Allies at war
Last season proved that Turin wasn't big enough for both
David Trezeguet and Pippo Inzaghi. While Hernan Crespo and Andriy
Shevchenko battled it out for the Capocannoniere crown, the
two Juve rivals were battling each other. Antonio Labate reports
on the clash which has helped send Pippo to Milan.
|As it turned out, French
recruit David Trezeguet became SuperPippo's successor
Pippo Inzaghi's love affair with Juventus has ended. After
four glorious years he's been forced out of the club by a
young Frenchman who showed last term that he was more than
a match for the man they call SuperPippo. Both strikers had
similar agendas at the start of last season. The initial aim
was to score the goals that would lead Juventus to their first
Serie A title for three years. The second was to outscore
each other in a bid to partner Alex Del Piero on a regular
In the end the Scudetto was lost, but Trezeguet finished
the season as a winner by convincing the club that he could
he Juve's No 1 striker in the years to come. In hindsight
then, Coach Carlo Ancelotti probably had the most difficult
job in Serie A. Not only was he in charge of a club who don't
see the title as an objective but as a requirement, he had
to keep four key forwards happy all season.
'Carletto' hoped that the Italian Cup and the Champions'
League would keep the number of games high enough to chop
and change without risking results. However, once they had
been knocked out of both the Coppa Italia and Europe by early
November, juggling Del Piero, Inzaghi, Trezeguet and Darko
Kovacevic was always going to be a struggle. Knowing quite
rightly that four didn't fit into two, the problems started
|Pippo grabbed a hat-trick
in the first game of the season
Inzaghi quickly laid down his credentials in Juve's first
official game of the season. He netted a hat-trick in the
4-4 draw with Hamburg to rescue the side from defeat. His
French counterpart hit back almost immediately by scoring
the winner in the 2-1 victory against Panathinaikos in Turin
just a week later. Both set out their stall early on and Ancelotti
decided to see what the pair could do together despite his
justifiable doubts over their partnership. Deportivo La Coruna
were the first team to have to defend against the Trezeguet
and Inzaghi duo and by all accounts the pair were pretty unspectacular.
It seemed that Ancelotti knew best and it's no surprise to
learn that the two were only fielded simultaneously at the
start of a game just nine more times all season - and four
of those was because Del Piero was injured. The two strikers
knew that they had to do time on the bench.
"Obviously I don't like being a substitute but it happened
to almost everyone at Juventus last season," said Inzaghi.
"It wasn't easy for Ancelotti but he had to make decisions.
As professionals we needed to accept them." Trezeguet
mirrored his views: "A great team needs to have a number
of good forwards and then the Coach can decide who should
play." Understandably their perspectives changed somewhat
as the season developed.
Player form was the only element that Ancelotti could use
to separate the two and at times it had outstanding effects.
It was Trezeguet who had the better of the early exchanges
in the League campaign after he netted his first Serie A goal
in the 2-2 draw at the San Siro against Milan in Week 3. Two
games later and he was the main reason that Juve were back
on the title path as a double at Reggio Calabria saw the Bianconeri
erase memories of the shock home defeat to Udinese just days
|Trezeguet proved right away
that he was worthy of the Juve shirt
This was the Trezeguet that Juventus had hoped would arrive
in Turin - the scoring machine who proved against the Azzurri
in the Euro 2000 Final that given a chance he would take it.
"I know that many people in Italy, Juventus supporters
included, were not too fond of the goal I scored in the European
Championships. But I'm confident that they will learn to love
me," promised the forward.
"A striker who doesn't score isn't a striker. Here in
Italy people judge you above all on your efficiency. Players
like Oliver Bierhoff and Gabriel Batistuta are not great technicians,
but their strike rate is impressive. And if there is one thing
that I like doing, then it is scoring goals."
The golden child has settled well in Northern Italy after
completing his £14.5m switch to Juventus. He was showing
the tricks of the trade that he had picked up on the streets
of Argentina, where he grew up after his father moved his
family from Rouen, France. At just 17 he was signed by Monaco
from South American side Platense and he soon became the new
king in the Principality. In the 1997-98 season he hit the
target 18 times and was deservedly given his French international
debut in early 1998 against Spain. Having played in the victorious
World Cup Finals, Trezeguet had by now become 'Trezegol' and
he scored the crucial winner in the 3-2 win over Iceland which
saw Les Bleus qualify for the 2000 European Championships.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the New Year brought a new
Inzaghi - even if in reality it was the same old Pippo. And
coupled with Trezeguet's muscle injury sustained against Vicenza,
the 27-year-old was given renewed hope that he would again
be Juventus' No 1 striker. After all people across the peninsula
seemed to forget that the Italian international, as Ancelotti
has openly admitted, has goals in his blood.
He and his brother Simone - currently at Lazio - brushed
up their skills as youngsters by playing football in the home
before their mother Marina sent them out on to the street.
They caused more havoc there as a neighbours used to complain
on a daily basis as the Inzaghi boys used numerous garage
doors for target practice. It served them both well.
|Pippo returned to the game
when Trezeguet was injured and won back his place in the
Trezeguet's goal prowess had somewhat helped Juve fans forget
that Inzaghi had scored 56 times in his first three seasons
in Turin as he averaged more than a goal every two games.
Some had even erased the memories of SuperPippo finishing
top of the scorer's chart with Atalanta in 1997. But those
memories would come flooding back midway through the campaign
as the Azzurri striker went on a goal rampage between January
and April. His double against Fiorentina at the Delle Alpi
spared Juventus' blushes, and he would go on to score a hat-trick
against Vicenza before netting against Napoli, Milan, Udinese
It was in those months that Juventus kept a reasonable distance
to Roma all thanks to the man whose goals personify nothing
more than simplicity. He's not on the field to entertain -
he's just there to score. But Inzaghi's strike in the 3-1
win over the Nerazzurri proved to be the last for his side
as, like the previous season, he sensationally went off the
While slight injuries didn't help Inzaghi in the title run-in,
it was perhaps the events of that afternoon in April when
The Old Lady were held at home to Lecce that compromised his
season. Pippo had started the game on the bench for fitness
reasons but with the score at 1-1, the Piacenza-born striker
was sent on to score the winner. In the end he did everything
but hit the back of the net. He instantly brought a bit more
life to the proceedings but he must still be carrying the
mental scars from that Sunday after his missed chances saw
Juve throw away two points - the same number by which Roma
won the title.
After the Bianconeri were handed a dubious penalty, Inzaghi
decided that he would take up the responsibility despite missing
from the spot just four days earlier for Italy. His well-placed
kick beat Antonio Chimenti but agonisingly ricocheted off
the post. To add further insult to injury, the former Parma
striker then hit the same post again deep in injury time as
the Southern minnows held out for an unlikely point. Inzaghi
was never to be the same again.
|Trezeguet scored 7 goals
in 6 games in Juventus' season wrap-up
But Ancelotti had the perfect answer for Inzaghi's goal drought
as the latter was benched in favor of young David. Out of
the shadows arrived Trezeguet who by this time was courting
the interest of Arsenal and Liverpool. He had lost his patience
sitting alongside his Coach for most of the season and blasted
his own decision to join the club. "If I knew how things
would have turned out then I would have never agreed to come
here." But successive strikes against Fiorentina, Bologna,
Perugia, Vicenza and Atalanta suddenly gave Juventus renewed
belief in the forward.
"When things are going well it's clear that I want to
stay here. I have a contract until 2005 and I want to respect
it." The goals kept coming and the succession of three
points saw them slowly reel in Roma - even if in the end the
Giallorossi were crowned champions.
All of a sudden it was Pippo who was entangled in transfer
talk. "I've spent some wonderful years at Juventus and
have been treated well," he said as he could do nothing
while his French colleague received all the plaudits. "It's
important to know that Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani
at a club like Milan appreciate me, and that through the years
their confidence in me has not changed. That is why, if I
had to move clubs, Milan would be my first choice."
Super Pippo finally did make the move once the Rossoneri
had raised the estimated £23m which Juventus asked for.
Despite his San Siro switch many people with Juve hearts will
remember him as someone who had black and white blood. His
mantle should be adequately taken over in Turin by Trezeguet,
even if both men are aware that they played key parts in Juve's
season. In many ways they were the goal twins that never were,
brothers who had to be kept apart in order for Juventus' title
dream to continue. They were rivals then and they're rivals
now. Their duel will no doubt continue this coming season.