The end of a season in Italy. The end of Italian dominance in Europe?

Serie A 2010-11 has come to an end, and come Saturday evening, Manchester United or Barcelona will be crowned Champions of Europe for a fourth time. Although, neither team can match the 2011 Champions of Italy for European Cups, as AC Milan are second, only to Real Madrid, with 7. It cannot be denied the Spanish and English champions have led the way in Europe over the past five years, with 4 Champions League titles between them, when including Saturday.

Nevertheless, an Italian club still holds the Champions League. Although, following their demolition knockout by an inexperienced Schalke (7-3 agg.), it would be hard to believe Inter Milan knocked out Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and went on to left the European Cup against Bayern Munich, less than a year ago in Madrid.

Inter were not the only Italian team to have an uncomfortable time in Europe this season. Like Inter, local rivals, AC Milan, went out to the inexperienced Tottenham Hotspur (1-0). Like Inter, Roma lost by 4 goals over 2 legs, to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk (6-2) and like Inter, Sampdoria went out to a German team, in a Champions League Play-Off with Werder Bremen (5-4). The Champions League holders seemed to take all the negatives from their compatriots, maybe it all added up to their inevitable destiny for 2011, to lose heavily, to an inexperienced team, from Germany.

However, what did not add up for the Italians this season, was their lack of defensive capabilities. Normally renowned for keeping goals out, all Italian teams conceded more than scored. Roma went out on -5 goal difference overall, while Inter have conceded the most in the competition with 21. Mourinho’s Inter Milan of 2009-10, only conceded 9, and furthermore, played 3 more games in the Champions League.

For 2010-11, the teams that have represented Italy in Europe’s most prestigious competition, have conveyed Serie A as a lower class league in Europe, however Italy, along with Spain and England, have had the most teams entered for the Champions League, with four clubs each. It is no surprise that La Liga and the Premier League are considered by far the greatest in Europe at this moment in time.

A weak European campaign of this level may have been long in the waiting. It has been suggested that the success of Inter’s treble winning season in 2010, and AC Milan’s 7th European Cup in 2007, was down to the sheer brilliance of Jose Mourinho and Kaka respectively, and may have been a disguise and cover up of a downfall from the 2003 All-Italian Final, which featured AC Milan and Juventus.

The downfall of Juventus as a well-built Champions League team could arguably be the best representation of an Italian club, in Europe, in recent years. The Old Lady has had the chance to win the trophy 7 times in a final, winning only twice, both thanks to penalties. However during this week, none can better Sampdoria, 1992 Runners-up at Wembley to a Barcelona team, which included Pep Guardiola and Sergio Busquet’s father, they re-entered the Champions League this season with a possibility of returning to Wembley, but did not even make the group stage and have finished the season relegated to Serie B.

Hopefully, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Napoli and Udinese can make a better account of themselves in the Champions League 2011-2012, which will be held six years after Italy won the World Cup in Germany at the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich.

By Adam Caldwell

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