FeatureSerie A

Here is how the Dutch trio dominated Serie A in AC Milan’s colours

During the late 80s, European football was dominated by AC Milan under the coach, Arigo Sacchi.
The Rossoneri(s) won two consecutive European Cups in 1988 and 1989 and also the Super Copa
Italiana and Intercontinental Cup in 1989. The whole world was awestruck by the dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Among that trio, Marco Van Basten joined the Italian side
first in 1987, followed by Gullit and Rijkaard in 1988.

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Back then AC Milan used to be a mixture of Dutch skill-based football and rough and tough
defensive Italian football. Marco Van Basten spearheaded the pressing football which made
Sacchi’s AC Milan a nightmare to the opponents. In his first season, Van Basten helped his side win
the Scudetto, even though the former Ajax striker missed the majority of the season due to an
ankle injury.

The golden era of the dutch trio for the Rossoneri

The 1988-89 season was the dawn of the golden period in the career of the Dutch trio. The
telepathic coordination among them got AC Milan the Italian Super Cup. Van Basten was
monstrous in that season. He scored 19 goals and received his first maiden Ballon d’Or. He and
Ruud Gullit were spectacular in the European Cup final against Steaua Bucaresti as both scored a
brace each and gave the Rossoneri(s) their first European Cup after twenty long years. In 1989 AC
Milan successfully defended their European Cup as the backbone of the trio Frank Rijkaard scored
the only goal from Marco Van Basten. They got the European Super Cup as they defeated
Barcelona by 2-1 in the two-leg final after the first leg which ended in a 1-1 draw.

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If Van Basten was the artist of the team, Ruud Gullit was the engineer of it. He built the bridge
between Dutch freestyle passing and Italian defending. He was the balance between Milan
defence and attack. Frank Rijkaard was the perfect defender in the Milan defence. His calmness
and taking decisions quickly added another dimension to the pace, power and precision of the AC
Milan team.

In 1990 Fabio Capello replaced Arigo Sacchi. The Dutch trio played the best football of their career
under his coaching. The trio under the guidance of Fabio Capello went on a 58 matches unbeaten
run in the 1991-92 season. Marco Van Basten was ruthless under Fabio Capello's coaching. He
scored 25 goals in Serie A and won his third Ballon d'Or. This was the beginning of the end of the
glory days of the magical trio.

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After this success, Van Basten’s career was shortened by a series of injuries. Finally, he called it off
at only 31 years of age. Milan was upset by this decision. A supporter even went to meet the
doctor to donate his cartilage to the Dutch artistic footballer. Van Basten played his last game in
the 1993 European Cup final against Marseille but could not save his team from a 1-0 loss.

Rijkaard went to Ajax where he won the European Cup under Louis Van Gaal in 1995 by defeating

his former team AC Milan and became the only player to win two European Cups with two
undefeated teams. Ruud Gullit went to Sampdoria.

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Certain players come along who are better explained as a group than individually. This was one such
famous trio who came along and changed the face of modern football and gave it the dynamics it
required. It shaped and paved the path for the glory for their team as they dominated the field. It was a
testimony of how world football could be ruled and dominated it was shown by these men under Arigo
Sacchi.

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Rony

A guy who loves football

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