Del Piero, Vialli, Moggi, elite escorts.
In the spring of 1996, a man named Marc Roger entered the Turin Palace Hotel. He was interested in the Nantes floor. Roger worked as an agent and came to talk to clients before they faced the black-and-white rink in the Champions League semi-final.
The conversation dragged on. The agent was released at one in the morning, went down the hall and ran into a tall, beautiful brunette. She walked confidently towards the elevator. An interested Frenchman approached the waiter: “Who is she?” Turned out to be an escort. The girl was called to the arbitrators’ room. The customer wanted the referees to relax before the match.
Who exactly showed generosity remained unclear. At that time, Luciano Moggi worked (did not work – worked) as the director of Juve. Ordering prostitutes for judges was part of his standard skill set. Moggi was caught on such tricks at Torino, Roma and Napoli, but never at Juventus. They just suspected.
The French understood that there was nothing to catch. They left the group thanks to the crossbow of the main favorite – Dynamo: the people of Kiev were caught bribing the judges and flew out of the tournament after the 1st round. The Ukrainians were replaced by Aalborg. Nantes made it to the playoffs, outgunned Spartak in the quarter-finals, and made it to the late stages without ever playing a Juve-level opponent.
However, there were practically none. Turintsy reached the European Cup finals for several years. Trio Del Piero – Ravanelli – Vialli scared the whole world. There was no way to stop them. Juventini scored more than 2 goals per match on average (an outstanding statistic for that time). Del Piero, 21, was in contention for top scorer and assistant at the same time – and has already made 6+3 in 8 games, including Real Madrid’s trademark free kick in the quarter-finals.
“They are favorites, but we are more motivated,” said Nantes coach Jean-Claude Xuodo at the pre-match press conference. – But I would like to take over the stability of Juventus. Turintsy count on 15 quality players. And I have 6. When you only have six players above average, it’s hard to stay as relaxed as Lippi.”
Marcello confirmed the competitor’s assumptions with the starting lineup. The Italians entered the match without Conte, Deschamps, Carrera and Ravanelli – and still amazed with the brilliance of the constellation. The penalty area was concreted by Peruzzi, Pessotto, Ferrara and Verkhovod. The center was dominated by Jugovic and Di Livio. Left worked Del Piero. Vialli grazed on the edge.
There was nothing to cover. The French ace – Makelele – missed the first match.
A couple of minutes after the starting whistle, Del Piero, as usual, easily strung the defense and flew into the penalty area – one step was not enough to substitute for a penalty. Jugovic and Di Livio tested the goalkeeper from a distance. Vialli nearly scored with a bicicleta.
Nantes rested only when the goalkeeper was preparing a goal kick. As soon as the ball was in the game, the hosts turned on ruthless pressure. Dominance was absolute. There were few real chances, but the ease with which Turintsy regained possession and instantly reached the attacking third was amazing. The Juventini looked like cyborgs. They were faster, tougher and more powerful. The Nantes gasped.
Many years later defender Laurent Guillot blamed doping on his dominance: “Vialli symbolized the match. His early death raises questions. Let’s just say, there were some suspicions. It’s sad, but “such” leave early.
A few years later, and a hundred more such accusations, the Turin prosecutor’s office launched a 9-year investigation. Juve were fully justified. The team did not accept anything prohibited. All within the framework of the Olympic laws. At the same time, Turintsy had a slight advantage over the French and Dutch – creatine was banned in their leagues, which remained legal in Italy.
In the 90s, Juve was accused of doping and 281 drugs were found in the warehouse. The process lasted 9 years
It wasn’t about doping. It was just that it was a real Juventus – talented, hardworking and prepared. Lippi has developed and maximized every component of the game. Christian Vieri said: “Marcello staged a new, unknown football. His team was terrifying even in terms of physics. We were located very tightly and put pressure near someone else’s penalty area. They ate grass and ate opponents. Is he a revolutionary? Sacchi was a revolutionary. And Lippi raised the bar in all components. His football was phenomenally intense.”
Juve pressed non-stop. It was obvious that sooner or later the French would surrender. By the middle of the half, they strayed into obvious rudeness. Under Di Livio rolled up from behind. Porrini was punched in the face in a non-fiction sequence. Sharp Del Piero was picked up in the penalty area – the referee ignored it.
On the 44th, midfielder Bruno Carotti hit the Turin winger from behind and received a second yellow card. The removal was undeniable. But the French are still sure that their problems are the result of nightly visits to the refereeing team.
“The referee of the first match, Gallagher, did not judge very impartially. I whistled in favor of Juve, – defender Serge Le Dize is sure. – Koko [Jean-Claude Xuodo, Nantes coach] said in the dressing room: “B…, he’ll even pin mad cow disease on us!” As for me, on the 81st I received a yellow card with a disqualification for the return match. Everything was clear. That semi-final showed the difference in statuses. In Turin, we realized how big the influence of Juve is.
Are they right? In that match, Nantes received seven yellow cards, and all are fair – with today’s rules it would be twice as many. Juventus got none. At the same time, defender Decroix missed with his elbow in the top joint and ended the game with a broken nose, while forward Uedek kicked him in the face in one episode.
Be that as it may, the guests’ last meager chances for zeros evaporated with the removal of the main defensive midfielder. The Italians had five minutes to implement the majority. On the 49th, Gianluca Vialli won the position in the goalkeeper’s area and touched the ball into the net – 1:0. Immediately, Porrini hit the post, and a couple of minutes later Del Piero shredded the defense on the flank and spun into the far corner from the corner of the penalty area – a little past.
The next 10-minute period began with Del Piero’s free kick on target (the goalkeeper pulled) and Alex’s high-speed breakthrough on the flank: instead of a cross, he almost put it into the post from a zero angle. And on the 66th it was all over. Yugovic was left without guardianship and shot nine from 20 meters.
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