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History on Milan's side

Published: Friday 18 March 2005, 14.56CET
Chelsea FC and Olympique Lyonnais are new pretenders in a quarter-final field including six former champions.
 

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Published: Friday 18 March 2005, 14.56CET

History on Milan's side

Chelsea FC and Olympique Lyonnais are new pretenders in a quarter-final field including six former champions.
By Peter Sanderson

The old adage that success breeds success has certainly rung true for AC Milan down the years. If they make it to Istanbul this season, it will be their fifth UEFA Champions League final.

History lesson
But while the Italian champions, and five of their fellow quarter-finalists, can boast at least one success in Europe's premier club tournament, there are two sides - Olympique Lyonnais and Chelsea FC - with a record which pales into insignificance.

Conspicuous by absence
So if Paul Le Guen and José Mourinho are looking to bring their players back to earth after spectacular victories against Werder Bremen and FC Barcelona, they need look no further than the winners' column in the record books. Theirs are the only teams left in the competition without a European Champion Clubs' Cup to their name - the other six having amassed no fewer than 20 European Cup/Champions League titles between them.

Usual suspects
Of the latter group, only Milan (1994, 2003), Juventus FC (1996) and FC Bayern München (2001) can claim to have won the tournament since it became the Champions League in 1992/93. In contrast to their rivals, these three sides have tremendous Champions League pedigree with four wins and ten final appearances between them in the last 12 editions.

Super six
Kings of Europe six times since 1956, Milan have the outstanding record of the remaining challengers and one that only Real Madrid CF, eliminated by Juventus, can better with nine. The Rossoneri, who made relatively light work of their Round of 16 tie with Manchester United FC, boast particularly impressive statistics in the Champions League.

Strong precedent
As well as qualifying for the group stages nine times, they have been quarter-finalists on six occasions, reached the final four times and won the revamped event twice. Even better news for coach Carlo Ancelotti is that, of the five occasions they have made the knockout stages, they have progressed to the final on four.

German pedigree
Bayern coach Felix Magath can also take heart from his side's record. With four European Cups in the cabinet, they can boast seven quarter-final appearances in the last 13 years, four semis and two finals, the second of them victorious in 2001. If Bayern are paired with Chelsea or Liverpool FC, fans may look to the fact that the last time they won the tournament, they beat English opponents in the last eight and Thierry Henry also scored against them at Highbury en route.

Famous five?
Meanwhile, with their four European crowns signalling a glittering past, Liverpool certainly have the pedigree to grace this season's quarter-finals. They may not have a Champions League title to their name but their UEFA Cup triumph of 2001 shows that even the current generation are capable of continental success.

Staking their claim
FC Internazionale Milano (1963, 1964) and PSV Eindhoven (1988) may also feel their European Cup victories are enough to stake a claim as genuine contenders to this year's trophy. The Italian side, with only one Champions League semi-final appearance, could at last be showing the mettle to prevail in Europe's premier competition while Guus Hiddink's team are subscribing to the theory that you must always pass failure on the way to success, having finally advanced beyond the group stage after seven years of failing to do so.

Former glories
Whether a new force rises to lift Europe's most prestigious prize or an old champion relives former glories, it promises to be a gripping finale to the 2004/05 tournament.

Last updated: 18/03/05 14.56CET

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