When Italian players such as Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola started moving to the English Premier League in the mid-1990s, their compatriots dismissed the EPL "as a retirement home for ageing footballers or a get-rich-quick scheme for those who lacked ambition," writes Oliver Kay. With a change in the balance of power and money there has also come a massive change in the perception of both leagues.
While the EPL has provided three out of four Champions League semifinalists the past two seasons, Serie A, which kicks off this weekend, "seems to have slipped into the doldrums, its reputation severely tarnished by the Calciopoli scandal and by another wave of hooliganism on the terraces and outside the stadia."
The Italian league's new imports are not much to shout about. "There will be curiosity about whether Andriy Shevchenko and Ronaldinho (surplus to requirements at Chelsea and Barcelona respectively) can arrest a three-year slump in form, but elsewhere you are looking at Souleymane Muntari, the former Portsmouth midfield player, at Inter Milan, Olof Mellberg and Christian Poulsen at Juventus and, aside from Milan's capture of Gianluca Zambrotta and Mathieu Flamini, not an awful lot else."