Fabio Capello stunned the new, 20-team Serie A by ditching Roma for Juventus during the summer of 2004 but the move worked out wonderfully well for the Bianconeri, who got the better of their new coach’s former club, AC Milan, in an epic title race.
Indeed, the Scudetto was effectively decided by a head-to-head at San Siro with four rounds remaining, when the Old Lady prevailed 1-0 thanks to David Trezeguet. Juve’s triumph, though, owed much to their excellent dealings in the transfer market.
After two dreadful seasons at Inter, Fabio Cannavaro re-established himself as one of the world’s finest defenders alongside class acts such as Lilian Thuram, Emerson proved an excellent addition to the midfield, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic top-scored for the Bianconeri after arriving with a big reputation - and an even bigger ego - from Ajax.
Capello played a pivotal role in all three’s seamless integration into a side and it was the coach who was really the star of Juve’s season.
Capello’s decision to abscond to Turin caused uproar in Rome, particularly when he subsequently persuaded Emerson to join him at Juve. Despite their financial problems, the Giallorossi were initially reluctant to sanction the sale of one of their best players to their most hated rivals, but the capital club acquiesced after the midfielder produced a medical certificate claiming he had been left clinically depressed by the impasse.
However, Juve’s best bit of business was convincing Inter to give them Cannavaro in exchange for reserve goalkeeper Fabian Carini, with both players inexplicably valued at €10m.
Inter’s gambles on Juan Sebastian Veron and Edgar Davids didn’t pay off either, but new coach Roberto Mancini’s decision to take Sinisa Mihajlovic with him from Lazio was fully vindicated, while the signing of Esteban Cambiasso on a free transfer from Real Madrid was a masterstroke.
AC Milan shrewdly took Hernan Crespo on loan from Chelsea but Lyon playmaker Vikash Dhorasoo was less successful at San Siro.
Philippe Mexes would also turn out to be an excellent addition for Roma but Auxerre legally challenged his free transfer to the Stadio Olimpico, resulting in a suspension for the centre-half and the Giallorossi having to eventually pay €7m to the French side. The whole affair typified the chaotic and calamitous nature of Roma’s season.
Any chance of a restoration of stability at Roma after a summer of unrest disappeared when Cesare Prandelli stepped down on September 12 to look after his ill wife.
Rudi Voller and Luigi Delneri both came and went before Bruno Conti saved the expected title challengers from one of the biggest relegation battles Serie A had ever seen. Indeed, by the season’s end, there were just three points separating Roma in eighth from relegated Bologna in 18th!
The title race was also on a knife edge for almost the entire season. The Rossoneri suffered back-to-back defeats in January, to Livorno and Bologna, only for the Bianconeri do do likewise in February, losing at home to Sampdoria and then away to Palermo.
Juve, who had never trailed on points, then lost 1-0 at home to Inter in April and that meant that when the top two met at the Giuseppe Meazza on May 8, Milan were in pole position because of a goal difference that was one superior to their title rivals. Therefore, Juve needed to win, and they did just that, with Trezeguet getting the only goal of the game.
Milan capitulated, drawing their final three games, as the Bianconeri reclaimed the Scudetto with one round to spare. It was clear by that stage that the Rossoneri had already turned their attention to the Champions League final but they would suffer heartbreak in Istanbul, as they blew a 3-0 lead before losing on a famous clash with Liverpool on penalties.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
A year after claiming the young player prize, the prolific Parma striker landed the top gong after netting 23 goals for the second successive season.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
It may not have been a popular choice at Roma but the Juventus boss was a worthy winner, even though Roberto Mancini had earned widespread praise for finishing third with Inter and winning the Coppa Italia.
CRISTIANO LUCARELLI - 24 GOALS
After firing Livorno back into Serie A, the left-leaning striker had the season of his life in 2004-05, scoring 24 times to cement his status as a local legend.
GOAL OF THE SEASON
If there was one goal which underlined just why ADRIANO was considered the new Ronaldo it was his superb solo effort against Udinese, when the Inter striker set off from inside his own half and beat three men before firing home.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Roma to Juventus
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Gennaro Gattuso appeared to have snuffed out the danger when he blocked Alessandro Del Piero’s cross in the 27th minute of Milan’s decisive meeting with Juve but the No.10 overhead-kicked the ball back into the area, where Trezeguet nodded home the most important goal of the season.