Serie A is the top division of soccer in Italy. The league was formed in 1929/30 and since the 2004/05 season has featured 20 clubs. The league is one of the most competitive in Europe and has produced the most UEFA Champions League/European Cup finalists on a team level as well as the most Ballon d’Or winners on an individual level.
A true round-robin format is used with teams facing each other 2 times each season once at home and once away to determine the winner. During the first half of the season (first 19 games) - called the andata, each team plays every other team in the league. Teams play each other in the same order in the second half of the season (second 19 games) – called the ritorno. Teams earn 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.
The team that wins the league is awarded the title Coppa Campioni d'Italia and are said to have won the scudetto (‘small shield’). The ‘small shield’ refers to the coat of arms with Italian tricolor crest the winning team wears on their jersey the following season.
The winner and 2nd place finisher qualify directly to the UEFA Champions League group stage for the following season’s competition while the 3rd place team enters the Champions League final qualifying round and must win their home and away tie to advance to the group stage.
The 4th and 5th place clubs qualify for the UEFA Europa League with a third Europa League spot available to the 6th place finisher IF the Coppa Italia winner has qualified for Europe via their league standing.
A relegation/promotion system is used in Serie A with the bottom 3 clubs being relegated to Serie B and the 3 teams from Serie B moving up to the top flight. The Serie B champion, who is awarded the Ali della Vittoria (‘Wings of Victory’), along with the runner-up automatically qualify. The 3rd team promoted is a little more complicate. IF the 3rd place team is 10 or more points ahead of the 4th place team they are automatically promoted. If they are NOT then a playoff tournament is used to determine the 3rd promoted team with between 2 and 6 teams in a ‘playoff margin’ of 14 points of the 3rd place team entered.