The last thing Sinisa Mihajlovic would want is to be commiserated. That’s exactly what the Bologna manager said during Saturday’s press conference where he announced he was diagnosed with leukemia. And so, rather than going along the line that the disease picked a tough one to mess with, we will make it evident by taking a look at his 30-year-spanning career.
The starting grid for the upcoming Serie A season will look familiar to the most aficionado fans of Italian football, as the elevator from the second division sent back three clubs with a remarkable history in the top level of calcio. Brescia, Lecce, and Verona won a ticket to the big show at the end of a tormented Serie B season.
Brazil-Italy is the Superclasico of the World Cup, the most traditional game in the major football competition. The Azzurri and the Selecao have crossed their paths many times in the history of the world tournament, always with much at stake. On July 17, 1994, Brazil prevailed over Italy in the first World Cup Final decided on penalties to conquer the long-yearned-for “Tetra.”
Alvaro Recoba’s first Serie A season perfectly summarized the future career of a player whose talent was equaled only by his indolence. El Chino tallied just three goals that year, but the one he scored to Empoli on January 25th, 1998 – a deadly left-foot lob from his midfield line (!) – instantly gained a spot into Inter’s hall of fame.
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.
In a month of May that is reshaping the geography of Serie A, Juventus decided to part ways with Massimiliano Allegri. The separation between the league title holders and their winning coach was made official yesterday in a sober press conference. Allegri leaves Juventus after five years in which he won five Scudetto, four Coppa Italia, and two Supercups.
They called him Capitan Futuro (“Captain Future”), as Daniele De Rossi was meant to be Roma’s new captain after Francesco Totti’s retirement. But he ended up wearing the Giallorossi captain band for two years only, as the club’s board communicated today their decision not to renew the 35-year-old midfielder’s contract for the next season.
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.
It happened again. Yet another last minute comeback, to further embellish a Champions League edition that could arguably end up being the most exciting ever. This time, it was Tottenham’s turn to pull out the most incredible of victories, stunning Ajax with a shocking 2-3 late win that projected them straight into their first Champions League Final in their history.
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.