The last in our 2013-14 season preview series takes us to Italy, where Michael Bradley represents the US National Team player pool as a member of AS Roma. What's in store for Bradley's club and the league as a while this season? Read on.
So Why Are We Here?
The question that launches all of our Tell Me Abouts. US National Team player Michael Bradley is a regular at AS Roma. Since joining the club last season, Bradley has 30 appearances. Prior to Bradley's arrival in Rome, Serie A was an historically tough league for Americans. Oguchi Onyewu spent two seasons with Milan where a combination of injury and coaching decisions meant he never made an appearance in Serie A. Alexi Lalas is the record holder for Serie A appearances for US National Team players, playing 44 times for Padova. What Bradley did last season was establish himself as a regular player for a major team. Roma disappointed with a 6th-place finish and losing to Rome rivals Lazio in the final of the Coppa Italia.
And Where Are We?
Italy, once upon a time most people's easy pick for best league in Europe. Times change, and now Italy is in a conversation with the other major European leagues for third-best behind the Bundesliga and the Premier League. It's a league historically dominated by Juventus and the two Milan teams. Bradley's Roma might play in the league's biggest city, but they're 8th in the league championships table with three. Juventus has 29, with Milan and Inter Milan at 18 each. Our defending champions are Juventus, finishing nine points ahead of 2nd-place Napoli. Geographically, most of Serie A is in the northern part of Italy in relatively close proximity. Rome's two teams are the only ones in central Italy, with Napoli further south and a team on the island of Sardinia and the island of Sicily. There are 20 teams in Serie A with three team relegated to Serie B. The top three qualify for the Champions League.
So Are Roma Contenders?
Their American ownership has done a lot of work to put them in the conversation, but this remains a league dominated by Juventus. As we mentioned in our Champions League guide, Juventus made more money from the 2012-13 Champions League than the winners, so they have plenty of resources to defend their title. That title is called the scudetto, by the way. Winning ten gets you a gold star for your club's crest. Juventus is one title away from adding a third star.
How Tough Is Serie A?
It's not the top-down struggle from the old days or the threat to the European competitions that all Italian teams used to pose. Juventus and Milan were the only Italian teams to make the knockout round of last season's Champions League, and both were gone by the quarterfinal stage. Milan went out to Barcelona in the Round of 16 and Juventus lost to eventual champions Bayern Munich in a 4-0 shutout in the quarterfinals. Juventus ran the table in 2011-12, finishing the season undefeated. For the two Rome clubs, it's about cracking the top three and making the Champions League. Both have the potential of doing that this season, but that's true for the top half of the table.
So Where Can I Watch In The States?
beIN Sport has the rights to Serie A.