Home Football Opinion: Forget England & Spain, Italy’s Race For The Title Is Where It’s At

Opinion: Forget England & Spain, Italy’s Race For The Title Is Where It’s At

Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli leading the team celebration during the Italian Serie A football match Roma vs Napoli at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on October 14, 2017. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Despite it only being November and not even midway through the season, a glance around Europe’s top leagues will show that right now Serie A is the most competitive division. An idea unfathomable to the majority of Premier League fans.

England’s top flight is globally marketed as the most exciting league in the world and although that may indeed be the case, watching Man City tear through opposition at their own will and already eight points clear begs the question, has the Premier League title already been decided?

Scoring on average 3.4 goals a game and swatting aside teams with swashbuckling style, Pep Guardiola’s slick steam engine of a side shows no signs of showing and it’s difficult to imagine any other team raising their level to that of the Citizens. They are undoubtedly a slick outfit which Pep has moulded and are of course at times an absolute joy to watch. However, it’s not even the midway point in the season and it could be argued that the title race is over.

If you are on the lookout for a fiercely competitive league this year, look no further than Serie A. At this point, the top five teams are separated by merely five points. Juventus, under Allegri are showing signs that they might not be the dominant force that collected the past six consecutive titles.

Napoli, resurgent under Maurizio Sarri are unbeaten and thoroughly exciting to watch with an attacking trident of José Callejón, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne and currently sit top of Serie A.

Both AC Milan and Inter were taken over by Chinese investors last year and AC Milan in particular spent heavily in the summer, parting with €230 million in total to bring in the likes of Leonardo Bonucci from Juve. 

Meanwhile, a look at the Eternal City shows that Roma and Lazio have strengthened considerably too in their attempt to mount title challenges.

The old mantra that ‘Italian football is boring’ couldn’t be further from the truth as the top Italian sides appear to have developed a higher intensity style. One needs only to analyse how Roma put Chelsea to the sword in the group stage of the Champions League, netting six goals across both ties and playing with a pressing approach you might not necessarily attribute to Italian sides.

Looking across at other leagues, in Germany, Bayern have won the past five titles and currently sit top of the Budesliga. It’s difficult to see any side match them again this year.

PSG have won four out of the last five Ligue 1 titles and occupy the summit in France’s top division with Monaco, now a different side to the one that stormed through the league last season. Monaco, who were the highlight of the Champions League last year, were picked apart in the summer when the vultures of Europe swooped in to pinch such talent as Kylian Mbappé, Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy using their financial muscle, suggesting it will be difficult for any side other than PSG to win.

Even La Liga, in recent seasons a three-horse race between the two behemoths of Spanish football- Barcelona and Real Madrid – along with Atletico Madrid, has seen Barca lead Real by eight points. Meanwhile, Valencia, who have started the season admirably, are second (and unbeaten) but it would be surprising if they maintained such this charge for the entire season.

Real have been showing signs of complacency under Zinedine Zidane, a point showcased only last week when they were outplayed and tactically outmanoeuvred by Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs. 

An eight-point gap is far from insurmountable but Real’s indifferent form is worrying and given the fact Barcelona will surely look to strengthen in January, the title looks to be heading to the Catalans.

With this in mind, if you are a fan of a tight title race that could potentially go to the wire, then don’t take your eyes off Italy.

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About Matthew Coughlan

Corkonian Football fanatic living in Dublin.