May 072020
 

The 2002-2003 Champions League season featured two group stages. The first featured eight groups of four and the second four groups of four comprising those teams that finished top two in the first group stage. Milan finished first in the first group stage with Deportivo second followed by Lens and Bayern Munich. The draw for the second group stage pitted Milan against the Real, the defending champions, Borussia Dortmund and Lokomotiv Moskow. In the first match Real visited the San Siro and Milan’s starting line up was:

Dida, Kaladze, Costacurta, Maldini, Simic, Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Rui Costa, Shevchenko, Rivaldo

Real’s star studded team featured all of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos. But Real hadn’t impressed in the first group stage and only managed nine points in a group with Roma, AEK Athens and Genk.

The stage was set for a big game that was opened by one of the best long distance assists. Rui’s time at Milan has started with injury and would not be as impressive as he was at Fiorentina but his class was evident and shone in this game. A pin point assist from inside Milan’s half led to the opening goal in a game that would finish 1-0. Shevchenko’s big game mentality was evident and had him scoring one of his most confident in taking on the ball and beating Iker Casillas in Real’s goal with ease with a low accurate shot.

Milan would lose the return in Madrid (3-1 with Rivaldo scoring Milan’s sole goal) but finish first in the group. The team would go on to beat Ajax, Inter and finally Juventus via penalties to win the Champions League that season.

 Posted by on May 7, 2020
May 012020
 

The 2006-2007 Champions League was to be a form of redemption for Milan. Beating Liverpool in a final not so long after the Istanbul debacle was relief of sorts for its fan, the team and its history too.

Milan didn’t blow teams away in the groups stage. The team did finish first but lost twice in a group H that featured Lille, AEK Athens and Anderlecht. The first knock out stage was only won 1-0 (aggregate) against Celtic. A bigger win came in the quarter finals when Bayern Munich were conquered 4-2 in aggregate.

Kaka had scored many and was in form. Manchester United would be the semi final opponents with the first leg in Manchester. A not so great early sequence led to Dida, in Milan goal, unable to save and both a deflected and diverted ball was credited as a Ronaldo goal. Kaka opened Milan’s scoring with an early touched that fooled Edwin van Der Sar in the Manchester goal and made it 1-1. Few minutes before the half the Brazilian gave Milan the lead. He took on a long pass and ran towards goal on the left side, three defenders converged on in attempt to stop the solo counter. Kaka danced between them and with both a touch and a low header beat Patrice Evra, Gabriel Heinze and Darren Fletcher and finally van Der Sar. The former two collided and all in the stadium witnessed a magical goal. The lead would not survive as Wayne Rooney would score twice. The return provide some dose of magic to set up another final versus Liverpool.

After the match Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester’s legendary Scottish manager, called Kaka one of the world’s best two players and tried to sign him more than once.

Extended highlights in the video below and the goal itself starting at 4:35.

 Posted by on May 1, 2020
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