The Italians Serie A is one of the most historic, exciting, and oldest leagues in world soccer, hosting some of the most successful teams in the world. With some of the most passionate supporters in soccer, the Italian top division has always had a huge following worldwide.
Serie A has changed quite a lot over the years, having been founded in 1898, before a huge shift in its format in 1929 resulted in the modern league we see today. Today we will take a closer look at this incredible league to see how the teams that play in Serie A have to plan out their season.
Every team in Serie A plays the same number of league games, and while several of the top teams also have European games to consider, for the sake of this article, we’re going to purely look at domestic competitions that every team has the opportunity to compete in.
There are 38 games in a Serie A season. All team plays each other twice, once at home and once at their opponent’s home ground. These games are played over a 10-month period.
When Does The Serie A Season Start?
The Serie A season usually starts around the 20th of August, but for the 2022-23 season, the league is starting a week earlier on the 13th of August 2022.
This is due to the Qatar World Cup being played in November and December, reducing the amount of available time to complete the Serie A games.
Historically, Serie A has always had a winter break to allow players to recuperate and for fans to have the holiday season without having to travel to games.
The 2022-23 season is no different, although the times have changed due to the World Cup. This season, the teams will play until the 23rd of December and have only ten days of winter break before returning to complete the season.
Serie A Season Format
With 20 teams competing every season in Seria A, each team plays every other team twice, once at their home ground and once away from home at their opponent’s ground. The fixtures for the season ahead are released around a month before the season starts to allow teams to begin preparing for away games.
The 2022-23 season fixtures were released in July, allowing teams and fans to prepare; fans especially look forward to the fixtures being released as they can look for key games against rivals.
Several notable rivalries exist in Serie A, and these games have become hugely popular. Many derby games, such as the Milan Derby with AC and Inter Milan, or the Rome Derby with AS Roma and Lazio, are massive dates for the fans to pencil in.
Every team plays 38 games each season, 19 at home and 19 away. Once the fixtures are released, they are usually set in stone, although for teams that are entering European competition, these fixtures can be moved around to accommodate.
The fixtures for Europa League and Champions League games are released later than the league fixtures, making pre-empting a more suitable fixture list impossible.
At the end of a long 38-game season, the team sitting in the first position in the league is awarded the Scudetto; the decoration awarded is then displayed by that team for the following season and is then awarded to the next team that wins the championship. Winning the Scudetto is hugely important; winning the Serie A is everything to Italian soccer fans.
History of Serie A Seasons
The current format of a 20-team championship has not always been the case, with Serie A undergoing many changes in its long history.
Since the reordering of the league in 1929, when the round-robin format that we see today was first introduced, the number of teams competing in Serie A has shifted numerous times.
In the first few seasons of the new Serie A (1929-34), the league had 18 clubs participating, which isn’t that dissimilar from today’s league. Between 1934 and 1943, the number of teams dropped to 16, and then during the latter stages of the second world war, the league was postponed until 1946.
This trend of Seria A alternating between 16,18, and 20 clubs have continued throughout the years until 2004 when the current format of a 20-team league remained.
The only anomaly in the format since 1929 was the 1947-1948 season, where 21 teams competed in the league, a very unusual number but still doable under the round-robin format.
Three Points For A Win
Worldwide, soccer games are either won, lost, or drawn, and for the win, a team is awarded three points, 1 point for a draw, and no points for a loss.
Serie A is no different in that respect today, but as recently as the 1993-1994 season, Serie A teams only received two points for a win, one point for a draw, and the standard zero points for a loss.
There is one situation in the Serie A season where teams may play more than the allotted 38 games, and that’s in the unlikely event of a tiebreaker.
A tiebreaker situation is so rare it’s almost not worth mentioning, but it can happen, although there have to be several criteria met before two teams have to deal with such a situation.
Regardless of the two teams’ final position in Seria A, a tiebreaker occurs if they are drawing on total points and results (wins, draws, and losses), head-to-head goal difference (if both home and away fixtures add up to the same for each team), and goal difference over the full seasons results are the same, the teams play each other at a neutral venue to decide the final league placing of the two teams.
You might wonder why there would be a need for this situation, but as each team is awarded financial rewards depending on where they finish in the league overall, the difference between finishing 13th and 14th in Serie could be worth several million dollars.
A team that has ended on precisely the same points, goals, head-to-head, and so on as the team one place above them has to be allowed the chance to rectify that.
The Coppa Italia is one of the oldest Cup competitions in the world and has a rather unusual format to it. Serie A teams only enter the Coppa Italia at the round of 64 stages.
The bottom 12 teams from Serie A have the potential to play two games of the Coppa before the remaining top eight teams from the previous season enter the draw.
Assuming the bottom 12 teams from Serie A make it through to the second phase of the Coppa Italia and make it all the way to the final, that team will have to play an additional seven games that season; once in the round of 64, once in the round of 32, once in the round of 16, a one-legged quarter-final, two games in a two-legged semi-final, and then the final.
The top eight seeded teams that only have to join the group at the round of 16 have the potential to play in only five Coppa Italia games as they miss the round of 64 and 32.
What this means for Serie A teams is that with the 38 league games each season, the bottom 12 teams could play 45 games per season, and a top eight seeded team could play 43 games.
All Serie A teams have the opportunity to be in the Supercoppa Italiana final, as the two teams are always the winner of the previous season’s Serie A title and the winners of the earlier season’s Coppa Italia.
While there are obviously the same teams usually competing for the league each season, the Coppa Italia can occasionally throw up a surprise winner. The Supercoppa Italiana is a single game per season to recognize the achievements of the previous season’s winning teams.
The Serie A is an outstanding league to follow and is blessed with a history that most leagues in most nations simply can’t compete with.
Some of the most exceptional players ever to lace up a pair of soccer boots have played in Serie A, and the league seems to be undergoing a rejuvenation period. Long may it continue; it’s a fantastic league.