What is interesting is that for the past few years it was always the "big three" in Europe - La Liga in Spain, EPL in England and Serie A in Italy. These three leagues were seen as the top of the hierarchy allowing them to send 4 clubs to the Champions League, but Germany had been quietly creeping up and they have finally ousted Italy from the guaranteed 4 clubs ranks. A testament to Bundesliga clubs who have done well in both European Cup competitions and to some degree a reflection of he disarray in Italy. One has to wonder the impact of the 2006 Calcipoli scandal which saw the likes of Juventus and Fiorentina ousted from Champions League and Lazio kicked out of the then UEFA cup. Juventus was stripped of previous Serie A titles and sent to Serie B. Juventus was a force during those seasons and who knows how they would have fared in the Champions League - they had reached the 1/4 finals in 2005 and 2006.
Couple this with the Bundesliga and its concerted efforts to develop talent from the youth ranks and practicing fiscal responsibility and you get what we have today - Italy down to 3 clubs and Germany up to 4. The interesting fact is Italy's coefficient is closer to France in 5th place than they are to Germany. If Italy falls behind France it will be a true reflection of how far Serie A has fallen in Europe...seems like Sam was on to something!
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