Italian Serie A take place?
All European leagues have a set window, during which they begin and conclude. The August to May cycle is followed barring anything unforeseen like the outbreak of the pandemic as we saw in 2020 when the league finished in August after being interrupted for several months.
Is the Italian Serie A prone to match-fixing?
After the infamous Calciopoli scandal of 2006, it can never be said with certainly the Italian football is free from corruption. Having said that, the authorities were keen to clean up the mess – something evident by the heavy punishments they handed out, including the relegation of Juve. It is unlikely, if not impossible, for Serie A matches to be fixed.