2020 - Year in review

2020, what a year it has been!

We will be going over some key highlights of the year that shaped AC Milan and anything that surrounds it.

January #IZBACK - Despite officially re-joining at the end of 2019, Zlatan’s first appearance came in January 2020, in a goalless draw against Sampdoria. It did not take him long to list himself as one of the scorers, as the following match against Cagliari, Ibra sealed the deal with the second goal of the match. Also, we eliminated Torino in the Coppa Italia quarter final.

On a sad note, long time Milanista and LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a tragic accident. In one of his most recent interviews, his words were: "If you cut open my left arm it bleeds black & red" – RIP Black Mamba.

February – First Cesare, then Paolo and now Daniel. The Maldini name we all love resumed to be heard on the speakers of the San Siro as Daniel Maldini made his Serie A debut against Verona - 35 years after father Paolo and 67 years after grandfather Cesare.

Also, the first leg for the Coppa Italia semi final against Juve was played. Milan dominate the match despite drawing 1-1, and oh!, Juve were awarded a penalty in the dying moments of the match, thank you VAR for being so generous with the Zebre….

March – The dreaded month. Coronavirus. Lockdown. Social Distancing. Deaths. These are words that will echo for a long time. Milan play against Genoa, in an empty San Siro. Surreal to say the least, but it was to become the new norm. The spread of the virus forced the Lega to suspend all sporting activities, without giving a tentative date to mark its return.

Also, the name Ragnick was being mentioned as the new manager for the upcoming season, but nothing was confirmed. Boban was dismissed from his role following his public outburst about Gazidis meeting Ragnick behind everyone’s back.

April – Practically, nothing. Lockdown.

May – The name Ralf Ragnick re-emerges, but nothing concrete. Many names are being linked with a possible move to the Rossoneri, Szoboszlai, Dumfries, Jovic, Gotze etc. Still, no confirmation, just media houses trying to fill up the pages to make up for no football matches I presume.

June – Finally!, you have been missed! Football resumes. However, behind closed doors. Fans are now supporting their teams from the comfort of their own home. But at least we can switch our TV screens to the famous green color.

The first match post lockdown is the Coppa Italia 2nd leg against Juve. VAR awarded them yet another generous penalty, however Gigio stops Ronaldo’s effort. A few seconds after the save, Rebic is sent off and Milan are forced to play over 60 minutes with 10 men. The match comes to an end, 0-0 is the result and 1-1 on aggregate allows Juve to pass to the next round. Remember the other “gift” by VAR in the first leg? This came in handy a few months down the line.

Never mind, Milan can now focus on the Serie A and we get full points in the June matches, showing a different hunger for win, in a few words “Ibra leaving his mark”. Transfer and contract negotiation rumors are a daily headline.

An unknown Pierre Kalulu arrives in Milan ahead of scheduled medicals from French side Lyon. Also, rumors about Maldini departing in summer emerge. On a sad note, AC Milan legend Pierino Prati passed away after being ill for some time. Rest in Peace Peste!

July – Suso officially joins Sevilla. Remember Ragnick? Forget about him, Milan decide to renew Pioli’s contract until 2022 and Paolo Maldini decides to retain his position at the club.

Milan decide to take up their option to buy right winger Alexis Saelemaekers from RSC Anderlecht. Malmo U17 striker Lukas Björklund signs for the Primavera. Also, defender Simon Kjaer has been redeemed for 3.5 million euros from Sevilla. The player signed a two year contract until June 2022.

AC Milan Femminile sign 3 new players, Natasha Dowie, Laura Agard and Selena Babb.

Very convincing wins against Lazio and Juve this month, tallying 21 points out of a possible 27, still unbeaten post lockdown.

August – Tottenham’s Serge Aurier heavily linked with AC Milan. Julia Šimić has officially been unveiled as a new Femminile player. Hammarby youngster Emil Roback joins the Rossoneri for 1.5m Euros. Youngster Tommaso Pobega extends until June 2025. Former Milan and PSG defender Thiago Silva hints a comeback, but not possible due to his high wage requests. Swiss leftback Rodriguez joins Torino, whilst Plizzari joins Reggina on loan and Pepe Reina joins Lazio on a permanent deal. As for transfer rumors circulating, the names of Diaz (Real Madrid), Tonali (Brescia) and a permanent Rebic deal are to name a few.

The Rossoneri finish the 2019-20 Serie A season with yet another win and a place in the Europa League qualifiers. We are drawn against Shamrock Rovers for the second qualifying round draw of the UEFA Europa League. Giacomo Bonaventura leaves the club and sadly, he could not bid farewell to the Curva. Thank you Jack! for being a bright spot in the dark years. Oh, one final thing, do you remember Zlatan? The tall guy? Well, he extended his contract for another year…

September – Serie A 20/21 commences! Milan start with a solid win against Bologna, a double by Zlatan who has recently opted for the iconic number 11 shirt and another 2-0 win against Crotone.

Brahim Diaz officially joins the club on a season long loan from Real Madrid and lifelong Milan supporter Tonali joins the Rossoneri as well on loan. He reportedly asked for Gattuso’s permission to wear the number 8 shirt. Also, there was a deal between Eintracht Frankfurt and AC Milan that involves the permanent moves of Silva and Rebic respectively.

Meanwhile, veteran goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu signed from Olympique Lyonnais on a permanent deal whilst Pobega went on a season loan at Spezia. Moreover, after beating Shamrock Rovers, Milan faced Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt for the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, a challenging 3-2 win. A certain Jens Petter Hauge shines during the match. One final thing, the Rossoneri will face Portuguese side Rio Ave for the UEFA Europa League play-off round.

October – Brazilian Paqueta sold to Lyon on a permanent deal and Milan quickly sign Hauge from Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt. Also, Manchester United right back Diogo Dalot was signed on a season long loan whilst Diego Laxalt was loaned to Celtic.

This month was the derby month, Zlatan being the protagonist by scoring 2 goals against the lesser side of the city of Milan. To make it a more positive win, our very own Rossonere trash Inter Women 4-1.

One final thing for October, if you are reading this, that means that you survived the match against Rio Ave. If not, I suggest that you look up the highlights. Following that match, Milan were drawn against Celtic, Sparta Praha and Lille for the group stage.

Not AC Milan related, but we cannot not mention the passing of the best football player to ever grace a football pitch, Diego Armando Maradona. Thank you for sharing your talent with us, may you rest in peace Dios!

November – Highly experienced Verónica Boquete signs for AC Milan Femminile. Donnarumma’s contract renewal saga re-emerges, Raiola as the main actor.

The Rossoneri suffered the first defeat since lockdown against Lille at the San Siro in the Europa League group stage. Another classic goal by Ibra secures 3 points against Udinese.

December – AC Milan celebrated it’s 121st birthday! Contract renewal saga for Kessie, Romagnoli, Donnarumma and Calhanoglu are the talk of town during the Christmas month. Many names being linked to the Rossoneri, still no concrete move. This month saw the passing of Paolo Rossi, after losing the battle against lung cancer at the age of 64.

Also, Milan managed to place first in the Europa League Group stage and were drawn to face Red Star Belgrade of Serbia for the Round of 32.

December was a month for records and awards, to name a few:

  1. Paolo Maldini named best left back of all time in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team……as if there was any doubt about this.

  2. Sandro Tonali was named the 2020 Italian Golden Boy

  3. Stefano Pioli was named coach of the year

  4. Pioli’s 2020 calendar year resulted in Milan obtaining 76 points, more than any other team in Serie A and an average of 2.07 points per match in 55 matches.

  5. Leao’s goal against Sassuolo in just 6.76 seconds (yes, seconds) is the fastest goal in all top 5 European domestic leagues

  6. Hakan Calhanoglu created 53 chances this season, the best in all top 5 European domestic leagues

  7. Theo named in the Serie A 2019/20 Opta Top XI

  8. Milan are the first club since Barcelona in 1948 to score at least two goals in 16 consecutive league games during a single calendar year. Milan have scored at least two goals in each of their last 16 Serie A matches.

One final note for 2020, Theo’s 91st minute header secured a very important 3-2 win against Lazio in a thrilling match at the San Siro. This enabled the Rossoneri to the end the 2020 year as capolisti of the Serie A.