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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

Italy

AC Milan and Juventus Wage Eternal Serie A War




AC Milan versus Juventus can rightfully be classed as one of the biggest matches in Italian football history. The duo were very close before the Calciopoli scandal and also launched a number of partnerships off the pitch. However, after the summer of 2006, Milan and Juve reopened a fierce rivalry.

In the summer of 1991, thanks to an agreement between Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani and Juventus’ Luciano Moggi, the teams decided to begin every season in the San Siro, with a friendly between the Rossoneri and La Vecchia Signora. The trophy was named “Trofeo Luigi Berlusconi”, in honour of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi’s father. This deal between the two was recently extended until 2012.

The very first game between Milan and Juventus was took place in Turin, on 28th April 1901, with Milan winning 3-2. Since then, the pair have played another 149 times, with the stats reading: 51 wins to Juventus, 46 to Milan, and 53 draws.

Perhaps the most important draw came in the 2003 Champions League final, where the duo played out a 0-0 at Old Trafford in the first, and so far only, all-Italian final. Milan eventually won on penalties, with Andrei Shevchenko scoring the decisive goal.

Domestically, Juventus and Milan have been involved in plenty of struggles for the Serie A title, especially during the 1990s where, apart from the 1991 Scudetto – which was won by Sampdoria – every title in the decade ended up in Milan or Turin.

It goes without saying that in such an esteemed rivalry there have been more than a few thrills and spills and one such game was played out in Turin on 5th February, 1950. A superb Rossoneri side, containing the star Swedish trio of Gunnar Nordahl, Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm, helped to destroy Juventus by an astonishing scoreline of 7-1. Nordahl scored three goals, but Gren and Liedholm also chipped in a goal each in what was hailed as one of the best Milan performances of all time. Strangely however, at the end of that season, it was the Bianconeri who lifted the title, five points ahead of Milan.

Juventus had to wait a while to truly avenge that 7-1 defeat; 47 years in fact, when a team managed by Marcello Lippi and boasting the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, Alen Boksic and Christian Vieri simply annihilated an Arrigo Sacchi led Milan, routing the Rossoneri 6-1. The loss came as a shock to a Rossoneri outfit which had swept all before them in Serie A in previous years, and which fell apart so readily against a young Juventus side that won the title and reached the Champions League final in that 1996/97 season.

In their history, both clubs have been involved in a Calciopoli scandal. Milan were relegated in 1980 after match fixing, and each were involved in the most recent Calciopoli of 2006. La Vecchia Signora ended the 2006 affair by far the most damaged – stripped of two titles and relegated to Serie B for the first time in their glorious history. Milan were adjudged less culpable and in the same season won the Champions League in Athens by beating Liverpool.

This season’s Berlusconi Trophy ended 0-0, with Juventus winning on penalties, but the serious business begins with the duo’s first meeting at the San Siro this weekend. With Milan third, behind the surprise package of Lazio and champions Inter, and Juventus just five points behind the Rossoneri, the three points are crucial.

Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri is aiming for a fifth victory in a row in Serie A, but has a tough decision to make over whether to start Robinho or Ronaldinho to play with the currently untouchable pair of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato. In midfield, Gennaro Gattuso has recovered his form, following a poor campaign last season, while at the back Thiago Silva is returning from injury to add extra strength.

For Juventus, new president Andrea Agnelli, appears more involved in discussions related to the Calciopoli scandal – currently a legal process related to the 2006 case is under way in Naples – and the chance to recover the two Scudetti the club were stripped of four years ago, than what happens on the pitch.

New boss Gigi Delneri has assembled a good team for the Old Lady and deployed them in his favoured 4-4-2 system. However, the Bianconeri lost Serbian winger Milos Krasic to suspension last weekend, as he was adjudged to have dived to win a penalty. Forwards Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri should also miss out due to injury.

Both AC Milan and Juventus believe that there is a real chance for them to return to the glory days of the 1990s, especially as the duo see an Inter side in flux having lost all-conquering coach Jose Mourinho. And if history is any guide, Milan and Juventus can walk to that success side-by-side, for without one battling the other, Italian football does not look quite so familiar.


Published: Friday, 29th Oct 2010