Serie A is the tightest it’s been in many a year. Gone are the days of Juventus’ almost decade-long stranglehold on the top flight. All that remains is to break the monopoly that the Bianconeri and the two Milan clubs have long held over the Italian top flight. By the time this season comes to a close, it will have been 22 years since a club other than those three claimed the Scudetto, back when Francesco Totti led Roma to glory in 2000/01.
That is why Napoli’s 1-0 victory in the Stadio Olimpico at the weekend was so symbolic.
Online bookmakers such as Caesars Sportsbook, which provides free bets on European football, have now made Napoli the favorites to win the title, which would be their first since the days of Diego Maradona some three decades ago. Should the Napoleans live up to their billing and continue in the same vain, the stranglehold of Italy’s so-called ‘Big Three’ will be dead in the water. And that should give Jose Mourinho’s Giallorossi hope that they can follow in the footsteps of Luciano Spalletti’s side.
We’re not saying that Roma are a million miles away from being a championship-winning side. The additions of Paulo Dybala, Andrea Belotti, Nemanja Matic, and Gini Wijnaldum have certainly strengthened the Italian capital’s side. And indeed victory – rather than defeat – against the visiting Napoli would have taken Mourinho’s men up to third, just one point behind Napoli and AC Milan.
But alas, it wasn’t to be…
Can Mourinho continue building a new Roman empire?
There can be no denying that Roma are much stronger than they were last season. Those four signings, as well as the continued development of playmakers Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo, have really closed the gap between the Giallorossi and the leading pack.
Last season, victory in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League, as well as a sixth-placed finish in Serie A, was considered a success. This season, reaching the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League and securing a top-four finish in the Italian top flight is the new target. And should they achieve that, plus manage to strengthen once again next summer, the natural expectation for Mourinho and his side would be to mount a title challenge.
And let’s face it, has betting against Jose Mourinho ever really paid off for anyone?
The future of Serie A is up for grabs
In the last two seasons, there have been two different winners of the Scudetto. Last year, it was the turn of AC Milan. They lifted the coveted trophy for the first time in a decade with a final-day victory over Sassuolo – their sixth win on the trot. The year before, it was their city rivals Inter. Under Antonio Conte and spearheaded by the maverick pairing of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, the Nerazzurri romped to the title.
As we all know, before that the division was held hostage by Juventus. Firstly Conte, and then Max Allegri, the club from Turin won nine titles on the spin between 2011/12 and 2019/20. For the best part of two decades, Italian football has always had a dynasty sit at the top of the pile. Before Juventus, it was Inter Milan.
Admittedly, Inter Milan came out of the Calciopoli scandal unscathed, and they took full advantage of that. First Roberto Mancini and then Roma’s own Mourinho led the club to five consecutive Scudettos.
There’s no reason to believe that Roma can’t be the next dynasty.
Sure, the Giallorossi only have three Serie A crowns to their name. The most recent came via Totti and the class of 2001. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1982/83, the year Roma secured their second crown. And their maiden triumph? Some 40 years earlier.
But if there’s one thing Mourinho can do, it’s create championship-winning sides. He did it in Portugal, England, and Spain. He led Inter to titles without actually building that team. Is it finally time for him to create Italian football’s newest dynasty and cement his legacy once and for all?