Can Juventus win the Champions League? It sure looks like it. They demolished Monaco 2-0 in France, and they knocked out Barcelona on their way to getting here. What would a win mean for the Serie A as a whole?
For the first time since 2010, an Italian team could win the Champions League. Juventus were already denied once here in 2015, but they’ve already dispatched the Catalan club en route to the semifinals. They have a hefty lead against Monaco heading back to Turin, where they haven’t lost a game in 49 matches. Yep, you read that right. 49 matches.
If they do go through to the final as expected, they should face Real Madrid, equipped with Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and the top goalscorer in Champions League history, Cristiano Ronaldo. It won’t be easy for the Bianconeri, but if their defense can remain solid and compact, there’s almost no hope of the opposition scoring. They have, in my opinion, the best defense in the world, and Paolo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and Juan Cuadrado don’t make for a shabby attack either. If and when Juventus travel to Cardiff, I fully expect them to walk out of there with the trophy in hand.
The Serie A currently sits fourth in UEFA’s country coefficient rankings, sitting just behind England and Germany and a sizable amount behind La Liga. With the fall of Milan and Inter, two historically great clubs who dominated Europe for a long period of time, the Serie A have fallen behind. They were regarded as the best league in Europe for 13 years, one more than second-best Spain, and they could experience a boost if Juventus were to win the Champions League. Of course, the league can’t rely entirely on the Bianconeri to rescue them; other teams like Milan, Roma, Napoli, and Inter will need to step up their game if the Serie A wishes to return to its former greatness.
The better ranking also comes with an extra spot in the Champions League. Of course, they would have gotten that extra spot anyway in 2018/2019 with the introduction of the new rule by UEFA, but it wouldn’t be bad if they got it a year earlier. Italian clubs haven’t fared well in European competition, often falling to lower-tier sides due to inexperience or just sheer laziness, and it’s up to the teams to get their act together.
Return to Glory?
While the Serie A probably won’t become the best league in the world anytime soon, they could at least boost their stature. It’s been six years since an Italian club has won the Champions League (Inter 2009/2010), and it’s been 17 years since they’ve won the Europa League (Parma 1998/1999). Italian clubs just aren’t what they used to be. Milan and Inter no longer compete in Europe, let alone challenge for the trophy, and Roma and Napoli don’t seem to have what it takes to perform well in European competition. Juventus’ win could inspire the league to perform better, to show the rest of the teams that Real Madrid and Barcelona aren’t the only teams that can win, that Italian football, when executed skillfully and tactically, can still work in modern football’s tiki-taka and fast-paced tactics.
At the end of the day, even as a Milan fan, it would be a good thing to see Juventus hoist that trophy in Wales. To show the rest of the world that Italian football is not dead, that good, old-fashioned defense can beat stacked rosters and high-powered attacks, to serve as a reminder of what the Serie A once was and what it could be.
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