AC Milan: New Era? Fallen Giants? Only Time Will Tell

Alex GravestockContributor IAugust 30, 2009

MILAN, ITALY - AUGUST 29:  Ronaldinho and Pato of Milan AC during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Inter Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 29, 2009 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

As AC Milan nervously awaited the draw for the Champions League Group stage, one thought was firmly in their head—could they avoid one of the big boys such as Real Madrid and Inter Milan?

Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, Real Madrid were drawn alongside them in Group C alongside French giants Olympique Marseille and FC Zurich of Switzerland.

A challenging group in general, with no matches appearing to give them a guaranteed three points.

But with AC Milan failing to even qualify for last years Champions League, it will be interesting to see how they adjust to the step up from UEFA Cup football which they could have grown accustomed to playing last season.

You would think that a club of this stature would be fine upon returning to the Champions League but after only reaching the round of 32 in the UEFA Cup there will be serious question marks over their chances of winning this years competition.

Although they managed to stay unbeaten throughout that European campaign it was disappointing that Milan failed to reach greater heights.

Before dreaming of reaching the business end of the competition, the Italians face some stern tests in their Group.


Real Madrid

The new era of Los Galacticos will be aiming to end a poor run for the club in the Champions League this year, with a host of new signings whowill be itching to shine on the big stage. If all their additions settle quickly and gel as a team, then Real Madrid could well be an unstoppable force in Europe this season.

This match will also see the return of ex-AC Milan hero Kaka to face his old club, which is sure to be an emotional occasion. Key Man: Cristiano Ronaldo



Marseille can prove to be tough opposition on their day. A very lively, energetic team who are likely to give the big boys AC Milan and Real Madrid a run for their money.

They finished in second place in their domestic league last year and reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup after finishing third in their Champions League group. Key Man: Hatem Ben Arfa


FC Zurich

The Swiss outfit will be looking to enhance their reputation in this years competition, and will be relishing the opportunity to be competing against some of the finest players in the world. 

Although they would seem the inferior side in this group, FC Zurich will not be there just to make up the numbers. They won the Swiss Super League last year and have reached the semi-finals of Europe's biggest club competition twice in their history. Key Man: Hannu Tihinen

Qualification from the Group Stages will not be straight forward for AC Milan, even more so now that their talisman Kaka has now departed for Real Madrid. Thus even more responsibility will now fall on their two remaining Brazilian superstars Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato.

These two attacking wonders will need to be at the peak of their game in order for Milan to ensure they reach the knockout stages and especially in the big stages such as the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

They will also be hoping that new signings Oguchi Onyewu, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Thiago Silva can settle in quickly and contribute to their success. As for tough away days such as Marseille and FC Zurich the experience of players such as Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf will be invaluable to the Rossoneri.

With the core of the team aging somewhat, pacey teams such as Marseille and Real Madrid will look to expose the tired legs of some of the veterans gracing the field. Whereas some teams will have a physical edge over Milan, the mental strength and experience in the big games could see results turned in favour of the Italians.

I'm sure that after last years failings in Europe, there will be an air of expectancy throughout the ranks of supporters and surely in the boardroom. New manager Leonardo has a tough job on his hands, but he does have the personnel at his disposal to launch a successful attack on the UEFA Champions League.