AC Milan’s legacy in the Champions League is inarguable but the next step is crucial

By Oliver Fisher -

For many decades, AC Milan have lit up the UEFA Champions League, with the Rossoneri becoming inseparably linked to the competition after winning it seven times.

The past

During his five seasons at AC Milan, Fabio Capello won 1993-94 Champions League final, defeating a talented Barcelona team 4-0. Daniele Massaro bagged a brace, but the golden moment belonged to Monotenegrin Dejan Savicevic who scored a wonderfully-lobbed goal.

Ancelotti’s new millennium side at Milan arguably had more globally-renowned stars in the same team. The assuring presence of Maldini in defence partnering Alessandro Nesta and Cafu, complimented the skills of young Italian players at the time, Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso. Former Ukraine international Andriy Schevchenko scored 127 goals in 226 Serie A fixtures for AC Milan (AC Milan: 2022).

During the 2003 Champions League Final, Milan beat Juventus on penalties in an all-Italian occasion, before winning Serie A in 2004. Arguably these were golden years for an Milan side, renowned for developing world-class talent including Kaka and Ronaldinho, two players who would win one Ballon D’or each, in 2007 and 2005 respectively.

Heartbreak in Istanbul (2005) was sandwiched in between this when AC Milan squandered a 3-0 half-time lead against a rejuvenated Rafael Benitez’s former Liverpool side, who won 3-2 on penalties. Milan’s hopes of silverware vanished when Liverpool keeper Dudek, made a wonderful diving save to deny Andriy Shevchenko’s decisive spot-kick.

The present

Historically, AC Milan have had pedigree in the Champions League during the 1990s and 2000s. There is no doubt that the Rossoneri will want to show the world that they can produce show-stopping performances to win the biggest club competition.

After 27 matches this season, Milan are second in Serie A only to leaders Napoli who have a higher goal difference to Milan by 6. Milan have only lost once in the league this calendar year and will be hoping their six-match unbeaten run can extend to increase chances of a nineteenth league title. What would be a stumbling block for AC Milan?  Defensively Milan have conceded more goals on average this season than their competitors.

Despite being free-flowing in attack, Milan will need to be wary of their 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina last November and a 1-0 home defeat to Napoli the following month. With Napoli going toe-to-toe with Milan, another defeat to their Serie A rivals could prove to be a fatal blow in Milan’s quest to win their first title for 11 seasons.

The future

The team finally seem to be gelling after a busy transfer window last summer where Milan signed a number of players, including French international Olivier Giroud, and Fikayo Tomori, who both arrived for an undisclosed fee from Chelsea.

Both players have Champions League experience, and Olivier Giroud – a World Cup winner with France – is certainly no stranger to scoring in important matches. Giroud scored the final goal to confirm Arsenal as FA Cup winners in 2015 against Aston Villa in a 4-0 victory.

Milan’s form has taken them to the heights their fans have longed for since their highly successful period during the 2000s which saw AC Milan win two Champions League’s and two UEFA Super Cups. Young and hungry players in the current AC Milan side definitely add to a promising future for The Rossoneri.

Portuguese international Rafael Leao scored his 10th goal of the season for AC Milan, in a 1-0 victory against a defensively-stubborn Sampdoria side. Despite being 22-years-old, Rafael Leao has already proven to be a key part in AC Milan’s attack.

So what are the Champions League Predictions for the 2022-23 Milan Team? If Rafael Leo and his team-mates can consistently maintain their high standards, there certainly is every chance Milan will be booking their place in the Champions League knockouts for the first time in almost a decade.

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