Series A 1997-1998: Wild and Dramatic (part 2)

The first round of the season took place in the last week of August, with the focus of attention on Inter when they just played against a young Brescia when they first joined the Serie A.

It was Ronaldo’s debut at Giuseppe Meazza filled with thousands of enthusiastic fans. But the Brazilian superstar seemed to be drowning, he did not get a goal in that debut. But fortunately, there was still a new name – Alvaro Recoba – a 21 year old Uruguayan player. He came on as a substitute for Maurizio Ganz who was playing badly and soon had the most memorable debut in Serie A history.

Less than 10 minutes later, he made his first goal for the Nerazzurri – a stretch shot from a long range. And just five minutes later, the Uruguayan rookie got his second goal – an exemplary kick that would later become his own brand. 2-1 was the final score of the first game which was memorable for both the Nerazzurri and Recoba.

Inter proved to be a strong candidate for the championship, they won the first four games, rose to the top of the chart. Ronaldo finally scored his first goal in the second round against Bologna – a fierce battle between Ronaldo and Baggio. Ronaldo left his mark when turning a Bologna defender into a clown. After the match, Baggio said, “He has all the qualities that bring the game to another level.” And that was Ronaldo’s typical image for the whole season.

Juventus beat Lecce 2-0 in the opening week of the season and by the sixth, the Bianconeri had risen to second place after Inter. The race was fierce after months, and before winter break, there was only one point between them. The Nerazzurri only lost one match, a defeat at Alberto Zaccheroni’s Udinese after Oliver Bierhoff’s late-minute header.

RONALNO VS DEL PIERO

The battle between Ronaldo and Del Piero became more apparent in the tournament that year and it was believed that one of the two would decide the fate of the Scudetto Cup. By the time of Christmas, the Brazilian striker had had nine goals, and on the opposing side, Del Piero scored just one goal more.

The first match between two # 10 was in the first week of the new year. The San Siro shrine was crowded that day when the clashes began. The Alien – the hotspot of the Italian press at the time, was more impressive. At 46 minutes, Ronaldo broke into the penalty area, stood up to the pressure of Mark Iuliano and hit a pass into the penalty area for Youri Djorkaeff. The Frenchman did not make any mistake and ended up defeating Angelo Peruzzi. The team of blue and black stripes won the game and the gap between the two teams increased to 4 points.

But just two weeks later, the distance was once again reduced to one point. The appeal of the tournament also lied in the surprises of the lower teams, Bari was an example. The club was  only just promoted but beat Inter on Giuseppe Meazza. At the same time, Juventus beat Bologna 3-1. Also in the match,  fans witnessed  Roberto Baggio’s anger  when he was not appriciated by coach Renzo Ulvieri.

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