In the long history of the Serie A league championship, there was one single occasion where a playoff was necessary to determine the Scudetto winner. It happened at the end of the 1963-64 season, when Fulvio Bernardini’s Bologna found themselves at top of the league with 54 points, together with the title holder – Helenio Herrera’s legendary Inter squad.
The tale of Lazio winning their first Scudetto in 1974 is a story of fights, quarrels, and kicks during training sessions. A story of weapons inside the changing rooms and internal tensions. And of a miracle that repeated itself every Sunday on the field, when coach Tommaso Maestrelli managed to turn tensions into a desire to win and striker Giorgio Chinaglia executed.
On May 5th, 2002, three teams were still battling for the Scudetto with only 90 minutes to go. Inter, leading the ranks with 69 points, were due to play Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. It was supposed to be an easy win for the Nerazzurri, in view of their long-lasting friendship with the Roman side. But Lazio’s midfielder Karel Poborsky had a different idea…
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 exactly what happened to British striker Mark Hateley in 1984.
When Milan acquired 29-year-old George Weah from PSG in the summer of 1995, many commentators raised their eyebrows. “King George” would, however, prove them wrong and become an iconic player for the Milanese side, remembered for such exploits as the coast-to-coast goal he scored against Verona in the opening game of the 1996-97 season.
It doesn’t happen very often that Roma and Lazio can face each other with a title at stake. Lazio, however, can pride themselves on having beaten their bitter enemies in a Coppa Italia Final, thanks to a lone goal by Senad Lulic in the 71st minute. From that day, the expression “Lulic71” has become a sweet, obsessive mantra in the mind of any Biancoceleste fan.
Oh, those good old days when one could see Roberto Baggio and Diego Maradona facing each other in the Serie A. When the two used to meet, the game could never be an ordinary one: It was September 17, 1989, indeed, when a young Baggio took the luxury of scoring a sensational goal which clearly resembled Maradona’s Gol del Siglo at the World Cup 1986.
On February 4, 2004, Roma and Juventus squared off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, while sharing the second spot in the table, to decide who between them would be Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan’s main challenger for the rest of the season. Roma won 4-0, but the game is mostly remembered for Francesco Totti’s display of typical Italian hand gestures communication skills.
Lecce-Udinese was an iconic battle in the 2004-2005 campaign. The Salentini and the Friuliani faced each other four times that season, twice in Campionato and twice in Coppa Italia. The match of November 20th, 2004, in particular, lived up to the craziest show-time expectations, featuring 9 goals and a dramatic last-minute penalty saved by Udinese’s David Di Michele.
The first Japanese player to ever set foot in Serie A was Kazuyoshi “Kazu” Miura. Before Hideyoshi Nakata and Shunsuke Nakamura, before Takayuki Morimoto and Yuto Nagatomo, there was this little-known son of the Rising Sun who played for the Rossoblu side of Genoa in the 1994-95 season. Miura tallied 21 presences and 1 goal only – but oh, what a goal that was.
On September 1, 1991, Cagliari received title-holder Sampdoria at the Sant’ Elia Stadium in the opening match of Serie A 1991-92. The most representative player of the Rossoblu was Uruguayan midfielder Enzo Francescoli, who is still widely remembered in Sardinia for a magnificent goal that helped his side knock the Italian champions down.
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 literally drove the Partenopei nuts and inflicted them their first seasonal defeat.