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The Archive

February 2005

Berlusconi sympathises with Inter
28.2 || webmaster


His team may have returned to the top of the Serie A table but AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi was unimpressed by Sunday's 1-0 victory against Internazionale.

Brazilian midfielder Kaka's 74th-minute goal allowed the Rossoneri to go level with Juventus at the top of the standings on 57 points.

But Milan, who were without injured strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, were made to suffer as Inter had the better of a game that featured little goalmouth incident and Milan were lucky to snatch a victory their owner admitted they did not deserve.

"The draw would have been a fair result," said Berlusconi.

"We have not witnessed a great game, neither from one team or the other."

Milan's triumph brought to an end Inter's 40-game unbeaten run and also crashed the Nerazzurris hopes of fighting for the Scudetto, with Inter now 14 points behind the Serie A leaders.

"I would have preferred that it would have been another team to have done this to," said Berlusconi.

"After all, they are our cousins and are in the hearts of the Milan citizens."

But coach Carlo Ancelotti could not hide his delight.

"We may not have shown the same display that we did against Manchester United but I am satisfied with the team's character," he said.

"Inter played a great game, they made life difficult for us in the first half. We have been fortunate but I always say that fortune helps those that are audacious."

However, the derby victory will no doubt inspire the Rossoneri, with Juventus coach Fabio Capello having to travel to the Eternal City next weekend to take on his former club Roma, while Milan face what should be an easier task as they visit bottom-club Atalanta.

Ancelotti: We earned our luck
27.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti concedes his side has been lucky of late, but insists Milan have earned their share of fortune.

“It was a very balanced game played mainly in midfield and we did well to hold up in defence,” he said of their 1-0 Derby di Milano victory.

“Fortune favours the brave and we have to put ourselves in these positions to earn the lucky breaks. Inter played very well in the first half and we were certainly under pressure with our central defenders holding up brilliantly.”

The Rossoneri have certainly had the rub of the green over the last few weeks, winning games with last-gasp strikes and a comical own goal at Reggina.

“All that matters is that we’re at the top of the table and I think the Scudetto race will be a fascinating battle until the final day of the season.”

Ancelotti fielded the same starting eleven that won at Old Trafford midweek, but they were not as effective.

“We wanted to play a slightly different style from the one in Manchester and needed to limit Inter’s extraordinary attacking potential. We needed to find space out wide on the flanks and didn’t really make the most of it, especially with the fullbacks tonight.”

Serginho came on for the injured Kakha Kaladze during the first period and played as both a fullback and a support striker.

“I tried to push Serginho further forward and use his pace, especially as over time Inter became more tired and were vulnerable to that kind of attack,” explained Ancelotti.

Match-winner Kaka certainly enjoys this occasion, as he has scored three goals in four Derby di Milano appearances.

“This is a very special game and after so much bad luck this season when I repeatedly hit the woodwork, I finally get a bit of good fortune,” commented the Brazilian.

“We’re riding out luck at the moment with lots of late wins, but we’re getting the points despite not playing at our best, so that can only be a positive thing.

Mancini has no regrets
27.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Roberto Mancini maintains he hasn’t lost hope of winning the Scudetto and refused to criticise his squad despite their derby defeat.

“Milan did practically nothing to win this game, but everything is going their way and we played well,” he said after the 1-0 loss.

“Perhaps we could have done more with our chances, but it’s a derby and it’s football. The lads did everything they could and we cannot criticise them for the performance.”

Inter did go closer to the opening goal before a fortunate Kaka deflection caught Francesco Toldo by surprise.

“Milan have a solid defence and we still created opportunities, but these types of matches often turn on an incident. The team played well and hardly left the Rossoneri any space at all. My only regret is not being a bit more incisive when we pushed forward, but I can only compliment my players.”

Mancio surprised many by choosing to leave Adriano on the bench for this high-profile match and the lack of goals was disappointing.

“I think Christian Vieri and Obafemi Martins worked well together and my choices are made because I consider them the right ones,” insisted the Inter Coach.

This result now leaves the Nerazzurri a staggering 14 points adrift of the joint leaders, Juve and Milan, while their unbeaten run was ended after 20 wins and 20 draws in all competitions this season.

“We will continue to fight and hope that we can get into the Scudetto race. I’ll only stop believing when it becomes mathematically impossible.”

The title race aside, Inter now face a battle to even qualify for the Champions’ League as they have dropped down to fourth place behind Mancini’s beloved Blucerchiati.

“Our compliments go to Sampdoria and the fans deserve this joy after so many years in the wilderness. Even if it wasn’t a fortunate night for us, this unbeaten run had to come to an end sometime and it’s just a shame it happened in the derby.”

Juan Sebastian Veron saw a fantastic shot saved by Dida on the stroke of half-time and admits it’s a defeat that hurts.

“We’re clearly upset and bitter about this, but it was one of those days and we must relax because we controlled the game and were only lacking a bit of luck,” said the Argentine.

“I had a slight calf injury from the Porto game and couldn’t play any more, so I had to come off,” he said of his late substitution.

Internazionale 0:1 AC Milan - match report
27.2 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia

Kaka 74 (M)
Stadio San Siro

Inter's unbeaten run comes to an end as Kaka's lucky strike seals the Derby di Milano and keeps the Rossoneri top of the table

The 259th Derby della Madonnina in all competitions was set to be a decisive moment in the campaign, as Milan needed a win to stay on level terms with Juventus at the top of the table, while anything less than a victory would end Inter's hopes of the Scudetto once and for all.

The Rossoneri were missing Andriy Shevchenko with a fractured cheekbone, Pippo Inzaghi and the suspended Giuseppe Pancaro. They were boosted by the midweek Champions' League victory at Old Trafford and fielded the same Christmas Tree system with Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka supporting ex-Inter star Hernan Crespo.

The most surprising tactical choices were made by Roberto Mancini, who opted to leave Adriano on the bench in favour of Obafemi Martins and Christian Vieri. The Brazilian was without a goal since December 12 and his form since suffering a calf strain has been disappointing.

Inter hadn't won a derby game in Serie A for three years and were without a 'home' victory since April 1997, but they were unbeaten in all competitions so far this season for 20 wins and 20 draws.

Martins was an immediate danger with his pace and exchanged passes with Vieri, but the first save was from Francesco Toldo as Rui Costa charged into the box and saw his angled drive smothered after four minutes.

The young Nigerian was a real danger and a panicked Kakha Kaladze challenge took the ball off his foot as he prepared to shoot, only for it to fall to Vieri and Dida rushed off his line to close it down.

Toldo looked a little uncertain when he punched away a seemingly harmless cross and was fortunate that Andrea Pirlo failed to make the most of it. Kaka tried to break his way through the centre and won a couple of challenges before the defence was able to clear.

Juan Sebastian Veron's long-range strike looped just over the bar, then Dida held a Sinisa Mihajlovic free kick. Nesta was kept on his toes by Martins and plucked the ball off his foot after some good work by Vieri.

There was bad news for the Rossoneri when Kaladze, who was celebrating his birthday, seemed to catch his studs in the turf and limped off in favour of Serginho for an all-attack system.

There was a flurry of activity around the Milan area in first half stoppages. First Vieri hooked down a Martins cross and Nesta nodded it off his foot before he could turn, but the ball went out to the edge of the box for a Veron rocket that Dida somehow managed to push over the crossbar. The goalkeeper had precious little time to spot the strike, but he reacted to make an incredible save.

Dida had to be alert following the restart to prevent a Martins cross reaching Vieri after the young hitman had skipped past Nesta.

Another Veron snapshot was just over the bar, then a Mihajlovic free kick took a deflection off Serginho. The match became increasingly tense and a few scuffles and crunching tackles came flying in around the pitch.

Carlo Ancelotti had considered a number of tactical options going into the game and he adapted to the second choice on 65 minutes. Billy Costacurta replaced Rui Costa, so he took the left-back role and pushed Serginho up to support Kaka and Crespo.

Mancini replaced Veron with Turkish international Emre Belozoglu and moments later Milan took a deserved lead.

A corner kick was cleared to the edge of the box where Gennaro Gattuso's wayward shot was redirected into the net off Kaka's toe. The Brazilian was not in an offside position because substitute Emre stayed behind to guard the upright and took his time to push out. Kaka has now scored three goals in his four Milan derbies.

This was the spark the match needed and soon after Crespo nodded a Serginho cross over the bar. Vieri's weak effort was smothered by Dida as the San Siro crowd called for the introduction of Adriano.

Emre tried to make up for his earlier error by rolling a low cross for Martins and Costacurta performed a crucial challenge to prevent the simple tap-in.

Adriano finally came on for the final 11 minutes and Massimo Ambrosini replaced Seedorf to give Milan more height. Andy van der Meyde then came on for Cristiano Zanetti, so Inter had three forwards and three attacking midfielders.

There were four minutes of stoppages and Inter poured forward without ever really maintaining their focus enough to damage their opponents.

Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Veron (Emre 73), C Zanetti (van der Meyde 85), Cambiasso (Adriano 79), Stankovic; Martins, Vieri

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze (Serginho 37); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Ambrosini 80); Kaka, Rui Costa (Costacurta 65); Crespo

Ref: De Santis

Mancini believes in victory
27.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter have not won the Derby della Madonnina for three years, but Roberto Mancini is confident of ending that drought tonight.

“Our objective is to win and we believe that we can do it,” said the Nerazzurri boss. “There is no difference between the sides and if the Rossoneri have more confidence it’s purely down to their victories over the last few years.”

Kaka has scored in two of the three Milan derbies he has played in and Mancio agrees that the Brazilian is the main threat in the absence of Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi.

“If you allow Kaka space then he becomes simply unstoppable,” warned the Coach. “Then again, even if Adriano is not at the top of his game at the moment, he can still be decisive. Such a physically strong striker can only get back in shape by playing regularly.”

Nonetheless, he refused to confirm or deny that the front pairing would be Adriano and Christian Vieri, with Obafemi Martins and Alvaro Recoba back in the squad.

“We can play Adriano-Vieri, just as we can go for another option. We will evaluate the situation in a relaxed manner.”

The last meeting between these rival teams ended in a goalless draw, but Mancini points out that a great deal has changed since then.

“In the first game everyone was happy with the draw because no one side was better. On Sunday that wouldn’t be in our interests as we are 11 points behind, so there is no more time for compromise.”

Francesco Toldo and Julio Ricardo Cruz are struggling with flu symptoms, while Edgar Davids has again been dropped from the side completely.

“Even if we fail to win,” concluded the tactician, “I will still believe in our Scudetto hopes as long as there are points available. Failing that, then we can aim for second place and avoid the Champions’ League preliminary round. A team always needs an objective and we have to keep our eye on it.”

Ancelotti's press conference
27.2 || webmaster


MILANELLO - Here are the main points covered by Carlo Ancelotti in the press conference on the eve of the derby:

'I am confident as we have a chance to get further ahead against of our title rivals. However, Inter haven’t lost all season and they are in excellent form, having found the right balance. Inter are strong. We overcame Shevchenko’s loss and hopefully we can do the same in this game. It’s the same discussion for those in form. They are games where you have to take this into consideration. We are eleven points aheads of Inter, we know what side they will field, strong in attack and they don’t give away goals. It wouldn’t be a tactical game but a wonderful one. Both sides will be going for victory, it’s going to be very even. Both have strong squads and there is nothing to seperate them. The derby goes at an excellent moment, it is a match that gives you an extra lift. It’s important for us as we come into game with our morale high. We are back at the top of the table, we won at Manchester, this is a wonderful fixture list. The player that could cause us problems is without doubt Martins even if Inter have some excellent players in defence. The pressure each side puts on will be important.'

'I have said already that Milan have to play as well as they played at Manchester. I think we will. I hope we don’t come up against an Italian side in the Champions League, above all Inter. The build-up to the semi-finals two years ago was tough.'

'Inter are going to create goalscoring chanes that’s for certain. The important thing is if that happens it is down to their merit not are fault. Anyway, our defence is solid. We have to look for a win, no matter what Juventus do. It’s important that get fourteen points ahead of Inter. As for Mihajlovic’s free-kicks it’s important to make sure the wall jumps up a it. As for the same players and formation that we played in Manchester, I would say 30 per cent for the players and 50 per cent for the formation.'

'After training alone Stam will return to training with the team today. He came through an x-ray with no problems. Inzaghi has movement again which is a good sign. Compared to Inter we have a side that is already in place. Inter, for their part, have a new coach, new players and it takes time to find the right balance. There is little difference between the top squad, Juve and Inter, they all around the same level.'

Ancelotti: Let's finish Inter
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has announced an all-attack approach for Sunday’s Derby di Milano and aims to end Inter’s Scudetto hopes once and for all.

“I am confident that we have the opportunity to eliminate another title contender,” said the Coach ahead of tomorrow night’s showdown at the San Siro. “I expect to see two teams going for it and leaving tactical considerations behind. It’ll be quite a show.”

The Rossoneri are without Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, Jaap Stam and the suspended Giuseppe Pancaro, but latest reports suggest Serginho will be pushed up as part of a trident attack with Hernan Crespo and Kaka.

“The derby has come at the right time for us, as our confidence was boosted by the 1-0 win at Manchester United midweek and we are top of the Serie A table. The fixture list has been kind to us.”

Ancelotti reverted back to the Christmas tree formation in that Champions’ League victory, but concedes we’ll witness changes on Sunday.

“What are the chances we’ll see the same line-up? I’d say 30 per cent for the players and 50 per cent for the system.”

Serginho is something of a nightmare for Inter, as he scored the winner in 2002 and took a starring role in the 6-0 demolition that saw him set up three before netting the final goal. The Brazilian, nicknamed ‘Concorde’ for his pace, is effective as a fullback, winger or support striker.

“I’m sure Inter will create chances against us, as with their quality it is inevitable,” noted the tactician. “We must try to win and get even more scoring opportunities than them, as it would be crucial to dump them 14 points adrift of our position.”

Milan have won four of the last five derbies in Serie A and are undefeated since March 2002, when Christian Vieri scored the only goal, but Ancelotti isn’t counting his chickens yet.

“Today these two teams are on a par in terms of technique and tactical intelligence. Milan are perhaps more structured because we’ve been together longer, while the change of management at Inter this summer means they took time to find their balance."

"We know they are always dangerous going forward and it’s set to be an entertaining game with everyone going for the three points.”

Milan squad: Abbiati, Dida, Cafu, Costacurta, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Dhorasoo, Gattuso, Kaka', Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Crespo, Tomasson.

Stan doesn't fear the Diavolo
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Dejan Stankovic maintains that Inter are the favourites to take Sunday’s 259th Derby di Milano, though he was impressed with the Rossoneri's European performance.

“The Nerazzurri are more likely to win this because we are one of the best teams around,” said the Serb midfielder. “It really is that simple.”

The bragging rights have not gone to the blue and black side of the San Siro in Serie A for five years, while they haven’t won their ‘home’ tie in the League since 1997.

“I have played in local derbies in Belgrade, Rome and Milan, so I can safely say they are unlike any other encounter in the calendar,” continued the former Lazio star. “I’ve yet to win one of these games, so here’s hoping I break that duck tomorrow.”

Roberto Mancini’s men are 11 points adrift of the joint leaders – Juventus and Sunday’s rivals Milan – but have not lost hope of the Scudetto.

“This is a crucial match for both sides, as a win will put us right back in the race, while they have to stay top of the standings.”

Nonetheless, Stankovic concedes that Milan are on fine form after their 1-0 victory away to Manchester United on Wednesday.

“They played very well in the difficult venue of Old Trafford, winning with strength and character,” added the midfielder. “They also proved the side can do without Andriy Shevchenko. But we are not afraid of them, as we are strong tactically and just need to maintain our focus for 90 minutes.”

It’s something Inter failed to do last week, conceding a last-gasp equaliser against Udinese and falling further behind in the Serie A table.

Gila agrees Milan move
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino has long been associated with the San Siro giants, but the Italian Press today states the Parma striker has agreed terms.

There are reports that the Azzurri star has worked out a contract that will tie him to Milan until June 2010 with effect from the end of this season.

The breakthrough came when it emerged that the contract Gilardino signed until 2007 had a clause forcing Parma to vastly increase his wages if he was to stay on beyond June 2005. This is something the Gialloblu cannot afford and so a summer sale is guaranteed.

Gila was expected to leave the Stadio Tardini side in January, but the instability within the club – which is under administration and looking for new investors – saw any move postponed.

Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid have all confirmed their interest over the past few months, but Milan have emerged as the clear favourites to capture the hitman.

Italian newspapers are now suggesting that a meeting between agent Beghetto and Rossoneri transfer guru Ariedo Braida on Friday put the final details in place for a £15m move.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani admitted as much a few days ago when asked about Gilardino's chances of joining the club. "We'll wait and see what happens," he smiled.

Now more than ever Milan are concerned about the future of their strike force outside of European Player of the Year Andriy Shevchenko. Filippo Inzaghi is now over 30 and has barely set foot on the field for a year due to a succession of injuries, while Jon Dahl Tomasson is struggling for form and could be set for a Premiership or La Liga switch.

Hernan Crespo scored a crucial goal in the Champions’ League tie with Manchester United midweek, but he is still owned by Chelsea and the details of his permanent move are yet to be worked out.

Gilardino’s height and power ensure he can act as a partner to Shevchenko, holding up the ball for his teammate.

Ancelotti wants it all
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Old Trafford triumph was the best possible spur for Milan’s upcoming derby test and Carlo Ancelotti insists he can do The Double.

“Clearly after that result our objective of taking the Champions’ League trophy is closer at hand,” commented the Coach following their 1-0 win away to Manchester United.

“But that’s still a long way away and it remains one of our many goals for the campaign. This is a squad built to go all the way in every competition.”

Ancelotti was nicknamed ‘the successful loser’ a few years ago, but since taking charge of Milan he has won the Scudetto, European Cup and Coppa Italia.

“It was a very satisfying win, but a tough second leg awaits us at the San Siro. Passage to the quarter-finals has to be earned. Let us not forget that if Manchester United had scored one of their early chances, it would have been a different game, though the key was controlling the tempo.”

Now the next test is Sunday’s Derby di Milano, as Inter play their last possible roll of the dice in order to get back into the Scudetto race and Milan try to hang on to the leadership.

“It will be a special match,” conceded the Coach. “As with every derby, it’s open to any result and it’s their last chance saloon for the title. In any case, I think we’ll play with two strikers upfront.”

Hernan Crespo is taking on his former club and hopes to continue the trend that has seen him score seven goals in Andriy Shevchenko’s absence.

“I don’t have great memories of the Milan derby from the time I played with the Inter jersey,” commented the Argentine. “I hope to change that with the Rossoneri colours.”

Seedorf: We're ready for the derby!
25.2 || Seamus

The countdown for the Milan derby has started and Clarence Seedorf believes that the Rossoneri are ready to take on Inter on Sunday night.
The Champions League win against Manchester United has boosted the confidence of the Milan players ahead of the all-important derby against Inter.

"I think that it's easier to prepare yourself to play against Inter than, with all due respect, against Atalanta. We left Old Trafford with a lot more strength. Leaving that pitch with an important result gives you a positive boost, positive sensations, more confidence and more trust in our qualities."

For Seedorf this match is even more important as he faces his former squad which did not believe in his qualities.

"Inter has not lost yet, therefore it is a difficult team to beat. They have a lot of quality; they are a tough team."

Confidence high in Milan derby
25.2 || webmaster


Top of Serie A and with a midweek Champions League win against Manchester United under their belts, AC Milan's players have reason to feel confident as they prepare for Sunday's derby against Inter Milan. Elsewhere, Juventus tackle Siena while Roma entertain Palermo.

The jury is still out, however, on whether Carlo Ancelotti's side have regained the form that carried them to last's year's Serie A title.

Luck has certainly played a significant part in their recent successes.

They needed two last-gasp strikes and an own goal to edge out Lazio, Reggina and Cagliari in their previous three Serie A matches, while Wednesday's win at Old Trafford arrived courtesy of a clanger by home keeper Roy Carroll.

A win over Inter would be the clearest signal so far that Milan have replaced Juventus as favourites in the championship race.

Third on 43 points, 11 off the lead, Inter still harbour title ambitions and have yet to taste defeat in 38 games this season.

Inter striker Adriano, though, is struggling to rediscover his touch after a calf injury.

The 23-year-old Brazilian last got on the scoresheet with a penalty in a 2-2 draw with Siena on December 12 and could be pushed back to the bench as Obafemi Martins starts alongside Christian Vieri.

Milan, though, also have a question mark hanging over their attack as well. Andriy Shevchenko's fractured cheekbone should lead Ancelotti to field Hernan Crespo up front alone, with Kaka and Rui Costa in support.

Internazionale vs. AC Milan - match preview
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Derby della Madonnina couldn’t have come at a more crucial time, as a win would put Inter back in the Scudetto race and defeat would let the Rossoneri silence their critics.

Roberto Mancini continues to maintain the title is not beyond him despite dropping 11 points shy of the joint leaders. They had the opportunity to close the gap last weekend, but allowed a late Henok Goitom equaliser to give Udinese a 1-1 draw.

Adriano is still looking for his best form after three weeks out with a calf strain clearly affected the hitman, who hasn’t scored since December 12. Christian Vieri suffered bruised ribs during the Stadio Friuli game and might make way for Obafemi Martins, whose pace could prove crucial against the less than sprightly Milan back line.

The Rossoneri may have struggled to scrape wins against Lazio, Reggina and Cagliari of late – earned with two injury-time winners and a freakish own goal – but they have still managed to eradicate an eight-point lead to catch Juventus at the top of the table. Those victories came at a heavy price, however, as Andriy Shevchenko clashed heads with Cagliari’s Simone Loria last week and had two titanium plates implanted to heal a fractured cheekbone. It’s an injury that has ruled the European Player of the Year out for a month and we probably won’t see him on the field again until after Easter.

With Filippo Inzaghi still out of action with a fractured bone in his right hand and Giuseppe Pancaro suspended for this tie, we could see Carlo Ancelotti revert back to his favoured Christmas tree formation. Patron Silvio Berlusconi has always publicly berated his Coach for using this tactic, but in the circumstances it could be his only option, especially with Jon Dahl Tomasson and ex-Inter hero Hernan Crespo struggling for form. Serginho has impressed of late and could be used in a more advanced role, or as a left-back in place of Pancaro with Manuel Rui Costa partnering Kaka in that support slot for lone striker Crespo.

Inter (probable): Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Veron, C Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic; Adriano, Martins

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Kaka; Crespo

Crespo warning for Milan
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan striker Hernan Crespo has warned his side against believing their Champions’ League tie with Manchester United is over. The Argentine, on loan at the San Siro from Chelsea, said: "We shouldn’t think that we are already through. In games like these it can be fatal if you stop concentrating. United have shown that on many occasions against many different teams. They are a team that always battles and that is why we have to be on our guard until the last minute at the San Siro."

Adriano on the bench?
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter boss Roberto Mancini is considering relegating star striker Adriano to the bench for Sunday’s derby against Milan.

The Brazilian is the club’s top scorer this term but he hasn’t added to his 14 League goals since December 12.

Mancio has kept faith with the forward despite his recent injury problems and transfer speculation linking him with Real Madrid.

But Mancio is now pondering his options ahead of the derby, a game that Inter must win to keep their slim title hopes alive.

The tactician is seriously thinking about playing with a strike pair of Obafemi Martins and Christian Vieri.

Martins has been in splendid form recently and again impressed on Wednesday in the Champions’ League.

The Nigerian scored in the 1-1 draw at the Dragao Stadium, making it almost impossible for him to be ignored at the weekend.

Vieri, meanwhile, is relatively fresh after he played just 10 minutes as a substitute in Portugal.

Martins and Vieri have linked up well in the past, which suggests that Adriano will be used as a luxury substitute on Sunday.

Inter go into the game a massive 11 points behind Milan and Juventus but Mancini continues to insist that they are still Scudetto contenders.

Fergie rues lack of composure; Maldini hails victory
24.2 || Seamus

Sir Alex Ferguson felt that his Manchester United side were not cool enough to put away their chances during a compelling Champions League clash with AC Milan at Old Trafford.

United lost 0-1 and Ferguson said afterwards: "We had some good chances - but we lacked that composure needed to finish it off.

"The match was a marvellous quality - every player had to produce a performance of a very high standard."

Looking ahead to the second leg at the San Siro in a fortnight’s time, Ferguson promised: "We always attack, no matter which game we play."

However, he warned: "We have got to make sure we don’t make mistakes - and if we score the game changes."

Chelsea’s Hernan Crespo – on loan to Milan for the season - scored the only goal of the game when United’s goalkeeper Roy Carroll spilled a shot from Clarence Seedorf.

Ferguson felt his team were on top at the time Crespo netted.

"In the second half I thought we got hemmed in around their box - Milan started making some mistakes and giving the ball away for the first time in the game," said Ferguson.

"At that point we were ready to make a substitution - bringing Louis Saha and Mikael Silvestre on - then they scored."

Meanwhile, Paolo Maldini, the legendary Milan defender, said his team were worthy of their victory.

"I believe we deserved to win. We had many, many chances and had the wish to score.

"We made a great game, Manchester United too, it was very balanced.

"We have many, many great players but Manchester too has a great team and I do not believe we have qualified already."

Ancelotti keeps cool
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has conquered Manchester United, but urged his players to remember that Milan aren’t through yet.

“We still have another 90 minutes to play and it won’t be easy, so this tie certainly isn’t over yet. I’d say Milan took control from the start, especially over the midfield,” said the Coach after their 1-0 victory.

“I can’t feel too happy right now, as today we understood just how difficult it is to play against this fast, courageous and passionate side. This result will make it into the history books, but there’s more to it than that. This Stadium is certainly unforgettable for us, but we’ll only celebrate after the final whistle at the San Siro.”

Ancelotti had to do without Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, so he returned to the Christmas tree formation that had been banished by patron Silvio Berlusconi.

“The winning goal finally ensured our pressure paid off and was the icing on the cake. In games where you risk going under in terms of pace, having players like Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka in those positions really help.”

The Serie A Champions were also forced into a last-minute switch when Jaap Stam was replaced by Marcos Cafu at right-back.

“Stam had felt a slight muscular problem on Sunday and it flared up again in the warm-up, so we preferred not to risk it in this situation. He should be fit again for the weekend,” assured Ancelotti.

Crespo has played five games as a lone striker and scored four goals, so perhaps he is more effective in the absence of Shevchenko.

“I think that this goal is an ulterior message to those who enjoy themselves criticising Crespo,” smiled his former Parma boss. “When you play against a defensive side, two strikers upfront is essential. Manchester attack you, so this system has more advantages.”

Hernan Crespo scored the winner in the closing stages and the former Chelsea flop silenced his Premiership critics by deciding the match.

“It was a very physical game and it was tough to find space as they have a strong tempo,” said the Argentine. “We knew how to hurt them and could have doubled our lead on a few counter-attacks.”

He seems to relish the opportunity to step out from Andriy Shevchenko’s shadow and has often played his best games on his own.

“I like this system, though I think I’ve proved this season that I can also deliver with two strikers upfront. The important thing is that the team plays well.”

Milan caught Juve at the top of the Serie A standings with a series of scraped victories, but they impressed for their style as well as the result tonight.

“Above all this is a signal to ourselves, as we are capable of dominating in any Stadium and it’s a great confidence booster for the side,” noted Crespo. “This is a special goal for me in a remarkable football arena, but until we know we are through to the next round it is worth nothing.”

Manchester United 0:1 AC Milan - match report
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorer: Crespo '78 (M)

Hernan Crespo's goal ensures Old Trafford remains a golden arena for the Rossoneri as Man U are defeated.

The Rossoneri returned to Old Trafford, where they had won the Champions' League trophy in a penalty shoot-out against Juventus in May 2003. Andriy Shevchenko netted the winner that day, but was ruled out by a fractured cheekbone, while Pippo Inzaghi was also injured.

Carlo Ancelotti reverted back to the Christmas tree formation with Hernan Crespo supported by Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa. Former Manchester United star Jaap Stam was originally named in the line-up, but at the last moment it was changed to Marcos Cafu due to muscular problems. Ruud van Nistelrooy was back in the side after three months out, but was not risked from the start.

There was a strange incident before the game, as 44-year-old Armando Gozzini, a member of the Milan medical staff, was arrested in Salford for ‘indecent exposure’. “The club wishes to express its full confidence and support in Dr Gozzini, a man of the highest professional and moral stature,” read a statement. “Milan believe it inconceivable that he could be involved in the actions he has been accused of and hopes for a rapid end to this matter.”

There was a light smattering of snow over Old Trafford as the teams came out and Milan attacked from the start, earning a corner kick with Kaka after just 45 seconds. Paul Scholes drilled wide and Crespo just failed to get on the end of Rui Costa's low cross-shot.

Clarence Seedorf's powerful free kick clipped the top of the crossbar after eight minutes as the Manchester crowd held its collective breath.

At the other end, Gennaro Gattuso put a toe in to prevent Ryan Giggs closing a fine team move. The Rossoneri were let off when Quinton Fortune skipped past Nesta, but Scholes somehow blazed wide of a practically open goal.

It was a lively encounter and soon after Rui Costa's strike was deflected over the bar by Wes Brown's back, then Cafu rushed in to clear after Scholes took advantage of a lucky ricochet off Paolo Maldini.

Pirlo's long-range effort was easily smothered by Roy Carroll, but Nesta was booked for a late challenge on Rooney on the very edge of the area. The England prodigy took the free kick himself and saw it charged down.

Crespo just failed to get on the end of Rui Costa's cross and Man U charged down on the counter-attack, but Dida came out and did enough to put Fortune off as the South African slipped and incredibly missed an open goal.

Dida was again attentive by intercepting Rooney's chipped pass for Giggs, but the Manchester defence went to sleep and Crespo very nearly made the most of it.

After the restart, Keane saw a shot deflected past the near post, but Gabriel Heinze required a couple of acrobatic clearances on dangerous Cafu crosses from the right.

Ruud van Nistelrooy came on for the final half-hour in place of Cristiano Ronaldo for his first appearance in three months following an Achilles tendon operation.

A wonderful team move from Milan eventually found Crespo unmarked and his angled drive was deflected out for a corner off Brown.

Crespo was having somthing of a nightmare and wasted a golden opportunity on 75 minutes. Kaka charged through the centre and cut in for the former Chelsea striker, who skipped past Brown only to blaze wide of the near post from seven yards.

Crespo made up for his error soon after, but it was thanks to a terrible error from goalkeeper Carroll. He only parried a rocket of a shot from Seedorf and the Argentine pounced on the loose ball.

Sir Alex Ferguson went for broke in the final 10 minutes, throwing on ex-Inter man Mikael Silvestre and Louis Saha. The former Fulham striker nearly scored with his first touch, as Dida misjudged the corner kick and the header was off target.

But this unbalanced Man U and Kaka had another strong run, taking advantage of Silvestre's mistake, and fired wide of the near post. Carroll then rushed off his line to close down Cafu as he lined up the finish.

Dida did well to tip a dangerous Giggs free kick round the post, then Kaka opted to shoot rather than roll the ball across to Crespo. Ancelotti battened down the hatches in the final minutes by bringing on Massimo Ambrosini and Billy Costacurta, while Serginho took over from Kaka.

Van Nistelrooy nodded wide of the near post, but it was not enough as Milan conquer Old Trafford for the first time.

Manchester United: Carroll; G Neville (Silvestre 79), Ferdinand, Brown, Heinze; Ronaldo (van Nistelrooy 62), Scholes, Keane, Fortune (Saha 79), Giggs; Rooney

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Costacurta 86), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo (Ambrosini 84), Seedorf; Kaka (Serginho 90), Rui Costa; Crespo

Ref: Mejuto Gonzalez (Spa)

Lippi Issues United Warning To Milan
23.2 || webmaster


Italy coach Marcello Lippi believes Manchester United will provide a stiff test for AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Lippi, who guided Juventus to three Champions League finals before becoming the Azzurri coach last summer, believes Sir Alex Ferguson's men have the quality to push the Rossoneri all the way.

"Milan have class and are very organised," Lippi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But it's going to be very difficult because Manchester have recently recovered their conviction, their unity and security. They are finding it easy to win."

Milan travel to Old Trafford without top scorer Andriy Shevchenko, who has undergone surgery after fracturing his cheekbone during Saturday's 1-0 win over Cagliari.

It is as yet uncertain whether the Ukrainian will be available to play the return-leg on March 8 as he is expected to be ruled out for a minimum of two weeks.

The loss is a big blow for both coach Carlo Ancelotti and Shevchenko himself, as the striker was looking forward to making a return to the stadium where he converted the crucial penalty in the shoot-out victory over Juventus in the final two seasons ago.

Lippi has highlighted the Red Devils' young guns Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo as the ones to watch in the tie.

"Manchester's youngsters Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo will become great players," he added.

"It's a pleasure to applaud them even when they play with their respective national teams."

Stam snubbed Real switch
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan stopper Jaap Stam has revealed that he has twice rejected moves to Real Madrid.

"I have refused them on two occasions," said the Dutchman. "They first contacted me in the summer of 2001.

"They did the same two years later but I didn’t want my family to suffer yet another radical lifestyle change."

The Kampen-born player has been one of the most consistent performers in the European game for the last decade.

He first caught the eye at PSV Eindhoven which eventually led to a Manchester United move in 1998.

The central defender, who returns to Old Trafford in the Champions’ League this evening, then signed for Lazio in August 2001.

Stam enjoyed three impressive campaigns at the Stadio Olimpico before he was netted by Milan last summer.

We’ll cope without Shev, say Milan
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are confident they can get a result at Manchester United despite the absence of star striker Andriy Shevchenko.

The Golden Ball winner is out of tonight’s Champions’ League clash with injury but boss Carlo Ancelotti is remaining optimistic.

"We will feel his loss but my team has everything that is needed to do well even without him," said the tactician.

The Rossoneri go into the game having caught Juventus at the top of the table, but recent performances have been inconsistent.

"I’m not that worried about our form because it is by playing in arenas such as this one which allows a team to fully focus.

"They will try to impose their game on us but we must just look to keep hold of the ball as best we can."

While Milan are without Shevchenko, Man Utd are expected to welcome back Ruud Van Nistelrooy from injury.

"He is a great player but we shouldn’t be too worried," added the former Juventus boss. "We expect to be troubled defensively but that should allow us more space to counter attack."

Old Trafford brings back some good memories for the Italian side, seeing that they beat Juventus in the Champions’ League Final there two years ago.

"The past counts for nothing," stated Ancelotti. "This game is all that matters now and I’m sure it will be a match of the highest quality."

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Seedorf, Pirlo, Gattuso; Kaka, Rui Costa; Crespo.

Ac Milan Man Held for 'Indecent Exposure'
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Scotsman

A member of AC Milan’s backroom staff was arrested for alleged indecent exposure to a woman in a hotel ahead of tonight’s Champion’s League clash with Manchester United.

The 44-year-old is being questioned at Salford police station after the incident at 9.50pm last night.

Police were called to The Lowry Hotel in Salford after receiving reports that a man had indecently exposed himself to a woman who works there.

A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said: “A 44-year-old man has this morning been arrested in connection with this incident and is currently being interviewed at a police station in Salford.”

Kaka: I'll do the Double
22.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Kaka is fired up for the next three days of crunch matches and pledged to score against both Manchester United and Inter.

“We are more than ready for this,” stated the Rossoneri star. “Our confidence is high after going top of the Serie A table, even if we aren’t exactly playing our best football, so I’m not worried.”

The young Brazilian could take a key role in Carlo Ancelotti’s Christmas tree formation, alongside either Serginho or Manuel Rui Costa, in support of lone striker Hernan Crespo. In the absence of the injured Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi, more of the pressure rests on his shoulders.

Kaka had not yet joined the side when they won the Champions’ League Final at Old Trafford in May 2003, so this is a new experience for him.

“Manchester United are a fearsome prospect,” he told the Corriere dello Sport. “They have experience in the form of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, then young talents like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Their real danger man is undoubtedly Rooney, as he can always make the difference.”

Kaka proved decisive in the Scudetto race last season, but has only found the net six times between Serie A and the Champions’ League this term.

“It is true that I don’t score as much, but I have provided a few more assists,” he argued. “Besides, just to prove everyone wrong I’ll net against both Man U and Inter! I am sorry for my friend Adriano, but we’ll win the derby 3-2 on Sunday.”

Another Brazilian remembers Old Trafford only too well, as Dida saved three penalties in the shoot-out against Juve on May 28 2003.

“Old Trafford is a magical place for me,” said the goalkeeper. “It is the stadium that made me a star, but my mind doesn’t wander to the past, as it is only the first leg of a double clash. All I have to do is what I did two years ago – make saves and keep a clean sheet.”

Chievo's Baronio welcomes AC Milan interest
22.2 || webmaster


Chievo Verona midfielder Roberto Baronio has admitted he'd be willing to sit on the bench next season at AC Milan.

Baronio is being considered by Milan chiefs as a backup for their prime playmaker Andrea Pirlo and he said: "If I had to return to a big club, I would accept it and join as a reserve.

"The greater reason I would accept it is if in front of me there was Pirlo, a champion and a friend."

Shevchenko could have died
21.2 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia

Milan have revealed that Andriy Shevchenko was lucky not to be fighting for his life after picking up a head injury on Saturday.

The Ukrainian has been ruled out of action for a month following an accidental clash of heads with Cagliari’s Simone Loria.

But it could have been a lot worse for the striker, who today will have two titanium plates fitted as a result of a fractured cheekbone.

"Had he been hit just a centimetre higher, full in the temple, then his life could have been at risk," said professor Massimiliano Sala, a member of the club’s medical staff.

That incident in Milan’s 1-0 win on Saturday brought back memories of a similar clash back in November 1982.

Italian legend Giancarlo Antognoni almost died when he was kneed in the temple by Genoa goalkeeper Martina.

The classy Fiorentina playmaker lost consciousness, and even had head surgery, but fortunately survived with no consequences.

It was initially expected that Shevchenko would only miss two games but that is now looking increasingly unlikely.

He’s now set to be sidelined for both Champions’ League games against Manchester United, with a possible return only pencilled in for after the Easter period.

Sheva fractures cheekbone
20.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has fractured his cheekbone and will undergo surgery on Monday, so he’ll miss the Manchester United match and probably the derby.

The European Player of the Year clashed heads with Simone Loria during the early stages of tonight’s 1-0 win over Cagliari and was taken to hospital for an x-ray that found a fracture of the cheekbone and the bone surrounding his left eye.

“It is too early to say, as we need to evaluate a few things and wait 24 to 36 hours,” explained Dr Jean Pierre Meersseman. “Generally these injuries need 15 days to recover from, and even then he would play with a protective mask, but it’s not certain whether or not he’ll miss the Milan derby.”

Nonetheless, this is a heavy blow, especially as Shevchenko already has a history of facial injuries with a split lip suffered last year.

“It’s a shame as he was hit hard and we hope to get him back as soon as possible,” noted Carlo Ancelotti. “This can be a stimulus to the other players to do even better and make up for his absence.”

The last-gasp winner caused controversy, as Cagliari believed Marcos Cafu pushed Pisano in the lead-up to Serginho’s goal.

“Cafu might have leaned on him a little, but Pisano was trying to avoid the corner kick and became unbalanced,” insisted Ancelotti.

He got some unusual support from Sardinian boss Daniele Arrigoni, who berated his players for taking their protests too far.

“I don’t think it was a foul and certainly nothing scandalous,” said Arrigoni. “Pisano tried to prevent the corner kick and didn’t see Cafu so close to him.”

Ancelotti conceded there were still problems, as Milan have won their last three games thanks to two stoppage-time strikes and an own goal.

“The team played better than against Reggina and yet ran into the same old problems, as Cagliari set up an excellent defence and were very dangerous on the counter-attack. We tried to play our style and aimed some long-range efforts at goal. We had a good dose of luck here, but also showed great character.”

“At last we are back on top of the table and that’s all that matters. We were certainly lucky over the last few games, but fortune favours the brave and we’ve certainly been that.”

Shevchenko’s injury is set to keep him out of action for at least a week, possibly more, and Pippo Inzaghi is still sidelined with a fractured bone in his hand.

“Shevchenko is very handy when you’re taking on a closed defence, but Crespo and Tomasson made a great pairing when they won 4-1 at Messina a few weeks ago, so there’s no problem of compatibility. Inzaghi is one of the best strikers in the world when it comes to being a goal poacher, so we do miss him.”

Ancelotti hinted at how he would set out Milan tactically for their Champions’ League showdown at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

“Manchester United are strong on the wings, so it’s important to close them down there and try to slow their tempo by keeping hold of the ball.”

AC Milan 1:0 Cagliari - match report
19.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorer: Serginho 92 (M)

Ten-man Milan left it late again as a stoppage-time Serginho strike saw off plucky Cagliari to put them level with Juve at the top of the table, but an injury to Andriy Shevchenko causes concern.

The Rossoneri were the only Serie A team of the season so far to beat Cagliari in Sardinia, but rested many of their top stars for this San Siro encounter. Not only were they preparing for the midweek Champions' League clash with Manchester United, but they also had six players on yellow cards and therefore in danger of missing next week's Milan derby. Andrea Pirlo returned from a knee injury, while Manuel Rui Costa, Christian Brocchi and Jon Dahl Tomasson were given rare starts.

Cagliari welcomed Antonio Langella back to the side after a ban to complete the trident attack with Mauro Esposito and Gianfranco Zola. Daniele Conti and Simone Loria stepped in for their injured teammates.

The visitors had the first chance after five minutes when Nelson Abeijon rose to nod Zola's free kick past the near post.

Milan took the initiative early on and Andriy Shevchenko ran on to Rui Costa's pass and saw his fierce shot charged down, then Seedorf drilled wide from the edge of the box.

Moments later goalkeeper Gennaro Iezzo was called into a fantastic one-handed save on Shevchenko's glancing header from a Marcos Cafu cross. The effort was aiming for the bottom far corner before the Cagliari man got down to push it out.

Shevchenko clashed heads with Simone Loria during that move and was forced off the pitch after just a handful of minutes to make way for Hernan Crespo. It didn't look good for the Ukrainian, who had a large purple bruise on his eyelid and cheekbone and was taken to hospital for tests.

Milan kept on pushing and Iezzo only parried a fierce Seedorf strike before Rui Costa's follow-up was charged down for a corner kick.

Daniele Conti spun wide with the outside of his right foot after some good work from Esposito as Cagliari were concentrating on the counter-attack.

Iezzo was again tested by another powerful Seedorf attempt from distance and Cafu shook the side-netting, but the visitors went close with Langella controlling a searching Zola pass with his heel before being dispossessed by Paolo Maldini.

There was a splendid team move on 40 minutes, as Seedorf controlled Pirlo's pass and fired his cross all the way across the face of goal with Crespo and Tomasson diving in to no avail.

Iezzo took hold of Crespo's effort at full stretch on Giuseppe Pancaro's cross, then the Argentine swung a right-foot shot just over the bar.

Cagliari had a great chance after the restart, as Massimo Gobbi's strike from the edge of the box was accidentally turned off target by teammate Esposito's intervention.

Pirlo's long-range strike skimmed the frame of the goal and Milan introduced Serginho for Christian Brocchi in an attacking move.

Maldini skipped past two opponents on the left and his cross was cleared out to Rui Costa, who could not keep his shot down.

Kaka came on for the final 20 minutes in place of Tomasson, switching to the Christmas tree formation with the Brazilian and Rui Costa supporting lone striker Crespo.

Zola is the most substituted player in Serie A and he was the first Cagliari man to make way for midfielder Loris Del Nevo.

Moments later Milan were left in ten men, as Giuseppe Pancaro hacked down Esposito for a second bookable offence. Serginho backed up to act as a left-back, but it also means Pancaro will be suspended for the Milan derby.

Cagliari tried to take full advantage and threw on Honduras hitman David Suazo, who scored in the midweek tsunami benefit at the Nou Camp.

Iezzo got down to hold Kaka's low strike after good build-up play from fellow Brazilian Cafu, then moments later Rui Costa turned a header wide from two yards on a corner kick.

The Sardinians threatened on the break as it turned into end to end stuff and Dida blocked a Del Nevo shot, then several Milan efforts were charged down by desperate defenders, though there were timid penalty appeals for an Agostini handling offence.

Pirlo's free kick was charged down and another Rui Costa strike held, but in stoppages the San Siro was chaotic.

Cafu took advantage of Pisano's slip to keep the ball in at the byline and hold up a cross which eventually fell to Serginho for a fierce half-volley into the top corner. Cagliari were furious as they felt there was a push on Pisano, which saw Agostini sent off for taking his protests too far.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Stam, Maldini, Pancaro; Brocchi (Serginho 57), Pirlo, Seedorf ; Rui Costa; Tomasson (Kaka 71), Shevchenko (Crespo 14)

Cagliari: Iezzo; Lopez, Bega, Loria, Agostini; Abeijon (Suazo 81), Conti, Gobbi; Esposito, Zola (Del Nevo 75), Langella (Pisano 89)

Ref: Tombolini

Sent off: Pancaro 76 (M), Agostini 92 (C)

Abramovich stuns AC Milan with Kaka demand
18.2 || webmaster


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich stunned AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani last night by asking him to name his price for midfielder Kaka.

The Brazil international is the one player Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has asked Abramovich for this season and the Russian is determined to do all he can to prise the free-scoring midfielder away from the San Siro.

Abramovich was in Milan yesterday to honour Milan striker Andrei Shevchenko at a function organised by Russian newspaper Sport Express.

Galliani took advantage of their meeting to discuss the permanent signing of on-loan Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo. But Abramovich was unimpressed by the players on offer - Jon Dahl Tomasson, Khaka Kaladze and Massimo Ambrosini.

He made it clear: Crespo will either go for £7 million cash or for a player swap deal involving Kaka.

Juventus to wreck AC Milan's plans for Mozart
18.2 || webmaster


Juventus are threatening to wreck AC Milan's bid to land Reggina midfielder Mozart in the summer.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has begun to prepare an offer for the Brazilian as he seeks an understudy to midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

However, Juve director general Luciano Moggi's interest has also been made public this week as Mozart's form has caught the Turin giants' attention this season.

Moggi and coach Fabio Capello want to secure a creative midfield partner for Emerson next season and Mozart has jumped to the top of their shopping list.

Giving Juve an edge over Milan in negotiations is their good relationship with Reggina, which already has co-ownership agreements with two of their players in Viktor Boudianski and Ilyas Zeytulaev.

Milan welcome back Pirlo
18.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo is back in the squad for Saturday’s clash with Cagliari and Carlo Ancelotti hints at a starting spot for the midfielder.

“Pirlo has trained intensely over the last few days, so he is able to start,” said the Coach. “Unfortunately, we can’t rest him as often as I’d like because there is no understudy for his role. Massimo Ambrosini does very well, but in a different way.”

Pirlo was expected to be sidelined for another week after damaging a knee ligament during Italy’s 2-0 international friendly win over Russia. His absence in the lucky 1-0 victory at Reggina last weekend was sorely felt and prompted vice-President Adriano Galliani to criticise their tactics.

“I accepted his comments as normal advice and I wasn’t happy with our performance either, but I preferred to dwell on the positives. The three points are in the bag and we played simple football.”

Now the pressure is on Ancelotti’s men to deliver over the next week, as Milan will face Cagliari, Manchester United and arch rivals Inter.

Above all, there are six players on yellow cards and who therefore risk missing the Derby di Milano – Kakha Kaladze, Gennaro Gattuso, Marcos Cafu, Ambrosini, Alessandro Nesta and Kaka.

“We cannot rotate the squad now to anticipate two big games,” warned the tactician. “As the season goes on, I’ll see if there are some players who are a little tired. We’ll struggle for 90 minutes against Cagliari, but it certainly won’t affect the Manchester match. Milan have the psychological and physical stamina to go all the way in every competition.”

The Rossoneri are still just two points adrift of Juventus – who themselves face a tricky trip to Messina – and we could see another shock in store.

“Every game is important now and neither side can afford to slip up any more. We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking about Manchester United or Inter now, as Cagliari are a strange side that play very attacking football, but can’t seem to get what they deserve away from home. The pacey strikers will leave more room for us to manoeuvre, so it’ll be an entertaining encounter.”

AC Milan vs. Cagliari - match preview
18.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Rossoneri rode their luck at Reggina, but kept the gap from leaders Juventus at two points and now welcome high-flying Cagliari.

Milan needed an own goal to get the better of the Amaranto last Sunday evening and really missed the creative input of Andrea Pirlo. The midfielder is likely to remain sidelined with a knee ligament injury, so Carlo Ancelotti could change his whole tactical set-up as there are no real replacements for the Italian international. We could even see a three-man defence with Marcos Cafu and Serginho pushed up on to the wings, or Manuel Rui Costa in Pirlo’s deep midfield role.

Cagliari’s away form is a real weakness this season thanks to just one win, three draws and eight defeats. Coach Daniele Arrigoni admits this is a "psychological block", so it remains to be seen how they will fare at the San Siro. Alessandro Budel is out with a one-match ban, but Italian international Antonio Langella returns from suspension to complete the starry trident attack with Mauro Esposito and the legendary Gianfranco Zola. Massimo Brambilla and Marcello Albino are out injured, so Maltagliati and Del Nevo step into the breach.

Milan (probable): Dida; Nesta, Maldini, Stam; Cafu, Gattuso, Ambrosini, Serginho; Kaka; Crespo, Shevchenko

Cagliari (probable): Iezzo; Lopez, Loria, Maltagliati, Agostini; Abeijon, Del Nevo, Gobbi; Esposito, Zola, Langella

Milan vs. Cagliari - match preview
18.2 || Seamus

Serie A Preview: Milan-Cagliari

2/18/2005 4:47:00 PM
Eighth-placed Cagliari travel to northern Italy this Saturday to play second-placed Milan at the San Siro.

As in any league, and especially the Italian Serie A, consistency is the name of the game. Whether you win, draw or lose, you must maintain a certain level of solidity to remain in good standing, or to even survive.

Recently, Milan has begun to recover the form which saw them nearly take over first place from current Serie A leaders Juventus. After the two successive 1-0 defeats at the hands of Livorno and Bologna in late January, one could reasonably say that the Rossoneri are now back on track and ready to make the push toward the title. At the beginning of February, they won 4-1 at Messina, and this impressive win came without the services of Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko. On-loan striker Hernan Crespo opened the scoring in the 9th minute. Playing in place of Shevchenko, Jon Dahl Tomasson doubled the advantage in the 18th. Riccardo Zampagna got one back for Messina a quarter of an hour before halftime, but Crespo scored his second to restore the two goal lead a quarter of an hour on the other side of the break. Tomasson also got a brace with his second goal of the match in the 90th minute. This result was followed by a midweek fixture, a visit from Lazio of Rome. The visitors took the lead in the 56th on a penalty kick in the 56th. Shevchenko then scored on his return to the lineup in the 72nd, and Crespo scored the winner in the 90th minute. Last Sunday’s match was another victory, this time at Reggina, but under different circumstances. While the Rossoneri controlled the run of play most of the match, they could only achieve a 1-0 win, and the lone tally came off of an own goal by Marco Zamboni in the 38th.

Cagliari has steadily moved up the table, but surprisingly, all the good work has been done at home, as they have a paltry away record. A fortnight ago, within the confines of the Stadio Sant’Elia, Cagliari defeated Lecce 3-1. Massimo Gobbi grabbed the lead for Cagliari in the 11th minute, but Mirko Vucinic leveled in the 38th. However, as they have done most of the season, Cagliari was able to get the win. Mauro Esposito scored in the 74th, and erased all doubt in the 86th. Last weekend’s match also went to form: a trip to Brescia’s Stadio Mario Rigamonti, and another road loss, by a 2-0 score. Davide Zoboli gave Brescia the lead in just the 5th minute, and Andrea Caracciolo finished the match with a goal in second half stoppage time. Cagliari’s home and away form could not be more of polar opposites. At home, they have won eight, drawn three, and lost just once; but on the road they have been the victors once, drawn three times, and lost eight matches.


Milan is really only missing one player from the first team, Filippo Inzaghi, but what’s new? He has been out of action most of the season with several injuries, this time a fractured thumb.

Cagliari will be without the services of Alessandro Budel, who is suspended because of the yellow card he received in their last match.


Massimo Ambrosini (Milan)
In the absence of Andrea Pirlo last weekend versus Reggina, ‘Ambro’ was less than impressive. He must perform more admirably for Milan to achieve the full three points in this match.

Gianfranco Zola (Cagliari)
The ageless wonder needs to get back to scoring goals, his last coming a month ago. He will cause trouble for the Milan defense.


Milan (4-3-1-2):
Dida; Cafu, Stam, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Kaka; Crespo, Shevchenko

Cagliari (4-3-3):
Iezzo; Lopez, Loria, Maltagliati, Agostini; Abeijon, Conti, Gobbi; Esposito, Zola, Langella

Italian trio in the money
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan, Juventus and Inter are among the 10 richest clubs in the world, according to a new report.

The Deloitte document, which rates clubs in terms of income, has Milan in third, Juventus in fifth and Inter in eighth.

Manchester United top the list with £172m, ahead of Real Madrid and the Italian champions who collected just over £147m last year.

Although three Italian clubs are in the top 10, Juventus have significantly dropped three places and Inter two over the last 12 months.

Capital sides Roma, 11th, and Lazio, 15th, also make the top 20.

1 (1) Manchester United £171.5m
2 (4) Real Madrid £156.3m
3 (3) Milan £147.2m
4 (10) Chelsea £143.7m
5 (2) Juventus £142.4m
6 (7) Arsenal £115m
7 (13) Barcelona £110.1m
8 (6) Inter £110.3m
9 (5) Bayern Munich £110.1m
10 (8) Liverpool £92.3m
11 (10) Newcastle £90.5m
12 (11) Roma £72m
13 (18) Celtic £69m
14 (16) Tottenham £66.3m
15 (15) Lazio £65.8m
16 (-) Manchester City £61.9m
17 (14) Schalke £60.5m
18 (-) Marseille £58.3m
19 (-) Rangers £57.1m
20 (-) Aston Villa £55.9m

Previous season's position in brackets

Inzaghi in new injury blow
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi’s injury nightmare continues after the Milan man picked up a new ankle problem.

The striker was expected to be back in action soon after recovering from a hand fracture but he’s now been hit with this latest blow.

Inzaghi is currently complaining of discomfort in his ankle, the same ankle that has been operated on twice in the last 12 months.

Now there are fears that Inzaghi, who was hoping to be available for next week’s Champions’ League trip to Old Trafford, could be set for another spell on the sidelines.

Super Pippo’s problems began in September 2003 when he limped out of a League game against Perugia.

Surgery was initially ruled out but he did go under the knife in April, and then again in November, after failing to make a full recovery.

Inzaghi, who made just 14 appearances last season, returned in the recent Italian Cup game against Udinese but broke a bone in his hand just five minutes into his comeback.

That problem has now been resolved but the player is still unable to train normally with the rest of the squad.

The club remain hopeful that he could be available for the Man Utd first leg tie but that is looking increasingly unlikely.

Kaladze doubts Pirlo influence
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze has hit back at claims that his Milan side rely too heavily on playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

The champions struggled to a 1-0 win at Reggina on Sunday without the injured midfielder, leading to Vice-president Adriano Galliani insisting that the player is "irreplaceable."

But the Georgian defender maintains that the success at the San Siro is not dependent on just one player.

"I don’t read the newspapers but I’ve heard what has been said recently," stated the left-back.

"We didn’t play that well at Reggina but we won and that was the most important thing for us.

"The fact that our performance wasn’t the best is not linked to Pirlo, or any other player, but down to the whole team. This is a great squad with some great players."

The former Dynamo Kiev ace is now fearing another difficult tie against Cagliari on Saturday.

"Everyone knows what to expect at the weekend," he added. "They’ll come to the San Siro to keep it tight and play on the counter-attack.

"We know that we must stay alert and do everything possible to win. The season starts now and we can’t afford any more slip-ups."

Milan: Ronaldinho just a dream
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani insists they have no chance of signing Barcelona ace Ronaldinho.

The Rossoneri were heavily linked with the player this morning after the Brazilian admitted he was attracted by the Italian giants.

But Galliani, while conceding that he rates the player highly, has dismissed talk of a summer swoop.

"I really like Ronaldinho and he is well aware of that fact," Galliani told the Radio Italia Network.

"But there are a host of players who have and will remain ‘dreams’ for us and Ronaldinho is one of these.

"He is simply not available for transfer as Barcelona consider him as untouchable."

Galliani also denied talk of any bids for the Roma pair of Francesco Totti and Antonio Cassano, but did leave the door open for Alberto Gilardino.

"Totti and Cassano? It’s the same story as Ronaldinho but who knows what will happen with Gilardino? We’ll have to just wait," he noted.

The Parma striker, scorer of 23 League goals last season, is expected to sign for the reigning champions at the end of this term.

That has led doubts over the future of Pippo Inzaghi but Galliani maintains the latter will remain. "You don’t sell players like Inzaghi," he concluded.

Ronaldinho offers Milan hint
16.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Barcelona sensation Ronaldinho has opened the door for a transfer to Italian champions Milan.

The Rossoneri are one of many clubs keen on the star and he admits he’s attracted by the San Siro outfit.

"I would happily go to Milan, a side with many great players," he stated after last night’s tsunami benefit match. "But for now, I’m a Barca player."

Milan chief Adriano Galliani has publicly admitted in the past that he would love to sign the attacker.

Captain Paolo Maldini also recently stated that the Brazilian would be his dream buy for the club.

However, the proposed move would be a complex one for Milan to pull off at this moment in time.

Although reports suggest that Ronaldinho could quit the Nou Camp, Milan are not the only club interested.

Manchester United, Inter, Real Madrid and Chelsea would all be keen if the player was made available for transfer.

Another problem for Milan would be Barca’s asking price for the former Paris Saint-Germain star.

Whispers suggest that Ronaldinho is valued at around £40m, a fee that may be too steep for the Rossoneri right now.

The Italian giants could look to lower that figure by offering cash and players – such as Danish international Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Milan clubs to meet Abramovich
16.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Chelsea chief Roman Abramovich will reportedly hold transfer talks with both Milan clubs during a visit to Italy this week.

The Stamford Bridge owner is set to be in the Italian city on Thursday and he’s likely to meet with representatives of the two sides.

Abramovich’s presence could see a final decision made on the future of Juan Sebastian Veron (pictured).

The Argentine is currently on loan at Inter from the Premiership leaders and it is understood that the Nerazzurri want to make his move permanent.

Inter will offer the London club Edgar Davids in return for the midfielder after the Dutchman’s difficulties this term.

Chelsea could also use the meeting to enquire about the availability of Inter ace Adriano, a player they do like.

Meanwhile, Milan will also be hoping to make progress in their bid to keep Hernan Crespo.

The striker, like his Argentine colleague Veron, is on loan at the club who are keen to keep him.

The international has scored some crucial goals this term and the champions are ready to reward him for his efforts.

Chelsea are prepared to do business but will be aware of making any steep demands which could scare off Milan.

Especially as it is generally accepted that the San Siro giants will sign a new striker in the summer anyway, in the form of Parma’s Alberto Gilardino.

Milan want Pirlo alternative
15.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan will use the summer transfer window to find an alternative for key man Andrea Pirlo.

Vice-president Adriano Galliani has admitted that the player, who is currently injured, is "irreplaceable" which does provide the side with a problem.

But Galliani wants to find a solution by signing an adequate understudy for the Italian international.

"Everyone has a replacement in this squad except Pirlo," he commented. "Myself and (director general) Ariedo Braida are looking around but we haven’t found him yet."

However, reports suggest that the Rossoneri do have a shortlist of three men who they feel have Pirlo-like playmaker qualities.

Chievo’s Roberto Baronio can play in a deep midfield role and would be available even if he is still owned by Lazio.

David Pizarro is another option after his performances in Serie A over the last two years at Udinese.

The Chilean international is keen on joining a big club after proposed moves to Juventus and Inter fell through in the past.

The final alternative seems to be Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona. However, it seems unlikely that the Spaniard would leave the Nou Camp to sit on the bench at the San Siro.

Galliani: No Pirlo, No Milan
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani has described Andrea Pirlo as "irreplaceable" in the Rossoneri line-up.

The Italian missed last night’s 1-0 win at Reggina with injury and his absence was severely felt.

"We’ve not been able to find anybody on the transfer market as an alternative," Galliani stated. "Ariedo Braida and myself haven’t spotted anyone like Pirlo."

The loss of Pirlo is a major problem for the champions and Galliani has urged boss Carlo Ancelotti to recognise that fact.

"He is a player who can’t be replaced, therefore perhaps we should start thinking about playing in a different way," explained the San Siro chief.

"I’m not saying that Pirlo is the best player at this club, only that he has certain characteristics that can’t be substituted by somebody else.

"The four man defence is a characteristic of ours but perhaps there could be some changes made to the midfield.

"I’m not questioning Ancelotti who is a great Coach. I just want to point out that without Pirlo, we haven’t played in the Milan way at either Livorno or Reggina."

Pirlo, who picked up a knee injury in Italy’s 2-0 win over Russia, should be back for the Champions’ League clash at Manchester United next week.

Ancelotti thankful for three points
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and Walter Mazzarri were both content with the team performances this evening, though it is Milan who emerge with the points.

“I am extremely happy because we controlled the tempo after taking the lead,” stated the Rossoneri tactician after the 1-0 victory at the Stadio Granillo.

“We were concentrated and attentive throughout, trying to limit our opponents’ chances to hurt us. The scoreline should have been more ample, as we had two counter-attacks with four against one and somehow didn’t make the most of them.”

It took a comical own goal from Zamboni to decide this match, but the result is the important thing as Milan remain just two points adrift of leaders Juventus.

The creative drive of Andrea Pirlo was sorely missed, but Ancelotti was quick to reassure worried fans ahead of their Champions’ League clash at Old Trafford. “Pirlo will be fit for Manchester,” he noted.

Walter Mazzarri was philosophical after tonight’s defeat and realises Reggina were unlucky to be left empty-handed.

“As far as the overall performances went, I wouldn’t say we deserved to lose,” said the Amaranto Coach. “We had several scoring opportunities, but it just wasn’t our night.”

The Calabrians had a strong record against the big clubs here, beating Juventus and Roma, while Inter and Udinese were held to stalemates.

“Not only were we unlucky with the own goal, but in the closing stages we could have equalised and Zamboni slipped as he lined up the shoot. Nonetheless, we can take heart from our performance.”

Reggina 0:1 AC Milan - match report
13.2 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia

Zamboni og 39 (M)
Stadio Granillo

A comical own goal has given Milan a hard-fought victory at the Stadio Granillo and keeps the gap at two points.

Milan knew they needed a victory to further close the gap on leaders Juventus, but Reggina have a very strong home record and were unbeaten in seven, while they had not succumbed at the Stadio Granillo since losing to Brescia on December 5.

The Rossoneri were forced to do without Andrea Pirlo, who suffered a knee ligament injury on international duty against Russia midweek, so Massimo Ambrosini stepped into the midfield breach. Marcos Cafu also returned after resting for the Lazio game.

Nicola Pavarini rushed off his line to nod the ball off Hernan Crespo's head just outside the box as Milan pushed forward early on. The goalkeeper then bravely gathered Clarence Seedorf's low cross before the Argentine could pounce.

The Amaranto poured forward on the counter-attack with Giandomenico Mesta and crossed paths with Alessandro Nesta. The Reggina man fell and Nesta was booked, but replays suggest any contact at all was minimal.

Dida was at full stretch to parry a fierce Colucci strike from 30 metres with one hand, then scrambled across to hold the ball before Emiliano Bonazzoli could pounce.

Kaka exchanged passes with Kakha Kaladze and the Georgian international's shot was parried at the near post, while at the other end Dida fingertipped a corner kick off Franceschini's head from less than a yard.

The deadlock was eventually broken in fairly chaotic fashion. Zamboni attempted to clear a hopeful long-range Seedorf effort, but he completely mis-hit it and the ball looped over a helpless Pavarini and into the net.

The Rossoneri nearly doubled their tally on the stroke of half-time, but Pavarini stood his ground to push the ball off Crespo's foot when the former Chelsea star latched on to Andriy Shevchenko's pass.

In the second half, Seedorf drilled wide from the edge of the box, while a backheel sent Jacopo Balestri running and his cutback was cleared for a corner with some difficulty.

Bonazzoli sprung the offside trap and was at full stretch, but he was unable to make the most of this golden opportunity as Dida timed his run well.

Creative midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura came on when Mesto limped off with an ankle problem, while Jaap Stam replaced Marcos Cafu.

Stam threaded through for Shevchenko and the Ukrainain's angled drive was deflected over the bar.

Nesta dived on to the feet of Paredes as he lined up a shot from Nakamura's intelligent pass.

Milan-owned striker Marco Borriello came on for Reggina in the closing stages, while the pacey Serginho stepped in for Crespo and switched the Rossoneri to a Christmas tree formation.

Kaka had the opportunity to put the result beyond doubt when three broke out on the counter-attack, but his pass was too close to Pavarini and Reggina breathed a sigh of relief.

Balestri's powerful effort bounced just wide of the target, but Dida needed his wits about him to smother a glancing Bonazzoli flick from close range, as he needed two attempts to smother it.

Milan poured forward at the other end and a fine intervention prevented substitute Manuel Rui Costa tapping in Seedorf's cutback.

Yet again the Rossoneri wasted a promising counter-attack, as Serginho's lob was too weak and Pavarini plucked it out of the air. Shevchenko was totally unmarked just a few feet across and the Brazilian was greedy in this occasion.

At the other end there was panic when Dida rushed off his line to take the ball off Paredes' toes in a one-on-one situation.

Reggina: Pavarini; Zamboni, De Rosa, Franceschini; Mesto (Nakamura 59), Paredes, Mozart (Borriello 76), Balestri, Tedesco, Colucci (Esteves 84); Bonazzoli

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Stam 62), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Kakà (Rui Costa 81); Crespo (Serginho 76), Shevchenko

Ref: Racalbuto

Stam: I don't need Man Utd revenge
13.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

AC Milan defender Jaap Stam insists he isn't looking for revenge over former club Manchester United when they clash in the Champions League later this month.

"It's true that Ferguson released me to Lazio but I have no personal vendetta," the 32-year-old told Milan's official website.

"I only want to show that I am a top player and, quite honestly, my only interest is to do well for Milan."

Stam is currently fighting for fitness after an ankle operation but he insists he will be in peak condition for the Old Trafford clash later this month.

"Physically I am reaching my best form," he added.

"Now I am fine even though after the operation I was lacking some playing time."

Mazzarri plans Milan shock
13.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Reggina have already tripped up Juve and Roma on home turf this season and Coach Walter Mazzarri admits he expects the same for Milan.

“We have dreams of getting a positive result from this game and they could certainly become reality,” noted the tactician ahead of tonight’s clash.

“On paper, there is no question that the Rossoneri will triumph. We have beaten the odds before and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”

The Stadio Granillo has been a fortress, especially against the big clubs, as Juventus and Roma have already lost here and Inter failed to break down their defence despite the Amaranto playing in ten men.

“We know full well that Milan are among the best teams in the world,” added midfielder Giuseppe Colucci. “However, they are also aware that this won’t be a walk in the park.”

The reigning Champions of Italy don’t have a very good record at the Granillo, having lost two of the four visits to this Stadium in Serie A competition.

Reggina vs. AC Milan - match preview
13.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Having cut Juventus’ lead at the top of the table to just two points in two games, Milan will be looking for another victory at Reggina in Week 24. However, recent history suggests that it won’t be easy after the champions lost to both Livorno and Bologna last month.

To complicate matters further, the Granillo outfit haven’t lost for seven matches and have already beaten the likes of Juventus and Roma at home this term. It promises to be a tough afternoon for the Italian giants as Reggina have just one injury doubt too in the shape of Colucci.

Milan may be forced to select a ‘stronger’ starting XI than faced Lazio last week. They were running the risk of losing before boss Carlo Ancelotti brought on Serginho, Cafu and Andriy Shevchenko that radically changed the face of the game. Shev netted a free-kick beauty before Crespo sealed a 2-1 win in the 93rd minute.

Cafu is likely to start on the right with Jaap Stam either moving into the centre or being relegated to the bench. Shev should start in attack with Crespo, seeing as Pippo Inzaghi is still out following hand surgery. Pirlo may be rested following his disappointing display against the Biancocelesti.

Reggina (probable): Pavarini; Cannarsa, De Rosa, Francschini; Mesto, Paredes, Mozart, Balestri, Tedesco; Nakamura; Bonazzoli

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Kaka, Crespo, Shevchenko

AC Milan offer Kaladze as part of deal for Crespo
12.2 || webmaster


AC Milan are ready to offer wing-back Khaka Kaladze in part-exchange for the permanent signing of Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo.

The Argentina international is wanted by Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti next season, but Chelsea are refusing to budge from their £15 million-plus asking price.

To bring the cash component down, Milan are offering Georgia international Kaladze, who is a long-time favourite of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and could be the second left-back he is actively searching for to compete with Wayne Bridge.

Parma reject Chealsea bid for Gilardino
12.2 || webmaster


Chelsea have had a bid for Parma striker Alberto Gilardino rejected this week.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich reportedly offered £15 million for the Italy international centre-forward, but it was turned down by Parma as they have an agreement to sell the youngster to AC Milan in the summer.

Gilardino's Dad confirmed the Milan deal over Christmas, complaining that the family are actually all Juventus supporters.

"A move to a great foreign club is something that interests all players," said Gilardino recently. "But I want to base my career in Italy and am committed to Parma until June."

Pirlo breathes sigh of relief
12.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo’s injury is less serious than at first thought and Milan medical staff reveal they hope to have him at Old Trafford.

The midfielder limped off during Italy’s 2-0 win over Russia on Wednesday evening and was diagnosed with a crushed ligament in his right knee, initially ruling him out of the Champions’ League clash with Manchester United.

“The swelling in the knee has already subsided and he’s in less pain,” revealed Rossoneri chief doctor Jean Pierre Meersseman this afternoon.

“If all goes well, he can start working in the sand pit soon. We can say he won’t play at Reggina this Sunday, there is a slim chance we’ll see him against Cagliari next week, while he should certainly be ready for the trip to Manchester on February 23.”

This is the second time that the San Siro side has breathed a sigh of relief, as Andriy Shevchenko also recovered much quicker than expected from an ankle injury.

He returned a week earlier than predicted to score a crucial goal in the 2-1 victory over Lazio last weekend.

As for Sunday’s Reggina match, it’s likely Massimo Ambrosini will step in for the creative midfielder, though Vikash Dhorasoo and Manuel Rui Costa are other options for that difficult role.

Pirlo to miss Man Utd
11.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo’s knee injury is expected to keep him out of Milan’s Champions’ League trip to Manchester United.

The midfielder picked up the problem during Italy’s 2-0 win over Russia that will probably see him miss the Old Trafford first leg tie.

The latest reports suggest that the playmaker will sit out two League games, against Reggina and Cagliari, before returning on February 27 for the Milan derby.

The absence of Pirlo, the ‘brains’ of the Milan side, could see Coach Carlo Ancelotti decide to modify his 4-3-1-2 formation into something more similar to a 4-4-2.

Pirlo escapes knee surgery
10.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have breathed a huge sigh of relief after Andrea Pirlo’s knee injury turned out to be less serious than first thought.

The midfielder limped out of last night’s 2-0 win over Russia amidst fears that he had picked up a meniscus problem – which would have required surgery.

However, the playmaker underwent tests today that have ruled out the threat of an operation.

Pirlo will definitely miss the tie against Reggina at the weekend but not the six weeks that some had suggested.

The former Inter player is already receiving treatment on the injury and should be available for selection in the near future.

Pirlo is set to be replaced in the first team by either Vikash Dhorasoo or Massimo Ambrosini on Sunday.

Stam takes centre stage
9.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Jaap Stam could force Milan into a tactical rethink after stating he is not happy playing in a right-back role.

“I am not very effective out wide,” insisted the defender. “Pushing forward and attacking just isn’t my job.”

One of the main reasons Stam was signed from Lazio in the summer was his versatility, as he is able to play in the centre or on the right.

However, as shown by the difficult 2-1 win over his old club at the weekend, the Dutchman doesn’t have anywhere near the same impact as Marcos Cafu in that position. He also seemed uncomfortable defending, as he gave away the penalty that gave Lazio the lead.

“Of course the results of this experiment were unimpressive. I do not have the right characteristics to push up on the flank. It is true that I played in that role with the Biancocelesti, but everyone knows I am much more useful to the team when staying back.”

This is practically a begging letter to Coach Carlo Ancelotti in order to rethink his tactics, but at the same time it is highly unlikely Milan will break up the Scudetto-winning central partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini.

During the second half of that 2-1 win on Sunday, the Rossoneri switched to a three-man defence with Cafu and Serginho pushing up out wide. It was an unusual step under Ancelotti’s reign and could be experimented in the future.

Chelsea weigh up bid for AC Milan target Gilardino
8.2 || webmaster


Chelsea are ready to trump AC Milan for Parma star Alberto Gilardino in the summer.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich is ready to offer £15 million for the Italy international when the close-season transfer window opens in June.

Milan remain favourites to sign Gilardino, having struck personal terms with the youngster despite rival interest from Juventus.

However, Milan are still to reach agreement with Parma over a fee and are unlikely to be able to match the spending power of Abramovich should the Russian billionaire push ahead with his bid.

Referees anger rocked Juve
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus are refusing to panic after two consecutive losses but the club have begun to question some refereeing decisions.

The Bianconeri remain top yet they have seen their lead slashed from eight points to just two in 180 minutes of football.

"We’re still first and therefore the team to beat," stated director general Luciano Moggi. "A dip can occur but I see nothing to be alarmed about."

However, Moggi, whose club are often cited as allegedly receiving favourable refereeing decisions, believes the men in black have contributed to the Scudetto chase.

"When an official is in doubt this term they simply decide to blow the whistle against us," Moggi argued.

The transfer guru then spoke specifically about the penalty incident in the Milan-Lazio match after Jaap Stam fouled Tommaso Rocchi.

Moggi believes that the Dutchman, who was booked, should have been dismissed in a game that the Rossoneri eventually won.

He said: "You all saw the pictures, why should I comment on them? I thought it was a certainty…"

Moggi has also taken a swipe at his own goalkeeper after Gigi Buffon commented on the title situation.

"Milan may technically have more than us and a better bench but we have other characteristics to win," said the No 1 from the Italian training camp.

"We need to take a bath in humility and not hope in gifts from others. We need to start playing games from the first minute."

Moggi responded: "Buffon would have been wiser to just talk about the national side."

Shevchenko says he's fit to play against Albania
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Channel News Asia

TIRANA : Ukraine striker Andrei Shevchenko of AC Milan, who injured his right ankle against Bologna on January 30, said he was fit to play a World Cup qualifier against Albania on Wednesday.

"I am in good form to play with my national team against Albania, but it is up to the coach to decide whether I'll play from the start of the game or not," Shevchenko, the 2004 European Footballer of the Year, told reporters here Tuesday.

"The victory against Albania will be difficult, but we will do our best to bring a positive result," he added.

Shevchenko had been expected to miss the World Cup qualifier and rest before the Champions League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on February 23.

Ancelotti hails Milan spirit
7.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has laughed at critics who claimed Milan were out of the Scudetto race, while Lazio lick their wounds.

“It takes great strength and character to win a game like this,” said the Rossoneri boss after they fought back to beat Lazio 2-1.

“There was also an element of luck, which of course you always need in football. It wasn’t a good first half as we couldn’t find room for manoeuvre, which often happens when we play at the San Siro.”

The Capital club had frustrated their opponents during the first hour, but succumbed to a last-gasp Hernan Crespo strike. It’s a result that puts them just two points adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus.

“We have to learn that the moves should be done with more speed and less haste,” warned Ancelotti. “It’s nice to see the Milan spirit raise its head, as seven days ago we were left for dead.”

Giuseppe Papadopulo was kicking himself after seeing a potential victory turn into defeat with the last kick of the game.

“We started off so well and chose to pack the midfield, taking space away from Kaka. Milan really struggled under that pressure and we deserved to take the lead.”

However, conceding late goals is an all too familiar problem for the Biancocelesti, who also lost to a stoppage-time strike at the Stadio Granillo last weekend.

“In the final seconds of the game, just the same way as it happened against Reggina, we were left empty handed,” sighed the Lazio Coach.

“It is a terrible shame, as our performances deserved better results. Unfortunately we are compounded by injuries and with a full squad at my disposal we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Nonetheless, Papadopulo tried to find some comfort from their San Siro experience, even if they have earned just one point from their last four games.

“Everything is going wrong at the moment and luck is not on our side. If these performances don’t get us points, then at least they can boost our confidence for the future.”

Milan 2:1 Lazio - match report
6.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Oddo pen 56 (L), Shevchenko 72 (M), Crespo 94 (M)

Milan left it very late indeed as Hernan Crespo scored against his former teammates to cut the gap to two points.

The Rossoneri would bring themselves within two points of leaders Juventus with a victory here and were boosted by their midweek 4-1 mauling of Messina. Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Hernan Crespo took on their former club, while Andriy Shevchenko was not risked from the start. The Ukrainian was originally ruled out for a fortnight with an ankle injury, but instead returned to the bench within seven days.

Lazio left Paolo Di Canio on the bench and surprisingly opted to place Giuliano Giannichedda at the centre of a three-man defence. They made it clear from the start that they were going to stay solid and pour forward on the counter-attack with Tommaso Rocchi and Goran Pandev.

Inter-owned Pandev took advantage of a defensive error and drilled wide from the edge of the box, then at the other end a Milan corner kick was cleared with some difficulty.

The first real chance came after 26 minutes as the Rossoneri passed the ball around and eventually cut back for a fierce Clarence Seedorf strike from the edge of the box that Angelo Peruzzi got his fists behind.

There was bad news for the Biancocelesti when Cesar limped off with a suspected thigh strain after just half an hour and made way for Fabio Liverani.

Lazio had another dangerous counter-attack when Antonio Filippini got to the byline and his low cross cut all the way across the face of goal without anyone able to get the final touch.

Jaap Stam nearly netted against his old club when he rose to make contact with Andrea Pirlo's corner kick, but it was deflected off target.

Lazio were causing real problems down the right flank and another dangerous cross, this time from Massimo Oddo, whistled just past Rocchi in the centre.

A desperate Giannichedda challenge prevented Crespo from tapping in Kakha Kaladze's pass from eight yards as the pressure increased. The former Chelsea star then failed to make the most of Pirlo's searching pass as his first touch let him down.

On the stroke of half-time, an acrobatic Jon Dahl Tomasson attempt on Crespo's headed assist was closed down by the ever-attentive Giannichedda.

Kaka scared the Lazio defence with a burst of pace and Tomasson was unable to make the most of it, while Antonio Filippini disposessed Pirlo and Fabio Liverani's shot was too central to really trouble Dida.

The breakthrough came when Rocchi sprinted into the box on Liverani's pass and Stam mistimed his challenge to bring down the striker. The referee pointed to the spot and Massimo Oddo fired in the penalty despite Dida getting a hand to it.

Carlo Ancelotti threw on Andriy Shevchenko, Serginho and Cafu in a desperate bid to get back on track with a three-man defence, while Antony Seric also came on for Liverani, as the substitute was suffering from a muscular problem.

Within a minute of coming on the Ukrainian had fired a long-range effort just wide of the target. Then his header was wayward from a Serginho cross as Lazio were pegged back into their own half.

The visitors were even more determined to play on the counter now and Nesta's crucial intervention stopped Pandev completing his move with Rocchi.

Crespo got on the end of Cafu's cross and Angelo Peruzzi was ready to smother it at the near post.

Moments later Gennaro Gattuso passed out to Shevchenko and his wayward half-volley saw Crespo come sliding in and miss the tap-in by inches.

Shevchenko certainly made his comeback with a bang, as he curled a simply stunning free kick into the top corner from 25 metres to give Milan a deserved equaliser.

Lazio needed a strong character and it came in the form of Paolo Di Canio, here facing his former club.

Shevchenko then turned provider for Cafu and his shot blazed just over the bar, while Crespo again just failed to get on the end of a Cafu headed assist.

Fernando Couto dived in to intercept Serginho's cutback for Pirlo inside the penalty area as it turned into a siege, then Stam blazed over the bar from distance.

Deep into stoppages the game was eventually turned in Milan's favour in chaotic fashion. Kaka's piledriver thumped the woodwork and came back out to an unmarked Hernan Crespo to tap into an empty net against his former club.

Milan: Dida; Stam, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze (Serginho 59); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Cafu 62); Kakà; Tomasson (Shevchenko 57), Crespo

Lazio: Peruzzi; Siviglia, Giannichedda, Couto; Oddo, A Filippini, Dabo, E Filippini, Cesar (Liverani 32) (Seric 59); Pandev (Di Canio 76), Rocchi

Ref: Rosetti

Milan 'retire' presidential chair
6.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The San Siro giants have unveiled plans to carry on without a President if Silvio Berlusconi is forced to give up his position.

The media magnate has been in charge of Milan since the 1980’s, but as the Prime Minister of Italy his many roles represent a conflict of interests.

“We have retired Franco Baresi’s Number 6 jersey and will do the same for Paolo Maldini’s Number 3,” joked Vice-President Adriano Galliani (pictured). “Why not do the same for the Number 1 – the President?”

New laws forced Berlusconi into his resignation on December 28 and a successor has not been found, but it seems the club has no intention of looking for one.

“We have consulted our legal staff and it is possible to continue indefinitely with myself as Vice-President,” continued Galliani, who has practically been running the club for the last few years since Berlusconi’s political career took off.

“As far as the almanacs are concerned, Silvio Berlusconi will be the last President of AC Milan and the club statute changed accordingly.”

Sheva unleashed on Lazio
5.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims Milan’s jitters are over with as they prepare to take on Lazio with the aid of Andriy Shevchenko’s speedy recovery.

The Ukrainian was originally ruled out for at least a fortnight after suffering a large cut to his ankle in last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Bologna, but he is already back in full training and could even start tomorrow’s game.

“He is in good shape and can play,” revealed Ancelotti. “We’ll see how he does in training and then decide if it’s best to start or come in during the match.”

The team has done well enough even without their top scorer, as Hernan Crespo and Jon Dahl Tomasson bagged a brace apiece in the midweek 4-1 mauling of Messina.

It was a result that put Milan within five points of leaders Juventus and ended a run of two consecutive defeats against Livorno and Bologna.

“Our performance against Lazio must be more than about getting three points, as it will prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are over this little hiccup in our campaign.”

The Scudetto race is about to merge with the European calendar, so having a large squad at his disposal could prove key for Ancelotti.

“It is particularly important not to drop points now, as once the Champions’ League starts up again on February 22 it will be tougher for all the big clubs. We are really counting on these two home games against Lazio and Cagliari, plus the trip to Reggina.”

Among the more inspired summer signings was Vikash Dhorasoo, who arrived on a free transfer from Olympique Lyonnaise and has impressed in recent weeks.

“He is perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season for us,” smiled Ancelotti. “Dhorasoo is an important element and has fairly unique characteristics as far as our other midfielders are concerned. Even when we lost and he was playing, the Frenchman was a highlight.”

This weekend Juve face a tricky trip to Palermo and Inter visit Parma, but the Milan boss has all but ruled their arch rivals out of the running.

“It will undoubtedly be an extra motivation to know Juve’s result before we step on to the pitch on Sunday evening,” added the Coach. “Inter are doing well and found their balance, but I think the most they can fight for now is second place.”

AC Milan vs. Lazio - match preview
5.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

This classic fixture between two Serie A giants finds Lazio at their lowest ebb for years, as Alessandro Nesta, Jaap Stam and Hernan Crespo face their old club.

The Biancocelesti are without a win in their last four games after grinding out a 0-0 result on Wednesday night against Brescia, but Milan bounced back from fierce criticism to send Messina packing with a 4-1 rout that put them just five points off the leaders. The Capital club has a poor record at the San Siro, having last conquered the Stadium in 1989-90.

Andriy Shevchenko is recovering fast from an ankle injury, but it’s unlikely he’ll be risked for this clash, whilst Dario Simic and Pippo Inzaghi are also sidelined. Lazio are missing Luciano Zauri and Fabio Liverani, but welcome back Fernando Couto, Cesar and Giuliano Giannichedda from suspension. Paolo Di Canio looks set to retain his spot despite a public row with Coach Giuseppe Papadopulo when he was substituted midweek.

Milan (probable): Dida, Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Kaka, Crespo, Tomasson

Lazio (probable): Peruzzi, Oddo, Siviglia, Couto, E. Filippini, A. Filippini, Dabo, Giannichedda, Cesar, Di Canio, Rocchi

Shevchenko to face Lazio?
4.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has revealed that he could be fit enough to feature in Milan’s game against Lazio.

The striker was expected to definitely be out of Sunday’s San Siro clash after picking up an injury against Bologna last weekend.

But the Ukrainian has failed to rule himself out of the Week 23 tie against the struggling capital side.

"I’m feeling good, a lot better than before," he stated. "I’m no longer in pain even if the tibia is still troubling me.

"My ankle is not a problem at all. It was swollen but that issue has now been resolved.

"I’m feeling positive about playing even if it will be up to the Coach to decide what to do. If I’m 100 per cent fit then I’ll be ready."

The former Dynamo Kiev star will train again tomorrow in a bid to fully evaluate his physical situation.

Milan have just two fit strikers at the moment in the shape of Hernan Crespo and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Pippo Inzaghi, who had minor hand surgery earlier this week, is still sidelined but he could be back in Week 24.

Seedorf smells Scudetto success
4.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf is convinced that Milan have what it takes to win Lo Scudetto ahead of Juventus.

Many classed the Bianconeri as almost certain title winners on Sunday following Milan’s shock home defeat to Bologna.

But the championship race was blown open again on Wednesday evening after the leaders lost to Sampdoria, while the Rossoneri destroyed Messina.

"I’m very happy with how I played and we played as a team in midweek," the midfielder told Milan Channel.

"We went into the Messina game with the right attitude. It was a delicate situation for us but we reacted like great champions."

The 4-1 win at the San Filippo now means that the Rossoneri, who face Lazio at the weekend, are now just five points behind Juve.

"We must continue on this road," added the Dutchman. "This is a high level championship and I am convinced that we will fight for the title until the very end."

Messina 1:4 AC Milan - match report
2.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Crespo 9, 64 (Mi), Tomasson 18, 92 (Mi), Zampagna 30 (Me)

Hernan Crespo bagged a brace and Andrea Pirlo saw his penalty saved, but Milan have rediscovered their form and close the gap on Juventus back to five points.

The Rossoneri's Scudetto hopes were in tatters after falling eight points behind leaders Juventus going into the Stadio San Filippo. Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi were out injured, but Carlo Ancelotti did not change his tactics. Messina were missing the suspended Ivica Iliev and were looking for their seventh home win of the season and had already beaten Milan 2-1 at the San Siro.

The reigning Italian Champions poured forward from the start and a great team move concluded with Gennaro Gattuso's shot off target. Moments later Marcos Cafu ran riot down the right and Kakha Kaladze blasted over the bar.

The deadlock was eventually broken after nine minutes with a fantastic move. Hernan Crespo and Kaka duetted all the way up the pitch before the Brazilian's backheel found the former Chelsea star for a cool finish.

The Sicilians hit back and a Coppola strike from 30 metres whistled wide of the target, but Milan were dominating and doubled their lead with another impressive move. Cafu charged down the flank and his cross was pushed into the path of Jon Dahl Tomasson from eight yards. The Rossoneri had scored just two goals in their last six games and here bagged as many in 18 minutes.

Alessandro Parisi showed why he is nicknamed 'The Sicilian Roberto Carlos' with a powerful free kick that nearly pushed Dida back into his net.

But the visitors were having the better of the play and Clarence Seedorf's rising strike was palmed out by an acrobatic Marco Storari.

Seedorf has been dropped recently in favour of Vikash Dhorasoo, but he had another great chance to make it 3-0.

Instead, Messina got themselves back into the match on the half-hour mark with a spectacular goal. Yanagisawa missed the Parisi cross, but Riccardo Zampagna caught it with a marvellous overhead kick that beat Dida at the near post.

Storari flew to palm a long-range Gattuso effort over the bar as it was end to end stuff at the Stadio San Filippo. Zampagna nearly drew Messina level before the break, but his header was too central and Dida smothered it with some difficulty.

The Sicilians were more aggressive after the break and there were penalty appeals for Alessandro Nesta's tug on Domenico Giampa'.

Milan went close to a third when Crespo turned Parisi and got his shot in from the edge of the box, but Storari managed to block the ball with his feet.

They finally made it 3-1 with another well-worked move, as Crespo and Kaka exchanged passes for the Argentine's low drive from nine yards.

Storari rushed off his line and brought down Kaka as he was about to score, but the goalkeeper was only shown a yellow card and the penalty awarded. Andrea Pirlo stepped up and Storari made up for his error by saving the spot-kick.

Storari performed another stunning point-blank save on Tomasson after Jaap Stam's cross had found its way through to the Dane.

Tomasson eventually got his goal in stoppages, springing the offside trap and dribbling round Rafael before Storari got a hand to his shot - not enough to keep it out of the net.

Messina: Storari; Zoro, Aronica, Rezaei, Parisi (Rafael 68); Zanchi; Giampà (D'Agostino 68), Coppola, Donati, Yanagisawa; Zampagna (Di Napoli 75)

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Stam 72), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà (Pancaro 88); Crespo (Ambrosini 75), Tomasson

Ref: Bertini

Missed penalty: Pirlo 73 (M)

Ancelotti demands Messina win
2.2 || Seamus

Milan have fallen eight points behind the leaders, but Carlo Ancelotti will change his tactics and expects the side to treat Messina like Man U.

“We have to win,” said the Coach. “There really is no other strategy to close the gap here and Wednesday’s game will be crucial. We need the same spirit as we’ll see against Manchester United in a fortnight.”

The Rossoneri’s title hopes are in tatters after two consecutive defeats to Livorno and Bologna, especially with both Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi out injured. Many believe he’ll be tempted to concentrate on recapturing the Champions’ League.

“Our squad is solid and motivated. The Serie A season certainly isn’t over yet and we will fight for all three available trophies. At least we have the opportunity to play again immediately and make up for those errors.”

However, Milan now find themselves just seven points ahead of still undefeated Inter and are beginning to glance behind them as well as in front.

“Considering Inter are closer to us than we are to Juventus, I’d say the Nerazzurri have a better chance of catching second place,” conceded Ancelotti.

With only the top two going automatically into the next edition of the Champions’ League, this makes the Messina trip even more important.

Changes are expected with a return to the so-called Christmas tree formation, as Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka can support lone striker Hernan Crespo.

“We always expect the very best from Kaka,” added the tactician when asked about the recently crowned Best Serie A Player of 2004. “He may not have had his best game against Bologna, but he remains the best Trequartista in the world. I have no doubts about that.”

Ancelotti also laughed off suggestions that Milan have lost their way of late after slipping up against the smaller sides.

“The truth is that we are probably playing better football than last season when we won the Scudetto. Sneaking wins against the little clubs, like late goals against Brescia and Empoli, when you’re not playing your best is how you win titles.”

Messina vs. AC Milan - match preview
1.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Messina are in search of their seventh home victory in this match, whilst Milan hope to clock up their seventh away win of the season.

The Giallorossi were thwarted by an angry Roma revival despite going 2-0 up last week, while the Rossoneri lost at home to Bologna. Both teams have been stung by defeat and will want to bounce straight back.

Messina Coach Bortolo Mutti must do without Mamede and Luca Fusco, both still injured. Andriy Shevchenko limped off on Sunday with an injury that should keep him out for three weeks, and Dario Simic and Pippo Inzaghi are still on the sidelines. Alessandro Nesta returns from suspension to play in the back four.

Messina (probable): Storaci, Zoro, Aronica, Rezaei, Parisi, Iliev, Coppola, Donati, Sullo, Amoroso, Di Napoli

Milan (probable): Dida, Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Maldini, Gattuso, Pirlo, Dhorasoo, Kaka, Crespo, Tomasson

Fiorentina seal deal for AC Milan's Donadel
1.2 || webmaster


New Fiorentina coach Dino Zoff wrapped up the signing yesterday of Chievo Verona midfielder Marco Donadel.

Donadel was on-loan at Chievo from AC Milan and Fiorentina have now taken over his loan to the end of this season with a view to a permanent deal in June.

If the midfielder impresses Zoff, it is more likely he will extend his loan at Fiorentina into next season as he has only just extended his contract with Milan through to 2009.

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