Winning at home, in Europe, and in the world, and collect all sort of star players. That was the credo of Silvio Berlusconi’s Milan since 1986 to 2012. However, the Rossoneri have been through quite a few troubled seasons recently, passing in the hands of a somewhat mysterious Chinese management before being taken over by U.S. investment fund Elliott.
Juventus’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo will go down as the big hit of this summer’s transfer market. But other Serie A clubs have not been sitting on their hands. Napoli secured the services of coach Carlo Ancelotti, and now dreams of bringing back Edinson Cavani. Inter stole some key players from their direct opponents, whereas Roma decided to bet on fresh forces.
Juventus and their coach Massimiliano Allegri are like the Asso Pigliatutto (Ace-take-it-all), the key point in a popular Italian card game, which enables its holder to capture all the cards on the floor. The dominant Bianconeri didn’t leave anything to their opponents this year either, as they wiped out Milan 4-0 last night in a one-sided Coppa Italia final, to conquer their fourth domestic cup in a row.
The good news for Milan and Gennaro Gattuso is that they will never have to face Benevento again. The spell cast by Roberto De Zerbi’s Witches over the Rossoneri in the first leg continued to have effect, as the Giallorossi earned a stunning 0-1 win in San Siro last night, thanks to a lone goal by Pietro Iemmello. Benevento continued to fight against mathematics, and pushed relegation a few more hours away.
For six minutes, Serie A 2017-2018 virtually ended in the hands of Juventus last Wednesday, as Massimiliano Allegri’s band were all set to increase their gap versus pursuing Napoli to nine points. But then, the unexpected happened in Round 33, with the Bianconeri conceding a shocking equaliser at Crotone, and Maurizio Sarri’s Azzurri managing to come from behind with Udinese.
A phenomenal save by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 92nd minute put a damper on Napoli’s residual Scudetto hopes, as the Partenopei were held onto a goalless draw by Milan in San Siro, thus seeing their gap with Juventus widening to six points. The 19-year-old goalie found the best way to celebrate his 100th Serie A cap, but his late exploit may cost much to the club of his hometown Napoli.
If the Roma-Juventus feud characterized the first half of the ‘80s in Italian football, there is no doubt about Milan-Napoli being the most exciting duel towards the end of the decade. The match that set the beginning of this rivalry took place on January 3, 1988, when Ruud Gullit – who had just been awarded the Ballon d’Or for the year 1987 – drove the Partenopei nuts, and inflicted them their first seasonal defeat.
The saddest of Serie A rounds, the one cancelled one month ago after the shocking passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, was recovered between Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven matches out of ten still needed to be played. The program featured a long-awaited Derby di Milano, but the stracittadina didn’t live up to expectations and ended with no goals. Therefore, the stage was stolen by Andrea Belotti and his three goals, which came at the end of a tormented season.
The Serie A amusement park reopened, and saw Juventus promptly jumping back to +4 over Napoli, as the Neapolitans were held to a tie by Sassuolo. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, overcame Milan 3-1 in the partitissima of the weekend. The thrilling battle for the top scorer title between Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi continued, with both bombers scoring twice to lead respectively Lazio and Inter to winning their games, and reducing their distance versus third-placed Roma.
If Juventus end up extending their Scudetto streak to seven titles, Massimiliano Allegri and his boys will remember those minutes when they managed to switch the momentum of last night’s match with Milan as one of those moments that made the difference. With a wheezing Napoli being held onto a 1-1 draw by Sassuolo earlier in the afternoon, the Old Lady widened again their gap versus them after beating the Rossoneri 3-1.
The fate of Serie A 2017-18 may very well have changed on Saturday night, as Roma took a shocking 4-2 away win against capolista Napoli, in what was arguably the most exciting match seen this season. A Lorenzo Insigne in berserk mode was not enough for the Azzurri to catch their 11th win in a row, Maurizio Sarri’s squad crashing into “one of those nights” for Edin Dzeko, and frustrated by the saves of Alisson.
Scoring a decisive goal in a Serie A derby can earn you a place in your supporters’ dearest collective memory. But if that goal enables your team to break a six-year non-winning streak in the Milano stracittadina, then your place in the History of Italian football is set in stone forever. That is what happened to British striker Mark Hateley, who played with Milan for three seasons between 1984 and 1987, in his first derby wearing the Rossoneri colors.