Do you ever get a sense of snobbery from the big leagues in Europe? The likes of the Premier League and La Liga act as if Serie A is way behind in the prestige stakes, while even Ligue 1 is attempting to look down its nose at the showpiece of Italian football.
The fact is, the Serie A doesn’t get the credit it deserves when the circus that is the Premier League is dominating the airwaves.
However, Euro 2020 is highlighting the strength of a division that may not be as exotic as its cousins, but that still produces world-class football. If viewers have noticed anything during the group stages, it’s the following.
A Homegrown Squad
Of course, the fact the Azzurri is performing admirably is reason to respect what Roberto Mancini is achieving. Italy may not win the tournament outright, but the football betting odds put them as 6/1 third-favourites thanks to their recent form, propelling them above pre-Euro 2020 picks England and Belgium. And they’ve done it with people from Torino and Sassuolo, as well as Internazionale, AC Milan, and Juventus.
International squads that play the majority of football in the country the players are representing are hard to come by in 2021. English players, for example, usually remain in England because of the strength of the division, yet the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham ply their trades in the Bundesliga, while full-back Kieran Trippier is an Atlético Madrid man.
Mancini has gone against the status quo by opting for a spine that’s mainly based in Italy. Sure, Jorginho and Marco Verratti have flown the coup, yet pretty much everyone else is homegrown, and it’s evidenced by the stats. For example, 85% of Italy’s goal scorers play in Serie A, with the other goal being scored by the opposing side. Also, only four players out of the 26-men strong squad are based outside of Italy. That’s 15% of the team.
Serie A Lighting up the Competition
It's not been a fantastic tournament since several of the sides, including the so-called top teams, are using defensive tactics. They're scared of getting beat and decide to sit back rather than attack, which is why the entertainment has been severely lacking in certain fixtures. However, when it is fast-flowing and end-to-end, Serie A representatives are typically at the forefront of the action.
All-time EURO top scorer (12 goals)
All-time top scorer for Portugal (107 goals)
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 19, 2021
Take Germany’s 4-2 win over Portugal. It was a six-goal thriller, yet the man who took all the plaudits was wing-back Robin Gosens who plays for Atalanta. The race for the top goalscorer award, on the other hand, includes Inter’s Romelu Lukaku and Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with former Roma and Sampdoria forward Patrik Schick sitting pretty in the joint first place. The former is 9/2 and 11/4 respectively to finish as the competition’s master marksman.
That’s without mentioning Italy’s own Ciro Immobile and Manuel Locatelli, both of whom have two goals and are joint third in the rankings.
So, it’s not only Italy’s performances that are punctuated by Serie A stars and stalwarts that showcase the quality of the division but the fact that the best squads in Euro 2020 are supplemented by the league’s biggest footballers.