70 posts tagged milan
70 posts tagged milan
Milan v Torino in 1985. The last time the Granata won away to the Rossoneri in Serie A. Featuring Hateley, Baresi, Dossena, Schachner, Radice and Liedholm among others.
I Classici del Calcio - 20 Great Italian Games now on sale via Amazon for the Kindle or using the Kindle App. Just £1.53 or $2.99 for a stroll down memory lane to the times when Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Marco Van Basten, Jurgen Klinsmann, Gabriel Batistuta and the likes rocked Serie A. You can order your copy here.
Juventus v Milan in 1960. Epic footage and some smooth sounds from a match which cost the Bianconeri boss his job.
My round-up for Football Italia featuring great goals from Josip Ilicic and Erik Lamela, a calamitous blunder from Stefano Sorrentino and a gratuitous mention of Barolo…
It was a game which would become, in the space of a few years, a Scudetto classic. But, back in April 1986, the teams involved were still under construction. What magnificent edifices Diego Maradona’s Napoli and Silvio Berlusconi’s Milan would ultimately become.
This springtime clash was one of the first games for the Rossoneri under new ownership. The media mogul had only just taken over the club from the debt-ridden reign of Giuseppe Farina. He had promised to build them into the greatest side in the world but, in the meantime, he brought dancing girls, a marching band and a Formula One racing car as part of the pre-match entertainment.
Napoli, for their part, looked a lot more like the finished article. Three points clear of their opponents in third place they were, nonetheless, a fair distance adrift of Juventus and Roma who were locked in a tussle for the title. Still, the Azzurri travelled to the San Siro with a justifiable degree of confidence.
That would only be boosted by a total emergency in the home defence. Franco Baresi and Mauro Tassotti were both suspended while Filippo Galli was ruled out with injury. It meant ex-Roma legend Agostino Di Bartolomei was expected to play as a makeshift sweeper to try to shore up the back line.
“The game with Napoli will be decisive to keep us in line for a UEFA Cup place,” said Rossonero boss and former playing hero Nils Liedholm. “It is not a position I would have expected us to be in at the start of the season but we must try to keep a hold of it.
Image via magliarossonera.it
“But if we miss out I could not criticise my players because they have already had an amazing season,” he added.
One man particularly under pressure was goalkeeper Giuliano Terraneo, whose errors had been blamed for recent defeats by Inter and Roma. There was also talk, which proved to be true, that he would move on at the end of the season.
“My mistakes against Roma and Inter were not decisive,” he insisted. “I just had some uncertainty and I take responsibility for that. But at my age (he was 32 at the time), I don’t think I have to prove anything to anyone.”
The squad selection emergency prompted Liedholm to go for all out attack with a team featuring Mark Hateley, Paolo Rossi, Pietro Virdis and future San Marino international Marco Macina. The midfield was patrolled by Ray Wilkins, giving a distinctly English accent to the side. It proved to be an imbalanced formation which Napoli quickly swept aside.
Ottavio Bianchi already had the backbone of what would be a team which would win the title the following year. Maradona pulled the strings and ended up “enchanting” the San Siro with his play. Liedholm’s plans to try to play on the attack were in tatters after less than half an hour.
Bruno Giordano was first off the mark. He sped through a motorway up the middle of the Milan defence to roll the ball past Terraneo. The space being afforded the Napoli attackers was a major concern to the home support.
Then it was time for the a bit of Diego magic. Faced with a pack of Milan defenders on the edge of the box he produced a little shimmy to work a bit of space. Then, with minimum backlift, he stabbed a shot between them and past the sprawling Rossoneri goalkeeper. It would have been goal-of-a-lifetime stuff for many, but for Maradona it was run-of-the-mill.
It was enough to persuade Liedholm that his tactical efforts had failed and he made a switch before half time. Macina was sacrificed to let jobbing defender Carmelo Mancuso try to shore things up at the back. It worked, to some extent at least, and Milan had two shouts for a penalty - one for a tug on Hateley, another for handball - before half-time.
In the second half, the visitors appeared to relax a bit too much and the home side finally put Claudio Garella in the Napoli goal to the test. He was found wanting from a low-drive of a free-kick on the hour mark struck by Di Bartolomei. He may have seen the ball late but his howls at his defenders suggested he knew he could have done better and was trying to shift the blame.
The netminder more than made up for it after that, mind you. A string of fine saves ensured Napoli came away with a precious win which is their last Serie A league triumph against Milan in the San Siro. They would finish an impressive third while the Rossoneri folded to seventh and out of the European spots.
“We got things wrong at the start when we were piled up in the opposition box,” said Liedholm. “I sent four forwards out but they were supposed to take turns to work back into midfield but Napoli got the lead before we had time to sort things out. That, for me, is why we lost but I don’t think we deserved to - they shot twice and scored twice, while we created at least ten good chances.”
“There were three penalties for us,” lamented Hateley. “But the referee gave none of them. That is football I guess, even if we did miss a few chances when we didn’t take advantage of good passes.”
As for Diego, he was beaming post-match. “I said we would win in San Siro,” he purred. “This success crowns our season which sees us finish third and in the UEFA zone. We have achieved the club’s goals. Now to aim for the Scudetto, we need to strengthen the squad.”
He was to get his wish, more or less. Fernando De Napoli and Andrea Carnevale brought the salto di qualita’ - leap of quality - needed to secure the league title - and Coppa Italia - the following year. In the process, Maradona’s revered status in the city was secured. Not that it was ever in much doubt.
As for the Rossoneri, there was a revolution on the horizon. Arrigo Sacchi and the Dutch masters were set to arrive soon and transform their fortunes from midtable strugglers to probably the greatest team on the planet. And that would produce some epic clashes with the boys from the San Paolo in the years to come. For much of the late 1980s and early 1990s, their encounters in Campania and Lombardy were some of the most memorable matches in the European game.
There are some questions we will probably never know the answer to. What is the meaning of life? How many Coaches will Maurizio Zamparini sack in his lifetime? Why did Juventus sign Nicolas Anelka? These are the kind of queries which it is hard to furnish with a satisfactory response. And, after Sunday’s Serie A clashes, we could probably add another poser to the list. What might Milan have achieved if they had signed Mario Balotelli in the summer?
I’m not a Milanista, but I did enjoy this video about supporting Milan
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.
It was a midtable encounter with a classy cast. The protagonists were a mix of old glories and stars of the future. And they produced a memorable encounter on the famous San Siro turf in January 1984.
Milan had just returned from their second spell in Serie B in a couple of seasons and were definitely a team still under construction. The Silvio Berlusconi era had not yet begun and the dubious star Straniero of the team was former Watford hitman Luther Blissett. The Englishman would amass just five goals all season.
The visitors, Udinese, had a foreigner with a little more glamour attached. Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico, had incredibly been convinced to trade Flamengo for the Friuli in the summer of 1983. He quickly developed an excellent understanding with his World Cup rival of the year before, Franco Causio.
Under Ilario Castagner the Rossoneri had suffered a dreadfully inconsistent start to their season. Their first four home games ended in victory but their first four away matches led to defeat. They started to show a bit of more solid form before Christmas but, even so, they were five points adrift of league-leading Juventus by the time Udinese came to town.
Their visitors came into the game undefeated since the end of November and had just dished out a memorable 4-1 drubbing to Napoli. They sat on the same points as the Milanese giants. A good result could be a turning point for either side.
Things got off to the best possible start for the home team when they benefitted from one of those soft penalties which have never gone out of fashion in Italy. Sergio Battistini took a tumble in the box and Franco Baresi duly stepped up to convert the spot-kick. The Udinese defence looked shaky with the likes of Attilio Tesser and Franco Pancheri missing.
The Rossoneri looked like they had things under control with Mauro Tassotti tracking Zico, Filippo Galli taking care of Pietro Virdis and Alberigo Evani asked to deal with the dribbling skills of Causio. It worked from more than half an hour.
But then Zico decided to wake up from an apparent slumber by popping up on the back post to nod home an equaliser and it was back to square one for Milan. They dealt with the setback well, however, and before half-time midfield man Vinicio Verza swivelled well to drive a low shot past Fabio Brini in the Udinese goal. Few could argue the lead was not deserved.
The second half saw Oscar Damiani come closest to extending the Rossoneri’s lead when he watched a shot ricochet off both posts before being cleared. At the other end, Massimo Mauro should have levelled but blasted over from a good position. It was a miss he would later regret.
With less than 10 minutes to play, Milan made what should have been the winning move. A header back across goal was met bravely by Blissett as he risked clattering into a goalpost. That should have been game, set and match for the boys in red and black.
But while they were a young side still looking for its identity, Udinese had some wily old professionals in their ranks. They might have been well shackled for much of the match but they suddenly came to life in the closing stages. Their collective quality was too much for Milan to handle.
It took something special to give Enzo Ferrari’s men a lifeline. A neat one-two on the edge of the Milanese penalty area saw a ball chipped into the box in Zico’s direction. The ball took a slight deflection off a home defender but the Brazilian adjusted brilliantly to swing an overhead kick past a helpless Ottorino Piotti. It was Zico’s third two-goal game since arriving in Italy.
There were about three minutes to play when an improbable comeback was completed. Causio held off his marker on the right hand side of the penalty area and turned his man expertly before drilling a shot home. A little forward roll and leap in the air told you how much it meant to the former Juve man. The raincoat-sporting Castagner was raging on the sidelines.
“We made a few mistakes on all three goals,” said a disconsolate Tassotti. “They are chronic errors, we have been making them since last year. People keep saying it is down to inexperience but maybe we will keep committing them as long as we live.”
In truth, he need not have been quite so worried as he would go on to be part of one of the greatest defences Serie A has ever seen. However, that was some way in the future and Milan would finish eighth that year - not bad for a newly promoted side. Greater days were around the corner.
They would not, however, include coach Castagner. He had done a deal to move to city rivals Inter and was relieved of his post before the season came to an end. It did not work out well at the Nerazzurri for the ex-Perugia boss and he slowly slipped down the coaching ranks.
His opposite number, Ferrari, would also move on at the end of the campaign. He tried his luck in Spain, at Real Zaragoza, but like Castagner his managerial career was on the downward path. At least he had this fine display in Milan to look back on.
“I don’t think anyone would have bet a lira on us at 3-1 down,” admitted Causio after that game. “We got it to 3-2 straight away and then our character and experience came through. We showed our so-called ‘attributes’ and we managed to square the match.”
“I feel good now,” beamed Zico. “Plus Ferrari played me in a deeper role where I prefer to play and I have always played there in Brazil. But when I arrived in Udine they asked me to play a bit further forward.”
Whatever position he was put in and no matter how many injuries he suffered, he certainly made an impact. A 19-goal haul saw him finish just behind Juve’s Michel Platini in the Serie A goalscoring charts. It would be the peak of his time in Italy as he struggled for fitness the following year and managed just a handful of goals. But at least Udinese fans had the memory of an outstanding strike at the San Siro before letting him go back to Brazil.
Milan v Fiorentina 1987/88. Starring Roberto Baggio, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Donadoni and Ramon Diaz….