Who could have imagined it? As if the Istanbul anguish wasn't enough, AC Milan were implicated in the Calciopoli fallout and therefore had to deal with the consequences of this: an eight-point deduction in the league, reduced preparation time and Champions League qualification achieved only at the end of August following a two-legged tie against Red Star Belgrade, who were in better physical shape than the Rossoneri. In November, AC Milan found themselves in the bottom half of the table with various starters injured. However, there were reasons to be positive in January as Ronaldo, Oddo and Storari arrived, while Nesta was recovering well from his shoulder operation in the heat of Miami.
The following month would mark the beginning of AC Milan’s big push towards glory. First, they set the wheels in motion by overcoming Celtic (0-0 and 1-0 at San Siro) in the round of 16. Then, the Rossoneri qualified for the semi-finals of the competition for the third successive season and fourth time in five years after eliminating Bayern Munich: a 2-2 draw at San Siro (goals from Pirlo and Kaká) was followed by a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Arena (secured by Seedorf and Inzaghi). Following this, it was time to face Manchester United, who beat the Rossoneri 3-2 in the first leg at Old Trafford but were defeated 3-0 in the return fixture at San Siro in what has been dubbed AC Milan's 'perfect game'. Athens thus awaited the Diavolo, who, as opposed to two years earlier in Istanbul, managed to win the final, beating Liverpool 2-1 following an even affair. It was Paolo Maldini's fifth triumph in Europe and the Club's seventh in total.