Marcello Lippi believes Serie A has improved thanks to “a change of mentality, a courageous attitude”.
“It’s not a coincidence, but the work of [Luciano] Spalletti and [Paulo] Sousa,” Lippi told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They persuaded their players that they can play as well away from home as they can in Rome or Florence. There’s a change of mentality, a courageous attitude.
“That’s coupled with the fact that the Spanish and German teams are a bit less daunting now, while ours have something more.
“So Serie A isn’t second tier? In no way. What’s striking is that if you look at mid-table then everything seems to be settled. But the level of our football has been raised.
“Also at the top, Juve are giving the impression of absolute domination, but Roma are scoring and putting on a show and Napoli are strong.
“Despite their misfortune when they lost [Arkadiusz] Milik, they reinvented [Dries] Mertens as a striker.
“Not to mention [Stefano] Pioli’s Inter, they’ve won nine of their last 10 games, only losing to Juventus where they still played well.
“The national team? It was time to rebuild. A wise Coach and a maestro like [Giampiero] Ventura has found some very high level materials to work with.
“The fundamental difference compared to the past is that almost all of them are starters. So we can be optimistic.”