Champions League – Real v Milan; a rich history

The top two sides in Group G of the Champions League clash in the Santiago Bernabeau this coming Tuesday when Real Madrid hosts AC Milan in a fixture which is certain to elicit memories of golden European victories for both clubs.

Jose Mourinho’s side have maximum points from their opening two matches thanks to back to back victories over Ajax (2 – 0) and Auxerre (1 – 0). Yet the Madrid fans have been far from impressed with the new-look Galacticos’ performances and weren’t slow to shout their displeasure at the workmanlike rather than expected entertaining displays.

A recent 6 – 1 domestic victory has put a smile (temporarily) back on the faces of the Madrista’s but expect another chorus of discontent from the Bernabeau faithful if anything other than a victory is obtained at the expense of the visiting Milan on Tuesday.

The Italians boast the attacking threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldhino, Pato and Robinho, but like Real, have failed to spark in either of their opening Champions League fixtures. An uninspiring 2 – 0 victory at home to Auxerre on Matchday 1 was followed be a disappointing 1 – 1 draw away to Ajax. Ibrahimovic has netted all three of Milan’s Champions League goals this season so the Swedish striker can expect the close attentions of Ricardo Carvalho.

Milan are two points behind Real heading into Tuesday’s showdown in Spain with the return fixture pencilled in for November 3rd in the San Siro. Results from the two upcoming matches with Madrid will dictate how far Milan are likely to progress in the competition this year as their opening performances have been less than stellar.


Both clubs have enjoyed a rich history in the Champions League (formerly European Cup) with AC Milan claiming the most prestigious prize in European football on seven separate occasions while Real Madrid can boast a record nine titles.

Clashes between two of the most decorated European clubs have some produced entertaining matches down through the years and the following are just three examples, from separate eras, of the best of Real Madrid versus AC Milan.


European Cup Final: Real Madrid 3 AC Milan 2

Madrid were in the middle of their record breaking five in a row European Cup successes when Milan provided the opposition in the 1958 European Cup final held in Brussels. Madrid had previously defeated Milan in the semi-finals of the inaugural European Cup in 1955-56 and again at the 1963-64 quarter-finals stage.

Juan Alberto Schiaffino put Milan ahead on the hour mark only for the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano to level. Ernesto Grillo restored AC Milan’s lead only for Hector Rial to level for a second time a minute later. The final went to extra time before Fancisco Gento won it for Real in the 107th minute. Madrid went on to record consecutive European Cup victories and that side are still regarded as one of the greatest to ever grace the competition.


European Cup Semi-Final Second Leg: AC Milan 5 Real Madrid 0

The AC Milan team of the late 1980’s cemented their status amongst the pantheon of all time great European sides with a 5 – 0 annihilation of a star-studded Real Madrid to progress to the 1989 European Cup final.

All five goals arrived in a devastating hour long spell where Milan’s Dutch trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard orchestrated a stunning victory for the Italian outfit. Arigo Sacchi’s side went in front courtesy of a 25 yard screamer from current Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelloti. A Rijkaard header doubled AC’s advantage and Madrid looked utterly shell-shocked. The home side could do nothing to prevent a rampant AC Milan side from scoring three further times. Ruud Gullit arrowed a header into the net to make it 3 – 0 and additional strikes from Van Basten and Italian international Roberto Donadoni put the seal on one of the most complete performances in European Cup history.

Milan completed a memorable campaign with a 4 – 0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the European Cup final held in the Nou Camp, Barcelona.


Champions League Group C: Real Madrid 2 AC Milan 3

Another five goal thriller between two of European football’s heavyweights occurred last year in Group C on the Champions League. A struggling Milan travelled to the Santiago Bernabeau with few fans giving the Italians any hope of a result against a confident Real Madrid outfit. What followed was one of the most intense and entertaining Champions League group games ever played as Milan recorded a first ever victory in the Bernabeau.

Raul fired the home side into an early lead although Madrid looked far from comfortable heading into the second half despite the cushion of a one goal advantage.  The Spaniards created a plethora of chances early in the second half but Andrea Pirlo levelled just past the hour mark with a terrific long range effort.

That equaliser galvanised the Italians and Brazilian Pato capitalised on some unusually hesitant goalkeeping from Iker Casillas to push Milan 2 – 1 ahead before the hosts regained a foothold in the game. Royston Drenthe made it 2 – 2 in the 76th minute and looked to have earned his side a point until Milan grabbed a dramatic late winner.

Clarence Seedorf worked his magic on the wing and produced a pin-point cross to the far post where Pato executed a magnificent volley to send the travelling supporters into wild celebrations. There wasn’t enough time for Real to respond and AC Milan held on for an historic ever victory in the Santiago Bernabeau.

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Author Details

Ger McCarthy
Ger McCarthy

Author of the book entitled 'Off Centre Circle'. Champions League correspondent for Back Page Football, contributor to the Hold The Back Page football podcast, also a contributor to the Irish Examiner Newspaper, SetantaSports Satellite TV Sports Network, NewsTalk National Radio station, Shoot! Magazine and Dangerhere websites.

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