3) "The quality of play is declining"
Many Serie A sides are on the rise from a couple of down years (that have as much to do with Juve being relegated in the Calciopoli scandal as anything and, along with losing playing scrubs in Europa League, cost Serie A a CL spot.)
While it's certainly true that the league doesn't have as many clubs that could potentially win a CL title right now as it has historically, there's quite a few clubs whose fans have reason to believe that they're on the right track: Fiorentina
: There were my dark horse candidate to contend for a CL spot and they haven't disappointed. Theirs was a huge buying market this summer and every single purchase seems enlightened: Borja Valero, Gonzalo Rodriguez, David Pizarro, Matias Fernandez, Juan Cuadrado, Alberto Aquilani has been excellent, Mounir El Hamdaoui, Mattia Cassani, Facundo Roncaglia. Even getting Stefan Savic and cash from Man City for Nastasic seems to be working pretty well as Savic has shown the promise that caused Man City to buy him in the first place. They play an exciting style under Montella--who seems on a fast track to becoming a top manager -- and have plans for a new stadium. They're as solid of a squad as there is in Europe outside the superpowers and even if they lose Jovetic to Juventus this summer they've had a lot of success while he's been out and will re-invest that money in a couple of players like Alejandro Gomez and still be solid. Napoli:
Even though DeLaurentiis has spent freely they probably lack the wherewithal to really emerge as a consistent title threat due to depth concerns but don't be fooled by Lavezzi being sold (which is another thing that always seems to be mentioned in English articles). Insigne will be better. Vargas is also coming into his own as well. They've also brought in some defensive help in Bruno Uvini et al. Behrami is a very solid addition. They're better a team than they were last year. AS Roma:
things are starting to click after a few months under Zeman. For those that haven't been watching, they already boast as potent of an attack as any team playing football. Lamela's breaking out as an all-out star along with Osvaldo and Pjanic and a heady amount of talented 18-22 year olds like Destro, Florenzi, Tachtsidis are starting and improving by leaps and bounds. The 19yo kid Marquinhos has been nothing short of a revelation at CB. Even when Totti retires, the table is set for a pretty bright future even though Totti may still have a couple of years of magic left in him: At 36, he's easily been one of the few best players in football period so far this season (as a quick glance at any stat site like whoscored bears out). Lazio:
these bastards aren't bad with Hernanes, Mauri, Klose, Candreva, Ledesma et al and as long as Lotito et al can stay out of prison they'll continue to be a pretty strong side in the near future. Internazionale Milano:
They're clearly not back to the level they were in recent years but they're signing a lot of younger talent, shedding underperforming veteran payroll and already on the upswing. It's not like they don't have some mature talent in Milito, Cassano, Samuel, Handanovic, Palacio, Gargano, Cambiasso and Ranocchia, Ricky Alvarez, Freddy Guarin, Juan Jesus, Alvaro Pereira, Coutinho et al is already a solid base of youth. I don't think all of the payroll shedding means they have no money at all as much as it signifies a changing focus. AC Milan:
Pretty similar to Inter though maybe about a year behind in integrating youth and purging bloated contracts. They may have a tougher road than Inter in the near future but El Sharawaay may single handedly bridge that gap. Still Nocerino, Montolivo, Mexes, Pazzini, Robinho, Emanuelson, De Jung, Boateng is a decently solid group of veterans with young talent like Mattia De Sciglio and Francesco Acerbi in addition to El Sharawaay. They'll be spending money in the summer to make their move next season. Juventus:
is pretty damn good already and only figures to improve in the upcoming winter / summer markets.
Atalanta, Bologna, Catania and Genoa currently have a lot of young talent that will probably end up moving to strengthen the top clubs. Sampdoria is improving and Udinese will continue to annoy with their keen eye for talent and Guidolin's ability to have a completely new roster playing like gangbusters by February.
My point is simply that Serie A is better talent wise than a lot of people who don't keep up with it (mainly the English press) seem to think. Right now, only Juve can realistically compete with Bayern, Barca, Real, ManU, Dortmund but it's not like there are a lot of clubs in their leagues that can either. There are a lot of clubs in Serie A that are just as good as any right below that plateau though and they're all more likely to improve in the near future than fall back.
This post was edited on 12/17 at 7:35 pm