Something feels right about Juventus being so dominant in Italy and the Serie A. As if order has been restored, only without the funny business behind the scenes. Champions for a third consecutive season, something no team has done since AC Milan in the early 1990’s, but it’s a very different league these days, and without self-improvement and seeing upgrades all around them, these titles won’t help Italian clubs stand out on a European level as well.
The match against Roma at the Olimpico could have been a brilliant way to finish the season, but Juventus didn’t stumble. After a slightly groggy start in comparison to Roma winning everything and beating everyone through the first two months of the season, things picked up. Juventus have dropped only 12 points (three draws, two losses) in 37 matches so far this season. They haven’t felt pressure in the title race for a couple of months at least. They didn’t have to lose a minute of sleep after losing to Napoli.
But being the most successful club in Italy, at least on a domestic level, isn’t enough. There aren’t that many European giants in terms of their success and the support they command at home and abroad. At one point during the 1990’s, Juventus were the most popular team in Europe. That might sound close to impossible now considering the state of the Serie A compared to other leagues, but things change.
Economics speak louder than titles. A new TV deal might help change things slightly for the better in terms of competing against the bigger clubs of Europe. We’ve seen only one Italian club winning the Champions League in the last 12 years. Milan, knocked out in the round of 16, were the only team to even make it out of the group stage this season, and they’re probably not going to be in any European competition next season. Times are hard.
Juventus are trying to build a business model that will help them compete with the likes of, eventually, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Reaching the Champions League quarterfinals consistently is a huge part of that plan, and dominating the league doesn’t hurt. But facing weak competition for the second straight season on their way to an easy title is something everyone should be worried about, not just the teams left behind.
English Football dominated the European Cup from 1977 to 1984. Mostly Liverpool, but also Nottingham Forest (twice!!) and Aston Villa won the biggest title in club football. Still, the Italian league from the mid 1970’s to the late 1990’s was the best in the world. More money, more stars, better teams. That changed and has been shifting from the Premier League and the Spanish La Liga since then. Considering how bad things are in Italy right now, it might take a while before we see the Series on top once more. Good coaching and talent development might help. Juventus are back, at least in the local scene. For their success to translate into European glory as well, they’ll need the Serie A to “be back” as well.