martedì 27 agosto 2013

Milan suffers Verona's curse: 1973, 1990 and last saturday

When the rossoneri visited the Bentegodi, the Milanese side found themselves on the wrong side of history

Saturday afternoon. In the first act of Serie A Tim, Milan loses 2-1 to Hellas Verona. For the gialloblu - one Scudetto in their history (1984-1985) - it was the first match in Serie A after eleven years of hardship between the second and third division. Notwithstanding this unforgettable debut, the main objective of Mandorlini's team will be to stay in Serie A. Luca Toni - 36 years old striker, World Champion in Germany 2006 - scored a double against the rossoneri and will represent the ace up their sleeve. At the same time, we know that Massimiliano Allegri's teams usually have a hard time in the first part of the season. Apart from that, can Milan supporters smile after this defeat? This could in fact be the odd paradox of the first Serie A Tim match day. Yes, because matchups between H. Verona and Milan have a special place in the history of Italian football and very often when Milan visited the Bentegodi in the final part of the season, the Milanese side found themselves on the wrong side of history.

1972-1973 - On 16 May, Milan wins the Coppa delle Coppe (UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) against Leeds United in Thessaloniki. Four days later, Nereo Rocco's Milan can also win its tenth Scudetto (the so called “Scudetto della stella”, as every club in Italy is awarded a star for every 10 league titles). The last match will take place in Verona, against Hellas. On the stands, 30.000 rossoneri supporters. Juventus and Lazio are tied for second place in Serie A with Milan 1 point ahead. The Bianconeri face Roma at the Olimpico and Lazio visit Napoli. Alfred Hitchcock himself couldn’t have written a more thrilling ending. At the half, H. Verona leads 3-1. At the end of the match H. Verona beats Milan 5-3; Roma-Juventus 1-2 and Napoli-Lazio 1-0. Juventus are crowned Italian Champions thanks to a last-minute goal. The press will coin a new definition, the Fatal Verona.

1989-1990 - Arrigo Sacchi's Milan is the best team in the world. Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard are the brightest stars of a star-studded group. Their main opponent for the Scudetto is Ferlaino’s Napoli, led by Maradona, Careca and Alemão. Milan and Napoli have 47 points apiece, and the last two matches of the season will be breathless. Napoli will play away against Bologna and at home against Lazio. Milan, on the other hand, must go back to play a decisive match in Verona - the Fatal - before the last match against Bari. Hellas is in a bad table position and will put up a fierce struggle; moreover History is on their side. In the first fifteen minutes, in Bologna, Napoli scores three times with Careca, Maradona and Francini (2-4 the final result). At the Bentegodi Stadium, Milan leads 1-0 at the end of first half. But in the 63rd minute, Sotomayor, Argentinian defender, jumps very high and scores with a header. Rijkaard and Van Basten are sent off in a questionable way, before the deciding goal by Pellegrini in the 89th minute. Milan lost 2-1. The following Sunday, Hellas would be relegated to the Second Division, Napoli would defeat Lazio to be crowned Champion for the second time and Milan would burst into tears. Verona was again fatal for the Devil.

2013-2014 - Now, we just have one question for Il Diavolo: to be or not to be happy after this first match? But then again, Verona is the city of Romeo and Juliet and there’s no time for soliloquys. The Fatal Verona can be filed already. It was only the opening act of a year-long script that is still to be written.

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