AC Milan Greatest XI vs. Celtic Greatest XI: Fantasy Champions League
The two greats clash in the Champion's League tonight but both team's have seen greater days so we put their greatest elevens head-to-head to see who wins...
AC Milan XI
by Salvatore Landolina
GK: Fabio Cudicini
The father of Tottenham shot-stopper Carlo helped Milan win their second European Cup in 1969, and their first Intercontinental Cup the same year. He also won a Scudetto, Cup Winners Cup and Coppa Italia in his 183 games for the club.7.
RB: Marcos Evangelista de Morais (Cafu)
Nicknamed the ‘pendolino’ for the speed and power at which he blitzed down the flanks. He arrived at Milan a World Cup winner twice with Brazil 1994 and 2002, and he won the Champions League with the Rossoneri in 2007 against Liverpoolin Athens, as well as the FIFA World Cup that year. 8.
CB: Alessandro Costacurta
Alongside Franco Baresi, Costacurta is arguably Milan’s greatest ever centre-back. He won five European Cups, seven Scudetti, two Intercontinental Cups and a hoard of other trophies in a 20-year career at San Siro. 10.
CB: Franco Baresi
Milan retired the number six jersey when Baresi hang up his boots in October 1997 after two decades at the club. A legend in his own right and one of the greatest defenders the world has seen. He captained the team to great success including three European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, six Scudetti, three European SuperCups and many others. 10.
LB: Paolo Maldini
Perhaps the greatest defender of all time in the history of world football – the model footballer in every sense. 26 trophies in 25 years at Milanello says it all, among those were five European Cups and as many Intercontinental Cups as well as seven Scudetti. 10.
RM: Dejan Savicevic
The Montenegrin winger will best be remembered for his stunning lob over Barcelona goalkeeper Andoni Zubizaretta in the 1994 Champions League final as Milan bashed the favourites 4-0 in Athens. A classy midfielder who also won three Italian titles and a European SuperCup. 7.
CM: Gianni Rivera
Played under the legendary coach Nereo Rocco and alongside Giovanni Trapattoni to help Milan win their first European Cup at Wembley in 1963 against Eusebio’s Benfica. He repeated the feat in 1969 with another European Cup. He became the first Italian to win the Ballon D’Or whilst playing for the Rossoneri. 8.
CM: Frank Rijkaard
A versatile midfielder who played alongside Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten, Rijkaard was part of the team who won back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 when he scored the only goal of the game against Benfica. 9.
The world stood up and took note of Kaka when his three goals against Manchester United over both legs of the 2007 semi-final saw Cristiano Ronaldo live in the shadows. Kaka was Milan’s passport to the Athens final where he helped his team exact revenge over Liverpool for the heartbreak of Istanbul two years earlier. He also won the FIFA Club World Cup. That stellar season rewarded him with both the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards – simply sensational. 9
CF: Ruud Gullit
The Dutchman had it all when he arrived at Milan for the 1987/88 season as the world’s most expensive player and Ballon D’or Winner. He proved his worth on the pitch with force and effect and scored twice in the 1989 European Cup final in a 4-0 win over Steaua Bucharest. Won it again the following year. 9.
ST: Marco Van Basten
One of the greatest strikers of all time and the most complete. Van Basten had everything in his locker and his quality helped Milan conquer the European Cup three times. He also won two Intercontinental Cups and four Serie A titles among other trophies. Three Ballon D’Or’s during his time at San Siro pay homage to a true great. Sadly his high-profile career was curtailed by an ankle injury which forced his retirement at just 30 in 1995. 10.
Final score: 98
by Vincent Forrester
GK: Ronnie Simpson
Simpson didn’t move to Celtic until the ripe old age of 34, having played for amateurs Queen’s Park and later Third Lanark, Newcastle and Hibs. But he packed a lot into the Indian Summer of his career, keeping net during the victorious 1967 European Cup final and Scotland’s famous 3-2 win over England that same year. 7
RB: Danny McGrain
Currently a coach with the reserves, McGrain was a powerful, composed full back, hard as nails but equally deft with the ball at his feet. Made over 650 appearances for Celtic and won 62 caps for Scotland. 8
CB: Billy McNeill
‘Cesar’ was captain of the victorious Lisbon Lions. ‘Nuff said.9
CB: Paul McStay
OK, so he’s slightly out of position at centre half, but McStay – the Maestro – would have handled it. He spent his entire career at Celtic, captaining the club for his last seven years. An intelligent, creative midfield general. 7
LB: Tommy Gemmell
A marauding full back, his spectacular goal in the Lisbon ’67 final was the equaliser that turned the game. He also bagged one in the 1970 European Cup final, making him one of only two British footballers to have scored in two European Cup finals (the other being Phil Neal). 8
RM: Jimmy Johnstone
Scottish footballers might be accused of lacking technical ability these days, but “Jinky” was one of the finest dribblers to ever pull on a football strip. His trickery decimated Inter’s defence – one of the best back fours the game has seen – in the famous 1967 cup final. He was voted Celtic’s greatest ever player in a fans’ poll in 2002. 10
CM: Bobby Murdoch
Formed a rock-solid partnership with Bertie Auld in midfield that proved even more watertight than the catenaccio of Inter. Plagued by injuries in his career, his importance to Celtic was highlighted by Jock Stein’s response to the question of when Celtic might next win the European Cup: “When Bobby Murdoch is fit”. 8
CM: Bertie Auld
Auld started at Celtic as a left winger, scoring one in three from out wide, before moving to the middle of the park to play alongside Bobby Murdoch. The two rocks in midfield held together the great 1967 side. 8
LM: Bobby Lennox
The seventh Lisbon Lion to make this list – sorry, but can you blame me? – Lennox was a left winger with an eye for goal, managing more than one in two for Celtic, a record most strikers can only dream of. Among his fans were Bobby Charlton and Alfredo Di Stefano. 9
CF: Henrik Larsson
Without doubt Celtic’s finest overseas player (and my first and greatest love). His 315 games returned 243 goals, a ratio rarely matched in the modern game. Spells at Barcelona – where he set up two goals in the 2006 Champions League final – and Man Utd dispelled the notion that he couldn’t cut it at the top level. A truly world class footballer. 10
CF: Jimmy McGrory
Nicknamed ‘The Mermaid’ for his extraordinary leap, Jimmy McGrory is quite simply one of the greatest strikers of all time. Despite retiring in 1937, he still holds the record for most career goals in British football, a whopping 550 from just 547 games. Sadly, an establishment – ie Rangers – bias meant he was largely overlooked by the Scotland selectors, playing only seven times (and managing six goals). 10
Final Score: 94
Winner: Milan (by a near landslide)