Prior to last season, it had been eight long years since AC Milan qualified for the UEFA Champions League.
Only Real Madrid have lifted the coveted ‘Big Eared’ trophy more times than the San Siro club, making their absence from Europe’s most elite of dinner tables all the more painful. Last term’s venture ended in the group stage as they finished bottom of Group B, behind Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, and FC Porto. This year, they made to make it into the knockout phase, setting up a tie with English side Tottenham Hotspur in the round of sixteen.
After finishing as runners-up to Chelsea in Group E, Spurs were as favorable of a draw as the Rossoneri could have hoped for. OddsChecker, which compares European football odds and free bets, have made the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester City the favourites for glory this season, teams that Stefano Piolo’s side avoided in the second-round draw.
That meant that the door was well and truly open for progression to the last eight for the first time in eleven years.
First-Leg Victory Secures Milan’s Progression
A solitary Brahim Diaz goal gave Milan a 1-0 victory against their English opponents in the first leg at the San Siro. The one-goal deficit didn’t do the hosts justice on that night, and they could have comfortably netted a few more times had it not been for poor finishing. Regardless, the reigning Italian champions headed to London with a slender lead to protect.
Spurs, despite their inconsistencies this season, have been one of England’s best clubs for a number of years, regularly finishing in the top four as well as reaching the Champions League final in 2019. While they were still outsiders to progress, to the quarterfinals, many fancied them to perhaps nick a goal back and send the tie to the extra time. In the end, however, it was the visitors who held firm. The young centre-back pairing of Malick Thiaw and Englishman Fikayo Tomori never looked like being beaten and in fact, if any team looked like breaking the deadlock, it was the Italian side.
Back in 2012, Milan’s journey ended at the quarter-final stage after a 3-1 aggregate defeat to reigning champions Barcelona. This year, the Blaugrana aren’t even in the competition, and neither are Atletico Madrid and Juventus, three teams that have appeared in five finals between them over the last decade. The door was open for Milan and they bulldozed their way through it. But how much further can they go?