BY FEARGAL BRENNAN

In April, the Old Lady of Turin secured their fifth Scudetto in a row, cruising to the title with a nine point margin over second placed Napoli.

On Saturday they face AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final, and a win would secure back-to-back domestic doubles for Max Allegri’s team.

Their defeat to Barcelona in last season’s Champions League final was the first appearance by an Italian team in a major European final since Inter Milan’s victory in 2010.

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The Serie A Player of the Year for 2016 is yet to be announced, but Paul Pogba and Paulo Dybala are likely to rival Gonzalo Higuain for the award won by ex-Juventus man Carlos Tevez in 2014-15.

For any non-followers of Italian football this represents what a force Juve currently are within their domestic realm, however, it also displays that they have outgrown what is becoming a stagnating league.

The success of Allegri’s men is not simply that of a team at the peak of their powers, it is a side that is not challenged enough to take the next step up to become a European superpower.

Guardiola’s Barcelona swept all before them, because of the exceptional individuals they possessed, married with an intrinsic on-pitch telepathy, but also because they still faced competitive challenges from Real and Atletico Madrid.

Juventus have become virtually untouchable within Italy; this season they won the League by nine points, and in both 2014/15 and 2013/14 they took the title by a margin of seventeen points.

These statistics are a firm representation of the imbalance within Italian football, although the basis of Juventus’ dominance can also be measured off the pitch, in financial muscle.

Following the two Milan clubs’ fall from the European elite, Juventus had been the only Italian representative in Deloitte’s Top 10 richest European clubs in the last three seasons, generating over £120million more than AC Milan.

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This in turn has given Juventus the upper hand in transfers. Alvaro Morata, Mario Mandzukic and Dybala were all purchased comfortably, whilst crucially they are under no pressure to sell star youngsters like Pogba.

In contrast, other Italian sides have had to balance their books through sales to fund purchases, Napoli used the money generated by Edinson Cavani’s move to PSG to pay for Higuain from Real Madrid in 2013.

AS Roma did not pay a fee for any transfers in 2015-16, and both AC and Inter Milan have conducted minimal transfer activity in recent seasons.

However, despite Juventus ruling the roost in the central Mediterranean, the biggest issue within Italian football is that it simply no longer possesses the continental clout it once did.

Most English audiences are relatively apathetic towards Italian football, despite the half-arsed efforts of BT Sport to replicate the appeal of Football Italia; it has slowly slipped off the radar, replaced by the Bundesliga and La Liga.

Talk of England losing a European spot to Serie A in coming seasons due to a falling UEFA coefficient level have disappeared following Italian failings in Europe in 2015-16.

Juventus may be the richest club in Italy, yet their wealth is paltry compared to their continental rivals with their cash-rich sugar daddies. Their situation is akin to being the biggest bully in the class, but by no means the biggest in the school.

Italian football is in something of Catch 22, with Juventus as king of the castle the other clubs have no chance of meaningful success, and without the ability or finance to trouble the rest of Europe, Juve themselves are trapped in a state of perpetual domestic glory.

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