As Scudetto winners Juventus and Coppa Italia victors Napoli prepare to do battle in China, Luca Cetta takes a walk down Super Cup memory lane.
In 1990 their roles were reversed. Napoli were starting the campaign as reigning champions, Juventus moving in a new direction after sacking UEFA Cup and Italian Cup-winning Coach Dino Zoff. Two months after Diego Maradona orchestrated Italy’s World Cup downfall at the Stadio San Paolo, he was back to claim what was until recently Napoli’s last major trophy.
Goals looked to be on the cards. It was then the norm, as evidenced by their eight and six goal thrillers during 1988-89. The Bianconeri were led for the first time by Luigi Maifredi, who preached a highly attacking style. Starting on September 8 were Italia 90 stars Roberto Baggio and Salvatore Schillaci, plus newly-crowned World Champion Thomas Haessler. Yet, they were blown away by the Partenopei, led by Scudetto heroes Maradona and Careca. Coach Alberto Bigon also granted a start to new signing Andrea Silenzi.
Inside a boisterous stadium the Azzurri blitzed Juve early. Silenzi and Careca were on target inside the opening 20 minutes. Baggio’s free-kick offered Bianconero hope in the 39th minute, however that quickly evaporated when Napoli breached the Old Lady’s defence twice more before the interval through Massimo Crippa and Silenzi. The hosts exploited Juve’s weak offside trap to devastating effect. Stefano Tacconi was twice caught in no-man’s land, including the rout-completing fifth scored by Careca. The four-goal margin remains the largest in the Cup’s history. “We realised a dream that we had before the game,” Maradona said afterwards.
For Napoli, the 5-1 win was the crowning point of 1990-91. They would finish eighth after an inconsistent campaign and Maradona’s departure. Meanwhile, the match was a precursor to Juve’s struggles under Maifredi. They ended seventh, paving the way for the tactician’s dismissal and the return of legendary figure Giovanni Trapattoni.
1990 remains Napoli’s only past appearance in the curtain-raiser, while Juve have contested the Super Cup six times since. Including this Saturday’s match at the Beijing National Stadium, Juve will have challenged for the trophy on four continents and to date have claimed the same number of victories.
The 1995 edition was actually played in January 1996 due to scheduling conflicts, with Gianluca Vialli netting the only goal at the Stadio Delle Alpi versus Parma. Turin also hosted the 1997 and 1998 deciders, with Vicenza vanquished 3-0 in the former after a Filippo Inzaghi brace and Antonio Conte’s sealer. Lazio claimed victory a year later deep into injury-time through Sergio Conceicao.
Juventus made overseas journeys in 2002 and 2003. Alessandro Del Piero’s double split a Marco Di Vaio strike as the Bianconeri defeated Parma in the Libyan capital Tripoli. 12 months later in a repeat of the Champions League Final, Juve triumphed over Milan in New Jersey, USA. Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring in extra-time, but David Trezeguet equalised a minute later. Again it went to penalties. Only Cristian Brocchi failed from the spot, giving Juve their last Supercoppa to date. In 2005 the match was back in Turin but after extra-time Inter were celebrating thanks to Juan Sebastian Veron’s lone goal.
Ahead of the Bird’s Nest showdown, Juve sits third on the all-time winners list behind Milan and Inter. Napoli will look to join Roma on two victories. Pirlo notes Juve ‘are very keen to win the Supercoppa’ while Gianluigi Buffon called the Cup an important objective. Napoli have rushed Edinson Cavani into the squad after his exploits at the Olympic Games and President Aurelio De Laurentiis claims ‘it would be a very important victory’, noting the significance of continuing to win trophies.
Although not a season-defining game or trophy, it is a chance to kick-start the campaign on a positive note. Being played just a fortnight before Serie A commences, the match provides a stern early test under competitive circumstances. And for Juventus it is a chance to square the ledger after that 5-1 drubbing suffered 22 years ago.
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