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The South got something to say

From Naples via Catanzaro to Catania, the championships were dominated by teams from the Mezzogiorno

The South got something to say From Naples via Catanzaro to Catania, the championships were dominated by teams from the Mezzogiorno

"The success of Napoli can revive the South". This phrase is often heard these weeks as we draw ever closer to the end of the championship and the first judgements are already being heard. This is unusual, considering that in the history of Serie A only eight championships have been won by teams from the south (Roma, Lazio, Napoli and Cagliari). However, one only has to take a quick look at the Italian leagues, from Serie A to Serie D, to realise that the teams that currently dominate the rankings, and in some cases have already won their championships, all come from the centre-south.

While in Serie A the discourse is practically over and Napoli are already organising the party in Piazza Plebiscito, in Serie B Frosinone are marching towards a return to the top flight, which in all likelihood will happen in a few days. The situation is quite different in Lega Pro, where Rounds A and B are still open, while Round C is largely dominated by Catanzaro, who have established themselves as one of the best national teams this year. Among the various rounds of Serie D, the ride of the new Catania, who like Catanzaro have already secured promotion and can afford to play their remaining games with peace of mind, is anomalous. Such dominance by teams from the centre-south was not expected at the beginning of the season and could be a good sign for the Italian football movement.

Everything is now decided in the top division, with Napoli running at a stratospheric pace on the pitch. And it is the Napoli team that could put an end to the dominance of teams from the north that has lasted for more than 20 years - Roma last won in the 2000/01 season, even if it is not exactly considered geographically 'south' - and as we can see, the enthusiasm in the city is now unbridled. After 33 years since their last league success, the fans are ready to dream and celebrate again, spurred on by the infallible Kvara-Osihmen duo.

From Serie A to Serie B, as Frosinone dream of the top Italian championship is on again. A goal that is always more than attainable considering the 11-point gap to third in the table, a lead amassed thanks to the hunger and will of the Ciociari players. Although Fabio Grosso's boys did not go into the season as favourites, they blew away all predictions and showed that Serie B can be an entertaining league full of surprises. A team that entertains and entertains, as we saw on our visit to Frosinone last December, in a completely packed stadium waiting for nothing but mathematical certainty.

With Lega Pro, things look quite different. If, as mentioned, rounds A and B are still in contention, in round C Catanzaro has crushed the competition with a 16-point lead over second place and an unassailable dominance. The Calabrian team deservedly achieved a success that seemed to be a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the year, breaking a curse that seemed impossible to bend, as in previous years they had always been on the verge of winning the championship but then missed out on promotion. It took a near-perfect season, playing almost more against records than opponents, to achieve the desired result.

The inscription on the inside of the jerseys made by Erreà for this season reads: 'Melior de Cinere Surgo' (I rise from the ashes) and like a phoenix from the ashes, the Rossoazzurri were reborn a week ago and officially returned to the professional ranks. Seventeen years after their last promotion, then to Serie A, and an endless bureaucratic process following the club's bankruptcy, which took place on 22 December 2021, Catania and its city are back and celebrating. A team that was late to the championship but shone nonetheless, proving unbeatable at home. Just like in the old days of Serie A, the Massimino became a fortress, a safe haven where the Sicilian side made their ascent, leaving little hope for anyone who stepped onto the pitch. A dominance comparable to that of Napoli and Catanzaro, which no one in Serie D can currently repeat. In short, Catania is starting to dream and a return to the professional ranks could be just the beginning.

A domination that, as we said, is a good sign for the development of Italian football, because as teams become more competitive, the technical and sporting level of all clubs also increases. The reasons for this unusual sporting year we are currently experiencing, in which teams from the centre-south are triumphing in every category, are many and do not represent a clear trend. In Serie A for example, for years we have been witnessing an economic and sporting decline of the most prestigious northern teams, the ones that usually were winning year after year, season after season. A decline that has allowed other teams that have come close to the title over the years to narrow the gap more and more, undermining and tilting the momentum of the championship. And in the economic emergency, the creativity and ingenuity of clubs more used to working in complicated conditions and finding diamonds in the rough are highlighted.

In the lower leagues, however, the key to interpretation is different. To find a championship without bankrupt clubs we have to go back to 1999, when, as I said, the current Lega Pro was split into two forms: C1 and C2. A butchering that mainly affected the southern teams, which were able to make a fresh start after years lawsuits in courts and the declassification that followed. It is therefore no coincidence that in recent seasons some historic clubs have been relegated to categories too small for their worth. Catania is the perfect example of this, as after bankruptcy the club managed a rebirth and the long-awaited promotion, following the unbridled passion of its supporters.