On November 3, 1985, Maradona’s Napoli received at San Paolo stadium capolista Juventus and their perfect record – eight wins out of their initial eight games that season. As the match day approached, the atmosphere in the city was electric, almost frenzy. That Juventus side, featuring players like Michel Platini or Michael Laudrup, and trained by Giovanni Trapattoni, was a true dreadnought. The Bianconeri were the incumbent European Champions, and only one month later would eventually climb to the top of the world by beating Argentinos Juniors in the Intercontinental Cup.
Still, there was much optimism among the Napoli ranks. The Partenopei’s hopes responded to a specific name: Diego Armando Maradona, the leader they had been waiting for years, the condottiero that could finally lead the team towards the dream of Scudetto.
The match was tense. Napoli had the initiative but didn’t bite, whereas Juventus played it safe and seemed fine with keeping the score even. Six minutes before half time, both sides remained with one man less as referee Giancarlo Redini sent off Salvatore Bagni and Sergio Brio. But despite the larger spaces, the match remained balanced until the 70th minute, when Redini awarded an indirect free kick to Napoli in the middle of Juventus’ box.
Eraldo Pecci and Diego Maradona went for the kick, but Bianconeri’s goalie Stefano Tacconi set a large wall only five meters from the ball. Napoli urged referee Redini to make Juventus players move back, yet the black-and-white wall didn’t move. At that point, Maradona got upset and told Pecci: “Come on, touch the ball for me.” His teammate was shocked: “Are you crazy? There’s no space, can’t you see how close the wall is?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Maradona replied, “I’m going to score anyway.”
And well, so he did. Pecci gently touched the ball, Maradona grabbed it with his mephistophelic left foot, and hooked it around a pointlessly diving Tacconi. That was the goal that decided the game, and made the Partenopei confident they could match with the top league powerhouses. It was the stepping stone of Napoli’s first Scudetto, which the team would eventually conquer one year later.
It all started on that day: From that lob shot there was no space for, from the boldness to even try it, from the sublime technique that could bend a ball and force it to assume an impossible parabola effect.
November 3, 1985 – Serie A 1985-86 Round 9
SCORER: 72’ Maradona
|NAPOLI: Garella, Bruscolotti, Carannante, Bagni, Ferrario, Renica, Bertoni, Pecci (90’ Buriani), Giordano (60’ Caffarelli), Maradona, Celestini (Zazzaro, Maggiotto, Baiano) Coach: Bianchi|
|JUVENTUS: Tacconi, Favero, Cabrini, Pioli, Brio, Scirea, Mauro (75’ Pin), Bonini, Serena, Platini, Laudrup (Bodini, Caricola, Bonetti, Pacione) Coach: Trapattoni|
REFEREE: Mr. Redini from Pisa
NOTES: Red Cards: Bagni (N), Brio (J).
Translated by Matteo Carnevale