Saturday November 30 2019
The return of bitter Brescia-Atalanta

Brescia and Atalanta meet today in the Lombardy Derby for the first time since 2006 in what is one of Italy’s fiercest local rivalries, best remembered for Carlo Mazzone's run.

The two cities of Bergamo and Brescia are only 52km apart, yet the two Milanese giants in the Lombardy region overshadow both.

In historical terms, the rivalry began in the 12th century, when land in Brescia was bought by the city of Bergamo, and was then later returned to Brescia by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, starting the animosity between the cities.

In footballing terms, the pair have hardly met. Only 56 matches have been contested as both clubs yo-yoed between Serie A and Serie B throughout the 20th and early part of the 21st century.

The rivalry didn’t kick into gear until May 1993, when both sides were in Serie B. A Brescia side containing one Gheorghe Hagi and Florin Raducioiu had put the home side into 2-0 lead at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti.

The away fans stole a banner, and thus a fight ensued on the pitch between both sets of fans. The brawling then continued after the game had ended, resulting in five arrests and 20 people in hospital.

The most infamous incident occurred in the 2001-02 season, again at the Stadio Rigamonti.

The two sides met at the end of September and Roberto Baggio had given Brescia the lead with a typically classy side-foot volley from a Fabio Petruzzi cross.

La Dea then hit back with three goals in succession, including a thunderbolt from Cristiano Doni from 25 metres, to make it 1-3 at half time.

Baggio then made it 2-3 with a shrewdly taken goal after a knockdown from current Lazio director of sport Igli Tare inside the box.

The legendary Carlo Mazzone, then Brescia coach, had been animated throughout the game, and had received abuse from the away fans, including comments about his mother.

When the 2-3 goal went in, he shouted to the ultras in the Atalanta end that he was coming over there when they'd equalise.

In the 90th minute, Baggio swung in a free kick from the left hand side of the Atalanta box, that evaded everyone and nestled into the bottom corner of the goal, it was now 3-3.

Mazzone erupted. He evaded the best attempts of his stunned staff to hold him back, and rampaged down the pitch towards the section where the away fans were seated.

Running all the way down to the end of the field, Mazzone shaked his fist at the Atalanta fans, who began throwing anything they could find in his direction.

Pierluigi Collina, referee for the game, waited for the coach to come back up the field before sending him off, which Mazzone gracefully accepted.

“I was so surprised to see this gentleman running down the pitch at breakneck speed, to celebrate. I waited at the halfway line and had to tell him to leave the pitch, and Mazzone said, “If I have to go, I go,” and he went down the tunnel without any objections,” said Collina in 2010.

For the return match, the Atalanta ultras prepared a poster with the face of Mazzone on the head of a pig, saying “I can’t enter Bergamo.”

Mazzone’s last game against La Dea would end in a 3-0 win in April 2003, which included a marvellous chip from Baggio.

The last derby played in the top flight came in the 2004-05 season, when Brescia, again claimed victory after a 0-0 draw in Bergamo.

The pair were relegated that year and haven’t met since their sole season together in Serie B in 2005-06.

Brescia hold the lion's share of the victories, with 21 to 15, with 20 draws in between.

The rivalry resumes today at 14:00 GMT.

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