Italian Serie A
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The Serie A or Lega Calcio Serie A TIM is the highest tier of football in the Italian system. It has been in existence since 1898 however in the early years it had a much different format than that of today. In these early years the league was grouped by regions and was pretty loosely organised with every team competing to be recognised as the best in the country. In 1922 the league began play as a unified competition. From there the league has grown into one of the most respected around the world. Today you can find many of the top footballers playing on Italian teams.
There are many features of the league that separate it from others throughout the world. Whether it is the individual teams or league itself, there are many things that make Serie A continually rank as one of the most popular and most competitive football leagues in the world. The structure for the league is very similar to that of the English Football League where each team plays the other twice in a season. One match is played at home and one match away for a total of 38 matches per season. These matches are played in two halves of the season with each half being exactly the same except for a reversal of the location. At the end of the season the three lowest placed teams are relegated to Serie B with three teams being promoted. Currently there are twenty teams in the league, but this will be pulled back to 18 in 2010. There have been as many as 25 teams and as little as 16 during the history of organised Serie A play. The league currently ranks in the top three of UEFA qualifying leagues and as such can send four teams to the Champions League.
The Big Italian Three
In the history of Serie A there have been three teams that have dominated the league: Juventus, Milan, and Inter Milan. Of these three teams Juventus is the only one to have earned two golden stars. The other two have won the honour of being able to wear one. The Golden Stars were first able to be worn in 1958 when it was introduced to show which sides had won ten or more championships. Juventus was the first to earn the honour, followed by Internazionale and Milan. Each of these three teams has a tradition and history that dates back to before the turn of the 20th century.
Juventus Football Club, or just Juventus for short, was founded in 1897. They currently play out of Turin, Italy and have spent their entire existence except for one season in the top division. Recently the team has come on some hard times but if their past success is any way to predict the future they should do quite well. In total the club has captured 51 official trophies. Forty of these come from play in Italy with the other eleven coming from victories in international competition. Because of this Juventus has by far the largest fan base in all of Italy. The team’s dominance started early and they had won two championships before the 1930s. This decade saw the club capture a remarkable five championships in a row. All told they have captured the championship twenty nine times with the last one coming in 2005-06. In addition they have been the runners up nineteen times, meaning that in the modern history of the league they have been either runner up or champion forty seven times. They had one championship before 1922 in 1905, but since the modern league was formed they have completely dominated.
Milan, or AC Milan, is the second most popular team in Serie A. This team was formed in 1899 and like Juventus has a rich history of dominance in the top league. Aside from a fifty year period from the turn of the twentieth century onward, AC Milan has been at the forefront of Italian football. Their last championship came in 2003-04, although they were runners up the following year. It took the club only two years from being formed to win their first Italian league championship. They followed this up by winning championships again in 1906 and 1907. After winning these championships a dark period began in the history of the AC Milan football club. An internal disagreement led to a significant reduction in the competitive quality of the team and they did not win any domestic titles until 1950-51. After this though the team took off and has risen from mediocrity to become one of the most successful and recognised football clubs the world around. Their success in the Serie A carried over into international competition as well with AC Milan capturing an amazing seven UEFA Champions League titles.
The third of the big three, Internazionale, was founded in 1908. They are the only team to spend the entirety of their existence in Serie A. While not as successful as AC Milan or Juventus, the team has had many victories that would make teams around the world envious. The streak of staying in the top flight is one that makes the fans of the club most proud. Not only are they now the only team in Italian Serie A to have played every season in the top flight, the also hold the longest run of any club throughout the top leagues in the world. Internazionale has captured sixteen Serie A titles and been runners up fourteen times. In addition to that they have won the UEFA Champions League twice remarkably by retaining the title for consecutive seasons in 1963-64 and 1964-65.
These three teams are really only the tip of the iceberg for Serie A. Football is a passion in Italy and the fans bring this with strength to the all of the matches in the top league. The hallmarks of this league are football at the highest level with some of the greatest stars today. Any of the teams from Serie A that qualify for international competition put fear into the hearts of their opponents. If you are looking for football played with skill and passion look no farther than the top flight of Italian football, Serie A.