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Italian club football underwent an EPL-style reorganisation during the summer of 2010, with the new Lega Serie Aformed in an attempt to restore the top-flight of Italian football to its former pre-eminence after years of stagnation and scandal saw it lose considerable ground to the EPL and Spain’s La Liga, now regarded as the continent’s two top leagues.
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The last season under the old set-up was a successful one for Italy as champion club Inter Milan carried all before it under the self-styled “special one”, coach Jose Mourinho. The UEFA Champions League, Serie A and the Coppa Italia were all won by the club, the league title for a remarkable fifth year in-a-row (although only four were won entirely on the pitch – see “A brief history” below)..
With Mourinho seeking new challenges at Real Madrid, Inter have replaced him with former Valencia and Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez. Despite an indifferent spell in the EPL, especially last season, Benitez is a proven title winner, having won La Liga with his previous club Valencia. There will, however, be tremendous pressure on him to replicate Mourinho’s success and that of Mourinho’s predecessor Roberto Mancini.
There will also be tremendous pressure from the other giants of the Italian game, including city rivals AC Milan, Juventus and Roma who were Inter’s one serious challenger in 2009/10, finishing two points behind Mourinho’s men but ten points ahead of third-placed Milan.
The unpredictable nature of this year’s competition can be summed up by the fact that 13 of the 20 competing teams are under new management. Not just Inter but also Champions League qualifiers Milan and Sampdoria and the likes of Juve and Fiorentina. It looks like a season not to be missed.
A Brief History
Serie A started as a national competition for the first time in 1929. Lo Scudetto (the small shield) has been won most times, 27, by Juventus of Turin, with the two Milan clubs trailing in second and third, Inter on 18 titles, Milan on 17.
Inter’s modern day dominance matches that of “La Grande Inter” under famous Argentine coach Helenio Herrera and his “catenaccio”(“door-bolt”) defensive system in the 1960s.
But the Torino team of the 1940s won five titles, including four-in-a-row, before tragically perishing in what became known as the “Superga” air disaster in 1949.
Torino have only won one Scudetto since, with the stranglehold of the big three rarely broken. The great Diego Maradona of Argentina inspired Napoli to two national titles in the late 1980s. But otherwise, successes by the likes of Lazio of Rome and Sampdoria have been isolated.
Scandal has often been near at hand, the most recent being the Calciopoli scam which cost Juve the 2005 and 2006 titles, the first being left unawarded, the second kick-starting Inter’s five-in-a-row.
But the competition’s popularity has always endured. And it looks sure to do so again this season.
You don’t have to be Italian or even live in Italy to be a fan of Serie A. There are many fans of this league from all over the world. And you can join them by joining us to watch live Serie A on the Live Sports Network.
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