With Sunday’s clash between Milan and Juventus set to play a major role in who finishes runner-up to champions and champions-elect Inter, Football Italiano looks back at two previous clashes between the Serie A superpowers of yesteryear.
Milan 1-6 Juventus
April 6, 1997 is the date of one of the more surprising and one-sided results between the two sides as the Old Lady ran out comprehensive victors at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
By the time these two sides met on Matchday 26, Marcello Lippi’s Juventus were top of Serie A on 52 points, six clear of nearest rivals Parma and 16 clear of 7th placed Milan. The Rossoneri were going through a transitional phase after Fabio Capello’s departure the previous summer and had re-hired Arrigo Sacchi midway through the campaign after Oscar Tabárez’s dismal time in charge. Sacchi’s side boasted some impressive names but psychologically and competitively were no match for the Bianconeri. A front three of Zinedine Zidane, Alen Boksic and Christian Vieri ripped Milan’s defence naming Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi to shreds.
The Rossoneri players were off the pace, backed off their confident opponents and were punished in brutal fashion. Vladimir Jugovic was the first to score, capitalising on a parried Vieri shot inside 20 minutes. Milan went close to equalising soon after through a Christophe Dugarry looping header that tested Angelo Peruzzi but once Boksic was brought down inside the Milan box and Zidane stepped up to convert the penalty, Lippi’s men were in control before the break.
Poor defending led to Milan conceding the third goal after half-time, with huge gaps in the Rossoneri backline – and Sebastiano Rossi’s front post – exploited to full effect by Jugovic for his second of the night. Vieri scored the fourth of the night after yet more despairing defending as four Milan players were drawn to a ball that was eventually lifted over them for the Juve striker to coolly round the keeper and slot home. Nicola Amoruso knocked in yet another parried shot after Rossi failed to deal with a stinging strike from Jugovic.
Marco Simone’s impressive finish from just outside the area from a corner on 76 was the only glimmer of quality on show in the red and black. Vieri picked up a pass that travelled 40 yards through the middle of the park to hold off a defender and side-foot Juve’s sixth and final goal of the night.
One of the most memorable meetings between the sides had resulted in a masterclass of attacking play from the Bianconeri and a most un-Italian display of defending from the Rossoneri. After the game, Milan’s season dropped off and they finished 11th, 22 points behind champions Juventus.
Milan 0-1 Juventus
When these two sides met at the end of the 2004/05 campaign in Week 35, the great rivals were at the peak of their powers in the peninsula with both gunning for another league title. Having dominated the league standings in a 13-year run that had seen the title only twice not won by one of these sides, Milan and Juventus went into this game with the winner assured a real chance of another title.
Fabio Capello’s Juventus led the standings with 76 points from 34 played, whilst 2004 league champions Milan – coached by former Juve Boss Carlo Ancelotti – trailed by a single point in one of the closest title run-ins in years. This was the first season after Serie A’s expansion to 20 teams, and the remaining four extra games promised twists and turns in a fascinating tussle between Italy’s finest, with the Sunday May 8, 2005 meeting proving the most decisive.
Ancelotti’s men had pegged back Juventus earlier in the season after the Old Lady had gone through a difficult patch from Weeks 22 to 25 that saw the nine-point gap between the sides shortened to the solitary one. Since Juventus’ Week 25 goalless draw at Messina, il Diavolo and the Turin side had gone on almost identical runs in the league leading up to this Spring title decider.
Capello’s side had lost talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović to a three-game suspension after his lashing out at Inter’s Iván Córdoba in Juve’s home defeat to the Nerazzurri and so went into the game with Alessandro Del Piero supporting David Trezeguet in attack. Ibra’s arrival in Turin combined with a series of injuries and a run of bad form looked to have consigned Del Piero to a support role for the season, with his long-term future at the club in doubt. However, when Trezeguet picked up an injury during the year, the Italian returned to the starting line-up and enjoyed one of his most successful and inspired campaigns in the Bianconeri.
It was a moment of magic from the inspired Del Piero in setting up his French teammate to head in the winner that proved decisive in the match in Milan. The game was a tactical affair and set for a deadlock that could only to be broken by a moment of fantasia. Andriy Shevchenko had failed to do so at the other end and it was Del Piero’s overhead kick inside the area allowed Trezeguet to beat Dida to the ball with his head and secure a significant advantage for Capello’s men.
Juventus went on to secure their 28th Scudetto the following week as Milan could only draw at Lecce as Juve pushed aside Parma 2-0. The season was declared null and void and Juve stripped of the title in the summer of 2006 after the Calciopoli trials, but no-one can doubt the emotion, intensity or class of football on show that Spring afternoon in Milan.