Ball games have a long history in Italy, with some going back to Roman times. Calcio in its current form was born in Turin and Genoa by Italian emigrants to England who then returned home.
A handful of clubs then sprang up in different cities, and these competed in regional tournaments. As interest in the sport grew, tournaments became larger, and Serie A was born in 1921. For a time, the league’s future was rocky: for instance there were large internal squabbles whether or not to divide the league into two North and South leagues, and in 1949, the five time champion team Grande Torino was killed when their aircraft crashed into the Basilica di Superga.
The bottom three clubs at the end of the season are down relegated from Serie A to Serie B, while the best 3 performing clubs in Serie B are up relegated to Serie A. Generally, around 40 points per season is deemed to constitute a ‘safe’ buffer where a club won’t be bumped down to Serie B.
There are 20 teams in the Serie A, and they play each other twice, once away and once at home. The club with the most points after 38 matches wins! Serie A runs from August to May, and the season is split in two: the andata, or first half, where teams play each other for the first time, and the ritorno, where teams play against each other for the second time. Two games, one with an early kick off and another with a late kick off are usually played on Saturday, while the rest are played on Sunday afternoon or evening. Midweek matches also happen sometimes during the season, and these are generally played on Wednesday evenings. Clubs get 3 points if they win a match, 1 if they draw and none if they lose. If two clubs have equal points at the end of the season, their head to head record comes becomes a determining factor. If this doesn’t break the tie, goal difference is used.
Most successful team
The most successful club in terms of championships won in Serie A have been Juventus, with 31 wins. Milan and Internazionale are runners up, both having won the title 18 times. Internazionale also has the honour of the team who have been in Serie A the longest; an amazing 83 seasons as of 2015.
What sets Serie A apart?
Serie A has long been regarded by football aficionados as a tactical know-how goldmine, a fact that becomes evident when Italian teams face off against stronger European teams on paper. Helped in no doubt by training camps for youth, Italian football benefits from an awareness that one star player alone doesn’t win a game, a whole team wins a game.
How to pick a team?
Definitely don’t pick a team just because you like one player or coach, since those tend to…move around a bit. If you want to see your team lifting a trophy any time soon, there are some usual names. But as they say, “one scudetto in Rome is worth ten in Milan or Turin”, and the Southern teams can be more colourful and entertaining. Personally, a good idea if you are new is to find out which city your favourite Italian dish is from and support that club.