Saturday, July 19 th, 2014
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1989-90: Inter-Napoli, Maradona and Careca crush the Nerazzurri
This night as San Siro Walter Mazzarri and Rafa Benitez will face their past. Between the 80s and the 90s this clash was crucial for the Scudetto. In the 1989-90 season Careca and Maradona gave to the Partenopei an important win
by Anthony Pepe
One of the most storied encounters in Italian football will take place this Saturday evening, Internazionale v Napoli, at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan. It’s not a match that has frequently decided the destination of the title, however it did in 1988-89, when Inter beat Napoli 2-1 at the San Siro and went on to lift their 13th scudetto, and also in 1989-90 when Napoli returned the favour, beating Inter 2-0 and going on to win their 2nd scudetto.

The first ever encounter of Internazionale and Napoli was in the 1926-27 season, with Inter running out 9-2 winners, a score that is unlikely to be repeated this Saturday! This will be the 142nd meeting of the two clubs, with Inter having won on 23 occasions more than Napoli. If Marek Hamšík takes to the field, as is expected, it will mark his 300th appearance in a Napoli shirt, in all competitions. Hamšík has the 9th most appearances for Napoli in the club’s history.

The game has an extra spice insofar as it is the meeting of the two ex-coaches of both clubs. Rafael Benitez managed Inter immediately after José Mourinho won the Champions League, but was unable to “eat the panettone”, as is said in Italy, which means he wasn’t able to stay in the job until Christmas. Walter Mazzarri, on the other hand enjoyed his most successful period as a coach during his four years at Napoli. With players like Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani and Hugo Campagnaro, Napoli conquered the Coppa Italia, survived a Champions League group containing Bayern Munich and Manchester City, and Mazzarri left the club in the second place in the league.

The Serie A, 22 October 1989-90, meeting of the two clubs, played at the San Paolo in Naples, is the last time Napoli won the league, and both teams had their share of superstars. This Inter team were the reigning champions, having lifted their ‘Scudetto dei record’ by being the first team to surpass 58 points in the league (a note to younger readers, it was two points for a win, not three, until the 1994-95 season). That team was managed by the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni, and had German stars Lothar Matthäus, Andreas Brehme, and Italy stars: Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Bergomi, Nicola Berti and Aldo Serena. For the 89-90 season Jürgen Klinsmann was added.

However, it was Napoli’s stars who shone that day, with both Careca and Diego Maradona scoring for Napoli to give them a 2-0 victory. Napoli had purchased a young Gianfranco Zola that summer, and had signed Massimo Mauro from Juventus, a defensive midfielder who had the honour of playing behind Zico at Udinese, then Michel Platini at Juventus, and finally behind Maradona for Napoli.

Every game against the big northern teams was, and is, a grudge match for Napoli, but there seemed to be something a little extra in the Inter v Napoli games in the 80s – Napoli at that point had never beaten the nerazzurri in Milan. Unlike 1989-90, neither Napoli nor Inter are chasing the Scudetto now, however Napoli need to guarantee their third placed finish and their form is not great at the moment, however they still seem to be able to perform in the big games. Mazzarri will be looking to show the Partenopei faithful what they’re missing, and guarantee Inter’s Europa League place.

Saturday, April 26 th, 2014
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