MILAN: This season, the biggest club competitions in Europe have a distinctly Italian flavour, after years of dominance by teams from Spain and England.
Five Italian teams have qualified for the semifinals of UEFA’s three competitions for the first time - more than England and Spain combined as those countries have two teams each left.And there will definitely be an Italian team in the showpiece Champions League final - for the first time in six years - as city rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan play each other in the semis.
Juventus and Roma could both advance to the Europa League final - they face Sevilla and Bayer Leverkusen, respectively, in the semifinals - while Fiorentina plays Basel in the final four of the Europa Conference League. “We’re talking about an exceptional result, having five Italian teams in European competition has never happened before,” Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo said. “We’re convinced that this - in the year that we’re selling the TV rights - will bring our soccer back to the top of the world: we’re coming back to show ourselves for what we are. It’s been a long journey, forged over time.” Italian teams have enjoyed several periods of dominance on the European stage, including during the 1980s and ‘90s.
Between 1989 and 1998, all but one final of the Champions League - or European Cup as it was previously known - featured a team from Serie A.In comparison, Juventus is the only team to reach the final (twice) since Inter won Italy’s last title in the competition in 2010.
The increased Italian success in Europe reflects the increased competitiveness of Serie A. After Juventus dominated the league for nearly a decade with nine straight titles, there have been three different Serie A champions over the past three seasons - and there is all but certain to be a fourth this campaign.