To begin with, this season is the first one in quite some time in which they won’t have their usual 7 berths in European football, since they slipped into fourth position in the UEFA Coefficient Ranking (in short, the performance ranking of the last five seasons that UEFA uses to determine the number of berths per national federation). That means that Italy has less teams in European competitions than Germany, England and Spain, all of which have 7 clubs more than fit to compete in Europe’s two largest tournaments.
Secondly, their two biggest clubs are against the wall. AC Milan is riddled in debt (which explains the sales of Ibrahimovic and Thiago) and Juventus has been linked to yet another match-fixing scandal (after 2007’s demotion to Lega Serie B, 2nd division, following the Calciopoli, this year’s Calciomesse saw their coach be banned from training for 10 months, among other sanctions) and a tricky pairing at the Champions League (with Chelsea -current holders-, Shakhtar Donetsk and Nordsjaelland; ruling out the Ukrainians would be plain fucking stupid).
Thirdly, the quality of their league has been diminishing year after year, after most big names either fled the league, retired or passed their prime. Their national squad, Europe’s biggest overachievers in the last Euro, is very well directed, but still heavily reliant on the old bastion, led by Andrea Pirlo and Danielle de Rossi. It seems likely the team will face a mini-crisis within its ranks in searching for a new “brain”.
Call me dramatic, but I reckon the boys in blue are fucked beyond repair. And as far as their clubs go, well, diddo. AC Milan will have a hard time adjusting to not having their best defender and striker. Juventus still seem too out of touch to make it into the best 8 of the contest.
(Notice: for a national team like Italy, four times world champions, not being a candidate to reach the next World Cup semifinals is being fucked beyond repair. They will most likely make the WC, just not perform as well as most will be expecting Europe’s runners up to do.)