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The summer magic of the Birra Moretti Trophy

This year marks twenty-five years since the first edition of an event that has been a true cult for Italian football

The summer magic of the Birra Moretti Trophy This year marks twenty-five years since the first edition of an event that has been a true cult for Italian football

There was a time when August football was not already made up of first league challenges or rich overseas tours, a time in which Ferragosto coincided with trophies with names linked to the brands that sponsored them and that have remained in the mythology of Italian football. One of these is surely the Birra Moretti Trophy, of which this year marks the 25th anniversary of the first edition, played at the Friuli Stadium between hosts Udinese, Juventus and Inter. The commercials featuring footballers and the famous Italian beer Baffo (although owned by Heineken), live TV on Mediaset channels, commentary by Piccinini, established champions and the inevitable August meteors: everything contributed for the Birra Moretti Trophy to become a cult for an entire generation of fans. It lasted for 12 editions until Heineken announced in 2009 that the Tournament would be discontinued to make room for celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Italy's most famous beer, but everyone knew that the format had worn out and that teams were looking for new, more lucrative sources during the summer. The compression of the sporting calendar then did the rest, and all the appeals and rumors about the return of the Birra Moretti Trophy remained just summer dreams. 


It was a classic triangular with three teams facing each other in three 45-minute matches divided into two mini-times of 22 1/2 minutes each. In case of a tie there were penalty kicks (later to become shoot-outs), 3 points to whoever won in the 45 minutes, 2 to whoever won after penalty kicks, 1 to whoever lost from the penalty spot, 0 to whoever lost in regulation time. A format that guaranteed spectacle with teams playing it all out in a matter of minutes, before going to the shootouts.


Inter and Juventus were the usual protagonists of the Tournament, having been present in 11 of the 12 editions, with the third team usually varying depending on the stadium in which it was organized. The Nerazzurri team missed only the last edition while the Bianconeri only the third, remaining even when they were confined to Serie B for two seasons due to the Calciopoli trial. But it was not the only team from a cadet series to participate; even Napoli played an edition while still in C1 in 2005. The partenopei played in the four tournaments held at the San Paolo, Udinese in the three played at the Stadio Friuli while other Italian teams took the field only once for this iconic event. The only foreign team invited was surprisingly Gianfranco Zola's Chelsea in 2002. 


Inter: 11

Juventus: 11

Napoli: 4

Udinese: 3

Bari: 1

Parma: 1

Lazio: 1

Chelsea: 1

Sampdoria: 1

Palermo: 1

Milan: 1

Winners and MVPs

As is easy to guess, the two most featured teams also lead the winners' table, with Juventus winning the coveted laurel six times while eternal rivals Inter managed to prevail only three times. However, only Inter managed to win the Birra Moretti Trophy with full points, that is, with two wins out of two in 45 minutes.

The top scorer of the event is Christian Vieri with 6 goals, all of course in a Nerazzurri jersey including a screamer from over 30 meters to go over Buffon, while the list of players voted as the best in each of the various editions testifies well to the downward curve that the Birra Moretti followed as time went on, becoming a stage for second and third lines and some from the youth squad.


Juventus: 6 (1997, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008)

Inter: 3 (2001, 2002, 2007)

Napoli: 1 (2005)

Udinese: 1 (1998)

Parma: 1 (1999)

Mvp List

1999: Vieri (inter)

2000: Cassano (Bari)

2001: Vieri (Inter)

2002: Vieri (Inter)

2003: Di Vaio (Juventus)

2004: Trezeguet (Juventus)

2005: Inacio Pià (Napoli)

2006: De Zerbi (Napoli)

2007: Suazo (Inter)

2008: Nedved (Juventus)

The Shootouts

Of course, the name of the Birra Moretti Trophy is inextricably linked to that of the shoot-outs, imported in the 2001 edition from the MLS and which would remain the biggest curiosity for six more years before the classic penalty kick was reinstated in the last edition. An idea stolen from the fledgling U.S. football, or rather soccer, league from Ice Hockey to add to the fun, where the shooter would start with the ball on the foot 35 yards away from the goal and have five seconds to beat the goalkeeper. You could only shoot once, there were no second chances or rebounds, just as with penalty shootouts, and the results ranged from the comical to the spectacular between dribbles over the goalie, lopsided spoons and lobs to the stars. 

But not only shootouts, during the Birra Moretti we witnessed sci-fi innovations that unfortunately never landed in the soccer that counts, such as throw-ins with feet, seven substitutions and short corners. In short, somehow this summer tournament acted as a guinea pig and tested many of the proposals that are cyclically made to increase the spectacularity of football.