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The Archive

February 2006

Gattuso welcomes 'rival' Poulsen
28.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso says that he would have no problems with Milan’s proposed swoop for his ‘arch-rival’ Christian Poulsen.

Reports in Italy insist that the Denmark international is on his way, despite clearly angering Gattuso earlier this season for his aggressive style of play during the Champions League games against Schalke 04.

But Gattuso, who will miss Italy’s friendly against Germany on Wednesday through injury, has welcomed the midfielder.

“There will be no problems if he does sign for us,” Gattuso stated. “That’s because the club decide who comes here.

“The players have no right whatsoever to question the choices of the officials,” continued the ex-Rangers employee.

“I don’t even rule in my own home, so there is no way that I am going to tell Adriano Galliani who to sign and who not to sign.”

Poulsen doesn’t enjoy the best reputation in Italy given his past showings for both club and country.

The close attention he paid to Francesco Totti during Euro 2004 saw the Roma man spit in his face and subsequently banned from the rest of the tournament.

He was then widely criticised for the tough treatment he dished out on Milan playmaker Kaka in the first European Cup game between them this term.

Nevertheless, it does seem as if Milan will net him on a free transfer with sources suggesting that he has agreed a three-year deal worth £1.8m a term.

Poulsen is also wanted by Spanish outfit Villarreal.

Inzaghi feeling fine now
28.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi may have been left out of the latest Azzurri squad but he insists he’s in the form of his life.

The Milan man has suffered an injury-plagued last two seasons with some even suggesting that he would never recover from his ankle injury.

Yet Inzaghi is now back and grabbing the goals which Italian football fans had been accustomed to in the past.

“I’m feeling really good,” he told Italian news agency ANSA. “Just like I felt during my first four months at this club before that famous clash with Cristiano Lupatelli.

“Not even in the season after, when I scored 30 times, was I in such good shape as I am presently.

“I now am feeling good physically and able to train on a daily basis without any problems whatsoever.”

Inzaghi was widely considered by many as the club’s third choice striker behind Andriy Shevchenko and Alberto Gilardino.

However, he is now pushing for a first team shirt given his encouraging performances since the start of 2006.

Inzaghi has scored six times since Serie A resumed after Christmas, his latest coming on Sunday in the crucial 2-0 win at Palermo.

The former Atalanta and Juventus hitman is now hoping to finish the season strongly in an effort to also make the 2006 World Cup squad.

Milan leave Ronaldo to Inter
28.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan chief Adriano Galliani has today distanced himself from numerous players linked with his club, including Ronaldo.

The Rossoneri Vice-President opened the door to the Brazilian’s capture only last week after the striker said he felt unloved by the Real Madrid faithful.

However, the official has taken a backward step by suggesting that the South American is unlikely to arrive – thus easing the fears of Inter owner Massimo Moratti who said he would be shocked to see his former pupil head to the other side of the San Siro.

“He wouldn’t be the only one surprised to see Ronaldo in our shirt, it would surprise me too,” Galliani noted. “We already have four strikers who will all be confirmed for next season.”

Ronaldo, who may now rejoin Inter, isn’t the only name associated with the Italian giants, with further reports on Tuesday insisting that a deal had already been done to sign Christian Poulsen from Schalke 04.

“The stories saying that Poulsen has signed are not true,” he added. “All I will say is that we consider what our fans want, but as directors we take steps for the good of the team.”

One area which Milan will definitely refresh at the end of the current season is their ageing defence.

However, Galliani has admitted that it may be difficult to sign the players who they would like to in the summer.

“We have a tough task of bringing in two new defenders,” added the official, who went on to suggest that Massimo Oddo won’t arrive either. “Lazio won’t sell him,” he said.

Galliani also seemed to rule out proposed moves for the Lyon paid of Brazilian stopper Cris and Diarra.

“The French club won’t sell,” he noted. “If they do then they will want astronomical fees which only Chelsea can afford.”

Injured Gattuso returns home
27.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has been ruled out of Wednesday’s international friendly against Germany.

The Milan man was named in the squad but has today pulled out of the set-up after failing a medical.

The former Rangers crowd favourite picked up a slight injury in the 2-0 win at Palermo on Sunday which has compromised his presence in the Florence tie.

“Gattuso has come here to Coverciano with great pleasure so that he could spend the day with his teammates,” said boss Marcello Lippi.

“However, the knock which he sustained against Palermo yesterday means he will be unavailable against the Germans.

“He will undergo a few more tests with the medical staff later today before heading back to Milan.”

Lippi, who has recalled in-form Roma warrior Simone Perrotta, added that he will not be replacing Gattuso with any other player in the squad.

Palermo 0:2 AC Milan - post-match comments
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Giuseppe Papadopulo: “Our biggest regret is the fact we put in a great performance, yet couldn’t even get a point from it. I have nothing to reprimand my players for, as they were superior to Milan today.”

Carlo Ancelotti: “Having this group of strikers is a great asset for a coach. It’s no coincidence we’re the most prolific side in Serie A. The World Cup is an important objective for Pippo Inzaghi. Palermo were difficult to control, but we did well to maintain order and at the end we were able to break through.”

Palermo 0:2 AC Milan - match report
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 72 (M), Shevchenko pen 83 (M)

Pippo Inzaghi and an Andriy Shevchenko spot-kick wiped away the bitter memories of Milan's Coppa Italia defeat in Palermo.

The Rossoneri were already humiliated here last month in the Coppa Italia, losing 3-0 on their way to an exit from that competition, and were eager not to make the same mistake twice. Zeljko Kalac had a nightmare in goal that day and made his Serie A debut for the club, as Dida was out with a sprained ankle. Kakha Kaladze was on compassionate leave and Milan wore black armbands as a sign of mourning following the discovery of his brother Levan's body, having been kidnapped in 2001.

Milan had a strong start and Andujar's one-handed save on a Pippo Inzaghi effort came after play had been halted for a foul. The goalkeeper was tested again by the former Juventus man, stretching to block his header.

Alessandro Nesta handled the ball in the area, but the referee had already blown the whistle for David Di Michele's shove on his back.

Inzaghi was very active and volleyed Andrea Pirlo's cross wide from a promising position, while at the other end Pirlo intercepted a persistent Palermo move sparked by Mariano Gonzalez.

Jaap Stam pushed forward down the right flank and his fierce strike stung the palms of Andujar.

Milan kept knocking on Palermo's door and Kaka brought a desperate one-handed save out of Andujar, but Christian Zaccardo had to sprint to toe-poke the loose ball off Andriy Shevchenko's foot six yards in front of an empty net.

Kalac put some of his blushes from that Coppa Italia tie behind him with a great save on David Di Michele from six yards, parrying the shot with his feet after a Billy Costacurta defensive error.

Eugenio Corini curled his free kick from the very edge of the box over the bar, then Kalac again had to rush off his line to close down Andrea Caracciolo and Costacurta cleared the loose ball.

Shevchenko chested down a Stam cross after the restart, but drilled it wide of the near post.

Kaka was taking control of Milan and he tested Andujar with a powerful attempt from 25 metres, then his backheel set Inzaghi running. Gennaro Gattuso made a crucial defensive intervention on Simone Barone.

The irrepressible Kaka was brought down on the very edge of the penalty area and Pirlo's subsequent free kick was charged down.

Milan eventually broke the deadlock on 71 minutes with SuperPippo Inzaghi's looping header from a Johan Vogel cross. The forward rose between two defenders to leave Andujar motionless.

Andujar brought down Shevchenko just inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot. The Ukrainian took the penalty himself to seal the match.

Milan ended the game in 10 men for Stam's second bookable offence on Santana.

Palermo: Andujar; Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava, Grosso; Barone (Godeas 84), Corini (Tedesco 61), Mutarelli; Gonzalez, Di Michele (Santana 63); Caracciolo

Milan: Kalac; Stam, Nesta, Costacurta, Serginho; Gattuso (Seedorf 73), Pirlo (Jankulovski 78), Vogel; Kakà; Shevchenko (Rui Costa 84), Inzaghi

Ref: Pieri

Sent off: Stam 86 (M)

Ancelotti fuels Ronaldo rumours
26.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has fuelled speculation of Milan’s bid for Ronaldo by noting he wouldn’t be surprised by this signing.

“I’m not surprised by anything anymore, as I have seen everything in football,” smiled the Coach. “Ronaldo is still one of the best strikers in the world.”

The Brazilian has made it clear he is unhappy at Real Madrid and a summer move back to Serie A is on the cards, but it would be a shock to see the ex-Inter man join their biggest rivals.

Ancelotti has more pressing matters, as he is without the injured Dida, Paolo Maldini, Marcos Cafu and Massimo Ambrosini for today’s trip to Palermo.

Kakha Kaladze is on compassionate leave for the funeral of his brother Levan, whose body has been discovered after his kidnapping in 2001. Milan will wear black armbands as a sign of mourning.

“Zeljko Kalac is relaxed and has the opportunity to do well. He proved that he is secure when he came on against Bayern Munich and will be on that level in Palermo. The team is on good form at the moment and must make the most of that in Serie A as well as the Champions League.”

Apart from that substitute’s appearance against Bayern, Kalac has only played in the Coppa Italia this season and he had something of a nightmare in the 3-0 exit to Palermo earlier this month.

“We will be playing against a side that has already beaten us in the Coppa Italia and can be very dangerous on the counter-attack,” continued the tactician. “It is up to us to ensure they don’t repeat that performance.”

The Rossoneri are 10 points adrift of the leaders, but Ancelotti remains hopeful of completing an extraordinary comeback, especially as Juventus seem to be showing signs of wear and tear.

“It all depends on how the Bianconeri perform, so to a degree it’s out of our hands. They are now going at a normal pace after putting in an incredible first half of the season.”

Jaap Stam and Clarence Seedorf are not 100 per cent fit, but Ancelotti assured that Andriy Shevchenko would start with a new partner. “Pippo Inzaghi has done well when called upon and I hope he continues like that.

Milan squad: Fiori, Kalac, Favaretto; Costacurta, Jankulovski, Marzoratti, Nesta, Simic, Stam; Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Poulsen poached from Milan?
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

There are conflicting reports around Europe today, one claiming Milan have signed Christian Poulsen and another suggesting he has a deal with Villarreal.

This week Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani hinted that they were interested in taking the Danish midfielder, who so famously infuriated Francesco Totti, Kaka and Gennaro Gattuso with his rough style of marking.

There are claims in the Italian Press today that a deal has been struck for a three-year contract worth just over £1m per season for the Schalke 04 star who will be a free agent in the summer.

However, in Spain the newspapers are equally adamant that Villarreal have pipped them to the post with their own offer.

Poulsen is said to have agreed a contract until 2010 worth £1.6m per season with the Liga outfit.

The Spanish Press also maintains that Real Madrid are gearing up another massive bid to lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic away from Juventus.

With Ronaldo increasingly likely to walk out in the summer for a return to Serie A, possibly to Milan, the Swede has been pin-pointed as his ideal replacement.

‘As’ claim the Merengues have a £30m offer on the table for the player whose current contract with the Bianconeri expires in June 2008.

Stam sets sights on Paris
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Jaap Stam will leave Milan at the end of the season and insists he wants to go with the Champions League trophy in his hands.

“We want to reach the Final in Paris,” said the defender after holding Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw in Germany.

“We didn’t play very well in Munich, but the 1-1 away draw is a good result for the first leg. We’ll need to be very careful in the second, as we’re not through to the next phase yet.”

Before then, the Rossoneri need to focus on Serie A and ensure they hang on to second place, starting with Sunday’s trip to Palermo.

Stam, who has already signed a two-year contract with Ajax to begin in the summer, is a doubt for this match.

“I had a slight ankle problem after the Munich game, but I have rested over the past couple of days and feel better. I’ll train with the rest of my teammates and think I can make it for Palermo.”

Milan have already been on the end of a hammering at the hands of the Rosanero with a 3-0 Coppa Italia defeat on Coach Giuseppe Papadopulo’s debut.

“This is a very important game for us,” insisted the Dutchman. “We want to win, but it won’t be easy against a Palermo side that has already beaten us. We know our own strength and on Sunday we must prove it to get the three points.”

Meanwhile, Milan teammate Johann Vogel is looking ahead to the second leg of the Champions League meeting with Bayern, where he is set to replace the suspended Gennaro Gattuso.

“I would be ready to take his place, although I do interpret the position differently from both Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. I struggled to fill in before, but I play my own way and have taken a wide right role at PSV Eindhoven.”

Papa expects Milan revenge mission
25.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Palermo humiliated Milan in the Coppa Italia, so Giuseppe Papadopulo and Denis Godeas expect a furious fightback when they meet again on Sunday.

“There is a very difficult game ahead of us,” noted the Rosanero Coach. “They will want to make up for their Coppa exit, especially now that they are back on track in Serie A. Above all, though, they want points.”

That 3-0 result in the Cup was Papadopulo’s official debut on the Palermo bench and he has taken the side from strength to strength, qualifying for the final 16 of the UEFA Cup this week.

“Only on Sunday will we see what benefits in terms of confidence we will reap from beating Slavia Prague,” added the former Lazio boss.

January signing Godeas was on target for that UEFA victory and is hoping to continue that form against Milan at the weekend.

“We’re not even thinking about that 3-0 win in the Coppa Italia,” insisted Godeas. “This will be a very different game, although we are in form at the moment and capable of beating anyone. I may not be playing much at the moment but the fewer the appearances, the greater the satisfaction when I do play.”

Dida targets Bayern comeback
24.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Dida is facing a race against time to be fit for the return leg of Milan’s crucial Champions League match against Bayern Munich in less than two weeks.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was carried off during his side’s 1-1 draw with Bayern after hurting his ankle during an awkward landing.

Tests have revealed that the injury amounts to nothing more serious than a sprain, but it does put him in doubt for a key stage in the Rossoneri’s season.

The weekend after the clash with the German champions, Milan face League leaders Juventus – two matches that will determine their season.

While the Champions League remains their primary objective, a second Serie A win of the season over the Bianconeri will cut the Turin side’s lead at the top of the table to seven points, assuming that there has been no change in the meantime.

Suddenly, there could still be plenty to play for in what has been a rollercoaster season for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Should Dida fail to recover, however, Zeljko Kalac will deputise.

The Australian, who will definitely appear between the posts for the upcoming matches against Palermo and Empoli, has not convinced in his rare appearances for the Italian giants.

He will certainly be hoping for an improvement in form after his last showing against the Rosanero, when he conceded three goals, while Milan will be crossing their fingers for a fit-again Dida in less than a fortnight.

Arsenal monitor Milan starlet
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Arsenal are pondering a move for another of Italian football’s bright young things – Milan teenager Federico Piazza.

After robbing the Italian game of Arturo Lupoli, who left Parma for Highbury in July 2004, they now have their eyes on the Rossoneri midfielder.

Piazza is highly regarded in the Italian game and is currently seducing scouts at the annual Viareggio youth team tournament in Tuscany.

Although Milan understandably want to keep him on their books, a number of clubs are ready to take advantage of his current contractual situation.

The playmaker has yet to sign a professional contract with the Italian giants which means he would actually be available on a free transfer.

Arsenal, according to reports in the peninsula on Thursday, are understood to be assessing a move for the 18-year-old.

Premiership rivals Chelsea, as well as a host of Italian clubs, also have the youngster’s name on their assessment lists.

Sheva urges Ronaldo raid
23.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s attempts to sign Real Madrid’s Ronaldo are gathering pace with Andriy Shevchenko the latest to sing his praises. “We can’t overlook a player like him,” he said.

Ronaldo announced that he was unhappy at Real Madrid on the eve of his side’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal this week and was subsequently told by Adriano Galliani, live on television, that he would welcome the Brazil legend to Milan. “Our door is always open for someone like him,” he said.

Now Shevchenko has sent more encouraging words to the player who has grown tired of the deterioration in his relationship with Real fans, who now boo him on a regular basis at the Bernabeu.

“The Brazilian doesn’t seem happy at Madrid,” said the Rossoneri striker. “Certainly, in a situation like this, we can’t overlook a player like him.

“It is clear that Ronaldo needs a new stimulus and in my opinion he is certainly still an excellent striker,” he added. “This is not an opportunity Milan should miss out on.”

Milan will doubtless find competition for the services of ‘The Phenomenon’, although any buying club would need to free Ronaldo from the golden handcuffs tying him to Los Merengues.

The disgruntled South American is currently earning over £4m a year in the Spanish capital and his contract does not run out until 2008.

Manchester United and Inter are the two clubs most likely to challenge the Rossoneri for the mercurial centre-forward.

Dida tests rule out fracture
22.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have confirmed that Dida’s injury is only a sprained ankle after initial worries that the goalkeeper had suffered a fracture.

The Brazilian international fell awkwardly 20 minutes into the second half of last night’s 1-1 draw in the Champions League with Bayern Munich.

The game was held up for a few minutes as he was stretchered off at the Allianz Arena and was immediately rushed to hospital for an X-Ray.

Although the injury is not as serious as first feared, there is a lesion around the right ankle and Milan doctors are hesitating before setting a date for his comeback.

It’s believed Dida will definitely miss the second leg of the Champions League clash on March 8.

Gennaro Gattuso is also out of that tie after picking up a yellow card, while Marcos Cafu and Paolo Maldini are major doubts.

The 33-year-old ‘keeper had experienced a busy first half stopping an almost certain goal from Bayern forward Roy Makaay, then blocking a free kick from fellow Brazilian Lucio.

Substitute ‘keeper Zeljko Kalac took over and the former Perugia man helped Milan become the first side to avoid defeat at the new stadium.

Following his examination, Dida returned to Milan with the rest of the team last night and underwent further tests to confirm the injury.

Penalty award angers Magath
22.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Bayern Munich boss Felix Magath was fuming at the referee’s decision to award a penalty to Milan in last night’s Champions League match. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

Milan were offered a lifeline when Ismael appeared to handle a cross from the left. The ball would have hit his chest but he failed to move his arm in time, resulting in a penalty award for the Italians.

“I’ve never seen anything like that decision in the Champions League,” he said. “I’ve never seen a penalty awarded for something so unjustly.”

Magath was clearly put out by his side losing their 15-match winning record in the Allianz Arena and feels his men could have won, but he remains confident for the return leg in two weeks time.

“I don’t at all think that our chances of qualifying have been reduced,” he said. “Perhaps we could have made it 2-1 but the scoreline will do.”

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti partially agreed with his opposite number but insisted that the ball had hit the Bayern defender’s hand.

“Perhaps it wasn’t a penalty,” he conceded after the 1-1 draw. “But Ismael hit the ball with his hand and he had plenty of time to avoid doing so.”

Ancelotti content with German draw
22.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti maintains Milan deserved their draw in Munich and explains what went wrong in the first half.

“This was a game we could’ve won or lost,” he said after the 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena. “It was tough at the start and Bayern’s aggression inevitably puts opponents under pressure, but we started to move the ball around after about half an hour.”

The Rossoneri were timid in the first half, but the tension got to Gennaro Gattuso and he was booked – ruling him out of the second leg – for a scuffle with Michael Ballack.

“The problem was that they had a strong opening and played the long ball game, so we struggled to get into the match. After the opening 25 minutes we were really under pressure, but when we started pushing with the full-backs then the game changed. Gattuso is an important player, especially against such a physical side, so his absence will be felt in the second leg.”

Ballack scored the opener with a fine strike from the outside of his right foot, although there seemed to be a defensive error to open up the space.

“It was a corner kick and the midfielders pushed up, but the defence stayed back and that is what opened up a gap that Ballack took advantage of,” continued Ancelotti.

Andriy Shevchenko equalised from the penalty spot following Valerien Ismael’s handling offence.

“It was not a natural movement of the arm. There was a handling offence and he shouldn’t have placed it across his chest like that.”

Dida was stretchered off during the second half with a suspected sprained right ankle after falling awkwardly on the choppy Munich turf.

“He has gone to hospital for x-rays, but we hope it is only a sprain,” explained the Coach.

This was a special match, as it experimented the new system between the referee and his assistants, who were in constant communication with each other through an earpiece and microphone.

“If it can help the referee, then I think it can only be a positive advancement. It doesn’t interfere with play and looks like an easily implemented piece of technology.”

Meanwhile, Vice-President Adriano Galliani admitted there was some truth in the reports that Milan are tracking Christian Poulsen, the Dane who infuriated Kaka, Gennaro Gattuso and Italy’s Francesco Totti with his rugged style of play.

“For now we are thinking about this season. I will not confirm and won’t deny, which of course usually means I confirm! I’ll stay silent on our transfer policy. Poulsen is a tough midfielder and could prove useful.”

Michael Ballack scored Bayern’s opener this evening and is another transfer target for the Rossoneri.

“We won’t go for Ballack, because we already have Kaka in that position,” he assured. “He’s a great player, but we have an even better one and I don't know where Ballack would fit into our team.”

Galliani also believed Milan could've taken more from this first leg in Germany.

“After a first half in which we struggled, we definitely had the chances to win it on the counter-attack. Now we await news from Dida, who at the very least has sprained his ankle and we’re hoping there are no fractures.”

Milan open to Ronaldo move
22.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Ronaldo has reaffirmed his desire to walk out on Real Madrid, as Milan publicly confess they’d welcome the ex-Inter star "with open arms."

“He is a great striker who belongs to all of football and I’m sure that if he decides to move then he’ll find open doors at all clubs in the world,” said Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani on Sky Italia. “Milan too? Of course.”

Ronaldo was listening in to the interview and again stated that he is open to suggestions for a switch in the summer.

“We’ll see what happens at the end of the season and if we win some silverware, then we’ll decide on my future,” said Il Fenomeno after last night’s shock 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal.

“This is a marvellous city with spectacular fans, but I haven’t felt any affection in the Bernabeu yet. I have often left the field to jeers. If I am in the way here, then I can leave. I am a professional and will respect my contract, then we will see what happens.”

Ronaldo was a hero for Inter despite injuries that kept him out for almost two years, but earned the scorn of many Serie A fans when he demanded a move after the 2002 World Cup.

“I don’t want to talk about specific options for next year, as that wouldn’t be very professional of me. Besides, I want to say that it’s not certain I’m going. I just want the Real fans to have a little more patience with me.”

The Merengues star has been under fire in Spain recently with questions asked about his discipline off the field.

“I’m not on form yet. I had a great start with seven goals in as many games, but an ankle injury caused problems and I’m slowly getting back into shape. My weight hasn’t changed and now the Spanish Press is focusing more on Antonio Cassano’s girth than mine!”

Ex-Roma prodigy Cassano has barely played since moving in January and he didn’t set foot on the field during the Champions League loss to Arsenal.

“I’m a bit surprised by that myself, so you’d have to ask the Coach. Cassano has great quality and incredible strength, so I’m sure he’ll play eventually. It isn’t easy to play against a team that comes here to defend. We gave Arsenal some opportunities and Thierry Henry knows how to make the most of that space. The qualification is still open.”

Ronaldo knows a great deal about the heartache of serious injuries and had a message for Roma captain Francesco Totti, who will be out for three months with a fractured ankle.

“I saw Totti’s injury on television and it looked horrific. I want to wish him all the best for a fast recovery. He’s a great player and a friend, so I hope he gets to play in the World Cup. The important thing is to maintain his motivation, as that can speed up the process.”

Bayern Munich 1:1 AC Milan - match report
21.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Ballack 23 (B), Shevchenko pen 58 (M)

An Andriy Shevchenko penalty cancelled out Michael Ballack's opener to earn Milan a creditable 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich, but Dida was stretchered off.

The Rossoneri came to Munich without the injured Paolo Maldini, Massimo Ambrosini and Marcos Cafu, but Andriy Shevchenko returned from a tendon problem. Bayern had international goalkeeper Oliver Kahn as a major doubt with a bruised right thigh and he pulled out during the warm-up, not even taking a place on the bench. The Germans had won all 15 of their fixtures at the Allianz Arena since moving to this stadium, including a 2-1 win over Juventus in the Group phase.

Shevchenko took a nasty knock to the back when Martin Demichelis went in knee first after less than a minute of play, but was able to continue. Bayern had a very aggressive start and maintained most of the possession early on, but Michael Ballack nodded a Hasan Salihamidzic cross over the bar.

Dida flapped a Willy Sagnol free kick off Lucio's head, but Milan were dangerous on the counter-attack and Ismael charged down Alberto Gilardino's effort. Andrea Pirlo found space down the right and Gilardino's header was off target.

However, Bayern took a deserved lead with a splendid strike from Milan transfer target Ballack after 23 minutes. Gilardino's defensive header was captured five metres outside the area and thumped into the far top corner off the outside of his right foot.

Dida performed a desperate reaction save to prevent Roy Makaay netting a second moments later, at full stretch along the ground to fingertip it away. The goalkeeper also smothered a powerful but central Lucio free kick and a Claudio Pizarro effort.

Salihamidzic drilled wide of the upright and Gilardino had another promising opportunity snuffed out by the German defence.

There was a scuffle between Salihamidzic and Gennaro Gattuso after the restart, while the Rossoneri were more alert than they had been in the first half and Shevchenko was closed down with some difficulty.

On 56 minutes Serginho's cross was parried by a Valerien Ismael handling offence and the referee pointed to the spot. Shevchenko converted the penalty to beat goalkeeper Michael Rensing and draw Milan level for his 41st Champions League goal.

There was a promising counter-attack soon after with Kaka and Shevchenko duetting up the field, but Gilardino was leaning back and ballooned over the bar from 10 yards.

Dida fell awkwardly when coming up to catch a corner kick and seemed to sprain his right ankle, stretchered off to make way for Australian Zeljko Kalac.

Clarence Seedorf threaded through for Shevchenko to spring the offside trap, but Rensing stuck out a hand to charge down his finish from eight yards.

Ballack slapped Gattuso on the back of the head in an off the ball scuffle and the Italian let the tension get to him, as he hacked down the goalscorer moments later and the yellow card rules him out of the second leg.

Bayern Munich: Rensing; Sagnol, Lucio, Ismael, Lahm; Salihamidzic (Karimi 58), Demichelis, Ze Roberto (Scholl 76); Ballack; Makaay (Guerrero 79), Pizarro

Milan: Dida (Kalac 68); Stam, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso (Vogel 85), Pirlo, Seedorf (Jankulovski 90); Kakà; Shevchenko, Gilardino

Ref: De Bleeckere (Bel)

Kaka makes eyes at Ballack
21.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Kaka has launched his own personal bid to lure Michael Ballack from Bayern Munich to Milan. “I’ll invite him to come over for a coffee,” he said.

Milan are in Germany preparing for their Champions League Round of 16 first leg match against Bayern tonight, but instead of the usual war cry one would normally expect ahead of a big European game Kaka only had words of praise for one of his opposite numbers.

“I like Ballack very much and I would happily play alongside him,” said the Brazilian playmaker.

“He is a clever player who has excellent technique and would fit in very well at Milan.”

The 29-year-old is out of contract in the summer after having turned down his club’s offer to keep him in Bavaria, but Ballack has yet to decide upon his next career move.

Real Madrid, Manchester United and Inter are interested in the all-action midfielder with Massimo Moratti particularly keen on luring the Germany captain to Inter to help end their long-awaited title drought.

However, a successful Champions League run and improving League fortunes would both boost Milan’s coffers and possibly also turn Ballack’s head towards the red half of Milan.

For his part, Kaka is certainly prepared to do his bit. “I’ll invite him to come for a coffee with me in Milan,” he said. “Perhaps he will like it and decide to stay.”

Milan move for Poulsen
21.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Despite having done his utmost to upset Milan’s players when last they met, it seems as though Christian Poulsen is set to become their new teammate.

Poulsen’s physical display and rough treatment of a number of players during Schalke 04’s Champions League encounters with the Italian giants this season was a source of great irritation to the Rossoneri.

But it seems that the club’s directors have been won over by the Danish midfielder’s combative display and have agreed to sign him in the summer on a free.

Poulsen is renowned for his ability to get under the skin of his opponents and was the target of Francesco Totti’s projectile saliva, when the Roma man was infamously sent home in disgrace from Euro 2004 for spitting at him.

After protracted secret negotiations, in which Poulsen proved himself no less obstinate than he does on the field of play, it appears that an agreement has finally been reached on a three-year deal worth £1.7m to the 26-year-old.

How the Rossoneri - particularly Gennaro Gattuso, with whom Poulsen had several run-ins during their last match - respond to the news remains to be seen.

We can beat Bayern, says Ancelotti
20.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti rates Bayern Munich as one of the favourites for the Champions League, but believes his Milan side can see them off in the last 16.

The Rossoneri face the German champions at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday, looking to lay the foundations for qualification ahead of the return leg.

Although Ancelotti respects Bayern, who finished second behind Juventus in the group stages, he is in optimistic mood.

“Bayern are one of the favourites for the trophy,” he stated. “They are a big club with an impressive tradition.

“However, we are not too bad either. I am looking forward to seeing their ground from the inside and we are ready to be the first side to stop their run."

Bayern have amazingly won all 15 of their home matches since moving to their new home at the start of the season, a fact which the Bavarian club are holding on to.

“We are in confident mood,” responded German boss Felix Magath, whose side beat Juventus 2-1 in the same complex late last year. “We are extremely optimistic that we will reach the quarter-finals.”

Milan, who have won all three previous knock-out encounters with Bayern, seem to have re-found their touch with three successive League wins but Ancelotti has some injury problems.

He is without Marcos Cafu and Paolo Maldini, while Jaap Stam remains a doubt with a slight fitness problem.

"We will replace them but their charisma could have been very helpful for us," admitted the former Juventus maestro.

“Stam? We’ll have to evaluate him but there are no problems with Andriy Shevchenko. He will start.”

The Ukrainian will probably begin alongside Alberto Gilardino, with in-form Brazilian Kaka in close support.

"I am in top shape and this game is something really big for me. I want to win the trophy in Paris," the South American stated.

Bayern will look to inspirational midfielder Michael Ballack, a transfer target for numerous Italian clubs, to make the difference.

While Milan could be aided by the possible absence of German ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who picked up a thigh problem in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Hannover. Michael Rensing is on stand-by.

Milan (probable): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Stam, Serginho; Seedorf, Pirlo, Gattuso; Kaka; Shevchenko, Gilardino

Zebina set for Milan swap
20.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus plan to swap Jonathan Zebina with Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini, according to reports.

The French defender is set to leave the Stadio Delle Alpi in the summer and the Rossoneri are keen.

Zebina, who has clashed with the Bianconeri after having a pay-rise request rejected, would resolve the San Siro side’s right-back problems given that Marcos Cafu and Jaap Stam are set to quit the outfit.

Whispers in the peninsula claim that Juve are ready to release him to their friendly rivals, but only in return for Ambrosini.

The Italian international is unhappy at his lack of use at Milan recently and may be looking for a change of environment.

Juve are searching for a new central midfielder after also being strongly linked with Simone Barone of Palermo.

Cafu: I am a new man!
19.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Marcos Cafu believes knee surgery will add years to his career and that his injury problems are behind him.

“After the tempest comes the rainbow,” smiled the Milan star who has struggled with fitness worries and his father’s illness.

“These last four months have been terrible for me, but these problems have made me stronger. I will take part in my fourth World Cup, but my heart is beating as if it were my first.”

There were reports that the Brazilian would end his career at Sao Paolo, but the 34-year-old has no intention of hanging up his boots yet.

This week Milan doctor Massimiliano Sala stated that the former Roma man can play another eight years considering his overall fitness levels.

“It’s good to have this constitution. How about I play another decade instead of just eight years?” he joked.

Cafu went under the knife in Rio de Janeiro to correct a knee problem, but also had surgery on his nose and throat to ease his breathing.

“I am now a new man and soon I will be able to literally fly on the football field!”

Meanwhile, there was good news for Milan, as Oliver Kahn is an injury doubt for Tuesday’s Champions League clash. “I still feel pain in my thigh, but I want to play at all costs. We’ll see what happens,” said the Bayern Munich goalkeeper who suffered a deep cut to his right leg.

Ancelotti has sights on Juve
19.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti claims he hasn’t given up on the Scudetto, although he is focusing on Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

“The team is improving steadily and we tried to double our lead repeatedly, only coming under a little bit of pressure at the end,” he insisted after tonight’s 1-0 win over Cagliari.

The match was eventually decided by Alberto Gilardino’s penalty for a debatable challenge on Pippo Inzaghi as he squeezed between three defenders.

“There were several little fouls that came together to bring him down,” added Ancelotti. “I don’t think it was a scandal to receive that spot-kick.”

That result – and today’s draws at the Stadio San Filippo and Stadio Picchi – has put the Rossoneri clear of Inter in second place and cut the gap from leaders Juventus to 10 points.

“Now we must focus on playing well against Bayern on Tuesday evening, although we can afford to look forward in the Serie A table. We can see Juventus on the horizon.”

Cagliari were already furious last week when they were beaten 4-3 by Roma, claiming there were a series of refereeing errors going against them.

“We certainly don’t get given these kinds of penalties,” noted Nedo Sonetti. “Of course Milan deserved to win the match, but in that incident it seems that cunning was rewarded.”

Nonetheless, the Sardinians impressed at the San Siro and emerged with only a slender defeat.

“At the start we intended to simply close Milan down, but after the break we came out of our shell and only lacked that final touch. I’m glad the team reacted to the situation, even if we need to start racking up points now.”

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

Source: Football Italia

Scorer: Gilardino pen 24 (M)

An Alberto Gilardino penalty proved enough to dispose of Cagliari, as Milan go clear in second place.

The Rossoneri are on a roll and came into this game having scored nine goals in their previous two encounters with Treviso and Reggina. Cagliari's away form was far from reassuring, having lost 11 of their 13 ties and conceded a whopping 31 goals.

Andriy Shevchenko returned to the squad, albeit on the bench, but flu-ridden Andrea Pirlo and the injured Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and Massimo Ambrosini remained sidelined. Antonio Langella was suspended for the Sardinians, so they switched to a 4-4-2 system. Kakha Kaladze was in the starting 11 the day after the body of his younger brother Levan, who was kidnapped in 2001, was identified.

Gennaro Gattuso required a well-timed tackle to stop David Suazo's counter-attack, while Serginho's sweeping cross from the left was nodded wide of the near post by Pippo Inzaghi.

Inzaghi is on fine form at the moment and caused panic in the area when he squeezed through three Cagliari defenders and was sandwiched for what the referee considered to be a foul. Alberto Gilardino rolled in the penalty for his 15th goal of the season to give Milan the lead.

There was another blow for Cagliari, who lost Nelson Abeijon to an injury after just 27 minutes and introduced Milan youth product Budel.

Antonio Chimenti tipped a Serginho free kick out from under the crossbar and from the resulting corner Jaap Stam volleyed over the target.

Chimenti was tested with a fantastic one-handed save on what would've been a magnificent Kaka curling yet powerful snapshot from the edge of the box.

A deflected Johan Vogel effort looped just over the bar, but there was controversy when Kaka's pass sent Inzaghi alone on goal only to be halted for an incorrect offside decision. Nonetheless, the striker had ballooned his finish over.

Stam seems to have finally put his injury worries behind him, as he sprinted past three defenders before earning a corner kick on the stroke of half-time.

Stam picked up a knock in the first half and made way for Dario Simic. Suazo's low free kick was wide of the target and Serginho fell under Bega's challenge just outside the area and the referee waved play on.

Daniele Conti's free kick took a slight deflection off Gattuso to turn it off target. Milan were struggling to break down an organised Cagliari side and Manuel Rui Costa replaced Gilardino, switching to the Christmas Tree formation.

Chimenti dropped a deflected Serginho cross and Inzaghi and Rui Costa were almost able to take full advantage of this howler.

A fine team move eventually fell to Kaka, but he couldn't get power behind the finish from six yards on Gattuso's floated pass.

Cagliari remained dangerous on the counter-attack and it took a decisive Serginho tackle to prevent Mauro Esposito sweeping in Suazo's cut-back nine minutes from time.

Clarence Seedorf looked set to close up the game in Milan's favour with an impressive run and combination with Kaka, but Chimenti stuck out a foot to parry his precise angled drive.

Substitute Marek Jankulovski's cross couldn't get a final touch in off Rui Costa or Inzaghi in stoppages.

Milan: Dida; Stam (Simic 46), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Vogel, Seedorf; Kaka (Jankulovski 85); Inzaghi, Gilardino (Rui Costa 72)

Cagliari: Chimenti; Ferri, Bega, Canini, Agostini (Cossu 86); Conticchio (Capone 68), Abeijon (Budel 27), Conti, Gobbi; Esposito, Suazo

Ref: Morganti

Ancelotti stages Bayern rehearsal
18.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes that today’s performance against Cagliari will prepare Milan for their upcoming Champions League match with Bayern Munich.

“This is an important test ahead of the European tie,” explained the Coach. “We are improving and must confirm the good work we have done recently.”

The Rossoneri went through a slump after Christmas and were knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Palermo, but seem to have turned a corner with comfortable victories over Treviso and Reggina in which they scored nine goals and conceded just one.

Those results also allowed Milan to recapture second place in Serie A alongside Inter, but they must face Bayern without Paolo Maldini, Massimo Ambrosini and Marcos Cafu.

“They will be sent off to rest and recuperate in a warmer climate than Milan. It’s very cold here and we want to give them the opportunity to be ready for the second leg of the Champions League tie.”

Andrea Pirlo will miss today’s match with Cagliari due to a bout of flu, while Andriy Shevchenko returns to the squad after a slight injury.

“We will lead in to the Bayern game in the best possible condition,” assured Ancelotti.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac; Costacurta, Kaladze, Marzoratti, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic, Stam; Gattuso, Kaka, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Shevchenko, Inzaghi.

Kaladze's brother found dead
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Rossoneri defender Kakha Kaladze ha found closure to a tragic story.

His brother Levan was kidnapped in May 2001 and attempts to trace him proved fruitless. The young man’s body has now been identified and four men suspected of his kidnap and murder have been arrested between Russia, Switzerland, France and Georgia.

Levan Kaladze was 21 years old and studying medicine when he was taken from outside the hospital in Tblisi, the Georgian capital.

Pirlo skips Cagliari clash
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan welcome back Andriy Shevchenko, but will be without Andrea Pirlo for Saturday’s encounter with Cagliari.

The midfielder has been left at home to recover from a bout of flu, as medical staff hope to have him back in shape for the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening.

It’s believed that Johann Vogel will step into his deep midfield position, although another option tested out in that role is Manuel Rui Costa. Shevchenko returns to the squad after missing last week’s 4-1 win at Reggina with a minor injury.

Milan ponder Henry bid
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are planning to enter the race to sign Arsenal striker Thierry Henry in the summer, according to reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri, having all but given up on the Scudetto race, are focusing their efforts on winning the Champions League this season but - with a tough test against Bayern Munich in prospect this month - the Italian giants are already beginning to plan their transfer policy for next term.

The ageing defence is in line for a complete overhaul, with Lyon’s Cris at the top of the list of candidates to marshal a rearguard that will be devoid of Jaap Stam, Billy Costacurta and Marcos Cafu next year.

Massimo Oddo of Lazio has also been marked out for a return to the club where he started his professional career, while Dida’s below-par performances could result in the return to favour of Christian Abbiati – currently on loan at Juventus – or the acquisition of Livorno’s promising goalkeeper Marco Amelia.

In midfield Milan look set to fight tooth and nail with Inter for the services of Lyon’s ball-winner Mahamadou Diarra, but it is in attack where they are planning their greatest coup – the purchase of Henry from Arsenal.

Henry has maintained that he wants to remain with the Premiership side and sign a new deal with the Gunners.

However, the World Cup-winning Frenchman is said to be growing frustrated with his side’s apparent decline and has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.

Although beset by crippling injury problems this term, the Londoners have failed to compensate for the loss of captain Patrick Vieira to Juventus in the summer and have concentrated their recruitment policy on young players with potential rather than established stars.

As a result Arsenal are a side in transition, lying fifth in the Premiership and in danger of missing out on a Champions League berth next season.

Regardless of whether or not Arsène Wenger’s men finish fourth, Henry may decide to look elsewhere to achieve success in the tournament he has so far yet to come close to winning.

Milan would be prime candidates for the quicksilver forward, given their Champions League pedigree - the Rossoneri have won Europe’s premier club competition no fewer than six times.

However, they will have to contend with Barcelona, who have already expressed their admiration for the striker, and possibly also misfiring Inter.

Milan prefer European title
17.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have today insisted that winning the Champions League was always their primary objective for this season.

“The European Cup is the main target for us,” chief Adriano Galliani stated. “We believe that it is more important to be European champions rather than champions of Italy.”

Winning on the continent is now the club’s only realistic aim following their inability to keep up with Juventus in the League and their Coppa Italia exit to Palermo.

However, they face a real test of their ability when they take on Bundesliga pacesetters Bayern Munich in the last 16 next week.

“A prediction for the Milan-Bayern game? My 20 years of experience here has taught me to not try and predict the outcome of matches,” he added.

“Milan and Bayern are clearly two great football teams.

“I will say though that I think the draw procedure for the first knock-out stage after the group phases is wrong.

“With Milan-Bayern, Chelsea-Barcelona and Real Madrid-Arsenal, the competition will immediately lose three giants.”

Although Galliani is eager for his men to make up for last year’s disastrous Champions League Final against Liverpool, he isn’t totally forgetting about the club’s domestic commitments.

“Anything can still happen even if the 12 points between Juventus and us is one that can’t be cut, not because of our faults but because of Juve’s merits,” he added.

“However, we hope to keep collecting the victories in the hope of beating Inter into second place.”

Serginho calls in Cris
16.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan defender Serginho has urged his club to solve their defensive problems by signing Lyon stopper Cris.

The Italian giants are set to rejuvenate their ageing defence in the summer and the South American has been strongly linked.

Now Serginho has publicly given his backing to the proposed move by insisting his countryman is well suited to the Italian game.

“Cris has matured greatly over the last few years in Europe,” stated the left-back. “He is ready to play in such a competitive League as Serie A.”

The Italian giants are monitoring the player closely, a fact underlined when general director Ariedo Braida recently watched the man in action against Bordeaux.

Milan, who will lose Jaap Stam to Ajax in the summer, are said to be preparing a £12m bid – even if the player himself is remaining cool.

“Things change in football all of the time and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” said Cris.

“I am aware of the Milan rumours, but nobody has contacted me for the moment.

“For now, I’m very happy at Lyon and have adapted well here. I presently see no reason to move, but that may change in the future.”

Milan in the money
16.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are the third richest club in the world, according to the annual Deloitte Football Money League.

The Rossoneri maintained their position in the elite list after netting £158m in revenue for the 2004-05 season.

Juventus moved up from five to four, replacing Premiership giants Chelsea, thanks to the £154.9m they bagged.

Real Madrid came top after Manchester United’s eight-year reign came to an end, given the £20m difference in earnings last season.

Inter were the third highest placed Italian outfit in ninth, while capital giants Roma and Lazio – despite their financial troubles – were also in the Top 20.

The Deloitte report is based on revenue which is built up through the sales of such items as tickets, merchandise and broadcasting rights.

It does not take into account any money which may have been accumulated through player transfer fees.

Top 20
1(2) Real Madrid £186.2m
2(1) Man Utd £166.4m
3(3) Milan £158m
4(5) Juventus £154.9m
5(4) Chelsea £149.1m
6(7) Barcelona £140.4m
7(9) Bayern Munich £128m
8(10) Liverpool £122.4m
9(8) Inter £119.7m
10(6) Arsenal £115.7m
11(12) Roma £89m
12(11) Newcastle £87.1m
13(14) Spurs £70.6m
14(17) Schalke £65.8m
15(-) Lyon £62.7m
16(13) Celtic £62.6m
17(16) Man City £60.9m
18(-) Everton £60m
19(-) Valencia £57.2m
20(15) Lazio £56.1m

Milan eyeing Emre move
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have been linked with a move for Newcastle United midfielder Emre Belozoglu, according to reports in Italy.

The Turkey international has struggled to settle in England, where injury has played a major part in his lack of appearances for the club that has endured a miserable Premiership season.

Emre is said to be keen on a return to Italy, and particularly the city of Milan, where he enjoyed four years with the Nerazzurri.

Although he is a former Inter man, the 25-year-old is eager to move to the side he rejected in 2001 – when Turkish boss Fatih Terim was in charge – in preference for the outfit from Via Durini.

While few players have made the move from Milan to Inter, a number have gone in the opposite direction with superb results – Christian Vieri being a notable exception.

Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf are just two examples of current players who have achieved great things with the Rossoneri.

I’m staying, says Inzaghi
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Striker Filippo Inzaghi has denied speculation linking him with a possible move away from Milan. “I am happy to stay,” he said.

It was reported last week that Inzaghi had grown frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities and that, despite being happily settled in the city, was considering leaving the Rossoneri in the summer, possibly for Roma.

However, after scoring a hat-trick against Reggina on Sunday in the absence of Andriy Shevchenko, Inzaghi has insisted that he has no intention of following in the footsteps of Christian Vieri by leaving the club.

“I am happy to stay with Milan,” he said. “I feel like part of the family here and I’m enjoying playing for this side.”

Super Pippo also expressed his gratitude to the Italian giants for sticking by him during the two-year injury nightmare that threatened to end his career.

“I am fit again now and I would like to thank Milan, who have always made me feel important and have never lacked any affection towards me,” he noted.

The 32-year-old is hoping to earn a regular place in the side in order to persuade Marcello Lippi to take him to the World Cup with the Azzurri this summer.

Cafu to have knee surgery
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s defensive problems have deepened with the news that Marcos Cafu will require surgery.

The World Cup winner has been struggling with a knee problem recently and scans have confirmed meniscus damage.

The veteran full-back, who has already had a campaign plagued by injury and personal problems, will go under the knife this week.

Cafu will be allowed to undergo the procedure in his homeland in the presence of Milan doctor Massimiliano Sala.

It’s unclear at this stage how long the South American will be unavailable for even if there are hopes that he could be back in action in about a month.

Milan haven’t had the easiest of times with regard to their rearguard, one which has been accused of simply now being too old.

Alessandro Costacurta and Jaap Stam, who will join Ajax in the summer, are well into their thirties and no longer guarantee the performances of the past.

Captain Paolo Maldini has also been missed this term after spending a lengthy spell on the treatment table.

Although the former Italian international is on the road to recovery, he’s eager to not rush his return – despite his club’s needs.

“Everything is fine with regard to my physical condition,” Maldini said on Monday. “I’ve been training with the squad for 20 days with few problems.

“However, now and again, I do feel a little bit of pain in my knee which won’t allow me to perform at my best.

“Let’s say that I am around 80 per cent right now, but in order to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League then I will need to be at 100.”

I won’t boss Milan, says Rijkaard
14.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Frank Rijkaard has denied having any intention of returning to Milan as Carlo Ancelotti’s successor on the Rossoneri bench.

The Barcelona Coach has been strongly linked with a move to the San Siro as a result of his successful spell in charge at the Camp Nou, but the former Rossoneri midfielder today moved to distance himself from any return to the San Siro.

“I am not in any way thinking about myself as Milan Coach,” he said. “Firstly, because I am working with a great squad and, secondly, because Ancelotti and Mauro Tassotti are two friends of mine and they are the future of Milan.”

Rijkaard has only recently renewed his Barcelona contract - which ties him to the Catalan club until 2009 - and, although his side have experienced a downturn in fortunes with a Copa Del Rey exit and defeat to Valencia yesterday, the Primera Liga and the Champions League are well within his sights.

“The two names for the Milan job are Ancelotti and Tassotti,” reiterated Rijkaard. “I’d like to send them an avalanche of good wishes because they are doing a great job.

“I am honestly only thinking about Barcelona,” he added. “I’m not thinking in the slightest about Milan.”

The former Holland international will be thinking about Milan on March 15, however, when the two sides meet in a testimonial for Demetrio Albertini.

Trap back at Milan?
13.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Giovanni Trapattoni’s career is about to come full circle with a move to Milan being reported in the Italian Press.

Trapattoni enjoyed a successful playing career with the Rossoneri, before becoming Coach at the San Siro.

He went on to become the most successful tactician to grace Serie A, winning a further six Scudetti at Juventus, a Bundesliga title and a Portuguese League title with Benfica last season.

He also coached the Italian national side at the 2002 World Cup Finals and the 2004 European Championships.

Trap moved to Stuttgart in the summer but failed to make an impact on the Bundesliga side, who managed just five wins in 20 matches, before being sacked on Friday.

Now, though, it seems that Milan are keen on welcoming their prodigal son back to the fold by putting him in charge of their youth academy.

With the Italian FA introducing new rules stipulating a minimum quota of Italian nationals in every Serie A side, the focus on rearing homegrown talent has taken on a whole new importance.

The 67-year-old has said in the past that he would like to finish his career with exactly this type of role and a return to the side where he enjoyed many glittering playing years.

Reggina 1:4 AC Milan - match report
12.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Paredes 11 (R), Inzaghi 14, 51, 92 (M), Gilardino 37 (M)

Pippo Inzaghi's hat-trick allowed Milan to fight back from a goal down and beat Reggina to stay in the Scudetto race.

The Rossoneri made the trip to Reggio Calabria without the injured Andriy Shevchenko, Paolo Maldini, Marcos Cafu and Massimo Ambrosini. The 5-0 thrashing of Treviso midweek put them back on track, but Carlo Ancelotti conceded that any remaining Scudetto hopes rested entirely on this match. Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf were rested, giving a chance to 39-year-old Billy Costacurta and Manuel Rui Costa in a new left-midfield role.

Reggina were missing injured captain Francesco Cozza and the suspended Alessandro Lucarelli, so former Inter striker Lampros Choutos was surprisingly picked to start upfront and two full-backs were turned into central defenders for the occasion.

The Amaranto had a surprisingly aggressive start and earned two corner kicks in the opening four minutes.

They were piling on the pressure and it was only deserved when Reggina took the lead after 10 minutes. Dida was very insecure, as Carlos Paredes sprung the offside trap on Jaap Stam's error for a looping header to leave the goalkeeper stranded way off his line.

Milan equalised soon after with Pippo Inzaghi, even if much of the credit belongs to Kaka. The Brazilian surged forward and dribbled past three players before sliding the pass in for Inzaghi's persistent finish. Goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli parried his first shot and there are suspicions of Inzaghi's handball as he prepared to turn in the second attempt.

Choutos effectively rescued Milan on 27 minutes, as his attempt at a diving header probably turned Modesto's half-volley off target as it was about to trouble Dida. The goalkeeper was tested by a fierce Vigiani strike from distance, turning it over the bar.

Serginho was thrown on and the substitute made an immediate impact, as it was his cross from the left that was met by a precise Alberto Gilardino diving header.

Reggina remained in the game and Dida had to perform a tough save on Choutos.

Milan thought they had scored a third in first half stoppages, but it was correctly disallowed for Inzaghi's offside position as he swept home Stam's pass to complete a counter-attack sparked by Kaka.

Pelizzoli kept the scoreline down straight after the restart, as he fingertipped Gilardino's header on to the crossbar from Stam's centre.

He could do nothing on Inzaghi soon after, however, as Kaka once again went on one of his marauding runs down the right and cut back for Inzaghi's powerful finish into the roof of the net.

Ancelotti moved to the Christmas Tree formation with Clarence Seedorf stepping in for Gilardino. Kaka was still running the show and he shrugged off a challenge to put a low cross towards the back post, where Inzaghi came sliding in and missed the final touch for his hat-trick by inches.

SuperPippo completed his treble soon after in identical circumstances, but this time he managed to get his foot on to the end of Serginho's cross from two yards.

Reggina: Pelizzoli; Mesto, De Rosa, Giosa; Vigiani (Amoruso 50), Tedesco, Paredes, Biondini, Modesto; Missiroli (Ungaro 77); Choutos (Carobbio 70)

Milan: Dida; Simic (Serginho 30), Costacurta (Nesta 64), Stam, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo, Rui Costa; Kaka; Inzaghi, Gilardino (Seedorf 57)

Ref: Tombolini

Mazzarri aims to trip Milan
12.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Walter Mazzarri realises it’ll be a difficult task, but hopes that his Reggina side can defeat Milan.

“We will take on the Rossoneri with the intention of picking up points, even if our opponents are world class,” explained the Coach.

“We have a few problems in the squad, as Ivan Franceschini and Francesco Cozza are struggling with injuries. It isn’t easy to take on Milan at the moment, but we must try to make the most of our own positive run of results to put them under pressure.”

The Amaranto are fresh from a shock 2-1 win away to Udinese and aim to take that momentum on this afternoon.

“We’ll try to limit Milan’s creative centres and push forward in attack, as we have done successfully so far against teams much more prestigious than ourselves. After all, every game is decided on the pitch and anything can happen in 90 minutes.”

Reggina lost 2-1 at the San Siro earlier this season, falling to a Paolo Maldini brace before Simone Cavalli’s 94th-minute consolation goal, while a Marco Zamboni own goal gave Milan a 1-0 win at the Granillo last term.

Carlo's last chance saloon
12.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits that failure to beat Reggina at the Stadio Granillo will officially end Milan’s Scudetto hopes.

“The very few chances we have left depend entirely on this match,” noted the Rossoneri Coach. “We feel this responsibility on our shoulders and will try to give our best, but we can only stay in the race if we win this afternoon.”

The 5-0 thrashing of Treviso midweek seemed to knock them out of their recent crisis, but they are currently 12 points adrift of leaders Juventus, who take on Inter in tonight’s showdown.

“This is a very important time of the season for everyone and we are finding the right spirit again. The best thing we can do is to win, then sit back and watch what happens. There’s a long way to go and anything can still happen.”

It will not be an easy task for Milan, as they make the trip to the Stadio Granillo without the injured Andriy Shevchenko, Marcos Cafu, Marek Jankulovski, Massimo Ambrosini and Paolo Maldini.

“Reggina play in an unusual manner, as the one striker upfront allows their midfielders to surge forward at will. They have performed well on home turf and are very dangerous from set-pieces.”

Sheva misses Reggina match
11.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The injured Andriy Shevchenko, Paolo Maldini and Marcos Cafu won’t make the trip to Reggina on Sunday.

The Ukrainian hitman scored a brace during the 5-0 win over Treviso on Wednesday, but limped off with a thigh injury.

“Sheva had a muscular problem and was still struggling with it today,” explained Coach Carlo Ancelotti. “There’s no reason to risk it.”

Ancelotti was also concerned about throwing Maldini back into the fray after more than two months on the sidelines with a recurring knee condition.

“Paolo has been training regularly with the rest of the team, but is still not 100 per cent fit. We don’t want to risk a relapse.”

Marek Jankulovski has also been left behind with a bruised ankle, while Cafu and Massimo Ambrosini are training separately.

“We won’t be able to get Cafu back for next week’s game with Cagliari due to the nature of his knee injury, but we hope that all the others will be ready for that tie,” concluded Ancelotti.

With Shevchenko out, it looks as if Pippo Inzaghi will partner Alberto Gilardino, although January signing Marcio Amoroso provides another option.

Youth team players Lino Marzoratti and Federico Piazza have been included in the side travelling to the Stadio Granillo.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Costacurta, Marzoratti, Nesta, Kaladze, Simic, Stam; Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel, Piazza; Amoroso, Inzaghi, Gilardino

Sheva enjoys scoring record
11.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has become Milan’s second top scorer of all time and says he want to stay with the Rossoneri forever.

The Ukrainian striker has now scored a total of 165 goals in the Rossoneri shirt in all competitions, following his two goals in the 5-0 victory over Treviso on Wednesday.

“It’s a great record and to be a part of Milan’s grand history as their second top scorer of all time is a very beautiful moment for me and I want to stay with this club for ever,” noted the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner.

Lo Tsar has scored 122 goals in Serie with 14 this season so far. He has also won the Capocannoniere award twice. The first time was in his debut season when he scored 24 following his arrival from Dynamo Kiev in the summer of 1999, and then in 2003-04 he once again scored 24.

Milan’s all time top scorer is the Swedish international Gunnar Nordahl, who scored a magnificent 221 for the Rossoneri from 1948 to 1956.

“I am very happy with that record. However, I will see how many I eventually score at the end of my career. At the moment all I am thinking of is to better myself.”

Of all the goals he has scored in Serie A, the Champions League and various cups, he insists his favourite was the decisive goal at Manchester.

“One of my most important goals was the penalty at Old Trafford, even though it did not count. Another favourite was the goal against Porto at Montecarlo as well as the two I scored against Roma in the race for the 2004 Scudetto, but really I like the goals that decide the trophies, the seasons.”

Sheva was also happy with the way Milan have played in the last few games after previous dismal showings.

“This season the 5-0 win over Treviso was important because it showed that we are getting better all the time. Already against Lazio we were improving, even though we never scored. However, they all came in the next game against Treviso.”

The Rossoneri have gone out of the Coppa Italia and lost sight of the Scudetto, so the pressure is on to get past Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

“We have two very tough games, but if we continue to play like we have done recently then we can be optimistic for the Bayern tie and I believe we will get to the Final in Paris.”

Berlusconi backs Azzurri
10.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi believes Italy have what is needed to win the World Cup this summer.

Speaking on Italian television, the Milan patron is confident that the Azzurri have a great chance of glory on German soil.

“Let’s hope that with all the immense talent we have, something will come from the seeds we have sown and we can win - and win with conviction,” he said.

“I hope the team that represents us on the pitch can enforce their superiority like Milan have done excellently for years.”

Francesco Totti is likely to be a leading light for Marcello Lippi’s side, a player who Berlusconi has admired for years – but one he insists will never join Milan.

“I certainly think that Francesco is a very strong player and has always tried his best when playing for Roma,” he added.

“But I have always thought that you can’t buy or sell a team’s leader.

"Some people have pointed out that I bought Lazio’s ‘symbol’ Alessandro Nesta. However, I never made an offer for Nesta. I thought at the time that Lazio should have kept him.

“When they needed to sell him for economical reasons, there was a real possibility that he would go to Juventus.

“As that was the case, I put in an offer so that our rivals would not become stronger than us and also reinforce our team. Everyone has seen that Nesta has really done a lot for Milan.”

Milan still believe in title
9.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have renewed their hopes of winning the Scudetto after the 5-0 win over Treviso. “First place interests me,” said Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Milan’s title aspirations appeared dead and buried as Ancelotti’s men suffered a post-Christmas slump in form, conceding sloppy goals, before falling 14 points behind League leaders Juventus.

However, with Juventus themselves starting to drop points and Milan beginning to bounce back to form, the Rossoneri are suddenly optimistic about the future.

“First place interests me,” said Ancelotti. “But first we must think about winning back second place. Then, who knows? We might even have time to home in on Juventus.”

Juve were held at home to Parma in a match which saw the Bianconeri awarded a controversial penalty that Alessandro Del Piero missed.

Second-placed Inter, meanwhile, lost to Fiorentina, enabling the Rossoneri to halve the distance on their local rivals to three points.

“The side is improving,” added Ancelotti. “It was a lovely evening and a great match.

“We played to high levels, created chances and scored some fantastic goals and this gives us confidence.”

Although Andriy Shevchenko grabbed the headlines for becoming Milan’s second-highest goalscorer of all time with his double strike, Carletto singled out Kaka for particular praise.

“All the goals were very good and demonstrate the intelligence of our strikers,” he explained.

“Kaka interprets his role in the hole in his own unique way. He is very dynamic, quick and he covers runs into the area very well.

“In general Milan are improving in terms of the balance of the side,” continued the former Parma and Juve Coach. “This is very important considering the key matches that lie ahead.”

Milan’s next challenge is an away trip to improving Reggina, but the Rossoneri will be hoping for more points squandered by their rivals as Juve, who are still 12 points ahead of them, and Inter play each other on Sunday night.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani was also full of hope after watching last night’s five-star performance.

“If we win on Sunday, maybe the story will change,” he suggested, before adding that third place was not necessarily a bad omen. “When we came third in the League we won the Champions League.”

Sheva beats Rivera tally
9.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has overtaken Gianni Rivera to become the second-highest goalscorer in Milan’s history after his two goals last night.

The Ukrainian striker scored two superb strikes in his side’s 5-0 thrashing of Treviso on Wednesday to move on to 165 goals, one more than Rivera ‘The Golden Boy’, who reached his long-standing tally of 164 during almost two decades at the San Siro, in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Since his arrival from Dynamo Kiev in 1999, Shevchenko has made a remarkable impact for the Rossoneri, scoring 122 of his extraordinary haul in Serie A matches.

The formidable centre-forward has been Capocannoniere twice, was voted European Footballer of the Year in 2004 and has won the Scudetto and the Champions League with Milan.

After the match, Sheva reacted to his record-breaking feat with typical modesty.

This has been a difficult period for Milan and the Rossoneri legend said that what most pleased him was his side’s return to form.

“I am very happy with my performance,” said the marksman afterwards. “We have shown that we cannot be written off just yet.

“It’s fantastic to break a club record, especially one set by such a legend, but what counts is that we got back on track.”

Still only 29, the dynamic striker is well on course to beat Gunnar Nordahl’s all-time record. The Swedish international managed a staggering 221 goals for Milan during the 1950s.

Milan target Lyon defender
9.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are again being heavily linked with Lyon’s Brazilian defender Cris on Thursday.

Reports in Italy suggest that Milan general director Ariedo Braida checked out ‘The Policeman’ in the recent game between Lyon and Bordeaux.

With an ageing defence of Alessandro Costacurta, Marcos Cafu, Jaap Stam and Paolo Maldini, the Rossoneri are in the market for new defenders and the £15m rated former Cruziero star is high on their list.

Cris has been a fundamental part of Gerard Houllier’s record breaking side and, although he wouldn’t come cheap, Milan feel that his price will come down in the summer given that he has less than 18 months left on his present deal.

The Italian giants have struggled at the back this term but were unable to make any January additions to their rearguard.

Changes are inevitable in the summer though as Stam will join Ajax, while Cafu and Costacurta are set to end their stint in the red and black half of the city.

AC Milan 5:0 Treviso - match report
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka 14 (M), Shevchenko 53, 64 (M), Gilardino 62 (M), Inzaghi 74 (M)

Milan put their crisis behind them with a confidence-boosting trouncing of sorry Treviso.

The pressure was on Carlo Ancelotti after the 0-0 draw at Lazio and their Coppa Italia exit, leaving them 14 points adrift of the Serie A leaders. Kakha Kaladze's suspension and Paolo Maldini's injury forced a reshuffle in defence. Antonio Filippini returned from a ban for Treviso, although his twin brother Emanuele remained ruled out.

The Rossoneri broke through after 14 minutes when Alberto Gilardino held up the ball for Kaka to unleash a precise angled drive into the top corner of the net.

Milan went close to a second with a fine Gilardino angled drive, then Alessandro Nesta went up for a Kaka corner kick and nodded it just past the upright.

Dino Fava nodded a Christian Maggio cross off target, but the Rossoneri had a great chance on the stroke of half-time.

Gilardino had his back to goal and rolled across for Johann Vogel's run, but Matteo Sereni excelled himself to parry his angled drive.

Moments later, Andriy Shevchenko beat Sereni only to be kept out by the frame of the goal with his header on Clarence Seedorf's cross.

Filippini had timid penalty appeals for a challenge from Vogel in the closing stages of the first half.

Alessandro Nesta was replaced by 39-year-old Alessandro Costacurta due to an injury, while Gianni Guigou came on for Fava.

After the break, both Gilardino and Shevchenko somehow failed to get the final touch to a sweeping Kaka cross from the right.

Treviso substitute Guigou's low drive was fingertipped round the post by Dida as the visitors finally began to push forward.

Milan doubled their lead soon after, as Kaka chested down the ball and threaded through for Shevchenko to slide his finish between the 'keeper and the near post.

Sereni saved a Kaka attempt with his feet, but soon after Seedorf's pass came through the centre for Gilardino to hold off his marker and fire in.

Shevchenko piled on the problems for Treviso by making it 4-0, as he unleashed a powerful dipping strike from the edge of the box that nestled under the crossbar.

Sereni kept the scoreline down with another fine save on Gilardino's spin, but it was one-way traffic.

Pippo Inzaghi held up the ball for Kaka, whose shot was parried, but only into the path of the Milan substitute for their fifth.

Milan: Dida; Simic (Jankulovski 75), Nesta (Costacurta 46), Stam, Serginho; Gattuso, Vogel, Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko (Inzaghi 66); Gilardino

Treviso: Sereni; Dellafiore, Viali (Giuliatto 33), Gustavo, Valdez; Maggio, Parravicini, A Filippini; Pinga; Reginaldo, Fava (Guigou 46)

Ref: Stefanini

Milan still believe in Dida
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s under-fire No 1 Nelson Dida has today won the backing of the club’s goalkeeping Coach.

Although Villiam Vecchi agrees that Dida has not been in the best of form recently, he is adamant that the Brazilian should not be dropped.

“He just lost a bit of his self-confidence because he knows that he has made some mistakes,” Vecchi told the Rossoneri website.

“This period is an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Nelson is a real workaholic.

“I have heard many people say that the thing to do would be to give him a chance to rest, but I don’t believe that’s the best solution.

“If you believe in a ‘keeper then you must push through with him.

“As a fan I can say that Nelson will still give us great satisfaction, he has done things with Milan that no one had ever seen before.”

Vecchi’s public praise comes just days after Brazil boss Carlos Alberto Parreira fired a World Cup warning to the 32-year-old regarding his recent slump in form.

Milan make Marquez move
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have made an approach for Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, according to reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri’s quest for new blood has been well-documented and the versatility of the Mexican - who can play in both defence and midfield - particularly appeals to the Italian giants, who have allegedly already spoken to his agent.

Milan enjoy excellent relations with the Spanish champions and, should Frank Rijkaard – who has himself been linked with a return to Milan as Coach - agree to his concession, the 26-year-old could even arrive at the San Siro in the summer.

Marquez, who is a Mexico international, joined Barca from Monaco in 2004 and has a contract with the Catalan outfit until 2010.

He is the latest in a long line of defenders to be linked with a move to Carlo Ancelotti’s side after Cris and Antoine Reveillère of Lyon, Hertha Berlin’s Josip Simunic, Roma’s Cristian Chivu, Goran Govrancic of Dynamo Kiev and Juve’s Jonathan Zebina.

Ancelotti: We can catch Inter
8.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti insists Milan can reduce the six-point gap between themselves and Inter. “We are on the way back,” he said.

Ancelotti’s side have suffered a slump in form by their standards, winning just two of the last five matches, and seeing fourth-placed Fiorentina close the gap behind the Rossoneri to four points.

However, with the Viola hosting Inter this evening, Ancelotti recognises that a win for his side at home to struggling Treviso could reignite the race for second place.

“Right now the fixture list has provided big games for the leading sides and we can make ground on Inter,” he said.

“We can do it. We need to look forward with optimism and I am convinced that in the next few months this side will achieve great things.

“I am in charge of a determined squad, here, who suffer when things don’t go well and have the desire to put things right,” he added.

Milan were disappointed to draw 0-0 against Lazio on Sunday night but Ancelotti could not fault the application of his players, who were unlucky not to come away with a win.

“I would like to see the same attitude we showed at the Olimpico, but against Treviso we need to avoid the apprehension that crept into our play and perform with more rhythm,” he continued.

“Treviso have played well recently, have made some good buys in January and are performing with greater determination.

“We are on the way back, though, as we showed in Rome. We have conceded very few goals lately but we haven’t scored many either,” he explained.

“We were scoring a lot more before but also letting in a lot more so the key word here is balance.”

Ancelotti backs Donadoni
7.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has given his backing to ex-Livorno boss Roberto Donadoni. “He exceeded all expectations,” he said.

Donadoni resigned today following public criticism from Amaranto President Aldo Spinelli after his side’s 2-2 draw with Messina on Sunday and Ancelotti has been the first Coach to come out in support of his former Milan teammate.

“Donadoni exceeded all expectations,” he said. “I think that he should remain completely at ease with himself and reflect on the whole business with a smile on his face.”

The 42-year-old took over at Livorno in January of last year and succeeded in keeping the Tuscan side in the top-flight before leading them to an impressive sixth place in the table this term.

“He has achieved great things,” he added. “Everybody knows that. It’s just a shame that the only person not to appreciate it was his own President.

“His comments about Donadoni have left them in the lurch,” he continued.

“When you consider everything that he has done for that club, I don’t think any Coach will be able to follow that.”

Ironically, the former Azzurri midfielder has been strongly touted as Ancelotti’s successor at the San Siro, with the Rossoneri having suffered a major slump after a promising start to the season.

Dida nets Brazil warning
6.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan ‘keeper Nelson Dida has received a World Cup warning from Brazil boss Carlos Alberto Parreira over his alarming form.

Although Rossoneri Coach Carlo Ancelotti defended his under-fire goalkeeper last week, Parreira has urged him to sharpen up if he wants to retain his place in the side for Germany 2006.

“It’s too early to drop Dida. He has always been my first choice and his past form has been a tremendous boost to previous campaigns,” said Parreira.

“However, if he does want to go to the World Cup he must find his form quickly.”

Dida has not had the best of luck over the last few months, with fans and critics fearing that last season’s firework incident during the Champions League game against Inter adversely affecting his performances.

Several mistakes by Dida have seen Milan fall away from second spot and they are now a full 14 points behind leaders Juventus, six behind Inter and just one point ahead of Fiorentina.

Now in his second spell with the Rossoneri, the 32-year-old ‘keeper took over the national jersey from former Parma No 1 Claudio Taffarel after France ’98 and has won over 50 caps since.

After previously being loaned out by the Italian giants, he returned to the San Siro in 2002 and played a major part in Milan’s penalty win over Juventus in the 2003 Champions League Final.

Lazio 0:0 AC Milan - match report
5.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan continue to struggle with a goalless draw away to Lazio, even if Andriy Shevchenko rattled the crossbar.

This was a crunch match for Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was under increasing pressure to deliver after losing sight of the Scudetto and Coppa Italia in the space of one week. It was going to be a tough task against a Lazio side that was unbeaten in its last seven games and enjoying a fine record on home turf. However, the Rossoneri do have a good history at the Stadio Olimpico, not losing here in Serie A since 1998.

Angelo Peruzzi returned from injury, while Christian Manfredini, Valon Behrami, Massimo Ambrosini, Paolo Maldini, Manuel Rui Costa and the suspended Sebastiano Siviglia were out of action.

Alberto Gilardino spun round to fire over the bar, then Andriy Shevchenko's angled drive was charged down by Emilson Sanchez Cribari.

Lazio had penalty appeals for Gilardino's push on Stefano Mauri as a free kick was taken quickly and the Milan defence was surprised.

Jaap Stam had a good chance against his former teammates, but his looping header was captured under the bar by Angelo Peruzzi.

At the other end, Massimo Oddo drilled on to the side-netting, while Shevchenko and Kaka had shots charged down.

Kaka created a great opportunity when he burst through the defence on Gilardino's pass following a defensive error, but Stendardo managed to recover the situation.

Shevchenko was furious when his promising move was halted by the referee for a handling offence, but replays suggest it was his torso.

Milan were improving towards the end of the first half and Kaka's timid effort was plucked out of the air by Peruzzi, then he smothered a powerful strike from Clarence Seedorf.

Manuel Belleri replaced January signing Massimo Bonanni at half-time and Dida was called into the first save of the second half on Gaby Mudingayi's shot from the edge of the box.

Paolo Di Canio was at full stretch at the back post, but couldn't get on the end of Tommaso Rocchi's cross.

Gilardino had one of the best chances of the game so far when he spun round Stendardo, but drilled an angled drive wide of the far post.

Peruzzi was at full stretch to fingertip a Kaka effort round the upright, but Milan went closer than ever before on 69 minutes.

Shevchenko rose between two defenders for a powerful header that Peruzzi tipped on to the upright. The ball cannoned back down off the ground, but did not cross the line.

The Rossoneri were now piling on the pressure and Peruzzi performed another great save to push Shevchenko's rising strike out of the top corner from a tight angle.

Gilardino just failed to get on the end of Serginho's cross from six yards, as a touch would've been enough to take it past the goalkeeper.

Ancelotti needed a more attacking push in the final 15 minutes and threw on ex-Roma star Marcos Cafu for Stam.

Dida dropped the ball, but only after he was fouled by Mauri, but Lazio almost snatched the winner when the former Udinese man fired wide after taking advantage of a Kakha Kaladze error.

Lazio: Peruzzi; Oddo, Stendardo, Cribari, Zauri; Bonanni (Belleri 46), Mudingayi, Liverani, Mauri; Di Canio (Pandev 63), Rocchi

Milan: Dida; Stam (Cafu 79), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Jankulovski 84); Kakà; Shevchenko, Gilardino

Ref: Saccani

Rossi runs at Rossoneri
5.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lazio boss Delio Rossi believes the best way to see off Milan is with an aggressive and fast-paced performance.

“The Rossoneri are beyond our means, if we look at the game on paper,” noted the tactician. “Thankfully, the odds can be beaten in football.”

The capital club has a poor record against Milan at the Stadio Olimpico, as they haven’t beaten them here in Serie A since February 1998.

“The great things we’ve done so far this season have been earned when we act as a unit. We have to raise the tempo, as if you let them play the ball, then it’s all over. We are lacking a little bit of cynicism, which is what sets the big clubs apart from the rest.”

It could even be argued that Lazio are the favourites going into the evening game, as they are unbeaten on home turf and Milan are going through a difficult time.

“They have made a couple of stumbles, but I think it an exaggeration to say they are in crisis,” insisted Rossi. “The real problem is that Juventus are making everyone else look worse than they really are. As for Dida, a goalkeeper can go through these times in his career, but talent comes through in the end.”

Gaby Mudingayi looks set to take the midfield berth ahead of Ousmane Dabo, while Valon Behrami and Christian Manfredini are out of action.

Ancelotti can't see Milan crisis
5.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is under serious pressure after losing sight of the Scudetto and Coppa Italia, but insists his Milan aren’t in crisis as they visit Lazio.

“We are not falling to pieces,” slammed the under-fire Coach. “The game against Lazio will allow us to shove this current situation aside.”

The 3-0 Coppa Italia defeat to Palermo midweek confirmed that the team is in crisis and they are desperate to find a solution before the decisive Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on February 21.

“We need more conviction, unity and cover in defence. We have the quality to emerge from this difficult time. The team isn’t on great form physically, but it’s not a disaster either.”

The problems seem to be both tactical and psychological, as the Rossoneri repeatedly lose leads with sluggish performances interrupted by brief bursts of energy.

“The most important thing right now is to maintain order and not allow our opponents space,” continued Ancelotti. “The defence becomes crucial, as the full-backs must be less eager to push forward, thereby taking the pressure off the midfield and forcing the strikers into a harder work-rate. When we find our feet again, then we’ll return to our usual attacking style.”

Alberto Gilardino will partner Andriy Shevchenko upfront, while Jaap Stam starts against his former club, but Massimo Ambrosini, Paolo Maldini and Manuel Rui Costa are out.

“Lazio put Inter under pressure in the Coppa Italia midweek and give their best performances at the Stadio Olimpico. This is a perilous away game for us against an organised and determined side.”

There has been newspaper talk of Marco Van Basten lined up to replace Ancelotti next season, but Vice-President Adriano Galliani moved to quash these rumours.

“We must not put too much pressure on the result of the Lazio game,” he said. “It is a match like any other, nothing more. The Press can write what it wants, but we must remain relaxed, as we had three stunning years and continue to be among Europe’s top clubs. Milan are strong, just like their Coach.”

Meanwhile, former Milan striker Christian Vieri made his mark in Ligue 1 last night by scoring a brace in Monaco’s 3-1 win over Stade Rennes. The 32-year-old netted with a header and spectacular volley. This result was needed to boost morale following their embarrassing midweek Cup exit to Fifth Division Colmar.

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Cafu, Costacurta, Kaladze, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic, Stam; Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Inzaghi, Gilardino, Shevchenko

Milan look to Van Basten
4.2 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Despite patron Silvio Berlusconi’s reassurances, it’s reported Milan legend Marco Van Basten has been chosen to replace Carlo Ancelotti next season.

Ancelotti is under considerable pressure after falling 12 points behind leaders Juventus in the Scudetto race and their shock elimination from the Coppa Italia at the hands of Palermo.

As he ended last season empty-handed, failure to lift the Champions League trophy in May would almost certainly see the Coach sacked.

“Ancelotti is this club’s present, but he is also its future,” assured patron Berlusconi in a television interview. “You saw my rapport with Arrigo Sacchi in the 1990s – that is the same relationship I have with Carlo.”

However, Berlusconi has never been shy about publicly criticising his Coach’s tactics and often dictating changes to him.

The ‘Corriere dello Sport’ reports today that Milan have already chosen another member of Sacchi’s all-conquering squad to lead the way from next season.

Van Basten was a key member of that line-up, which also boasted current Coaches Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard and Roberto Donadoni.

‘The Swan’ has gone on to lead Holland to the World Cup finals and his contract runs until June 30 2008, but it’s claimed he has a clause releasing him after the tournament in Germany.

The ‘Corriere dello Sport’ claims Van Basten’s arrival would spark a revolution in the ageing side, including Andriy Shevchenko’s switch to Chelsea.

The Stamford Bridge outfit has been putting in multi-million pound bids for the former European Player of the Year for the last couple of campaigns and Milan could finally give in to raise funds for a new defence and midfield reinforcements.

It’s our darkest hour, says Cafu
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Source: Football Italia

Milan defender Marcos Cafu has referred to his side’s current slump as the worst in his time at the club.

Cafu is in his final season in Serie A before returning to Brazilian football in the summer – in all likelihood to the club where he first made his name, Sao Paulo – but the international has had a glittering career in the peninsula.

After winning the title with Roma and the Rossoneri, he was hoping to go out in style with a third Scudetto, but injury and his side’s subsequent loss of form appear to have ended his hopes of winning another championship.

The Pendolino returned to action for his first full appearance since November 20 against Palermo on Wednesday night and was one of Milan’s few plus points on a disappointing evening, but he is determined to restore his side to their former glories.

"It’s the worst period I’ve known since coming to Milan," he said. "But we have enough quality to resolve the situation and go back to playing the beautiful game that we know how to play."

Cafu will be hoping to feature against Lazio on Sunday night and help cast aside the bad memories of his teammates’ last visit to the Stadio Olimpico – a 1-0 loss to Roma.

Then the two-times World Cup winner’s mind will focus on capturing the most prized honour in the European game that has one major piece of silverware still to elude him – the Champions League.

Kaka rallies the Rossoneri
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Source: Football Italia

Kaka has said that Milan need to get to the root of their problems before they throw away their season. "We can get better," he said.

Milan are enduring an alarming slump in form at present, having suffered a surprising 3-0 defeat at the hands of Palermo in the Italian Cup in midweek and having fallen 12 points behind Juventus in the title race.

"It is not a happy week after our Italian Cup exit," said Kaka. "It’s a tough time and we need to work out what’s going wrong because we cannot throw away the season like this.

"There is still a lot to do and we can certainly get better."

The Brazil international refuses to entertain the notion that his side are resigned to failure, however.

The capitulation in Sicily was disappointing but the midfielder insists that the players at the club can recover from the current setback.

"We have got some very experienced players here," he added. "The Cup knock-out was a blow but we have other competitions to think about. There’s still the League and the Champions League.

"We must try to rediscover our form and if we do, by playing well, the confidence will return to the team and to the fans and then we will make steady progress," he continued.

"It’s just one of those periods when everything goes wrong – we’re conceding goals against the run of play and we’re struggling to score. These are all things which don’t normally happen to us."

Milan have essentially three weeks to get their house in order before they meet the sternest of tests in the form of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

"We’re looking forward, though, because there is still a lot to do this season," he insisted. "This club can still achieve some important targets."

Stam explains Ajax move
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Source: Football Italia

Jaap Stam admits he wanted to join Ajax in January rather than the end of the season, but that he’ll try to revive Milan’s fortunes before his departure.

“I have been hinting for several months that I would like a return to Holland and, in fact, I had asked if I could go in January,” confessed the defender who has already signed a two-year contract effective from July.

“But my original request was always to go at the end of the season and I want to finish this campaign by giving my contribution to the team. There are a few months to go yet and I’m eager to help my colleagues to win.”

Stam has been away from his homeland since 1998, when he completed a move to Manchester United from PSV Eindhoven. He reached Italian shores with Lazio in 2001 and then Milan last season, but feels that as he is set to turn 34 in July, it is time to go back to Holland.

“I do feel homesick,” he told the official Milan website. “My family also misses Holland and I want to be closer to my parents now they are growing frail. I am happy that the club has given me this opportunity, as they said I could’ve stayed for another year, but my choice to go was purely down to my family situation.”

It is a heavy blow for the Rossoneri, who also need to find younger understudies for Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta.

There are more immediate concerns, however, as the 3-0 Coppa Italia defeat to Palermo and 12-point gap from leaders Juventus has left them with just one objective to aim for.

“This is a very difficult time for us. It’s not easy for Milan or the players. We must focus on playing Lazio now and will do everything we can to win on Sunday. When results don’t come, it’s always going to be tough. We are a great side and always want to win, but at the moment we can’t seem to manage that. The quality is there, everyone knows it, but we can’t figure out why we’re in this situation.”

Sheva defends misfiring Milan
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Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has defended Milan as criticism continues to pour in following their disappointing Italian Cup defeat. "We must stop treating every defeat as a drama," he said.

For many, Milan’s surprising 3-0 loss to Palermo has typified their season. The 1-0 first-leg advantage offered early promise of success only for the side to capitulate at the final reckoning.

The Rossoneri have come under heavy criticism, with a lack of character foremost among their accusations.

The Champions League Final defeat in May saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men throw away a 3-0 half-time lead and it is exactly this sort of collapse that the cynics claim is occurring all too often with the current side.

Indeed, some believe that the nightmare of Istanbul continues to haunt the Rossoneri, although Shevchenko strongly refuted that claim today.

"It’s not true," he said. "Istanbul is in the past, while the future is in our hands and we are giving 100 per cent towards it."

It has also been suggested that Milan have simply reached the end of their cycle and that personnel needs to be changed in order to rebuild a winning side, but Sheva also denied this to be the case.

"Players can change a side but Milan will always remain," he explained. "We are training hard at Milanello and the first secret to success is the right mental attitude. The idea of it being about the end of a cycle is completely misguided."

The Ukraine international also moved to end speculation that there was dressing-room unrest at the San Siro.

"I don’t know who is spreading these rumours," he added. "The dressing room is like home and in every home there are discussions, but they are always constructive."

The former European Football of the Year went on to appeal to disgruntled fans not to lose heart.

"Keep the faith," he urged supporters. "We are trying our best. This squad has presented you with great emotions and will continue to do so. We must just stop treating every defeat like a drama."

Milan made Terlizzi bid
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Source: Football Italia

Palermo defender Christian Terlizzi has admitted that Milan made an approach for him during the January transfer window.

Terlizzi’s name has long been associated with a possible move to the Rossoneri, but after Milan insisted that they would not be recruiting any new defenders last month, it was thought that no attempted swoop had in fact been made.

The 26-year-old admitted today, however, that Milan did in fact make an offer, which was rejected by the Sicilian side.

"As soon as the rumours started I realised that I needed to have a chat with the club," explained Terlizzi.

"I met with President Maurizio Zamparini and sporting director Rino Foschi and they confirmed what I thought.

"They said that they did not want to sell me but were keen on keeping me – a decision that I accepted without any argument," he added.

"From then on I have not paid any heed to what was being written in the newspapers and have just concentrated on doing well for Palermo."

Terlizzi, who is thought to have caught the attention of national boss Marcello Lippi, has scored five League goals in 16 appearances for Palermo this season.

Rossoneri ponder Frey swoop
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Source: Football Italia

Milan have been linked with a summer move for Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey, according to reports in Italy.

The continued poor form of Rossoneri No 1 Nelson Dida is of growing concern to the San Siro outfit and the fact that his deputy, Zeljko Kalac, has also failed to shine during his rare appearances has prompted a concerted search for a new ‘keeper.

Frey has entered the frame given that his Fiorentina career appears to be over.

After being ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained last month against Juventus, the Viola subsequently purchased Ajax shot-stopper Bogdan Lobont on a permanent deal.

The suggestion that Frey, whose playing contract is still owned by Parma, no longer features in their plans for the future has been supported by the Gigliati’s interest in Vicenza goalkeeper Vladan Avramov, who is said to have already been booked for next season.

Cash-strapped Parma are in no position to refuse funds at the moment, particularly since Lorenzo Sanz’s proposed take-over of the club appears to have failed, and they are expected to be prepared to sell to the highest bidder.

In addition to the French shot-stopper, Milan have also been linked with Livorno’s promising net minder, Marco Amelia.

They will also welcome back Christian Abbiati to the San Siro in the summer once his loan stint at Juventus comes to an end.

However, the Italian – who has performed admirably during the injury absence of Gigi Buffon – would probably only remain if he was guaranteed first team football.

Milan behind Ancelotti
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Source: Football Italia

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has been given the dreaded vote of confidence by the Milan hierarchy after last night’s disappointing Italian Cup exit.

With the San Siro outfit languishing 12 points adrift of Juventus and squandering a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 on aggregate to Palermo last night, the Rossoneri moved to stress that the axe was not being sharpened for their beleaguered tactician.

“It’s just a delicate moment,” said Vice-President Adriano Galliani. “We believe in this side. Ancelotti is absolutely not at risk.”

Names have already begun to circulate as to who will be Carletto’s successor, including Holland boss Marco Van Basten and Livorno Coach Roberto Donadoni but Galliani maintained that they would not be making any hasty decisions.

“I speak often with Donadoni,” admitted Galliani. “I spoke to him just the other day in fact because he wanted one of our players but I told him ‘no’.”

The Rossoneri chief went on to deny that his side needed major surgery in the summer but did concede that a defender would be joining at the end of the season.

“A defender will arrive in June due to the departures but I’m taking my time over it,” he added. “We believe in this side and we’re still in the last 16 of the Champions League. There are some years when things go well and others when they don’t.”

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf added that it was time for his teammates to do their talking on the pitch.

“At the moment there’s not much to say but there’s a lot to do,” he said. “We tried to do a few things in training to get over this tough time but we are struggling to achieve what we want to do.”

“We haven’t been consistent enough in the last months and basically that’s the crux of the problem.”

Papa praises Palermo
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Source: Football Italia

Palermo’s new Coach Giuseppe Papadopulo was all smiles after guiding his side to a memorable Italian Cup win over Milan last night. “I couldn't have asked for a better performance," he said.

Two goals by Mariano Gonzalez and an Andrea Caracciolo strike gave the Rosanero a deserved 3-1 aggregate win at the Renzo Barbera as Milan were made to pay for an overcautious formation and an early miss by Kaka which could have swung the tie favour of the visitors.

Papadopulo, though, said that the real reason his side managed their fist win over the Rossoneri in 26 years was because they showed character.

"There is no secret," he said. "The players put their hearts into it and these great fans did the rest. We showed that we mean business in the Italian Cup.

“I'm delighted because the team did what I asked them to,” he added. “They showed great application and pressed Milan, hard - I couldn't have asked for a better performance."

Milan, on the other hand, are suffering a serious dip in form and now find themselves out of contention in every competition bar the Champions League.

And Coach Carlo Ancelotti is all too aware that he needs to somehow drag his side out of their current rut before they face Bayern Munich in Germany on 21 February.

“We need to be more careful,” he said afterwards. “It is a trying time and we need to get through it – the Champions League is looming.

“We went behind too early and then we complicated the situation for ourselves,” he continued. “Now we are making mistakes and paying for them – this is the rule of football.”

Another rule of Italian football is that underperforming Coaches come under pressure very quickly and this latest result will do little to quieten the growing voices of dissent concerning the former Parma and Juventus tactician.

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