In May 1994, UEFA got a dream final for their flagship competition when Cruyff's "Dream Team" met Capello's AC Milan: Europe's most formidible club side of that and, just perhaps, any era. Barcelona were hoping to extend their domestic dominance- Barca won their fourth consecutive Liga title that year- into Europe. The club had only won the tournament two years before, and saw this final as a chance to take over Milan's crown as Europe's pre-eminent club side.
|Wembley Kings Mk 1- 1992 European Cup Winners|
Milan, on the other hand, had lost the previous year's final to Marseille and hadn't won Europe's premier cup tournament since 1990; despite continued dominance in Italy. The sides boasted players such as Maldini, Guardiola, Romario, Stoichkov, Rossi, Boban, Desailly et al and the final was certainly memorable. However, what is remembered is how Milan squashed Cruyff's Dream Team and snuffed out any hint of the Catalans usurping Milan as European kings.
Milan took full advantage of poor Barca defending and some luck for the second goal to trounce the Blaugrana 4-0. Milan's empire finally crumbled the following year by virtue of a 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the final, and the rise of Juventus as Italy's domestic power. Barca, on the other hand, never recovered and limped out in the quarter final of the following season's campaign to PSG. They did; however, manage to thrash Manchester United 4-0 en route to that stage; thus showing Alex Ferguson how far behind his team was behind Europe's elite. How history likes to repeat, it seems. At home, two trophyless seasons was enough to see even Cruyff get the sack.
|1994 Champions League FInal Venue|
Milan would bounce back sooner than Barca with a 2003 Champions League win which signalled the start of another, much shorter, period of European success; with three Champions League final appearances in five editions. Barcelona had to endure scraps in the form of a Ronaldo-inspired Cup Winners Cup victory in 1997 and a couple of Champions League semi final appearances. However, all this mattered not as they witnessed Real Madrid add three Champions League crowns to the six European Cups sitting in the Bernabeu Museum. Even Valencia managed two runners-up spots, beating Barca in the semis of the 1999-2000 tournament. Barcelona would have to wait until 2006 for their shot at another final, and they haven't looked back since...