On Sunday night Stefano Pioli will do battle with Max Allegri once again as AC Milan take on Juventus at San Siro in a game with early Scudetto implications.
La Gazzetta dello Sport recalls the story between the two coaches starting with a Pioli interview in 1984, when he was a young defender about to transfer from Parma to Juventus.
“I met Trapattoni [then coach of Juve] and he told me to cut my hair on my forehead, to see the ball better,” he said.
Allegri in an interview in November 1995, a midfielder who had just moved to Giovanni Galeone’s Perugia, said: “Galeone is a great coach, he had created a really strong Pescara.”
Pioli and Allegri, the coaches of Milan and Juve, were coached by the two Giovannis of the Italian benches, Trapattoni and Galeone. Pioli worked with Trap for two seasons, between 1984 and 1986.
He had everything to please Trapattoni, he was a decisive and applied defender, he knew how to move forward in the manner of Gentile and Cabrini, the top full-backs of the time, but injuries affected his performance and Juve sold him to Verona.
Allegri was Galeone’s midfielder at Pescara and Perugia in the 1990s – a talented, creative and enlightened player. He could have, or rather should have, gone beyond the profile of the provincial number 10.
His experience at a top team was reduced to seven appearances for Napoli in 1997-98, who were relegated to Serie B, and some still think he was a wasted talent as a player.
The path of life causes things to chance. Pioli, who came from Trapattoni’s academy of defensive coaching, appears more inspired by Arrigo Sacchi and more intrigued by the beauty of harmonious football.
Allegri meanwhile ended up establishing himself as a prudent coach, playing attentive football with balance, to the point of enjoying the aesthetics of a 1-0 or 2-1 victory.
Everyone has a right to be and coach as they please of course, and it is almost entirely separate to being a player. Milan-Juve on Sunday will be a match between two teams that are asymmetrical in their way of being and thinking, because the two coaches are that way.
As players Pioli and Allegri faced each other three times and the former won each time, when he was with Fiorentina. The last of the three in 1994, Fiorentina 2-1 Cagliari, saw Pioli at the centre of a three-man defence set up by Claudio Ranieri and with Allegri as a brilliant midfielder for a Cagliari team managed by Tabarez.
Thirty years later, or almost, everything has changed. Pioli is the coach who was thought to perhaps become Allegri and vice versa Allegri is the coach who was imagined to perhaps become Pioli.