|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Evergreen Milan have revenge on mind
May 03, 2007 13:51 IST
Even by their own high standards, AC Milan's 3-0 victory over Manchester United was something special.
During the first-half, in particular, it was simply no contest as the six-times European champions dominated possession and scored through Kaka and Clarence Seedorf, while an outclassed United were left chasing the ball around the pitch.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti called those first 45 minutes the best Milan performance since he became coach in November 2001.
The final against Liverpool in Athens on May 23 -- a rerun of the 2005 final in Istanbul, which Milan lost on penalties -- will be their third in five years.
"It an objective we've prepared for and followed for two years because Istanbul still hurts," Ancelotti was quoted as saying in Corriere dello Sport on Thursday.
"To reach this final was tougher than the other two, but now we have a chance to take revenge."
Milan's victory over United will again raise questions about how a team that often trails in second or third in Serie A can so effortlessly shift up a gear in Europe.
In recent years, Milan have been written off as too old and were criticised for not buying and fielding enough young players.
Goalkeeper Dida, defenders Massimo Oddo and Alessandro Nesta, midfielder Clarence Seedorf and striker Filippo Inzaghi are all over 30, while captain Paolo Maldini is 38.
But with age comes experience, which is a vital factor in knock-out tournaments like the Champions League.
Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson hit the nail on the head when he identified the consistency of Milan's squad as one of its key strengths.
Of Ancelotti's starting 11 on Wednesday, eight represented Milan in the 2003 final, in which they beat Juventus on penalties.
"If you look at AC Milan, the team has been together for many years and that is absolutely crucial at this level," said Ferguson.
"They've also got a lot of experience in the competition. Just look at Seedorf, who has got three winners medals with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan).
"My team is completely lacking that experience and you only get that by keeping a team together".
UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage