Intercontinental Cup

The Intercontinental Cup was played in Tokyo on December 17, 1989. AC Milan against Atletico Nacional. Both newcomers for the Japanese public.
Tradition suggested Italian victory. The Colombians were feeling cold, they were quite unknown internationally, even accidental, so famous Milan full of world-class stars should have no trouble beating Atletico Nacional even without Gullit.
But the intercontinental clash had its own tradition… and no matter how good an European team at the moment, their South American opponents were even or better.
This clash was no exception.
Atletico Medelin not only neutralized mighty Milan, but looked more dangerous.
The Colombians fought by every legal or illegal mean and Milan suffered, even its best players unable to prevail and finding themselves often tackled down.
Somehow the underdog managed to stay in the game and nobody scored a goal. The regular time ended 0-0.
Call it determination, call it pure luck, call it typical Italian football… it was at the very end of the extra time, when penalty shoot-out seemed sure, when Milan got a free kick and the substitute Evani was chosen to try his luck.
He managed to curve the ball around the wall and in the net. 1-0 in the 119th minute.
There was no time for anything else, it was victory!
Tokyo, National Stadium
December 17, 1989 Att: 60,228 Ref: Fredriksson (SWE)

Milan AC (ITA) 1-0 (0-0) aet Atl. Nacional Medellín (COL)
1-0 119′ Evani

AC Milan: Galli – Tassotti, Maldini, Fuser (65′ Evani), Costacurta, Baresi, Donadoni, Van Basten, Ancelotti, Rijkaard, Massaro (70′ Simone)
Atl. Nacional: Higuita – Escobar, Gómez, Cassiani, Herrera, Pérez, Arango (46′ Restrepo), Alvarez, Alboleda (46′ Usuriaga), García, Trellez
Franco Baresi lifted the Toyota Cup.
Alberigo Evani received the goal-scoring trophy – a brand new Toyota to fly home.
Milan started their triumphal round.
The players honoured the man behind their success – Arrigo Sacchi.
Milan won and ended 1989 triumphant.
Atletico Nacional (Medellin) lost. In a way, too bad – it was unfortunate loss and would have been nicer if the underdog won. But on the other hand… Milan was the classier team and scored a goal, unlike the Colombians. Also, a victory of a club related to the Colombian drug mafia would not have been pretty… better Berlusconi than the notorious Medellin clan. No matter – it was good effort, the boys stood their ground, did whatever they could, there was no shame. Only bitterness of the chancy way they lost.
Milan confirmed they were the best in the world even without Gullit. Nobody could doubt the greatness of this vintage – they won all international trophies this year. Certainly they were going to stay on top, a new dynasty shaping the football world and its development. Milan was back to the greatness it enjoyed in the 1960s and won its second Intercontinental Cup. 20 years passed from their first victory in 1969, the tournament was changed and called concurrently the Toyota Cup, so Milan won for the first time this format played in Tokyo – in a sense, climbing one more peak.

European Player Of The Year

European Player of the Year. If only Ruud Gullit played the whole year… but he did not and and thus only 2 Dutchmen were in the top 3 – instead of 3 in 1988. If 1988 voting recognized the great success of Holland, this year it was recognition of Milan. But the players were the same… Frank Rijkard was 3rd with 43 points. Franco Baresi – 2nd with 80 points. Marco van Basten – number one with 129 points. No wonder – Milan won every international tournament they played in 1989 and these were its key stars.
To a large degree the prime decisive moment was the European Champions Cup final in which van Basten shined and scored 2 goals – here is his second. Milan was winning thanks to his fine play and great scoring ability. And he was a delight for the fans too – elegant, skillful, always motivated, not a dirty player, a real jewel.

So, for a second consecutive year Marco van Basten was voted the top player of Europe. It was just and fair, he was a great star and the only bitter taste was not about him, but about the fact that the three wonderful Dutchmen played together at the same time was no matter what two of them had to be ranked lower. Ruud Gullit already was a player of the year, but poor Frank Rijkard seemingly had no chance… Apart from that – Marco van Basten ruled. He not only played for the top teams – Holland and Milan – but always shined. No doubt about it.

The Golden Shoe

The Golden Shoe. Once again, it was Romanian wonder – and thus continuing to build suspicions and tensions around the fairness of this trophy. Baltazar (Atletico Madrid and Brazil) finished 3rd with 35 goals. This was fair. Second was Marcel Coras (Victoria Bucharest and Romania) with 36 goals. By itself, possibly fair…
Dorin Mateut (Dinamo Bucharest and Romania) was the top European scorer with 43 goals. Great achievement, but… Romanians were already under big suspicion and this season 2 of the top 3 were Romanians. Not only that, but Coras was fairly unknown player, playing for what was practically second team of Dinamo Bucharest and he was beaten by player of the first team…
Mateut was awarded and there was no big fuss – the 24-years old was already a national team player, a rapidly rising star, playing for strong and high scoring team. What did not sit well was that Mateut’s goals came out of nowhere – before joining Dinamo, he scored about 35 goals in total for his previous club. And for all his years with Dinamo Mateut scored 80 goals – half of them this season. Somehow, it was either lucky great season in which every ball he touched ended in the net, or something else was ‘organized’. But there was nothing provable… Mateut was young talented player, may be he was a natural scorer after all. It is only after considerable time, when his career could be seen in full, possible to see he was not a great scorer at all. But this was impossible to know in 1989. In any case his numbers stay and his Golden Shoe was not contested.


The Supercup. It was played in two legs late in the year – in November and December of 1989, so Milan and Barcelona faced each other with their 1989-90 teams. Milan was without Gullit (injured), but Barcelona was with Ronald Coeman and Laudrup. Cruijff already had made Barca stronger, but this trophy was always secondary and it is difficult how much mattered for Barcelona – Cruijff did not field his key stars in the second leg, for instance. Instead of Coeman and Laudrup reserves played and Eusebio was moved from defense to midfield. Still Barca was too strong and although Milan prevailed, it was by just one goal – 1-1 in Barcelona and 1-0 at home.
1st Leg, Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, 23 Nov 1989, att 50000

FC Barcelona (0) 1 AC Milan (1) 1
44′ 0-1 M: Van Basten pen
67′ 1-1 B: Amor

FC Barcelona
Zubizarreta; Aloisio, Koeman, Serna, Eusebio, Milla, Baquero,
Amor, Laudrup, Salinas (Roberto 65), Beguiristain
AC Milan
Galli; Salvatore, Maldini, Fuser, Tassotti, Costacurta, Donadoni
(Stroppa 84), Rijkaard, Van Basten, Evani, Massaro (Simone 88)
Referee: Quiniou (France)

2nd Leg, San Siro Stadium, Milan, 7 Dec 1989, att 50000

AC Milan (0) 1 FC Barcelona (0) 0
55′ 1-0 M: Evani
Milan won 2-1 on aggregate

AC Milan
Galli; Carobbi, Maldini, Fuser, Tassotti, Costacurta, Donadoni,
Rijkaard, Van Basten, Evani, Massaro (Simone 65)
FC Barcelona
Zubizarreta; Lopez Recarte (Onesimo 74), Alesanco, Milla, Serena,
Roberto, Baquero, Jordi Roura (Soler 10), Eusebio, Salinas,
Referee: Kohl (Austria)
Barcelona lost, but it is questionable how seriously Cruijff took the Supercup challenge. May be this trophy was not important for Barca, hard to tell. Yet, even with weakened team in the second leg they lost only by one goal to mighty Milan, which was good to note.
Milan, to a large degree, won the Supercup in the first leg in Barcelona – they were leading and the only thing Barca could do was to equalize.
Then it was mostly a question who really wanted the trophy – Milan, apparently wanted it more and at home managed to win. May be not much, but it was the first Supercup Milan won, one more trophy to display and, most importantly, this was the year Sacchi’s team established itself as really great one: they won all international competitions they played in, even when they were unable to use Ruud Gullit.

European Champions Cup

The European Champions Cup. The international season was entirely without surprises this time – the expected happened practically all the time. Only the draws provided variety – so Galatasaray reached the ½ thanks to particular draws, not that they surprised a favourite. And the draw shaped the finalists too – Steaua was lucky to meet Galatasaray and once again the expected stronger team won – 4-0 and 1-1. Thus, Steaua reached the Champions Cup final for a second time. The draw opposed Real Madrid to Milan, so one team had to go… if Real was playing against Steaua or Galatasaray, they most certainly were going to reach the final, but against Milan… Real was very strong at this time, yet, Milan was greater. How greater? Well, after 1-1 in Madrid, they destroyed Real 5-0 in Milan. Steaua, also very strong and led by Hagi, was no match to Milan of Gullit, van Basten and Rijkard, and lost 0-4.
Final, Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, 24 May 1989, att 97000

AC Milan (3) 4 Steaua Bucharest (0) 0
17′ 1-0 M: Gullit
26′ 2-0 M: Van Basten
38′ 3-0 M: Gullit
46′ 4-0 M: Van Basten

AC Milan (trainer Sacchi)
G.Galli; Tassotti, Costacurta (F.Galli 74), Baresi, Maldini; Colombo,
Rijkaard, Ancelotti, Donadoni; Gullit (Virdis 60), Van Basten
Steaua Bucharest (trainer Iordanescu)
Lung; Iovan, Petrescu, Bumbescu, Ungureanu; Hagi, Stoica, Minea,
Rotariu (Balint 46); Lacatus, Piturca
Referee: Tritschler (West Germany)
No second European Champions Cup for Steaua – it was quite predictable loss, even if such big loss was unexpected, and there was something symbolic losing at Nou Camp – in a sense, Barcelona took revenge for the humiliation suffered from Steaua in 1986. Perhaps Steau’89 was stronger team the the 1986 vintage, having Hagi, Lung, Lacatus, Piturca, Rotariu, Balint, Petrescu, Stoica, almost a full squad of national team players, all from arguably the greatest generation in Romanian football, but between 1986 and 1989 things shifted in Europe and Milan was really on top in everything.
Milan had more than confident campaign – they eliminated Vitosha (Sofia) in the first round 2-0 and 5-2, then had real difficulty against Crvena zvezda (Belgrade) – 1-1 and 1-1, so had to be lucky in the penalty shoot-out and they were: 4-2. Tough ¼ final against Werder (Bremen) 0-0 and 1-0, and really flying against Real Madrid – 1-1 and 5-0 – and against Steaua – 4-0. Arrigo Sacchi really made exceptional team in which the great Dutch trio played the key role. Milan did not have successful domestic season, but conquered Europe, a much more important triumph. Milan won its 3rd European Champions Cup and they were back on top for the first time since 1969. It was also clear that Milan’s success was not going to be a one-time-wonder – this team was going to stay on top.

Cup Winners Cup

Cup Winners Cup. No surprising results at all – according to the draws, the expected teams won from the beginning to the end. True, there was a chance of unusual final: Belgian Mechelen had a chance to reach the final and perhaps win the Cup for a second time in a row and Bulgarian CFKA Sredertz, with some luck, could have been the other finalist, even the winner, but that was theory – Mechelen faced up and coming Sampdoria in the ½ finals and was eliminated 2-1 and 0-3. The Bulgarians played against Barcelona coached by Cruijff and their chances on paper translated into playing bravely in reality – they did that and lost both legs: 2-4 and 1-2. Thus, the expected finalists met at the end and the Spaniards scored twice – one goal in each half, one goal early in match and the second nearing the end. Sampdoria had no answer.
Final, Wankdorf Stadium, Berne, 10 May 1989, att 45000

FC Barcelona (1) 2 UC Sampdoria (0) 0
4′ 1-0 B: Salinas
79′ 2-0 B: Recarte

FC Barcelona
Zubizarreta; Aloisio, Alesanco, Urbano; Milla (Soler 61), Amor, Eusebio,
Roberto; Lineker, Salinas, Bequiristain (Recarte 74)
UC Sampdoria
Pagliuca; L.Pelligrini (Bonomi 49), Mannini (S.Pellegrini 27), Lanna,
Salsano; Pari, Victor, Cerezo, Dossena; Vialli, Mancini
Referee: Courtney (England)
To a point, it was fair Sampdoria to lose – they were ‘newcomers’ among the top European teams and perhaps were not yet at their peak. Plenty of talent, but they had to play against experienced opponent now spurred by their own legend Cruijff and eager to succeed. It would have been better if Sampdoria won, but they had to wait.
Barcelona won its 3rd Cup Winners Cup and it was very important success – the club needed victory, Cruijff needed victory, the fans demanded it. Cruijjf did not have the squad he wanted, so it was very important to won a trophy, so to be able to shape the team he envisioned – and, in passing, the ½ against CFKA Sredetz, gave him the opportunity to see a player fitting his needs, Christo Stoichkov. Anyhow, Barcelona won and ended the first season of Cruijff as a coach with success. The road to the Cup was rather rocky: 2-0 and 5-0 against Fram (Iceland) in the first round, almost a slip in the second round against Lech (Poznan) – 1-1 and 1-1, so Barcelona prevailed in the gamble of penalty shoot-out 4-3. Again difficulties in the ¼ finals – Barca won 1-0 in Denmark against AGF (Aarhus), but at home the second leg ended 0-0. Finally confident in the ½ finals against CFKA Sofia – 4-2 and 2-1, and 2-0 in the final against Sampdoria. Barcelona did not lose at all during the campaign, but given the class of their opponents it was not overwhelming campaign. All ended well, but it was not the team Cruijff had in mind and changes were made right after this success (Lineker was out, Ronald Coeman and Michael Laudrup – in). In a sense, Barcelona’s victory was only preliminary – a standing point from which to start winning at earnest.


The UEFA Cup. Almost no surprising results – Belenenses (Lisbon) eliminated Bayer (Leverkusen), Sporting (Lisbon) -Ajax (Amsterdam) and Groningen prevailed over Atletico (Madrid) in the first round and that was practically all. Eventually, Napoli, Bayern, VfB Stuttgart and Dynamo (Dresden) reached the ½ finals and there was chance for West German final, but it was not to be: Napoli eliminated Bayern 2-0 and 2-2. VfB Stuttgart, however, eliminated Dynamo (Dresden) 1-0 and 1-1. In the first leg Napoli prevailed at home 2-1 and was leading 3-1 by the 62nd minute in Stuttgart. The hosts managed to equalized, but no more.
Final 1st Leg, San Paolo Stadium, Naples, 3 May 1989, att 83000

SSC Napoli (0) 2 VfB Stuttgart (1) 1
17′ 0-1 S: Gaudino 17
68′ 1-1 N: Maradona 68
87′ 2-1 N: Careca

SSC Napoli
Giuliani; Renica, Ferrera, Francini, Corradini (Crippa 46); Alemao,
Fusi, De Napoli; Careca, Maradona, Carnevale
VfB Stuttgart
Immel; Allgower, N.Schmaler, Hartmann, Buchwald; Schafer, Katanec,
Sigurvinnson, Schroder; Walter (Zietsch 70), Gaudino
Referee: Germanakos (Greece)

Final 2nd Leg, Neckarstadion, Stuttgart, 17 May 1989, att 67000

VfB Stuttgart (1) 3 SSC Napoli (2) 3
18′ 0-1 N: Alemao
27′ 1-1 S: Klinsmann
39′ 1-2 N: Ferrera
62′ 1-3 N: Careca
70′ 2-3 S: De Napoli og
89′ 3-3 S: O.Schmaler
Napoli won 5-4 on aggregate

VfB Stuttgart
Immel; Allgower, N.Schmaler, Hartmann; Schafer, Katanec, Sigurvinnson,
Schroder; Walter (O.Schmaler 77), Klinsmann, Gaudino
SSC Napoli
Giuliani; Renica, Ferrera, Francini, Corradini; Alemao (Carranante 30),
Fusi, De Napoli; Careca (Bigliardi 70), Maradona, Carnevale
VfB Stuttgart lost by single goal and too bad for them. From left: Allgöwer, Immel, N. Schmäler, Katanec, Hartmann, Schäfer, Sigurvinsson, Schröder, Gaudino, Walter, Klinsmann. Not a bad side, for sure, but…
SSC Napoli achieved international success at last. At last, becanse having Diego Maradona practically required more than good seasons near the top. Yet, it was not exceptional squad and the final was practically between equals. Maradona scored only one goal against Stuttgart, but Klinsmann could not do better either. Still, Napoli prevailed – first coming from the back at home and extracting victory and then leading in Stuttgart, which put a big problem to the Germans and they were able only to equalize. The road to the final was not easy for Maradona and company: in the first leg they eliminated PAOK (Greece) by a goal – 1-0 and 1-1, then did better against Lokomotive (Leipzig) – 1-1 and 2-0, 1-0 (away) and 0-0 against Girondens Bordeaux, and neutralized solid lead of Juventus in the ¼ finals – 0-2 and 3-0 to meet Bayern in the ½ finals, where Napoli built a lead in the first leg 2-0 and kept it in the second: 2-2. Not great results, really, but one has to keep in mind that Napoli is an Italian team and therefore a 1-0 victory almost equals 4-0 or so for teams of other countries. Not impressive results, but Napoli lost only one during the whole campaign and that against Juventus. Thus, there was a new winner of the UEFA Cup and Diego Maradona won European trophy. Somehow, there was sense of finality – that was, seemingly, the most Napoli could do, their great period finished.
So, let take one more look at the new UEFA Cup winners.

Italy the Cup

The Italian Cup. Sampdoria and Napoli met at the final and Diego Maradona finished second again. Napoli won the first leg 1-0, but in the second leg was practically destroyed by Sampdoria – 0-4.
Maradona may have been the best player in the world, but he was not winning many trophies with his European clubs. Napoli finished second in both Cup and championship.
Sampdoria was getting better and better – this season was their best so far. They won their 3rd Cup and it was also second in a row. And the team was not at its peak yet, there was more to come for sure.

Italy I Division

First Division – Serie A. Italian club football may have been the best at this time and Milan and Napoli the most talked about internationally, but the season was dominated by another team and that with such superiority the actual strength of Milan and Napoli could be immediately questioned. However, bellow a cluster of 4-5 clubs (and Juventus was among them almost by default, for it was shaky, if not in decline) the league was quite ordinary – tough for sure, but not exciting and inferior to the leading clubs. By now 3 foreign players were permitted, but even if Italy was preferred destination to foreign players, not every club employed three imports and practically there were foreigners bellow Serie A. Under the shiny group of few leading teams reality was pretty much as always – plenty of ties, defensive tactics, low scoring. So far 2 points were given for a win and there was no better argument for change to 3-point-for-a-win system than the final table – the number of ties is the first noticed: only one team ended with less than 10 ties. And since 3 ties gave more points than 1 win and 2 losses, why taking a risk?
Como finished at the bottom with 22 points and was relegated. Perhaps will be amusing to point the foreigners at hand this season. Dan Corneliusson (Sweden) was going down along with Brazilian striker Milton. And very young Marco Simone too.
Pisa – 17th with 23 points and relegated. English Paul Elliott, Belgian Francis Severeyns, and Dutch Mario Been here.

Pescara – 16th with 27 points and relegated. ThreeBrazilians – aging Junior, Edmar and Tita.
Torino – 15th with 27 points and relegated. Muller and Edu (Brazil) plus Haris Skoro (Yugoslavia).
Bologna – 14th with 29 points. The recognizable name was Stephane Demol (Belgium). Also Hugo Rubio (Chile) and Mika Aaltonen (Finland) and two former Juventus players – Massimo Bonini and Ivano Bonetti.
Cesena – 13th with 29 points. Hans Holmqvist (Sweden) and Davor Jozic (Yugoslavia).
Ascoli – 12th with 29 points. Walter Casagrande (Brazil), Mustafa Arslanovic and Borislav Cvetkovic (Yugoslavia), plus veteran Bruno Giordano.
Verona (may be better start writing it Hellas Verona) – 11th with 29 points. Impressive trio here: Thomas Berthold (West Germany) plus two Argentinians: Pedro Troglio and one Claudio Caniggia. Add Giuseppe Galderisi.
Lazio – 10th with 29 points. Nelson Gutierrez and Ruben Sosa (Uruguay) plus Gustavo Dezotti (Argentina).
Lecce – 9th with 31 points. Pedro Pasculli and Juan Barbas (Argentina) and Istvan Vincze (Hungary).
Roma – 8th with 34 points. This squad – on paper – looked capable of much more than 8th place… Rudi Voller (West Germany) and Andrade (Brazil) were not all: there were Franco Tancredi (and very young Angelo Peruzzi as back-up), Stefano Desideri, Sebastiano Nela, Giuseppe Giannini, Lionello Manfredonia, Daniele Massaro, Ruggiero Rizzitelli, and beloved famous veteran Bruno Conti.
Fiorentina – 7th with 34 points. Like Roma, they looked capable of more: Dunga (Brazil), Glenn Hysen (Sweden), but also veteran Roberto Pruzzo and exciting youngster named Roberto Baggio. They had to try getting a UEFA Cup spot in a play-off against Roma and succeeded – 1-0, thanks to Pruzzo.
Atalanta – 6th with 36 points. One may say they were overachievers, but to see them mixed with the best and actually finishing higher than seemingly stronger squads was lovely. Glenn Stromberg and Robert Prytz (Sweden) plus Evair (Brazil). Add Claudio Prandelli, if you like.
Sampdoria – 5th with 39 points. Now, this was a team rapidly climbing up in recent years. Aging Toninho Cerezo (Barzil) and Spanish Victor Munoz (formerly of Barcelona, no less!) were the foreign players, but around them… Gianluca Pagliuca, Moreno Mannini, Pietro Vierchowod, Gianluca Vialli, Giuseppe Dossena, Roberto Mancini, Luca Pellegrini.
Juventus – 4th with 43 points. They somewhat stumbled in the previous year, when they bought Soviet stars Zavarov and Aleynikov (who was a major disappointment) and were in process of rebuilding anyway – and it showed. Another club would be quite happy to be 4th, but for Juve it was a big slump – they were not a title contender. Aleynikov was gone, but Aleksandr Zavarov stayed. Michael Laudrup (Denmark) and Rui Barros (Portugal) certainly promised brighter future, but the team was not quite made yet – Cabrini, Altobelli, De Agostini, fine, but Roberto Tricella, Strefano Tacconi, Luciano Favero, Sergio Brio were not quite the best, not to mention their aging.
Milan – great coach, great squad, leading world-class players, the best in Europe, but… only 3rd in Italy. Not a title contender, fighting for second place with Maradona’s Napoli and losing the battle… 3rd with 46 points. True, they lost only twice this season, but so what? They ended 12 points behind their city rivals. As for the players – no need to list them, right?
Napoli, like Milan, found fighting on both Italian and European fronts too much, but unlike Milan, they had internal problems brewing, more or less stirred by Diego Maradona. They manage to previal over Milan in the championship, but that was all: very distant 2nd with 47 points. Along with Maradona played Careca and Alemao (Brazil), also Ciro Ferrara and Fernando De Napoli, but its was somewhat short squad, mostly dependent on Maradona’s form, will, and skill.

Inter dominated this championship with strength, which was actually surprising. Surprising, because the last time they won the title was in 1979-80 and since their last success before that was in 1970-71, some implausible tradition was established: Inter was capable the title very rarely, in 10-years gaps, and unable to stay on top for longer. Incidental titles, somewhat… and thus not exactly seen as a cutting-edge club. In view of the exciting Milan and Maradona-led Napoli, and up and coming Sampdoria, and alsways formidable Juventus, Inter was not exactly the expected winner. Even less by the crushing domination. Even less by winning games and scoring plenty of goals. But that was exactly what they did: 26 wins, 6 ties, only 2 losses, 67-19 goal-difference, 58 points – leaving Napoli 11 points behind! No other team in all 4 divisions won that many games. They were the only team in the top league with less than 10 ties. They scored most goals. They allowed the least goals in their net. Superior team in every aspect. The genius of Trapattoni was displayed in full force, for who would imagine at this time that a German-led squad will score so many goals and actually win not by ugly struggle, but by playing? Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme provided the German steel of course, but the squad was not just them – Giuseppe Bergomi, Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Baresi, Aldo Serena, the Argentine Ramon Diaz, it was formidable squad. Not as flashy and inventive like Milan, but certainly better balanced than Napoli. Having a great coach at his prime did not hurt either. Inter won its 13th title in great manner and as if saying “How come you think Milan great if we leave them 12 points behind?” Wonderful season, bringing hopes for longer success at last. And also skepticism… let see the next year to find are they really great or just having incidental success like ten year ago and another ten before that. Future to the future, the present was wonderful.

Italy II Division

Second Division – Serie B. 20-team league. Top four promoted, last four relegated. Two team were above the rest and seemingly goal-difference decided first and second place, but bellow… the same combination of head-to-head records, followed by play-off was applied for both deciding promotion and relegation. In this league Tie was God… Cosenza was the ‘worst’ with only 10 ties. Ancona was ‘best’ with 23 ties, but they had fierce competition: Parma finished with 21, Monza with 20, 6 teams, the top 3 among them, with 19 ties.
Piacenza did poorly – last with 26 points. Relegated.
Taranto – 19th with 29 points. Relegated.
Sambenedettese – 18th with 31 points. Relegated.
The next 3 teams ended with 34 points and the familiar procedure divided them – the one with best head-to-head record was on top, the other two went to play-off. Brescia and Empoli did not veer from the holly Second Division tradition: they ended 0-0. However, penalty shoot-out eventually produces scores… at least for one team – Brescia won 3-0.
Empoli was relegated – after losing the play-off, they were 17th with 34 points.
Brescia – 16th with 34 points. They barely escaped relegation and only thanks to the penalty shootout in the play-off against Empoli.
Monza – 15th with 34 points. Survived only on better head-to-head record against Brescia and Empoli.
Padova – 14th with 35 points.
Ancona – 13th with 35 points. The pride of Italian football this season: 23 ties in 38 games! Nobody had that many in all top four divisions. Of course, there was room for improvement…
Barletta – 12th with 35 points.
Catanzaro – 11th with 35 points. In mid-table goal-difference apparently was the decisive factor – Catanzaro finished with best goal-difference among those with 35 points and bellow again place was in accord with goal-difference.
Parma – 10th with 37 points. Worse goal-difference – a matter of just one goal – placed them bellow Licata.
Licata – 9th with 37 points. Finished with -1 goal-difference, which was better than -2 goal-difference of Parma.
Messina – 8th with 38 points.
Avellino – 7th with 41 points.
And the next round of fun… 3 teams with 44 points, contesting 1 promotion. Cosenza was eliminated for having worse head-to-head record and the other two went to play-off.
Cosenza – 6th with 44 points.
Cremonese and Ragina played the decisive play-off. Naturally, the match ended 0-0. In the penalty shoot-out Cremonese prevailed 4-3.
After losing the play-off, Reggina was 5th with 44 points. Whether they deserved to be so close to promotion may be questionable (they had the worst goal-difference of the teams with 44 points), but to lose promotion by penalty shoot-out… Would have been great if they were promoted, for Reggina never played top-league football.
Cremonese – lucky 4th and promoted with 44 points. They won the penalty shoot-out,which is more or less the same as winning on roulette – and were back in First Division. Lucky guys.
Udinese clinched 3rd place with 45 points and at least got promoted without further complications.
Bari – 2nd with 51 points. They were too strong to worry over their chances to get promoted, but fought for the first place anyway. Lost it on goal-difference, though… but still they were more than satisfied, since the prime goal was promotion.
Genoa was the Second Division champion this season. They shared the same numbers in almost everything with their rivals Bari: 16 wins, 19 ties, 3 losses, 51 points. So… goal-difference decided first and second. Genoa finished 35-13: +22. Bari had 38-21: +17. The title went to Genoa.
Well, all promoted teams were former Seria A members, so rather familiar return of well known teams. Anyhow, good luck in the top league to Genoa, Bari, Udinese, and Cremonese next season.