FAN ARTICLE by Kay Delaverro.
The 1994 UCL Final was a football match between Italian club AC Milan and Spanish Champions FC Barcelona, played on 18 May 1994 at the Athens Olympic stadium, in Athens Greece. Barcelona were heavy favorites to win their second European title in 3 years after beating Roberto Mancini’s Sampdoria in the final of 92, and having just won the La Liga title. Coached by the legendary Johan Cruyff, the Catalans were dubbed as the Dream Team.
Milan’s preparation before the final was in disarray: legendary striker Marco Van Basten and £13 million young sensation Gianluigi Lentini (then world’s most expensive footballer) were missing through injury; sweeper and legendary captain, Franco Baresi was suspended, as was defender Alessandro Costacurta. UEFA regulations limiting teams to fielding a maximum of three non-nationals meant that coach Fabio Capello was forced to leave out Florin Răducioiu, Jean-Pierre Papin and Brian Laudrup.
Barcelona had within their ranks Michel Laudrap, Roland Koeman, Sergi, Txiki Begiristain, Pep Guardiola, Andoni Zubizaretta, Hristo Stoichkov and Romario. However, before the 58th minute, Milan led 4 – 0. This was after scoring 2 in the first half and 2 also within 13 minutes into the second. Have injuries and unavailable players ever been a problem for a team well prepared, even against the mighty Barcelona of 94? Had that called for the coach to say that, against superior teams, Milan must give away possession? No player within the current Milan set up can be compared to Marco Van Basten, Lentini, Baresi, Papin, Laudrup, Florin and Costacurta; yet all these players were unavailable against Barcelona.
What excuse is therefore there to justify that because El Shaarawy, De Sciglio, Birsa, Bonera all are injured is the excuse for Milan’s very poor standard? A club rich in such culture should not be allowed to depreciate in such manner. There is no point blaming Silvio Berlusconi who wanted Allegri to be replaced but was convinced to change his mind by Galliani.
The former Cagliari coach may still have a nostalgia about his days at Cagliari and has given several excuses for Milan’s woeful display, most recently pointing out that September is an unlucky month. Ironically, yesterday was October 1, and Milan played 45 minutes without a single shot on or off target, with Ajax ending the half with a ball possession of 76% to Milan’s 24%. It was hard to know what the tactics was as statistically; Philippe Mexes made the most offensive passes, followed by Constant. Both are defenders. Milan made their first change in the 79th minute and the second in the 84 minute. Montolivo played full 90 minutes. One must bear in mind that Milan will play Juventus over the weekend and if Milan wanted only a draw at the end of the game, then changes should have been made earlier to keep players fresh. But sadly such is the reason why Milan players are always injured. They literally play every game whiles promising players like Cristante rot on the bench until they are sent to St Etienne, score 19 goals and are sold to Dortmund (insert the name).
It’s easy to blame Allegri for at least 70 percent of the injuries. Why? Well first of all less than 10 percent of these injuries happen on the field during games. They often happen during training. Secondly, players play almost the whole game until around the 80th minute before subs are made. Thirdly there simply isn’t enough rotation. Consider the Milan game against Torino. That was the easiest game on paper over the next seven days, as Milan would play Celtic and Napoli. Montolivo had played for Italy against Bulgaria barely 3 days before the match and with Celtic only 3 days away, one would have imagined Cristante would at least start the game so that Monto could rest. But no: Montolivo started and would have played for 90 minutes had he not been injured. Then there was Kaka. After suffering with so many injuries, and having to play Celtic at home, where the home crowd were dying to see the return of Ricky, who majestically tore Celtic apart in a solo goal in 2007, one would have expected the coach not to risk Kaka from onset and perhaps introduce him midway through the second half, with Matri partnering Balo and Robinho or Birsa behind them. But again, no: Kaka played 70 minutes until he signaled to the bench that he was injured.
Galliani’s confession is that Allegri requested for striker Alessandro Matri, instead of defenders of midfielder is the worst news that could have been heard by Milan fans. Milan concedes an average of 2 goals a game and set pieces are still an issue. A look at Roma and you will wonder whether they would have traded Coach Rudi Garcia (a coach who keeps Ljajic on the bench, brings him in as a sub and still scores 4 goals in 3 matches) for Allegri that they so much desired. Or what about Inter who are suddenly title contenders, who made no significant signings and have been transformed by Mazzarri?
Adriano Galliani may have been at Milan for several but maintaining Allegri is by far his biggest mistake. He has confessed that he was sorry to sell Kaka but he must also confess one day how he is sorry for maintaining Max. Never have Milan fans wished they had a president like Maurizio Zamparini who would have discarded Max Allegri after the game against Hellas.