The last time the Reds went to a Champions League Final was in Athens, Greece when Filipo Inzaghi scored a brace to win Milan’s seventh European Cup leaving Dirk Kuyt’s 89th minute goal a consolation. The game replicated the fixture that no Liverpool fan could forget in 2005. The question is however, with the 2018 Final with Real Madrid coming up, how does this Madrid team compare with the Milan side that defeated the Reds?
The 2006/7 season under Carlo Ancelotti started negatively after losing eight points prior to the season starting due to what Italians define as ‘Calciopoli’. Serie A and Serie B teams including Fiorentina, Lazio, Reggina and AC Milan had been uncovered by police when illegal telephone interceptions showed network of managers and referee organisations had been rigging games through selecting favourable referees. Eventually after everything considered, Milan had thirty points deducted in the season after Istanbul and had one game behind closed doors as well as the eight-point deduction of the 2006/7 season. An interesting factor about ‘Calciopoli’ was the original punishment included being withdrawn from the 2006/7 Champions League and a further seven-point deduction of the same season. Could it have been different and could we had been looking at a seventh European Cup next Saturday?
In addition, to start the season, AC Milan hadn’t won in nine matches leading them to fifteenth place in the Serie A with a disappointing eleven points. AC Milan then took a retreat to Malta and finished the season in fourth place. Despite the shocking season in the league, Milan had some stand out players. Kaka was Milan’s main man with a return of eighteen goals for the season. This was nearly replicated by forward Alberto Gilardino with a sixteen-goal return. Final winner Filipo Inzaghi scored eleven including his brace against the Reds. However, the six time Champions League winners at the time managed to use the chance that they had been given allowing them into the Champions League by winning the group slightly by one point with LOSC Lille in second leading them to take on Scottish side Celtic in the round of sixteen which was tightly contested only managing to beat them with a 1-0 win after extra time at the San Siro post the goalless draw at Celtic Park. AC Milan then beat Bayern Munich in the quarter final 4-2 on aggregate and then went on defeating Manchester United 5-3 on aggregate after overturning a 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford. This lead them to the Final in the Greek capital contrary to opinion that this was controversial.
Going into tactics and Milan played a 4-3-3 central which led to a seventh European title. It included Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini in a midfield three with Clarence Seedorf and Kaka pairing up in an attacking midfield duo, meaning that Filipo Inzaghi was the sole striker. Real Madrid this season have also played the 4-3-3 and is what we expect on the 26th May in Kiev. Though Madrid play a wide version with Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos with the option of Mateo Kovacic to play the deep midfielder that Casemiro can play. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio make up the attacking line however Madrid have the option of former Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale. Overall the main thing we see is that Madrid do not have a prime superstar that Milan had in Kaka. That would have been Ronaldo however if you mark and keep him quite then the Liverpool team we have under Klopp which is arguably better than in 2007 against a team which is worse than the prime Milan team, we should be able to beat Madrid.
Real Madrid’s season, along with Milan eleven years ago, in the league has been below average. From the neutral you can tell the Real team has aged and it is not what it was. Cristiano Ronaldo, Madrid’s best player has gone on a decline of goals from his prime in 2014/15 scoring historical forty-eight goals in thirty-five league games with sixty-one in total from all competitions compared to this season with only forty-four in forty-three. Only. Still an amazing return for somebody who is thirty-three years old. Considering Madrid have dropped to third in the standings of the La Liga that tells you alone Madrid aren’t what they were. Losing six compared to Milan’s seven in the league in the respective years does offer food for thought that both despite negative seasons have had the motivation to win the trophy and despite an obvious weakness with Madrid, we must be careful that we do not take Madrid like we did Milan. We must keep focus and remember they have class and will punish us should we be less than our best.