Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Giancarlo Rinaldi On January - 17 - 2012

The Eternal Italian Football Rivalry Milan Meets Juventus

The last time they finished first and second in Serie A has been cancelled from the record books by the Calciopoli scandal. Prior to that, you have to go back 16 years to find a time when they filled the champions and runners-up spot in the league table. So we should really give a warm welcome to a Juventus versus Milan Scudetto fight - it has certainly been a while.

Of course, Udinese might have something to say this season and it may even be too soon to count Lazio, Inter or even Roma out. But the fact remains that the Bianconeri and Rossoneri look like the prime contenders to be celebrating the title come the summer. It has echoes of tussles which have written the history of the Italian game.

Their most recent skirmish was in 1995/96 when Fabio Capello delivered his final Scudetto to the Milanese faithful. With Juve having their eyes firmly fixed on Champions League glory - which they secured with victory over Ajax - it was a pretty one-sided battle. In truth, both teams finished the season with a smile on their face.

It had been much closer a couple of years prior to that. On 31 October 2021 it appeared that something seismic had happened. After 72 uninterrupted rounds of Serie A football dating back to more than two years earlier, Milan were deposed from the top of the table by both Juventus and Sampdoria. There were those who thought it signalled the beginning of the end for Don Fabio’s side. How wrong they would prove to be.

Despite scoring little more than a goal a game all season long, the red-and-black hoards hauled themselves back to the top of the table courtesy of a miserly defence. Nobody proved more stingy than goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi who went 929 minutes without conceding a goal. It beat a record Dino Zoff had held for more than 20 years and laid the foundations for a league triumph. A Roby Baggio inspired Juve finished three points adrift at the end of the season but that was the closest they had been for many weeks.

For the real drama of this Turin-Milan rivalry, you have to delve back a good deal further. Not to 1991/92 - when Milan were a comfortable eight points clear of Juve - but to 1972/73. It is a campaign which many still reckon was the most hard-fought and exciting of the post-war era.

The reasons are not too hard to see. Coming into the final day of the season no fewer than three sides were in the hunt for the Scudetto - the interlopers were Lazio - and all three of them were playing away from home. The Bianconeri were on the road to Roma, the Biancocelesti headed to the San Paolo to face Napoli and the Rossoneri ventured to a ground which would haunt them over the years - the Bentegodi to play Hellas Verona.

Milan started the day in pole position with a single point advantage over their rivals but by half time the situation had changed dramatically. Gianni Rivera and company were 3-1 down to the Veronese, Juve were also behind to a single strike in Rome while Lazio were locked at 0-0 in Naples. A play-off looked the most likely outcome.

Indeed, when Jose Altafini helped the Bianconeri draw level a most incredible situation arose. With just minutes left in the 30-match season, all three sides had gathered the same number of points. Something had to give, however, and it eventually did so in the Stadio Olimpico.

It was Antonello Cuccureddu who scored the vital goal for Juve giving them a 2-1 comeback triumph. Milan crumbled to a 5-3 humiliation and a late goal for Napoli also sent Lazio spinning to defeat. Coach Cestmir Vycpalek had masterminded one of the most improbable Scudetti in the long list won by La Vecchia Signora.

In truth, the season prior to that had been a pretty tense one too. That time around it was Torino’s turn to find themselves still in the hunt on the final day along with Milan and Juve. This time it was the Bianconeri who enjoyed a point advantage over their rivals but they were in no mood to dish out any sliver of hope. Within half an hour they were two goals to the good against Vicenza and never looked back. It would signal the start of a golden era for the club.

The other post-war encounters between Juve and Milan at the business end of Serie A have been surprisingly few. In 1960/61, the table tells that they finished first and second but it was a season characterised by a much more bitter battle between the Turin side and Inter. It would culminate in the Nerazzurri sending their youth team out to get beaten 9-1 in a replayed match with the Bianconeri which had originally been awarded to them due to crowds being too close to the pitch.

Nearly a decade before that, the Juventini had the edge over Milan on a couple of occasions - in 1949/50 and 1951/52 but both were pretty convincing triumphs. They were the days of Giampiero Boniperti leading the attack and the Danish influence of Karl Praest and John Hansen in their ranks. Milan, for their part, would win a Scudetto sandwiched between those two victories with their Swedish trio of Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm.

That completes the story of their battles in the modern era but this campaign has all the elements of being one of the most memorable yet. Antonio Conte’s side set the early pace but Max Allegri’s men have closed in on them with immense determination. The shadows of some of the greatest names ever to have graced Serie A will be following their every step.


A more recent title contest between these giants of Italian football

Champions League Final 2002-03 extra-time penalty kicks with Italian commentary

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