After years of being a somewhat backwater league, the Italian Serie A is back. In the 80s and 90s, Italy was the destination of the best footballers in the world, but at the turn of the 21st century, Italian football was brought to its knees after the Calciopoli scandal in 2006. The Serie A then fell behind the Spanish La Liga and the English Premiership. The best Italian players were snapped up by mid-table clubs in England, Spain and Germany. Lovers of Italian football prayed for change in the fortunes of her beloved league and it seemed that things only got worse as the years went by…But the fortunes of Serie A TIM and Italian football seems to be changing for better as the new season begins on Saturday. All because of one man!
Juventus put Serie A back on the lips of football lovers around the world, simply by pulling off the Ronaldo deal. It had been a slow, tortuous way back up for The Old lady after Calciopoli brought her to her knees. She was the most hit as Juventus was relegated to Serie B. The top players, except for a precious few, moved on to other teams. Fast-forward 12 years later; The Old Lady has won its seventh league title in a row and featured in the Champions League final twice. With the arrival of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, an eighth consecutive title is already theirs on paper. The arrival of Ronaldo led to Gonzalo Higuain moving to AC Milan on loan. And in case you missed it…
Serie A now boasts of the three most potent active strikers in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Edin Dzeko! They have a combined 782 competitive goals (Ronaldo’s 395, Higuain’s 218 and Dzeko’s 169 goals) compared La Liga’s most prolific three with a total of 732 goals (Lionel Messi’s 383, Luis Suarez’s 179 and Karim Benzema’s 170 goals), Bundesliga’s 544 goals (Claudio Pizzaro’s 194, Robert Lewandowski’s 180 and Mario Gomez’s 170 goals) and Premier League’s 528 goals (Sergio Aguero’s 217, Jermaine Defoe’s 162 and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 149 goals).
Does this mean the usually defence-focused Serie A will suddenly become a goal-spinning league? Will Italian defences adjust to the workaholic Portuguese, or will they try bend the five-time best player in Europe to their will? We wait and see, but it didn’t stop…
The multi-year deal that has been struck with US broadcaster ESPN to the league’s matches in addition to the SportMediaset deal. All because of the arrival of the world’s most marketable sportsman. As ‘expensive’ as the deal is, it has already started paying dividends for Juventus and has raised Serie A’s profile, making it a more attractive destination for top players.
As the European season begins, lovers of Italian football are also likely to be seeking the answers to these other questions: Will Cristiano Ronaldo conquer Italy the same way he did Portugal, England and Spain…despite his age? Can any team stop Juventus? We can’t wait to find out! FORZA ITALIA!!!
By Ekwonye Osy Ernesto