Juventus
    19.09.2014 19:26 - in: Serie A S

    Milan in the spotlight

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    Juventus.com takes an in-depth look at Saturday night’s opponents Milan

    Club

    The club was founded in 1899 by lace-maker Herbert Kilpin and businessman Alfred Edwards, two English expatriates who named it “Milan Cricket and Foot-ball Club”. Though it was forced to bear the Italian spelling “Milano” under the Fascist regime, it now retains the English spelling of the city in honour of its Anglo-Saxon origins.

    Milan won their first league championship in 1901, followed by another two in 1906 and 1907. But after Inter broke away to form a separate club a year later, the Rossoneri were unable to taste further Scudetto glory until 1951.

    However, that victory sparked a turn of fortunes that saw them lift three more domestic titles before their 1963 European Cup triumph against Benfica, a success they repeated in 1969 against Ajax.

    The club won a tenth league title in 1979, but then endured a difficult period in which they were relegated twice.

    Silvio Berlusconi bought Milan in 1986 and promptly lifted them from their downward spiral by investing heavily. In the 1987/88 season Arrigo Sacchi’s side returned to the top of Italian football with a Scudetto win, and the following year they held aloft their first European title in two decades with a confident 4-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest.

    But a greater achievement was yet to come, with a win over Benfica in the final of the following year’s competition making Milan the first and still the only club to have successfully defended the European Cup.

    New manager Fabio Capello led them to three consecutive league championships between 1992 and 1994, and the Rossoneri enjoyed another victorious period under their next boss (and their second longest-serving ever), Carlo Ancelotti.

    Their most recent title came in 2010/11 under current Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

    Stadium

    Officially renamed as the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in 1980 (although still popularly known as the San Siro as it was time of its inauguration in 1926), Milan’s home ground is shared with Inter and hosts the legendary “Derby della Madonnina” fixture between the two sides.

    The stadium had an original capacity of 35,000, and reached its current peak of 80,018 after numerous renovations culminating in an update for the 1990 World Cup.

    The San Siro has hosted three Champions League finals, the most recent being in 2001, and has also welcomed the Italian rugby team, whose match there against New Zealand in 2009 saw a record 80,000 fans turn out to watch them in action.

    It is also a regular concert venue and has held performances from Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones.

    Current team

    Current table-toppers Milan will be without two key players for the clash against the Bianconeri. Club captain Riccardo Montolivo is currently sidelined with a broken leg which caused him to miss out on Italy’s disappointing 2014 World Cup campaign whilst Daniele Bonera will also be unavailable after being sent off during Milan’s 5-4 win over Parma.

    Likened to Rossoneri legend Paolo Maldini, Mattia De Sciglio is a versatile full-back with great stamina. The 21-year-old, who was named in the 2012/13 Serie A team of the year, saw last year’s campaign blighted by injury in which he only made 16 league appearances. De Sciglio also has 14 international caps to his name and played in Italy’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Natal during the 2014 World Cup.

    Dutchman Nigel de Jong is a powerful presence at the heart of the Milan midfield. Having joined from Manchester City in 2012, the 29-year-old made 44 appearances in all competitions last season and scored the winning goal against Inter in May 2014. The midfielder is also a key member of the Holland national side, having featured in the last four major international tournaments.

    Keisuke Honda made his long-awaited move to the Rossoneri in January 2014 after four years in Russia with CSKA Moscow. Having been handed the number ten jersey on his arrival, the Japanese international suffered a somewhat frustrating initial six months in Milan with only three goals in sixteen appearances in all competitions. The 28-year-old, however, seems to have recaptured his magic after scoring two goals in the opening rounds of the 2014/15 Serie A campaign.

    After enduring an injury-hit 2013/14 term in which he made just six Serie A appearances, Stephan El Shaarawy, bolstered by a full pre-season under his belt, displayed his renewed match sharpness with a man of the match performance against Lazio on the opening day, even bagging an assist for Honda’s goal. The 21-year-old will hope to recapture the sparkling form he showed during his breakthrough season in 2012/13, when he also debuted for the Italian senior team in a 2-1 defeat to England.

    Transfer activity

    The Rossoneri have had a busy summer in which a multitude of players have come and gone.

    Spanish goalkeeper Diego Lopez has arrived from Champions League winners Real Madrid on a free transfer. After successful spells at both Villarreal and Sevilla, the 32-year-old re-signed for the Spanish giants in 2013, establishing himself as their La Liga number one ahead of Iker Casillas. On his debut for the Rossoneri, Lopez saved a late penalty from Antonio Candreva in a 3-1 win over Lazio on the opening day of the 2014/15 Serie A season.  

    In defence, Adil Rami and Alex have been recruited to shore up a rearguard that conceded 49 goals last season. French international Rami, who had actually spent the latter half of the 2013/14 campaign on loan at Milan, has signed from Valencia on a permanent basis whilst Alex agreed terms on a two-year contract after leaving PSG on a free transfer in the summer.

    Chelsea duo Marco van Ginkel and Fernando Torres will both link up at Milan after inking loan deals. Dutch midfielder van Ginkel, whose debut season at the Blues was blighted by an anterior cruciate ligament injury, will spend 2014/15 on loan at the San Siro with World Cup winner Torres staying until 2016.

    Both players will have a point to prove, especially the Spaniard who has endured a difficult, goal-shy spell at Stamford Bridge since signing for a club-record fee of £50 million in January 2011.

    Twenty-five-year-old attacking midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura joined Milan from Serie A counterparts Atalanta in the final hours of the summer transfer window. The Italian international followed up his most prolific season in Serie A (seven strikes in 2012/13) with five goals last term and will be hoping to provide the fans with something to shout about after Milan invested €7 million for his services.

    Tricky winger Jeremy Menez returns to Italian football after his three-year stint with Roma, signing on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain. The 27-year-old began his career with the current Ligue 1 Champions in fine form but had found first-team appearances hard to come by in recent years with the additions of Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura. Menez already has three goals to his name, including a sumptuous backheel in last week’s 5-4 victory over Parma, and he will be looking to keep up his impressive vein of form to put himself firmly in the frame of a return to the French national side.

    Going the other way, Guinean defender Kevin Constant ended his four-year stay in Italy (after spells with Chievo and Genoa) with a move to Turkish side Trabzonspor.

    Academy youth graduate Bryan Cristante has joined reigning Primeira Liga champions Benfica in Portugal on a five-year-deal. The 19-year-old only made three appearances last season, netting once.

    Club legend Kaka, who scored his 100th Rossoneri goal against Atalanta in January 2014, has brought an end to his second stint with Milan and will ply his trade with Orlando City when they make their MLS bow in 2015. In the meantime, the 32-year-old is to keep up his fitness with former club Sao Paolo on loan.

    Versatile utility man Urby Emanuelson has joined Serie A rivals Roma on a free transfer after three-and-a-half years with the Rossoneri. The Dutch midfielder, who also had a loan spell at Fulham in 2013, played in a whole host of positions for Milan including both defence and attack.

    But the most notable departure is Mario Balotelli, who returns to the Premier League with last season’s runners-up Liverpool. The 24-year-old had a great scoring record during his 18 months at Milan, notching 30 times in 54 appearances.

    Manager

    Following the dismissal of Clarence Seedorf in June 2014, former Bianconeri striker Filippo Inzaghi was immediately appointed Milan head coach after overseeing the club’s Primavera team for two seasons.

    “Pippo” began his playing career as a striker at hometown club Piacenza where he spent two seasons out on loan at Albinoleffe and  Verona before returning to score 15 times in 39 run-outs.

    He transferred to Parma in 1996 but after only making fleeting appearances for the Crociati’s first-team, moved to Atalanta the following year where he finished top scorer with 24 strikes, scoring against every other team in the division in the process.

    Inzaghi joined Juventus in 1997, his sixth club in seven years, where he would make 165 appearances and score 89 goals in four seasons. During his time with the Bianconeri, the striker won the Serie A title and Coppa Italia at the first attempt as well as the now defunct Intertoto Cup in 1999.

    He joined Milan in 2001 and has remained with the club ever since, be it in a playing or managerial capacity.

    During his decade as a player, Inzaghi won ten trophies with the Rossoneri including two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two UEFA Super Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup in 2007.

    The striker’s playing career in Milan also saw him lift two Champions League titles, most notably the 2007 edition, in which his two goals downed Liverpool to scoop Europe’s most glittering club prize.

    On the international stage, Inzaghi is a World Cup winner and was also part of the Italy squad who finished runners-up at Euro 2000 to eventual winners France. In total, he scored 25 times in 57 Azzurri appearances.

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