Rivals

Franco Baresi vs Lothar Matthaus: Who was better?

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Baresi vs Matthaus
Baresi vs Matthaus / 90min
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The Derby della Madonnina is one of the feistiest feuds in all of European football, and at no time was it more relevant than during the late 80s and early 90s.

At that time Serie A was the strongest league in the world and the two Milan clubs were regularly competing for the Scudetto each season.

Right in the thick of it were two players. They were Milan's Franco Baresi and Inter's Lothar Matthaus. The question is, which one was better? 90min took a trip down memory lane to find out...


1. Longevity & loyalty

Franco Baresi
Baresi was a one-club man / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

There is only one winner here. Baresi was the living embodiment of Milan for two decades, joining the club as a youngster in 1972 and retiring 25 years later as a bonafide club legend.

No one ever tempted him to stray and his legendary status will not be dimmed by the passage of time.

Not that Matthaus had a flaky career, though. His 12 years at Bayern Munich is a mightily impressive feat and he is also fondly remembered at Inter.

Winner: Baresi

2. International honours

Lothar Matthaeus, Pierre Littbarski
Matthaus was king of the world in 1990 / STAFF/GettyImages

The winner of this category is Matthaus, but it could have been very different if Italy were better at penalties...

The two players were on course to meet in the World Cup final in 1990, only for the Azzurri to crash out at the semi-final stage on penalties to Argentina. Baresi did tuck away his spot kick, in his defence.

Meanwhile, in the other semi-final, Matthaus also converted as West Germany triumphed over England in the shootout to set up a meeting with Argentina at the Stadio Olimpico.

At the end of that game Matthaus was lifting his second international trophy, having previously helped his country to European Championship glory ten years prior.

Winner: Matthaus

3. Defending

Roberto Baggio of Juventus and Franco Baresi of AC Milan
It takes a special player to dispossess Roberto Baggio / Getty Images/GettyImages

Although Matthaus was an accomplished sweeper he was also tempted by occasional spells further up the pitch.

Not Baresi, whose commitment to the art of defending never wavered. The Italian was ahead of his team in many ways, possessing every attribute that the best defenders in 2022 boast.

He read the game expertly, timed his tackles to perfection, could distribute as a deep-lying playmaker and even had a deceptive turn of pace which allowed Milan to execute their lethal offside trap.

He just made it look so easy.

Winner: Baresi

4. Goalscoring

Lothar Matthaus of Inter Milan
Matthaus knew where the back of the net was / Getty Images/GettyImages

While Baresi has the defending category on lockdown, there can be only one winner for scoring goals.

Although he did spend large portions of his career playing in midfield, Matthaus' goal record is still extremely impressive. In total he managed an extremely credible 161 league strikes, as well as 23 more for his country.

He earned the nickname Der Panzer (The Tank) for a reason. His shot power - and placement to be fair - were legendary and he regularly appeared on the top goalscorers chart during his time at Inter.

Winner: Matthaus

5. Results

Franco Baresi
Baresi just edges it / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

It was all square between these two legends after four categories, so 90min asked the public to help split them.

And even then, there wasn't much to separate this duo - we can announce that Baresi just about wins this duel with 51% of the vote!


The article is a part of 90min's Rivals series.

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