Remembering the 2013/14 AC Milan side – their last UCL knockout tie team

As AC Milan find themselves in a Champions League knockout tie for the first time in nine years, we look back on the surprising names that the Rossoneri fielded in their last round of 16 game.

Considering their status as one of Europe’s biggest clubs, Milan’s absence from the Champions League is a surprising one. However, a torrid succession of seasons in the 2010s put the Italian giants in a bad spot.

That all changed in 2021/22, though. Milan won the Serie A title, recording their first Scudetto in over ten years. This also provided a confidence boost which they carried into Europe.

The seven-time Champions League winners finally progressed to the round of 16 in 2022/23. This is the first knockout tie that AC Milan will play since the 2013/14 season. Back then, Milan’s team was full of big names – who make for a fascinating squad list…

Looking back on the last AC Milan squad to play a UCL knockout tie

Firstly, leading this 2013/14 side is none other than Kaka. The legendary attacking midfielder actually won a Ballon d’Or whilst in Italy. But this came in his first stint with the club – in 2014, he had returned to Milan after a spell with Real Madrid.

By this time, Kaka was 32 and arguably past his best. Other players that were over 30 included keeper Christian Abbiati, defenders Philippe Mexes and Daniele Bonera, and a certain Michael Essien.

But Michael Essien was not the only former Premier League squad member. This Milan side has some serious “he played for them?” names. For example, Nigel de Jong, formerly of Man City, partnered with the Ghanian in midfield. Further ex-Citizens in the squad included Mario Balotelli (Milan’s top scorer that year) and Robinho, too.

Meanwhile, iconic QPR maverick Adel Taarabt also found game time at the San Siro. Finally, former Portsmouth star Sulley Muntari was also in Milan’s 2013/14 squad.

This interesting mix of stars managed to negotiate a group featuring Barcelona, Ajax, and Celtic, finishing second. They then faced a daunting Round-of-16 clash with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, this did not go to plan.

Milan’s last Champions League knockout stage elimination

AC Milan endured a narrow first-leg defeat in their 2013/14 knockout tie. Fielding a side where Mario Balotelli led the attack, Milan failed to score from their 13 shots. In fact, courtesy of, here is the Rossoneri’s first leg line-up:

Image credit: Whoscored

Future Chelsea striker Diego Costa grabbed the only goal of the game.

The following second leg went even worse for the Italian side. They suffered a humbling 4-1 defeat as Atletico cruised through to the last eight 5-1 on aggregate. Kaka got Milan’s only goal of the tie, which at the time offered a chance back into the contest.

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However, goals from Arda Turan, Diego Costa (x2), and Raul Garcia sunk Milan’s chances. And, again, here is the Italian giants’ XI from the second leg, featuring some familiar faces.

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Ultimately, the 2013/14 campaign proved one to forget for AC Milan. After Champions League elimination, they went trophyless that year. Then, to make matters worse, Milan missed out on UCL qualification via a poor eighth-place finish in Serie A.

From here, the football giants had a seven-year hiatus from the top of European competition. Maybe that’s why it is so easy to forget that some of these stars pulled on the famous red-and-black stripes.

Now, though, Milan are back in the big time in 2022/23. IF they overcome Spurs, it will surely have been worth the wait.

Featured image credit: Getty