As soon as we landed in Milan my coworker Krzysiek said to me “you know there is an AC Milan game tomorrow, right?”
Now I don’t follow football at all, but a Champions League game versus sitting around the hotel just sounded like a better idea for an evening in Milan. The game in question was AC Milan vs. Anderlecht.
First step was finding the tickets. A quick “AC Milan ticket” question at our hotel’s reception desk was enough to get all three concierges more than happy to help us. One got on the phone to call a ‘friend’ who sells tickets, the second one started looking up tickets online, and the third started chatting us up about football in general. Needless to say we’ve had pretty good service with anything hotel related ever since that moment. We did eventually find out that we simply needed to go to a certain bank, yes, a bank, to buy game tickets. I forget the bank name now, but we found a branch really close by and a 30 minute wait later we had tickets in hand.
The game took place at the San Siro football stadium, the oldest stadium in Italy and supposedly the fourth oldest in Europe. That latter part I found out through a conversation with a Milan fan at the stadium and haven’t been able to fact check it online. In any case the stadium was built in 1925 and has been progressively rebuilt and remodeled in 1956 and 1989 to where it now sits a whopping 80,000 fans per game. The photos below will most likely not do it justice, but the stadium, quite simply, is huge!
Getting there was easy, just take the red metro line to the station with all the singing fans. Luckily for us we quickly realized that the singing wasn’t coming from Milan fans, but from the happy and a bit intoxicated Anderlecht fans for whom special buses awaited just outside the station. At first I thought “how cool, a bus will take us straight to the stadium”, and then I saw hundreds of Police officers if full riot gear and immediately knew that this wasn’t my bus.
We managed to follow proper Milan fans toward the correct ‘friendly’ section and were greeted by all kinds of booths selling fan gear, food, and beer. There was plenty to choose from and Krzysiek bought his 8 month old son an AC Milan sweatshirt. So young and already a fan.
We got to our seats with over an hour left to the kick off, but at least we got to see the stadium in all its glory and a practice session, too. And I’m not talking about a team practice session either. AC Milan fans sat in their sectors long before the game started and successfully shouted down any noise a small group of Anderlecht fans was trying to stir up. The stadium even during the game was nowhere near its capacity, I’d even venture a guess it was only 1/3 of what it could have been, but the noise made by Milan’s fan club was still very impressive.
So how was the game? For a scoreless game I suppose it was fairly entertaining. There were quite a few opportunities by both teams but overall I think I had more fun before the match than after it had started. The San Siro experience alone was worth it. The game was just a bonus.
It was however fun to see how the common Milan citizen reacted to all the wasted plays by AC Milan. I’m not talking about the hard core fans I wrote about earlier, but about the common person living in the city going to see a game. They actually boo’ed them quite a bit and I later found out that AC Milan hasn’t been doing so well this season and people are especially fed up with the amount of money it costs to keep the club in operation vs. their performance on the field. So they weren’t holding back their cries and whistling when something didn’t go according to plan on the field.
I’m happy I got to see the stadium and a Champions League game. It was a good Milan night out indeed.