Bayern Munich should get AC Milan in the Champions League Round of 16. Why is that? Some might be groaning, annoyed at facing yet another Milan team after having to deal with AC’s big rivals in the group stages, Inter Milan. Others might want a draw against a team that is perhaps a little more established as a dominant force in Europe right now, in the likes of PSG ad Liverpool. But perhaps AC Milan could still be the best draw of them all. Here are the reasons why Bayern getting AC Milan in the Champions Round of 16 would be so good.
The two brothers finally meet on the playing field
It is exceedingly rare for a family to be able to produce two football players. It is even rarer when one of them is good enough to play in the Champions League. It is completely out of this world, though, when both are good enough to play in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. But that is what both Lucas Hernandez and Theo Hernandez are. Both players have carved out extremely impressive careers and become one of the best players in the world in the respective positions at center back and left back.
So it’s an absolute crime that they have not actually played against each other on the field. Ever since both brothers graduated from the Atletico Madrid academy to playing in La Liga around 2016, they have had several opportunities to play one another, but injuries/suspensions/not being in favor has ruled them out of playing against each other four times. And ever since both left the Spanish nest in 2019, neither AC Milan or Bayern have been in the same European competition, so it was impossible for the two teams to match up against each other. Until now. It would be extremely poetic to finally have the brothers meet on the field.
Setting the historical record right
AC Milan have not played each other much throughout their history. Before the 2000s, the two clubs only played two games against each other, namely, one single knockout round. In the 2000s, in a five year span between 2002 and 2007, the clubs were matched in the same group once and drawn against each other in the knockout rounds twice. But outside of those 8 matches, nothing. For context, the Bavarians have faced Manchester City, a club with far less history in the Champions League and opportunity to match up with the Bavarians, six times. Bayern vs AC Milan is a fixture that does not happen enough.
But what is a far more pressing issue is Bayern’s terrible record against the Rossoneri. Bayern has recorded 1 win, 2 draws and a staggering 5 losses in 8 meetings against the famous Italian side. But even that win and those draws led to Bayern getting knocked out. Yes, that’s right. AC Milan has knocked Bayern out of the competition every single time the Italian side has faced the German side. That is a record that is likely to be embarrassing to the Bavarian club and getting drawn against AC Milan in this upcoming knockout round would be a fantastic opportunity to make that record look just that little bit less embarrassing.
An interesting clash against young, hungry opposition
Winning the title last season was not the peak for this side. The team is filled with talented youngsters such as the previously mentioned Theo Hernandez, Sandro Tonali, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Tommaso Pobega, Brahim Díaz and the star of the show, Rafael Leão. These players are all 25 years or younger, suggesting that their peak is still a few years away. And while the side is marshalled by experienced players such as Olivier Giroud (36), Simon Kjaer (34 in March) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (41), the core of the side remains young and full of potential.
Nagelsmann’s men are no strangers to playing against young, emerging talent but AC Milan has a quite unique mix of experience and youth that radiates throughout the side that arguably no other Champions League team has. This could be a really interesting test against a very unique opponent.
Clash of the two Ibrahimovićs
Sure, Arijon Ibrahimović (16) has a snowball’s chance in hell of featuring in a knockout round match for Bayern this season but wouldn’t it be silly if the Bayern youth player, who far too many people mistake as a relative of Zlatan Ibrahimović (41) based on name alone, were able to help knock the great Swede out of Europe? At the very least, it would make for a funny headline.