Snoozefest Or Defensive Master Class? w/ Laura Bradburn

What happens when an immovable object meets another immovable object? Well we found out just that having re-watched the Champions League final 2002/03. An All-Italian affair, contested between Juventus and Milan, one could have expected a rather tepid offensive output. Beauty however is in the eye of the beholder and so we honed in on the defensive genius of Maldini, Gattuso & Co.

Trying to help us make sense of the state of calcio around ’02/03 was Laura Bradburn. Check out her blog The Counter Press and follow her on Twitter.

Minutes after the jump: Continue reading

Internazionale vs Juventus, Serie A 1978/79

April 1979: As Internazionale and Juventus meet at San Siro, the sides are level on points. The hosts eke out the visitors on goal difference. Both, though, are unhappy with their position, sitting a respective fourth and fifth in the Serie A. With six matchdays remaining Milan are four points ahead. Only the winners could reasonably hope to catch them.

Nearly half of the Italian World Cup winning squad of 1982 is on display. Six future champions lace their boots for Juve in this match, four feature for Inter. The two coaches who would help shape this emerging generation of Italian talent were recent managerial additions for their clubs. Eugenio Bersellini had only just taken over as the Nerazzurri head coach in the summer of ‘77. In his first season in charge, Inter finished fifth but claimed their first Coppa since 1939.

Giovanni Trapattoni had a year’s head start on Bersellini. In 77/78, his second of ten seasons in Torino had netted the second consecutive Scudetto. Of 30 matches the Bianconeri only lost one. Defence was their claim to fame. A stretch from late November ‘77 to mid March ‘78 saw Juve concede just two goals in 16 league matches, one coming via penalty. Goals were hard to come by at both ends of the pitch. Roberto Bettega was the team’s top goal scorer with just 11 goals to his name. For contrast: young Paolo Rossi had netted 24 times for Vicenza. Continue reading

Retro Recap: Lazio vs Juventus, Serie A, March 18th 2001

For most of the ’90s Milan and Juventus had a stranglehold on the Serie A. But, as the new millenium dawned, Rome ruled the roost. Lazio won the 99/00 Scudetto, while Roma claimed top honours in 00/01.

Lazio were able to spend silly money under the ownership of Sergio Cragnotti, bringing in a slew of stars every summer. It was fun while it lasted. And, in March 2001, Lazio were still very much in the mix. As they hosted Juventus both needed to win in order to catch up with Roma who led the pack. We watched the match.

Minutes to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 What’s this all about?
  • 0:02:45 Cragnotti at Lazio
  • 0:09:00 Line-ups
  • 0:15:40 First Blood to Lazio
  • 0:21:10 Lazio start second half brightly
  • 0:24:45 Juve score with 10 men
  • 0:28:30 Lazio’s subs shine

Highlights!

Full Speed Ahead Barcelona, Or: The CL Season 1998/99 In Review (S01E07.1)

We’ve made it. The match we’ve been working towards. The mother of all comebacks. Of course we went so far down the rabbit hole, that we split the episode up.

In Part One we cover the Champions League season 1998/99, and in detail the path the finalists took to get to Barcelona: Manchester United of England and Bayern Munich of Germany. Topics include Beckham’s summer ’98, the managerial musical chairs of Munich and the learning curve of United’s Class of ’92. Throw in some extra tangents and you end up with a stand-alone episode and a great nostalgia trip.

The minutes, in case you want to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Memories of the night
  • 0:05:45 England’s exit at France ’98, backlash against Beckham
  • 0:12:45 United’s mentality under Ferguson, missing out on silverware in ’97/98, re-tooling
  • 0:20:40 CL format, qualifiers
  • 0:24:00 State of Bayern Munich in the 90s (managers and performances)
  • 0:35:00 Enter Hitzfeld
  • 0:42:00 Group D for death (United vs Bayern I & II)
  • 0:53:30 Knock-out draw, Quarter-finals (United vs Inter, Bayern vs Kaiserslautern)
  • 1:04:00 United in the CL before ’98/99 retrospective
  • 1:11:30 Semi-finals, United vs Juve
  • 1:16:30 Bayern vs Kiev, a Basler restrospective
  • 1:24:00 End of the season run-ins

As full games go, here’s the match that sent United to Barcelona – their semi-final win in Turin:

CL Final 1997/98, Real Madrid vs Juventus; Doping in Football (S01E06.2)

After covering the history of Real Madrid in-depth in Part 1 as well as looking at the 97/98 season and the lead-up to the final, it’s time to actually talk about the match: Juventus are back for a third CL final in a row, having won their first and lost their second. Real Madrid have been waiting 32 years for La Séptima.

Here’s the audio (the arrow in the top right corner gets you an mp3 to download):

Here are the minutes, if you want to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Intro
  • 0:01:30 What are Elo ratings? And how do they apply in (historical) football?
  • 0:06:30 The eve of the match
  • 0:11:00 Refs, kits, line-ups
  • 0:18:00 Kickoff, frantic start, general approach
  • 0:25:30 Zidane’s influence, penalty to Madrid?
  • 0:30:00 Madrid closer to the opening goal (Raul, Morientes)
  • 0:36:00 Davids vs Seedorf Pt 1, Madrid in command after the break
  • 0:42:15 Juve’s tactical changes & resurgence (Inzaghi twice), but Madrid
  • 0:46:00 Juve dial up the pace, finally throw in Conte
  • 0:51:30 Again no plan B for Juve?
  • 0:55:00 Handbags all around, Davids vs Seedorf Pt 2
  • 1:00:00 Awards & recommendation
  • 1:04:45 Aftermath, Heynckes out, Italian media reaction
  • 1:07:30 Court case against Juve’s medical team & doping in football
  • 1:22:00 Signing off

Awards! Our Man Of The Match went to Fernando Hierro, Best Hair to Antonio Conte. Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids earned commemorative plaques for their Outstanding Contribution in Man-to-Man Combat on the field. Case in point:

In the aftermath we covered the Juve doping scandal in detail. (YouTube to follow!) Years after their mid-90s dominance Roma’s former coach Zdeněk Zeman made thinly-veiled accusations that Juve’s success might have been aided by pharmaceuticals of the banned variety. This prompted an investigation, a court case, fines and jail sentences. To find out more, jump to around the 1h07m mark in the episode.

Further reading: In praise of Fernando Hierro, Real Madrid’s complete leader (These Football Times)

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