If you are going to win the Europa League you might as well do it the hard way.
This morning’s Europa League round of 16 draw gave us – Manchester United vs AC Milan. The lion Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to Old Trafford and there is still a score to settle with the Italian side after Manchester United’s devastating Champions League exit in 2006/2007.
Who Are AC Milan?
Associazione Calcio Milan aka A.C. Milan was founded in 1899 and shares the San Siro with their hometown rivals Inter Milan. AC Milan has spent every season, with the exception of the 1980/1981 and 1982/83 seasons, in the top flight of Italian football. They have a rich history very similar to Manchester United. AC Milan won 18 Serie A titles, 7 European Cups, and 5 Copa Italias. The best period in the club’s history was in the 1990s and early 2000s where they dominated European Football winning 4 of their 7 European cups.
AC Milan & Financial Fair Play
In recent years the club has fallen on tough times. Changes in ownership, and a poor financial structure has decimated this former titan of Europe into a top 4 contender in Itay. In the 2019/2020 season, AC Milan lost over 145 million euros, and a 2018 UEFA ruling, mandated AC Milan to achieve profitability before this June to avoid Financial Fair Play punishment.
Accordingly, should the club (AC Milan) not be break-even compliant at 30 June 2021, it will be excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify, in the two seasons 2022/23 and 2023/24. The club will also have EUR 12 million of its UEFA revenues from the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League withheld and will not be permitted to register more than 21 players for participation in UEFA competitions in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.uefa.com CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber renders AC Milan decision
AC Milan Recent Form
AC Milan started the 2020/2021 season on a tear. They went on an 18 match unbeaten run in Series A before falling to Juventus 3-2 on January 6th 2021. Currently, they sit 2nd in Serie A behind Inter Milan and in front of Ronaldo’s Juventus.
The good news for Manchester United is that AC Milan has hit a rough patch of form. They barely squeaked into the Europa League round of 16 against Crvena Zvezda (Say that 5 times fast). In their last 5 matches they have won none – drawing 2 and losing 3.
A Clash of Titans: Manchester United vs AC Milan
Lifetime AC Milan and Manchester United are dead even. Both clubs have 5 wins against the other, no draws.
The last meeting between the two clubs was in 2010. Sir Alex’s side easily dispatched AC Milan at Old Trafford. Winning 4-0 in the Champions League round of 16, advancing 6-3 on aggregate.
The AC Milan side that day included a David Beckham on loan from the MLS. Beckham came on as a sub to play the final match of his career at Old Trafford. As the final whistle blew Beckham grabbed a green and gold scarf from a fan and wore it on the pitch. Applauding the fans, Beckham showed his support for the protest against the Glazer ownership who have riddled the club with debt #GlazersOut.
The most famous meeting of these two clubs was during the 2006/2007 season when it was Manchester United vs AC Milan in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Both clubs were tournament favorites and their rosters included the likes of Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Pirlo, Seedorf, and the 2007 Balon Door Winner Kaka. It was a battle for the ages across 2 legs, United getting the best of AC Milan at Old Trafford 3-2 before Milan would take the win in the pouring rain at the San Siro 3-0 going to the Champions League final 5-3 on aggregate.
If there is a silver lining of that tough loss, it is that AC Milan would go on to defeat the scouse bastards 2-1 to win their 7th European Cup.
The Return of the Lion: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was instrumental in helping Manchester United lift its first Europa League trophy in 2017. Although he did miss the final with a knee injury, his impact on the 2016/2017 season was immense. He netted 28 goals for Manchester United before getting injured.
When the Lion left Manchester United, it felt like his experience and leadership were missed. Gone were the funny quips between him and Pogba and Mourinho’s reign came to a calamitous end.
Regardless of how it ended, I will be excited to welcome Zlatan back to Old Trafford on March 11th. I can’t wait for Eric Bailly to mark him after he got away with that famous karate kick in the locker room.
Manchester United vs AC Milan: The Fall From Grace Derby
These two great clubs dominated Europe in their respective glory years. Incompetent ownership and bad financial planning have given us this great fixture in the Europa League round of 16. Regardless of the squads and the name on the tournament, seeing these two historic clubs battle will be must-see tv.
All Manchester United fans know we still owe AC Milan. When Kaka sliced up our Defense in 2006/2007, that Champions League trophy had Manchester United’s name on it.
Manchester United vs AC Milan Fixture Dates
Unfortunately for us, this great fixture will be available to stream on CBS ALL Access.