Change in mentality important for Italian clubs to rise again

In the 1990s, Italian football was at its pinnacle.

They had the best league, with the best foreign players playing among talented Italian players. They were winning, or at least, competing in the advanced stages in European competitions.

However, that is a stark contrast to Italian football today. It is no longer the richest league in Europe, and it no longer attracts the best talents.

If anything, it has become a transitional league where players are developed and sold on to other leagues for a profit. It is also a league that attracts veterans that are in the last legs of their careers.

The talent of Italian players isn’t too shabby, judging by the national team’s achievement at the UEFA Euro 2020, held last year.

The competition in the Italian league has gotten more exciting in the past three seasons, as it is no longer a one-horse race. The league has also gone against its reputation of being a defensive league, by being one of the highest-scoring ones in Europe.

However, the last time an Italian club won a European competition at the club level was in 2010, when Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan won the Champions League.

Since then, Juventus has been to two Champions League finals, in 2015 and 2017, but lost on both occasions.

Inter, meanwhile, lost the Europa League final in 2020.

Italian clubs can no longer spend the amount of money they used to, with many clubs, including the big ones, taking the prudent approach in the transfer market. As such, qualification to the UEFA Champions League is seen as a “Holy Grail” for the clubs, as it means a boost to their coffers.

But despite that, the gap between Italian clubs and the best in Europe seems too huge as Italian clubs continuously falter in the knockout stages, albeit in some cases, with impressive performances.

They have just not been good enough. Qualification to the UEFA Europa League and the newly created UEFA Conference League, is seen as a thorn in the side of the managers, especially with many moaning about not having the squad depth to cope with playing with the best in Europe.

Maurizio Sarri moaned about the Europa League being a hindrance, and that his club, Lazio, would have been placed higher than their current 7th place if they were not in this competition.

With an attitude like that, the draught of Italian clubs in Europe will continue because even if it’s the second, and third-in-line European competition, it is still a competition that is there for the taking.

It provides a chance for the club to win silverware and bring with it added prestige and honour. Lest I add, what it could benefit a team in terms of its mentality, just by winning a Cup.

There are also the financial dividends of progressing further. I can sympathise with the lack of squad depth available to be able to rotate well between playing in Serie A and Europa and the Conference League.

But I feel a change in mentality is also important if Italian clubs are to rise again. The focus should go towards developing talents, scouting for talents overseas, and approaching these competitions with a positive mindset. Only then, can Italian teams start to rise again in Europe.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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