Throwback Monday: 35 Years Since 1988/89 Serie A Changed Calcio

The 1988/89 Serie A season was revolutionary in the most basic sense, although the Italian peninsula had witnessed its fair share of glory in the past years. As Tuttomercatoweb put it, it was a turning point 35 years ago. The season began later than expected, on 9 October, due to the Seoul Olympics, which lasted from 17 September to 2 October 1988, bringing with it a host of changes.

The league up until that point consisted of just 16 teams, but the Lega Serie A decided to expand the number of clubs participating to 18 teams, making it a total of 34 matches in total for each club.

Milan started the season as reigning champions thanks to the onboardings of Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten the previous summer. However, the inclusion of a new rule i.e. allowing clubs to import three players, prompted the Rossoneri to bring in the third of the Dutch trio in Frank Rijkaard following Arrigo Sacchi’s insistence.

It was not only the champions who profited off the new rule, as Inter signed German duo Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme. Several big names were signed by Serie A outftis; Alemao to Napoli, Claudio Canniggia to Hellas Verona, Ruben Sosa to Lazio, Rui Barros to Juventus etc.

The 88/89 Serie A campaign also marked the first full season that focused on developing Italy’s infrastructure and ability to hold the following year’s FIFA World Cup. The Nerazzurri won the Scudetto that season by a record 11 points over second-placed Napoli, while the Partenopei themselves lifted the UEFA Cup.

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