Posts Tagged ‘Ac Milan’

Profile of the week: Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini (born 26 June 1968, Milan) was an Italian footballer who spent his entire career playing for Ac Milan. Many people acknowledge him as one of the greatest defenders ever. Despite being naturally right footed, Maldini played in the left back or central defender position for a majority of his career. He played at an elite level his entire career spanning over two and a half decades.

16-year-old Paolo Maldini making his debut for Ac Milan

At the age of 16 Maldini made his professional debut against Udinese in the 1984/85 season, making him the youngest ever player to play for Ac Milan in the Serie A. It would be his first and final appearance of that campaign. However the following season he started eleven times for the Rossoneri. The following season marked Paolo Maldini’s first Serie A trophy. This would be his first of seven. He also played a vital part in the Milan side who went the entire season unbeaten. Due to his fine form Maldini played all four games at Euro ’88 for Italy, eventually being knocked out by Soviet Union in the semi-finals. On the 24th of May 1989 Maldini would lift his first European Cup after Ac Milan bet Steaua Bucarest 4-0 . They went on to win it the following season too. Many feel that Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan were one of the greatest teams in history as no team has won the European Cup back-to-back since. The 1990 World Cup then came around, Italy were hosts and felt they could go on to lift the trophy for the fourth time in the country’s history. However this was not the case as Italy once again fell short, being beaten by Argentina in the semi’s on penalties.

Following the disappointment of Italia ’90, Maldini was lifting silverware with Ac Milan almost every season. Winning the Scudetto three times in a row (91/92, 92/93 & 93/94). During this period Milan went on to win their fifth and Maldini’s third Champions League against are Barcelona side which were considered heavy favourites. The Rossoneri went on to win 4-0. Paolo Maldini was made captain of the Italian national team for the 1994 World Cup in America. This tournament proved to be more heartbreaking than the previous World Cup. Italy made it all the way to the final against Brazil to be once again denied on penalties. Maldini was named in the team of the tournament, 32 years after his father, Cesare Maldini, received the same honour. In the same year, he also became the first defender to ever receive the World Player of the Year award.

Maldini won two more Serie A titles before the end of the ’90s (95/96, 98/99) but continued to return from major tournaments with Italy trophyless, following disappointing team performances at Euro ’96 and the World Cup in 1998. In 2000 Maldini was denied another international trophy as Italy were beaten in extra-time by a David Trezeguet golden goal in the final of the Euro’s. This would be the last time Maldini would play in an international final.

After being knocked out of the World Cup in 2002, Paolo Maldini decided it was the right time to retire from international football. Although he retired trophyless, he retired  as Italy’s most capped player of all time, making 126 appearances for the Azzurri. He also captained his country a record 74 times throughout his international career.

Remarkably, 2003 became the one and only time Maldini won the Coppa Italia beating Roma 6-3 on aggregate. Just three days before the Coppa Italia final second leg, Ac Milan beat another Italian rival, Juventus. However this was in the Champions League final, which they won on penalties in Old Trafford, Manchester. This was the fourth time Maldini has won the competition.

Paolo Maldini lifts the Champions League for the fifth time in his career.

 

The 2003/04 season saw Carlo Ancelotti’s – a former team-mate of Maldini’s – Milan side win the Scudetto for the first time in five seasons.  That season, Paolo Maldini was named the Serie A defender of the year for the first time at the age of 36. Ac Milan once again reached the Champions League final in 2005 against Liverpool. Maldini opened the scoring himself after just 51 seconds but he was again denied by an unlikely comeback as Liverpool went on to win the final on penalties following a 3-3 draw. However in 2007 he would get his revenge as Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final to give Maldini his fifth and final European Cup.

On the 17th of May 2009 Maldini played his 900th official match for Ac Milan against Udinese. The following week saw Maldini play in front of San Siro crowd for the final time in a match which Milan lost 3-2 to Roma. Maldini’s send off was marred by a banner displayed by a small section of Milan fans which read “Thank you, skipper. On the pitch you were an infinite champion, but you failed to show respect towards those who made you rich”. His last appearance in a Milan jersey came on the 31st of May, a game they won 2-0 against Fiorentina. The win meant Milan qualified automatically for next season’s Champions League, although Maldini would be absent.

The famous number 3 jersey which Paolo Maldini wore throughout his Milan career has been retired but it may be restored if either one of his children, Christian or Daniel  play for the Milan senior squad in the future.

Football Topic end of season awards.

The end of the season has come and it’s time to declare the winners of each category in our opinion for the Premiership, Serie A and La Liga.

Barclays Premier League:

Darren’s picks –

Player of the season: Vincent Kompany
Young player of the season: Sergio Aguero
Manager of the season: Alan Pardew
Signing of the season: Nikica Jelavic
Overachievers: Newcastle/Norwich
Underperformers: Aston Villa
Flop of the season: Stewart Downing
Comeback player of the season: Paul Scholes
Moment of the season: City’s comeback on the last day to clinch the title.
Match of the season: Man United 4-4 Everton
Goal of the season: Haten Ben Arfa vs Bolton. Wonderful solo run.
Hero of the season: Fabrice Muamba. It was amazing to see him back at the Reebok.
Villain of the season: Luis Suarez/Joey Barton
Unsung Hero: Alex Song

 

Our young player of the season.

Craig’s pick –

Player of the season: Robin Van Persie
Young player of the season: Sergio Aguero
Manager of the season: Alan Pardew
Signing of the season: Demba Ba
Overachievers: Newcastle
Underperformers: Aston Villa/Liverpool
Flop of the season: Stewart Downing
Comeback player of the season:Paul Scholes
Moment of the season: Fabrice Muamba returning to Reebok
Match of the season: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham
Goal of the season: Mata Volley v MUFC
Hero of the season: Mario Balotelli
Villain of the season: Carlos Tevez
Unsung Hero: Grant Holt

Serie A:

Ibra had his best season as an individual but failed to win a major title in the end.

Player of the season: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Young player of the season: Gaston Ramirez
Manager of the season: Antonio Conte
Signing of the season: Andrea Pirlo
Overachievers: Lazio
Underperformers: Inter/Genoa
Flop of the season: Diego Forlan
Comeback player of the season: Andrea Pirlo/Diego Milito
Moment of the season: Del Piero and Pippo Inzaghi scoring on the last day of the season
Match of the season: Inter 4-2 Ac Milan/ Inter 4-4 Palermo
Goal of the season: Juan Cuadrado vs Siena
Hero of the season: Heroes, Udinese offering to take care of the late Piermario Morosini’s disabled sister.
Villain of the season: Delio Rossi for attacking his own player/ Genoa Ultras.
Unsung Hero: Antonio Nocerino

La Liga:

Player of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo
Young player of the season: Javi Martinez
Manager of the season: Jose Mourinho
Signing of the season: Radamel Falcao
Overachievers: Malaga
Underperformers: Villarreal
Flop of the season: Ruud Van Nistelrooy 28Games 4 goals
Comeback player of the season: Abidal playing again after cancer
Moment of the season: Ronaldo silences the Nou Camp
Match of the season: Levente 3-5 Rayo Vallecano
Goal of the season: Ronaldo 1st v Levante
Hero of the season: Eric Abidal
Villain of the season: Pepe
Unsung Hero: Xabi Alonso

Pepe seemed to be constantly in trouble. What’s new?

Who would be your picks?

The Bianconeri rise again.

Juventus lifted the Scudetto for the 28th time in their history this season. A season in which they went unbeaten.

Who would of predicted this six years ago?

Match fixing Scandal

In 2006 Juventus were one of the five clubs who were linked with the Italian match fixing scandal. They were stripped of the two titles they won under Fabio Capello and demoted to the Serie B for the first time in the clubs history. As expected some key players left, including Lillian Thuram and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However others showed their loyalty and agreed to remain with Juve despite playing in the second tier of Italian football. The main players being Buffon, Nedved, Trezeguet and Del Piero. Juventus went straight back up after winning the Serie B, only losing four times in 42 games.

Rebuilding

The following season Claudio Ranieri took over the “Old Lady”, guiding them to a very respectable third place finish.  It also meant they had qualified for the following seasons Champions League.

2008-09 season was going to be a test for Ranieri’ men as they now had high expectations on their shoulders. The Summer transfer window saw them bring in eight players to strengthen the squad. Amauri being the “big” signing, coming from Palermo for €22.6 million. Juventus looked like genuine title contenders at various stages of the season and to boost the confidence of the fans they topped their Champions League group which contained Real Madrid. They were later knocked out by Chelsea in the last 16. However the players were struggling to remain motivated at certain times throughout the season as Ranieri belittled their title chances. The team went seven consecutive league games without a win. Despite this they finished second, a total of 10 points behind Champions Inter. Ranieri was sacked for failing to win a trophy.

With new coach Ciro Ferrara spending over €50 million on transfers, people imagined that the team could make the push and once again become champions of Italy. This was not the case as the 09-10 season proved to be disastrous for the Bianconeri. They failed to qualify from their Champions League group. Following the loss to Inter in the Coppa Italia, Ciro Ferrara was sacked as manager. The day later Alberto Zaccheroni was made head coach. Zaccheroni made a pretty decent start, knocking Ajax out of the Europa League followed up by a 3-1 win over Fulham. However Juventus were bet 4-1 in the second leg thus knocking them out, a poor run of form followed. Juve finished 7th in the Serie A.

Juventus started the following season with a new president, Andrea Agnelli and a new manager, Luigi Delneri. Despite the change Juventus once again had a poor season, finishing 7th for the second consecutive season and once again another year without a trophy. The crowds were plummeting, failing to sell out the 28,000 seater Stadio Olimpico once. Agnelli knew something had to change.

Resurrection 

There was a lot of change, the main one being the change of Stadium. Juventus became the only team in the Serie A to fully own their own stadium. Former Juventus midfielder Antonio Conte was made manager. The fans became optimistic and Juventus stadium was frequently sold out. Andrea Agnelli pumped money into the club and Conte gladly spent it, bringing in no more than twenty new faces for a total of €94.5 million. They knew they had to challenge Ac Milan for the title, a title that the Rossoneri were not going to give up easily. Juvetus won six of their first ten games, beating Inter and Ac Milan in the process. Despite the good form some criticised them for drawing too many games, something that might just cost them the title. Between the 5th of Febuary and the 11th of March Juve drew six of their seven Serie A games. However this was followed by an impressive run of form that saw the Bianconeri gather up nine wins on the trot. Despite Milan throwing away their lead earlier in the season, they still remained closely behind. Juve slipped up slightly following a 1-1 draw with Lecce, which allowed the Rossoneri back into the title race. It all came down to match-day 37. Ac Milan had to beat rivals Inter to keep their title hopes alive. A breathtaking Milan derby ended with the Rossoneri losing 4-2. Juventus win away to Cagliari meant they became champions of Italy for the first time since 2003. The win on the last day of the season ensured that Conte’s men went the entire Serie A season unbeaten, becoming one of only three teams to do so (Perugia in 78/79 and Ac Milan in 91/92).

Del Piero lifts the Scudetto in his final season as a Juve player.

Juventus have the chance to do a domestic double when they play Napoli in the Coppa Italia final on Sunday.

They will be hoping to defend their Scudetto next season and continue their unbeaten run. They will also be expected to do well in next seasons Champions League and could well prove to be dark horses.

Does this Juventus side have what it takes to become one of the best sides in the world?