Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Milan set sights on Europe’s biggest prize



Milan set sights on Europe’s biggest prize

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring during the Italian SerieA football match against Lazio on Sunday. AFP

Milan set sights on Europe’s biggest prize

Ac Milan make their long-awaited return to the Champions League this week on one of the biggest stages the game has to offer, a trip to Liverpool on Wednesday allowing them to dream of Europe’s biggest prize once again.

There will be 13 European Cups between the two teams at Anfield, but while Reds have become one of the continent’s most feared sides under JurgenKlopp, winning their most recent Champions league in 2019, the Italian side will run out for their first group fixture in the competition since 2013.

They are in confident mood after a fast start to the new Serie A season which has earned them a perfect nine points from their opening three matches.

Stefano Pioli, who has never won a major honour as a coach, has a promising team on his hands with the progress made since his arrival in 2019 crystalised by Sunday’s 2-0 stroll against much-fancied Lazio at the San Siro.

Asked whether his side were dreaming of going big in Europe, Pioli said: “We should only be dreaming at night, in the day we need to work hard to realise those dreams”.

The last eight years have been arid for the seven-time European champions, who haven not won Serie A in a decade and were last crowned the continent’s top team way back in 2007, when they beat Liverpool in Athens.

That was the last meeting between the pair and came two years after the Reds inflicted one of the most traumatic defeats in Milan’s history, coming back from three goals down at half-time against a star-studded Rossoneri line-up before eventually winning a historic final on penalties.

Since then Milan, by far Italy’s most successful team in Europe, have failed to get past the quarter-finals of the Champions League and in 2019, while recovering from major financial problems brough to the fore by a disastrous Chinese ownership, even failed to get out of a Europa League group which contained Dudelange, Olympiakos and Real Betis.

Sacchi hails Milan style

This year’s group is a much tougher proposition, with La Liga holders Atletico Madrid and Portuguese champions Porto also potentially blocking their path to the knockout stages, but legendary Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi said current coach Stefano Pioli is on the right track.

“Milan have a difficult group, which will cost them a few points in the league. But the important thing is to win in this competition,” Sacchi, who twice won the European Cup, said.

“I’ve known Pioli for a long time, because he is from Parma where I worked for a few years. Back then he was already an excellent tactical coach, but he was one who couldn’t quite transmit an identity to his teams.

“He’s gone onto the next level now though, as his team has a style.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hadn’t even begun his first spell at Milan when they were last crowned kings of Europe, as he was instead firing their local rivals Inter to the Serie A title.

However, approaching 40 and back in the red and black of Milan for a second time, the Swedish star will be a key figure for Pioli after scoring on Sunday, seven minutes into his return to action after four months out with a knee injury.

“He’s got this passion,” said Pioli.

“I believe that apart from his evident talent it’s the passion, the fire that he has inside him that makes training for him a pleasure . . . When you’re like that you don’t feel the advancing years.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia