Serie A

When Inter collapsed on the final day to hand the title to Juventus - Serie A in 2001/02

The Nerazzurri's stunning loss at Roma handed the title to their rivals in devastating circumstances

12:00pm on Monday 30th March 2020
By
Mark Doyle | Italian Football Expert

The 2001-02 season will forever be associated with Inter’s remarkable final-day collapse.

The Nerazzurri had appeared set to claim their first Scudetto since 1989, having gone into their last game a point ahead of Juventus at the top of the table. However, Inter capitulated, suffering a 4-2 defeat that gifted the Scudetto to Juve, who had triumphed 2-0 at Udinese.

Although Inter’s self-destruction was the story of the season, the Bianconeri had got their just reward for rounding off their campaign with five successive victories. It was also a personal triumph for Marcello Lippi, who had returned to Turin after his chastening experience at Inter.

Juve’s board also deserved for credit for offsetting the loss of Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid by bringing three men who would become club legends: Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thurman and Pavel Nedved.

CHANGES

Inter turned to Hector Cuper in their hope of finally ending their Scudetto drought and the former Valencia boss was handed a couple of strong defensive additions to work with: goalkeeper Francesco Toldo and centre-half Marco Materazzi.

AC Milan also had a new man on the bench, with Fatih Terim taking over from Alberto Zaccheroni, and the Turkish coach brought Rui Costa with him from Fiorentina, for €42m.

David Trezeguet’s impressive debut season in Serie A had also persuaded Juve to cash in on Filippo Inzaghi, who joined Milan for €37m.

The Bianconeri used the proceeds from selling ‘Super Pippo’ and Zidane - who moved to Real Madrid for a world-record €77.5m - to plunder Parma for Buffon and Thuram, as well as prise Pavel Nedved and Marcelo Salas away from Lazio. All bar Salas excelled, with the Chilean spending most of his time in Turin either injured or on the bench.

Lazio, meanwhile, struggled without Nedved and also Juan Sebastian Veron, who left for Manchester United, after wasting a significant chunk of the money accrued on Gaizka Mendieta.

SEASON SUMMARY

Juve and Inter both began the season strongly but it was Chievo who, remarkably, made the early running. Indeed, the Flying Donkey’s soared to the top of the table on October 21 and remained there until December.

Chievo eventually ended up fifth, a place and a point above Lazio, who were hampered by Hernan Crespo’s injury problems and ended the season with Zaccheroni on the bench following the dismissal of Dino Zoff.

Terim, meanwhile, didn’t make it to Christmas, sacked by Milan at the start of November and replaced by former midfielder Carlo Ancelotti, who led the Rossoneri to a fourth-placed finish - and then on to even greater things…

Fiorentina endured a miserable campaign, initially relegated to Serie B after finishing 18th only to end up in the fourth tier because of their bankruptcy.

Serie A Player of the Year, David Trezeguet

Reigning champions Roma started the season slowly but seven successive victories saw them move top by the midway point of the season, just a point ahead of Inter. As Chievo fell away, though, Juve clicked into gear to make it a three-way scrap for the Scudetto.

March saw the title race turn in Inter’s favour, as Cuper’s side snatched a 2-2 draw at home to the Bianconeri with a thunderous injury-time strike from Clarence Seedorf before beating Roma 3-1 at San Siro thanks to Alvaro Recoba’s double.

Despite dropping points to Atalanta (2-3) and Chievo (2-2), Cuper’s stuttering side still went into the final weekend of the season one and two points clear of Juve and Roma, respectively. Victory at Lazio would, therefore, clinch the Scudetto.

However, despite leading twice, through Vieri and Luigi Di Biagio, Inter imploded, losing 4-2 at a Stadio Olimpico in which many of the home fans were actually hoping that the visitors would win, as that was preferable to seeing either Juve or Roma prevail.

Despite Roma’s victory at Torino, it was the Bianconeri who ended up on top of the pile, thanks, fittingly, to goals from Del Piero and Trezeguet.

Thus, the abiding image of the day was Ronaldo in tears on the Inter bench at the end of his final game in Serie A, as the Nerazzurri somehow contrived to throw another title away.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

DAVID TREZEGUET

The Frenchman took advantage of Inzaghi’s departure and Salas’ struggles to form a formidable partnership with Del Piero that won Juve the Scudetto.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

LUIGI DELNERI

Lippi may have landed another Scudetto in Turin but Delneri qualifying Chievo for the UEFA Cup was undeniably the coaching achievement of the season.

TOP GOALSCORER

DAVID TREZEGUET & DARIO HUBNER - 24 GOALS

The pair shared the capocannoniere award, with both having netted 24 goals apiece. Trezeguet’s tally hadn’t been bolstered by penalties but Hubner’s season was no less impressive, given he’d been playing for lowly Piacenza.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

CLARENCE SEEDORF'S last-gasp leveller against the Bianconeri took the breath way, for both the sweetness of the strike and its timing.

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Gianluigi Buffon

Parma to Juventus

€52m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Inter were leading 2-1 as half-time approached at the Olimpico when Vratislav Gresko made a horrendous mistake that allowed Karel Poborsky to steal in and level the game. Bizarrely, Inter never looked remotely like reclaiming the initiative.

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