Since taking over Milan (always Milan – never call them AC) in 1986, owner Silvio Berlusconi has reinstated the club as one of Europe's leading lights, with no fewer than five European Cups heading to San Siro in that time.
The best years of the Diavoli (Devils) were behind them, the iconic Gianni Rivera winning his last scudetto in 1979. A match-fixing scandal and ill-advised foreign signings then saw Milan drop down to Serie B and they had only just returned when Berlusconi took the club by the horns.
Berlusconi built Italy's finest training centre, hired Parma coach Arrigo Sacchi and paid for Dutch stars Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. With Franco Baresi imperious at the back and Paolo Maldini always overlapping, Milan were awesome as Sacchi's pressing game forced the opposition into their own half.
Streets ahead of their rivals on and off the pitch, the savvy Milan won a brace of European Cups. Under Fabio Capello, Milan won the league without losing a match and added another European Cup in 1994 with a near-perfect display in the 4-0 win over Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the final.
Milan were kings of Europe again in 2003, but three years later echoes of the dark days of the past haunted them, as once again they became embroiled in the Calciopoli match-fixing debacle. Charged with influencing referees, Milan were disqualified from the Champions League and deducted 15 points; on appeal the sentence was reduced to an eight-point deduction and the club was allowed back into Europe's elite competition, albeit through the qualifiers.
Milan took full advantage of that re-instatement by going all the way to the final in Athens, where they gained ample revenge over a Liverpool side that had pipped them in a pulsating Champions League final in Istanbul two years previously. On that occasion, Milan had let slip a 3-0 half-time lead to throw the cup away, but there was to be no repeat in the Greek capital as two goals from Pippo Inzaghi handed the cup to the Rossoneri (red and black) for the seventh time.
Since then, though, it's all gone a bit quiet on the trophy front. Such a lull would be bad enough if crosstown rivals Inter hadn't suddenly become Italy's best club, winning five Serie A titles on the bounce from 2006 (the first by default via Calciopoli) and even, in 2010, the Champions League. The Rossoneri fans aren't used to that, and it hurts.
As for the local fans, before Berlusconi they were, by tradition, left-wing and working-class. In the lions' den of the San Siro's Curva Sud, they create cloud upon cloud of red smoke, with little real threat behind them. Games with Inter aside...
Still known as the San Siro despite being named after one of the few players admired by both sets of fans, the 86,000-capacity Giuseppe Meazza is accessed by buses from the Lotto M1 metro station, 15 minutes from downtown Duomo. Buses stop by the Bar Stadio and the Biglietteria Nord, one of two main ticket offices. Tickets are colour-coded: pricier red and orange along the touchlines, blue for Milan's Curva Sud, green for Inter's Curva Nord.
Club address Via Filippo Turati, 3 - 20121, Milan
Telephone 0039 02-62281
For regular updates on the crazy world of Italian football, see our blog Serie Aaaargh!
FourFourTwo.com: News • Features • Interviews • Videos • Forums
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010