Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

The win Berlusconi never saw

Football OlyBet 16.02.2024

Without him, football would not be the same today. And while Silvio Berlusconi shook the foundation and won everything with AC Milan, his latest fascination laid in Monza, a small-time club from a town only really known for their famous racetrack.

Many know Berlusconi as the controversial Prime Minister of Italy, a position he filled in 1994-1995, 2001-2006, and again in 2008-2011. But a long, long time ago, he started out in the construction business before expanding into private television. In 1986, he acquired a nearly bankrupt AC Milan, who had spent two seasons in Serie B recently.

Two years later, they were the Italian champions. Three years later, European champions. From 1986 to 2017, Berlusconi – and his trusted CEO Adriano Galliani – led the team to a total of 29 titles, including eight Serie A triumphs and five Champions League trophies. Berlusconi had his fingerprints all over the Champions League rebranding in 1992, thus changing football forever.

But by 2017, he could not keep up with the billionaires and sovereign wealth funds now controlling the biggest clubs, so Milan was sold. Berlusconi was 81 at the time and could have spent the rest of his days sipping wine by the fireplace, but for someone who had achieved so much in his life, retiring is often not an option. In 2018, Berlusconi and Galliani took over Serie C side Monza, which the latter had always supported.

The history was not there. At that point, they had never featured in Serie A and spent just half a season of this century in Serie B. The club had gone bankrupt and changed ownership for just 1 euro four years previously. But under Berlusconi and Galliani, they reached Serie A in four seasons. It was ruthless as well as brilliant. They did it again, just like at Milan. Decades later.

But in June 2023, Berlusconi left the earth at 86. They had witnessed Milan win another Serie A in 2021/22 and were genuinely happy about that, but one must think they would have loved defeating them even more. Berlusconi did not live long enough to see that. It is up to Galliani, now 79, to make it happen.

Will Monza surprise Milan, and what other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Standard Time (GMT+2).

Brentford – Liverpool

Saturday 14:30

Will this be considered as a job application? Many experts consider Brentford coach Thomas Frank to be a fitting successor to the departing Jürgen Klopp. Funnily enough, this has not been a happy place for Liverpool after Brentford’s rise to the Premier League – last season, Liverpool lost 1-3, while the season before it ended in a 3-3 draw.

Liverpool have a two-point gap over Manchester City, but having played a game more, they can not give anything away easily. Away games have been tricky – of the 18 points lost so far, 14 have gone missing away from home. Thankfully for Klopp, Mohamed Salah could return, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is out for a while with a recurring knee injury.

Source: Imago Images

Manchester City – Chelsea

Saturday 19:30

For two teams that have seen their fortunes change in the past 20 years, they are in a very different position now. City seems to know how to beat Chelsea, having won six of their last eight home games. They have scored in their last 44 home games, and are unbeaten in their last 22. They are really rolling at the moment.

But Chelsea have already stopped City once this season when the teams played out a hugely entertaining 4-4 draw in November. Former City midfielder Cole Palmer came back to haunt them with an overtime penalty. Those two points can be rather important at the end of the season – but could Chelsea snatch more?

Monza – AC Milan

Sunday 21:45

While Monza are eleventh at the moment, they have locked things up recently – after a 0-3 reverse against Empoli, they have gone three games without conceding a goal. They have scored just once in that stretch though, and a lowly 21 times in 24 games. Keeping Milan away from goal will be their main objective.

This will be a tough ask though, as Milan has scored 47 goals in 24 league games and are feeling bullish after a 3-0 win over Rennes’ in the Europa League. Since a 3-0 win over Monza in December, Milan has been almost perfect, picking up 23 of a maximum 27 points. This means they are now up to third and just a point off Juventus in second place.

The Betis Babble

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Next game: Sunday 22:00 vs Alaves

An early goal from Willian Jose and another from Pablo Fornals – his first since joining in January – helped Betis to a rather comfortable 2-0 win over Cadiz on the weekend, meaning they are now sixth in the table. There is an eight-point gap to the top five, though.

But this was a tricky week to handle, and things are looking rather bleak in the Conference League. They hosted Dinamo Zagreb in the knockout stages and lost 0-1 to a late penalty goal; it was a game of small margins, with teams quite equal – and Willian Jose hitting the framework in the final moments. They will now have to score in Zagreb next week.

Before that, a league fixture against Alaves awaits. The opponent is in twelfth place in the league but knocked Betis out of the Copa del Rey in early January, so it will not be smooth sailing.


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