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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

December 14, 1986: Arezzo Lazio 1-1

A bit too timid

 

Lazio could have gone for the two points but were too worried of losing





The season so far

 

There was new ownership. The Calleri brothers and Renato Bocchi had taken over from the disastrous Giorgio Chinaglia Presidency and possibly even worse Franco Chimenti brief regency, so everything was new. New manager, Eugenio Fascetti, new Sports Director, Franco Regalia, new players. There were many farewells and in particular the Biancocelesti said goodbye to Vincenzo D’Amico (Ternana), Arcadio Spinozzi (Reggina) and Oliviero Garlini who was a necessary sacrifice and sold to Inter.

 

The most important signings were Antonio Acerbis (Pescara), Angelo Gregucci and Giancarlo Camolese (Alessandria), Gabriele Pin (Juventus) plus Giuliano Terraneo (Milan).

 

There was a certain degree of optimism but any hope of promotion was shattered by the summer events.

 

On May 2, 1986, Armando Carbone, right hand man of Italo Allodi was arrested. Allodi was a well-known figure in Italian football and worked for a number of clubs, including Juventus and Inter. In 1986 he was working for Napoli. Carbone told the magistrates that there was a match fixing association with clubs at all levels involved. Numerous clubs were investigated: Bari, Napoli and Udinese in Serie A, many more in Serie B and C. Plus Lazio.

 

Why were Lazio involved? Carbone was a good friend of Claudio Vinazzani, a Lazio player. Vinazzani had played for Napoli for seven years before joining Lazio in 1983. He did like to bet but never on matches he played in.

 

In Italy one could not legally bet on the result of a single game or on the scores of multiple games. There was just the Totocalcio, where one had to guess the result of 13 games. There was however an illegal betting system called Totonero run by illegal bookmakers similar to how legal bets were organised in the UK. Lazio had already been involved in the 1980 scandal when, despite a total lack of proof or wrongdoing by the club itself, since four players had been involved, they were relegated to Serie B.

 

If there was basically nothing in 1980, in this case there was even less. There was a telephone conversation between Carbone and Vinazzani where the former asked whether the Lazio player was interested in “buying” a Lazio win against Palermo. Vinazzani’s answer was vague and nothing happened. The vagueness in the response was an indication of Lazio’s guilt, according to the prosecution. For this Lazio were sentenced to relegation to Serie C on August 5.

 

A difficult summer for the Lazio fans, but a very difficult summer for the new owners, Calleri and Bocchi. “If Lazio go down to Serie C, what are we going to do?” they must have asked themselves. It would have been the end of Lazio, the new owners would probably have backed out. Lazio fans mobilised, there were demonstrations and protests. It was simply not possible to relegate Lazio for nothing.

 

The appeal started on August 21 with many Lazio fans outside the Hilton hotel in Rome waiting to see what would happen. Carboni should have testified but the court refused to have him present. The decision therefore had to be based on the material provided in the first court case. Hence, the written declaration from Carboni saying that Lazio had nothing to do with the match fixing and that he never fixed a match for the Biancocelesti could not be used. 

 

On August 27, the Biancocelesti had to play Napoli at the Olimpico for the Coppa Italia. Minutes before the match, the Italian State Television, RAI, announced that the sentence had been confirmed. An overzealous member of the court had leaked the news. This ultimately saved Lazio. The court could not confirm the previous sentence otherwise it would have lost face. In the end Lazio stayed in Serie B but with a docking of nine points. This was a very heavy burden with only two points for a victory, but it at least meant that the new owners could continue.

 

Fascetti told the players: “This is the situation. You can leave, and it would be perfectly normal if you did, or stay and fight. Decide”. All the players stayed.

 

The start of the season was terrible. Lazio drew the first game away at Parma but then lost at home to Messina. This basically meant that the burden was as if it was -11. 

 

After the catastrophic beginning Lazio started to win and reduce the handicap. After 8 games the Biancocelesti finally had a +1 in the table. They were currently bottom together with Taranto and Campobasso. Safety was three points away.

 

The match: Sunday, December 14, 1986, Stadio Comunale, Arezzo

 

Lazio dominated most of the game but lacked the spark and the realisation that they were the superior team. The docking of nine points was behind them but they still seemed to struggle with the idea that they desperately needed points. Arezzo were nullified by the Biancoceleste defence who did come close to going ahead when Massimo Piscedda hit the crossbar, but they never gave the impression that they really wanted to win.

 

In the 59th minute the Tuscans went ahead. Giovanni Pagliari had an opportunity but Giuliano Terraneo managed to save into corner. Former Lazio Francesco Dell’Anno took it, ball in the box, Gennaro Ruotolo’s attempt became a perfect assist for Pagliari who with a curling shot put the Aretini ahead.

 

The Biancocelesti reacted with a vengeance and in the 70th minute equalised. Gabriele Podavini took a corner, ball outside the box where Mimmo Caso passed to Antonio Acerbis. Magnificent shot under the crossbar and Arezzo 1 Lazio 1.

 

At this point the Biancocelesti could have gone for the kill but they were happy with the result and did not press on the accelerator.

 

A pity, because victory was certainly possible.

 

Who played for Arezzo

 

Orsi, Codogno, Minoia, Mangoni, Pozza, Gozzoli, Ugolotti, Ermini (46’ Dell’Anno, 80’ Vella), G. Pagliari, De Stefanis, Ruotolo. 

Substitutes: Bastogi, Di Mauro, Zennaro

Manager: Riccomini.

 

Who played for Lazio

 

Terraneo, Podavini, Brunetti, Esposito (65’ Caso), Marino, Piscedda, Poli, Acerbis, Fiorini, Pin, Mandelli

Substitutes: Ielpo, FIlisetti, Camolese, A. Schillaci

Manager: Fascetti

 

Referee: Magni

 

Goals: 59’ G. Pagliari, 70’ Acerbis

 

What happened next

 

The relegation zone was left in the 15th match with an away win at Cagliari. Lazio played very well and showed to be far better than the other teams in Serie B. At the end of the first half of the season they were 16th, three points above the relegation zone.

 

Towards May however they started to tire. Being under constant pressure was taking its toll. Four losses, two draws and just one win meant that with one match to go Cagliari were already in Serie C, Lazio and Taranto were on 31 points, Campobasso, Sambenedettese, Vicenza and Catania on 32. Last games of the season Bari-Sambenedettese, Messina-Campobasso, Taranto-Genoa, Cesena-Catania, Lazio-Vicenza. Even a win may not have been enough.

 

With seven minutes to go, it was still 0-0. Gabriele Podavini got the ball and shot. It was more out of desperation than an actual goal scoring attempt. He miskicked it but the ball reached Giuliano Fiorini who turned on himself and scored. 

 

Final verdict: Lazio, Campobasso and Taranto needed a playoff to determine who would join Cagliari, Catania and Vicenza in Serie C. In Naples on June 27 Lazio played their first game against Taranto and lost due to a goal in blatant offside. Then Taranto and Campobasso drew 1-1 on July 1. This meant that Lazio had to beat Campobasso to stay in Serie B. They did thanks to a Fabio Poli goal. The Biancocelesti were safe.


Lazio 1986-87

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie B

40

15

14

11

36

Coppa Italia

7

2

3

2

8

Total

47

17

17

13

44

Top Five Appearances

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Caso

47

38

2

7

Pin

45

38

2

5

Terraneo

45

38

2

5

Acerbis

44

37

2

5

Podavini

40

33

1

6

Top Five goal scorers

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Fiorini

9

7

-

2

Mandelli

6

6

-

-

Poli

6

4

1

-

Podavini

5

3

-

2

Marino

3

3

-

-

Acerbis

3

2

-

1

Caso

3

3

-

-

Let's talk about Antonio Elia Acerbis


Source Wikipedia

When Antonio Elia Acerbis arrived in Rome, he went to the usual press conference presentation of the new arrivals, spoke a little bit, said the usual things and at the end of the press conference he said “ok folks, this is the last you will hear from me. You know what you need to know about me, I won’t be talking to you any more”. The journalists present could not believe it and didn’t. But Acerbis no longer spoke to the press, he kept to his word, and probably because of this, became a fan favourite. Why did he do this?  When he quit football, he explained. “One day, after a match, a journalist friend approached me. “I'd like to ask you some questions”, I accepted and replied. Since he was a friend, I also told him some things that could not be written and I asked him not to publish them. He reassured me. The next day I bought the newspaper and found myself on the front page. I got really angry and from that day I decided that I would never speak to journalists again."

 

Acerbis was born in Milan on January 31, 1960. He started playing football in the youth teams of Varese and debuted in Serie B in the 1977-78 season. In the 1978-79 season he became a regular player but the club was relegated to Serie C1. He stayed one more year and in 1980 joined Udinese in Serie A. After a couple of games and a decisive goal on his debut (Udinese-Pistoiese 1-1 on September 21) he was sold to Monza in Serie B. he then played for Bari from 1981 to 1984 (two season in Serie B and one in C1) before signing for Pescara, still in Serie B. 

 

Two years later he was called by his former Varese manager, Eugenio Fascetti to Lazio. The start was traumatic. The Biancocelesti were relegated to Serie C for the alleged involvement of Claudio Vinazzani in match fixing. The team was in Gubbio preparing for the upcoming season. “Fascetti was very clear: whoever wants to go, go; whoever stays, stays to fight. You know, at that time, it wasn't a problem to accept Serie B with Lazio, we considered it as an A2. But no one expected Serie C. But it was exciting: neither I nor my teammates had any doubts; we all stayed to give our best”. Lazio managed to avoid relegation thanks to a dramatic Giuliano Fiorini goal seven minutes from time in the last game against Vicenza, taking the Biancocelesti to a playoff. Further drama was resolved by Fabio Poli’s winner against Campobasso.

 

In 1987-88 Acerbis contributed to Lazio’s return to Serie A and he stayed one more year in Rome. The highlight of the 1988-89 season must be the derby win with a goal from Paolo DI Canio. It was thanks also to Acerbis who went down the left wing, dribbled past a couple of players and passed to Ruben Sosa who immediately crossed into the box. In came Di Canio on the right who put the ball past Franco Tancredi. A fantastic win in a difficult season with Lazio then managing to avoid relegation in the last game.

 

In 1989 he signed for Verona in Serie A, but the team was relegated. They came back to Serie A immediately after, but Acerbis was sold in the autumn transfer window to Giulianova in Serie C2. At the end of the season, he retired from professional football. But he continued to play at amateur level for another ten years.

 

Acerbis was a formidable left-wing midfielder. He had speed (I called him the Train), he could dribble, he had stamina and determination. The fans loved him and he always played his heart out. At Lazio he made 113 appearances (29 in Serie A, 70 in Serie B and 14 in Coppa Italia) with three goals (two in Serie B and one in Coppa Italia).

 

Silence will be forever golden. Grazie.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

1986-87

44 (3)

-

39 (2)

5 (1)

1987-88

34

-

31

3

1988-89

35

29

-

6

Total

113 (3)

29

70 (2)

14 (1)

Sources


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