Bari, old star of the South
If there is something unique and singular that we have witnessed, it is the Bari created by the technician Antonio Conte and perfected by Gian Piero Ventura. The context created in the Biancorossi club represented a real revolution for the Italian football scene, often proved too anchored to the old customs and traditional playing styles. The old Southern star has created an idea of football different from Zemanlandia and also from the more recent Sarrismo, but just as beautiful and unique.
The Bari of Antonio Conte
The 2008/2009 season of AS Bari opens with some important certainties: first, the coach Antonio Conte, arrived just a few months before to save the team from a possible relegation to Serie C. The Salentino coach in a few matches has been able to prove all his value and has assured confirmation for the next championship, in which the Biancorosso club decides to play a leading role since the session of transfer market summer. Within a few weeks the squad is enriched thanks to the grafts of a very young Andrea Ranocchia, Daniele De Vezze and the future star of the attack Paulo Vitor Barreto.
The season of Bari does not start in the best way with three draws in the first three games, but in the moment of greatest difficulty the coach Antonio Conte manages to bring out the best from every single player, compacting the group and creating a perfect machine: The 4-2-4 Contiano is the first beautiful creature of the coach from Lecce, able to devise a game system as offensive as it is efficient in terms of results.
The idea of playing with four offensive players to give ample scope to the game maneuver is nothing short of revolutionary, given the context in which it was applied.
The focus of the strategy is to rely on two outsides with great speed to cover the belts, but at the same time deploy at the center of the attack two second strikers, which if necessary can move back their center of gravity to give support to the two midfielders in the midfield, encouraging the rapid incursion of the outsides and creating spaces for their insertions. Bari plays a fun, fast and winning football: the victory of the Serie B championship becomes almost a taken-for-granted event and the entire white and red fans can celebrate the return to the top series, expected perhaps too long.
The Bari by Gian Piero Ventura
But what happens in the 2009/2010 season is something even more interesting. The season starts with the news that shakes the whole environment: the coach Antonio Conte no longer believes in the white and red project and decides to resign. The uncertainty suddenly reigns for an army without its commander, or rather, for a beautiful orchestra without its conductor.
The president Vincenzo Matarrese decides to entrust the team to the coach Gian Piero Ventura, whose main task is to give continuity to the project and continue to make the white and red public dream. Mister Ventura manages surprisingly to improve the creature of Conte, proposing the 4-2-4 also in Serie A: the debut is against Inter Josè Mourinho, who at the end of the season will win the triplete. Since the first match of the league at the San Siro stadium you can immediately notice that Bari is not a team like the others, because despite being a rookie has no fear of building from below, to attack with four offensive players, and risk the verticalization.
The 1-1 match against Inter in the first match of the league is nothing more than the appetizer of a beautiful season, full of unforgettable matches, incredible plays and important results. Bari beat Juventus, Lazio, once again stopped Inter on the draw in the second leg and also taught football against Ronaldinho’s AC Milan. The first plays and the unique verticalizations of the Biancorosso team begin to make the tour of Europe, so much that the nickname “Baricellona” is born to witness the goodness of the game expressed by the team with an enviable constancy. To the traditional catenaccio and counterattack, the Bari responded with a brazen 4-2-4 that against all expectations, it also proved very balanced from a defensive point of view. Roundball and deep verticalizations were the diktat number one of the Galletti.
Bari reached their absolute record of 50 points at the end of the championship, obtained despite the various difficulties due to the limits of the squad in the second part of the championship. The greatest merit of this team was certainly to have blossomed real talents that still experience the fields of Serie A, as Andrea Ranocchia, Leonardo Bonucci and Francesco Caputo, not to mention Cristian Stellini, Antonio Conte’s deputy in the winning of the 19th Nerazzurri Scudetto. The project of the Galletti can aim at important goals and the whole Puglia dreams the big Calcio with open eyes. Unfortunately, the football scandal and the subsequent failure of a few years later erased the good that was created, sending to the oblivion the incredible biennium under the management of Conte and then of Ventura.
Even today there is big regret for that great Bari that was and probably is no longer replicable: that Bari brought up the football of Southern Italy, igniting an entire fan base that has often filled the San Nicola stadium entirely with its nearly 60,000 seats. That Bari is no longer there, but it is right to remember it, also because it is not uncommon to find a nostalgic fan who sometimes returns to watch videos of those beautiful games unique in their style, with a tear on the face and a hope in the heart.
By Giovanni Maggio