Eight seasons on from their latest Scudetto win, the Nerazzurri were in the middle of a tight title race against both their rivals Juventus and AC Milan during the 1979/1980 Serie A season.
As round twenty came around, an Eugenio Bersellini managed Inter side traveled to Stadio San Paolo to take on Napoli. With Alessandro Altobelli leading the way as capocannoniere, the Nerazzurri were looking to get back in the winning column.
Holding the top spot since round one of Serie A campaign, Bersellini’s men were coming off of back-to-back tie games against Lazio and Bologna. With the old lady at their heals, this had become a must-win match with only ten games left in the season.
Napoli, after starting the decade finishing inside the top three spots, the Partenopei under the management of Angelo Sormani found themselves in the middle of a difficult season. Heading into the round twenty match at home against league leaders, Napoli had only managed one win at home and tied or lost all remaining home games thus far.
Desperate for a positive result to turn around their season and avoid relegation, they also found themselves in a must-win situation, fighting for the right to remain in Serie A for the 1980-81 season.
The Nerazzurri’s lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, with Ivano Bordon in goal with a the defensive line of Nazzareno Canuti, Giuseppe Baresi, Giancarlo Pasinato and Roberto Mozzini. In midfield Graziano Bini, Domenico Caso, Giampiero Marini, Carlo Muraro and Gabriele Oriali played behind Alessandro Altobelli as the lone striker.
Napoli played a 3-5-2 formation with Luciano Castellini in goal with a defense of Giuseppe Bruscolotti, Attilio Tesser, Moreno Ferrario. In midfield Mauro Bellugi, Mario Guidetti, Claudio Vinazzani, Giovanni Improta and Roberto Filipini played behind the attacking duo of Antonio Capone and Gaetano Musella.
The Partenopei started the match, retaining most of the possession and keeping the ball inside Inter’s half limiting Bersellini’s men only to counter-attack opportunities. As the home side lost possession, they were quick to apply pressure with their attackers and midfielders pressing high through the middle to cause turnovers inside Nerazzurri half. Napoli’s game plan caused Inter problems earlier on, however, the visitors remained calm and dealt with the early onslaught with ease.
On the other end, being limited earlier on to counter-attack opportunities, the Nerazzurri midfielders managed to make deep runs past Napoli defenses for shots on goal.
However, they failed to convert them. Bersellini seeing the high press defense from the Partenopei, adjusted the attack to also play long passes from the back, directed around the penalty box for Altobelli with support from Muraro who was cutting inside from the wings to play off-of the lone striker.
The adjustment paid off instantly and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead around nineteen minutes mark. Muraro scored a comfortable goal being unmarked inside the penalty box, received the ball from the back and tucked it away past Castellini.
The lead didn’t last long as Napoli tied the match up a few minutes later from a deflection off of Pasinato into the net past Bordon. Heading intto half-time, the visitors were growing in confidence and Pasinato was keen on nullifying his own-goal.
He consistently made deep runs into the attacking half, creating space to cross the ball into the box. One of these runs resulted in the second goal for the Nerazzurri as his pin-point precision cross to the far left post found winger Carlo Muraro for the header who converted.
Once again, Inter’s lead did not last long. Three minutes after the goal, Napoli tied it up 2-2 right before half-time following a poor clearance from defender Nazzareno Canuti, playing the ball directly to Gaetano Musella inside the penalty box. Musella’s powerful shot was too much for Bordon and both teams went into half-time with the scoreline at 2-2.
In the second half, Bersellini’s men retained possession more to nullify Napoli’s tactics. Inter pushed the ball to the wings and relied on quick ball movement from side to side to stretch Napoli defenders out of position. The swift ball movement created space for Altobelli to get on the scoring sheet to give Inter the lead 3-2 at the 57 minute mark.
Baresi joined the attack to provide another tall target inside the box. The Napoli defense had no answers for the Nerazzurri attack, as Baresi’s deep runs also resulted in a goal, giving visitors a comfortable 4-2 lead going into the last twenty minutes of the match.
Mario Guidetti added a consolation goal at the end of the match to make it 3-4 in favor of the visitors. However, the league leaders walked away with win and added to their lead at the top of the table against Juventus and AC Milan. Carlo Muraro was man-of-the-match with two goals and an assist to his name.