After ending their decade long dry spell of winning the Scudetto during the previous Serie A campaign in 1988/1989, the reigning champions under the management of Giovanni Trapattoni, were in the middle of another strong season.
After Day 20 of the 1989/90 Serie A season, Inter found themselves in the middle of yet another Scudetto race against Diego Maradona’s Napoli and an Arrigo Sacchi managed AC Milan.
The brilliant striker partnership of Aldo Serena and Ramon Diaz led the Nerazzurri to the title the previous season, however the team decided to move on from Diaz and replaced him with German striker Jurgen Klinsmann. The German striker had proven himself in the Bundesliga, scoring 15+ goals in 4 straight seasons prior to his switch to Inter.
Trapattoni struggled to get Klinsmann and Serena to find the right chemistry and the latter failed to replicate his dynamic performances with Diaz. This reflected in the team’s performances earlier in the season and the side had already lost four matches half-way through the season, while their Scudetto rivals Napoli were undefeated.
With the Partenopei opening up a big lead at the top of the table, Inter had no margin of error as they prepared to take on Gianluca Vialli’s and Roberto Mancini’s Sampdoria, whom the team already lost to earlier in the season in Genoa.
Heading into the match, Sampdoria were on a ten-game undefeated streak which included high-profile wins against Roma, Lazio and ties against AC Milan and Napoli. While Gianluca Vialli was in tremendous form earlier on in the season in scoring eight goals, it was Roberto Mancini’s dominance that was carrying Sampdoria in recent matches, scoring five goals in previous 5 games while assisting three more.
Trapattoni’s men had a tough task of stopping Mancini as Vialli was missing the game due to injury as Inter headed into the match on the back of four consecutive clean sheets. Starting for Inter were Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Baresi, Andreas Brehme, Gianfranco Matteoli, Giuseppe Bergomi, Corrado Verdelli, Alessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Lothar Matthaus, Aldo Serena and Jurgen Klinsmann.
For Sampdoria the starting line was, Gianluca Pagliuca, Moreno Mannini, Amedeo Carboni, Fausto Pari, Pietro Vierchowod, Marco Lanna, Giovanni Invernizzi, Srecko Katanec, Attilio Lombardo, Roberto Mancini and Giuseppe Dossena.
Right from the start, both sides were gunning for the three points. Unlike most teams coming to San Siro, playing a low block, in this match Sampdoria did not shy away from pushing forward looking for the early goal. As expected, Mancini dictated the flow of the attack while battling off double team defending from the Nerazzurri.
For Inter, it was Lothar Matthaus who was dominating the midfield area, winning possession and dictating the attack for the team. His constant movement was causing a lot of defensive mismatches for the Sampdoria defenses and as a result creating space behind for Serena and Klinsmann.
With either side having their fair share of scoring opportunities earlier on, both Walter Zenga and Gianluca Pagliuca were called upon number of times to keep their side from conceding the first goal. However, despite his efforts, Sampdoria conceded the first goal following Lothar Matthaus’s powerful shot into the net like a rocket shooting off into orbit. After he was brought down at the edge of the box, his powerful free kick gave no chance to Pagliuca to save the shot.
With the game heading towards half-time and Sampdoria preparing for the second half, Matthaus added a second goal for Inter. Around forty-one-minute mark, Berti’s cross towards the edge of the box found Aldo Serena. Being completely unmarked and seeing the run of Klinsmann and Matthaus, Serena headed the ball on for the Germans. Matthaus sneaked past Sampdoria defenses to score his second goal of the match.
With the team trailing at half-time, Sampdoria made few tactical adjustments. Rather than building the attack through the middle, the away side pushed more men forward to overload the midfield with fullbacks getting forward often to provide width to the attack.
Mancini moved on from being the primary playmaker to a striker in Vialli’s absence. The adjusted tactics helped create more scoring opportunities, however brilliant form of Walter Zenga kept a clean sheet for the Nerazzurri as the home side came away with three points following a man-of-the-match performance by Lothar Matthaus.