75 posts tagged juventus
75 posts tagged juventus
Only in Italy, perhaps, could they even argue over basic arithmetic. On all official calculators the answer shows as 29 but, for those encased in black and white, it reads as 31. Regardless of which running total you prefer, there was no arguing that the collective skills of Juventus added up to worthy winners of yet another Scudetto this season.
It was clinched with a low-key display in a party atmosphere. Struggling Palermo caused the Bianconeri only sporadic problems while the home side went through the motions knowing that even a draw would clinch their crown. It was fitting, however, that a campaign hero like Arturo Vidal should ensure the celebrations were sealed with a win.
Read more at Football Italia http://www.football-italia.net/33891/juventus-stroll-home
In a long and glorious career which brought about every honour in the game, Dino Zoff has few regrets. But one of his hardest defeats to take was a Turin derby which his legendary Juventus side lost in the blinking of an eye. Needless to say, it is a match which has entered Granata folklore.
Back in the spring of 1983 - as so often in the history of Italian football - there was no team tougher than the Bianconeri. Their core was formed by a huge chunk of the Azzurri side which had won the World Cup in Spain a year earlier. And to top it off they had superstars like the exquisite Michel Platini and that Polish purveyor of searing pace, Zibi Boniek.
With six games left in the campaign La Vecchia Signora was still harbouring hopes of yet another Scudetto as she was within striking distance of league-leading Roma. But her city rivals were breathing down her neck with European football on their mind. There is no such thing as an inconsequential Derby della Mole, but this one packed a punch more powerful than Primo Carnera.
It was the 127th encounter between the two sides with the old Stadio Comunale a riot of noise and fireworks. It was a Toro home game and their fans had faith in their youthful favourites. The wind would be knocked out of them by a defensive blunder within the first 15 minutes.
Operating along the Platini-Boniek axis, Juve sliced their cousins open on the left flank. However, it looked like the danger had passed when an innocuous ball from the former Widzew Lodz forward fell to the feet of Michel van de Korput. However, the Dutchman dallied and then played a suicide ball towards Giuliano Terraneo in the home goal. It was like dropping your wallet in front of an expert pickpocket and Paolo Rossi duly nipped in to open the scoring.
Eugenio Bersellini’s men were struggling to get a foothold and they trudged off at half-time like a team finding it impossible to figure out a way to break their opponents down. “We gifted them a goal so we’ll try to get it back in the second half,” said influential midfielder Beppe Dossena. “All our tactics have gone out the window now, but we’ll try to win this game.”
If they did come out with greater resolve it melted away midway through the second half. This time it was Roberto Bettega who sent Boniek clear to spread panic in the Toro rearguard. Skipper Renato Zaccarelli lunged in as the forward cut back inside the box and even the home support could not dispute the penalty award.
Le Roi stepped up to take it but, for once, proved fallible. He appeared a little too nonchalant in his approach and Terraneo was able to make a sprawling save. Much good it did him, however, as the Frenchman was quick to make amends for his error and reacted swiftly to scoop home the rebound and extend Juve’s lead.
“We conceded a second goal and that put us in enormous trouble,” recalled Zaccarelli. “With the quality of the team you were up against, you had to feel a bit discouraged.”
“To come from two goals behind against that Juve team was practically impossible,” echoed Terraneo. “Unless something out of the ordinary happens.”
And then, incredibly, it did.
First a Roberto Galbiati cross was met by Dossena to give the trailing team a little hope. Then Paolo Beruatto was the provider as Alessandro Bonesso nodded home. Finally, van de Korput made amends for his earlier bungle by crossing in a ball which was thumped home with a lovely volley by the appropriately-monickered Fortunato Torrisi. Incredibly, less than four minutes had passed between the first Torino goal and the last.
“It was like taking a first punch in the boxing ring,” explained Juve defender Sergio Brio. “You are stunned and then you are knocked out by the second punch. That was the classic knockout blow.”
“It happened so quickly that you asked yourself - what just happened?” admitted Zaccarelli. “But a characteristic of Toro is never to give up.”
Dossena, one of the goal heroes, claimed his coach had forecast the turnaround. “During the week Bersellini told us that Juve usually slow up in the second half,” he explained. “So he tried to dose out our efforts. The plan was to keep them under control in the first half and increase our effort gradually during the second. That’s what we did, and it worked out.”
“Three goals in five minutes is unheard of,” raged Juve supremo Giampiero Boniperti. “They must have forgotten that last year we came from two goals behind to beat Torino, which shows you have to concentrate all the way through the derby. Anyone listening on the radio must have thought the commentator had made a mistake because Juve, with the players we have and the experience they have got, can’t get sliced apart by Toro like that.”
The defensive dissection they had suffered proved fatal to Juve’s title dream. They tried to recover from the stunning defeat but had to accept second place behind Nils Liedholm’s Giallorossi. It was to be the precursor to a disappointing end to the campaign as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men went on to lose the European Cup FInal to Hamburg. A comeback triumph in the two-legged Coppa Italia final with Verona (they lost the away leg 2-0 but won the return 3-0 in extra time) would provide some consolation.
As for the victors, they had clearly given their all. In the five remaining games of the season they gathered just a single point and finished in eighth place, well short of Europe. It might not have been the conclusion they had hoped for but few fans were overly concerned. They were still too busy checking in disbelief that the events they witnessed on their home ground against their most bitter rivals had actually taken place.
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Juventus v Milan in 1960. Epic footage and some smooth sounds from a match which cost the Bianconeri boss his job.
The late 1980s was a time of coaching revolution in Italy. Few have forgotten the transformation enacted by Arrigo Sacchi at Milan or Zdenek Zeman’s cavalier Foggia side. Not so many remember Gigi Maifredi’s little masterpiece at Bologna.
His move to the Rossoblu job in the summer of 1987 was little more than a footnote on the sports pages. He had successfully taken Ospitaletto to promotion to Serie C1 which was enough to convince the famous Emilia-Romagna club to snap him up. It prompted a protest from the Italian Manager’s Association as he did not yet have the necessary qualifications to take over at a Serie B side. Nonetheless, the move went ahead.
Maifredi was quickly seen as a second Sacchi. His style was dubbed “champagne football” as a tribute to its exciting approach and his own background in the wine business. Like Arrigo, he was another coach from outside the traditional football world who was shaking up the game.
Things certainly fizzed in his first season at the Dall’Ara. The Bolognese sparkled in the second division and won it at a canter scoring plenty of goals along the way. The end of the season was accompanied by the pop of corks and a clink of glasses as they won promotion as champions.
That performance grabbed the attention of the club where Maifredi definitely saw himself ending up - Juventus. They were meditating a move like Milan’s approach for Sacchi which had proved such a success. Could the Bologna boss be the man to add some extra style to the Bianconeri’s play?
In the end, the Turin giants hesitated. In the summer of 1988 they went for the more obvious option of club legend Dino Zoff. They would come calling again for Maifredi at a later date but, in the meantime, he carried on his work at the Stadio Dall’Ara.
Arrival in Serie A was not easy. An opening day win over Pisa was a false dawn as top division sides proved more than capable of coping with Gigi’s brand of exciting football. Three consecutive defeats were not the ideal build-up for the visit of Juventus in week five of the season.
Maifredi (above) chose to cover-up and play a more defensive line-up than usual. He stuck to his zonal guns but tried to shore up the back line to better fend off the attacking talents of the likes Alessandro Altobelli, Michael Laudrup, Rui Barros and Sasha Zavarov. It singularly failed to work out.
Zoff’s men were ahead within 15 minutes. An Altobelli assist saw little Portuguese Rui Barros show his usual quick wits to chip goalkeeper Nello Cusin - brought in from Ospitaletto along with Maifredi. It was the opener of a genuine goal glut with both defences all over the place.
Going behind saw Maifredi decide that his more cautious approach had not been rewarded. He took off another Ospitaletto import (and future Juve man) Marco De Marchi and threw on forward Giuseppe Lorenzo. But before half time the expert ex-Inter man Altobelli turned finisher and extended Juve’s lead when he met a Zavarov cross to nod home.
“This Bologna side, thanks to Maifredi, seems happy to lose as long as its play gets plaudits and applause,” wrote one slightly snide match report. It certainly looked like they were out of their depth when they went 3-0 down when Barros struck again (although some credit it as an own goal to Belgian import Stephane Demol). The home fans in the Dall’Ara were openly applauding, right enough, but it was Juve’s play - not that of their own players.
Eventually, however, the Rossoblu started to show that their commitment to attacking football did involve a goalscoring threat as well as a leaky defence. Fabio Poli finally narrowed the gap, only for Laudrup to strike again to restore Juve’s three-goal advantage. In the old days, the Bianconeri would have shut up shop at that stage but they had defensive frailties of their own.
It was an on-loan Juventino, Angelo Alessio, who gave the game a final twist. He came on and hit a quick-fire double which had the visitors’ legs trembling. He only scored four goals all season for the Rossoblu, but half of them came against the club which owned him. There was visible relief in the Bianconeri ranks when the final whistle blew to clinch their win.
“We have to take a lot of the blame on all four goals,” said Maifredi afterwards. “You need to pay more attention in Serie A.”
“When a team tries to win, it opens up a bit,” added Juve netminder Stefano Tacconi, in explanation of the goal glut. “But the important thing is scoring one goal more than your rivals.”
Despite the defeat, Bologna were probably more happy with their season by its conclusion than Juve were. Zoff’s men finished fourth as their defensive problems cost them dear while the Emilia-Romagna side dodged relegation by a couple of points. Maifredi’s work could continue in the top division for another year.
The following season he managed an even more impressive eighth place finish which took Bologna into the UEFA Cup. With Juve finishing fourth once more, they decided the time was right to move for their man. Maifredi moved north in 1990 for his dream appointment with the Turin giants. It turned into a bit of a disaster.
In that single season with the Bianconeri he achieved something which had been impossible for a generation and managed to fail to qualify for Europe. It was enough to convince the club’s hierarchy to put the cork back on champagne football. Giovanni Trapattoni was called upon to make his return to the helm.
As for Maifredi, his stock never quite recovered. He went back to Bologna but the magic had gone and he ended up travelling around Italy, Europe and even north Africa to try to restore his reputation. It never really worked and he now has a role on the technical staff with Brescia. But there is still a little twinkle in his eye when asked about his days with Bologna.
When Juve come to town, you take whatever vantage point you can. In spring 1958 in Naples, they packed behind the goals and onto the balconies of properties overlooking the stadium to get a glimpse of the all-conquering Bianconeri. In the hope, of course, of bringing them down a peg or two.
These were the days when John Charles and Omar Sivori (pictured below with Giampiero Boniperti) - perhaps the oddest couple in calcio history - were at the peak of their powers. The tall, powerful and scrupulously fair Welshman and his more diminutive, skilful and sneaky Argentinian colleague were on their way to amassing 50 league goals between them. But at the old Vomero stadium they still harboured hopes of a home victory.
The reason for Neapolitan optimism was quite simple - they had a pretty decent team of their own. Not, perhaps, on the level of La Vecchia Signora, but a quality outfit nonetheless. And, moreover, they had already defeated the Turin giants on their own turf - the only team to have achieved such a result in Serie A that campaign.
They had a goal machine of their own in the shape of Brazilian Luis Vinicio. Dubbed ‘O lione - the Lion - by his home support he tormented defenders the length and breadth of Italy. He would have a field day against a Bianconero defence which was still a long way from the impenetrable unit that Giovanni Trapattoni would oversee in the 1970s.
The title was already pretty much in the bag for Juve when they travelled south for the clash on 20 April. Ten points clear with six games left to play under the old two points for a win system was an almost unassailable lead. Still, the Partenopei - their nearest rivals along with Padova - hoped to at least delay the Scudetto celebrations.
Those ingredients produced a classic mix. Vinicio opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute. Some good build-up work on the right allowed him to control the ball easily and slam it past visiting netminder Carlo Mattrel. It was the start of a deluge of goals.
The Bianconeri’s response was just a couple of minutes in coming. A seemingly innocuous cross from the right was knocked towards goal by Charles and caused a panic in the home defence. An Elia Greco deflection saw the ball end up in his own net to level the match.
But the huge crowd was not going to settle for a share of the spoils and howled their favourites forward. Some neat interplay saw winger Luigi Brugola break clear of the Juventus defence. Once again, it was a pretty straightforward task for him to nip the ball under the diving goalkeeper.
Vinicio (pictured below) should have stretched that lead early in the second half when he was put clean through on goal but this time Mattrel was quick off his line to deny him. It gave La Vecchia Signora a lifeline she was quick to grab. Gino Stacchini cut in from the right and hammered home a shot from a tight angle to make it 2-2 after less than an hour’s play.
That gave the visitors greater impetus and they tested the home goalkeeper Ottavio Bugatti a couple of times as they pushed for the win. But it would be Napoli who struck next with just 13 minutes left on the clock. Future Scudetto-winning coach with Fiorentina Bruno Pesaola got away on the left and his cross found Vinicio at the back post. He made amends for his earlier error with a sweet finish into the top corner.
It looked like being the winner until a free-kick in the 86th minute was floated into the box by Boniperti. It appeared the Napoli defence had cleared the danger but, instead, Antonio Montico cracked in a shot through a crowd of players which gave Bugatti no chance. It was back to the drawing board for Amedeo Amedei’s side.
But, just like their manager, they had goals in their blood and would send their fans home in delight. Another poor defensive clearance dropped to midfielder Gino Bertucco and he had no hesitation in driving the ball home. The supporters piled up behind the goal went crazy. The final whistle brought a full-scale pitch invasion.
“The most exciting game of the season,” announced one match report of the day. “The championship has not been mathematically decided as many expected it to be. The team which rose to its feet and stopped that happening - in a most determined and surprising manner - was Napoli. Juve did not get their own way because they found somebody able to outplay them. It was, as they say, an explosive match.”
“We were unlucky,” said a disappointed and disgruntled Juventus president Umberto Agnelli. “The final result came about a bit by chance. The last goal, the one which decided the game from Bertucco, came as a result of a free-kick which should not have been given.”
It would only prove to be a minor bump for the boys in black and white on their road towards the Scudetto. They won it with eight points to spare over second-placed Fiorentina. As for the Partenopei, the win did not send them towards the runners-up spot they had hoped for. They managed just one win in their last five fixtures (against Inter) and suffered a couple of heavy hammerings - 7-0 by Udinese and 4-0 at Vicenza - to finish a still-respectable fourth. But one of the undoubted highlights of their campaign was producing one of the best matches of the year when Serie A’s biggest name came visiting.
If the match had been a meal, then that goal was its grappa moment. A searing, stinging conclusion to help digest what had gone before. And, depending on your colours, it left either a brutish burning sensation or a gentle afterglow.
Everything about the game seems, now, like a prelude to such an exquisite finish. But although it was part digestivo for an epic encounter stuffed full of goals, it was also part aperitivo to a sumptuous career to come. An Aperol-infused taster of the delicious strikes which would light up the playing days of Alessandro Del Piero.
But let’s go back and set the table first before we get to the liqueurs. It was December 1994 and Fiorentina and Juventus were set to resume hostilities after a year’s ceasefire due to the Viola’s relegation to Serie B. Claudio Ranieri’s side had already shown they were smarter than the average newly-promoted side. On the opposite bench, Marcello Lippi was charged with fulfilling the Bianconeri’s habitual fixation - securing the Scudetto. It had been, in La Vecchia Signora’s terms, nine long years since the last one.
The Turin giants were not, however, top of the table by the time the season’s 12th round of matches fell to be played. That honour went to Parma with a slender, single-point advantage over Gianluca Vialli and company. Fiorentina were just a point back in third. A game which really needs no spicing up had an extra dash of peperoncino that year.
There were notable absences for both sides - much more so for the Bianconeri. The visitors were without ex-Roma man Fabrizio Di Mauro but the home team’s missing list was lengthy. For one reason or another Roberto Baggio, Didier Deschamps, Angelo Di Livio, Luca Fusi, Antonio Conte and Jurgen Kohler all had to skip the match. Makeshift would be a bit of an understatement.
For all their lack of familiarity, Juve enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges before the Florentines began to flourish. The catalyst for the goal that broke the deadlock could be no other. It was, of course, Gabriel Omar Batistuta - who had scored in each of the opening 11 weeks of the season.
This time, unusually, he did not find the net but his defence-splitting run spread panic in the Juve ranks. Angelo Peruzzi spread himself well to smother the Argentinian’s initial shot but he could do nothing about the rapacious follow-up. Francesco “Boom Boom” Baiano swept the ball home with 24 minutes on the clock.
If there was incredulity at that moment then spectators would be downright dumbstruck 11 minutes later. Midfielder Angelo Carbone scampered onto a long through ball and did not think twice before thumping a shot over Peruzzi. The boys of the Onda d’Urto who had made the trip to Piedmont were in ecstasy. It would not last.
But it took everything Juve could muster to find a foothold in the game and it stubbornly refused to come until 17 minutes from full-time. Vialli met a cross from old White Feather, Fabrizio Ravanelli, with a bullet header and the speed with which he wrestled the ball free from Francesco Toldo’s grasp suggested he believed a comeback was possible. It was his 100th Serie A goal.
Number 101 was not long in coming. The ball rattled around in the penalty box and Vialli swivelled sharply to draw his side level. Lippi puffed on a big cigar and seemed to transmit a confidence that he knew the win was there for the taking.
It came a few minutes from time with the match’s iconic moment. Alessandro Orlando hit a seemingly hopeful ball forward from left back which came dropping towards earth just inside the penalty box over Alberto Malusci’s shoulder. Del Piero anticipated that trajectory to perfection and - with the outside of the boot - invented a finish which left Toldo no chance. The young Juventino fell flat on his back in amazement and delight at what he had just achieved.
“This was an emotional and beautiful game, the boys showed great character to come back,” said Lippi afterwards. “We did not deserve to be 2-0 down at half-time.”
“It was a tough game, I’m destroyed,” added Vialli. “It was hard from both a physical and a mental point of view. But I’m going through a good spell and everything is going right. I hope it continues both for myself and for the team.”
Ranieri, for his part, was understandably dejected.
“We knew at the end of the first half we had the second half to play,” he said with an uncanny knack for stating the obvious. “We played well in the first half and they did in the second. They got a goal back and after that they could not be contained.”
The win did not allow Juve to overtake Parma at the top, that would happen a week later with another epic triumph - 4-3 away to Lazio. They lost their lead a week later but reclaimed it in the following round of matches never to look back. The Scudetto ultimately arrived with 10 points to spare.
As for the Viola, their season never quite recovered. They slithered down the table to 10th place, a long way off the positions their early form had suggested. There was the consolation of Batigol finishing the campaign as top scorer with 26 strikes but it was a meager one.
And the boy Del Piero? He went on to be a bit of a player for club and country stacking up honours like the layers on a slice of lasagne. A swansong in Sydney the closing chapter in a glittering career. And yet he scored few, if any, which were better than that magnificent strike which downed Fiorentina nearly two decades ago. And Juventini probably still raise an after-dinner glass or two in its honour to this day.
We sang a hymn in his honour to the tune of the summertime hit Vamos A La Playa.
And, in time, we even forgave him his Juventino past.
He took a club which was down on its luck and gave it back the sparkling football and European nights it craved.
All of it carried out with the utmost class.
The passing of his beloved wife was endured with a dignity that only served to swell our intense affection for Il Mister.
And now, when we watch La Nazionale, we are consumed with feelings of fondness, nostalgia and regret. Grande Cesare.
The first real hard man of my Calcio memory, he snarled beneath a bushy moustache.
There was venom and vicious intent in everything he did as he patrolled the midfield for Milan, Juventus and Italy to most devastating effect.
An irony, lost on nobody, in his romantic name Romeo.
Yet there was more to Benetti than just the bone-snapping tackles as he carved out a role Rino Gattuso would ape in future.
There were trophies galore and plenty of caps as his tactical awareness and eye for goal proved that he was not the one-dimensional thug some portrayed him as.
It seems to be their fate whenever the search begins for a scapegoat. When the finger-pointing starts after a poor Azzurri display, you can be sure they are in the firing line. If in doubt, blame it on the creative ones.
History shows this has always been the case. From the ludicrous staffetta between Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera to the critiques of Roberto Baggio, via the doubts expressed over Giancarlo Antognoni and Giuseppe Giannini, they have continually been called into question. On Friday night in Sofia, it was Sebastian Giovinco’s turn.