The glorious AC Milan back three that inspired Chelsea’s system

Chelsea look like they have it all this season, and a great deal of that is down to their ironclad defence under Antonio Conte.

Their back three of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta has looked solid, to say the least.

But they don’t quite look the finished article yet. Although City were beaten earlier in the season, they created a number of chances and, really, might have done enough to win the game, had Thibaut Courtois not been in inspired form and for some wasteful finishing (ahem, Kevin de Bruyne). Tottenham also exposed cracks in Chelsea’s defence, when they toppled the runaway leaders at White Hart Lane.


That said, they’re comfortably the best defence in the Premier League right now.

Conte employed a terrifying back three at Juventus, with Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci providing a resolute defence which has seen the Turin club win five consecutive titles.

But another Italian side absolutely bossed it in Serie A in 1998-99 with a back three: AC Milan.

Alessandro Costacurta, Luigi Sala and – who else? – Paolo Maldini were impregnable at the back for Milan.


The tough, technically gifted trio shored up the defence, bringing home the Serie A crown for the first time in three seasons.

The confidence in one of the greatest ever back threes ensured Oliver Bierhoff and George Weah could run riot in attack.

Conte will hope Chelsea can continue to their fine form, and if they lift the Premier League trophy in May, a fair wedge of that success will be attributed to David Luiz, Azpilicueta and Cahill.

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