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How Serie A Went From Being One-Man Show To Most Competitive League In Europe

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Like him or not like him, Cristiano Ronaldo is a living wonder. A true enigma!

In July 2018, Juventus paid a club-record fee of $162 million to sign the Portuguese from Spanish giants, Real Madrid. CR7 had already cemented his status as one of the greatest to ever put on the Los Blancos’ shirt. 

He made 438 appearances for the club and scored 450 goals along the way while also winning the Ballon d’Or four times. While at Madrid, Ronaldo also won the UEFA Champions League four times, including a historic three straight years hold on the title, and numerous other trophies with the club.

Los Blancos paid a then-world-record fee of $132 million to sign Ronaldo from Manchester United. He was a gift that kept on giving. Ronaldo achieved so much with Madrid and the club still made a handsome profit when they sold him (a 33-year-old at the time) to Juventus. The man is truly a work of wonder!

As at when Ronaldo joined the Old Lady, the club had won the Serie A title six years in a row. They brought him in to greatly improve their odds of winning the one trophy the club had coveted for many years – the UEFA Champions League trophy. Juventus had recently lost the 2017 UCL final to Real Madrid, a match in which you know who scored 2 goals.

The Portuguese attacker isn’t the first player the Bianconeri had recruited in recent times with the sole aim of getting them closer to the Champions League Trophy. In July 2016, convinced by his stellar performances for Napoli over the past few seasons, they paid $98 million to sign Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine was way up there among the best strikers in the world having just broken a sixty-six-year-old record for the most goals scored during a Serie A season (36 goals).

Higuain didn’t help Juventus win the Champions League trophy. Neither did Ronaldo.

In Ronaldo’s first season with the Italian side, they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Ajax. The second season, they were knocked out in the round of 16 by Lyon. In his third and final season, they were knocked out in the round of 16 by Porto. 

It even gets worse

CR7 was even blamed, by fans and pundits alike, for the recent woes the Bianconeri were facing after they lost their 9-year hegemony of the Scudetto when Inter Milan won the trophy in 2021. That season, they even qualified for the Champions League by the skin of their teeth. 

The club’s ambitious acquisition of the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner placed them in a difficult position financially. It was also reported that Juventus reportedly falsified their profits in the financial report for 2019, 2020, and 2021. This, and some other incidents is why Andrea Agnelli, the club’s president at the time, along with the entire board of directors resigned in November 2022.

Finances aside, many also blamed Ronaldo for the team’s significant dip in form on the field. Legendary Italian and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon even claimed that the club ‘lost the DNA of being a team’ after signing the Portuguese. 

There is no doubt that CR7 helped Juventus achieve a lot off the field. Before he joined them, they had about 49 million followers across all social media platforms, that figure is now more than double (117 million followers). In January 2019, they signed a seven-year sponsorship deal with sportswear manufacturer Adidas valued at $395 million. Despite all this and much more, Ronaldo never came close to securing the club their much coveted Champions League trophy.

He eventually left the club to join his former team, Manchester United.

Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku inspired Inter Milan to win the Scudetto in 2021, breaking the Old Lady’s nine-year hold on the title. They didn’t retain their title the next season, as their fierce rivals AC Milan won it. Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leao, Sandra Tonali, and Fikayo Tomori put in spectacular performances to guide the Rossoneri to their first Serie A title since 2011.

The following season, Napoli were the runaway winners of the Serie A title and this was their first in 33 years. The world couldn’t help but acknowledge the amazing feats of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as they inspired their club to the Scudetto.

In the past four seasons, there have now been four different winners of the Scudetto. Wow.

This current season is also very competitive… thus far. After 12 games, only 10 points separates first-place Inter Milan and fourth-place Napoli. One should not also write off Jose Mourinho’s Roma side despite the club making a very slow start to the season.

Without a doubt, Serie A is now the most competitive league in Europe.

Let’s compare them to their counterparts in other countries: Germany’s Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga 11 seasons in a row. England’s Manchester City have won the Premier League 3 seasons in a row.  Since 2013, PSG has failed to win the Ligue 1 on only two occasions. Netherlands Ajax has won the Eredivisie title 4 seasons in a row.

The only leagues that are close to being as competitive as Serie A are La Liga and the Primera Liga. In the past three seasons, Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Barcelona have won the La Liga title while in the Primera Liga, FC Porto and Sporting CP have won it twice a piece in the past 4 seasons.

This article was updated 5 months ago

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