Zaccheroni highlights Milan’s three main qualities but dismisses the comparison with 1998-99 team

By Oliver Fisher -

Former AC Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni had his say on the current Rossoneri side and their Scudetto target, which is becoming more and more concrete eight games from the end of the season.

Of course, it is still tough to talk about the Scudetto with so many points still to play for, but Zaccheroni was interviewed by La Gazzetta dello Sport about whether the team can really emerge as the champions.

“This Milan can do it because they combine compactness, intensity and quality. They do not use the whole field, they mainly exploit the central part, vertically: and there they are capable of winning duels and creating numerical superiority,” he said (via

“It is a system that rewards them: Theo, Leao, but also Messias and Calabria, as well as Florenzi, are very centralised. It literally dominates the central funnel, the key is that. Obviously Bennacer, one of the best in Cagliari, and Kessie also contribute.  Brahim Diaz struggles a little more because in a similar context he pays in physicality.”

Some reports have claimed that the current Milan team are like the ones that won the league in the 1998–99 season under Zaccheroni. Hired from Udinese, he brought striker Oliver Bierhoff and right wing-back Thomas Helveg, switching to a 3–4–3 formation and then tweaking it to a 3–4–1–2.

Bierhoff proved to be a perfect centre-forward, scoring 20 goals in the league with a lot of them being important ones, and Milan won the league with seven straight wins to end the season including a vital victory away against Juventus with three games to go to jump above Lazio.

“I cannot make comparisons with our 1999 Scudetto, there are few similarities: we won through a comeback with an experienced team, almost at the end. And that came two seasons from tenth and eleventh in the table.

“This Milan has been in charge for months, they were also at the top all last season, and it is a group mainly made up of young players with a great future ahead. And I can no longer say that they are a surprise, quite the contrary. But there is a similarity: they are two teams with a great spirit.

“We see that today as then there is the right climate and enthusiasm. From this point of view they are unique, there is no same total sharing elsewhere. Pioli was very good, he has altered in recent weeks and also affects the game with changes.

“The architect of this rebirth is Paolo Maldini: by creating the ideal environment and insisting on a sense of belonging to the Rossoneri, Paolo is a true master. So today Milan are the most consistent team in the league, a factor that in the end will certainly be decisive.

“Inter can have more quality and personality, Napoli are there and for them it is the chance of a lifetime. In addition, Juve are also back in the race. But in this phase of the season it is essential to pick up the pace, and not lose it: Milan did it, the others are still inconsistent, especially Inter. And then the Rossoneri are better off than everyone else, and have shown that they have another decisive characteristic: their mentality.”

Tags AC Milan Alberto Zaccheroni
Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.