Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soccer Memories-Part 19

Marcelo Lippi, The Rebirth of Juventus

(Note: I would like to once again thank http://www.zani.co.uk/ for uploading this article http://www.zani.co.uk/marcelo-lippi-the-rebirth-of-juventus )

When Giovanni Trapattoni departed as Juventus Manager (for the second time) in 1994, Juventus had not won the Scudetto since 1986, an eternity for a team of their standing.
They had won a couple of UEFA Cups during that spell, however, the Serie A title eluded them.
AC Milan had just won their third straight League Title and were effectively the best team in Europe.
During this year, 1994, the Fiat and Juventus owners (Gianni and Umberto Agnelli) decided for a new change in executive leadership more in tune for the modern era.
Long Term President Giampiero Boniperti departed (also for a second time) and a new triumvirate was formed consisting of former star Roberto Bettega, Antonio Giraudo and Luciano Moggi.

Photo From: France Football, May 2, 1995
(Roberto Bettega and the outgoing Boniperti, Marcelo Lippi and Didier Deschamps)

The new Management was very finance oriented and sought to limit costs as much as possible.
Many felt the decision to dispense of Trapattoni was a cost saving measure due to his salary.
In his place came a relative unknown Manager named Marcello Lippi. He had managed in successive seasons two teams to creditable showings with limited means, Atalanta (1992/93) and Napoli (1993/94).
No one could have foreseen that this appointment would transform Juventus’ fortunes.
In terms of player transfers, Brazilian defender Julio Cesar and German midfielder Andreas Moeller were jointly transferred to Germany’s ambitious Borussia Dortmund.
International midfielder Dino Baggio was transferred to rivals Parma. At first Baggio refused, but changed his mind after he saw the Juventus hierarchy had no confidence in him.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 82, November 1995
(Gianluca Vialli, 1995/96)

Juventus nearly lost Alessandro Del Piero to Parma in the process, until Baggio’s transfer nullified the agreement.
Long serving Roberto Galia was also transferred out after six seasons.
Lippi brought with him from Napoli, former International defender Ciro Ferrara, who had been overlooked by the new National Team Regime of Arrigo Sacchi.
Croatia’s Robert Jarni and another former International Luca Fusi joined from cross-town rivals Torino, while future International Alessio Tacchinardi joined from relegated Atalanta.
Portuguese midfielder Paulo Sousa was signed from Sporting Lisbon and French International midfielder Didier Deschamps arrived from Olympique Marseille.
Most importantly, Lippi brought with him a physical trainer named Giampiero Ventrone whose training regimen would be credited for strengthening the squad and playing a key role in winning the League title.
Juventus started the 1994/95 season at a slow pace, they were picking up wins and points but were far from looking like potential champions.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 75, April 1995
(Antonio Conte and Alessandro Del Piero, 1994/95)

Captain Roberto Baggio was injured in the early parts of the season and would go on to miss half of the league campaign.
This gave an opportunity for the young Alessandro Del Piero to show his worth and he would turn out to be the revelation of the season and go on to be one of Juventus’ longest serving players.
He seized his opportunity much like fellow striker Fabrizio Ravanelli (‘La Penna Bianca’) who had gained valuable playing time the previous season, due to the long-term injury of Gianluca Vialli.
Both Del Piero and Ravanelli became catalysts in Juventus’ glorious season.
Gianluca Vialli (captain in the absence of injured Baggio) was also finally fit after two injury stained seasons.
He had his best season at Juventus and finished as its top goalscorer.
Perhaps the match that underlined Juventus’ credentials and made themselves believe that they could win the title was the home match vs. Fiorentina on December 4, 1994.
Juventus fell behind 0-2 in the first half and it looked like they were heading for a defeat.
However, Juventus came back galvanized in the second half and scored three unanswered goals through the back-in-form Gianluca Vialli (two goals) and a beautiful chip from Alessandro Del Piero.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 76, May 1995
(Fabrizio Ravanelli during the April 1995 UEFA Cup Semi-Finals series vs. Borussia Dortmund)

The following week they defeated title challengers Lazio away by a score of 4 to 3 and overtook the League leading position.
By now it was apparent that this Juventus could score many goals, but that the defense may not be as tight.
This was a Juventus that played to win even in away matches, and not try to tie, as would have been the customary tactic of many coaches.
By the turn of the year (1995), the top of the table clash took place at Parma, with Juventus as League leaders and Parma hot on their heels.
Despite falling behind in the second half, Juventus did not give up and kept pressing and scored three times against their nearest challengers away from home.
By spring time Juventus looked odds on favorites to triumph in the League, they were winning consistently, though they would lose the occasional match.
This was the first season that the Italian League was on a three points for a win system and Juventus benefited greatly form this. The team’s attacking and winning mentality was tailor made for this system.

Photo From: World Soccer, August 1995
(Roberto Baggio, April 30, 1995, Fiorentina 1-Juventus 4)

The importance of Physical trainer Giampiero Ventrone was also becoming more obvious as the players seemed fresh and invincible.
A number of players claimed that they were so fresh at the end of a match that at times they could play another match right after it.
Gianluca Vialli had said that in the beginning his training was so grueling that he would vomit, but he could see the dividends as they were so fit and less tired in the key late stages of matches.
By springtime, goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi had been elevated as Italy’s number one goalkeeper and Fabrizio Ravanelli and Alessandro Del Piero had earned their first caps.
By the end of the season, Ciro Ferrara would also be back in the International fold, however, despite public clamor Gianluca Vialli was still overlooked by Arrigo Sacchi.
Juventus had also advanced in the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup competitions and reached the Final of both competitions.
In May, Juventus were defeated in the Finals of the UEFA Cup to their Italian rivals Parma, but defeated the same team a few days later (4 to 0) in the League to claim their first Scudetto in 9 years.

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(Didier Deschmaps)

Lippi’s attack oriented squad had managed to win 23 out of their 34 League matches that season; eleven of those wins were away from home.
While not very solid defensively, their offensive punch more than made up for it.
They also defeated Parma in the Finals of Coppa Italia to claim the double.

World Soccer, September 1995
(Marcelo Lippi after Juventus clinched the double, June 11, 1995, Coppa Italia, Parma 0-Juventus 2)

At the conclusion of the season, Roberto Baggio found himself the victim of the austerity measures of this new business oriented Juventus.
He would not accept a reduction in his salary; therefore he transferred out and joined AC Milan.
His loss was not considered critical as Del Piero was seen as the future of Juventus.
Similarly, German defender Jurgen Kohler was transferred to Borussia Dortmund after four solid seasons.
Juventus raided Sampdoria and acquired a trio of veteran defender Pietro Vierchowod, International winger Attilio Lombardo and Yugoslav midfielder Vladimir Jugovic.
From Torino came defender Gianluca Pessotto and Michele Padovano arrived from Reggiana as an attacking option.
Future Argentina Captain Juan Pablo Sorin also joined from Argentinos Juniors, though his stay was short lived and departed after a few months.
For the 1995/96 season, Juventus concentrated more in the Champions League and were off the pace in the League and finished runners-up to AC Milan.
However, they did manage to win the coveted Champions League by defeating defending Champions Ajax Amsterdam in a penalty kick shoot-out.
This win ended a cycle for Juventus, as the Management sought to rejuvenate the team before stagnation had set in place.
Despite the success of this squad, the managing triumvirate were convinced that in the past Juventus had not replaced players in time and the squad had suffered and in the process lost time as well as financial benefits from the transfer of these players at higher prices.
With the Bosman Ruling now in effect, many players could leave to other Leagues for higher fees.
Captain Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli departed to the English Premier League (Chelsea and Middlesbrough respectively).
Veterans Pietro Vierchowod, Massimo Carrera and Giancarlo Marocchi were all transferred out to other Italian clubs.
After a somewhat disappointing second season, Portuguese midfielder Paulo Sousa was transferred to Borussia Dortmund (a favorite destination of former Serie A and specially Juventus players).
Young up and coming stars were acquired to present a much younger and competitive Juventus.
From Atalanta arrived young striker Christian Vieri and rugged Uruguayan defender Paolo Montero.
Croatian forward Alen Boksic arrived from Lazio and defender Mark Iuliano arrived from Salernitana.
Italian striker Nicola Amoruso joined from Padova.
Most importantly young French playmaker Zinedine Zidane arrived from Bordeaux after making all of Italy take notice following his starring role in the elimination of AC Milan from the UEFA Cup in March of 1996.
After a slow start much like Platini a decade before him, Zidane adapted to the Serie A and made a significant contribution to Juventus’ winning season.

Photo From: World Soccer, February 1999
(Juventus’ Zinedine Zidane with the 1998 Ballon d’Or)

This younger squad regained the Scudetto title for the 1996/97 season and also lifted the UEFA Super Cup (vs. Paris St Germain) and the Intercontinental Cup (vs. River Plate).
The highlight of the season was perhaps the demolition of AC Milan by a score of 6 to 1 in April away from home. In a way this match heralded the end of the great AC Milan generation and a power shift to Juventus.
By now Christian Vieri had become a full International and was the toast of Italy and a much sought after player.
Juventus did manage to reach the Champions League Final once again, however, they lost to a Borussia Dortmund side containing many former Juventus players by a score of 3 to 1.
In the summer of 1997, once again the Management prioritized Fiscal concerns by selling the very in-demand striker Christian Vieri to Atletico Madrid for a large fee.
Similarly, Vladimir Jugovic and Alen Boksic were transferred to Lazio and Attilio Lombardo joined Crystal Palace and defender Sergio Porrini joined Rangers Glasgow.
Atalanta’s top goalscorer Fillipo Inzaghi arrived to replace Vieri and AS Roma’s Uruguayan striker Daniel Fonseca was added as an attacking cover option.
Italians Alessandro Birindelli and Fabio Pecchia joined from Empoli and Napoli respectively.
Midway through the season, AC Milan’s out of favor Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids joined Juventus to great effect.

Photo From: World Soccer, March 1998
(Edgar Davids)

That season, 1997/98, Brazilian striker Ronaldo had joined Internazionale Milano amid much fanfare and Inter seemed to be heading to a title triumph in the early going, however, by the second half of the season Juventus overtook them and won the Serie A title for the third time in four seasons under Lippi.
Alessandro Del Piero had an excellent season and had one of his most prolific scoring seasons and formed a successful striking partnership with Fillipo Inzaghi.

Photo From: World Soccer, June 1998
(Fillipo Inzaghi)

The Champions League was a repeat of the previous season, where Juventus reached the Final only to lose this time to Real Madrid.
This defeat seemed to signal the turning point in Lippi’s reign.
The following season (1998/99) started with AS Roma Manager Zdenek Zeman’s claim that Juventus had been using banned substances to strengthen their players.
He remarked the muscular development of Gianluca Vialli and Del Piero in the previous seasons as examples.
This prompted the State Prosecutor to investigate and disrupt Juventus’ preparations as players were summoned for questioning.
The squad was mainly unchanged; defender Moreno Torricelli had joined Fiorentina.
The arrivals included little known and uncapped French midfielder Jocelyn Blanchard from Metz, Yugoslav defender Zoran Mirkovic from Atalanta, Croatian defender Igor Tudor from Hajduk Split and Italian Simone Perrotta from Reggina, none of whom would make much of an impression.
After a solid start to the season, Alessandro Del Piero was lost to a serious injury, vs. Sampdoria on November 1st that sidelined him for the entire season.
It was after this point that Juventus’ season seemed to go downward.
Juventus suffered four losses in November and December (vs. AS Roma, Bologna, Lazio and Fiorentina) that essentially ruled them out of the title race.
Juventus also just barely qualified from their Champions League group after five consecutive ties, had left them needing to win their very last match to go through.
Despite the midseason arrivals of Argentinean Striker Juan Esnaider and young French Striker Thierry Henry, the results did not improve.
The breaking point for Lippi was Juventus’ heavy home loss vs. Parma by a score of 2 to 4 on February 7, 1999.
He resigned following this match after one loss too many.
Carlo Ancelotti, who was to take over at the end of the season, was appointed with immediate effect and somewhat salvaged Juventus’ season.
Lippi managed Internazionale Milano for the following season (1999/2000) and only the First match of the season after (2000/2001), after a public outburst against his own squad forced President Massimo Moratti to dismiss him.
During this time, Juventus under Ancelotti earned two runners-up finishes.
This was not satisfactory to the Juventus Management, so in the summer of 2001, Lippi returned to the fold to Manage Juventus once again.
He won two new Scudettos in 2002 and 2003 and once again losing in the Champions League Final vs. AC Milan in 2003.
He left Juventus in 2004, disappointed in not winning the Champions League.
He was appointed as Italy National Team Manager and lead Italy to World Cup triumph in 2006.
Upon taking over he had declared his intent to win the World Cup.
Marcello Lippi is responsible for placing Juventus in their accustomed position at the top of the Serie A after many years of disappointment, where Juventus was playing second fiddle to the Milanese clubs and even Diego Maradona’s Napoli.
He is only one of two Managers (Vicente del Bosque being the other) of having won the Champions League and the World Cup. 


  1. Excellent recap of glorius days for my favourite team. I must add that, despite winning the league with a record-low points, I've never seen anything so spectacularly effective than the 96-97 team (I was in Turin for Juve-Ajax 4-1, champion's league semifinal). Their trashing of AcMilan and PSG (6-1 away!) were legendary. Nevertheless, it seems to be remembered as lesser team compared to the one who won the first League (95) or the Champions (96). But it was younger in attack, powerful and experienced in the midfield and the defense. Too bad they failed many goals in the final vs.Dortmund (And Lippi choose Boksic instead of Del Piero as a starter)

  2. I think Del Piero had a slight injury that'w why he was not risked

  3. don't remember that, but I could be true (he scored a beautiful goal indeed). Del Piero with only one leg was better than a fully fit Boksic, anyway :-D

    1. Great post again... Lippi is an absolute legend who in my opinion never gets mentioned in the same breath as other great managers.. Juventus were a great team to watch under lippi.. And to think that the iconic black and white stripes of juve were inspired by my local team notts county ! !

    2. I obviously meant "don't forget" in my previous post. Well, you don't win a World Cup and a Champions League (and a World Cup Club!) by chance. He did it by drawing 1-1 and winning at penalties, but this means that he was also lucky. :-D

      Notts county rules!

    3. You obviously know more about juventus and have more knowledge on lippi than i do simone... But he was a great manager from what i saw.. The team of zidane del piero davids etc was a class team.. Lippi also did great with a mediocre napoli team from what i recall. He got the best out of players. His record speaks for itself. I always liked his teams because they played as a unit. He was a great tactical thinker. (he also won me money at the 2006 world cup !!) i wont mention the 2010 world cup ! ... While we are discussing juve could you give me your opinion on claudio gentile.. Was he a cheat as some people tell me or was he just a great man marker ?

  4. I meant: IT could be true (you maybe right). I remember some quarrel after the match with Lippi.

  5. as a an to man marker,Gentile must have been a coach's dream, very tough and a nightmare for anyone he marked

    1. Recently i ve been watching alot of classic games. argentina vs italy 1982 brazil vs italy 1982 a few juventus games from that era and gentile was a character!! He never got sent off for a bad foul in his career.. But ex players have said he used to spit at them, dig his finger nails into their skin and verbally abuse them ! Some of his quotes are classics ..." football is not for ballerinas " and after watching maradonas solo goal against england in 1986 gentile said.." if maradona had started that run against me, he would have finished it in hospital !" .. When kevin keegan won european player of the year gentile stated " keegan would have won no award if i had been marking him ! " .. In the games i ve saw recently gentile didnt really foul all the time.. There were a few bad tackles and dirty tricks against maradona and one bad one on zico.. Some players say he was anti-football..

  6. Do you guys know if the story of gentile tripping Keegan as he was going up to collect his ballon d'or is true or just legend?

  7. I think simone would know better than me ..but i think its a myth that gentile actually tripped keegan.. I believe he said " keegan would not have won any award if i was marking him ! ".. I can recall gentile punching a few players off the ball...animal ! But would italy have won the world cup without him ?

  8. Simone, would you know how the media assessed his replacement at juventus, Luciano favero?

  9. Del Piero was actually injured in the match against Udinese. I remember that match well, as well as the 2-4 match against Parma where Crespo scored a brilliant hattrick.

    Very good blog. However, it is a bit thin on Juve post 1999. I would like to hear your views on Lippi's second spell, particularly the transfers they made in the summer of 2001.

    1. right, my main focus was in his appointment and first years which I believe were more critical. As far as his comeback in 2001, The juventus management received ton of money from the zidane sale.
      along with Ancelotti, Edwin van der Sar was also transferred out. some thought his departure was as a scapegoat.
      With Trezeguet scoring goals, Inzaghi was surplus to requirements and was sold to AC Milan. Nedved was acquired from Lazio. A large sum as spent to bring from parma BUffon and Thuram. Thuram had been under the impression that zidane would be staying and cited that as one of his reasons to come.
      Vieri was also linked for a return, but chose to stay at Inter.
      I believe Ferrara had been out injured for a long time, so his comeback was also a contributing factor in Juventus' title win 2002. The 2002 seemed unlikely as for the majority of the season it seemed like it would Roma or Inter, but Juve edged out in the end. A significant factor was Del Piero ragianing his goalscoring touch after a couple of difficult seasons following his serious injury suffered in 1998.