AC Milan's Final Win Is Omen for World Cup

ATHENS -- There could hardly have been a better omen for next month's World Cup finals than AC Milan's stunning and stylish 4-0 victory over Barcelona in Wednesday's European Cup final. Before the game, Barcelona trainer Johan Cruyff had said a win for his attack-oriented team over a Milan side he accused of being just runners would be a victory for soccer. Soccer got its triumph with probably the best team performance seen in the past 30 years at a European final but it came from the unexpected direction of normally defensive Milan. AC's display was thrillingly inspirational and if World Cup teams follow the cue from the Athens Olympic Stadium that attack is the best form of defense, then the U.S. finals starting in less than a month's time could be a treat. The 1990 finals in Italy were a bitter disappointment, with too few goals and too many teams concentrating on the negative side of the game. Fortunately, the victorious Milan side will form the backbone of the Italian team in the United States, where they will be led by their former club coach Arrigo Sacchi, a lover of stylish soccer. Most of the Barcelona team will also be playing in the World Cup finals. Even if Barcelona failed to do justice to itself against the superbly drilled Milanese, players like Brazil's Romario, Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov, Dutchman Ronald Koeman and Spain's Josep Guardiola are sure to add a touch of class to the U.S. event. The only shame is that the two best players on view on Wednesday night -- Milan's Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly -- will not be crossing the Atlantic. Both scored second half goals after Daniele Massaro had collected a pair in the first half. Montenegrin Savicevic has no country to play for after the breakup of Yugoslavia and Desailly's France was dumped from the Cup by Bulgaria. The temperamental Savicevic spent a time on the fringe of the Milan side before establishing himself this season. The final was his crowning glory as he convincingly proved Milan's patience with him was fully justified. In the past Savicevic has not always been able to harness his extraordinary gifts to the service of his team but he was pure dynamite against Barcelona, the player who drove the side by example. Desailly has had a meteoric rise to fame since winning the European Cup last year. Capped for the first time by France last year, then transferred to Italy, the midfield powerhouse has slotted perfectly into his new club.