Gabriel BATISTUTA with the Deportivo Italiano

In summer 1978 when Argentina won his domestic World Cup, Gabriel Omar Batistuta, a nine year old, living in a small city of Reconquista in the province of Santa Fe, dreamt of one day replicating the heroics of the likes of Mario Kempes, Daniel Passarella and Leopoldo Luque. In pursuit of his dreams Batistuta switched from basketball and started kicking a football on street corners. He was drafted into the Platense Junior team by a watchful scout. While at Platense, Batistuta broke into a bigger Reconquista team and went on to win the provincial championship against the youth team of the renowned Newell’s Old Boys, scoring two goals in the process. Impressed by his performance Newell’s Old Boys snapped him up. A year later, at the age of 19, Batistuta signed a professional contract with Newell’s. However, he experienced an unpleasant debut season and was loaned off to Deportivo Italiano of Buenos Aires. In february 1989 Batistuta and the Deportivo Italiano played the friendly tournoiment "Coppa Carnevale". The Argentine team was in the "death group" with Milan AC of Van Basten and the Napoli of Diego Maradona. With two 0-0 face of the italian monsters the Deportivo made a good impression and versus CSKA Sofia Gabriel Omar Batistuta scored a hat-trick for a 3-0 victory. Then when he went back to Argentina, Batistuta joined one of the titans of Argentine football – River Plate.
Diego and Batigol
Source : En Una Baldosa

La papinade de Bixente

19 Février 2000, Bixente LIZARAZU prouve à l'Europe entière qu'il va mieux. En Effet le basque faisait son retour la semaine précedente en Bundesliga après un repos forcé de 3 mois en raison d'un blessure. Et le champion du monde va soigner son retour sur les pelouse en inscrivant son premier but de la saison (son troisième en bundesliga). Face à Duisburg, suite à un coup franc tiré de la droite par Stefan Effenberg, Lizarazu démarqué aux 16 mètres, sur la gauche de la surface de réparation, réalise une volée digne de notre JPP national. Une toile d'araignée en mois, c'est parfait. Un lizarazu ravi qui déclarera après la rencontre : "c'est le plus beua but de ma carrière" et on le croit sans peine. Un but important pour le club bavarois car Duisburg venait juste de revenir au score 2-1 deux minutes auparavant. Finalement, Lizarazu et ses coéquipiers d'imposent 4-1 et maintiennent une avance confortable sur le Bayer Leverkusen. Mais ce but il est plus important uqel es chiffres tellement c'est un régal pour les yeux : 

Le secret de Bixente pour réaliser une telle volée ? L'entrainement et une nutrition saine comme le prouve cette pub deux ans auparavant : 

Roberto BAGGIO + Andrea PIRLO

In the 2000-01 season at Brescia, Roberto BAGGIO playing behind two strikers in the ‘trequartista’ role. This allowed the Italian coach to utilise Pirlo as a ‘Regista’, a role we often see him occupy today. In essence, the graceful central midfielder was a deep-lying playmaker who sat just in front of the central defenders with two ball winning midfielders either side of him. It turned out to be an inspired decision and one that ultimately had a long term influence on Pirlo’s career. Pirlo went on to make ten appearances for the Biancoazzurri, contributing five assists, his most notable of which coming against Juventus. The playmaker did what he does best, picking the ball up in his own half and floating a perfectly weighted pass over the Juve defence for Baggio, who majestically controlled the ball, rounded Edwin Van Der Sar and rolled the ball into the empty net to give Brescia a late equaliser at the Stadio Delle Alpi. This outsanding goal : 

Roberto BAGGIO : Top 20 Best Goals

Few players have contributed as much to the Italian and world game as Roberto Baggio. Sublimely gifted and fiercely driven with it, Il Divino Codino (The Divine Ponytail) enjoyed an exceptional career on both the domestic and international stage, a career he came agonisingly close to capping with the ultimate prize. Troubled throughout his playing days by recurring problems with his right knee, Baggio lacked nothing in courage in attempting to overcome his injury curse, and made up for a relative lack of stature with flawless technique and an instinctive ability to read the game. Though he spent his entire club career in Italy, starting with Vicenza in the third tier in 1982 and ending with Brescia - 204 Serie A goals later - in 2004, Baggio had legions of admirers around the world, among them current UEFA President Michel Platini, one of his predecessors as a lethal creator and taker of chances for Juventus. “Baggio is neither a typical No9, nor a typical No10," explained the Frenchman. "He’s more of a No9 and a half." Here it comes his Top 20 best goals :

Once Upon A Time Roberto BAGGIO

In 1989 Napoli Italian champions were playing Fiorentina at home. A young, thin, tiny looking player called Roberto Baggio with a shock of long curly black hair picked up the ball in his own half. He then seemed to move with it in a strange diagonal direction. As one defender came towards him, he shifted straight towards goal, and with a little skip over another defender's leg, breached the entire defence. Almu.i without needing to dribble, thanks to a remarkable sense of the space of the pitch, he was through on goal. There, as usual, he was cool enough to dribble past the goalie, get the ball caught up in his legs and still have time to slide it into an empty net. In his career, Baggio scored dozens of goals as good as this one, some of them just as good as Maradona's second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. Baggio has also been the most prolific penalty taker in Italian football history, converting 86 per cent of his kicks. How odd, then, that he should be remembered above all for a penalty he missed, in the searing heat of the Pasadena stadium: the miss that decided the 1994 World Cup final.

Like many great players, Roberto Baggio has an unprepossessing physique; you would not notice him in a crowd. Yet, that anonymous build masks an elegance of touch and movement rarely seen on a football field. When Baggio scored his two-hundredth league goal in 2004 - after a trademark dribble and perfect side-foot - TV stations showed many of his past efforts. A very high percentage of his goals were items of sheer beauty chips, dribbles, free-kicks, volleys. In the 1990 World Cup he scored the goal of the tournament against Czechoslovakia after a run and delicate chip. Moreover, Baggio scored all these goals from a position that was not that of a pure forward very few were tap-ins or headers  and often for minor clubs - Brescia, Bologna, Fiorentina. Roberto Baggio was born to a well-to-do family in the Veneto rural town of Caldogno in February 1967. His first games were with Vicenza, the best local team, and it was there that he suffered the first of a series of terrible knee injuries that have plagued his career. Turning sharply (in May 1985) he twisted the cruciate ligaments in his right knee. Baggio did not play again properly for nearly two years, after re-injuring the same knee nine months later.

In the meantime he had been signed by Fiorentina. In Florence, he quickly became a hero, striking up a formidable partnership with striker Stefano Borgonovo.20 With Baggio, and Eriksson on the bench, Fiorentina qualified for Europe and got to the UEFA Cup final in 1990. Baggio started to unveil his whole repertoire of goals for the viola fans - the perfect free-kicks, the tight dribbles, the ability to stay cool under pressure. Against Milan, in the San Siro, he again took on the whole opposition defence, and scored. As a penalty-taker, Baggio often waited for the goalkeeper to move. He missed very few, fewer in fact than any other player in the history of Serie A. In 1990 news started to spread in the Renaissance town that Baggio had been signed by arch-rivals Juventus. Fiorentina had just lost the UEFA Cup final to Juvc after two violent games. Fans rioted, and the police were called, but it was too late. Baggio had gone, never to return. Baggio chose Juve at the wrong time. The team had just been re-founded under the 'modern' leadership of manager Gigi Maifredi, who had taken Bologna from Serie C to Serie A. Although 'the divine ponytail' scored regularly, the team did very badly, finishing a disastrous seventh. Nor did Baggio endear himself to the Juventus faithful by his loyalty to Fiorentina. In the Fiorentina-Juve match in April 1991, Juve won a penalty. Baggio refused to take it, and it was missed. He was then substituted, and on his way to the bench picked up and put on a Fiorentina scarf. Weeks of argument followed.

At the end of the season, Maifredi was sacked, and Juve returned to old favourite Trapattoni. Baggio continued to score hatfuls of goals, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993 and being made European Footballer of the Year. He became the key player for the national team, taking the team almost single-handedly to the 1994 final. But domestic honours eluded him. When Trapattoni was replaced by Marcello Lippi in 1995, Juve went on to win the championship, but the relationship between Baggio and his new manager disintegrated. He played a mere seventeen games in that championship-winning season (with eight goals), and moved to Milan the following year. Baggio's fame led to frequent arguments with many of the managers he played under, and he always railed against tactical instructions. Milan's fans (as with all Baggio's teams, apart perhaps from the juventini) loved Baggio, but once again he was marginalized by a succession of managers. He only turned out 51 times in two years for Milan, winning another championship. Desperate to get back into the national team, Baggio decided to move to a smaller club, Bologna.His best season followed: 22 goals and a call-up for the 1998 World by popular demand . In France, manager Cesare Maldini absurdly left him out of the key matches, although he was a hair's breadth from knocking out the eventual champions and hosts with a golden goal attempt. Back in Milan, this time with Inter, the old problems with Lippi re-emerged. Left on the bench, his talent seemed to be going to waste. By the end of the season, his relationship with Lippi had deteriorated so much that the two hardly spoke. He left his mark in his final game for Inter, a playoff for a Champions League place, where he scored two classic goals to give Inter victory. Baggio later criticized Lippi in the first of two highly successful autobiographies, writing that 'he is not my enemy. I simply have no respect for him, just as he has no respect for me.' For a time it seemed as if Lippi would even sue Baggio over this and other comments.

Once again, his career seemed over, but was revived by a small provincial club - Brescia. With Baggio in the team, Brescia reached the heights of seventh place and competed in Europe. In 2002, yet another knee injury seemed to have put paid to Baggio's romantic hopes of one last World Cup with Italy. A miraculous recovery, just 76 days after the injury (and with two goals in his comeback match), put pressure on Trapattoni to pick him, but the miracle did not happen, despite special websites and phone lines dedicated to the campaign: Baggio in nazionale! During the 2003-4 season, as he scored his two-hundredth league goal (and he had already reached 300 career goals), Baggio announced his retirement at the end of the season. As one of the very few players to transcend club loyalties, Baggio even has a club dedicated to him, which attracts fans from all kinds of teams. As a tribute to his popularity Trapattoni picked Baggio for one last friendly match for Italy, where a sell-out crowd applauded his every touch. Apart from his genius on the pitch, Baggio was different to so many of his fellow stars of the 1980s and 1990s. A shy, reflective family-man, he shunned the high living of stars like Vieri and Totti, with their model-and-media girlfriends and expensive night-club and yachting lifestyles. Baggio was a Buddhist in a Catholic country, and rarely displayed the histrionics so common at all levels of Serie A. He knew what he wanted, but he could also express emotions that seemed to have no place in the modern, cash-dominated game. When fellow Brescia player Vittorio Mero died in a car crash in January 2002, Baggio was instrumental in getting a game called off as a result (the players had heard of the accident just before kick-off). He later dedicated goals to Mero and continued to remind fans and players of the tragedy throughout the following season. His decision to play out his final seasons with lowly Brescia allowed him the space and security that he had rarely had in the rest of his career, and he created yet another set of loyal, almost fanatical Baggio-followers. Despite his vast talent, Baggio played only 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals (the fourth best, behind Piola, Meazza and Riva). His international career was cruelly restricted by his outspokenness and his resistance to rigid tactics. Had he played 100 times, as he surely should have done, he would have easily beaten Riva's goalscoring record for the national team.
World Cup 90
Euro 92
World Cup 94
Euro 96
World Cup 98


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