x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Serie A shaping up to be close contest

Overall, this was a weekend that spelt out not that Seria A is dull but, on the contrary, that it is unusually competitive at the moment. The gap between Juventus, at the top, and Milan, the champions, in 13th is four points after six games.

Half the matches in last weekend's Serie A fixture-list finished 0-0. That was the cue for some familiar tut-tutting from elsewhere about the so-called negative tactics favoured by Italian football.

It hardly helped that the stalemates were concentrated into the Sunday afternoon slot of the schedule, where four out five games were scoreless; this after the lunchtime 0-0 draw between Cesena and Fiorentina. Happily, the weekend finished with a cracking Rome derby.

Overall, this was a weekend that spelt out not that Seria A is dull but, on the contrary, that it is unusually competitive at the moment.

The gap between Juventus, at the top, and Milan, the champions, in 13th is four points after six games. Compare England's Premier League, where (after eight games) the same number of rungs in the table means a 16-point gap; or Spain (10 points between first and 13th after seven matches).

It may not be a coincidence that Italy's top flight last season switched to a more equitable collective distribution of TV income between clubs, for the sake of healthier competition. Spanish football is battling over this concept, with Barcelona and Real Madrid under attack for the duoploy on revenues which their right to negotiate their own TV deals entails. In England, Liverpool's chief executive recently voiced the idea that his club should go it alone in selling overseas TV rights.

That is a path that leads to unbalanced, uncompetitive leagues. People tire of watching those.