How Serie A Teams Are Starting to Dominate in Europe Again

At the start of the season, the question was whether the Serie A clubs could build upon last season. After Roma captured the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League title last May in Tirana, there was reason for optimism.

Fast forward one year, and Italian football has shown utter domination in the knockout rounds of the UEFA club competitions. Here is a look at what has happened so far, and why next season could be just as good.

Seemingly Underwhelming Group Stage

Like the other ‘big 5’ leagues, the Serie A had their full complement of teams across the group stages. Despite that, it was not quite smooth sailing.

Napoli had a phenomenal group stage, winning their first five games in storming to top spot in their Champions League section. Yet, the Partenopei were the only Serie A club to top their group of the seven teams. In fact, Juventus and Lazio did not even finish of their top two of their group.

La Vecchia Signora was so disappointing, they won just once across their six UCL games. They lost their other five outings, including a humiliating 2-0 reverse at Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. They managed to stay in Europe on goal difference, falling to the Europa League.

Lazio had an even stranger situation. Maurizio Sarri’s Biancocelesti finished level on points with Feyenoord, Midtjylland and Sturm Graz in their Europa League group. All four teams had two wins, two draws, and two defeats. In the end, Lazio finished third on goal difference, falling to the Conference League. Their 5-1 thumping at Midjtylland ultimately costed them a top two finish.

Inter and Milan both finished second in their Champions League groups, which were respectable enough. The former were in the group of death, finishing ahead of Barcelona. Roma squeezed past Ludogorets on the last matchday in the Europa League to pass the Bulgarian side for second spot. As for Fiorentina, a 3-0 defeat away to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Conference League costed them top spot there, as the Turkish side finished on top of Group A on head-to-head goal difference.

Just one of the seven Italian teams topped their section. To give some perspective on that, Turkey – who had three less teams in the group stage – saw three of their four teams win their group. Nevertheless, all seven of Serie A’s European representatives were in the knockout rounds, something only England could also boast.

Historic Knockout Round Showing

With an overall record of 22-7-15 in the playoff round and group stage, Italian football fans could be satisfied with what has been done at that point. The knockout rounds, however, was where things reached a whole new level.

Juventus, Roma (both Europa League), Lazio and Fiorentina (Europa Conference League) all had to partake in the knockout round playoffs of their respective competitions. All four progressed, though the two capital clubs made hard work of it.

Still with seven teams left going into the round of 16, things were immediately looking on the up. Napoli, Milan and Inter all got through their Champions League ties unbeaten. Roma and Juventus did the same in the Europa League, as did Fiorentina in the Conference League. Lazio could not keep up, losing both legs 2-1 to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

With all-Italian meetings in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, it was inevitable that Serie A teams would fall at each stage. Napoli (UCL quarterfinals) and Milan (UCL semifinals) were those two sides, along with Juventus in the UEL. Yet, we have now reached the final of each competition, where Inter (UCL), Roma (UEL), and Fiorentina (UECL) are involved. As previously mentioned, this is the fifth time where the Serie A will have a team in all three UEFA club competition finals in one season.

Record Coefficient Showing

For the first time ever, Italy surpassed 20.000 coefficient points in a single season, breaking their previous record of 19.000 from 2014/15. Since the aforementioned 2014/15 campaign, Italy’s single season coefficient has been as low as 11.500 and as high as 17.333.

Now, sitting at 22.214, Italy has the second best return in the 2022/23 UEFA country coefficient, only bettered by England’s 22.428. In fact, Italy can still finish on top this season, depending on how the three finals go.

Keep in mind, as of the 2024/25 season, the single season coefficient ranking will be used to determine which two countries will receive an extra spot in the Champions League group stage. Had this season been used, England and Italy would have received an extra spot each, giving them five UCL berths and eight European spots in total (at minimum).

Within the last five years, Italy is the only country outside of England to reach 20.000 coefficient points in a single season. That highlights just how impressive this term has been for Italian football, especially in the knockout rounds.

Why Next Season Could Be Just as Good (or Even Better)

As things stand, following Juventus’ ten-point deduction, it is more than possible that the Serie A could have eight teams in Europe. Napoli and Lazio are assured Champions League football, while both Milan clubs have just joined them.

If Roma finish seventh and wins the Europa League while Fiorentina claims the Conference league, that would make the Belpaese have an eighth team in Europe.

On top of that, if Inter and/or Roma win their European club competition and finish outside of the top four, the Serie A will have five teams in Europe’s premier club competition. That would be a first for Italian football. England, Spain and most recently Germany have all had five teams in the UCL in a season before.

But, more importantly, given the fact that all seven or eight Italian teams would have high five-year UEFA club coefficients, that would help them receive more favorable draws.

Napoli will be in Pot 1 of the Champions League group stage draw. Inter will join them if they defeat Manchester City in the competition’s showpiece. Roma would also be in Pot 1 if they win the Europa League, or if they qualify for the UEL or UECL domestically. Finally, Fiorentina will be in Pot 1 of the UEL if they win the UECL.

That could result in seeing more Italian teams top their groups and have more deep runs in each competition. After all, if the Serie A clubs have an encore performance in Europe next season, there will surely be a minimum five Champions League places available to them in 2024/25 and at least eight European spots overall.