Christian Abbiati: AC Milan have been the cornerstone of success since 2000

The experienced custodian has already begun to raise the heat ahead of his side's clash with Barcelona in the Champions League, after claiming his side have led the way for years
AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati believes the club's achievement since the turn of the century has been underplayed.

The 34-year-old told Italian newspaper La Corriere dello Sport that he feels Milan have not received the credit Barcelona have after a trophy-laden decade that saw them win the Serie A and the Champions League twice each.

"Everyone talks about the Barcelona model but we have been the model to follow since 2000 and we don't even know it," said Abbiati. "We won the Champions League in 2003 and the year after we slipped up.

"We were in the final of 2005 and two years later we were European champions again."

The veteran custodian also gave his opinion on the upcoming season in which they will confront Barcelona in the group stage of the Champions League and enthused: "We are competitive.

"Last year we won the Scudetto and went out of the Champions League because of a single shot in two games. Only Real and Barcelona are superior to us. For the league, apart from us I see Inter, Napoli and Juventus [competing]."

Milan open their Serie A campaign after the international break on September 9 with a home game against Lazio.