On this day, 30 years ago, the history of football changed. Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan trampled Steaua Bucuresti 4-0 with braces by Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten to conquer the European Cup 1988-89, the third in the history of the Rossoneri. The triumph in Barcelona marked the International legitimization of the Romagna-born coach’s football verbo.
The 2005-2006 season was the last for Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Juventus. Ibra had moved to the Bianconeri one year earlier, and even if his second season in Turin was far less impressive than the debut one, he still found the way to show dazzling glimpses of his talent – like the magic trick that helped Juventus trample Roma 4-1.
All is fair in love, war, and the Derby of Turin. In what became known as the derby of “Maspero’s hole,” not only did Torino midfielder Riccardo Maspero grab a late equaliser to set the score to 3-3, but he also prevented Juventus from snatching a late win by sabotaging the penalty kick spot and causing Marcelo Salas to miss his shot.
Records are set to be broken, even the oldest ones. In the last round of the 2015-16 Serie A season, Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli delivered a hat-trick to poor Frosinone to bring his seasonal tally to an astonishing 36 goals – one more than the legendary Gunnar Nordahl, setting a new Italian record for the most goals scored in a single season.
On November 11, 1995, Parma received Fabio Capello’s Milan, an invincible armada which had won three Scudetto in the previous four years. The Ducali’s starting goalkeeper was injured, but rather than resorting to his second in command, coach Nevio Scala decided to deploy an unknown 17-year-old boy. That’s how the legend of Gianluigi Buffon was born.
The last time Inter and Barcelona squared off at San Siro Stadium was on April 20th, 2010. It was the first leg of a Champions League Semi Final. Due to an ash cloud generated by an Icelandic volcano, the Blaugrana had to reach Milan via bus as most European flights were cancelled. The Nerazzurri won 3-1 and took one step further towards their fantastic “triplete.”
When they met for their second Derby di Milano in the 1981-82 season, Inter and Milan were facing two opposite situations. With 10 games left, the Nerazzurri were only four points behind the leading duo Fiorentina-Juventus. Milan, on the other hand, lied in the penultimate spot of the league table, and were desperately struggling to avoid relegation.
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.
On April 1st, 2000, the Delle Alpi Stadium in Turin hosted a match that could determine the Scudetto winner, between capolista Juventus and pursuer Lazio. Both clubs lined up an impressive collection of star players, including Zinedine Zidane and Alex Del Piero on the part of Juve, Diego Simeone and Pavel Nedved for Lazio, and the Inzaghi brothers on different sides.
Between coach Giovanni Trapattoni’s unstoppable Inter of the 1988-89 season, and their 13th Scudetto, there is just one obstacle left: The home match against direct rivals Napoli, scheduled for May 28, 1989. With just five rounds to go, the only side that can still reach the leading Nerazzurri are Diego Maradona’s Napoli, who are seven points behind. A free kick by Lothar Matthäus will solve the problem for the “Inter of Records.”
Far from being the sparkling squad that lead Serie A today, on June 10, 2001 Napoli are in the middle of a desperate fight to avoid relegation. Coached by Emiliano Mondonico, who substituted Zdenek Zeman after just six games, the Partenopei are third from last with 32 points – one less than Lecce, Reggina, and Vicenza. In the last two games, they need to face Roma at home, and then Fiorentina away.
There is a thin line that separates great players from true outliers: It’s a fleeting border, not an easy one to cross. But beyond that border, you may sometimes happen to witness pure Genius manifesting itself. That is exactly what happened with Vincenzo Montella, when Fabio Capello’s Roma met Milan in Round 32 of Season 2000-2001 – the Giallorossi being very close to conquer the third Scudetto of their history.