Daniele Massaro: ‘The Marseille defeat filled us with grief. But we came back’

first_imgShare on LinkedIn Barcelona v Milan revisited: The night in 1994 the Dream died Share on Twitter Twitter Share on Messenger Facebook Pinterest Share on WhatsApp In the 1993 Champions League final my Milan team faced Marseille. We were the favourites but lost. The following year we were back in the final to face Barcelona, looking for revenge. So in that respect we were in a similar situation to the one Liverpool are this Saturday, hoping to make amends after the disappointment of the previous year.Losing against Marseille was a bitter blow and I’ve had my boots ready to replay that final ever since then. If someone said right now: “Would you play a rematch against Marseille now,” I would do it. That defeat wounded me like few other things in my life.Before the game we were very calm. Too calm. We didn’t think that we would lose that final and we were too relaxed. There was too much arrogance. We felt strong and confident but mentally that was a problem and our coach, Fabio Capello, realised this right away.The real reason we lost that final, I would say, is because Capello made some choices that some of my teammates didn’t like. There were some players who did not like or indeed understood Capello’s choices. In the end Marseille scored from a corner and we had to watch them lift the cup. It was very painful. After the match we were filled by a devastating grief in the dressing room. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. Facebook We were also boosted by the behaviour of the Barcelona players. It appeared to us as if they were celebrating before the match, that they thought they had already won it. All this stuff gave us a competitive anger that was great.We realised we were facing the best team in the world, without any doubt. Barça were immense and they had Johan Cruyff as a coach, who was an absolute idol of mine.When I saw Cruyff in person the night before the game I felt like a kid in a sweet shop. Before the match I went to him and asked him for an autograph! That, surely, is unheard of before a Champions League final. But then I had played with his number, 14, as a child, and when I designed my own boots I made them orange because I loved the Netherlands so much because of him. He was my idol along with Marco van Basten.Before the game we felt like underdogs. We kept asking ourselves: how are we going to do this without our captain Franco Baresi and without Billy Costacurta, who were both injured?Capello, funnily enough, did not know which lineup to use. Usually a manager would have his starting XI clear for months but not that Milan – and it wasn’t a positive thing. Before the final we played some friendlies and I remember we were very poor in one and lost against Fiorentina. There were no clear ideas and it looked as if we were falling apart.But then he made his decision about the starting XI for the final. He moved some players around and initially it looked crazy. But it has to be said: he called it absolutely right. Share on Facebook The next day, however, we reacted and I must say that is not an easy thing to do when you’ve just lost a European Cup final. We made a promise to ourselves that we would be back. During the first day of preseason for the 1993-94 season we looked each other in the eyes and said: “Let’s go back and get what we deserve.” That summer, each day, we practised as if we were getting ready for a big game. We were ready to fight. It was a fantastic reaction from the team.In football there are magical seasons and for us 1993-94 was just that. The vast majority of the players had the best season of their careers, including myself. We won the scudetto, we had fun and played some incredible football. People came to watch us for the extraordinary football we were playing, it was a pleasure to see us play.We had fun by fighting for each other as a team and this was our secret. This was the best recipe to get us to a final a year after the defeat against Marseille.As we were getting closer to the final we stepped it up another level. From a physical point of view we prepared in an incredible way. In every practice session for the two weeks before the final we never gave an inch, not a single one of us. We were machines ready to go to war, we worked hard, like we never had in our careers. Pinterest Barcelonacenter_img Twitter Milan Share on Pinterest I remember Capello’s pre-match speech like it was yesterday. He said: “You know what you need to do. You are a great team. You are great champions but more than anything you are great men. Don’t disappoint me.” And we didn’t.We all felt like captains because we knew we were doing it for Baresi, who was an incredible leader who was missing in the most important of matches. We told each other: “Let’s do this for him and for Van Basten, who wasn’t able to get revenge for the final the year before.” This was an extra motivation that allowed us to complete the victory.The game was an incredible occasion. We beat Barcelona 4-0. I managed to score two goals. Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly also scored. It was the perfect response to the defeat from the year before. In some ways it was the match of the century – and we outclassed the best team in the world.To me my two goals were worth double because I was able to do that in a Champions League final for the team I grew up supporting. We had already had a fantastic season, I had scored some important goals in the league and I had been called up for the World Cup in the USA that summer.I am still in contact with a lot of players from that incredible night. We always celebrate the anniversaries of these magical nights and the Milan fans who attend are always so nice to us.Daniele Massaro, who played for Milan between 1986 and 1995, winning the European Cup twice and Serie A four times, was speaking to Fabrizio Romano. Share via Email Champions League Read more features Topics Marcel Desailly celebrates after scoring the fourth goal in the final. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Daniele Massaro blasts in the second goal in Milan’s 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final. Photograph: Action Images Marseille Reuse this contentlast_img

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