36 posts tagged napoli
36 posts tagged napoli
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.
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.
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.
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.
Napoli 1 Palermo 2, December 1951. Vintage footage of the Rosanero’s only victory in Naples in Serie A in 18 attempts. The salt thrown on the pitch clearly did the trick.
It was the 11th round of games of the season and the victory, courtesy of goals from Helge Bronee and Gino Giaroli (Paolo Todeschini scored for Napoli) put the Sicilian side into third place in the league. That would pretty much be high watermark of the season as they ended up in 11th spot sandwiched between Atalanta and Pro Patria.
Napoli, for their part, would end up five spots higher in 6th position with a great deal of thanks due to 25 goals combined from Mario Astorri and Amedeo Amedei.
Juventus v Napoli, 1988. Featuring Maradona, Carnevale, Careca, Zavarov, Michael Laudrup, Rui Barros and even Henry Kissinger. A game to “bring fans back to the ground who have been scared away by the price and hooligans”.
“I must have dreamed the first half only,” said Maradona. “I dreamed we would win 3-0. Instead, it finished 5-3 with a little bit of a scare towards the end.”
Napoli finished the season second to Giovanni Trapattoni’s record-breaking Inter side while Juventus were fourth.
Video from Futbol Retro TV.
As Napoli shape up for one of the biggest games of their European life, Football Italia great Dave Taylor remembers a hero of yesteryear.
The left back, who could play anywhere in defence, was part of the wonderful Dutch Total Football side and an intelligent, tactical genius who could see a player move into position before the player himself.
With the Vesuviani for four seasons he played more than 100 games but scored just the once but that did not stop him being absolutely worshipped in the Stadio San Paolo.
Last year he was voted onto Napoli’s all-time dream team by the supporters of the club.
Image via Old School Panini.
Napoli v Cagliari, 1990. A remarkably fresh faced Claudio Ranieri comes up with a managerial masterstroke to stun the San Paolo. It was a first win for the Sardinians in Naples in Serie A since the days of Gigi Riva.
The historical record, however, remains firmly in favour of the Neapolitans on their own ground. In 26 meetings, the Partenopei have won 14, drawn eight and lost just four. Napoli’s biggest win was a 5-0 back in 1974. Cagliari’s most recent victory, a 2-0 in 2007.
Parma 1 Napoli 0 (‘64 Osio) September 1990.
Starring Maradona, Sandro Melli, Careca, Taffarel, Georges Grun, Ciro Ferrara and more. It was the start of the Parma miracle under Nevio Scala with their historic first win since being promoted to Serie A.
They had lost their opening game in the Tardini to Juventus and then drawn away with Lazio. But the triumph over the Partenopei helped to kick-start an outstanding debut season in which they finished sixth in a campaign which saw Sampdoria crowned champions. Napoli would end up a disappointing eighth.
Melli finished high up the top scorer rankings with 13 strikes alongside the Cesena’s Massimo Ciocci and Torino’s Giorgio Bresciani.
Video via Odys1913