Italian football hits 30-year low after Juventus loss

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Italy has dropped below Portugal in UEFA's league rankings after Juventus' Europa League elimination at the hands of Benfica.

Juventus' defeat to Benfica has had wider ramifications on Italy's European standing after a campaign that saw Serie A's sides perform poorly in Europe.

The Old Lady were unable to break down Benfica's defence and overturn their 2-1 first-leg deficit last night, so they will miss out on playing in the Europa League final to be held in their own stadium.

And Italy has been overtaken by Portugal in UEFA's pecking order for European leagues, leaving Serie A ranked in its lowest position since 1984.

Italy is now rated as the fifth best league in Europe behind Spain, Germany, England and now Portugal and Sportmediaset warns that France and even Russia could overtake Italy if the current trend continues.

Nonetheless Serie A will still receive the same number of European places for next season - three in the Champions League and three in the Europa League.

Juventus were Italy's last men standing in Europe. Having cruelly exited the Champions League after a last-gasp goal by Galatasaray on the final day of the group stage, the Bianconeri had become favourites to lift the Europa League but it wasn't to be.

Italy's other representatives also failed to deliver. AC Milan were seen off with ease by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 while Napoli went out in the group stage despite amassing 12 points in a group with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.

Juventus saw off fellow Serie A side Fiorentina in a tight Europa League last 16 meeting while Lazio were shocked by Bulgarians Ludogorets Razgrad.

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