As 1996 drew to a close, Parma found themselves 13 points shy of Serie A leaders Juventus. But as the Turin giants headed into Round 26 of 34, Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Nestor Sensini, Lilian Thuram, Dino Baggio, Enrico Chiesa, Hernan Crespo and Co had propelled Carlo Ancelotti’s uncrowned side to within just three points of the record 23-time Italian champions.
Marcello Lippi told his Juve charges they simply had to win their game in hand that Sunday, exactly 15 years ago to this day, but they weren’t expected to do so. For not only were they chasing a first away victory in five attempts, they were without the injured Alessandro Del Piero – the undoubted star of their campaign – and were chasing it at defending champions AC Milan.
This, though, was a day on which Juventus ripped up the script. This was a day on which Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Marcel Desailly, three of the greatest defensive players in world football history, suffered a seldom humiliation.
Vladimir Jugovic’s cushioned volley put Juve ahead. Zinedine Zidane’s penalty sent the visitors in at half-time leading 2-0. Lippi would have absolutely settled for that result, but it was to get better – a lot better – for his team after the break. Jugovic’s craftily deceptive strike made it 3-0, before Christian Vieri latched on to a gorgeous dink over the top from Alessio Tacchinardi to amplify the lead. Nicola Amoruso then pounced on a rebound to make it 5-0, and though Marco Simone cut the deficit on 76 minutes, there was still time for Vieri to breeze past Baresi, whom he had subjected to a torrid afternoon, and stroke the ball home to seal an emphatic 6-1 triumph.
Ultimately, had Juventus not seized three points at the San Siro, Parma would have got their hands on the Scudetto. Had Lippi’s men not run riot, Milan would not have to remember 6 April 1997 as the one on which they suffered their all-time biggest home defeat in Serie A.