Franco Baresi at 60: When Milan were the kings of Europe

By Sports Desk May 08, 2020

Former Italy and Milan centre-back Franco Baresi, widely regarded as one of the finest defenders of all time, celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday.

As well as being an imperious performer at the heart of one of the best backlines European football has ever seen alongside Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, Baresi was also a celebrated leader.

Of the six Serie A titles he won during a Milan career spanning three decades, five came as captain.

The Rossoneri's exploits on the European stage under Arrigo Sacchi and then Fabio Capello were also exceptional.

During a spell of seven years, Milan led by Baresi reached five finals in the European Cup and Champions League, winning three. Here we look back at how those showpieces unfolded.

 

1989 – MILAN 4-0 STEAUA BUCHAREST

Twenty years on from their second, Milan had a third European title courtesy of their Dutch masters at Camp Nou.

Close-range finishes from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten established a 2-0 lead inside half an hour. A wonderful touch and strike from the edge of the box by Gullit made it 3-0 before the interval, and Van Basten latched on to a measured throughball from Frank Rijkaard to complete the rout shortly after half-time.

1990 – MILAN 1-0 BENFICA

It was a case of roles reversed as Sacchi's men found the going tougher a year later in Vienna, with Van Basten's cute pass releasing Rijkaard to score the decisive goal in the 68th minute.

Baresi and his defensive colleagues saw out the win with another clean sheet, with Milan the last team to manage back-to-back triumphs in the Europe's top competition until Real Madrid embarked on their run of three in a row between 2016 and 2018.

1993 – MARSEILLE 1-0 MILAN

In a far less memorable final moment for Rijkaard, Basil Boli rose above him to glance in a 43rd-minute corner at Munich's Olympiastadion.

Milan, now under Capello, won Serie A that season only losing twice, having gone a top-flight season unbeaten in 1991-92. But they were unable to find a response in the final of the newly rebranded Champions League.

1994 – MILAN 4-0 BARCELONA

Without the suspended Baresi and Costacurta, while also having to omit Florin Raducioiu, Jean-Pierre Papin and Brian Laudrup due to the three non-nations rule in UEFA competitions at that time, few gave Milan a chance against Johan Cruyff's star-studded Barcelona. Van Basten and record signing Gigi Lentini were also nursing serious injuries.

However, Daniele Massaro snaffled a first-half brace before the mercurial Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly scored magnificent goals to complete a thrashing that marked the end of the road for Barca's fabled Dream Team.

1995 – AJAX 1-0 MILAN

As the previous year's final showed, all dynasties must come to an end at some point. And in Baresi's last Champions League final, Louis van Gaal's vibrant young Ajax side pinched glory.

Teenager Patrick Kluivert came off the bench to net the winner five minutes from time, giving Rijkaard – an experienced head among the young stars – glory at the expense of his former employers.

Related items

  • Pioli 'cannot imagine' Milan without Donnarumma as talks with Ibrahimovic continue Pioli 'cannot imagine' Milan without Donnarumma as talks with Ibrahimovic continue

    Stefano Pioli "cannot imagine" Milan without Gianluigi Donnarumma and says the club are convinced veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic should stay for another season.

    Milan director Ricky Massara revealed last week that discussions are ongoing over new deals for both players.

    Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2015-16 and is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2021, while the short-team deal signed by Ibrahimovic in January has expired.

    And head coach Pioli, who signed a two-year extension of his own last month, is eager for both players to pen fresh terms.

    "I cannot imagine a Milan without Donnarumma," he told La Repubblica. "He is 21 years old, he already has experience and has even been captain. 

    "He is already among the top three or four goalkeepers in the world and will become the best."

    Pioli added: "Ibrahimovic makes everything easy. It is wrong to refer to age with him. He is 100 per cent a professional and makes every training session competitive.

    "Paolo [Maldini], [Ivan] Gazidis, Massara and myself are all convinced he should continue with us.

    "From the economic perspective, it is right that I stay out of things, but we are all aware of what he has given us."

    Milan ended the 2019-20 campaign strongly by going 13 games without defeat in all competitions upon their return to action in June.

    Pioli was rewarded with a new deal and insists he paid little notice to speculation that Ralf Rangnick had been lined up to replace him during the close-season.

    "Gazidis and the Elliott fund kept their word," he said. "They told me I would be judged at the end of the season.

    "It didn't make sense to waste energy on things I was unable to control. I've not seen how Rangnick's teams play. I only concentrated on my own work with my players and staff."

  • Spain to play Portugal in October friendly Spain to play Portugal in October friendly

    Spain have announced they will travel to Portugal for a friendly on October 7. 

    The fixture between the neighbouring countries will be staged in Lisbon ahead of both featuring in Nations League games during the October international window. 

    Luis Enrique's squad are scheduled to host Switzerland on October 10 before travelling to Ukraine three days later - Germany are the other team in Group 4. 

    Defending champions Portugal, meanwhile, are away to France on October 11, followed by a home game against Sweden.

    Spain are also set for friendly duty against the Netherlands in November, with that meeting originally set to take place in March before the coronavirus pandemic caused major changes to the schedule.

    Euro 2020 was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the tournament now set for June and July in 2021.

  • Pogba 'the ideal gift' for Pirlo at Juventus, says Toni Pogba 'the ideal gift' for Pirlo at Juventus, says Toni

    Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba would be the "ideal gift" for Andrea Pirlo following his appointment as Juventus head coach, according to former team-mate Luca Toni.

    The France international won eight major honours in four seasons with Juve - three of those playing alongside Pirlo - before returning to Old Trafford in 2016.

    Pogba was strongly linked with a move back to the Allianz Stadium last year and is into the final season of his United contract, though there is an option to extend that by 12 months.

    Retired forward Toni, who played with Pirlo at both club and international level, believes Pogba would be the perfect signing to mark a new chapter at former club Juventus.

    "Knowing Andrea, he will start building from midfield," he told Tuttosport. "The ideal gift would be Pogba. I don't know if that's possible, but it would certainly be the best option.

    "Andrea will not be a coach who focuses on defending and counter-attacking. He loves to dominate the ball and will want to impose that on his team.

    "I don't know what system he will use and I don't think it matters. Andrea is intelligent and flexible."

    Pirlo was named Juve's new head coach on Saturday, hours after Maurizio Sarri's sacking on the back of the Italian champions' last-16 exit against Lyon in the Champions League.

    Fabio Capello tipped Pirlo to replicate the success of three-time Scudetto-winning boss Antonio Conte, but Toni thinks he is more similar to Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.

    "Character wise, he's more like Pep," he said. "Having said that, Antonio impressed him a lot during his three years at Juventus.

    "But in terms of group management, he was fortunate enough to be coached by the two best: [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Max] Allegri.

    "All useful experiences, but in the end, he will be himself. He will be Pirlo and he will go his own way. Without pretending or copying anyone."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.