By the end of the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage, Barcelona and AC Milan will have met no less than eight times in a little over two years. However, this comes more than five decades since the duo's first match-up in the European Cup.
With the pair now having built up an impressive and stellar catalogue of games, FIFA.com looks back on some of the finest contests between these two giants of Spanish and Italian football.
Barcelona 5-1 AC Milan
European Cup first round
25 November 1959
The pair had met competitively for the first time in their history three weeks earlier in Milan, where goals from Martin Verges and Luis Suarez had put the Catalans in command, but the return leg would show just how superior Barcelona were at the time. The *Blaugrana *were already 3-0 up, with Ladislao Kubala netting two and captain Juan Segarra scoring the other, before Milan's Paulo Ferrario rounded goalkeeper Antonio Ramallets to grab what was already a consolation goal before half-time. However, Hungary forward Zoltan Czibor, a member of the Mighty Magyars, struck before Kubala sealed his hat-trick to make it 7-1 on aggregate to Barcelona. Eventual champions Real Madrid would later end Barça's run in the cup at the semi-final stage.
*AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona *Champions League final
18 May 1994
It was 35 years before Milan could avenge that defeat on the continent's highest stage, in what is credited by many as the one of finest performances by any team in a European final. Both sides were at their domestic peaks, with Fabio Capello's *Rossoneri *and Johan Cruyff's Barcelona having just claimed their third and fourth league titles respectively. The Italians looked underdogs for the game, missing the suspended Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta, while Marco van Basten was in the grip of ankle troubles.
However, Capello's side were a revelation in Athens against Cruyff's 'Dream Team'. Daniele Massaro side-footed in at the back-post to open the scoring, before doubling his tally on the stroke of half-time. The likes of Romario, Hristo Stoichkov, Ronald Koeman and Pep Guardiola were then powerless to stop the cup drifting out of sight as Dejan Savicevic's audacious lob made it 3-0 just after the break. Savicevic hit the post soon after but Marcel Desailly rounded-off the result with a fine finish when Barcelona failed to clear, capping one of the greatest nights in Milan's history.
*AC Milan 3-3 Barcelona *Champions League group stage
18 October 2000
Having won in the Camp Nou three weeks earlier, AC Milan were taking charge of Group G, alongside Leeds United, with Barça only ahead of Besiktas on goal difference. A win was what the side from La Liga needed in the San Siro to get things back on track, and Rivaldo gave them the perfect start with a superb free-kick under the wall 28 minutes in. A 35-yard rocket from Demetrio Albertini levelled the scores, before the Italian international earned himself a rare brace with a fine drilled free-kick.
In what was turning into a thrilling encounter, Rivaldo upstaged the Milan midfielder by hitting the best free-kick of the night, crashing an effort off the bar as he narrowly beat Christian Abbiati. Parity was short-lived though as Jose Mari struck two minutes later to leave it 3-2 at the break. With just over 20 minutes left on the clock Rivaldo completed his treble to give the visitors hope, but they could not find the crucial winner, and a 1-1 draw with Leeds in their next outing effectively ended their hopes of escaping the group.
*Barcelona 2-1 AC Milan *Champions league group stage
2 November 2004
It was a whopping 55 years since Barcelona last beat AC Milan, with four defeats and two draws since their 1959 triumph, so this was a win long in the making for a side of the Catalans' stature, but it was far from an easy task. Things started badly for the home side, as Andriy Shevchenko impressively muscled off Oleguer to fire* I Rossoneri *in front mid-way through the first half. Shortly before the break it was all square though, as a pin-point through-ball from Xavi found Samuel Eto'o, who fired into the roof of the net beyond Dida.
An open and enthralling second period ensued, but it took until the 89th minute for a moment of Ronaldinho majesty to decide the game. A trademark sharp change of direction saw the Brazilian skip between Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso, before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed effort into the top corner to delight the Camp Nou. Despite the defeat, Milan were still able to top the group before going on to lose in the final to Liverpool.
*AC Milan 2-3 Barcelona *Champions League group stage
23 November 2011
The second of four meetings between the two sides in the 2011/12 edition of the competition was a superb encounter. Milan had snatched a point in Spain and a win at home would have put them in prime position to top the group. That became a tough ask when former Blaugrana midfielder Mark van Bommel turned Seydou Keita's cross into his own net. Another former Camp Nou employee struck at the other end though as Zlatan Ibrahimovic tied things up.
However, things got doubly difficult for Milan when Alberto Aquilani felled Xavi in the area, receiving his second yellow card in six minutes, to allow Lionel Messi to regain the visitors' lead – despite a dramatic retake for stopping mid-run-up – over the now-ten-men. Even so, an incredible piece of control by Kevin Prince-Boateng, as his flick deceived Eric Abidal, allowed the Ghanaian international slam home a superb leveller. Milan were not on terms for long however, as Xavi latched on to Messi's slick through-ball to slot home the winner nine minutes later. The result saw Barcelona top the standings at Milan's expense.