Serie A

When Lazio had Veron, Nedved, Boksic, Nesta, Simeone, Salas and Mancini and finally won - Serie A in 1999/00

The expensively-assembled team of superstars got it done, pipping Juventus to the crown

2:15pm on Sunday 29th March 2020
By
Mark Doyle | Italian Football Expert

After throwing the title away in 1998-99, Lazio took advantage of an even more spectacular capitulation by Juventus to finally land what was only the second Scudetto in the club’s history. Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side then completed a brilliant double by edging out Inter over two legs in the Coppa Italia final.

While much was understandably made of Juve’s inability to get over the line - they lost four of their final eight games - Lazio had paid their dues and were worthy champions, amassing 22 of the maximum 24 points at the business end of the season.

Marcelo Salas had made light of the loss of his partner in crime, Christian Vieri, who had defected to Inter, while a midfield already boasting the dynamism of Pavel Nedved was shrewdly strengthened by the acquisitions of Argentine duo Juan Sebastian Veron and Diego Simeone.

In defence, meanwhile, hometown hero Alessandro Nesta continued his development into one of the finest centre-halves in world football alongside the evergreen dead-ball specialist Sinisa Mihajlovic, as Lazio finally claimed the Scudetto that their persistence warranted.

CHANGES

Lazio received a world-record fee of €46m for Vieri, who departed for Inter after falling out with president Sergio Cragnotti. The Biancocelesti reinvested the money well, though. As well as bringing in Simeone and Veron, they also signed Simone Inzaghi, who popped up with some crucial goals.

Elsewhere, Milan strengthened their attack by landing the most coveted striker in world football, Andriy Shevchenko, while Roma snapped up Sampdoria sensation Vincenzo Montella.

The most interesting changes arguably came on the bench, though, with former Juve boss Marcello Lippi taking over at Inter and Fabio Capello assuming control of Roma.

SEASON SUMMARY

After the opening rounds, the fans were braced for one of the most open title races in years.

However, Inter’s hopes of challenging for the Scudetto were hampered by Vieri and Ronaldo’s incessant fitness problems, though they did at least win a Champions League play-off with Parma through the brilliance of Roberto Baggio. In addition, it quickly became evident that while Shevchenko was worth far more than the €23m, Milan’s ageing squad was in need of a complete revamp.

Lazio again looked equipped to go the distance but even they lacked the consistency of Juve, whose defensive discipline saw them lose just one of their opening 26 games. By the time the Bianconeri travelled to Milan in March, they were nine points clear of Lazio with eight rounds remaining. However, a 2-0 loss at San Siro sent Juve into freefall. They were beaten at home by Lazio the following weekend and then suffered an even more surprising loss at Verona on matchday 32.

Serie A Player of the Year, Francesco Totti

Despite their dismal form and worsening fatigue - the effect of having participated in the Intertoto Cup - Juve still held a two-point advantage going into the final weekend thanks to a controversial victory over Parma on the penultimate weekend in which Gialloblu defender Fabio Cannavaro had had a goal inexplicably ruled out, meaning that victory at Perugia would clinch the title for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

There was to be more late drama, though, as the game in Umbria was delayed for over an hour due to torrential rain, meaning Lazio were left following the match on radios after beating Reggina at the Olimpico to temporarily move one point clear of the Bianconeri.

On a waterlogged pitch, Perugia then netted through Alessandro Calori to leave Juve needing a goal just to force a Scudetto play-off. They were unable to find an equaliser, though, thus gifting the title to a disbelieving but delighted Lazio.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

FRANCESCO TOTTI

A year after winning the young player award, the Roma ace was crowned the best player in Serie A for proving himself one of the most complete attackers in world football.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON

The Swede was the obvious choice after leading Lazio to a first domestic double, at the end of a season which had begun with them defeating treble winners Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup.

TOP GOALSCORER

ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO - 24 GOALS

The Ukrainian took his first steps towards becoming a San Siro legend by being crowned Capocannoniere in his very first season in Serie A, with 24 goals.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

There are strong cases to be made for Alvaro Recoba's sombrero against Lecce, Hugo Almeyda's stupendous volley against Parma but, for the context, and the incredible first touch with the outside of the foot, our goal of the season was Antonio Cassano's sensational winner for Bari against Inter.

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Christian Vieri

Lazio to INTER

€46.5m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

The final day may have decided the destination of the Scudetto but it was Lazio’s 1-0 win away to Juventus thanks to Diego Simeone’s header which had proved the turning point in the title race. On that night in Turin, Lazio not only realised that the Bianconeri were tiring, they were also nervous.

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