Straight from the dark heart of Italy
The ghosts of Inter’s past are no doubt rattling the windows of Massimo Moratti’s luxurious Milanese penthouse.The president has banned all talk of May 5, 2002 as his side stare into the abyss of the greatest collapse in modern Italian football after holding a 11-point lead back in February.Six years ago, the Nerazzurri had allowed a five-point lead with five games to go to disappear, leaving Juventus just a point behind going into the final day.In the heat of Rome’s Olympic stadium the likes of Marco Materazzi, Ronaldo and Christian Vieri wilted in a 4-2 defeat to Lazio. It’s something Inter fans had become used to as the team suffered a similar fate back in the 1966-67 season, with Juve once again profiting from their last-day jitters.However, the Turin side have also suffered the indignity of blowing what seemed an unassailable advantage when they led Lazio in the 1999-2000 season by nine points in April, only to fall apart in spectacular fashion.
Ronaldo fights the tears as Inter blow it in 2002
On the last day of the season the Old Lady needed a point at Perugia but the gods and the rain gods in particular threw down a torrential deluge which held play up and in which time Lazio recorded a 3-0 win in their game. However, when the action resumed some 80 minutes later it all ended in tears as the Bianconeri fell to a 1-0 defeat. Perugia was also the venue to crown Milan’s amazing comeback in the 1998-99 season and by another quirk it was Lazio who were at the centre of the drama as well. This time the the club from the capital had put nine points between them and the Rossoneri but Alberto Zaccheroni’s side then won seven in a row as the Biancocelesti could only pick up the odd point here and there.Milan went top on the penultimate day after a 4-0 defeat of Empoli while Lazio just about kissed the title goodbye with a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina. They then finished it off with a 2-1 win at Perugia - and that was that. In the 2000-01 season, Juventus clawed back AS Roma’s nine-point advantage but in the end the Giallorossi held on to snatch the title on the last day. Maybe there is an omen in there for Inter somewhere but they will need nerves of steel on Sunday to ensure they don’t go down in history as one of the great all-time chokers.
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