Italian football remains beset by financial and structural problems, which makes the performance of the nation’s representatives in this season’s Champions League all the more remarkable.
Juventus were obviously an embarrassment, even losing to Maccabi Haifa during a woeful group-stage campaign that saw them eliminated with a round to go.
However, for once, their compatriots stepped up to the mark. Inter caused a huge upset by getting the better of Barcelona to progress as runners-up to a dominant Bayern in Group C, while Milan maintained their upward trajectory, recovering from last year’s first-round exit by accompanying Chelsea into the knockout stage.
The big story, though, was Napoli, who became the toast of Europe by kicking off their campaign with a thrilling demolition job on Liverpool and then storming into the last 16 with five consecutive wins, wowing all and sundry along the way with some fantastic football.
The good news is that this unexpected Serie A resurgence could continue into the quarters.
Napoli avoided one of the massive second seeds by drawing Eintracht Frankfurt, while Inter and Milan both got off lightly, given they were in Pot 2.
The Nerazzurri’s league form has been horribly patchy this season but they will seriously fancy their chances against Porto, while Milan will be cautiously optimistic of defeating Antonio Conte’s Tottenham, who have a nasty habit of underperforming against every big team they come across.