AC MILAN 1988-1989

Players and Tactical Formation




Giovanni Galli – Goalkeeper

Lots of experience, Italian international already with two world cups participations. He was reliable, giving security and trust to the defenders.

Tassotti – Right Back

Aggressive right back, played always with great determination and had a good understanding with Donadoni. With 29 years old, he would have to wait 3 more years to play for Italia.

Baresi – Central Defender

Team captain, he played as a sweeper, with an excellent reading of the game and quickness to react. Leader of the defense, he was also the Italia National Team captain, by this time.

Costacurta – Central Defender

Very solid with strong marking skills, was a perfect complement to Baresi, played a consistent season. At this time he was yet to be called to the National Team, as he was only 23.

Maldini – Left Back

A complete defender, he could defend and attack with a simplicity and efficiency that was very rare. Precocious talent, with only 21 years, he was already indisputable at left back.

Ancelotti – Central Midfielder

With many experience he had a crucial action recovering the ball on the midfield, with excellent passing skills. Sublime moment when scored against Real Madrid in the semis.

Rijkaard – Central Midfielder

Also a complete player with strong defensive skills, but could also go forward and score decisive goals. Brilliant headed goal against Madrid in the semis.

Donadoni – Right Midfielder

A type of player that gives balance to a team defending well and providing good crosses from the wing. With 26 years he was at his career pick.

Colombo – Left Midfielder

The only player of the starting eleven that wasn´t and never would be international. A peculiar style and personality, with his blonde hair, he was very important tactically.

Gullit – Forward

One of the best world players of his time, he did a marvelous European Cup season, scoring twice in the final against Steaua. Netherland international he was 27 and was in top shape.

Van Basten – Striker

The goal scorer of the team, he scored against all the opponent teams along the way to the final. With 25 years he was the best striker of the world at the time.

Other Players – I have to mention Virdis, the back-up striker to Van Basten that scored some goals along the journey. With 33 years old he was very experienced and could change a game.

Arrigo Sacchi – Coach

Considered a risky appointment to lead this team, because he didn´t had the experience as a professional player and he answered very well, building an extreme team cohesion based on a 4-4-2 attacking style. Later he would manage Italia National Team at 1994 World Cup.



The road to the final started against a Bulgarian team Vitosha Sofia and after the 1st leg win away by 2-0, Virdis and Gullit goals, the 2nd leg in Italy was just routine with a 5-2 win, with Van Basten scoring a poker and Virdis adding another one.

The 2nd round was really tight with Red Star Belgrade being the opposition. With a great Yugoslavia generation of players lead by Stojkovic, they went to Milan to draw 1-1, with Van Basten scoring the goal. The 2nd leg game was interrupted by severe fog when Milan was losing 1-0 and was reduced to 10 men. The game was repeated from the beginning next day, starting from 0-0 and with 11 men both sides, with the final result being 1-1, Van Basten scoring and AC Milan going thru on penalties 4-2. The Belgrade fog saved Milan, every big team has to be lucky.

Next it was Werder Bremen, the West Germany champions and a Van Basten penalty at home was the only goal of the eliminatory. However the 1st leg at Bremen had two disallowed goals, one for each side that could be considered at least polemic.

What a big duel for the semis, Real Madrid vs AC Milan! In Madrid, a brilliant Van Basten header earned a draw, after Hugo Sanchez first goal.  The 2nd leg was a football lesson, a magnificent performance with a 5-0 final result, goals from Ancelotti, Rijkaard, Gullit, Van Basten and Donadoni.

And now AC Milan were in the big final at Camp Nou, Barcelona against 1986 European Champions, Steaua Bucharest, of the great Georghe Hagi and another lesson of good attacking football.  Another goal festival for a 4-0 win, with braces from Gullit and Van Basten. A well deserved title was a reality for AC Milan powerful team.


Winning a European Cup makes any team special, but this one did it in such a clear way, with a 4-0 win in the final versus Steaua Bucharest and a 5-0 demolition in the 2nd leg of the semis against Real Madrid.

The team was really very strong, with a goalkeeper that was experienced and reliable and four defenders that matched really well, two younger and two experienced. The midfielder was composed of four players that could score goals, provide assists but also defend well. And attack had a duo in the climax of their careers, after a Euro 88 win with their country and they had a good understanding with each other.

It´s a good point saying that maybe the cup has been won in Belgrad after the lucky draw, on the repetition of the game postponed due to the fog. Red Star Belgrad was a very good team and they would win the cup, two years after.

“That Milan team was not one of the best, it was the best from my point of view. The best ever,” said Stojkovic the young star of Red Star and I subscribe his point of view.


Personal Memories

I was just nine years old but I remember watching live on TV the 2nd leg against Real Madrid and the final against Steaua Bucharest. It was a pleasure to see such an efficient passing game, with so many good finishes and I remember of being happy to see this team playing. The Ancelotti distance shot is unforgettable, what an inspiration moment.

In that team from Van Basten to Galli, they were all important and AC Milan 1989 was the first team that gave me a sense of pleasure, as their game was so beautiful and powerful.




Author: Rui Marques

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