Between them they have 16 titles and 24 finals in two languages. And that’s how it’ll stay for this year.
Milan fell to an outstanding Arsenal side yesterday 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League after a scoreless draw in England. The task was daunting for the young gunners given that no English side has ever tasted victory at the majestic San Siro.
From the onset, observers described this showdown – while drooling – as one in which seasoned sophisticated experience was pitted against youthful, talented exuberance. As it turned out, Arsenal's assets prevailed.
Over the course of two-legs (as opposed to two-arms. I know bad joke), the Gunners were clearly the better side as Milan constantly searched for its identity. The heartbeat of Milan, Andrea Pirlo, never really found his form and Arsenal isolated Kaka effectively. Clarence Seedorf, so often a monster performer for Milan, was injured for the second leg and his absence was felt in the middle of the pitch.
For Arsenal, this was a coming of age outing of sorts for Cesc Fabregas. Still, it wasn’t just Fabregas who impressed. Emmanuel Adebayor, William Gallas, and Mathieu Flamini were all splendid in their respective roles.
The loss is tough to swallow but Milan and their fans can keep their heads high. They tasted enormous success in tournaments in recent years. To their credit, they heaped nothing but admiration before and after upon Arsenal. That's what champions are supposed to do.
Now the rossoneri have some decisions to make in retooling their own arsenal – excuse the pun.
As for Arsenal, I suspect they are quite capable of winning the tournament.
For their part, in recent years, the Champions League has not been kind to Real Madrid.
Madrid hoped to change this after they were pitted against AS Roma in the round of 16.
Real Madrid had every right to feel confident. On the other hand, the Romans have slowly grown into a world class side. As a result, the two sides gave fans everything they expected: stylish and fluid soccer.
Roma prevailed in both games by the same score of 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate).
Inevitably, supporters of the los merengues will be pulling out their hair wondering what went wrong at the magnificent Bernabeu stadium – home to so many legendary performances.
They can start with a trio of Dutchmen who were out with injuries. Wesley Sneijder in the middle of the field certainly pinched Real's ability to penetrate up the middle – To say nothing of the supreme cunning goal poaching abilities of Ruud Van Nistelrooy and the creative pace of the injury prone Arjen Robben.
Real simply did not have enough players (take your choice of which one) to support the play of Julio Baptista during the second leg. Indeed, only keeper Ike Casillas and Michel Salgado seemed to be up for the challenge on this night.
For their part, Roma anticipated the play very well as a unit. While the sublime Francesco Totti displayed neat ball control brilliance, he along with Alessandro Mancini did not inspirationally drive the Roma offense. Rather, Roma's win was a team effort led by the excellent play of just about everyone including Philippe Mexes, Max Tonetto, Daniele de Rossi, Alberto Aquilani, and Mirko Vucinic.
In the end, Roma deserved their victory.
So there you have it. Milan and Real Madrid are out – each falling to better opponents. In their absence, the Champions League is certainly the poorer for it.
However, best to remember there remains unfinished domestic play business to get to. And in the end, this is what matters. Real can at least still claim the Liga title. Milan has less to look forward to. Mired in the 5th spot, Milan has to battle for a Champions League spot for next year and the best they can realistically do is third place – more likely 4th.