For the first time since 2003, three Italian clubs have reached the semi-finals of European competition. Juventus are in the final four of the Champions League while Napoli and Fiorentina advanced to the Europa League semi-finals tonight. Napoli impressively defeated Wolfsburg 6-3 on aggregate and Fiorentina beat Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 on aggregate.
This will surely help the Italian coefficient and will hopefully help Serie A’s pedigree in Europe. Serie A also had 5 teams in Europa League’s Round of 16 this season, which was a great feat. Italian clubs have finally valued the Europa League this year unlike the recent past few years. Italian football is slowly but surely progressing back to its status before the infamous Calciopoli scandal. But, while Serie A is getting back on track, it still has its problems.
Former Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who now works within the Bologna FC organization, had some recent astute observations on Italian football. “I played in three leagues away from Italy,” Di Vaio said, “and the comparisons in terms of the stadia is something that strikes you immediately. Wherever I was, I was amazed at how the matches had a party atmosphere. It was an event for the whole family. In Italy we are lacking on this issue and it means there is a different culture to sport.”
The status of stadiums has been criticized for quite a while now, although that might slowly be changing. Far too often there are empty stadiums and problems of violence and racism that must be dealt with. Most clubs do not own their stadium but rent them every year, which leads to minimal, if any, profits from ticket sales. Juventus built their own stadium, which opened in 2011, and the club has seen enormous success both economically and on the pitch. AS Roma have announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art 52,000 seat stadium scheduled to open in 2017. AC Milan has also announced their intentions to build a new stadium despite recent reports owner Silvio Berlusconi might sell the club. Their proposed stadium would seat 48,000 fans, cost an estimated $340 million and possibly be ready in 2018.
It is a great thing to see Italian clubs succeed in Europe. It would be even better if we can see an Italian team win a European competition this year. It’s not yet a comeback for Serie A but it is definitely a good start to get back to the glory days of the 1990s.