It is is a sign of how bad things have got that the clash of Italy’s title-race frontrunners is greeted with relief and celebration
Across Europe a spirit of competitiveness has broken out. Not in England, perhaps, where Manchester City’s excellence looks sure to win out. Nor in Germany, where Bayern Munich remain inviolable. But elsewhere revolution is in the air. Paris Saint-Germain are not top in France, neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona are top in Spain and Juventus are not top in Italy. The elite are being challenged in a way they have not been for almost a decade.
The temptation is to blame the pandemic for this spirit of revolution, to see Covid as the explanation for everything. It is true that the unusual conditions of this season have added an unforeseeable element of randomness, disrupting the usual patterns and forcing clubs and coaches to improvise on the fly. But still, the suspicion must be that Serie A in particular was drifting towards a shake-up even before everything changed last March.