It’s now 13 years since an Italian side won Europe’s elite trophy. And in stark contrast to those periods in the mid-sixties and early-nineties, Serie A sides are no longer considered genuine contenders. So, when will an Italian side next win the Champions League?
The Champions League in the Last 13 Years
Since Inter secured the trophy under Jose Mourinho, it’s been won twice by Bayern Munich, four times by English clubs and combined seven times by Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Three of the finals in those intervening years featured Italian sides. Inter lost to Manchester City in last season’s showpiece in Istanbul, surprising many by reaching the final at all. On the other two occasions, Juventus were comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in 2014 and 4-1 by Real Madrid in 2017.
Much of Spain’s domination is attributed to Real Madrid and Barcelona continuing to attract the best players despite the domestic league being largely uncompetitive. By contrast, the Premier League is the most competitive in world football. Compare the latest Premier League betting odds with those in La Liga and you’ll see just how closely matched the top teams in England are. This makes competing on all fronts harder.
What Was Behind the Decline of Italian Power in Europe?
Serie A once attracted top players from around the world. Diego Maradona, Michel Platini and Ruud Gullit all graced Italian pitches in the 80s and 90s. And Italy’s top players simply didn’t move abroad.
But years of financial mismanagement have taken their toll. And football’s financial power has shifted to the Premier League. Sheikhs, oligarchs and US investors joined English football. And the world’s best players followed.
Italian clubs now struggle to attract elite players. And any who do shine in Serie A are quickly picked up by wealthier clubs from abroad. Unable to keep a talented squad together and progress, Italian teams can’t compete consistently.
The Future of Italian Football
Despite years of lacklustre performances at the very highest level, Italian football has had its highs. Winning the Euros in 2021 was a triumph for the national team and proved the best of Italy can compete on the biggest stage. Indeed, 8 of the starting 11 in that final were playing in Italy in the season leading up to the tournament.
And the biggest Italian clubs such as Juventus and AC Milan retain a rich heritage. Others like Inter and Roma have attracted big-name managers in recent years and have been relatively successful.
For the time being, it looks as though Serie A teams will simply have to ride out this turbulent period and hope Italian football as a brand can clean up its act and make itself a viable investment proposition. Without that, the occasional sortie to the runners-up position looks like the best Italian clubs can hope for in the Champions League.