Klopp praise for Sacchi evokes European memories

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Luca Ghidoni/Getty ImagesMilan hope to recapture the brilliant football that was played under former manager Arrigo Sacchi.

As the rest of Europe marvels over the rise to prominence of German football, Italians and Italian football aficionados have witnessed first-hand how the Bundesliga has gone from strength to strength. With the word co-efficient imprinted into our vocabulary, it was refreshing to hear how Dortmund's eccentric leader has drawn inspiration from a Milan icon.

Over the last few years, Milan have tumbled down the UEFA club co-efficients after several disappointing campaigns in Europe. They currently sit in 14th place, although they have gradually improved their year-on-year points total over the past few seasons.

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However, with their status as Champions League participants yet to be assured for next season, the hope is that the squad the club are currently constructing will see them challenge among the best again in the long-term.

It is a reflection of Serie A as a whole, which has fallen to fourth overall in the country rankings, and are ultimately looking below rather than above to see if Germany can be caught. Both Juventus and Milan showed enough this season to suggest that they are progressing, but they are still some ways off as the league will continue to produce just three participants.

"I've never met Sacchi, but I learnt everything I am as a coach from him and my former coach who took it off Sacchi," Klopp told Italian TV after his side triumphed over Real Madrid.

"We knew that if Sacchi could do what he did with Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Demetrio Albertini and all these guys, then we could do the same.

"OK, we're not as good, but tactical discipline is no problem. If they can do it then we can do it. So my team is 10 percent of the team of Sacchi," he concluded.

Arrigo Sacchi was a revolutionary tactician that introduced facets to the Italian game that had been unseen previously. His methods and ideologies led the club to a Scudetto and two European Cups during his tenure, and that squad took their place in the conversation of being one of, if not the best in the history of the game.

With Barcelona's supposed ending of an era this week, comparisons over different generations have always been a futile experiment, in my opinion. The game has consistently evolved over the years with different circumstances and regulations, but it is part of the glorious history of Milan that the club are recognised as being part of the bigger picture.

However, the question facing the Rossoneri in the forthcoming years is whether they can return to being revolutionaries rather than merely the example that was set for others to surpass them.

Success in football is arguably cyclical, with Milan enjoying their finest years in recent history in Europe in the late 1980s and 90s before the Carlo Ancelotti era. However, as a result of the financial gulf that now handicaps the Italian clubs, they have fallen behind their European counterparts and must now find a way to compete.

Fortunately, Milan have established a clear vision that may well require some patience. The first target will be to secure third place, but further down the line they must return to being genuine contenders rather than just the team that set the model for other clubs to evolve and go beyond them.

Are Milan building the foundations to be able to compete with the best Europe has to offer? Or is the financial gap too big to overcome, with drastic change required for the Rossoneri to lead the way again?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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