During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Inter’s golden era under Giovanni Trapattoni finally delivered what it promised from the start, a Scudetto winning season in 1988-89.
Coming off a memorable win beating out Sacchi’s AC Milan with Ruud Gullit, Franco Baresi, Marco Van Basten and Diego Maradona’s Napoli, the Nerazzurri intended to further strengthen the side with addition of Jurgen Klinsmann to replace Ramon Diaz who departed for AS Monaco in the off season.
Completing the legendary German trio along with Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme, the new season came with a lot of promise and hope for a repeat performance along with the pressure of succeeding in European competition.
Coming off a Scudetto winning campaign with Juventus in 1985-86 season, Giovanni Trapattoni switched over to the old lady’s hated rivals, Inter. After his departure, Juventus had failed to repeat as league champions finishing as low as 6th in the league standings.
Coming off a fourth-place finish in 1988-89 season, the Old Lady started the new season in sparkling form under the leadership of club legend, Dino Zoff. The Turin side had won all matches after drawing their season opener to Bologna and were heading to San Siro in first place for the fifth round Derby D’Italia battle with the Nerazzurri.
Not too far off the top of the table, Inter started the season winning two out of first four matches and losing the away leg of match against Gianluca Vialli led Sampdoria side. Coming off the loss at the Marassi, Trapattoni’s men found themselves in a must win situation earlier in season considering the flying start for Juventus and the constant threat posed by Sacchi’s dominant AC Milan side.
Starting for Inter were Walter Zenga in goal. Giuseppe Bergomi, Andreas Brehme, Corrado Verdelli and Ricardo Ferri in defense. Andrea Mandorlini, Alessandro Bianchi, Ginafranco Matteoli, Lothar Matthaus in midfield and attacking duo of Jurgen Klinsmann, Aldo Serena.
For the bianconeri, Stefano Tacconi in goal. Roberto Galia, Luigi De Agostini, Roberto Tricella and Dario Bonetti in defense. Daniele Fortunato, Sergei Alejnikov, Gil Rui Barros, Aleksandr Zavarov in midfield with attack of Salvatore Schillaci and Giancarlo Marocchi.
Tactically, Inter were setup to press forward and win the ball higher up the field in Juventus’s half and exploit the bianconeri’s weaknesses on the wings. For large part of first half, Inter dominated the wings. Moving the ball out wide for Brehme on the left for his marauding runs forward and crossing it towards the middle for Klinsmann and Serena.
With the ball coming from the wings, Matthaus was also pressing forward to join the attack however lurking at the edge of the box to latch on to any opportunity that presents itself. Juventus managed to keep the clean sheet during the early onslaught.
At the other end, in attack, Juventus had some difficulty pressing the ball through the middle much like Inter and relied on the wingers to create scoring opportunities. Barros and Zavarov gave a heavy dose of crosses to the attackers after cutting in from the wings. Bergomi and Zenga’s brilliance kept the old lady off the score sheet.
With the game heading towards half-time with a 0-0 deadlock, a moment of brilliance created by the German connection in Inter’s attacking half brought the San Siro to its feet when Lothar Matthaus scored first goal of the match. Around thirty-six minute mark, Aldo Serena drifted out left to stretch the compact Juventus defense. His cross to Klinsmann drew remaining defenders away from the middle of the box. Klinsmann layed the ball off for Matthaus who sent a missle past goal-keeper Tacconi to make it 1-0 in favor of the Nerazzurri.
As second half began, before Juventus could settle in, Klinsmann added a second goal for the home side as Serena headed pass to Klinsmann followed a quick turn with his back towards the defender, Klinsmann burst past the Juventus defenses to go through on goal and easily put the ball past the on-rushing goal-keeper.
With the lead firmly in control of the home side and the crowd cheering on with full-volume, Trapattoni’s men setup remainder of the match defending the lead. Knowing Juventus had no option but to come out and attack, Trapattoni adapted counter-attacking tactics and defending with all eleven men.
Juventus committed more men forward to add more targets inside the box and relied on steady supply of crosses to the center of the box to create scoring opportunities. One such play came through as Marocchi’s late run inside the box found a cross at the far left post, completely unmarked. He smashed home a volley to bring the score within 1 goal margin at 2-1.
Trapattoni took off man-of-the-match Jurgen Klinsmann to add another defender and comfortably closed out the match handing first loss of the season to Juventus and leaping them in standings to go top of the table after five rounds in 1989-90 season.