Before the start of championship "Juventus" won "Milan" in Berlusconi Cup and lost "Lazio" in Italian Supercup, and "Lazio" was really stronger, and it was quite vexing.
The first lap, notwithstanding of the obtained victory, did not give purpose to optimism - the score 4:3 with plain "Peruggia" compelled to think a lot. Team's leaders - Zidane, DelPiero and Inzaghi resembled only their grave shades, and Lippi recognized that if not Pessotto, Davids and Tudor, bianco-neri would loose the points. But despite of all fears, at the beginning of championship Juventus was one of the top teams. In the 6th lap he met on his field the vice-champion - "Internazionale", and the match showed that both favourites of the last season were far from optimal state. In cruel game bianco-neri triumphed, but without Davids and Zidane, who were disqualified during the game. Therefore, the absense of two main midfields did not influence much the play of scudetto's owner on the week to come, when he defeated "Sampdoria" thanks to two Inzaghi's goals, and climbed the top of tournament table. It seemed that Juve's play was getting better. Pitifully, as the followed events showed, it was not true. On the next week Juve played a draw in Udinese, that was not a tragedy by itself, but in that game DelPiero broke his leg, and after that the fall started... Already in the next lap "Roma" demonstrated who was stronger from the point of view of the game. As to "stronger" in plain meaning, nobody doubted that "Juventus" was better as during the game Montero showed that capable not only to play footbal, having won a boxing round with some of roman players. The next game gave only point from "Empoli", and then were 0:3 from "Bologna", and two in a row minimal defeats from "Lazio" and "Fiorentina". "Juventus" did not score for a five laps in a row! Having crashed "Salernitana" 3:0, Juve presented three draws 1:1 with "Milan", "Bari" and "Venezia", which were not the hardest rivals. Then "Fiorentina" was leading, and "Lazio" was considered to be the only it's competitor. The match "Milan" - "Juventus" was called as "the battle of fallen titans", as to the specialists' opinion, the teams, which had been being the leaders of Italian football in nineteenth years of 20 century, pretended on nothig in this season. How the specialists were mistaken! Very sorry, that not in Juventus' side...
So, after the first circle of Serie A finished, "Juventus" appeared on the 9th position in tournament table. The only success was the entry into Champions League quarterfinal from not hard group, where also "Galatasaray", "Rusenborg" and "Atletic Bilbao" were. In any other time it would be difficult to find better rivals, but in this season it was a marvelous thing that "Juventus" passed through.
League for Old Signora started at home against "Galatasaray", with which, it seemed none troubles should be - as to the habit even fans showed no passion to see League's match (only 37 000 were present at stadium)... "Juventus" came into the field with 3 forwards (DelPiero, Inzaghi, Fonseca) and, having closed turkish team on it's part from the start, scored on the 17th minute. But the sharp counter-attack of the guests on the 32th minute compelled Peruzzi to play with his arms out of the penalty zone, and he was sent off - bianco-neri had now only 10 players... Then "Galatasaray" scored twice, but Birindelli equalized the score after the cross from the free kick on the 68th minute. It was unpleasant draw, but it seemed that Juve would get his share of points in the future. But...
The next match italian champion spent against "Rusenborg", and hardly saved himself in Tronhaim. Having scored on the 27th minute, italians dag in near their goal, and as a result twice broke the rules in the penalty zone. At first time Scammelsrud was accurate, and the secon kick was saved by Rampulla which had replaced disqualified Peruzzi. After the match norwegian coach Trond Sollid exactly admitted: " Juventus was very pathetic in the second half, and it was his luck that he got a point in Tronhaim..."
In third lap Juve came for three points to Bilbao, but again got only one, having played a draw 0:0 with basks. Therefore, Juventus still had a good chances to pass through the group tournament - in second circle two matches he had to play at home, "Rusenborg" and "Galatasaray" had five and four points accordingly against Juve's three. Lippi did not loose optimism:"Nothing is lost: victories in the rest of the matches will allow us to trod forward from the group." Quite right, but victories were absent! In the next match with basks at home Lippi's team got again only single point and had to rescue itself during the match and did it only with help of bask player Lasa. Lippi admitted good play of the rival and characterized play of his team in such way:"It had more heart than head..."
Meanwhile "Galatasaray" in Stambul had not problems with "Rusenborg", and in case of victory under Juve answered all the questions as to the winner of the group. "Juventus" needed only victory - in other case his chances were purely theoretic. The final battle was adjourned because of existed then political difficulties between Italy and Turkey, but when it at last was played (under the guard of 22 000 policemen!), all remained unresolved - draw again, and it must be admitted that turkish saved theirselves only in additional time!
Quite interesting situation appeared in the group before the last lap - three teams had possibility to come into quarterfinal. "Rusenborg" and "Juventus" quarelled in mutual meeting, and "Galatasaray" opposed "Atletic" in Bilbao. And if "Galatasaray" and "Rusenborg" held their destiny in their own hands - they needed only to defeat the foe, "Juventus" had to obtain three points and hope for the victory of basks which had nothing to loose but their face and dignity. Expressive coach of the team from Bilbao Louis Fernandes clearly showed that he was going to win his match:"When we lost in Stambul I promised that we would revange at home. I do not care a damn that turkish club needs the points and we do not. Do not doubt, we shall win. Besides, we were not quite satisfied how they had met us in Turkey, and it's notorious that basks nothing forget and do not forgive such things." Lippi also was sure as in his team so in the Fernandes' one:"We already have passed resemble situation a year before, so we do not fear. We are concious of our powers and must show all the world that "Juventus" was the superclub and remains it. I think that all depends on us. Frankly speaking, for some reason I do not doubt in Atletic's victory." These words of both coaches were rather considered as an atttempt to make the best of a bad bargian, but they appeared right - their teams triumphed - Juve 2:0 and Atletic 1:0. After the match vexed coach of "Galatasaray" Fatih Terim angrily admitted:"I am disappointed with the fact - we played better than Atletic, but missed our chances. And I hardly believe that to quarterfinal passed the team which played a draw for five times!" Lippi, of course, could not agree with him: "Sure, it is extraordinary that we've passed into play-off with the only victory, but I think that we deserved it. I think, we'll proove our strength again in quarterfinal." And Louis Fernandes quitted Champions League boldly, with his head erect high:"Before the game with turkish I promised that we would win and basks do not cast the words on the wind." Being himself, coach of "Atletic" admitted at the end:"I think that precisely we were the team that deserved more than others to pass through the group tournament. Pitifully, luck turned off us in previous games..."
So, Lippi made "Juventus" to come into quarterfinal, but there already Ancelotti ruled the team. Second circle of championship Juve started with the victory under "Peruggia", but then defeat from "Cagliari" followed, and then from "Parma", which became a weird for Lippi. Ernan Crespo made hat-trick, and cleared the way to his favourite coach, Carlo Ancelotti, to which, upon the words of the forward, he thanked for the career grouth and which now had to cure Old Signora... And really, with Ancelotti's coming Juve's game got something better - in Serie A club from Turin showed six matches without defeats and passed through quarterfinal of Champions League.
The toss chose greek "Olympiakos" as Juve's foe in quarterfinal, which had played a draw with "Rusenborg" a year before and made the same "Juventus" appear in the same quarterfinal. It was not the worst variant as it might be "Bayern", "Real" or "Manchester"... Lower then greeks, which chances were accounted as 25:1, was appreciated only "Kaiserslautern" - as 66:1. In the first match "Juventus" demonstrated that not in vain he was considered as a favourite of his pair - biggest part of the match he had a great advantage. Zidane, Inzaghi and Fonseca constantly were torturing defence of "Olympiakos", but from the plenty of moments Inzaghi used the single. And only Conte on the 79th minute appeared the great play advantage into the goal. Ancelotti decided those recieved overpoise to be decent and changed Fonseca for Birindelli. As a result italians fell back to their goal and were punished for that on the 97th (!) minute. Spainish referee Garcia Aranda absurdly prolonged the game, greeks got a fair penalty (Peruzzi knocked down Alexandris), and Niniadis scored. Chances of "Olympiakos" unexpectedly grew up highly, and that fact was accented on by greek coach Dusan Bajevic who boldly claimed:" Juventus has little chances to pass through us. The kick of Niniadis changed all." Carlo Ancelotti apparently had to agree with him. Louis Fernandes on his place, for shure, would say that it was rival's luck and that in the next game his team would tear the foe into pieces. But italian coach was greatly vexed:"We have left the field physically and morally devastated. We did not deserve such result. I do not want to discuss the penalty but have to say that if to supply the time for eternity - seven minutes! - something of this kind would happen. More than that, arbiter showed that added four minutes and the ball in our goal appeared at the end of the sixth!" Ancelotti's fears became true in Athens quite fast - Gogic scored necessary ball on the 12th minute and now already "Juventus" had to score. But it seemed that italians were not even thinking about that, had been playing with the ball till the 80th minute after which rushed into fierce attacks which resulted with Conte's goal on the 85th minute. Juventus passed to the next round.
Then there were hopeful match in Manchester and great disappointment in Turin, after which also in championship things went worse, and after the finish of the season in Serie A, in addition to all mishaps, Juve lost to "Udinese" the right to play in UEFA Cup. Ancelotti started good, but finished... Well, it only remained to hope that he would be able to create new team in summer.
1. Antonio Conte.
If existed a ray of light in "Juventus" in that season, it was Antonio Conte. And if the beginning of championship was good for the team, it was not good for Antonio. I do not know what black cat had run between Conte and Lippi, but almost at the beginning of the season Conte lost place in the main squad and in winter coach openly claimed that was going to set Antonio for transfer. It would not be happiness but unluck helped - Lippi had gone before could get rid of Conte. Carlo Ancelotti not only got him back to first squad but restored him as a captain, and Conte was reborn. Already in the second match he equaled the hopes of coach with scoring the ball to "Vicenza". After that in championship he scored twice, but the greater importance than his goals had his performance and his play, his presence on the field. Conte is a real captain, and he proved it in every match. He gave an example of bravery to his partners in hard times and showed how to play and how to win.
Of course, Conte deserved to be called the best in this season with his game, but we should not forget that exactly he made his team to appear in Champions League semifinal having scored to "Olympiakos" first in "Delle Alpi", and then in Athens for 5 minutes before the end of the match, having killed all the greek hopes. In semifinals against Manchester Conte again was one of the best, having scored very important goal in "Old Trafford". And it is not him to blame that it was not enough to pass through.
2. Filippo Inzaghi.
Filippo had cured his injure exactly by the time Ancelotti appeared in Turin. DelPiero was out of the game till the next season, and new coach had to choose a forwards. In Serie A in a pair with Inzaghi played Amoruso or Fonseca, and for the important matches of Champions League Ancelotti made unexpected but, as far as I can be a judge, the only wise in that situation choise, having left in attack Inzaghi by himself. Well, this tactical step brought good result - bianco-neri's play in midfield thanks to one more player became stronger, and Inzaghi ere in "Atalanta" got habit all the team play for him and did not miss his chances. All of the Juve's six balls in League's play-off tournament were scored by two players - Inzaghi and Conte, each by three. They really were the best, having defeated "Olympiakos" together, they almost made "Manchester United" to kneel, and only bad play in defence did not allow Old Signora to come into final. At the end we must also admit that in this seasson Inzaghi became the best team's scorer in Serie A, having scored 13 balls.
Are absent. Juve was too passive on transfer market and noone from newcomers surprised with his skills.
1. Tierri Henry.
Tierri was called from "Monaco" to strenghten attack when it became clear that Esnaider was not able to create a magic. According to Ancelotti's thoughts Henry had to strenghten attack with playing in midfield at the left wing, where he perfectly had played in World Cup. Then at home frenchmen played in attacking football and Henry, having good technic and not burden with dirty work, looked perfect. But in Italy, where border midfield has to close all the wing as well as to deprive rivals of the ball, Henry looked much worser and did not answer hopes which had been laid on him. After his leaving to "Arsenal" Henry found himself again - it appeared that he was used in wrong position and that he is a super-forward, but who cares about this now? And if Juve's coaches were more attentive they could find out their mistake - in match against "Lazio" Henry scored the only two his goals in Serie A, playing a forward against coache's will... This fact is quite roughly but wisely admitted in "Football" magazine for 2003 year:"Now Juve's experiment of using Henry exceptionally as left midfield is remembered with laugh and is considered as rare demonstration of Juve's coaches' stupidness." Quite unpleasant but quite right...
2. Juan Esnaider.
In the 8th lap of Serie A DelPiero was injured and it appeared that he'ld not be able to play untill the next season. Closely to the end of the first circle Inzaghi was injured and had to miss a couple of weeks. Lippi had to play with Fonseca and Amoruso in attack, but noone was in presence to change them. It became clear that Old Signora needed a forward who would be able to strenghten attack not only in championship but also in Champions League, and it meant that he had to had not played in eurocups in that season. The names of Dugarry, Kluivert and Kovacevic were mentioned but Esnaider came. They did not demand any wonders from him but he showed nothing. He did not score a single ball while has been being in Turin for two years! Does not it a disappointment?.. He is second because he was expected from smaller than Henry, and, accordingly, his mishap was received easilier.
1. Manchester United - Juventus FC 1:1. (Conte'25). First Champions League semifinal.
The best match in Champions League in particular and of the season in a whole. The draw with future winner of Champions Cup on it's field! Juve was first to score, controlled the game almost during the whole match and could score more - I remember quite vividly the moment when Inzaghi was too greedy to give a pass to Zidane, which was staying near the empty goal, and kicked exactly into Shmeichel from the corner of goalkeeper's square :(. And only at the end of the match, already in additional time, Manchester was able to save itself from defeat.
2. SS Lazio - Juventus FC 1:3. (Henry-2, Amoruso). 29th lap of Serie A.
And this is the best match of the season in italian championship. In the 28th lap "Lazio" was fighting in roman derby against "Roma" and not only lost it, but also was deprived of almost the whole line of defence because of injures and disqualifications. For this reason before the game with Juventus the eagles were weakened, but it was their problem - as said, sheriff is not interested in indians' problems, and Juve presented to Lazio three goals. Precisely these two defeats (from Roma and Juve), as to my mind, stole scudetto from "Lazio", having allowed "Milan" to get it.
3. Juventus FC - FC Internazionale 1:0. (DelPiero). 6th lap of Serie A.
I admit this match as one of the best only because Juve proved his superiority under last season's competitor for scudetto. From other sides this win did not give much honour - "Internazionale" then had fallen deeply than Juve (it is hard to believe but it's true :) ), the game did not surprise with quality, and in addition Zidane and Davids were booted out of the field. Why, I must admit that this victory is not worser than any other - in this season Juve had not a lot of them, and the three points are the three points in any case...
1. Bologna FC- Juventus FC 3:0. 11th lap of Serie A.
Game's destiny was defined at it's beginning. On the 3th minute Paramatti opened the score, having finished a cross from Signori. And on the 8th minute Giuseppe realized penalty which was adopted for Tudor's fall against Kenneth Andersson. With 20 minutes on David Fontolan finished Juve's crash.
2. Juventus FC - Parma AFC 2:4. (Tacchinardi'15, Fonseca'73) . 20th lap of Serie A.
The only and obvious reason for which this match became one of the worst is Lippi's dismissal which followed it. In this grey season, of course, there were more bald and headless matches, but after the defeat from "Parma" the man was gone away, who had given to "Juventus" about five years and had made it one of the strongest clubs in the world...
Tacchinardi opened score at the beginning of the match, but from to 33th till 40th minute ball appeared in Peruzzi's game for three times. Then the teams reciprocated with goals...
|1||AC Peruggia||4:3||Peruggia||Davids, Tudor, Pessotto, Fonseca|
|8||Udinese Calcio||2:2||Udine||Zidane'44, Inzaghi'50|
|18||AC Peruggia||2:1||Turin||Fonseca, Zidane|
|20||Parma AFC||2:4||Turin||Tacchinardi'15, Fonseca'73|
|21||Piacenza Calcio||2:0||Piacenza||Manigetti'44 (own goal), Birindelli'89|
|22||Vicenza Calcio||2:0||Turin||Amoruso'10, Conte'29|
|24||Udinese Calcio||2:1||Turin||Fonseca, Inzaghi|
|25||VC Sampdoria||2:1||Genua||Amoruso, Inzaghi|
|28||Bologna FC||2:2||Turin||Inzaghi, DiLivio|
|29||SS Lazio||3:1||Rome||Henry(2), Amoruso|
|30||AC Fiorentina||2:1||Turin||Inzaghi'23, Conte'86|
|33||Bari AS||1:0||Bari AS||?|
|34||AC Venezia||3:2||Turin||Conte, Inzaghi, own goal|
|2||DelPiero, Zidane, Davids, Henry|
|1||DiLivio, Pessotto, Tudor, Birindelli, Tacchinardi, Juliano|
Juventus FC - Galatasaray SK 2:2 (Inzaghi'17, Birindelli'68).
Rusenborg - Juventus FC 1:1 (Inzaghi'27).
Atletic Bilbao - Juventus FC 0:0 .
Juventus FC - Atletic Bilbao 1:1 (Lasa'68(own goal)).
Galatasaray SK - Juventus FC 1:1 (Amoruso'72).
Juventus FC - Rusenborg 2:0 (Inzaghi'16, Amoruso'36).
Juventus FC - Olympiakos 2:1 (Inzaghi'17,Conte'79).
Olympiakos - Juventus FC 1:1. (Conte'85).
Manchester United - Juventus FC 1:1 (Conte'25).
Juventus FC - Manchester United 2:3 (Inzaghi'6'11).
1. Olympiakos - Juventus FC 1:1. Conte. Second Champions League quarterfinal.
As to my mind, the most important goal in this season, which made Old Signora to play in Champions League semifinal. And alsough Juventus could not get final, you must agree with me, the one thing is to loose with dignity in semifinal to future owner of the Cup - Manchester, and the other - to be stopped in quarterfinal by greek club. By the way, playing for four years in semifinals says of something...
The goal was scored in following way. Birindelli went through the right wing and crossed to greek penalty ground. Inzaghi hampered greek goalkeeper Elefternopulos, who left the goal to catch the ball, and forgotten by defenders Conte sent it to the net. "It was something - for 4 minutes before the end to enforce to shut up a roaring 85-thousand crowd!" - Antonio remembered later.
One interesting moment is connected with this goal, and it made them to say that Heaven itself helps "Juventus". All of them still remembered of almost unreal luck which for two years in a row helped Old Signora to pass through a group tournament, when Inzaghi told to journalists how Juve scored to "Olympiakos" in Athens. Upon his words, he did not hamper Elefternopulos to catch the ball after Birindelli's serving - the leather bullet were flying too fast and obviously would overfly Filippo and target goalkeeper's hands, but... suddenly a windflaw appeared from nowhere, stopped the ball in the air, and the ball, being unable to fly any more, fell exactly at Conte's leg!
2. Manchester United - Juventus FC 1:1. Conte. First Champions League semifinal.
The goal, that presented a hope to reach final, which was killed in the second match with horrible play in defence. Zidane came near to the penalty ground by the place of left-middle and gave the ball to Davids, which sent it to the box between defenders. Conte slipped there in time with the ball and sent it with one move to the left from Smeichel corner of the goal.
1. Juventus FC - Manchester United 2:3. Cole Second Champions League semifinal.
The second ball that had flown into Peruzzi's goal in that tragic for Juve match (which was not admitted as one of the worst because of the perfect first 15 minutes and two Inzaghi's masterpieces - how he cheated Stam, vow! Well, the speech now is about other things...) Why exactly this goal? The first Keane's one resolved nothing, but already before third Yorke's all was clear...
2. Galatasaray SK - Juventus FC 1:1. Suat'90+. 5th lap of Champions League Group tournament.
This goal almost buried all Juve's hopes to play in quarterfinal. Montero brought down Arif near penalty ground and the kick was performed by Hagi by sending the ball closer to the goal. Tudor missed Arif's rush, but thanks to his giant height could touch it... having sent it to Suat, who had only target the goal from two meters.
|6||Manuel Marques Dimas||Left||Portugal|
|26||Edgar Davids||Left central||Netherlands|
Numbers of players of the main squad are colored with blue, of the players frequently represented in main squad - with green, rare representsd - with white.
|In||Former team||Out||Next team|
|Zoran Mirkovic||Atalanta (Italy)||Moreno Toricelli||Fiorentina (Italy)|
|Pier Giorgio Rigoseni||Atalanta (Italy)||Manuel Marques Dimas||Fenerbahce (Turkey)|
|Igor Tudor||Jaiduk Split (Groatia)||Rafael Ametrano||Udinese (Italy)|
|Gosleinne Blanchard||Metz (France)|
|Juan Esnaider||Espanol (Spain)|
|Tierri Henry||Monaco (France)|
At the end of the first circle Juan Esnaider came and Dimas left the team, at the middle of the second circle Tierri Henry came and got former Dimas' shirt number.
|Technical||Official in Serie A||Official in Champions League|
Mark: 2 (from 15)
Realisation of opportunities: 13%
Awful season. Juve not only fell into sixth position but even lost the right to play in UEFA Cup to "Udinese" and, as a result, had to play in the next season in INTERTOTO Cup. The only achievement we can account is Champions League semifinal. And alsough "Juventus" is not from those clubs who can proud with that fact, but in comparison with the games of national championship and of the next three euro-seasons it was success.
What was the cause of such unexpected and painful fall? Of course, may be, players became tired from victories and lost motivation, but it can be said about small part of the players, such as Deschamps and Conte, which by wicked tongues were accused of craeting jiggery-pokery against Lippi in the team. Frankly speaking, I hardly believe it. It is plain ('plain like corner of a building' as one colonel, whom I used to know, would say) to understand and explain that Conte, whom Lippi was going to sent on transfer, had no reasons to adore the coach, but it is hard to believe that such player, who gives all himself to the game and spare neither troubles nor health to win, can loose motivation. It's quite possible that the evil influence on the players caused Lippi's intent to leave the club after the end of the season, and Lippi even did not try to hide it, already being in his imagination in Milan in head of "Internazionale". Sure, this ocassion did not help to strenghten a discipline in the team and to grow up it's moral. Anyway, all the reasons of moral, will, emotional and psycologic character are hidden from the outer sight and stranger hardly can judge about them, but another reasons are obvious, and I would like to make an accent on the two of them.
The first is obvious lack of players, which became a result of club's superpassive behaviour on transfer market. Only Tudor, Mirkovic and Blanchard joined the team in summer. Mirkovic was who he was - just a good player, who can reliably play in defence, close a wing, but not more - it is not a man, who is able to influence result of a match by himself, because he does not have to, it is not his task. From this point of view he is very similar with Dimas, who was sold before. Here we may ask Juve's bosses why to change euro for hundred cents. Tudor, alsough was talanted, was too young to distinguish himself on such high level, and what a riddle was Blanchard, I think, did not understand not only I by myself, but the biggest part of Juve's fans. Somebody can admit that the team, alsough did not get stronger, but also did not loose a single main player and preserved the squad which had reached perfect results in previous season. Quite right, but then appears the second reason - injures. Seasons are not similar - in 1998 Juventus was lucky not to loose main players because of injures, in exception of Ferrara, whom Juliano was able to replace. In 1999 "Juventus" lost not only Ferrara, who was loaned to recreate into "Salernitana", but also DelPiero, and then Inzaghi for some time, and had to play without leading forwards, whom Amoruso and Fonseca just were not able to replace. Then Zidane was severely injured and he played only on his will, being conscious that the team would live hard days if lost also him, and he went to operation only when all was lost to Juve. Also we should remember that Zizou played the first part of the season badly for some reason - either for World Cup games or for the vacations that folowed it . As a result, somehow or other, all the leaders quitted the game, and "Juventus" had neither equal nor approximate shift for them, in difference with the season of 1997...
Club bosses recognized own mistake in the middle of the season, but changed nothing with their spasmodic and headless deeds. At first Ferrara was returned from loan to gag holes in the defence but he was far from his best. Then to strenghten attack Esnaider was bought but played much worser than Fonseca and Amoruso - he became a Blanchard in attack, as in meaning of game's quality, so in the meaning of the sense of bosses' decision. Lately Henry came, who had glittered in "Monaco" and who at once faded in Italy, as appeared, because had to play in the wrong position - and it's again, particulary, means a transfer mistake. I think that it would be much greater use if not both Henry and Esnaider were bought, but Kovacevic by himself, talks on whom started already in winter but were finished only in summer.