Serie A

Pavel Nedved earns the Ballon d'Or after guiding Juve to the title - Serie A in 2002-03

The Czech star made the move from Lazio and was an instant hit with the Old Lady

 
12:00pm on Tuesday 31st March 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Both Inter and AC Milan took advantage of the firesale caused by Lazio’s financial problems to strengthen their squads for title challenges but, ultimately, neither proved capable of keeping up with Juventus.

The Bianconeri had started slowly but they found their feet in the second half of the season - in spite of an injury to top scorer Alessandro Del Piero - to claim a second consecutive Scudetto.

Having taken some time to prove his worth following his 2001 arrival from Lazio, Pavel Nedved enjoyed the best year of his career to claim the Ballon d’Or, while Mauro Camoranesi, a summer signing from Verona, was the revelation of Juve’s campaign.

Unfortunately, the shine was taken off their Serie A success when they were upset by Milan in the Champions League, with the Old Lady losing a third successive final, this time on penalties, after a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

CHANGES

Lazio were forced to sell a host of star players because of the involvement of club president Sergio Cragnotti in a financial scandal. Hernan Crespo joined Inter as a replacement for Ronaldo, who departed for Real Madrid after his World Cup-winning heroics with Brazil during the summer, while Biancocelesti captain Alessandro Nesta reluctantly left for Milan, where he managed to become an even better defender.

The Rossoneri also acquired Rivaldo - though the Brazilian never hit the heights he had at Barcelona - and pulled off an absolute masterstroke in persuading city rivals Inter to take the feckless Francesco Coco in exchange for the classy Clarence Seedorf.

The Nerazzurri also had their fingers burned by Fabio Cannavaro, although nobody could have foreseen that he would flop at San Siro given his previous excellence at Parma.

The most notable coaching change, meanwhile, saw former Stadio Olimpico favourite Roberto Mancini return to Rome to take charge of cash-strapped Lazio.

SEASON SUMMARY

An opening-day defeat at home to Chievo did not bode well for Lazio but Mancini’s men emerged as shock Scudetto contenders thanks to a 16-game unbeaten run. However, they ultimately missed Crespo’s goals and a run of six points from seven games essentially put paid to their title hopes.

The Biancocelesti’s slump left three teams in the running: Inter, Milan and Juventus.

With the on-fire Christian Vieri being ably supported by Crespo and Alvaro Recoba, the Nerazzurri experienced no problems scoring goals. However, their weak defence ultimately proved their undoing and their title hopes disappeared down the home stretch, with Hector Cuper’s side winning just two of their final nine games.

Serie A Players of the Year, Francesco Totti and Pavel Nedved

Milan also collapsed, losing five of their last eight matches, with their run to the Champions League final having undoubtedly distracted the Rossoneri, who had the pleasure of eliminating Inter on away goals in the semis.

As a result, the Scudetto race proved an anti-climax for the first time in years, not that Juve cared, of course. Indeed, the Bianconeri were particularly pleased at having clinched the title with a point against Perugia in Turin, given they lost the title on an infamously waterlogged pitch in Umbria three years before.

Former Juve boss Ancelotti would have the last laugh, though, with Milan overcoming the side that had sacked him in 2001 in a war of attrition in Manchester to claim the Rossoneri’s sixth European Cup before then putting the final touches on a 6-3 aggregate win over Roma in the Coppa Italia final to end the season with two major trophies.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

PAVEL NEDVED & FRANCESCO TOTTI

Nedved was unsurprisingly recognised for the key role he played in Juve’s Scudetto triumph but had to share the award with Totti, who had almost single-handedly carried Roma through what was a difficult season for the capital club.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

MARCELLO LIPPI

Although there was a strong case to be made for Ancelotti for pulling off a cup double, Lippi got the nod for having steered Juve to a second consecutive Scudetto.

TOP GOALSCORER

CHRISTIAN VIERI - 24 GOALS

Inter once again ended up empty-handed but their star striker was, at least, a most worthy recipient of the Capocannoniere award, after netting 24 times in just 23 Serie A appearances.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

Del Piero made a habit out of scoring with incredible flicks but the most brilliant goal was that of Bologna’s evergreen striker Giuseppe Signori, who controlled a knockdown from Julio Cruz, lobbed it over one defender and then buried the ball in the top corner - all without letting it bounce.

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Hernan Crespo

Lazio to INTER

€36m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

On March 2, in the midst of a six-game winning streak, Juve thrashed Inter 3-0 in Turin - fittingly, both Nedved and Camoranesi were on target - to go top of the table. They would remain there for the rest of the season.

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