Serie A 101
The Serie A is the prime football competition in Italy that has existed on the professional level since 1898. Some like to call it “Calcio,” while others refer to it as the “Scudetto,” and both terms are correct in a way. The winner of the league is crowned the champion of Italy, which is one of the highest honours that an Italian footballer can receive.
Football in Italy is like a religion. Each city cherishes its history and cheers on their home club. Those that win are forever etched in the history of Italian football annals. If you’ve never watched Italian football, it just may be the best time for you to get into it.
Serie A has been regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world in the past. While many think that the title has been taken over by Premier League clubs, the teams from Serie A as well as the league, are coming back.
The season is much more interesting and competitive than before, while there are currently five clubs from Italy remaining in the three major competitions, with high chances of winning at least one of them.
Serie A History
In its youth, the Italian league was split up into regional groups and that system lasted from 1898 to 1922. But in 1921, the Italian Football Federation split the Italian Football Confederation, founding the Northern Football League, which would, in time, become the Lega Serie A that we know today.
Initially, the league was split into northern and southern leagues, but the format was changed in 1926 as fascist pressure forced the federation to add all the southern teams in the national division. The league was unified and settled for the first time during the 1929/30 season and has remained so till this day in a round-robin format.
Serie A Format
The Italian Serie A is played in a traditional round-robin format where each team plays the other two times, at home and away. At the moment, there are 20 teams in Serie A, which means that each club will play a total of 38 games in a span of the season.
Originally, there were 18 clubs that formed the Italian Championship, and the number shifted between 16, 18, and 20 over the years. Between 1988 and 2004, Serie A comprised 18 clubs, but since 2004 the league has adopted the 20-club format, which is still practised today.
The season usually starts around mid-August and ends in the early days of June. The team with the most points is given the Coppa Campioni d’Italia and is also awarded the Scudetto, which is a badge sewn into the winning team’s jersey that they get to wear during the entire next season as Italy’s reigning champions.
At the same time, the best clubs in Italy are awarded a spot in the next year’s European competitions. The top four clubs will earn a spot in the Champions League group stage. The fifth-ranked team will enter the Europa League group stage. Finally, the sixth team on the table will start the season in the Europa Conference League play-off round.
As far as the relegation system goes, the three worst-positioned teams on the table will drop down to Seria B. In turn, the three top sides from Serie B will take their place in next year’s competition.
Here is an overview of the last couple of seasons and winners in Italy.
Serie A Clubs
The competition currently hosts 20 clubs competing in the top flight of Italian football. Inter Milan is the club with the most appearances, as they have featured in 91 of the total 125 seasons. Juventus and Roma are behind with 90 appearances, and AC Milan ranks third with 89.
The clubs that feature in the current 2022/23 Serie A season are the following.
|Spezia Calcio||La Spezia|
Most Succesful Serie A Clubs
It is not hard to guess which is the most successful club in Italy. Juventus has the longest tradition and by far the most Championship trophies in Italy. They are currently sitting at 25, with their latest one coming in 2019/20. In fact, between 2011 and 2020, la Vecchia Signora has won nine titles in a row.
Second in line are the two Milan-based clubs and rivals, Inter Milan and AC Milan. Both have 12 to their name, with the Nerazzurri winning their most recent Sccudeto in the 2020/21 season, while the Rossoneri stripped them away their title for the next one as they won the 2021/20 season.
Italian football is mainly dominated by the leading trio, as the last club that won the Sccudeto out of the leading three was AS Roma in the 2000/01 season.
Top Goalscorers in Serie A
Some people would say that Italian clubs don’t score a lot of goals. But if we take a look at the all-time scoring charts that rumour is busted. Believe it or not, the top scorer of all time in Italy is Silvio Piola, who played between 1929 and 1954, scoring 274 goals.
While Piola did it by playing for four separate clubs, the second man on the list, Francesco Totti, did it by playing only for his home club, AS Roma. L’Ottavo Re di Roma scored 250 goals between 1992 and 2017.
Gunnar Nordahl scored 225 Serie A goals between 1949 and 1958 for both Milan and Rome, while the legendary Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini are tied in fourth place with 2016 goals apiece.
The title of the best goalscorer in Italy is officially called the Paolo Rossi Award. But most refer to it as Capocannoniere, translated to “the head gunner” in Italian. Here are some of the most recent winners.
|2021/22||Ciro Immobile (Lazio)||27|
|2020/21||Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)||29|
|2019/20||Ciro Immobile (Lazio)||36|
|2018/19||Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)||26|
|2017/18||Ciro Immobile (Lazio)/Mauro Icardi (Inter)||29|
|2016/17||Edin Dzeko (Roma)||29|
|2015/16||Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli)||36|
|2014/15||Luca Toni (Verona)/Mauro Icardi (Inter)||22|
|2013/14||Ciro Immobile (Torino)||22|
|2012/13||Edinson Cavani (Napoli)||29|
Top Serie A Rivalries
Rivalries in Italian football are so fierce that it often leads to various conflicts between the fans. The so-called “Tifosi” and the supporters of their home town club often took things to a completely different level when it came to playing against your city or inter-city rivals.
Italian rivalries are most common between two clubs from the same city. But there are examples of clubs from the neighbouring cities being at each other’s throats.
- The Derby della Madonnina: Also known as the Milan Derby is played between Inter Milan and AC Milan. Their rivalry stems from the fact that they were once a single club, but one part of the club split as they wanted to sign foreign players. Which eventually caused them to create FC Internazionale.
- The Derby d’Italia: Contested between Juventus and Inter Milan and named in such a way due to the clubs being the two most successful clubs in Italy.
- The Derby della Capitale: Lazio and Roma are the only club’s from the nation’s capital, and for that reason deserve their own derby, often referred to as the Rome Derby.
- Derby della Lanterna: This one is played between rivals from Genoa CFC and Sampdoria. However, the two clubs have rarely played in the top flight of Italian football, rendering us of more games between bitter rivals.
- The Derby del Sole: Played between Roma and Napoli, which got to its biggest heights during Maradona’s heydays in Naples. This one was born out due to cultural differences between the two cities.
- The Derby di Sicilia: This one is a no-brainer as it is a showdown between the clubs from the two biggest cities in Sicily – Palermo vs Catania.
Italian Clubs in European Competitions
As we mentioned before, Italian clubs have had major success in various European competitions before. They are only now getting back to the limelight, making the old-school football fans extremely happy to see them again.
As far as the Champions League goes, AC Milan is the most successful Italian club and the second most successful in the competition’s history. The Rossoneri have won it a total of seven times and also played in the final four times. Inter Milan has won the UCL three times while they lost two times in the finals. Juventus has two Champions League trophies, but they also have seven losses in the final.
As far as the Europa League goes, both Inter Milan and Juventus have three titles apiece. Most recently, Inter could have added a fourth win, but they lost against Sevilla in 2020. Also, Parma has two trophies, while Napoli has one from this competition.
As far as the Europa Conference League goes, Roma is the first and currently the only champion of the competition. That win also marked the Giallorossi’s first major trophy outside Italy.
The now debunked Intertoto Cup had five different Italian champions. Bologna, Juventus, Udinese, Perugia, and Sampdoria.