By Mohamed Smaili
It's about a continental clash, a Derby of Europe if you may... between the two biggest European Champions in history, nine titles for Real and seven for Milan. In European head-to-head clashes, its close… eleven encounters, five wins for Los Merengues and four to the Rossoneri and two draws. Last season they were in the same group too, with a 3-2 Milan win in Madrid for the first time in history followed by a 1-1 draw at San Siro.
The biggest result ever between these two giants was on the 19th of April, 1989. Second game of the semi-finals at the San Siro, after the draw of 1-1 in Madrid, Arrigo Sacchi's Milan did not show much respect to Los Blancos that night… a 5-0 thumping in one of the biggest clashes the sport has ever witnessed.
It was not any Real Madrid. That Real attack was composed of Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez, both legends of the game are among the top 10 scorers in the illustrious history of the club. The team commanded by Leo Beenhakker could also count on the offensive potential of the caliber of Schuster, Michel and Martin Vazquez. A team highly regarded, in the middle of a sequence of five consecutive La Liga titles (1986-90).
On the other side, there was a historical line of defenders, Tassotti and Maldini on the flanks and Costacurta with Baresi in the middle. The spine was formed by the now legendary Dutch trio of Rijkaard, Gullit and Van Basten, supported by the likes of Donadoni & Ancelotti. How is that for a gigantic clash?
It rarely gets bigger than this. But no one anticipated what was to come...
Ancelotti, who went on to win two European titles as the Rossoneri coach, scored the first with a long strike after dribbling past two markers. Then Tassotti's short cross from the corner-kick was firmly headed by Rijkaard: 2-0 on the 24th minute. A bit before half-time the aerial gunning worked again, Donadoni cross met by Gullit’s head into the net. HT: 3-0!
Madrid's misery continued in the second half, Gullit headed down Rijkaard's long ball for Van Basten to extend the scoreline: 4-0! Soon followed by yet another short corner cross which Donadoni exploited with a beautifully angled drive beating Buyo to the near post. 5-0! The thrashing was complete, as the hosts kindly took their foot off the pedal for the last 30 minutes. They did however follow this win with a comfortable 4-0 win in the final against Steaua Bucharest, almost like it were a mere formality.
But that 5-0 rout is forever etched into my memory as the greatest game between Europe’s superpowers. You can watch some highlights of that game below:
This game defined the successful Sacchi era for Milan, much in the same way as the 4-0 final win against “dream team Barcelona” in 1994 defines Capello’s Milan. Opinions may vary, but I have never seen a team that comes close to the Champion's of 1989 and 1990.
What about you? Do you agree that Milan 1988-90 was greatest team in history of club football?
MILAN 5-0 REAL MADRID
San Siro (Milano) - Semifinal of the Champion's Cup- 19/4/1989
MILAN: G.Galli; Tassotti, Costacurta, Baresi, Maldini; Colombo (F.Galli 66'), Rijkaard, Ancelotti, Donadoni; Gullit (Virdis 58'), Van Basten. Manager: Sacchi
REAL MADRID: Buyo; Chendo, Gallego, Sanchís; Míchel, Schuster, Martin Vazquez, Gordillo; Llorente; Butragueno, Hugo Sanchez. Manager: Beenhakker
Referee: Alexis Ponnet (Belgium)
Goals: Ancelotti 18', Rijkaard 24', Gullit 44', Van Basten 48', Donadoni 60'