66 posts tagged inter
66 posts tagged inter
Few fans present in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris had seen such a result before. It had been more than three decades since their favourites had managed to win a home Serie A match against Inter. But, in May 1991, Genoa ended that long-running hoodoo in swashbuckling style.
It was a case of the upstart side against the established elite. Just a couple of seasons earlier, Giovanni Trapattoni’s Inter side with its colony of German internationals (they already had Lothar Matthaus and Andy Brehme and would add Jurgen Klinsmann later) had won the Scudetto with a record-breaking points total. At the same time, the boys from the Marassi had been scrapping their way out of Serie B.
By 1991, however, there was a case for saying Serie A was about as wide open as it has ever been. Maradona’s Napoli were reigning champions, Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan had been conquering Europe, Sampdoria were a major force with Vialli and Mancini. Sides like Parma and Torino, too, had serious European ambitions. It was a cut-throat time for Calcio.
Inter had given it their best shot to have a crack at the title, standing toe-to-toe with Samp for much of the season. But the round of matches before their trip to Genoa had seen them lose 2-0 to Doria, effectively ending their Scudetto aspirations. They also had the distraction of an upcoming return leg of their UEFA Cup final with Roma. With Osvaldo Bagnoli’s men determined to grab a European place of their own, there was plenty of incentive for victory. Few could have predicted just how emphatic it would turn out to be.
Trapattoni was unable or unwilling to risk a full strength team for the match. Stalwart defender Beppe Bergomi, aerial target man Aldo Serena and German full-back Andy Brehme were all missing for the match. And things would only get worse as the game progressed.
A knock to Beppe Baresi forced him to leave the fray too and be replaced by Paolo Stringara. Still the visitors’ defence held strong for most of the first half, with most of the danger to Walter Zenga’s goal coming from free-kicks by lethal Brazilian Branco. Eventually, however, they were undone by two of Genoa’s midfield motor-men.
Gennaro Ruotolo picked up the ball and ran on to a return pass from Mario Bortolazzi to slice open the Inter back line. He produced a sweet, low finish to break the deadlock in the 38th minute. It was a vital turn of events which the boys in blue and black never looked like turning round.
The home side looked the more hungry and it was to be little-and-large strike duo of Czech Tomas Skuhravy and Uruguayan Pato Aguilera who completed the rout. In the 76th minute it was a drifting cross from the South American which his European counterpart looped over Zenga with a perfect header. Then, late in the game, it was Skuhravy who went flying in the penalty box with Aguilera duly converting the spot kick.
Post-match, Trapattoni looked disappointed but not too downhearted. He knew his club had other priorities for the season and were playing a side which had more reason to push for the points.
“We were up against an opponent who gave us nothing,” he said. “We had some key players missing, even if that’s no excuse. But Bergomi, Serena and Brehme are not the kind of players you can replace easily and some of the players coming in were not in top condition. By the end, a few of our players looked tired too.”
“The level of motivation was different,” agreed Genoa’s towering skipper Gianluca Signorini. “For us, playing Inter is always an extra boost and our concentration was total. We played a perfect game today.” It is sad to think that a little more than a decade after celebrating such a great season, their influential captain would succumb to Lou Gehrig’s disease aged just 42.
Genoa Coach Bagnoli reckoned he had got his tactics about right. “We knew Inter were strong - although without Serena they lost something at free-kicks,” he said. “But with Fausto Pizzi in the team we thought they would try to outmanoeuvre us.
“But the moment we got the ball we had to break quickly,” he added. “We could not allow them to break with the kind of players they have like Nicola Berti, Lothar Matthaus and the likes. We were very concentrated, we were in good form and we got the first goal which helped us out too.”
The result would help to clinch historic UEFA Cup qualification for Genoa at the end of the season while Inter would go into the same competition as holders after seeing off Roma. The Nerazzurri’s defence of that crown would not go particularly well with early elimination to Boavista. The Rossoblu, however, went all the way to the semi-final before missing out to Ajax who would also conquer Torino in the final.
As for the jinx-breaking victory over Inter, it did not really herald a golden age at home to the Milanese giants for the Grifone. They have won a couple more clashes - in 1993 and 1994 - but since then they have suffered four defeats and a draw in the fixture. If past history is anything to go by, they might have to wait until 2027 for another home win to come along.
Read more classic Serie A games in 20 Great Italian Games.
Napoli v Inter from 1997, the last time the Nerazzurri got an away win in the fixture in Serie A. First goal, via Fabio Galante, has more than a hint of offside about it, mind you.
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It was a time when most tales were told in black and white. The fledgling Italian democracy was struggling to find its feet under Alcide De Gasperi. At cinemas, the hot ticket was for Il Mulino del Po based on Riccardo Bacchelli’s epic family saga of the same name. And, in the remote countryside, the bodies left by the Second World War were still being found.
In the football world, Serie A was still coming to terms with the loss of the Grande Torino side at the Superga disaster. It left a power vacuum which a number of sides hoped to fill. That honour went, as it so often has, to Juventus, Inter and Milan.
In the 1949/50 campaign, the 10th week of matches threw up a mouthwatering prospect. A great Bianconero outfit - the one with Giampiero Boniperti, John Hansen, Karl Praest and the likes - was setting a breakneck speed at the top of the table followed by surprise outfit Padova. The Milanese giants were locked together in third place, four points adrift of top spot. The winner of the derby at the San Siro would be making a statement of its intent to target the Scudetto.
Inter were the home side for this league clash and boasted a breathtaking attack. France-born Hungarian Istvan Nyers was a 30-goals-a-season kind of guy. “He had a turn of pace which was deadly,” recalled former team-mate Sergio Brighenti. “It made him unstoppable. He could shoot with either foot, knew where the goal was and had the courage of a lion.” Among his forward colleagues were ex-Roma hero Amedeo Amedei and the Tuscan they nicknamed Veleno (Poison) for his venomous finishes and prickly personality, Benito Lorenzi (pictured below). Their defensive powers, however, were weakened by the loss of a certain Enzo Bearzot to injury a week earlier against Novara.
The Rossoneri responded with a side with even greater goal potential. It boasted three men whose names would eventually be moulded into one famous abbreviation. Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm. Gre-No-Li for short.
The Italian league had just confirmed a limit of three foreign players in its sides. The Swedish trio formed Milan’s contingent while Dutchman Faas Wilkes joined Nyers in the Inter starting XI that day. There was no spot for Argentinian Oscar Basso, their third Straniero.
These were days before Catenaccio had raised its head and both sides lined up along the 2-3-2-3 lines of the Metodo system. In a time when foreign coaches were in vogue, Hungarian Lajos Czeizler guided the Rossoneri but the much more Italian man from Massa Giulio Cappelli was in charge at Inter. They dished up what might well have been a tactical expert’s nightmare but proved to be a football fan’s delight.
It was obvious from pretty early on that this would be no ordinary Derby della Madonnina, there would be no cagey exchanges or worrying about keeping things tight at the back. The first goal came in the opening minute and it was Milan who seized the advantage through former Inter man Enrico Candiani. He doubled his personal tally, and the Rossoneri’s lead, before seven minutes had passed.
In the 10th minute, Inter clawed one back through Nyers but it looked like the “visitors” were in outright control when Nordahl and Liedholm extended their lead to 4-1. There were less than 20 minutes on the clock and one of the biggest derby games in Europe looked effectively over as a contest. But these were days of more epic scorelines and the Nerazzurri had an astounding comeback in mind.
It was constructed either side of half-time. In a vital one-two in the space of a minute, Amadei and a Nyers penalty narrowed the gap before the interval. Then, incredibly, Amadei levelled the match five minutes into the second period. It was 4-4 and any outcome looked possible at the final whistle.
The ever-sharp Lorenzi put Inter into the lead for the first time a little shy of the hour mark but Milan showed resilience of their own to hit back immediately through Carlo Annovazzi. It would take just five more minutes for the match to make its final fateful twist. Amedei was the gamewinner as he grabbed his hat-trick to complete an improbable scoreline. Lorenzi danced a provocative dribble as the final whistle blew before kicking the ball into the delighted and still slightly stunned Inter faithful. It remains, not surprisingly, the highest scoreline in a Serie A Milanese derby.
“Was this a good game or a bad game?” asked one match report. “We tried to reach a judgement on that but it was not straightforward. The match had everything - spectacular attacking and defences which collapsed like barriers built from papier-mâché, a team which conceded four goals in a row after building up a three-goal lead and two sides which mixed great play with amateur errors.”
“There was a day, many years ago, when Torino and Inter drew 6-6 but there was a downpour that day and the terrible pitch conditions caused all the problems,” wrote double World Cup-winning coach Vittorio Pozzo in his analysis. “Six goals are nice for the Inter attack and five strikes are sweet for the Milan forward line but they are disastrous for the two defences. They are a bit of an indicator of the state of these Milanese sides - they have scored 29 and 25 goals respectively but conceded 16 and 17. The defenders of the city of Milan ruined their reputation on Sunday.”
There was not much time to rest for some of the protagonists. Amedei, Lorenzi and Inter team-mates Osvaldo Fattori and Attilio Giovannini were called up to the Italy training squad for a match with England later in the month along with Annovazzi of Milan. Then there was the little matter of Juventus versus Inter the following weekend.
The Bianconeri would win another humdinger of a clash 3-2 and set sail towards the title. Milan would emerge as their closest rivals but still finished five points adrift in second spot with Inter a further eight points behind in third. The Rossoneri racked up 118 goals that campaign with Nordahl scoring 35 alone. Inter ended up just shy of the century with 99 strikes - 30 of them from Nyers.
Neither side would have to wait long for a title. Milan were crowned champions the following season and Inter secured the Scudetto by 1953. It set a trend for domination which - along with Juve of course - has continued for most of the modern history of the Italian game. And perhaps a little bit of that supremacy had its roots in the lessons learned from the most madcap derby in the city’s history.
This time, it was personal. I was a man on a mission, my goal to see Gabriel Omar Batistuta score for Fiorentina. Of course, he did not let me down.
It was November 1995 and the Viola were one of a bunch of sides trying to keep pace with league-leading Milan and Parma. It was Roy Hodgson’s Inter who were coming to town but they were sitting in a pretty miserable midtable position. The Florentines were in the unusual condition of being narrow favourites for the match.
I had flown out from Scotland for a double-header at the Artemio Franchi. The Milanese giants at the weekend, followed by a midweek Coppa Italia quarter-final first leg with Palermo. All I asked for a pre-Christmas treat was to see my hero get among the goals.
They were cold days with winter closing in and I was booked in a little pensione in the heart of Florence rather than taking the commute from the family home in Garfagnana. At nights I dined in fixed-price menu trattorias, people-watching and trying to blend in. I was never awkward and picky enough with the waiting staff, however, to pass myself off as a true Italian.
But my little mini-carafes of local wine gave a glorious afterglow. Could life get any better than this? Two games in the space of a few days, good food and the attractions of the Renaissance city at my disposal. Now it was time for Batigol to deliver.
I watched the Inter game on a Football Italia ticket. Channel 4’s coverage was in its pomp and they were screening the match and happy to put my name on the list for press passes. It produced the traditional pantomime it almost always does.
“Rinaldi?”, I asked at the ticket window and was met with a blank response. “Football Italia?”, I suggested and got a similar look. “Giancarlo?”, I tried, optimistically, but still without any joy. Luckily, each question prompted a cursory flip through the accreditation envelopes. I spotted one with what looked like “Channel 4” scribbled on it and pounced. “Eccolo!”, I trumpeted with as much confidence as I could and snatched the prize before too many questions were asked.
Paul Elliott was on pundit duty that day with James Richardson - in a little corner of the press section tucked away under the very roof of the Stadio Artemio Franchi. I kept hoping Jimbo would ask for my expert input, but my starring role never happened. The closest I got was a call from my uncle saying he had seen my back on a live satellite stream he was picking up on his monster rotating dish back home in Scotland. I brushed with fame at last.
My recollections of the actual match are sketchy. I do recall Fiorentina slipping behind to a delightful lob from Maurizio Ganz, living up to the banner Inter fans regularly unfurled in his honour declaring, in their dialect, “El segna semper lu!” (He always scores!). It was a statement they quickly shelved when he transferred to Milan a couple of seasons later.
The Nerazzurri had the better of that opening period. Paul Ince was patrolling the midfield to some effect and Benito Carbone linking up well with Ganz in the attack. And, of course, there was Javier Zanetti doing his usual impeccable job of bridging the gap between the defence and the forward line. They were a decent side.
And they should really have gone two ahead but Marco Branca had a shot cleared off the line by Pasquale Padalino. It was a let-off for Claudio Ranieri’s men and one which they took advantage of. In the second half, they stepped on the gas and Inter fizzled out. There was only one possible outcome.
I remember (or am I fooling myself?) a feeling of expectation and anticipation rippling through the whole stadium. It was not a question of “if” Batistuta would score, it was more a matter of “when”. We awaited, ready to explode when the moment arose. He teased us until about midway through the second half.
It was at that point that the slender figure of Spadino Robbiati sliced through the visiting defence on the left flank leaving Lo Zio, Beppe Bergomi, trailing in his wake. He clipped a perfect back post ball to where the Florentine avenger was awaiting. He rose at the perfect moment and powered a header back across Gianluca Pagliuca’s goal which he had no prospect of saving.
It could have felt like a long journey without that strike but, instead, I went back to my pensione with my head still buzzing with how he had lit up a dark winter’s day. The streets of Florence were pulsing too with excitement for a team which was sitting at the top end of Serie A and still in the hunt for the Coppa Italia too.
I got my second helping of Bati magic a few days later. Palermo - stuck in Serie B but performing well in the cup - were the visitors. The Argentina great won and converted a penalty to give the Viola a slender first leg advantage to take to Sicily. It was enough to take them through and on to eventually lift the cup - beating Atalanta over two legs. It sparked crazy scenes of celebration in Florence with a first trophy in more than 20 years. I felt I had played my own little part with my pilgrimage to see a goalscoring hero in action.
Fiorentina finished fourth in the league that year as Milan were crowned champions. Inter were seventh and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Batigol ended up a few goals shy of the top scorer’s crown which was shared by Lazio’s Beppe Signori and Bari’s Igor Protti - who I once met at Fiumicino airport in Rome, but that is a story for another time. Inter’s top scorer for the season was Branca with 17 strikes for the Nerazzurri that league campaign.
That was 18 years ago. Since those games were played, the Viola have been through relegations, promotions, scandal and Champions League football. Batigol has long since hung up his boots. It sometimes seems to me that the Franchi rocks a little less raucously these days. And yet, if you pour me a carafe of wine and let me take a sip and close my eyes I swear I can still hear that song.
“Corri alla bandierina, bomber della Fiorentina!”.
Fiorentina v Inter classic action from 1989. I’ll settle for something like this at the weekend.
That man Dave Taylor penned a few thoughts on a new Napoli hero ahead of the weekend game with Inter. Here they are…
What is with Gokhan Inler and goals? He had been waiting for years for one to arrive and then three come at once. The Swiss international recently admitted he has been looking to score ever since he arrived in Naples two summers ago, as he wanted hear his name chanted around the San Paolo. Then in week 13 he scored his first in the 2-2 draw with Milan. It was an outrageous long-distance shot that fooled Christian Abbiati with it’s trajectory. The thoughtful midfielder later tried to reassure the humiliated Milan ‘keeper with his view of the strike. “I hit it with a twist so that the ball would swerve mid-air,” he revealed. “I intended it to change direction, much like a free kick, so I don’t think Abbiati can be blamed for that.”
Two weeks later his fabulous brace, scored again from outside the area, opened and closed the scoring in the 5-1 demolition of Pescara. In all it meant he had then heard “Inler-Inler” echoing round the Vesuviani terraces three times inside a fortnight. “I always wanted to hear my name shouted around the San Paolo after a goal,” he beamed. “I have now lived that emotion three times in a few days and I could not be happier.”
He will be even happier if he adds to that tally this Sunday evening in the match of week 16, as Napoli visit Inter. And he is perhaps the man the man to make the difference at the San Siro following his recent run of form.
Following the departure of Ezequiel Lavezzi over the summer Napoli lost one of their most skilful players, which left a big hole to fill. However, the Swiss ace has stepped up to the mark while also starting to add goals to his performances.
So although Napoli may no longer have the Three Tenors they do have a poker hand of aces in Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne and of course Inler. Between the four of them they have scored 80% of Napoli’s goals this season, 23 out of 28; Il Matador has10, Hamsik seven while Insigne and Inler have three a piece.
To get to where they are, just two points behind leaders Juventus, Coach Walter Mazzarri knew he needed to introduce a new system this term. After trying it out in pre-season he seems to have settled on a rehashed version of his favoured 3-5-2. At the time the Coach claimed he intended to involve il Guerrero more. “With this new system, everything will be played around Inler,” he said. “We are going forward with the Swiss.”
They certainly have and it is a formation that sees Inler in front of the defence in a more central role with the departure of Walter Gargano to Inter. It is a position that seems to suit him better and it has enriched Napoli’s midfield options, with Marek Hamsik and Valon Behrami/Blerim Dzemaili also doing the running. Although he is combative and more inclined to run from box to box than just stay in a fixed position, if needed he can play a more regimented role.
What it also does is allow Hamsik to move forward and not worry about tracking back as before when he was more of a playmaker. Consequently the Slovak has scored seven times, three more than at the same point last season plus five more assists. Behrami can also play a few yards ahead of Inler while Juan Zuniga can come in from the left like Cristian Maggio on the right.
All in all it has given Napoli’s midfield a little more density without any pattern becoming fixed. It has also seen Inler return to the form that saw Napoli pay Udinese £15m for him.
The time has come, with the half-century racked up, to draw the series to a close. So I’ll self-indulge one last time with a favourite from a Golden Age of Fiorentina.
He will always be Il Portierone.
Snatched from the clutches of a Milan side with a glut of global superstars, he became a Florentine legend.
He formed the foundation of a side which dazzled in the Champions League and used it as a springboard to an Italy career.
The pinnacle with the Azzurri, undoubtedly, a phenomenal match of penalty-saving magic against Holland at Euro 2000.
When the club collapsed in Florence, he moved on to Inter and enjoyed a second life.
The trophies piled up with the Nerazzurri, often in a bit-part role, but always ready to give his all.
We used to groan every time he stepped onto the pitch for his country.
But he delivered one of the most vital goals in the Azzurri’s history to turn our depression into delight.
A pioneer of Calcio emigration, he tried his luck with Everton, sandwiched between spells at Perugia.
It would be with Inter, however, that he would finally find a long-term home and rack up the honours.
Playing to his strengths, and his opponents’ weaknesses, he was a defensive brute with an eye for goal.
And, to us, much more than the other man in Zinedine Zidane’s statue tribute.
If you want to take the temperature of Serie A, there are few better thermometers than the Milan derby. A clash between two of the top sides in the country can serve as a health check for the whole Division. On Sunday night, the condition report was not of the kind you would want to hear on any of your nearest and dearest.
All the elements were there, on the surface at least, for an outstanding evening’s entertainment. There was an early goal to break the deadlock, a whole heap of controversial decisions and a pantomime villain in the stocky shape of Antonio Cassano. And yet, if you asked most people if it was a classic Madonnina, they would have to answer – oh no, it wasn’t!