Before Italy's UEFA Champions League hopes rested in the arms of Juventus and Roma, Milan ruled European football.
In 1993-94, back when the Champions League was only for league champions, Milan fought its way through a string of tough opponents - FC Aarau, Copenhagen, Anderlecht, Porto, Werder Bremen and Monaco - to get to the final. There, Milan faced Barcelona. This was a battle of giants, of course. Milan had won its third straight Serie A championship in 1994, while Barcelona jumped Deportivo La Coruña on the final day of the season in La Liga.
That Milan squad was a far cry from what it is today. Even with the legendary Dutch trio out of the fold by that point, the Rossoneri were unreliably deep, primarily fielding a team of Italian stars. Led by Italian manager Fabio Capello, of 16 players in the squad on May 18, 1994, 13 were Italian. The other three – all starters – were Croatian, French and Yugoslavian.
Look at this squad, the starting XI from that incredible final:
The Champions League Final was a sight to behold for Milan fans. It still stands as the most lopsided victory in the Champions League era, and it matches the four-goal victories of Real Madrid (1960), Bayern Munich (1974) and Milan (1989) in the European Cup Final.
Milan routed Barcelona 4-0, led by two goals from Daniele Massaro. Marcel Desailly buried a beautiful curling shot for the fourth goal, but the moment of the game that will always be remembered is Milan's third goal. Dejan Savićević won the ball along the sideline, cut in and put a lobbed shot toward goal from the upper corner of the box.
Look at this shot, one of the best goals in Milan history:
Historic victories like this used to be the norm for Milan. Now? Not so much. Milan has won the Champions League twice since then, winning in 2003 and 2007 to bring the club's total to seven, the second most in competition history after Real Madrid's ten.
But in recent years, Milan gets to the Champions League only to be routed by the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United. More recently, the Rossoneri failed to even qualify for the competition. One day, hopefully soon, Milan will return to the Champions League ready to make the push for No. 8, then No. 9 and eventually La Decima, as the Spaniards call it.
Until then, reminisce. Happy Throwback Thursday, Milanisti!