The Gentleman Ultra

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Remember when? Last minute Milan slayed Sven

Sven-Göran Eriksson took his Lazio side north to the San Siro to face fellow title challengers AC Milan. The Rossoneri were on the back of a three game winless streak, so the pressure was beginning to mount on Alberto Zaccheroni and his men.  It didn’t get much harder than a Lazio team  with the likes of Pavel Nedved, Roberto Mancini, Siniša Mihajlović, Christian Vieri and Marcelo Salas all ready to light up the San Siro.

Milan welcomed back Roberto Donadoni and Massimo Ambrosini but had to do with out Zvonimir Boban. As for Lazio, Fernando Couto and Sergio Conceiçao would miss out but Sinisa Mihajlovic, Dejan Stankovic and Pavel Nedved all returned to the squad.

Lazio started the game brighter and seemed hungrier perhaps due to the shock 2-0 defeat away to Venezia the week before.

The first real chance came on the 10th minute as Sinisa Mihajlovic sent in a whipped free kick from the left foot. This whipped right across the Milan six yard box however, Salas just couldn’t connect and sent the ball wide.

Milan settled after a poor start and they came close to taking the lead as George Weah headed down a long ball to Maurizio Ganz, he cut inside to shoot but Paolo Negro got in a last ditch slide tackle. This sent the ball onto the cross bar with Luca Marchegiani beaten.

Zaccheroni’s men were on top now and George Weah was starting to cause problems. He forced a comfortable save out of Marchegiani with a snap shot from the edge of the box. Lazio’s custodian again would deny Weah moments later, after a lovely Milan move. The Lazio stopper smothered low to his right, to frustrate the Liberian striker. It was Oliver Bierhoff’s turn next to waste a good chance as Weah split the defence with an incredible pass but the big German just couldn’t get a clean strike on it and Marchegiani saved again.

As half time fast approached AC Milan really should have taken the lead as George Weah picked out Oliver Bierhoff at the back post, unmarked he had all the time in the world to pick out his two strike partners. They were unmarked at the opposite post and he could and should have burst the net himself, instead it was neither a cross or a shot and the ball rolled out for a goal kick. The Rossoneri faithful were beginning to get frustrated as Bierhoff blazed over another glorious chance moments later.

Both sides went in level at the break, Zaccheroni looked the happier of the two coaches as he knew if his team kept this dominance, it would only be a matter of time before they scored. As for Erikkson I’m sure he had a few harsh words for his under-performing stars.

The second half began as the first ended with Weah, Beirhoff and Ganz causing all sorts of trouble for Lazio. The Liberian thought he’d broken the deadlock with a fine strike from the edge of the box, only for it to be ruled out as his two strike partners were both offside. Zaccheroni decided to change things as Brazilian Leonardo replaced Maurizio Ganz. This change almost worked immediately, as Leonardo burst down the right into the Lazio box only to fire wide of Marchegiani’s goal.

Milan had to stay switched on though as Roberto Mancini fired a warning shot just over the bar from 20 yards with Sebastiano Rossi beaten. Nedved was next to beat Rossi but his effort was off target too.

On came Roberto Donadoni for Milan as they pressed for that vital goal which would eventually did come in the 90th minute. Substitute Leonardo let fly from the edge of the box to beat Marchegiani low at his near post sparking wild celebration. It was nothing more than they deserved and they knew the points were in the bag.


They might not be title challengers any more but we should still be in for an intriguing game as Filippo Inzaghi’s new look Milan welcome Lazio to San Siro this weekend.

http://youtu.be/9ep3lWsLoGY

By Giovanni Dougall

Filed under lazio milan serie a 1998 stadio olimpico leonardo

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Six minutes of winter madness in the Delle Alpi

Torino 1-2 Inter (1992/93)

Inter were a much changed team at the start of the 1992/93 season.  They had sold their three German internationals Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann back to the Bundesliga after a poor year the season the year before. This was a new era with some new talent.

In the pre-season the Nerazzurri had brought in some new foreign talent and mixed it with some of the best in Italy. Walter Zenga was still at the club as was Guiseppe Bergomi and Riccardo Ferri firming up the back.  Davide Fontolan and Nicola Berti were still marshalling the midfield and Matthias Sammer and Igor Shalimov were brought in increase the danger from that part of the field. Up front, Italia 90 legend Salvatore Schillaci, was teamed up with Ruben Sosa and Darko Pancev.

It was a frosty January day when the Stadio Delle Apli awaited the teams on match day 17. The sun was trying desperately to break through the clouds as the players came onto the pitch in the afternoon. Torino were disappointing in Serie A but were doing extremely well in the Cup Winners Cup that year, their team certainly had some talent that year also. Luca Marchegiani, Guilio Falcone, Paolo Poggi, Enzo Scifo and Carlos Aguilera were just some of the players facing the Nerazzurri.

Torino had however, drawn three and lost four in their last seven but despite this 31,879 spectators braved the frosty weather and set out in hope that their team could overturn Inter. The Milanese club had in contrast won their last three games scoring nine goals in the process. The new look Inter had been privy to some poor performances this term but overall it was a good season so far.

The first half promised much but offered little. One common feature throughout the game was the link up play between Fontolan and Sosa and this was seen early on as the former blasted over the bar after the Uruguayan had crossed the ball in.

Torino had been woken up by this early chance and replied with a Roberto Mussi header that was cleared just off the line. Walter Casagrande also huffed and puffed and as Enzo Scifo pulled the strings in the midfield ‘Toro’ left the field after the first half looking more dangerous.

The second half got off to a slow start but when Inter won a corner on 60 minutes, a rash challenge saw Berti scythed to the ground. The penalty was awarded and Ruben Sosa obliged, smashing the ball down the middle of the goal.

The second goal came unbelievably a minute later and again it went to Inter. The lesser known and lesser played, Mirko Taccola, played a lovely cross field ball that fell to the feet of Fontolan. He controlled it perfectly and smashed it passed Luca Marchegiani in the Torino goal.

In what was a crazy six minute period, Torino then pulled one back. Enzo Scifo, who had looked dangerous all game, rifled one of his iconic drives at Zenga. The ball took a huge deflection off Antonio Paganin and flew passed the despairing Inter custodian.

The game finished 1-2 in favour of Inter. The Nerazzurri would go on to finish second in Serie A whilst Torino although successful in Europe finished in a disappointing ninth position.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6V8uH-eBaw

Filed under inter torino stadio delle apli zenga sosa fontolan

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Udinese v Empoli preview for Football Italia

It’s a new dawn for both Udinese and Empoli, as they start the season brimming with confidence.

Udinese appointed Andrea Stramaccioni as head Coach during the summer. The ex-Inter man will be hoping to improve on the good work of ex-boss Francesco Guidolin, as he starts a new chapter in the Zebrette’s history.

The first shots in the club’s new direction have already been fired in anger, as Stramaccioni’s side pushed aside Ternana 5-1 in the Coppa Italia last week. Antonio Di Natale got his season off to a remarkable start, by amazingly scoring four times in the match.

READ THE REST OF MY PREVIEW AT FOOTBALL ITALIA

http://www.football-italia.net/SerieA/match/preview/52781

Follow me @Gentleman_Ultra

Filed under udinese empoli Stadio Friuli di natale

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Classic Calcio Kits: Bari 1994/95

Home Kit

Make: Adidas

Sponsor: Wüber

Worn by players such as Francesco Pedone, Nicola Ventola, Lorenzo Amoruso, Carmine Gautieri, Sandro Tovalieri and Igor Protti

Fact - This distinctive shirt was worn by Bari on their return to Serie A, after a two year absence.
I Galletti spearheaded by Igor Protti in attack managed a respectable 12th place finish avoiding the relegation zone by 4 points.

Giuseppe Materazzi’s men would make some incredible Serie A memories with some major scalps along the way including a 2-1 victory over Inter at the Giuseppe Meazza, a feat they would repeat in the May of that season by defeating Inter’s city rival Milan 1-0 in the San Siro, a side they almost done the double over with one of Serie A’s most entertaining games when they fell to a narrow 5-3 defeat to the Milan giants at home in the January of the year.



By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under bari serie a Calcio adidas Stadio San Nicola

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Chaos reigns in Serie B

The ‘Team X’ Files….
The Italian football season restarts this weekend amid turmoil and a lot of confusion.  For once this isn’t a Serie A problem.  This year it is the turn of Serie B.

The season begins with only 21 teams after Siena’s liquidation earlier in the summer.  

The season’s fixture list was finally unveiled on Wednesday and organisers were forced to refer to the missing club as ‘Team X’.

'Team X’ were due to stage the opening game of the competition at home to Latina on Saturday evening, although that will now be postponed.
 
The league was initially cut to 21 teams as part of a long-term plan to eventually reduce it to 20 teams.

However, Novara, the highest placed of the four teams relegated last season, protested and an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) tribunal ruled that Serie B must continue with 22 teams this season.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) was asked to find the 22nd team and declined to automatically include Novara as they are among the clubs who have had points deducted in the last two years over the Calcioscommesse match-fixing scandal.

Instead, the FIGC chose to use a complex ranking system to choose a team from among those who were either relegated from Serie B last season or finished in the top half of the third-tier Lega Pro.

The FIGC will award points based on each team’s position in the league last term, their city’s “sporting tradition” and the team’s average attendances over the past five seasons.
 
It appears that Pisa and Juve Stabia are the best placed teams, although Novara, who would have finished top of the rankings, have appealed against their exclusion.

At least 12 teams are in the running for the vacant spot which means with the season days away none of them know which division they will play in.
The FIGC is expected to announce its decision on Thursday, although that could be postponed by further appeals against clubs who think they have been hard done by.

At the time of writing the 21 teams due to compete are –
 
Avellino, Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Carpi, Catania, Cittadella, Crotone, Frosinone, Latina, Livorno, Modena, Perugia, Pescara, Pro Vercelli, Spezia, Ternana, Trapani, Varese, Virtus Entella and Virtus Lanciano…and Team X!!

Unsurprisingly, ahead of the new campaign, the bookmakers have Catania, relegated last season from Serie A, as slight favourites to win the title ahead of the two other relegated sides Bologna and Livorno.  It is hard to see past these three sides for promotion, but they will face stiff competition from sides like Bari, beaten in the Promotion Play Offs last season, and Pescara.

It could be a long season for Virtus Entella and Pro Vercelli.  Entella, last season’s Lega Pro Prima Divisione champions ,will compete in Serie B for the first time.  Pro Vercelli are also back after promotion.  This famous club has 7 Scudettos to their name, sadly the last title was won in 1922. 

As the season unfolds, there are bound to be many twists and turns. Who knows, Team X could be the team to gain promotion to Serie A.
 
By Ian Such
Follow me on Twitter @insearchofluca

Filed under novara pisa lega pro

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When Calcio Ruled The World: Enzo Scifo

In the late 1980’s through to the early 1990’s, Enzo Scifo was one of the best midfielders in Europe. In an era when the world was littered with top class talent in midfield, Scifo stood out time and again.

After taking Belgium and Anderlecht by storm, there was little surprise that a move abroad was on the cards. His reputation was enhanced when he had a memorable World Cup in Mexico as Belgium reached the semi finals.

When the call from Italy and the Nerazzurri came, Scifo answered it with gusto, however, his time with Inter proved unsuccessful and after 28 appearances and only four goals the little Belgian was moved on to Bordeaux.

He returned to Italy for the 1990 World Cup and produced some breath taking displays including scoring one of the goals of the tournament in Verona against Uruguay.

This promoted a return to the peninsula, this time plying his trade with a successful Torino side. Enzo certainly proved a point to Serie A, showing that he had the ability to make the grade in what was then the best league in the world by some distance.

From 1991-93 he scored 16 goals in 62 appearances and won the Coppa Italia as well as finishing runner up in the 1992 UEFA Cup Final.

His blistering shot and quick feet were now evident once again for the world to see. His range of passing was and his ability to pick out the front men all insured that his come back was a positive experience.

When Calcio ruled the world Enzo Scifo was proving a point.

By Richard Hall

Follow me @Gentleman_Ultra

Filed under Belgium Inter Torino Serie A Italia 90 anderlecht

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Classic Calcio Kits: Inter Milan 1992-94

Home Kit

Make: Umbro

Sponsor: Fiorucci

Worn by players such as Rubén Sosa, Salvatore Schillaci, Denis Bergkamp, Matthias Sammer and Giuseppe Bergomi


Fact - This shirt was worn by Inter in one of their craziest seasons in the clubs history.


In the 1993-94 campaign Inter were very nearly relegated from Serie A finishing 13th and escaping the drop by a single point.
Despite having such a poor domestic campaign Inter would lift the UEFA Cup that season by defeating Austria Salzburg 2-0 over two legs.
This would also be the last shirt Inter would wear before the era of Massimo Moratti began the following season.

By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under Inter Moratti sosa Salvatore Schillaci Bergkamp sammer

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Remember when? Shevchenko v Juventus 2001

Classic Calcio Goal: Andriy Shevchenko v Juventus 2001

Teams: AC Milan V Juventus

Season: 2001 - 2002

Location: San Siro, Milan

Goalscorer: Andriy Shevchenko

As two of Italian footballs heavyweights clashed on the icy night of 19th December 2001, all eyes were on the star studded forwards of both teams. David Trezeguet, Alessandro Del Piero and Pippo Inzaghi were upstaged by Shevchenko who would steal the headlines in the morning.

On the 23rd minute Rui Costa collected the ball just in side his own half, he then played a wild first time pass up in the air which Paolo Montero failed to deal with. He was being out muscled by Javi Moreno who flicked the ball on to Shevchenko, the Ukrainian then took off at a frightening pace leaving Davids for dead. Gianluca Pessotto slipped and despite Montero ushering Shevchenko to the edge of the 18 yard box  the Milan forward let fly some 20 yards out. At an impossible angle Shevchenko sent the ball flying with pace over Buffon’s head, it nestled in the top corner, in fact it was probably the only place he could have put it to score. It was truly a remarkable strike from one of Serie A’s greatest.

http://youtu.be/5Gprcg0jUdU

By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under shevchenko Milan Juventus Montero San Siro

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Classic Calcio Kits: Sampdoria 1991/92

Home Kit

Make: Asics

Sponsor: ERG

Worn by players such as Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini, Attilio Lombardo, Pietro Vierchowod, Giovanni Invernizzi and Renato Buso

Fact - This shirt was worn in somewhat of a disappointing season for Vujadin Boškov’s men, the defending champions came no where near defending there title finishing a disappointing level 6th with Parma.
Samp came so close to European success when the faced Spanish giants Barcelona at Wembley, I Blucerchiati would lose out to a Ronald Koeman free kick, it was so bitterly disappointing for il Doria, this result and the poor Serie A finish meant none European football for Samp and in the end would cost Boškov his job as Sampdoria coach.

By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under Sampdoria Mancini boskov Vialli Lombardo Buso Vierchowod

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When Calcio Ruled The World: Karl-Heinz Riedle

Karl-Heinz Riedle was only at Lazio from 1990-93 but in this time proved was extremely effective. 

A member of the West German World Cup winning team in 1990 he signed for the Roman outfit for 13 Million Deutsche Marks straight after the tournament. 

Riedle who had been successful at Werder Bremen continued scoring goals at his new home notching 30 in 84 appearances for Lazio. The German was a fantastic target man, much like Miroslav Klose today.

He also possessed a good range of passing as well as the ability to create space for others with his running off the ball. More than anything Riedle was a deadly poacher who was lethal with his head and especially when one on one.

Riedle was a player rarely found in today’s game. He was a goal scorer, nothing more nothing less; achieving this against some of the most formidable defences in the world. Few of his goals were scored out of the six yard box, never mind the 18 yard. Unbelievable as it seems the World Cup winner was a man who needed a second to some it all up and rarely more than two touches to complete the job.

Lazio at this time had a team that was filled with stars and were extremely difficult to beat in Serie A. A strong back line was supplemented with a midfield containing Aron Winter, Paul Gascoigne, Diego Fuser and German Thomas Doll. These players managed to give continual and superb supply to both Riedle and Giuseppe Signori.

It was a surprise that in 1993 (Riedle’s last season) the Roman team only finished fifth with some of the players they had.  Alen Boksic came in the season after with Pierluigi Casiraghi and Riedle moved on but his impact was significant.

When Calcio ruled the World, Riedle was in the six yard box.

By Richard Hall

Follow me on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra

Filed under lazio Riedle Rome west germany alen boksic Pierluigi casiraghi

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Remember when? Francesco Totti v Inter

image

Classic Calcio Goal: Francesco Totti v Inter October 25th 2005

Teams: Inter v Roma

Season: 2005-2006

Location: Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Goalscorer: Francesco Totti

The two main title contenders would clash an intriguing game in Milan. Roberto Mancini’s defensive minded Inter faced Luciano Spalletti’s quick attacking Roma.

Vincenzo Montella had given the visitors the lead on 12 minutes but the highlight of the game came on the 30 minute mark. A misplaced pass by Inter’s Zé Maria was collected by Francesco Totti just inside his own half, he took the ball off Cambiasso a move that saw the Argentine fall.

He then beat Zé Maria as if he wasn’t there and as he moved forward there still appeared to be no real danger.Totti dribbled towards the goal facing Materazzi next, he teased him before sending him to the floor too. As Totti shaped to shoot, nobody expected the audacious floated chip that went sailing over a helpless Julio Cesar in the Inter goal. 

This made it 2-0, it was an incredible strike from an incredible man.

http://youtu.be/0Zh5_PVtKr8

By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under roma Inter Totti San siro Milan Rome Cambiasso

7 notes

Classic Calcio Kits: Parma 1998 - 1999

Home Kit

Make: Lotto

Sponsor: Parmalat

Worn by players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Diego Fuser, Hernan Crespo and Enrico Chiesa.

Fact - This shirt was worn in one of Parma’s most successful seasons, bankrolled by the Tanzi family, Parma lifted two trophies, a Coppa Italia by defeating Fiorentina then going on to lift the UEFA Cup in Moscow with an impressive 3-0 demolition of French giants Marseille.
The gialloblu would also secure a champions league spot by finishing 4th in Serie A.

By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under parma parmalat thuram fuser crespo buffon cannavaro

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Thohir ushers in a new era for Inter

“We asked where is the strong man in the boardroom…and nothing. We asked for clarity…and nothing. There are only two possible conclusions, dear president: absence or incompetence.” (An Internazionale banner – Curva Nord)

This banner on the Curva Nord in 2012 was devastatingly honest. More than an adequate question to be set before the then President Moratti. It mindfully avoided putting the blame on Moratti’s head, yet at the same time, in one fell swoop got straight to the heart of the problem. It did not shout ‘sack the coach out’ nor did it demand ‘sack the board’; it presented the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It took a whole year and another Coach, before Massimo Moratti finally handed over the reins of power at the club to Erick Thohir. The steady decline that Inter had been on was typified by a ninth place finish. Orchestrated by ‘young pup’ Andrea Strammacioni, the season soon fell apart. The promise of a new dawn was quickly thrown out by the treble winning veterans in the dressing room. As the pledges of ‘NextGen youth’ dwindled like a candle in Stramacioni’s window, it was soon blown out by Moratti, as he indulged the death rolls of his ageing heroes.

A year had been lost, debts mounted around the Milanese club as the wages poured into the pockets of a team that should have been disbanded after the treble winning season. There were the exceptions of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso who continued to impress on occasion.

Walter Mazzari’s appointment by Moratti as head Coach, was met with few cheers and perhaps even fewer hopes. Even if he could, like a brilliant sculptor, manipulate this squad into his 3-5-2 formation it would still be insipid and carry stragglers. The season at the half way point seemed both stagnant and aroused the same discussion as he last. Jonathan’s crossing and defensive lapses, the enigma of Yuto Nagatomo and curious case of Zdravko Kuzmanovic.

It was in this moment that Moratti did what many thought would be the impossible and moved aside for Erick Thohir. Perhaps like Napoleon, when Moratti’s Old Guard fell, it was time to retreat, at least he wouldn’t have to move to Elba.

Since then changes have slowly been emerging and despite the cynicism of some Nerazzurri, they have been for the better. There is a freshness and new lease of life that has surrounded the Giuseppe Meazza this summer. Much of this is down to their new Indonesian Chief.

Firstly Thohir has money to spend, the purchase of Hernanes was an early indication that he wanted to improve the squad. Since the Goldman Sachs bank has given him the go ahead to purchase the club and clear its debts he has the chance to make Inter a force. According to Italian media sources the new Inter chief, will invest €200m into the club. This will allow the Indonesian to become a majority shareholder and clear the debts accrued under Moratti as previously mentioned.

The level of Thohir’s footballing knowledge is unknown to anybody that isn’t close to him. Even if however, he knows every goal scorer of the Treble winning season, he will still have more perspective than Moratti. Moratti had fallen too deeply for his heroes and as the banner stated, even the Ultras had realised in 2012 that it was the end. This perspective will allow Thohir to go from day to day working in a new direction that isn’t intertwined with the men who did so much for the club back in 2010.

Understanding of global markets is another huge asset the President brings. This is an area that has not just been missed by Inter but by many clubs in Serie A. Thohir is well known in Indonesia and with Inter’s supporters club in that country being the largest on the continent, there is certainly potential to maximise the Asian market. This combined with his knowledge of how to develop teams in the US (DC United and NBA’s Philadelphia’s 76ers) as well as basketball teams in his own country, all gives him a great deal of experience to pass on to the Nerazzurri marketing team.

Timing has also been an asset for him. This perhaps is luck? Perhaps not but either way it has allowed him to make changes that Moratti may have thought about doing but did not have the courage. One example is that Diego Milito, Cambiasso and Captain Javier Zanetti have moved on and this allows him a real fresh start. His team have now got a superb mix of youth and experience and look like they could challenge next season, for Europe and even the Champions League. Zanetti moving to the board room also is a clever move, whilst the departure of Antonio Conte from Juventus and the Milanese implosion will also help.

Stability has been brought about in the way he trusted Coach Walter Mazzarri. The ex-Napoli boss underwhelmed last season and seemed often out of ideas and stagnant. Little by little the new Inter President has breathed new life into his Coach and as they prepare to face the new season his squad look to be as invigorated as he is. The energy and vison seems to have seeped through to the players and with continued trust in both, Inter look like they could prove tough to beat next term.

Thohir may have raised eyebrows at first, just like the American owners did at Roma. This is short sighted however as the difference and feel of this pre-season far outweighs the negativity and doom and gloom of the past.

Inter are reborn, they are hungry and they have a clear vision. The banners on the Curva Nord may well read differently this year, their President is neither absent nor incompetent.

By Richard Hall

Follow me on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra

Filed under inter san siro milan thohir moratti nerazzurri Curva Nord

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The Gentleman Ultras alternative guide to the clubs of Serie A: Lazio

The Stadium

Stadio Olimpico

Team: Lazio and Roma

Capacity: 72,698

Built: 1910

City: Rome

This stadium is Rome’s second Coliseum but this one is active. Since its construction in 1910 it has been a venue for all manner of events, from Fascist rallies, Olympic Games to World Cup Finals. It has seen all emotion known to mankind, love, passion, competition and hatred.

Primarily it is home to arguably the fiercest football rivalry in world football and one of the most passionate derby games on the planet, the Rome derby. The Stadium itself has had many facelifts most notably in 1960 when it was transformed to host the Olympic Games and again in 1990 when the stadium was almost entirely rebuilt was for the World Cup Finals.

In 2008 changes were again made to bring the stadium up to allow it to be classified as one of UEFA’s elite stadiums. This makes the venue perfect for the explosive Derby della Capitale in which Roma and Lazio fight it out to being pride of the city. It is more important for many fans for their team to win the derby rather than the Scudetto.

The Derby involves fireworks, choreographed flag and banner displays and an intense noise level. However, it has also been the scene of violence, racism and extreme Ultra Groups such as Lazio’s infamous Irriducibili and Roma’s legendary Boys Roma.

During the rest of the season, these groups do make sure that the stadium is still an intimidating place to go for away teams.

However, they are constantly struggling against low attendances in their vast arena. For example at one of the low points in recent years, 2010/11, Roma averaged and attendance of 33,952 whilst Lazio only managed an average of 29,122. Things are changing on the Roma side but the Lazio Ultras still boycott many games as they in dispute with how the club is run.

The Ultras

Key Ultra Groups:  Irriducibili (Unbreakables/ Indomitables), Eagles Supporters, Ultras Lazio.

Other Ultra Groups:  Banda Noantri (Our Gang), Viking Lazio, Commandos Monteverde Lazio (C.M.L ’74), Gruppi Associati Bianco Azzurri White and Blue Association Group), Folgore (Lightening), Boys, Marines, Gruppo Sconvolti (The Deranged Group), Gruppo Rock (Rock Group), Ultras 74, Brigate S.Giovanni (S Giovanni Brigade), I Golden Boys, Nucleo Armato Biancazzurro (Nuclear Armed White and Blue), I Vigilantes (The Vigliantes), I Leopard, Eagles’Korps, Gioventus Biancazzurra (White and Blue Youth), Eagles’Girls, Avanguardia (Vanguard) , In Basso a Destra (Down on the Right), Only White, and Caos Group.

T’avemo arzato la coppa in faccia.” ‘We raised the Cup in front of your face’ was a banner flown over the city of Rome. Lazio fans had innovatively hired a light aircraft to deliver the message. Another proclaimed: “The real truth is that we hurt you: 26-05-13.”

This was one of the greatest days in Lazio’s 114-year-history, the day they beat Roma in the Coppa Italia final. For the duration of the summer the Laziali revelled in schadenfreude, tormenting their Roman counterparts at every given opportunity.

For the Derby in September 2013, the Lazio Ultras had planned a special choreography. Balloons would lift a giant Coppa Italia above the Curva Nord, just as a reminder – as if Roma needed one – that it was the Biancocelesti who had won the most important Derby della Capitale in history. The authorities banned the display, wary of the backlash it would likely cause. In a sardonic response the Laziali left the Curva Nord empty for the first five minutes of the game, but for a banner which read:

 ‘Ah, I forgot, it’s the ‘memorial’ derby. I’ll finish my beer first…’

‘Laziale or Romanista?’ There is perhaps no question more important in the eternal city. Founded in 1900, S.S. Lazio is the city’s oldest club. In 1927, when the National Fascist Party merged Rome’s biggest clubs, the Biancocelesti were the only ones to resist. Roma fans claim to support the club that truly represents Rome however Laziali are quick to remind them of who arrived first.

The realm of Lazio’s Ultras – the Curva Nord of the Stadio Olimpico – is world renowned. It has been at the vanguard for some of Italy’s most colourful choreographies. The groups have changed but their support for the Aquile (Eagles) has been steadfast, none more so than the Irriducibili.

Formed in 1987, the first members of the Irriducibili were originally known as Cani Sciolti (Wild Dogs). After dislodging a group called Viking, the character ‘Mr Enrich’ was adopted as their mascot – a little man who kicks furiously – and as one of their members claimed “signifies rebellion against the political and football system.”

In 1992 British flags adorned the Curva following the arrival of cult hero Paul Gascoigne. He was received warmly by the Irriducibili, whounveiled a banner depicting a pint of English beer with the message ‘It’s ready for you’. That year also saw the dissolution of Lazio’s first prominent Ultra group, The Eagles.  They were formed in 1976, two years after the team’s first Scudetto success, which saw the numbers in the Curva proliferate.

The arrival of food tycoon Sergio Cragnotti marked the beginning of one of the clubs most successful eras in which they won their second Scudetto in 2000. This coincided with the clubs centenary year and the Curva Nord’s celebrations brought 25,000 people onto the streets.

Such was the popularity of the group that numbers oscillated between 6-7,000 people, sometimes even more. They became infamous nationwide and a feature which distinguished them was their merchandising business. The group franchised and sold their merchandise in and around Rome. This helped them provide their own away-day packages as well as fund their fanzine - La Voce Della Nord (The Voice of the North).

In a sense the group gained brand notoriety. However their merchandising business was criticised by some in the Curva. This led to a schism in 2006 and a group called Banda Noantri (Our Gang) now known as In Basso a Destra (Low on the Right) were formed.

In the book – Football, Fascism and Fandom – Alberto Testa and Gary Armstrong state:

“The Irriducibili were challenged with the insult of embourgoisement; that they had compromised and were now money driven.”

Both groups co-existed in relative harmony mainly because of their ideological standpoint (both held neo-fascist sentiments), yet four years later a crossroads was reached.

In 2010 the Irriducibili invited a politician, Renata Polverini, (from the moderate right) into the Curva during an election period. At a time where the club were struggling this angered other groups on the Curva. To add insult to injury the politician also sat on the portrait of Gabriele Sandri, a faux pas which was unforgivable.

In respect for what they had done since 1987, Fabrizio Toffolo – the leader of the Irriducibili –announced the dismantling of the group on the radio. Having sought aid from a source that used to sit on the Curva Nord, it would appear the Ultras are now united under the banner of Ultras Lazio. This group is mostly comprised of youngsters and former Irriducibili members. Other smaller groups including Avanguardia, In Basso a Destra, Only White, and Caos Group also reside on the Curva.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to discuss Lazio’s Ultras without mentioning their political extremism, something explored in depth in Football, Fascism and Fandom. At times heinous views have plagued the Curva Nord. Monkey grunts, racist banners and fascist memorabilia have all been used. One particularly unabashedly racist banner was unveiled against Roma reading “Auschwitz is your town; the ovens are your houses.” (The banner was a reference to Roma’s association with the Testaccio neighbourhood which has a Jewish population). Paolo Di Canio performed a fascist salute to the Curva Nord while playing for Lazio during a derby in 2005. Di Canio – a former Irriducibili member – saw the salute as a badge of identity with the Ultras.

The Laziali have also suffered two tragedies. The first was back in 1979, after a Lazio fan called Vincenzo Paparelli was hit in the eye and killed by a flare fired by a Roma supporter. It was Italy’s first football related fatality. In November 2007, a 25-year-old by the name of Gabriele Sandri was shot and killed by a police officer. The police claimed the shooting was accidental after an officer (Luigi Spaccatorella) intervened to stop a fight between Lazio and Juventus supporters at a motorway service stop. Sandri’s death triggered nationwide outrage and emphasised the deep contempt Ultras feel towards the authorities. In the capital, Laziali and Romanisti united causing havoc across the city. Sandri’s funeral attracted over 5,000 mourners.

The Laziali feel it is their duty to look after the clubs best interests. This has led to years of struggle with the Biancocelesti’s president, Claudio Lotito, a pantomime villain in the eyes of many. It appears strange that the Ultras would protest against a man who saved the club from liquidation. But during his tenure Lotito removed the policy of supplying the Irriducibili with 800 free tickets for matches. He also refused to fund the Curva Nord’s choreography and rejected a proposed takeover of the club by former Lazio legend Giorgio Chinaglia. Thus the ultras feel that the only way their Eagles can soar is to jettison Lotito.

This season 6,000 supporters held a protest before their home game against Sassuolo. In the stadium thousands of placards reading ‘Libera Lazio’ (Free Lazio) were on display. At the time of writing, the Ultras have announced they will boycott games for the rest of the season as they continue their Anti-Lotito campaign.

The Laziali and in particular the Irriducibili could be described as pioneers. Having transformed the style of support on the Curva their name has become, one of, if not the, biggest in the domain of the Italian Ultras. When sky blue fumes choke the air and the Curva Nord ripples under a gargantuan banner, to the back-drop of Vola Lazio Vola, the Stadio Olimpico truly becomes the heart-beat of this ancient city.

Classic Player: Giuseppe Signori

“Beppe” Signori was one of the most complete and ruthless forwards of his decade. His name is remembered but why is he not on a pedestal. When one writes about him, the sentence feels like it should start with “Lest we forget”. This is poignant as when he was at Lazio, he was more deadly than the eagle on his shirt, he was immense, he was devastating, so why is he overlooked?

It is true that followers of the Italian game and those abroad know who “Beppe” is. They know he played for Lazio, they know he scored goals but there was so much more. The man with a left foot that destroyed the world’s best league needs more accolades than this, does he not?

Despite humble beginnings at Leffe and Paicenza, he was then part of ‘that’ Foggia side and this earned him his Lazio move in 1992. Here he blasted onto the center stage, as in his first season he scored 23 goals in 24 games leaving him with Serie A’s Golden Boot.

This season saw Italian football start to grace the British shores, thanks to Channel 4 and James Richardson and many in the UK won’t forget him. His trade mark was his ability to poach goals and his devastating consistency with set pieces.

His classic one or two step walk up to the penalty spot, had Lazio fans enthralled and opposition goalkeepers baffled. Penalty after penalty went in this season adding to his total. This and his instinct in the box were not the only things in his locker and if anyone looked back to match day 21 of the 93/94 season, they will see him score a ridiculous long shot against Cremonese in a 4-2 win. The ball was hit so well it threatened to pierce the opposition net.

The 1994/95 season continued in the same vein with Signori scoring 17 in 24, Lazio finished runners up in Serie A and his confidence was evident. He started to drift away from his marker more this year and scored many more goals from open play. He proved much more dynamic, more complete, now adding the odd headed goal into his arsenal.

In 1995/96 Signori achieved the impossible in Serie, scoring 24 goals in 15 games making him the league’s top scorer. This was his high point, his victory in the amphitheatre. Admittedly his penalties and free kicks accumulated a majority of his tally but one step penalties and ballistic free kicks; along with numerous tap-ins, only fuelled his reputation as bloody minded.

This season saw him indulge in the spectacular also, just look at match day eight when he scored an incredible volley against Juventus in 4-0 win. He was starting to drift more out onto the left, deceiving defenders just when they thought they had figured him out.

The 1996/97 season saw him notch 15 in 32 as Lazio finished fourth. This season saw him add, along with the normal repertoire, more work rate as he would come deeper for the ball continually adapting his game. Time was running out and in 1997/98 he scored two goals in six games before leaving for Sampdoria on loan. He still managed to finish top scorer in The Coppa Italiathat year, in an amusing twist of fate.

His career may have been blighted after he retired with accusations of match fixing and batting scandals. He was banned in 2011 from all football activity for five years and it perhaps is this which has muddied the memories.

One thing is for sure, no matter what, when Calcio ruled the World, nobody was and deadly from the spot and nobody had been so single minded in scoring goals.

Filed under lazio Signori Stadio Olimpico Rome irruducibili Roma Calcio Serie A Ultras

6 notes

Remember when? Roberto Mancini v Parma 1998

Teams: Parma v Lazio

Season: 1998 - 1999

Location: Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma

Goalscorer: Roberto Mancini

Two of Italian footballs heavy weights clashed at the Stadio EnnipTardini in 1998. The game was tied at 1-1 in an evenly matched affair.

Marcelo Salas gave Lazio the lead shortly after the break only to be cancelled out by Parma hero Hernan Crespo just two minutes later. As the formidable Parma defence set up to defend a Sinisa Mihajlovic corner, it was still thought that it would have to take something special to beat the likes of Thuram, Cannavaro, Benarrivo & Buffon again.

Mihajlovic’s left foot sent the ball into the box. Before it left his foot Mancini was off making a run away from goal to the corner of the six yard box. Getting away from his marker he somewhat elegantly floated through the air, flicking the ball off the heel of his right boot. This generated enough power to beat Gianluigi Buffon at his front post, flying into the roof of the net putting Lazio in the lead.

The Biancocelesti would go on to win the game 3-1 with Christian Vieri scoring in the last minute, but this game will always be remembered for the outstanding technique show by Mancini to score one of Serie A’s all time goals.

http://youtu.be/7eqWfG4ZI6Y


By Giovanni Dougall

@giovannid86

Filed under parma Lazio Mancini vieri calcio serie a Stadio Ennio Tardini salas crespo buffon thuram