When Valletta beat Juventus Published on: 30-11-2018

2007-08 was a memorable season for Valletta, in more ways than one.

After the glorious days of the late 1990’s and the turn of the Millennium, when Valletta swept all before them, they had to wait for seven long seasons before the Premier League title returned to the capital.

In 2007-08, after a rather slow start, the Citizens finally won their 17th championship as Valletta FC and their 19th if one included the two won by their fore-runners, Valletta United in the early years of Maltese football.

Under the guidance of coach Paul Zammit and their hardworking committee, Valletta stumbled through the early stages of the competition but as the season wore on and the competition became tighter they began to climb the league table until they finally made sure of the championship.

During the long league trek, Valletta were always leading the league table. As usual, there was great excitement in the capital, but this was to increase ten-fold during the first week of January 2008, when Serie A giants Juventus came to Malta for a five-day training camp.

The contingent was made up of over 50 players, technical staff, officials and other staff members.

During their stay in Malta, Juventus took the opportunity to flex their muscles against the league leaders, Valletta. This attractive encounter was played at the National Stadium on January 9, for the Betfair Cup. This was the fourth time that the famous Italian club played in Malta.

On September 15, 1971 Juventus were the guests of Marsa FC in the first round of the Fairs Cities Cup. The ‘Bianconeri’ were back in Malta in September 1987 when they beat Valletta 4-0 in the first round of the UEFA Cup. Then, on Wednesday, December 30, 1998 Juventus defeated the Malta League XI 5-1.

The expectations for the 2008 visit were large and widespread. The Bianconeri have a huge following in Malta and their fans were surely not going to miss this god-sent opportunity to see their favourites in action.

Everyone, except perhaps the most ardent City fans expected the Italian champions to run away with Valletta but they were proved wrong.

The match was played before a large crowd of Valletta and local Juventus supporters. Both sections of the crowd cheered and urged their favourites to the utmost, but the City section was much more vocal on the terraces.

Juventus dominated the first half for long stretches, but Valletta defended well and at the break, the score stood at 1-1.

Both goals were scored late in the first half. Juventus took the lead two minutes from half-time when Ruben Olivera headed home a Pavel Nedved cross.

A minute later, however, a Frank Temile effort hit the crossbar but Sebastian Monesterolo was on hand to place the ball into the back of the net from close range. Both sides made many changes for the second half, and although Juventus held the initiative for most of the time, Valletta defended well and created a handful of scoring chances.

The game however, ended in a draw and the penalty lottery had to be applied to decide the winner of the handsome Betfair Cup.

The first three sets of penalties were all converted. Then, Antonio Nocerino hit wide. Dyson Falzon converted his kick but Nicola Legrottaglie’s penalty was saved by Saviour Darmanin.

The impossible had happened. Valletta had claimed the cup after beating the Italian giants 4-3 on penalties. This victory was the ribbon on the cake in another fine season in the history of the club from Valletta. It was an excellent achievement by the Citizens who controlled their opponents well throughout the regular 90 minutes.

As the referee sounded the final whistle, the bumper crowd at the National Stadium went mad with joy and the celebrations continued throughout the presentation ceremony. This was by far the greatest achievement of the City team since its foundation in 1944.

VALLETTA........................1 JUVENTUS.......................1
(Valletta win 4-3 on penalties)

VALLETTA: A. Hogg, J. Grioli, K. Scicluna, J. Mifsud, S. Bezzina, D. Camilleri,
S. Giglio, H. Backhaus, G. Agius, F. Temile, S. Monesterolo.
Subs: S. Darmanin, J. Bondin, I. Zammit, D. Falzon, C. Mattocks, K. Magro, B,

JUVENTUS: G. Buffon, A. Birindelli, G. Chiellini, S. Almiron, C. Zanetti, A. Del
Piero, P. Nedved, Z. Grygera, R. Olivera, C. Molinaro, M. Marchionni.
Subs: E. Belardi, H. Salihamidzic, V. Iaquinta, D. Trezeguet, J. Boumsong, R.
Palladino, A. Nocerino, Tiago, N. Legrottaglie.
REFEREE: Joe Attard.
SCORERS: Olivera 43; Monesterolo 44.
Iaquinta (J) scored ...........1-0 Zammit (V) scored ............1-1
Palladino (J) scored .........2-1 Mattocks (V) scored..........2-2
Tiago (J) scored ...............3-2 Mifsud (V) scored .............3-3
Nocerino (J) missed .........3-3 Falzon (V) scored .............4-3
Legrottaglie (J) missed .... 4-3

Source - Times of Malta