Serie A: What Italy's 6 European Representatives Will Face

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Serie A: What Italy's 6 European Representatives Will Face
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Juventus fell short in the Champions League in a disappointing campaign overall for Italy in Europe.

Last year was a disappointing one for Italy in European competition.  Once considered the top league in the world, financial woes and crumbling infrastructure have seen Serie A clubs fail to seriously contend for the Champions League since Inter won the competition in 2010.

Of the league's three Champions League representatives last season, only one managed to advance beyond the group stage.  

Napoli finished in a three-way tie atop Group F but were bumped to the Europa League on goal difference.  Juventus wasted chances at points against Copenhagen and Galatasaray before being bumped to the second-tier competition after a controversial loss against Gala in Istanbul.  AC Milan managed to fight through terrible domestic form to squeeze through Group H but were shelled by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.

In the Europa League, Fiorentina and Lazio easily went through the group stages and were joined by Napoli and Juventus in the knockout round.  Lazio fell in the round of 32.  Napoli bowed out in the round of 16 along with Fiorentina, who were knocked out by Juve.  The Bianconeri managed to make the semifinal before losing a controversial tie against Benfica.

The league's lackluster performance saw them drop behind Portugal to fifth in the UEFA coefficient rankings.  That is likely a temporary position—the loss of a strong 2010-11 season will almost certainly drop the Portuguese back to fifth next summer—but if Italy ever wants to get back into the top three and regain its lost fourth Champions League place, its clubs need to start playing deep into Europe on a consistent basis.

They will try to start that process this year.  Six clubs will represent Serie A on the Continent this year.  What might they face?  How will they attack their opposition?

Read on to find out.

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