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The Archive

February 2007

Palermo 0:0 AC Milan - match report
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Fontana saved Kaka's debatable penalty to earn Palermo a point and halt injury-hit Milan's march on the Champions League places.

The Rossoneri had a real crisis on their hands, as eight defenders were out of action for one reason or another. Marek Jankulovski, Alessandro Nesta, Marcos Cafu, Serginho, Paolo Maldini, Kahka Kaladze, Alessandro Costacurta and the suspended Massimo Oddo left Carlo Ancelotti with precious few alternatives.

Palermo weren't exactly jumping for joy either, as Andrea Barzagli and Alberto Fontana were injured and Mattia Cassani sat out a ban, though David Di Michele and Eugenio Corini returned from suspension. The Rosanero were without a win in three.

Alberto Gilardino's shot was charged down and soon after the ex-Parma man ran on to an Andrea Pirlo through ball, but was brought down by Alberto Fontana, although contact appeared to be minimal. The former Inter goalkeeper was also booked, but he made up for it moments later with a save on Kaka's penalty.

There was a blow for the Rosanero, who lost Corini to injury, but Milan kept pushing and Fontana parried Kaka's long-range strike. The Brazilian then nutmegged World Cup winner Andrea Barzagli and drilled wide of the near post.

Roberto Guana performed a decisive tackle on Kaka as he ran into the area with only the goalkeeper to beat, then Mark Bresciano struck the side-netting.

Kaka was inspired and again burst into the area to force Fontana into a brave stop and the 'keeper also parried Clarence Seedorf's solo effort. Aimo Diana drilled a good Palermo chance wide of the near post from eight yards.

Palermo really should have taken the lead straight after the restart, as Diana's wayward shot fell straight into the path of David Di Michele, but he incredibly scuffed the ball with only Dida to beat.

Carlo Ancelotti threw on Ronaldo and Yoann Gourcuff, roundly booed by the Palermo fans. Within minutes Il Fenomeno nearly scored a bizarre goal, as Giuseppe Biava's clearance from his effort thumped the Brazilian's forehead and ricochete on to the crossbar!

Gourcuff fired just over with a free kick, Fabio Simplicio's curler was deflected off target and in stoppages Di Michele wasted a very promising opportunity for Palermo.

Palermo: Fontana; Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava, Pisano; Diana, Corini (Simplicio 9), Guana; Bresciano (Tedesco 70), Di Michele; Caracciolo (Matusiak 69)

Milan: Dida; Brocchi, Simic, Bonera, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf (Gourcuff 71); Kakà; Gilardino (Ronaldo 71)

Ref: Trefoloni

Missed penalty: Kaka 9 (M)

Kaka makes Ronaldinho call
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Brazilian sensation Kaka has urged owner Silvio Berlusconi to bring Selecao teammate Ronaldinho to the San Siro.

“If Ronnie wants to move in the summer I hope that Milan sign him,” the ex-Sao Paolo forward told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Football goes in cycles. I don’t know how Barcelona will finish the season, but after three years being the best in Europe they’ve reached the peak and not everyone will want to stay for the next cycle.”

The Rossoneri were linked with Ronaldinho in the summer, but no move was made despite rumours that a deal worth in excess of £50m was set to be tabled.

However, recent reports of discord amongst the Barcelona ranks and a feud with Samuel Eto’o have reignited speculation that El Mago may be looking for a new challenge in the summer.

The arrival of fellow Brazilian star Ronaldo may have improved the Diavoli’s chances of luring the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and has certainly met with approval from Kaka.

“Everyone’s delighted to have him here,” he insisted.

“When people were saying he was fat and a faded force I was always impressed by him when we played for the national side.”

Kaka also took time to address another fellow countryman receiving a less favourable Press in recent weeks.

“Adriano wants to have fun but he needs to learn what you can and can’t do,” he admitted.

“It’s not for me to say that my lifestyle is right or that anyone else’s is wrong, but I know that I’ve decided to live like I do because I know my limits and I do a job which depends on my body.”

AC Milan consider Dida alternatives
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s goalkeeper search has begun in earnest as reports circulate that Nelson Dida is ready to sign for Barcelona this summer.

It is believed that Milan will attempt to persuade the Brazilian custodian to sign a new deal with the club, but Barca chief Joan Laporta is reportedly willing to present an offer Dida cannot refuse.

The Diavoli’s transfer guru Ariedo Braida is believed to have drawn up a shortlist of five names in the event that Dida does quit the San Siro, after more than six years and 150 appearances for the Rossoneri.

While Gigi Buffon of Juventus remains the primary target, it now appears that Milan’s city rivals Inter are in pole position for the Azzurri star’s signature, leaving Braida to pursue other avenues.

One of these is Livorno’s Marco Amelia who has regularly been linked with Milan in the past.

Amelia refused a big-money January move to Russian giants Spartak Moscow, prompting speculation that he had been assured a move to the San Siro and it is expected that Livorno President Aldo Spinelli would part with the 24-year-old ‘keeper for around £7m.

Another possibility is Artur Boruc who will face Milan next week in the Champions League for Celtic.

The Pole did his chances of a move no harm with an error-free performance in the first leg at Celtic Park and is likely to jump at the chance to play in Italy.

Although scouts are also watching veteran Lyon ‘keeper Gregory Coupet, a more likely target is River Plate’s No 1 Juan Pablo Carrizo.

The 22-year-old is said to be a bright prospect and is rated at around £8m despite only making his debut for Los Milionarios in January 2006.

All this is bad news for Marco Storari, who filled in for Dida during his recent spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, but doesn’t even make the squad for today’s clash with Palermo.

No Inzaghi-Montella swap
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi’s agent has rubbished speculation that the Rossoneri marksman may be exchanged for Roma’s Vincenzo Montella this summer.

“An Inzaghi-Montella swap deal? It’s just one of the many ridiculous rumours,” Tullio Tinti outlined on Wednesday.

“Filippo has a contract with Milan and is very loyal to the club and the fans. I don’t think there’s a chance that he’ll leave.”

However, Inzaghi’s opportunities of playing regular first team football at the San Siro are beginning to look slim with the addition of Ronaldo to the striking line, prompting whispers that the ex-Atalanta man may quit the club.

Montella’s future is equally uncertain. The ex-Empoli sensation has enjoyed a successful loan spell at Fulham where he has hit the target four times in nine appearances – seven as substitute.

However, he is unlikely to have an extended stint at Craven Cottage as the London club cannot match the £80,000 per week that the Aeroplanino earns.

While Montella is currently injured, Inzaghi will again have to settle for a seat on the bench for Milan’s clash with Palermo this afternoon.

Borriello three-month ban
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Marco Borriello has been suspended until March 21 after failing a random drugs test.

The forward tested positive on an anti-doping test on November 11 and was suspended in a precautionary measure from December 21.

This evening the Disciplinary Commission confirmed a three-month ban, so he will be out of action until March 21.

Borriello was found to have prednisone and prednisolone in his system following the 2-1 defeat to Roma at San Siro.

He had professed his innocence, insisting a cream used by his girlfriend had caused the positive doping result.

Ancelotti on the offensive
28.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is optimistic that Milan’s fine run of form can continue at Palermo despite their massive defensive problems.

The Rossoneri are amazingly without eight defenders for the Barbera trip, but the Coach is confident that Milan’s Champions League push will be unaffected.

“We are experiencing an emergency in defence, but it’s not anyone’s fault,” said Ancelotti, whose side have won seven and drawn one from their last eight League games.

“Unfortunately, this is just how fate has it planned out for us. In any case, we will be going to Palermo to win and this is a really important game.

“We will be playing against a strong side at a difficult arena. However, I think Milan are going through a good moment, we have the confidence and determination needed.

“I saw Palermo’s match with Atalanta and they didn’t seem in crisis to me. However, I am not settling for a goalless draw.”

The Coach has yet to decide on which side to field tomorrow afternoon, although it seems unlikely that Ronaldo will be in the Rossoneri’s starting line-up.

“We must try to win with all the weapons at our disposal,” continued the ex-Italy midfielder.

“I think we will play with only one striker and I don’t think Ronaldo will feature from the beginning. If he does, it will be him and Gilardino.”

Ancelotti is also hopeful that Alessandro Nesta will soon be back at his disposal after returning from America where he underwent shoulder surgery.

“He is doing very well and the doctor confirmed today that he could return to training with the team. He only needs to find the right rhythm and then he will be prepared for action,” noted the boss.

“From what I saw today, he could be easily ready to play in around 15 or 20 days from now.”

Milan (probable): Dida; Favalli, Simic, Bonera, Brocchi; Pirlo, Gattuso, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kaka, Gilardino

Nesta back in training
27.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta is expected to be back in action next month after the injured Milan defender returned from America.

The former Lazio man has been recuperating from a shoulder injury in Miami recently, a problem which has seen him sidelined since November 26.

“I’m finally feeling good, my shoulder has healed completely and I hope I will be back on the field of play in two or three weeks,” said Nesta after landing in Italy on Tuesday.

“Now I only want to focus on training.

“I was operated on by one of the best surgeons in the world and I chose Miami because they have a very famous rehabilitation centre,” continued the World Cup winner.

“The recovery time should have been even longer, but I think I’m close to returning to action.

“This has been a hard year for me, with many injuries, now I want to return to the highest levels as soon as possible.”

Nesta also reiterated that he wants to stay at Milan despite widespread rumours suggesting that he might return to Lazio.

“I already spoke to the management a few months ago and I told them that I wanted to stay, but I didn’t want to discuss the details before recovering from my injury,” he added.

“Milan know that I am ready to sign a new deal, now I want to recover my best condition and then we will sit down and talk.

“I don’t want to go back to Lazio, I like it here and this is where I want to end my career,” concluded Nesta.

AC Milan eye Ronaldinho & Buffon
27.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have confirmed that they are ready to make a move for Barcelona star Ronaldinho and Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Both players have been linked with summer moves to the Rossoneri and director general Ariedo Braida has added more fuel to the fire.

President Silvio Berlusconi recently revealed that his club are keen on the Brazilian and Braida confirmed their stance.

“Our President’s words are never put under discussion,” said Braida. “Therefore it is absolutely true that Milan are interested in netting Ronaldinho if Barcelona were to let him leave.”

Milan are also looking for a new man in between the sticks, as Nelson Dida has not renewed his contract and is said to already have a verbal agreement with Barcelona.

“We are interested in all great champions and Buffon is one of them,” continued the Rossoneri official.

“If Juventus were to put him on the transfer market then we would definitely consider making an offer to sign him.”

Ronaldinho is valued at something around £46m, while the goalkeeper’s price is understood to be £21m.

However, it is believed that the entire cost of both operations would be £178m when you take into account their wages over a five-year period.

Berlusconi eyes Ronaldinho
26.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

President Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that Milan are in pole position to sign Ronaldinho if Barcelona decide to sell the Brazilian star.

The Rossoneri have made no secret of the fact that the Brazilian is one of their summer targets, after transfer consultant Ernesto Bronzetti was appointed to contact the player’s brother and agent Roberto Assis in the past few weeks.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani had also publicly admitted that the Rossoneri were ready to start negotiations with the Spanish giants, as all conversations to extend the player’s deal with the Blaugrana until 2014 had stalled so far.

“I believe we would be ready to make a move if Barcelona were to sell Ronaldinho,” confirmed Berlusconi to La Domenica Sportiva after Sunday’s win over Sampdoria at the San Siro.

“He is a great player, although we would obviously need to understand what his effect would be on the opponents and his teammates. Even with him on the team, tonight we would have had some problems. Luck plays a great part in football.”

The former Prime Minister also declared that Milan have targeted Gianluigi Buffon and could make an offer to Juventus, seeing the latest rumours suggesting that Nelson Dida has agreed a free transfer to Barcelona.

“Buffon is an excellent goalkeeper and we are definitely interested in his services if we will fail to renew Dida’s deal,” explained the Rossonero, as the Brazilian’s contract expires on June 30 and talks to extend have been unsuccessful so far.

“Dida cannot believe that Milan are willing to pay him more than what has been agreed for with other champions, like Kaka,” concluded Berlusconi.

The Rossoneri have a strict salary policy that cannot be changed and the Rossoneri have always stated that Dida could not earn more than the other champions on the squad, despite him being a top level player.

Ancelotti rues red card
26.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and match-winner Massimo Ambrosini assure this would have been a very different match had Massimo Oddo not been sent off so early.

The defender saw red for a controversial foul on Emiliano Bonazzoli just 10 minutes into tonight’s game against Sampdoria, eventually won 1-0 in stoppages by Milan.

“The tie was totally changed by the red cards and they affected everything,” said Ancelotti after Samp’s Ruben Olivera was also dismissed.

“We did well in the first half, but after the break when Sampdoria were weakening, we also no longer had the strength to turn up the pressure.”

Ronaldo had his second start for the club, but failed to really make an impact on the solid Blucerchiati back line.

“I thought Ronaldo did his job well, as he made the defenders constantly anxious,” insisted the Coach.

The goal arrived at the 90th minute and it was scored by injury-hit midfielder Ambrosini with a glancing header.

“This was an enjoyable and important goal. Today we needed to win, seeing as our rivals for fourth place all did well,” said the Italian international.

“It was a difficult game. We impressed in the first half with a man down and always took the initiative. Of course you need good luck, but you have to go looking for it too.”

Ambrosini was a doubt for this match after coming down with a temperature, but has made a habit of popping up with late winners.

“My life is one big ‘if and but’. If I hadn’t been injured so many times, what kind of a career would I have had? But I know full well that with this talk you get nowhere.”

AC Milan 1:0 Sampdoria - match report
25.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Ambrosini 90 (M)

Massimo Oddo and Giulio Falcone were sent off, but Massimo Ambrosini's stoppage-time header allowed Milan to beat Sampdoria.

San Siro finally opened its doors to all fans after last night's inspection on the new turnstiles. Ronaldo again started following his brace in the 4-3 win over Siena, though Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze, Alessandro Nesta and Serginho were out of action with Cristian Brocchi suspended. Sampdoria faced up to life without star striker Francesco Flachi, who this week failed a random drugs test for cocaine.

Samp nearly took the surprise lead after seven minutes, as Palombo unleashed a sudden snapshot from 25 metres that smashed against the base of the upright to Nelson Dida's left.

It was an early warning and moments later Milan were left in 10 men. Emiliano Bonazzoli and Massimo Oddo wrestled on the edge of the area and the referee judged it to be a clear goal-scoring opportunity, showing the ex-Lazio man a straight red card. Oddo insisted he had been fouled first, but Carlo Ancelotti had to make changes and introduced Marcos Cafu for Ricardo Oliveira.

Milan also threatened as Luca Castellazzi beat away a touched on free kick for Marek Jankulovski, then Ronaldo just failed to redirect Cafu's low cross.

The Rossoneri were furious on 21 minutes when Ronaldo sprinted towards the goal and was blocked by a decisive Giulio Falcone tackle. He got a touch to the ball, but the trailing leg hacked down Il Fenomeno with the sphere still very close to the Brazilian. Milan wanted a similar outcome to the Oddo-Bonazzoli tussle.

Kaka skipped past a defender and fired a fierce strike that Castellazzi somehow managed to deflect over the bar with his elbow.

Cafu struck the side-netting from an acute angle, but Dida required a stunning save on Christian Maggio's equally impressive overhead kick.

10-man Milan continued to push and Castellazzi got down well to turn Kaka's right-foot free kick round the post. The Brazilian was on fine form and slipped past Maggio with a nutmeg only to be brought down on the edge of the area by Ruben Olivera. It was his second yellow card, so both teams were left in 10 men before half-time.

Ronaldo sent Clarence Seedorf clear on goal and he fired wide, but his blushes were saved by the offside flag. Bonazzoli nodded over from a Ziegler corner kick.

After the break Bonazzoli drilled just wide, then Gennaro Gattuso missed a Ziegler corner and Seedorf had to almost make a goalline clearance.

Milan's Brazilian contingent was in full force moments later, as Kaka changed pace to leave his marker behind and the cross went just past Ronaldo. Cafu rushed on to the loose ball and this time Massimo Ambrosini nodded over.

Pippo Inzaghi replaced a tired Ronaldo for the final 20 minutes and within a few moments he had set up a good chance for Kaka and forced Castellazzi into a tricky save. Cafu had penalty appeals for a clash with the goalkeeper as he ran on to Pirlo's pass, but the ball had already gone out.

The match was slowly going towards a goalless draw, but Ambrosini popped up at the 90th minute with a trademark header. Jankulovski whipped in the cross and Cristian Zenoni slipped over on the wet grass, so Ambrosini had free rein to nod home at the back post.

Milan: Dida; Oddo, Bonera, Simic, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf (Pirlo 66); Kakà; Ronaldo (Inzaghi 73), Ricardo Oliveira (Cafu 12)

Sampdoria: Castellazzi; Zenoni, Falcone, Accardi, Ziegler (Parola 65); Maggio, Palombo, Volpi, Olivera; Bonazzoli (Bazzani 55), Quagliarella

Ref: Ayroldi

Sent off: Oddo 10 (M), Olivera 39 (S)

Ronaldo: My strengths and weaknesses
25.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo looked back at the 1998 World Cup Final, his past and future as Il Fenomeno. “But I’m still terrible at headers!”

“It’s been 10 years since I first wore the Inter jersey in Serie A. I’m still very motivated and eager, which is why I came to Milan. This is my biggest challenge and that’s what makes football such a passion,” he told Sky Italia.

Many doubted whether Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid in January was a good business decision by the Rossoneri, as he had become more famous for his weight and string of glamorous girlfriends than his sporting achievements.

“It’s true I have lost some of my pace, but I can still do some pretty good stuff in a brief sprint. I’m still a disaster at headers, though. I train on it so much, but I can’t seem to improve!”

In the interview he also looked back on perhaps the darkest moment of his career – the mystery illness that struck him just before the 1998 World Cup Final.

“I remember all of it. I came back to my room after lunch and I felt ill. I fainted for around five minutes, I believe. Then the doctors arrived and Leonardo was there too,” he explained.

“I was out cold and didn’t know what was going on, so when I came to it was as if nothing had happened. I remember Leo was walking with me towards the restaurant, as we needed a snack before the game, and I couldn’t understand why he was telling me a World Cup Final wasn’t all that important.”

The striker had originally been left out of the squad to face France in that Final, but was put back in at the last minute just hours after he had been knocked unconscious by a seizure that to this day remains unexplained.

“I was wondering why he was telling me all this, seeing as we were going to play that evening. ‘It’s not so important, in life there are so many other wonderful things like family and love,’ he kept saying. I asked why and Leo answered I would find out later, he’d explain it all.”

San Siro given all-clear
25.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

San Siro is now able to welcome all fans for Sunday’s Milan-Sampdoria game, while Udine and Florence let in season ticket holders.

The Stadiopoli crisis is slowly passing and in Week 25 there will be only one game played behind closed doors.

Catania must play the rest of their home matches in empty stadia, including Sunday’s with Inter, due to rioting that caused the death of police officer Filippo Raciti on February 2.

In the wake of that incident, strict new laws to clamp down on football-related violence were introduced and stadiums were shut down until they were up to standard.

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan had until now only been fit to let in season ticket holders, but today’s inspection confirmed the work has been completed to enough of a degree that all fans can sit in the stands.

“After having evaluated the commission’s inspection report, we unanimously agreed that the stadium is up to standard and therefore able to welcome both season ticket and regular ticket holders,” read a statement from the Osservatorio.

The evening kick-off has also been confirmed, as the match Milan-Sampdoria is not considered to be high risk. This means that Celtic fans will be able to travel to San Siro as normal for the Champions League second leg match in March.

Fiorentina will have their season ticket holders for the local derby against Empoli tomorrow afternoon following an inspection on the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Udinese-Parma will also have the local season ticket fans after turnstiles were mounted at the Stadio Friuli.

“Thanks to the collaboration of all the authorities, we have reached this important step. Udinese do not intend to stop here. In the next few weeks we’ll work to open the stadium up to all the supporters,” said President Gianpaolo Pozzo.

Livorno-Ascoli at the Stadio Picchi, Atalanta-Palermo in the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia and this afternoon’s Chievo-Torino at the Bentegodi are open to season ticket holders only.

Cagliari-Lazio, Roma-Reggina and Messina-Siena are open to all supporters with a valid ticket.

Ancelotti has Ronaldo quandary
25.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is forced to reshuffle his squad after losing Paolo Maldini and admits he’s still uncertain who will partner Ronaldo against Sampdoria.

“I have a difficult choice on who to place alongside Ronaldo, because Alberto Gilardino is fine, Pippo Inzaghi has trained all week and Ricardo Oliveira is another option. If I’m going to rotate the squad, it’ll begin from Wednesday,” explained the Milan Coach.

Il Fenomeno will start again, having scored a brace on his full debut in last week’s 4-3 victory at Siena. This kind of form is especially needed after the 0-0 Champions League draw at Celtic, where Ronaldo was sorely missed.

There are other issues, though, as Maldini, Kakha Kaladze, Alessandro Nesta and Serginho are out of action, so changes will be required.

“Maldini’s knee is still causing him pain, so he won’t play. Dida is available, but we’ll only risk it if he’s 100 per cent fit, otherwise Zeljko Kalac will start. I’ll field Daniele Bonera and Dario Simic in central defence.”

There were fears the midfield would also be decimated, as Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Yoann Gourcuff caught a chill and developed a high temperature after taking a cold shower at Parkhead.

“Ambrosini was able to train today, while the others are available. Clarence Seedorf will return to midfield,” added Ancelotti.

Milan have recently overtaken Sampdoria in the Serie A table and intend to continue their challenge on the top four.

“Samp are a side everyone knows well. Walter Novellino’s system is constant and they are very organised with rapid counter-attacks.”

Francesco Flachi is suspended after failing a random drugs test for cocaine, but insists he is innocent.

“His absence is an important one and it is a shame. It’s difficult to judge a situation from the outside, but if he has taken an illegal substance, it’s something a professional at this level should not fall into. In any case, they have Fabio Quagliarella who can fill in admirably.”

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Storari; Bonera, Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Grimi, Jankulovski, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kaka', Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira, Ronaldo.

Dida agrees Barca deal?
25.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are on the lookout for a new goalkeeper after it was reported Nelson Dida agreed a free transfer to Barcelona.

The Brazilian’s contract expires on June 30 and talks to renew have been unsuccessful, so today the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ claims the reason behind his reticence is a deal to switch over to the Nou Camp.

The Blaugrana have long been interested in the shot-stopper and the Spanish Press insists there is a verbal agreement in place.

Considering Dida’s many injury problems this season, it’s now likely Milan will look elsewhere rather than enter a bidding war with Barca.

Juventus man Gianluigi Buffon is a known target, although Inter are also interested and it’s by no means certain he will leave Juventus at the end of the season.

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc impressed during the midweek Champions League clash in Scotland and has joined the list of potential alternatives, although he doesn’t have the Serie A pedigree needed to be the top choice.

Milan are also involved in more rumours of a swap deal, this time with Roma. Filippo Inzaghi’s unhappiness at the arrival of Ronaldo is no secret and he has confirmed he’s seriously considering moving on this summer.

With Vincenzo Montella returning from his loan spell at Fulham but still not finding space at the Olimpico, there could be an exchange.

The ‘Corriere dello Sport’ newspaper suggests that Inzaghi would go to Roma on loan in exchange for Montella to Milan – a move that had already been rumoured in January.

AC Milan too soft for cold Scots shower
23.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have blamed Celtic for causing the illness of four of their star players – because of the cold showers at Parkhead!

Vice-President Adriano Galliani spoke to ‘Milan Channel’ this evening and revealed that Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Yoann Gourcuff and Massimo Ambrosini are all in bed with flu symptoms.

The club doctor maintains the illness was caused by the cold showers in the Parkhead locker room after Tuesday’s 0-0 Champions League draw in Glasgow.

While the players were still in the post-match shower, a fire alarm went off that automatically cut the supply of hot water.

Galliani assures it is no laughing matter, as the four midfielders all risk missing out on Sunday’s Serie A clash with Sampdoria.

AC Milan ponder Emerson bid
23.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid midfielder Emerson is being linked with a move to Milan as reports gather pace that his Spanish nightmare is coming to an end.

The Brazilian left Juventus last summer after the club’s demotion to Serie B, but his adventure has been tough.

He’s struggled to adapt to La Liga, he’s been heckled by fans and allegedly refused to play in the 3-2 Champions League win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

With Real already having signed an ideal replacement in the form of Gago during January, a Serie A return is beckoning for El Puma.

Although previously linked with a move back to Juventus, it seems that he could soon be wearing the Rossoneri jersey.

The player has many friends at Milan and boss Carlo Ancelotti would be more than happy to have the 32-year-old at his disposal.

Emerson could either play alongside Andrea Pirlo or replace him when necessary, allowing the tactician the possibility to experiment with formations.

The former Roma man is not the only Merengues player on Milan’s wish list, as it seems that Fabio Cannavaro is also a target for the six-time European champions.

The Via Turati club is hoping to take advantage of the renewed good relationship with Real Madrid, which saw Ronaldo arrive last month, after the summer battle over Kaka.

AC Milan reject Carletto rumours
22.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confirmed that Coach Carlo Ancelotti will not be leaving the club anytime soon.

The former midfielder has been constantly linked with a switch to Real Madrid, with recent rumours suggesting that he has already been contacted by President Ramon Calderon.

“We have started Lent, therefore I prefer not to answer questions on Ancelotti,” said Galliani. “Furthermore, this issue involves Real Madrid, so anything I say would be misunderstood.

“I already receive more phone calls from Spain than from Italy… He is our Coach and he will stay here for a long time.

“If the papers say something, there might be some truth, but Ancelotti has our complete trust and I believe he is very serene,” ended Galliani.

Meanwhile, midfielder Massimo Ambrosini has admitted that he would like to end his career with the club.

The Rossonero is contracted to the San Siro outfit until June 2008, but has yet to start negotiations to extend his deal.

“If it were up to me, this is where I would end my career,” said Ambrosini. “We will see what happens before the end of the year.

“I hope I will be given other opportunities to shine, there are still three months to play before the end of the season and we will try to do our best in both Serie A and the Champions League.

“I am finally feeling well after recovering from my injury. Sometimes you are too eager to return, but it is right to play only when you are 100 per cent fit,” concluded Ambrosini.

Italian stadiums given all-clear
22.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian football is slowly returning to normal with Messina, Livorno, Udinese and possibly Fiorentina allowed to welcome fans again this weekend.

The Stadio San Filippo in Messina has passed all the necessary requirements set out by the strict new Government laws on safety in stadia and can host both home and away supporters for the game with Siena.

In truth, this arena had already been up to standard, but was closed anyway for the Sicilian derby with Catania due to fears over public safety.

Livorno were forced to play both their UEFA Cup tie with Espanyol and the Serie A victory over Messina behind closed doors last week, but can at least let in their season ticket holders for the next home game against Ascoli at the Stadio Armando Picchi.

Udinese are confident that the Stadio Friuli will be passed fit for the season ticket holders when they welcome Parma this Sunday.

“The appointments with the institutions gave all the results we had hoped for,” explained Vice-President Stefano Campoccia.

“The meeting between the police and the local authorities saw them approve of the project we presented.” A final check will be made on the stadium on Saturday morning.

Fiorentina are hopeful they can at least have their season ticket holders in the stands for the local derby against Empoli, although there is still renovation work to be done.

At this stage, only three games are certain to be played behind closed doors this weekend in Serie A – Chievo-Torino at the Bentegodi, Atalanta-Palermo in the Azzurri d’Italia and Cesena hosting Catania-Inter due to a ban on the Sicilian outfit.

In Serie B, Brescia have installed new turnstiles at the Stadio Rigamonti and over the next two days will put in a CCTV network. They hope this will be acceptable to open the doors for Saturday’s match with Verona.

Milan make Ronaldinho contact
22.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are ready to start negotiations to bring Barcelona star Ronaldinho to the San Siro, according to the latest reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri have made no secret of the fact that the Brazilian is one of their summer targets and transfer consultant Ernesto Bronzetti has been appointed to contact Roberto Assis, the player’s brother and agent.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani has publicly admitted that Milan are in great shape to sign Ronaldinho if Barcelona decide to let the player leave.

“The player knows of our interest and Barcelona are aware of it too, but we are not looking to disturb anyone,” Galliani said on Monday night.

“I can’t see a powerful and rich club like Barcelona getting to a point where they would sell him, but if that occurs then we would be in pole position.”

The former Golden Ball winner is contracted to the Blaugrana until 2010, but all conversations to extend his deal until 2014 have stalled so far.

The South American reportedly wants a new £8.5m per season contract, plus his entire lucrative image rights. Milan may be willing to dig that deep to do business.

Furthermore, not all is well in the Barca camp right now given the problems caused by Samuel Eto’o.

The Cameroon star, dropped for tonight’s Champions League tie against Liverpool, fell out with Ronaldinho last week.

Should ‘Dinho quit the Nou Camp then Barca would make a swoop for Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Gilardino - Buffon swap suggested
22.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino may join Juventus over the summer in a deal which sees Gigi Buffon move to Milan.

Both players have been linked with the aforementioned clubs in the past and some reports in Italy on Wednesday claim that a switch may finally occur.

The Bianconeri are looking for a David Trezeguet replacement, who seems set to leave at the end of the season, and have allegedly targeted the Rossoneri striker.

Although is seems unlikely that Milan would allow the 24-year-old to leave, their stance may change if Buffon was made available for transfer.

Both players are valued at something around £21m and the clubs are seemingly considering a swap deal.

Buffon would be of interest to Milan seeing as Nelson Dida is unlikely to extend his contract which expires in June.

The Brazilian, in turn, could then move to Turin on a free transfer should the Azzurri No 1 accept a San Siro future.

Buffon was paired with Milan last summer, but he opted to remain with La Vecchia Signora despite their Calciopoli relegation to Serie B.

The former Parma man has recently reiterated that he is unsure about his future and will start talks with the club in an effort to understand Juve’s plans for next season and beyond.

Meanwhile, whispers are also suggesting that the Milan giants are interested in Mauro Camoranesi, who is valued at £4.2m. He turned down a Juventus contract extension yesterday.

Kalac thanks Ancelotti
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Football Italia

Zeljko Kalac made his comeback from injury in the Champions League and thanked Carlo Ancelotti for his Celtic chance.

"The Coach showed great faith in me and that always helps a player coming back from a lay-off," said the Australian shot-stopper.

With Dida nursing a shoulder injury and Marco Storari never having played in Europe, Kalac was given the gloves for last night's knockout round at Celtic Park, keeping a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw.

He had featured just once for the club since Christmas, Milan's 3-1 Serie A win over Reggina on January 14, where he picked up a knee ligament injury.

"The defence did an excellent job to control the long balls and crosses into the box," he added.

"The first leg is always difficult and nobody wants to concede, so both teams are attentive, but I expect the San Siro match will be far more open."

Gianfranco Zola has been linked with the Australia bench this month, although Kalac has all but retired from the international game.

"I think all tacticians would enjoy working for the Australian national team – it's sunny and a relaxed atmosphere!

"Graham Arnold was Guus Hiddink's assistant manager at the World Cup and now they're trying to see if they can carry on that work with an Australian boss."

Gilardino: I'm no diver
21.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino insists he did not dive when he was booked for simulation at Celtic Park.

“We created a few good chances and could have done better with them, but we also ran no risks whatsoever, which is more important. We defended and hit them on the break and knew we had to make sacrifices here,” he said of the 0-0 draw.

Gila had the best scoring opportunities, but was yellow carded by the Norwegian referee when he fell a few seconds after contact with Mark Wilson.

“I was touched and I tried to keep going to get round the goalkeeper, but I eventually lost my balance. If I had been sneaky and fallen immediately, I probably would have had a penalty. It certainly was not a booking,” assured the Milan striker.

“I have high hopes for the second leg and believe we can win at the San Siro. We did well to make sure the atmosphere didn’t affect us, although it is spectacular to see the fans like that.”

Ronaldo is cup-tied, but now that he has recovered from an injury, Gilardino could play alongside Il Fenomeno.

“I saw him play at Siena and he came back to get the ball a great deal, so he likes to move around and interact with his teammates. That was a good sign.”

Galliani concerned by Hoops
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Football Italia

Adriano Galliani has called Milan’s stalemate in Glasgow “the worst of all the good results” as the pressure remains on the Rossoneri.

“I thought it was a good Milan performance and we only struggled in the last seven or eight minutes, for the rest of the match creating the best scoring opportunities,” said the Vice-President after the 0-0 draw at Celtic.

“I always say that 0-0 is the worst of all the good results. You need to win in the second leg, basically, to avoid going out on away goals.”

The last time these two teams crossed paths in the Champions League Group phase, they also drew 0-0 in Scotland and Milan won 3-1 at San Siro.

“I hope that the San Siro can be packed out for the second leg, as currently only season ticket holders can apply, so it would be less than half full.

“I was impressed by Zeljko Kalac, for the few times he was called upon, and the defence kept Celtic at bay. Yoann Gourcuff is only 20 years old, but he is already very talented.”

Alberto Gilardino wasted the best chances in a 4-4-1-1 system, although Galliani denied it was a negative approach.

“Gilardino was not the lone striker, as Kaka was there in support. Celtic have a solid 4-4-2 and we tend to suffer against that system, so Carlo Ancelotti did well to adapt his team. Gila was kept out by a great save from the goalkeeper and was unlucky not to score.”

With their eight-point Calciopoli penalty, the Rossoneri risk not qualifying in the top four of Serie A this term.

“Thinking of a Milan side out of the Champions League next season is a nightmare scenario. Our January signings have settled in quickly, as Ronaldo scored a brace and Massimo Oddo seemed secure on his Champions League debut.”

Ronaldo was their big January arrival, but the former Real Madrid man is cup-tied and the team looked toothless in attack tonight.

“Ancelotti says that Ronaldo can play with either Gilardino or Pippo Inzaghi. Clearly he fits well with Ricardo Oliveira, who likes to roam behind him. I asked Ancelotti about this before signing Ronaldo because I had similar question marks, but the Coach gave me the all-clear.”

Ancelotti wary of Celtic scoreline
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes Milan did enough to win at Celtic Park and warns the 0-0 is a dangerous result going into the second leg.

“It’s perhaps less than we deserved, as we had more scoring opportunities, but a draw is a good result and we played well with focus, determination and concentration. We barely allowed Celtic to create anything and tried to make the most of our chances,” said the tactician.

“In terms of defence, this was a considerable improvement on the match at Siena at the weekend. I am very happy with the way the side played.”

Alberto Gilardino started despite being a major injury doubt and wasted several scoring opportunities.

“The full-backs are very important to us and they pushed forward a bit more in the second half. Gilardino and Kaka also did well. The lone striker tactic gives us extra aggression in midfield with Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso. However, it is slightly trickier for cross-field passing and spreading the play.”

Celtic had until now won all three of their home games in the Champions League this term and have struggled badly on their travels.

When these two teams met in the Group stage last year, it also ended 0-0 in Scotland with a 3-1 victory in Italy.

“The 0-0 is not a great result,” insisted Ancelotti. “We’ve had this a few times in qualification and it’s dangerous, but we hope San Siro can support us and we have a good chance of going through.

“Celtic are a team that, if you act scared in this stadium, they take control and start to really put you under pressure. We managed to keep the defence pretty high and therefore prevent them from playing in our midfield.”

Yoann Gourcuff was the surprise starter in midfield, as Clarence Seedorf is dealing with a muscular problem.

“He did very well, finally, as he is still very young and is bound to be inconsistent in these early months. He had some injuries and struggled to get back on form and above all to rediscover his confidence. Gourcuff is remarkably talented and will be a great player in the future.”

Ancelotti has been repeatedly linked with Real Madrid, especially with Fabio Capello so unpopular among players and fans.

“I am accustomed to this sort of newspaper talk, so it doesn’t affect me at all. It’s fairly natural for a Coach at a big club to be linked with other sides.

“The Real rumours were circulating last season as well, but my desire is to stay at Milan as long as possible – like Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United! It’s my sixth year, so I hope we don’t run into a seven-year itch. Nazionale or Real Madrid? I cannot choose. I want to stay here.”

Crespo hits out at AC Milan
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Inter striker Hernan Crespo has slammed city rivals Milan for not wanting to sign him during the summer.

The Argentine was available for transfer and was tipped to rejoin the Rossoneri after spending the 2004-05 season on loan there.

But Milan snubbed the opportunity and Crespo rejoined Inter, the club he left for Chelsea in a £16.8m deal in 2003.

“I was very disappointed by the fact that Milan didn’t do much to net me and that they preferred other strikers,” said Crespo.

“Now they have even signed Ronaldo, while they had told me that they wanted to save money. It is logical that I was disappointed – you can only imagine how much they spent.

“But now I am happy to be at Inter and this is where I want to end my career,” continued the ex-Parma and Lazio man.

“I will always be grateful to Inter President Massimo Moratti for giving me the opportunity to return to Italy.”

The former Chelsea man, however, admits that he still has fond memories of his time with Milan and will never forget the Rossoneri supporters.

“I guess I wasn’t part of the club’s plans, but you can’t erase the good things I did with them,” he added.

“I am happy that the fans are still grateful to me for my performances with the Rossoneri jersey.”

Borriello has ban confirmed
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Marco Borriello has had his suspension renewed following his failed dope test last year.

The former Under-21 international tested positive for an illegal substance following the 2-1 home defeat to Roma in Week 11.

Although the forward has always maintained his innocence, his B sample confirmed the initial findings.

The disciplinary commission had already suspended the player on December 21 as a precautionary measure and confirmed its decision on Tuesday.

“The disciplinary commission, seeing the note delivered on December 21 from the CONI Anti Doping Office with regard to Milan player Marco Borriello, confirms the footballer’s suspension from all sporting activities as a precautionary measure,” read an official note.

The quantities found in Borriello’s sample were high enough for doctors to exclude the possibility that the positive result was due to external use.

The striker had scored three times before his ban, netting a brace in the Coppa Italia match with Brescia and a goal in the Serie A tie with Cagliari in Week 14.

Borriello will now face a hearing where the sporting authorities will assess his case and hand out any specific ban.

Maldini hits Champions century
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini will make his 100th Champions League appearance in the match with Celtic, but the defender insists it’s a false statistic.

The Rossoneri symbol has won the prestigious trophy four times during his 23 seasons with the Via Turati outfit, twice after it changed its name from the European Cup in 1992.

“Obviously this milestone is a big honour for me,” said the legendary Maldini, who is now 38-years-old.

“But I used to play in the competition when it was not called the Champions League and I feel I have made more than 100 appearances,” added the player who may quit at the end of the season.

“It will be one of the last European ties I play in, I’m not sure it will be the last. I keep playing because I like this challenge, this type of match, great games in important stadiums.”

Maldini was also asked to comment on Italian football’s latest struggles after the death of a policeman following the Catania-Palermo derby.

“Football has nothing to do with what happened in Catania,” explained the former Azzurri man.

“Obviously there is a problem with violence but it's a social problem. We don’t feel UEFA will have their eyes on us.”

Celtic 0:0 AC Milan - match report
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Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino wasted several good chances at Celtic Park, but Milan can be satisfied with their 0-0 draw in Scotland.

Considering Celtic's home record - winning all three of their Champions League games here this season - this can be considered a good result for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

The Rossoneri had lost their last two Champions League games, although they still qualified top of Group H and have since notched together a positive streak in Serie A. With Ronaldo cup-tied, Marco Borriello suspended and Pippo Inzaghi, Dida, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf injured, Alberto Gilardino started upfront despite his own fitness worries with support from Kaka and Yoann Gourcuff. Celtic had Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley cup-tied, but ex-Reggina man Shunsuke Nakamura started in midfield.

Paolo Maldini celebrated his 100th Champions League appearance, although that figure rises to 160 including the old European Cup. It was also a special match for former Glasgow Rangers fan favourite Gennaro Gattuso.

There was a danger for Zeljko Kalac after eight minutes, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink just failing to get on the end of a Nakamura free kick. As usual, Milan showed major frailties defending on set-pieces. Kaka wasted a good counter-attack and Kenny Miller fired straight at Kalac.

Andrea Pirlo's inspired pass found Gourcuff unmarked at the back post on 17 minutes, but his header was too weak to truly trouble Artur Boruc.

The first real scoring opportunity came on 25 minutes, as Kaka threaded through for Gilardio to spring the offside trap. He side-footed towards the far post and Boruc got a shin to it for a crucial save.

Kenny Miller lost his marker to latch on to a Mark Wilson cross from the right, but his first touch let him down. Moments later, a lucky ricochet fell to Massimo Ambrosini only to slice well wide from the edge of the area, then Gilardino couldn't control a floated pass.

Kalac did well to smother a trademark Nakamura free kick that was heading for the near top corner. Ambrosini's header from a Massimo Oddo corner was charged down.

After the break Aiden McGeady's snapshot was comfortably held, but Milan had a great chance when Kaka rolled across for the unmarked Gattuso and his low strike was inches past the near post. In typical Rino style, his disappointment was clear for all to see.

The game sprung to life and soon after Lee Naylor smashed his left-foot shot just past the near top corner. Ambrosini took down Miller on the very edge of the area, but Nakamura swung the free kick well wide of the upright.

An ambitious Gourcuff effort from almost 30 metres didn't cause Boruc problems. Kakha Kaladze requested a substitution due to a heel problem, making way for Daniele Bonera, while Jiri Jarosik replaced Miller to make Vennegoor of Hesselink the lone striker.

Gattuso flicked up the ball for Gilardino, but Boruc plucked it off his head. On 70 minutes Gilardino ran on to Kaka's through ball and tried to run round the goalkeeper, but only earned a booking for simulation when it got away from him.

The former Parma man also chested down a Gourcuff pass and volleyed it over, then found space on the edge of the area set up by Gattuso only for a weak finish to waste the chance. It clearly wasn't his night, so Ricardo Oliveira took over - the only other fit striker at their disposal.

Kaka attempted a spectacular stop and spin inside the area, but was closed down. Substitute Thomas Gravesen controlled a deflected throw-in and fired wide under pressure from Maldini. Vennegoor of Hesselink just failed to reach a Nakamura pass.

Celtic: Boruc; Wilson, McManus, O'Dea, Naylor; Nakamura, Lennon (Gravesen 81), Sno, Jarosik; Vennegoor of Hesselink, Miller (Jarosik 63)
Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Maldini, Kaladze (Bonera 63), Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Gourcuff; Kakà; Gilardino (Ricardo Oliveira 77)
Ref: Hauge (Nor)

AC Milan in pole for Ronaldinho
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have amazingly declared that they will sign Ronaldinho if Barcelona decide to sell the samba star.

The Italian giants have been strongly linked with a multi-million pound summer move and they are refusing to rule out the Brazilian’s proposed arrival.

“The player knows of our interest and Barcelona are aware of it too, but we are not looking to disturb anyone,” Vice-President Adriano Galliani told Sky Italia on Monday night.

“I can’t see a powerful and rich club like Barcelona getting to a point where they would sell him, but if that occurs then we would be in pole position.”

Galliani’s statement came just days after January signing Ronaldo scored his first goals for the club with a brace at Siena.

“The merit goes to Milan Lab who managed to resolve a few of his physical problems,” added the official. “He was in pain after initial training sessions, but that is no longer the case.”

The former Inter crowd favourite returned to Italian football last month after falling out of favour with Real Madrid’s Fabio Capello.

“I knew what I was buying,” added Galliani. “Everyone is aware of the technical quality of the player. I simply asked for him and I got him.

“The last great foreign player to move to Italy was bought by Juventus when they got Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now we have brought back a real star.”

Galliani also spoke about the future of boss Carlo Ancelotti after recent whispers claimed that Barcelona tactician Frank Rijkaard, an ex-Milan player, could arrive in June.

“The career of a Coach depends on results,” stated the former Lega Calcio President. “Carlo has done well in these years.

“I think and hope he will continue to do so this year, while he still has a contract with us for next season.

“I would be the happiest man in the world if Ancelotti stayed with us for some years to come, because it would mean that we would have collected some great results.”

Ancelotti wants Italian style
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has called on his men to win with style at Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Rossoneri will come up against Celtic’s impressive home record in the competition tomorrow, but the tactician is looking for more than just a victory.

“We are here to take advantage of the European stage,” Ancelotti said at the pre-match media conference.

“We want to win, but also put on a good show at the same time. It would be important for Italian football.

“After the World Cup, the image of our game has hit rock bottom with the recent incidents at Catania.

“Here in Scotland, but also in England and Spain, stadiums are full. We must show that in Italy there are not just empty stadiums and violence.”

The Italian giants flew to Scotland with injury concerns over Clarence Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino, but both have been declared fit.

“We have Seedorf and Gilardino back,” noted Ancelotti even if the latter is unlikely to start in the last 16 first leg tie.

The former Roma and Milan midfielder is expected to field a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Zeljko Kalac being handed the gloves and Paolo Maldini coming into the defence after Saturday’s shaky 4-3 win at Siena.

“We made the same sorts of mistakes which we made at Livorno,” noted Ancelotti when questioned on their defensive problems.

“We are conceding goals with a lined-up defence and it is all down to concentration. But we are working on this.”

Although January new boy Ronaldo is Cup-tied, Ancelotti insists that his arrival has helped his side mentally.

“We are without Ronaldo, but it is important for the side that he has quickly settled into his new environment,” he argued.

Massimo Oddo, Massimo Ambrosini and Ricardo Oliveira – who scored at Siena – are set to start.

Milan (probable): Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Maldini, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf; Oliveira.

Ancelotti wants Euro solidarity
20.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti hopes all three Italian teams can triumph in the Champions League this week to show the world that Serie A is not in crisis.

The Rossoneri will face Celtic on Tuesday evening and the Coach is aware of the importance of the match, not only for the Via Turati club.

“The Champions League can be the springboard for Italian football and can help us show Europe our strength, that is why I hope that Roma and Inter win as well, we need those kind of results.

“Our football is going into free fall and I think the incidents in Catania proved it,” said Ancelotti before leaving for Scotland.

“We play in front of empty Curvas, abroad there are thousands of supporters who go to the stadium, where they find enthusiasm and sporting culture,” continued the tactician, who celebrated his 300th match on the Milan bench in Saturday’s win over Siena.

Milan are facing an injury crisis upfront for their trip to Celtic, as Pippo Inzaghi is out of action and Alberto Gilardino might not recover in time for the knockout round.

“We still have a day and a half before the match, we hope Gilardino will be able to play, as well as Clarence Seedorf. It feels like two years ago in Manchester, when we only had one striker available.

“We will have to interpret the match as we did back then, we all hope the result will be the same,” added the Coach, referring to the 1-0 win thanks to Hernan Crespo’s goal.

The Rossoneri will field Zeljko Kalac between the posts and the match, which will be refereed by Terje Hauge of Norway, will kick-off at 8.45pm local time, while the return leg will be played in Milan on March 7.

Inzaghi misses Celtic match
19.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are facing an injury crisis for their trip to Celtic, as Pippo Inzaghi and Nelson Dida are out of action, while Alberto Gilardino may not be fit to play.

Carlo Ancelotti had warned yesterday evening that he did not believe the two Italian strikers would recover in time for Tuesday’s Champions League encounter.

He released the squad details this morning and, as expected, Inzaghi has not made the journey to Glasgow.

Although Gilardino is included in the 21-man group, there are major doubts over whether he can take part due to a knee injury.

Ronaldo is Cup-tied after playing in the tournament with Real Madrid this season and Marco Borriello is suspended for failing a random drugs test.

This means Ancelotti has only one fully fit striker at his disposal – Ricardo Oliveira – while he has brought along youth team player Davide Di Gennaro, who is yet to make an official appearance for the club in any competition.

It’s expected Ricardo Oliveira will start upfront supported by Kaka in a more advanced role, bulking up the midfield. The former Betis forward is yet to score in five Champions League appearances.

Goalkeeper Dida has also remained in Milan, though Clarence Seedorf returns after skipping Saturday’s 4-3 win at Siena with a muscular problem.

In defence, Massimo Oddo is expected to make his European debut for the Rossoneri after joining from Lazio in January.

German referee Wolfgang Stark has been assigned to the Champions League game at Celtic Park.

Milan squad: Storari, Kalac, Fiori; Cafu, Kaladze, Maldini, Costacurta, Simic, Jankulovski, Bonera, Oddo; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira, Di Gennaro.

Liga beckons for Ancelotti
18.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid consultant Ernesto Bronzetti has floated the idea of a Coach swap between Carlo Ancelotti and Frank Rijkaard, although the Merengues are also interested.

“It’s still early to say, but it is true that Ancelotti is well liked and respected by the Spanish clubs. I know that Real Madrid wanted him last year, he’s very popular,” revealed Bronzetti on Sky Italia.

It is certainly not the first time that the Milan tactician has been linked with a move to La Liga, but this summer would appear to be the perfect occasion to turn rumours into fact.

His rapport with the club hierarchy and players has deteriorated, while failure to pick up any silverware would probably see him part company with the Rossoneri anyway.

The successor has already been pinpointed in his former Milan teammate and current Barcelona boss Rijkaard.

Although this weekend the Dutchman assured he was “very happy here” and has no intention of terminating his contract, the stories persist.

There is definite tension within the Blaugrana camp, where Samuel Eto’o has publicly blasted Ronaldinho and Rijkaard for “selfishness.”

The Cameroon international is set to walk out this summer and took a shock decision today, asking not to be called up for this weekend’s game against Valencia.

This is another matter of interest to Milan, who have made bids for both Eto’o and Ronaldinho in the past year.

As for Ancelotti’s future, Real Madrid failed to capture him this season and went for Fabio Capello instead, but the former Juventus tactician has become deeply unpopular with fans, players and directors.

“I feel sorry for Capello and hope he wins this evening,” added Bronzetti. “If he doesn’t, then he’ll have some serious problems.”

Real were held 0-0 at the Bernabeu by Betis Seville. David Beckham was sent off.

Rossoneri's Celtic striker shortage
18.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has pointed out Milan may only have one striker at their disposal for the Champions League encounter with Celtic.

“I really don’t think Alberto Gilardino can recover in time for Tuesday. He still has this knock to his knee that is causing him pain,” warned the Coach after today’s 4-3 win at Siena.

“Tomorrow Pippo Inzaghi will undergo tests and we’ll understand if he can take part in the match or not. We don’t have many options, but whatever happens, there will be 11 of us out there.”

It’s a heavy blow for the Rossoneri, who cannot count on brace hero Ronaldo, as he is Cup-tied from his participation with Real Madrid.

Marco Borriello is sitting out a ban for failing a random drugs test, so Ricardo Oliveira is the only forward available for the game at Celtic Park.

Nonetheless, the January signing of Il Fenomeno has proved an impressive one, scoring a brace in his first Serie A start for the club.

“He played 90 minutes in great form. There were occasional pauses, as there had to be, but Ronaldo gave a fine performance for him and for us. Everyone knows he’s a champion, but the fact he was able to do so well in such a short space of time was a surprise.

“Ronaldo deserves praise, as it wasn’t an easy choice to come to Milan. He wanted to put himself up for the challenge again and if he did that it’s because he is still motivated. Kaka also impressed and Massimo Ambrosini has unique qualities within this squad.”

However, there were worrying signs at the Stadio Franchi, as the Rossoneri were leading three times and always let Siena back into the game before Ambrosini’s last-gasp winner.

“I am worried by this aspect,” conceded Ancelotti. “They scored against us with the defence set out, which means the marking was lax. I am convinced that with seven players you can defeat well, as long as they are organised and aggressive. It’s something we have to improve quickly, as against Celtic our defensive strategy will be very important.”

Ronaldo: You ain't seen nothing yet
18.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo scored two goals in his first start for Milan, but assures the fans he can do so much more this season.

“I am truly happy with this victory, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done. If someone feels cramp, then it means he’s not 100 per cent fit,” said Il Fenomeno.

He was off the pitch for treatment when Siena scored their equaliser, but Massimo Ambrosini’s looping header secured a scintillating 4-3 win at the Stadio Franchi.

“We cannot keep conceding so many goals, but apart from that aspect, we’re all content with the result. We gave everything we had and I was able to carry on for the 90 minutes despite getting knocked about quite a bit,” he revealed on Sky Italia.

“It’s a shame, as I wasted a good chance in the first half, the kind of finish I usually don’t miss.”

Ronaldo combined brilliantly with fellow Brazilians Kaka and Ricardo Oliveira for a spectacular Milan performance, taking them within two points of the Champions League place currently held by Empoli, who also won today against Roma.

“This team can certainly go far – very far. Not even we know where, as every game has everything to prove. I dedicate this brace to my son. For the rest, I will let my actions speak for me, as those will silence the critics.”

Many have accused the ex-Inter star of being out of shape and a shadow of the player who graced Serie A last in 2002, but in his two appearances so far he has been remarkably impressive.

However, Milan will be forced to do without him for the Champions’ League trip to Celtic Park, as he is Cup-tied from his games with Real Madrid.

“It is a weight on me to be out of that competition, as I cared about it a great deal. I’ll just have to hold on until next season. In any case, I shall remain by my teammates’ side throughout and cheer them on.”

Siena 3:4 AC Milan - match report
17.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Ronaldo 15, 81 (M), Vergassola 18 (S), Ricardo Oliveira 29 (M), Maccarone 30, 89 (S), Ambrosini 94 (M)

Ronaldo bagged a brace in his first Milan start, but it took a heart-stopping finale to secure the points in this seven-goal thriller!

The Rossoneri aimed to continue their climb towards the Champions League spots, but were wary of a side that had already held them to a goalless draw at San Siro earlier this season. Ronaldo was given his first start after last week's 30-minute debut in an all-Brazilian trident attack, but Clarence Seedorf joined the weighty injury list with Dida, Zeljko Kalac and Alessandro Nesta among others. Enrico Chiesa was out with a flu bug.

Kaka flicked an Andrea Pirlo free kick on to the roof of the net, then Cristian Brocchi went on a strong run to set up Ricardo Oliveira. From the resulting corner, Oliveira nodded Pirlo's set-piece just past the near post.

When Milan broke through after 15 minutes, it was that man on the scoresheet: Il Fenomeno. His first Rossoneri goal was a looping header from Pirlo's cross that floated over Alex Manninger and into the far corner. Ronaldo was buried in hugs from his teammates for his first Serie A goal since April 28, 2002.

However, the lead did not last long, as Siena equalised three minutes later. The defence struggled to clear a cross and Simone Vergassola coolly side-footed home from the penalty spot.

Ronaldo has said he wishes to answer his critics and showed he still has pace by out-sprinting two Siena defenders, although at the other end Daniele Corvia's spin was just wide.

Milan's Selecao trio upfront combined beautifully for their second goal on the half-hour mark. Kaka started the move, Ronaldo carried on the ball for Ricardo Oliveira's precise angled drive into the far corner.

Incredibly, the lead lasted all of 50 seconds! Once again, Siena fought back vehemently and Massimo Maccarone scored his first goal since returning from the Premiership, a splendid angled strike on the bounce.

It was a very entertaining game and Oliveira again went close, hitting the side-netting from Kaka's through ball. Ronaldo side-footed wide of an open goal after he had sprung the offside trap and sent Manninger the wrong way.

Marco Storari did not deal with a corner very well and Daniele Portanova's follow-up was charged down in front of an open goal. Ronaldo nodded Pirlo's free kick on to the roof of the net, clattering into the upright as he did so. Yoann Gourcuff came on and within 30 seconds skimmed the woodwork from eight yards.

Milan were forced to play the final 12 minutes in 10 men after Brocchi hacked down Ciccio Cozza with a very late and high tackle that was nowhere near the ball.

It didn't matter, though, as at their most difficult moment the Brazilians came together. Kaka rode tackles down the right and rolled across for Ronaldo to tap in his brace from six yards.

It still wasn't over, as Siena really do never say die. With Brocchi sent off and Ronaldo on the sidelines for treatment, Maccarone had all the time he needed to gather a corner kick and fire into the far top corner from seven yards, making it 3-3 at the Stadio Franchi.

Substitute Massimo Ambrosini rose for a header and brought a spectacular save out of Manninger. From the resulting corner Ambrosini again got hold of the ball, his effort floating just millimetres above Vergassola's attempted goalline clearance with the last kick of the game. It may have taken a deflection off Kaka along the way.

Siena: Manninger; Bertotto, Gastaldello, Portanova, Molinaro; Antonini, Codrea (Galloppa 84), Vergassola; Cozza (Locatelli 80); Maccarone, Corvia (Frick 59)

Milan: Storari; Cafu (Oddo 74), Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo (Gourcuff 74), Brocchi; Kakà; Ronaldo, Ricardo Oliveira (Ambrosini 78)

Ref: Messina

Sent off: Brocchi 78 (M)

Beretta plans new AC Milan surprise
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Football Italia

Siena boss Mario Beretta is confident he can stop Milan for the second time this season when they cross paths this afternoon.

“We will get a positive result this time as well,” said the Coach after the 0-0 draw at San Siro in October.

“I am certain the lads will give 100 per cent. It has been a good week of training and we managed to integrate a few players returning from injury who, obviously, are still a little behind in terms of match fitness.”

The Rossoneri are the favourites and hope to continue their 11-match unbeaten run that has taken them to within two points of the Champions League spots.

“Milan have fantastic players of great quality who can put you under pressure at any moment. They could finish fourth this season, but I hope they only get there from next week.”

Beretta faces some injury worries ahead of this match, as Enrico Chiesa, Leandro Rinaudo and Abdoulay Konko are out of action, while Mario Frick may only be fit enough for the bench, so Massimo Maccarone should start upfront.

“I have to say that my team has faced every opponent with the same determination, whether they were Inter or Cagliari. We have not made a distinction between the ranks.”

Seedorf skips Siena trip
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Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf has joined the Milan injury list for Saturday’s Serie A visit to the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

The Dutchman was expected to be in the starting line-up against Siena tomorrow afternoon, but pulled up with a muscular problem during training.

He has been left behind along with Dida, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta, Giuseppe Favalli, Serginho, Pippo Inzaghi and the suspended Marco Borriello.

Perhaps doubting the fitness levels of Ronaldo and Ricardo Oliveira, Carlo Ancelotti added a late addition to his squad – teenage hitman Willy Aubameyang.

Milan squad: Fiori, Kalac, Storari; Bonera, Cafu, Grimi, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo; Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira, Ronaldo, Aubameyang.

Ancelotti looks to Ronaldo
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Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti will unleash Ronaldo from the first minute in Saturday’s Serie A clash at Siena.

The Brazilian made his Rossoneri debut last week as a substitute against Livorno, but the January signing from Real Madrid will start at the Franchi alongside Brazilian friends Kaka and Ricardo Oliveira.

“I think they can do great things together,” stated Ancelotti.

“Ronaldo needs to reach his top form, but playing will give him the possibility to do so earlier and his arrival has given the team new enthusiasm.

“We must remember that he hasn’t played much in the past six months, but he remains a great champion and is comporting himself well.

“We cannot expect him to play with continuity and he might encounter some difficulties now, but I am sure he will prove his value in the next few weeks.”

The tactician also dismissed reports that he’s been asked to make tactical changes to the side by owner and President Silvio Berlusconi.

“He wasn’t discussing my tactical decisions, he only meant to say that we need to be more determined,” underlined the former midfielder.

“We must remain focused if we want to avoid dropping points from now until the end of the season.

“I do not feel under discussion,” he added. “I know that I need to do something so the team can play better.”

Ancelotti’s contract at San Siro expires in 2008 and Barca boss Frank Rijkaard, his former Milan teammate, has been associated with the Rossoneri hotseat today.

Milan (probable): Storari; Oddo, Kaladze, Bonera, Jankulovski; Pirlo, Gattuso, Brocchi; Kaka; Oliveira, Ronaldo

Rijkaard in new AC Milan link
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Football Italia

Frank Rijkaard could join Milan next summer with reports in Spain insisting that the Coach will leave Barcelona at the end of the season.

Spanish newspaper AS claims that the Dutchman will quit the Blaugrana for personal reasons despite his Nou Camp contract not set to expire until 2009.

However, the tactician’s deal includes a release clause which would allow him to walk away from his £2m a season deal in June should he wish to do so. AS maintain that will happen.

Rijkaard is understood to be unhappy with life at Barca and his recent bust-up with striker Samuel Eto’o – who the Coach claimed refused to play at Racing Santander – has not helped matters.

The former Dutch national boss is now understood to be looking for a new side and Milan could make a move.

Rijkaard marshalled the Milan midfield as a player and has constantly been named as a possible successor to his former teammate Carlo Ancelotti.

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has previously maintained that he would want a past player to take charge once Ancelotti does leave. His contract runs until June 2008.

Meanwhile, Getafe boss Bernd Schuster or former Milan and current Holland Coach Marco Van Basten could take over at Barca from June.

Kaladze eyes Athens final
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Football Italia

Milan defender Kakha Kaladze believes that the Rossoneri can fight for a spot in the Champions League Final in Athens.

The Georgian player is ready for action after recovering from an injury and will be at the Coach’s disposal for Saturday’s match with Siena.

“I am finally feeling well and I am ready to play,” Kaladze explained in a press conference.

“Our main objective in the League remains securing a Champions League spot and I think we can compete for third place,” added the 28-year-old.

“In the Champions League, we have made no secret of the fact we want to play the Final in Athens. I have heard people say there are other sides that are stronger than us, but I don’t think so.

“Everyone must prove their value on the pitch, we qualified easily for the knock-out phase and that is why I believe we have what is needed to fly to Athens.”

Kaladze is also pleased with Ronaldo’s arrival and is sure that the Brazilian will prove he still is a great champion.

“We are all glad that he joined us. He has already improved since his move and he will be available for the match with Siena as well.

“He is a charismatic figure, on the pitch as well as off it. We already had an impressive striking department, Ronaldo makes it even better.

"He is a complete champion, fast and strong with his head and both his feet,” said Kaladze.

Nesta: Four more years
15.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Defender Alessandro Nesta has dismissed rumours suggesting he might return to Lazio. “I am staying at Milan for four more years,” he said.

The Rossonero is currently in Miami completing his treatment for the shoulder injury, which has kept him sidelined him since November 26, but he might be back in action by the end of March.

“I have read many things in the papers, including that I would never come back to Italy from Miami,” said Nesta in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Instead, I am coming back on February 26, but I am not considering the idea of returning to Rome. My contract expires in 2008, with my injury I don’t think this is the right time to discuss an extension,” added the former Biancoceleste.

“Moving back to Lazio would make no sense now, that was a wonderful part of my life, but I am still young and I want to play at the highest levels, preferably in the Champions League.”

The player will join the rest of the squad at the end of the month and hopes he will soon end his long convalescence.

“It will still take a few weeks before I can actually touch the ball. Bill Tilson at Milan Lab also joined me here in Miami to help me rehabilitate.

“My future? I don’t know yet. I don’t think I will ever play in the MLS, although I like Miami a lot. If I extend my deal with Milan for four more years, that is where I will end my career.

“I like life in the United States and there would be great opportunities for my children. In any case, I prefer football there rather than in Japan or the Arab nations,” concluded Nesta.

San Siro open for Euro ties
15.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza will be allowed to open to Inter and Milan fans for the next Champions League ties, UEFA have confirmed.

The stadium had not received the green light from the Italian Government to reopen to fans, but work carried out last week brought the arena closer to the Legge Pisanu standards, allowing at least Milan season ticket holders to access the arena on Sunday.

The first knockout round match between Inter and Valencia on February 20 will therefore kick off at San Siro at 8.45pm local time as per schedule.

UEFA confirmed on their website that the permitted capacity will be 36,000, including the five per cent reserved for visiting supporters, that is 1,800 tickets to be sold via the visiting team.

The Italian Football Federation informed the governing body of European football that the Stadio Meazza already conforms with some of the measures provided for by Italian law but that some work must still be completed before full capacity will be allowed at the venue.

As to the Milan-Celtic tie scheduled on March 7, this clash will also be hosted at San Siro, again in front of a limited number of spectators, with the exact capacity still to be determined.

It seems certain however that the capacity will include 4,500 seats reserved for Scottish fans.

Berlusconi wants change
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Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi believes that changes are needed in the team’s tactics in order to obtain the season’s objectives.

The Rossoneri are unbeaten in their last 11 matches and are only two points shy of a Champions League spot, which remains the primary objective in this difficult campaign.

“Sometimes Milan seem to me like a boxer who is unable to knock out his opponent,” said Berlusconi.

“We have to change our way of playing. It’s like in 1999, when we won the Scudetto with Coach Alberto Zaccheroni. We spoke before the last three matches and we changed the system,” added the former Prime Minister.

The Rossonero believes that after Ronaldo’s arrival, Carlo Ancleotti has plenty of options upfront and could field a three-man strikeforce in the match against Siena on Saturday.

“We could play with Ronaldo, Ricardo Oliveira and Kaka – a Brazilian trio. Furthermore, we mustn’t forget that we also have Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi.

“We have many alternatives and we might have even more next season,” said a smiling Berlusconi, fuelling speculation that he might be planning to make a bid for Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

The club chief then reiterated that Kaka is not for sale and will not leave the San Siro, despite constant rumours in Spain stating that the player is set to join Real Madrid.

“He represents Milan perfectly with his values and he is fundamental for us. Kaka is a Rossoneri player and he will remain with us for a very long time. Maybe one day he will also wear the captain’s armband,” concluded Berlusconi.

Ronaldo relishing AC Milan challenge
15.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo has said returning to Serie A with Milan is “the biggest challenge of my life”.

“I am truly happy with these first days at Milan. Everyone is treating me very well and I can only thank them,” said the ex-Inter striker.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm around my return to Italy and you all know that coming back here was a huge challenge for me.”

The Brazilian was an icon for the Nerazzurri before demanding a switch to Real Madrid in 2002, but surprisingly moved to the other side of the San Siro in January.

He made his debut in the Rossoneri jersey on Sunday in the 2-1 victory over Livorno and had three shots on goal.

“Unfortunately, I had a few efforts that were only just out, so I hope it goes better against Siena,” continued Il Fenomeno, who may be given his first start this weekend.

“It’s all going well. I really want to impress and I’ve already said this is the biggest challenge of my life. It’s one I want to win.”

Diarra open to AC Milan move
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Football Italia

Milan target Mahamadou Diarra has admitted that he might leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.

The player joined the Merengues from Lyon last year in a £18.5m deal, penning a five-season contract, but has failed to live up to expectations.

“I am proud I moved here and the only thing that matters for me is that the team plays well,” said Diarra in a Press conference.

“I am sorry that I am not doing as well as someone thought I would, despite my efforts. I think I can play much better than this, no matter who is fielded next to me,” added the Mali midfielder.

He is allegedly included in a swap deal with teammates Fabio Cannavaro and Robinho to bring Kaka to the Santiago Bernabeu, although Milan have reiterated that the Rossonero is not for sale.

“In football you can never know what might happen. If Real were to sell me, I would accept their decision.”

In the meantime, Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Ronaldo might be in the starting line-up for Saturday’s match with Siena.

“He is feeling fine, he could play from the start. He will always play next to another striker. I think he could do well with Ricardo Oliveira, they are more compatible than Filippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino,” explained the Coach.

Italian trio track Pato
14.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus, Inter and Milan are ready to battle it out on the transfer market for Alexandre Pato of Porto Alegre.

The 17-year-old is seen by many as the new Kaka and he’s admitted that a Serie A switch is a desire of his.

“I know that Milan, Juventus and Inter are following me,” said the South American starlet.

“I feel that I am ready to undertake a European adventure and therefore the interest of these important clubs flatters me.

“I always follow Italian football on television and my dream is to play in Italy.

“I would like to become the new Ronaldo – perhaps I will follow the career of the many Brazilian players who have won so much with Milan...”

Pato is contracted to Internacional until 2009 and is currently valued at £10m, with reports suggesting that a £7m offer from Milan has already been rejected.

Juventus are understood to be in a favourable position to net the attacker as his agent is Gilmar Veloz, who is also the representative of former Juve ace Emerson.

Pato won the Copa Libertadores last year and 2006 FIFA World Club Championship by defeating Barcelona in the Final.

He also impressed in the recent U-20 South American Championship in Paraguay, which was won by the Selecao.

AC Milan plan Robinho bid
13.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are ready to make an offer for Real Madrid striker Robinho, according to the latest reports in Spain.

The Brazilian is contracted to the Merengues until 2010, but his future is in doubt given his lack of an impact since his arrival in 2005.

Marca’s website reports that the player was hoping Ronaldo’s departure to Milan would grant him more playing time, but the youngster failed to appear against Real Sociedad at the weekend.

Robinho, also a target for Juventus, has allegedly asked the club to meet with his agent at the end of the season and is willing to consider an exit, with Milan a possible destination.

Rossoneri official Adriano Galliani supposedly mentioned the player during the January meetings which led to Ronaldo’s return to Serie A.

However, Marca insist that Real Madrid value the South American at a massive £21m – having signed him for £17m.

Milan are in the process of reshaping their squad and Robinho is seen as a boy who would fit in well at Milanello.

The San Siro outfit already have Samba stars Kaka and Ronaldo, while they are also keen on Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

In the meantime, AS insists that Kaka might join Real Madrid at the end of the season, despite Milan’s reiterated statement that the player will not leave the club.

According to the newspaper, the Brazilian star might move to the Santiago Bernabeu in exchange for Fabio Cannavaro, Robinho and Mahamadou Diarra, plus a significant amount of cash.

Zebina set for AC Milan
13.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus defender Jonathan Zebina has agreed to join Milan at the end of the season, according to reports in Italy.

The stopper is contracted to the Bianconeri until June 2009, but is allegedly looking for a new home in Milan as his adventure with the Turin outfit seems near to an end.

Il Corriere dello Sport reports that the Frenchman has been in contact with Rossoneri officials and the two parties have reached an agreement in principle, which should be finalised shortly.

The player joined the Old Lady in 2003 from Roma along with Coach Fabio Capello and initially impressed.

However, he’s been plagued by injury problems over the last two years and is believed to have a frosty relationship with new boss Didier Deschamps.

The former Cannes man was already a reported target for the Via Turati outfit in 2005, when the full-back was considered surplus to requirements at Juve.

Zebina has now been identified as an ideal player to begin the rebuilding process for a Rossoneri defence in urgent need of rejuvenation.

In the meantime, Juve general director Jean-Claude Blanc has confirmed that the Bianconeri are planning some major signings in view of their likely return to Serie A.

“We will immediately build a strong side and it will be even better in 2010, when we will also have a new stadium,” said Blanc.

“Sporting director Alessio Secco has been travelling a lot all over Europe to view many players, we will have some important new signings.”

Kaka nets Italian citizenship
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Football Italia

Milan star Kaka is officially an Italian citizen after a ceremony in the northern city this afternoon. “I’m honoured,” he said.

The Brazilian international was rewarded with dual nationality today given his peninsula roots and he’s delighted with his new status.

“I’m honoured and really am happy,” he underlined. “I’m now Italian and Brazilian.

“This will help me in the future and I’m sure it can also be of some use to Milan. I really am Italian in all aspects now and an integral part of this Italian club.”

Kaka’s fresh citizenship means that the Rossoneri can register him as an Italian and thus free-up a non-EU spot in their squad ahead of their summer transfer campaign.

The 24-year-old, who obviously can’t play for Italy given his Brazilian career, joined the San Siro boys in 2003 from Sao Paulo.

He was an instant hit with the fans and is now an integral part of boss Carlo Ancelotti’s plans at the Stadio Meazza.

Kaka, a known transfer target for Real Madrid, signed a new Milan contract until June 2011 last summer.

Gattuso wants Ronaldinho capture
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Football Italia

Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has admitted that he hopes the Rossoneri can sign Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

The Brazilian superstar has been paired with a move to the San Siro after negotiations to extend his contract with the Blaugrana allegedly stalled.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has made no secret that he is keen to see the Barca man in the Rossoneri shirt.

“I hope Ronaldinho arrives. It would mean Milan still want to win something important,” said Gattuso told Sky Italia.

“He is one of those few players that can really make a difference,” added the world champion.

Rino also commented on Ronaldo’s debut for the Diavoli, with the striker giving an impressive performance and receiving a warm welcome from his new fans.

“Ronaldo has brought enthusiasm to the fans and you could feel that when Ronaldo made his way onto the pitch.

“He showed all his value when he entered the game, I think he will help us reach fourth spot. However, we all know it won’t be easy to forget Andriy Shevchenko.

“Ronaldo is 30 now, still a great player, but I don’t think he will able to repeat the things that Sheva did here in three or four years,” concluded Gattuso.

San Siro opens for business
12.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza should reopen to spectators in time for Milan’s next Champions League fixture, according to UEFA.

The stadium was not included in the list of stadia shown the green light by the Government last week, thus fuelling speculation that Inter and Milan had asked UEFA to play their home ties elsewhere.

However, work carried out on Friday night allowed 28 new turnstiles to be installed at San Siro, bringing the arena closer to the Legge Pisanu requirements, while the rest of the work should be completed within the next two weeks.

Rossoneri season ticket holders – numbering 37,297 fans – were therefore allowed access to the stadium for Sunday’s match with Livorno, an important test according to UEFA spokesman William Gaillard.

“What happened over the weekend was a good dress rehearsal and I anticipate that there will be a normal capacity crowd for the game between Milan and Celtic on March 7,” the official said in an interview with the BBC.

“It was played in front of season ticket holders only because they were trying the new turnstiles,” added the spokesman.

“Things went well, the turnstiles were installed successfully and, at this stage, we cannot foresee why the game will need to be moved to another location,” concluded Gaillard.

UEFA chief Michel Platini (pictured) held talks with the FIGC on Friday and discussions will continue throughout the week.

European football’s governing body is hoping to reach an agreement over the venue of the Euro 2008 qualifier with Scotland on March 28, as original hosts Bari also fails to meet the necessary safety requirements.

“I believe both Inter and Milan will play their Champions League matches at the San Siro, once more turnstiles are installed. That is what we requested and we hope we will play in front of our supporters,” declared Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

Inter are scheduled to host Valencia on February 21 and reports suggest that the stadium will be open to fans on that occasion as well, although possibly with a reduced capacity.

Storari impresses at San Siro
12.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani was impressed with Marco Storari’s debut in the Rossoneri goal. “He offered an excellent performance,” he said.

The goalkeeper was signed from Messina in January and made his first appearance for his new club in the match with Livorno on Sunday, as both Nelson Dida and Zeljko Kalac were out injured.

“It’s right to speak about Ronaldo but I would like to say a few things about Storari as well,” said Galliani.

“His name isn’t as famous as Ronaldo’s, but he offered a great performance, he had no fear and certainly saved the result,” added the Rossonero.

Storari, who signed a contract at the club until June 2010 after also appearing for Perugia, Ancona and Napoli, stated that he didn’t feel the pressure of debuting for such a famous side.

“I don’t usually get too excited… I wanted to do well and I am happy with the result,” said the ‘keeper.

The former Messina man might now become a rival for Dida, who has yet to extend his contract with the Via Turati outfit, which currently expires in June.

Reports suggest that the club might in fact decide to give the Brazilian a deadline, as they believe they have found an excellent replacement for him between the posts.

Jankulovski signs new deal
12.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Marek Jankulovski has extended his contract with the San Siro outfit until 2011.

The 29-year-old, who scored the decisive goal in Milan’s 2-1 win over Livorno on Sunday, reached an agreement with the Rossoneri during the week, penning a new four-year-deal.

The Czech international joined the Via Turati club in 2005 after spells with Napoli and Udinese, having moved to Italy in 2000 from Banik Ostrava.

Jankulovski joins the list of Milan players who have recently extended their deals with the Rossoneri, along with Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Kakha Kaladze, Andrea Pirlo, Ricardo Oliveira, Yoann Gourcuff and Kaka.

“Marek signed a contract extension during the week and he will stay with us for four more years,” said Vice-President Adriano Galliani on Sunday.

“He is an excellent player who had some problems last year because of the serious injury he suffered. Now he has finally recovered and he is showing everyone that he is a great footballer,” added the former Lega Calcio chief.

Ronaldo enjoys AC Milan blow
12.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo was content with his performance, returning to the other side of San Siro after four and a half years.

“It wasn’t easy to arrive and play only a few days after joining the club,” said the new Milan signing.

He made his debut in the 2-1 win over Livorno, coming on for fellow Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira on 63 minutes.

“I am very happy with the victory, as these are three important points in the bag. My initial sensations with Milan have been excellent and I’m in good shape, although I do have to improve.

“It’s all different now and I have a lot to learn from this squad. I thank my teammates for helping me settle in. I still don’t know all their movements, but it went well both with a partner and as a lone striker. The goals will come.”

Although Il Fenomeno, who had made his mark on Serie A with Inter before moving on to Real Madrid, had three shots on goal – two on target – the scorers were Gennaro Gattuso and Marek Jankulovski.

“After Inter there was Real for many years, so there’s no point talking about the past now,” added Ronaldo.

“I am proud to wear this jersey and we have to let go of what once was. Playing a game per week, I am sure to improve my form a great deal.”

It wasn’t clear how the former Nerazzurri man would be welcomed, but the Milan season ticket holders cheered Ronie when he stepped on to the pitch.

“He played for half an hour, had three chances and did very well to lose his marker,” explained Carlo Ancelotti.

“His fitness levels have to improve, but I think this is a player who will become very important for us. Ronaldo is an incredibly talent and, although he lacks a little consistency right now, the rest is still in place – his pace, power, reactions and technique.”

AC Milan 2:1 Livorno - match report
11.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Gattuso 29 (M), Lucarelli 31 (L), Jankulovski 68 (M)

Ronaldo made his Rossoneri debut and Gennaro Gattuso scored a rare goal as Milan continued their revival.

Emergency work on San Siro saw 28 turnstiles installed overnight, bringing the stadium up to the standard where at least the 37,000 season ticket holders could be allowed in despite the drastic new security measures to view Ronaldo's debut. Milan were closing in on a Champions League spot and took on a Livorno side without a win in nine.

With both Dida and Zeljko Kalac injured, January signing Marco Storari was given his Rossoneri debut in goal. Serginho, Alessandro Nesta, Giuseppe Favalli and Cristian Brocchi fleshed out the injury list. Marco Amelia returned from suspension for the Amaranto with new signings Stefano Fiore and Cesar Aparecido.

Livorno had only ever won here once in Serie A - a 2-0 result in June 1942. Amelia has been heavily linked with Milan and showed his talent after six minutes by fingertipping an Alberto Gilardino rising strike out of the top corner.

Kaka dummied a defender only to drill wide, the Massimo Oddo spotted the goalkeeper off his line and clipped the crossbar with a splendid lob.

Livorno also threatened with new signing Fiore testing Storari's reflexes from just inside the area. A powerful Paolo Maldini volley from a corner kick was well held by Amelia.

When the goal finally came, it was from an unusual source. Ricardo Oliveira turned provider down the left with a taut cross that Gennaro Gattuso came sliding on to for a finish from six yards.

It didn't last long, as Livorno had a furious reaction. Within seconds Storari had parried a Cristiano Lucarelli strike, then he pushed away a Dario Passoni missile, but only into the path of Lucarelli.

It was a very entertaining game with chances for both sides, as Amelia required a double intervention to keep out Seedorf, then Gilardino.

Livorno went very close on 54 minutes when Stefano Morrone got away from two markers and Fiore pushed on for Cesar, but he fired over from a tight angle. At the other end, Gattuso's diving header was well held.

Ronaldo made his return to Serie A - and his Rossoneri debut - for Oliveira at the 63rd minute, receiving a warm welcome from the local fans. Within minutes he had created a good chance, combining with Gilardino, then a deflected Andrea Pirlo strike dipped on to the roof of the net.

Yet it was another defensive player who restored Milan's lead with a stunning goal. Marek Jankulovski found space on the edge of the area and unleashed a sudden left-foot snapshot that near broke the net between the near post and Amelia's hand.

Livorno never gave in and a free kick found Fiore's header just over, while Morrone's goal was disallowed for a tight offside position.

Ronaldo stung Amelia's gloves with a fierce drive from 30 metres, but Morrone only failed to volley in an equaliser because he lost his balance in front of Storari.

Milan: Storari; Oddo, Bonera, Maldini, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Brocchi 75); Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Ronaldo 63), Gilardino (Ambrosini 79)

Livorno: Amelia; Grandoni, Kuffour, Galante, Pasquale (Paulinho 83); Filippini, Morrone, Passoni, Cesar (Balleri 69); Fiore; Lucarelli

Ref: Rosetti

San Siro open to season tickets
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Football Italia

Only Milan season ticket holders will be allowed in to San Siro for the game against Livorno after emergency changes.

The official Rossoneri website confirmed the news this evening following an inspection by the authorities.

Work carried on through the night to install 28 new turnstiles at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, bringing the arena closer to the Legge Pisanu recommendations, at least enough to allow in the 37,297 Rossoneri season ticket holders.

“The rest of the work will be completed within the next two weeks, so San Siro will be up to standard very soon,” added security chief Giovanni Terzi.

While all fans are not yet allowed into the venue, Milan will have their supporters in the stands for Sunday’s clash with Livorno.

“I consider it a violation of the season ticket holder’s rights to deny them access to matches they have paid for,” insisted club President Silvio Berlusconi.

A former Prime Minister, he wasted no time in attacking the current Government’s sweeping clampdown on football-related violence in the wake of Chief Inspector Filippo Raciti’s death.

“The tragic incidents in Catania happened outside the stadium, so locking out season ticket holders is not addressing the problem. As Prime Minister, I would never have passed such a law.”

The club website has urged Milan supporters to arrive at the stadium early and will only be allowed in from gates 3, 4, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 25, 26, 37, 38, 41 and 42.

Ronaldo set for AC Milan debut
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has called Ronaldo for Sunday’s Livorno game and confirms he could make his Milan debut.

“He will start from the bench. If the opportunity arises, then he will play,” explained the Coach in his Press conference.

“Ronaldo has been doing well in training. He really wants to make the most of this opportunity to get back to the highest levels.”

When he first arrived from Real Madrid in January, club doctors warned that Il Fenomeno would require around a month of training before he was ready for Serie A football.

However, the Brazilian has impressed with his tenacity and the fitness levels mean he could make his bow against Livorno this weekend.

“He is very motivated, disciplined and eager to prove himself. Now above all he has to understand his teammates’ movements and gel with them, but with the qualities he possesses, I doubt that will be difficult.”

Milan are still awaiting the verdict from this morning’s inspection on the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, as the installation of 28 new turnstiles overnight could allow the presence of the season ticket holders on Sunday. If the new measures were rejected, then Ronaldo would be greeted by empty stands.

“I think some things weren’t dealt with competently after the Catania riots,” insisted Ancelotti. “It was right to clamp down on hooligans, but closing the stadiums completely puts the blame on an entire sport that is in reality the victim of these delinquents.

“It is true that we must all change our attitude and grow in terms of respect for our opponents, but without the crowd there, it’s just not football. It is a virtual game and in my view not really worth playing.”

With Marco Borriello suspended for failing a drugs test and Pippo Inzaghi injured, Ronaldo’s arrival is just in time to help the push for a Champions League place.

“Inzaghi has started running again and should be ready in the next few games. Serginho must not be rushed, but he is doing much better. Kakha Kaladze will be on the bench on Sunday and Alessandro Nesta is still in the States for specialist treatment, but should be completely healed by the time he returns.”

It was strongly rumoured that Real Madrid had requested Ricardo Oliveira as part of the Ronaldo move, but the Brazilian has stayed at San Siro.

“He is in good shape and I really hope with all my heart he can express that potential,” continued Ancelotti.

“So far his form in training hasn’t yet transferred to the match day. As Ronaldo is Cup-tied, Oliveira will be very important for us in the Champions League.”

San Siro race against time
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Football Italia

Milan are working day and night to get 28 turnstiles put in place so they can let the season ticket holders in to Sunday’s game against Livorno.

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – also known as San Siro – was not among the six arenas cleared to open under the new anti-violence laws, but their work is nearing completion.

“We are setting up 28 turnstiles on the old entrance to guarantee entrance on Sunday of at least 50,000 fans,” explained security chief Giovanni Terzi.

“The deadline for the local council inspection of the ground is on Saturday morning at 10am, so both clubs are working through the night to make sure the stadium can let supporters in, even if for the moment that’s only season ticket holders.”

Although San Siro does not have the electronic ticketing service, Adriano Galliani is confident the new turnstiles will be enough to open its gates this weekend.

“It’s not an issue of being optimistic or pessimistic, as with 28 turnstiles manned for personal ticket checks, I think we’ll be alright,” commented the Milan vice-President.

“We’re not asking for a full clean bill of health from the Government, but just for the season ticket holders to be able to get what they paid to see. I hope we can do this, because the city of Milan doesn’t deserve such a slap in the face.”

To date only six stadiums in all of Italy have passed the new Legge Pisanu guidelines – in Siena, Cagliari, Palermo, Turin, Genoa and Rome.

“Rome’s Stadio Olimpico remains open with 50 turnstiles for 80,000 people,” added security chief Terzi.

“If Milan are therefore turned down with the added 28 turnstiles, then in my view something has to be investigated. San Siro is also the only stadium ready for a European Championship match without needing further work, so it is a secure arena.”

AC Milan rubbish Kaka claims
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Football Italia

Milan have dismissed the latest speculation suggesting they might sell Kaka to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Spanish newspaper AS claimed that Milan chief Adriano Galliani and Real sporting director Predrag Mijatovic started initial discussions during the Ronaldo transfer saga.

The publication went on to claim that the Italian giants had asked for Fabio Cannavaro, Robinho and Mahamadou Diarra plus a significant amount of cash in exchange for the Brazilian.

But the San Siro giants have been swift in their response by releasing an official denial on their website.

“Rumours are running at full speed after Spanish newspaper AS reported that Milan are prepared to sell Kaka in exchange for Diarra, Robinho and Cannavaro, plus cash,” stated the note.

“Rumours are so often groundless and there is also the problem of the language barrier on the international scene.

“Nevertheless, in this case and in every language, it needs to be said that no matter which way you look at it Kaka isn’t going anywhere.

“There’s nothing like the truth to clear up what could be a confusing matter. In any case there’s no reason to worry because our beloved golden boy is here to stay.”

Kaka had recently declared that he was happy at Milan, especially after they completed the winter capture of international teammate Ronaldo.

AC Milan to sacrifice Kaka?
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Football Italia

Reports in Spain suggest that Milan are willing to release Kaka should Real Madrid make an adequate bid at the end of the season.

The Brazilian attacking midfielder was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer, but the Rossoneri knocked back Real’s interest by insisting the player was untouchable.

However, Real President Ramon Calderon and sporting director Predrag Mijatovic have recently confirmed that they intend to renew their attempts to sign Kaka.

According to newspaper AS, Milan expressed their availability to discuss the player’s future during transfer negotiations which took Ronaldo to Milan at the end of January.

The Rossoneri have allegedly asked for Robinho, Fabio Cannavaro and Mahamadou Diarra, plus cash, to let Kaka leave the San Siro at the end of term.

The newspaper suggests that Vice-President Adriano Galliani’s decision to open the door to Real Madrid might be due to the fact that the Via Turati club are keen on making a move for Barcelona’s Ronaldinho.

The money cashed in from Kaka’s proposed sale would therefore be injected into the funds designed to tempt the Nou Camp outfit to release their own Brazilian superstar.

AS also claims that the Merengues would be willing to let Cannavaro and Robinho leave, as the two players have not lived up to expectations in the white shirt.

However, the Galacticos are understood to be keen on keeping Diarra even if he has also been linked with a move to Inter.

Matarrese is San Siro optimist
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Football Italia

The San Siro will host Champions League football again this season, Lega Calcio chief Antonio Matarrese has insisted.

Reports this morning suggested that both Milan and Inter could switch their home European ties to neutral venues due to tough new stadium regulations, but that seemingly won’t occur.

“They’ll stay at the Meazza,” noted Matarrese this evening.

“We spoke about it today and it should be possible to play, but things will be verified on Friday. A lot will depend on how things go tomorrow.

“[Milan Vice-President Adriano] Galliani and [Inter chief Massimo] Moratti have underlined that they want to play at San Siro – even if that means in front of no fans.”

Inter will play Valencia at home on February 21, while Milan – who will entertain Livorno on Sunday at a locked San Siro – face Celtic on March 7.

Galliani had previously admitted today that Newcastle or Geneva could host their home leg, but the English club has cooled such talk.

"We did receive an enquiry about this possibility although logistically there are several difficulties," read a Magpies note.

"The calendar shows a home fixture in the UEFA Cup 24 hours later if we qualify for the last 16."

Celtic are also waiting for developments. "Unfortunately, the situation in Milan is still unresolved," read a statement from the Scottish giants.

"We have been informed that discussions between UEFA, Milan and the football authorities in Italy are currently ongoing.

"Celtic Football Club are fully aware of the frustrations which Celtic supporters will be experiencing and are doing all we can to ensure the situation is clarified as soon as possible."

Juve 'top' rich list
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Football Italia

Juventus are still the richest club in Italy despite their costly demotion, a financial report has insisted.

The Turin giants have lost millions since they were stripped of their Serie A status for their part in Calciopoli, but only Real Madrid and Barcelona made more money than them in 2005-06.

A report published by Deloitte states that the Old Lady of Italian football made almost £166m within that period, even more than Manchester United.

Milan are the fifth richest club in the world, two places and £20m better off than city rivals Inter. Roma are 12th after netting an income of £83.8m.

Top 20
1 Real Madrid £192.7m
2 Barcelona £171m
3 Juventus £165.8m
4 Manchester United £160m
5 Milan £157.5m
6 Chelsea £145.8m
7 Inter £136.3m
8 Bayern Munich £135m
9 Arsenal £126.9m
10 Liverpool £116.1m
11 Lyon £84.2m
12 Roma £83.8m
13 Newcastle United £82m
14 Schalke £81.1m
15 Tottenham Hotspur £70.7m
16 Hamburg £67.1m
17 Manchester City £59m
18 Rangers £58.4m
19 West Ham United £57.3m
20 Benfica £56.1m

Yoann enjoys AC Milan experience
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Football Italia

French star Yoann Gourcuff is pleased with his progress at Milan, despite the Rossoneri’s struggles this season.

The Under-21 international joined the San Siro outfit last summer from Rennes and insists that he is grateful for the opportunity to play next to champions such as Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi, who are making his experience all the more rewarding.

“It is very motivating to train with the kind of players there are at Milan," said Gourcuff.

“It hasn’t been easy for us and it’s not nice to see that Roma and Inter are so far ahead of us in the table. However, I am happy to be at Milan,” added the midfielder, who has not been granted regular action so far.

“People talk less about me, but this allows me to work calmly, although I must admit that I sometimes miss playing with my friends.”

The Frenchman could not avoid commenting on the latest crisis involving Italian football, after rioting fans killed a policeman in Catania last Friday.

“I can understand the supporters’ passion, but hatred is unacceptable,” commented the youngster.

Milan are currently ninth with 27 points, three points shy of a Champions League spot, and will play against Livorno at the San Siro on Sunday when the Serie A resumes, most probably behind closed doors.

Gattuso criticises closed stadiums
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Football Italia

Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso believes that opening only some stadiums is not the right way to fight football-related violence.

The Government confirmed on Thursday that just six Serie A stadiums are currently fit to host spectators when the season resumes this weekend.

“I agree on strict measures, but we must consider that there will be no night matches for the entire month of February and that already penalises the clubs,” said Gattuso.

“I also think that season ticket holders should be allowed access to the stadiums. If only three sides play in front of their supporters, the result of this season cannot be considered regular,” continued the world champion.

“We spoke amongst ourselves and I think the Players’ Association’s position is clear, we want our supporters. We cannot end this season without them, they are way too important.”

San Siro is one of the many stadiums which will not be allowed to reopen on Sunday and reports suggest that the Milan duo could ask UEFA to play their home Champions League ties abroad.

“I believe our championship, which is one of the best in the world, has to be played here. We have to all calm down, Ultras and players, we need to change our attitude and respect the rules,” explained Gattuso.

“I don’t see why we should move our Champions League ties. If UEFA had disqualified the stadium I would understand, but that hasn’t happened.

“I am only a player and I don’t have all the answers, I can only say that I basically agree with what is being done, but something needs to be changed, because the clubs also deserve to be respected,” concluded Rino.

Serie A and B resume on Sunday
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Football Italia

FIGC Commissioner Luca Pancalli has confirmed the Serie A and B fixtures will resume this weekend.

“I think it would be a mistake not to begin again,” he said after the Government passed new laws clamping down on football-related violence.

“It would also be an error not to ride the positive momentum created in these days with a profound understanding of everyone’s responsibilities. Now we can no longer back down to hooligans.”

As expected, the campaign will resume from the Week 23 fixtures, so the games suspended last Sunday will be played at a later date – provisionally in April.

However, the clubs are not happy with the ruling that stadiums must host matches behind closed doors until they pass the Legge Pisanu tests.

“There is a very clear and definite order here. As of today, venues not up to standard will have to play behind closed doors,” warned Minister of the Interior Giuliano Amato.

The sides, led by Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani, had urged for at least the season ticket holders to be allowed in while restructuring work is underway.

“When the turnstiles and security checks for numbered tickets are in place, the stadiums can be opened up to only season ticket holders. Speaking to some clubs, I have been told this work can be completed in around a month.”

This does not include the San Siro, as it’s predicted the required work to install turnstiles cannot be completed before September, so Milan and Inter risk playing the rest of the season – perhaps including their Champions League games – behind closed doors.

To date only four Serie A stadiums are to the Legge Pisanu standard – the Olimpico in Turin, Stadio Franchi in Siena, Olimpico in Rome and Barbera in Palermo.

This suggests – although it will only be confirmed following another meeting with police authorities on Thursday – that fans would be allowed into three fixtures this weekend.

Those matches would be Palermo-Empoli, Roma-Parma and Torino-Reggina.

In Serie B only three games can open their doors to the crowds, Spezia-Bologna, Lecce-Verona and Modena-Albinoleffe.

AC Milan duo plan Champions League move
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Football Italia

Milan and Inter could play their home Champions League fixtures away from the San Siro if the stadium does not comply with the new safety regulations.

The Italian Government approved a severe decree aimed at fighting football-related violence after a police officer was killed in Catania last Friday.

The anti-hooliganism laws include the fact that games will have to be played behind closed doors in the stadiums that do not meet the required security standards.

Only four stadiums in Serie A are in line with the regulations – Rome’s Olimpico, Palermo’s Barbera, Turin’s Olimpico, and the Artemio Franchi in Siena.

The rest, including Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, require varying degrees of work to comply with the new safety requirements.

A special government committee will carry out a check at every Serie A stadium on Thursday before deciding which are fit to reopen to spectators this weekend.

If the committee confirms that the San Siro cannot host spectators, Inter and Milan might move their home Champions League ties to other stadiums.

Inter are considering the idea of playing the February 21 match with Valencia in Genoa or Palermo, whereas the Rossoneri might host Celtic on March 7 in France or Swizterland, where the probable solution might be the Wankdorf Stadion in Geneva.

UEFA will have to authorise the change of venue in both cases, but reports suggest that the governing body of European Football does not see any problem in granting the San Siro outfits’ request.

Brocchi against closed stadiums
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Football Italia

Milan midfielder Cristian Brocchi suggests it will take more than the new security measures to change the fan culture in Italy.

Serie A is set to resume over the weekend, as a special cabinet meeting is expected to vote the new security laws on Wednesday evening, but several matches could be played in empty stadiums seeing as most of the venues do not conform to the existing Pisanu Law, introduced in 2005.

“I played behind closed doors last year and I must admit that it wasn’t a pleasant feeling,” said Brocchi on Milan’s website.

“We all dream of playing in front of a sold-out stadium, that is what we all want when we are children. Playing in front of empty stands cannot be exciting,” added the Rossonero.

“However, the situation is serious and I agree on the strict measures. I am one of those persons who wants to one day go to the stadium with my son, without having to fear any problems.

“We must be strong in fighting the violence, but I cannot agree with playing behind closed doors. Football is exciting, if we were to ban supporters from stadiums we would take away that excitement.”

Four international friendlies were played in London on Tuesday, but there were no accidents at all between the different groups of supporters.

“This must be the spirit surrounding sport events. I will always remember the Istanbul Champions League Final against Liverpool.

“Our opponents’ supporters never stopped cheering on their team, not even when they were losing 3-0.

“Football must be a party, a chance to sing and dance. We all have to do something to change things and I think we should start from avoiding blowing things out of proportion, especially on television,” concluded Brocchi.

Matches will resume from Week 23 and reports suggest that all Serie A fixtures will be played on Sundays at 15:00 local time at least for a few weeks.

Kaka expects Ron revolution
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Football Italia

Milan star Kaka has insisted that the arrival of Ronaldo could kick-start the Rossoneri’s faltering campaign.

“These have been very difficult months for us and we had never started a season so poorly in the past,” said Kaka in an interview with Il Corriere dello Sport.

“However, we are slowly getting back on track and I think that Ronaldo’s arrival could represent an important stimulus for us to do even better.”

The former Real Madrid ace joined the Milan set-up last week and could make his debut on Sunday should Serie A matches be given the green light.

“Ronaldo is an idol for me, a great champion, and I am pleased with the fact that we will be able to play together,” added the Brazilian, who was part of the side beaten 2-0 by Portugal last night.

“I am sure everyone will soon realise that he is still Il Fenomeno. When I was asked if I believed that he could be a good buy, I had no doubts in approving the transfer.”

The 24-year-old midfielder was and remains a target for Real Madrid, but the former Sao Paulo ace isn’t interested in leaving Italy.

“Only God knows what will happen in the future, but I like it at Milan and I like it in Italy,” he continued.

“Now I want to focus on the rest of the season. I am sure we can still do well in the championship and the Champions League,” concluded Kaka.

Milan are currently ninth in the standings, three points adrift of the final Champions League spot, and in the last 16 of the European Cup.

Galliani in fight for fans
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confirmed that the Lega Calcio will ask for all season ticket holders to be permitted entry into stadiums.

There is a risk at present that fans will be forced to stay at home given the likely introduction of tough new safety measures, which could see dozens of arenas up and down the country closed to supporters.

However, Galliani has revealed that the League clubs are hoping that season ticket holders will not be punished as a result of Friday’s night’s Catania riot which resulted in the death of a policeman.

“We will ask the Government to allow season ticket holders access to stadia,” said Galliani this afternoon ahead of this weekend’s likely Serie A restart.

“They do not represent a problem, the real problems are the stadiums and not who uses them,” added the former Lega Calcio President.

“However, if it is decided to play behind closed doors then we will – it's not a decision that Inter and Milan can make.”

San Siro is one of the stadiums which does not fully comply with the Legge Pisanu and could therefore see its gates shut for the immediate future.

“Inter and Milan have paid £14m in advance for the necessary work to be carried out at the San Siro, but it will not be finished before October,” he added.

“The Stadio Meazza is very large and 160 turnstiles have to be set-up. This cannot be done before the end of the season and we cannot do anything to change this.”

However, Milan police official Gian Valerio Lombardi has admitted that the stadium could re-open to fans with the introduction of a limited capacity.

There is also the possibility that Milan and Inter’s Champions League ties could also be played without the presence of supporters.

Clampdown on Ultras
7.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

The new laws to combat football-related violence will include games behind closed doors, the end of away tickets sold in bulk and tougher punishment.

Although the decree has not been voted on or the details yet confirmed, rumours are emerging on what the Government and football authorities worked out in today’s meetings.

One point had already been mentioned by Minister for Sport Giovanna Melandri, as stadiums will not be allowed to host games with fans in the stands until they have passed the Legge Pisanu tests.

The new law “annuls with immediate effect” all existing ‘passes’ handed out by the local councils to delay the implementation of the Pisanu recommendations. Currently, only Palermo, Rome, Turin and Siena would be able to host matches, the others would play behind closed doors.

Another section to the law introduced after Catania fans killed a police officer during Friday’s riots outside the Stadio Massimino involves reducing the number of away supporters travelling en masse.

The clubs that organise games can no longer sell “directly or indirectly” a block of tickets to the away teams. One person cannot buy more than 10 tickets.

Violation of this order would result in a fine from £6,500 to £99,000. Importantly, this rule is retroactive, so any tickets bought in bulk up until now will “no longer be valid.”

The police and magistrates will be given more sweeping powers in their treatment of hooligans.

The so-called Daspo – a banning order restricting fans with convictions from attending matches – will be increased to a maximum of seven years and become effective even if the person is only suspected of having participated in football-related violence. Violation of this order could result in a six month to three year prison sentence and a fine up to £6,500.

Police can now arrest a hooligan “in flagrante” up to 48 hours after the event, an extension from the current 36 hours. This defines people caught on camera committing violent acts.

Up until now, the fast-track judicial system only applied to those who were caught throwing dangerous objects or invading the pitch, but the new law extends that to people found in possession of fireworks, smoke bombs or other “pyrotechnic articles.”

There will be a stronger clampdown on police clashes, as the minimum prison sentence for resisting arrest or attacking an officer will rise from the current three years to five, while the maximum remains 15.

The terms of the offence also extend to “the throwing of objects, including pyrotechnic articles, to put people in danger.”

The Government is also eager to end the close ties between clubs and the Ultras groups, as those found to have “aided and abetted” people involved in football-related violence can be charged.

There could also be the confiscation of assets from those who “help, in any way, the activities of those who take part in violent acts during sporting events.”

The Government will discuss the law on Wednesday, while on Thursday inspections will be carried out to decide which stadiums can host matches.

Ancelotti has Ronaldo optimism
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Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti believes that Ronaldo will soon be at his total disposal. “He is working hard to regain his best shape,” he stated.

The Brazilian joined the Rossoneri last week and has trained regularly ever since, which has fuelled expectation that he could make his debut at the weekend if Serie A resumes.

“He is very motivated, he only needs to improve his fitness,” said Ancelotti in an interview with Studio Milan.

“He doesn’t have any physical problems and the tendon in his knee is totally healed. Ronaldo still has great speed, reactivity and muscular power,” added the Coach.

“But he will only play 90 minutes when there is no risk of injury and I think this will happen soon.

“He is very motivated and as a consequence he dedicates all of his time to recovering his top condition, in order to prove that he is still one of the best strikers in the world.”

Ancelotti was also asked to comment on the measures being studied in an attempt to eradicate the violence which led to the death of a policeman on Friday night.

“We hope that these measures are agreed to quickly so that the games can resume on Sunday not behind closed doors,” said the former midfielder.

“The police will be given more power to react, both inside and outside the stadium, and I believe that this is the most important thing that can be done.

“Building new stadiums will take time and banning the fans would punish those who don’t cause problems and just want to go to see the game.

“Who goes to the stadium every Sunday knows that it is common for supporters to insult the police and it just shouldn’t be this way,” concluded the tactician.

The Rossoneri will probably host Livorno at the San Siro in the next Serie A match and are scheduled to play the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie on February 20 away at Celtic.

Sunday service for Serie A
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Football Italia

Serie A will resume on Sunday with the Week 23 fixtures, according to Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

Football in Italy was suspended indefinitely on Friday night after the death of a police officer, with the Week 22 Serie A games being postponed after the Catania-Palermo riots.

But the Lega Calcio held an informal assembly on Tuesday and decided to approve the proposal of playing next weekend, even if FIGC commissioner Luca Pancalli will need to ratify the decision after a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

“We will play the matches scheduled for Week 23 on Sunday,” said Galliani after leaving the meeting.

“Last weekend’s Serie A games will take place on April 18, whereas Serie B will play on April 17.”

The big match between Inter and Roma scheduled at the San Siro last Sunday will therefore be played in mid April, thus probably causing the first leg of the Coppa Italia Final to be postponed.

Catania chief Antonino Pulvirenti confirmed Galliani’s words by insisting that there was no tug of war with the Government.

“We agree with the Government and want to start playing again on Sunday,” he underlined.

It’s unclear at this stage whether fans will be allowed to attend games which do not satisfy the necessary stadium regulations.

The next round of games will also include another Sicilian derby as Messina host Catania at the San Filippo.

Milan ponder Dzemaili swoop
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Football Italia

FC Zurich ace Blerim Dzemaili is being linked with a move to Milan as their search for an Andrea Pirlo alternative continues.

The Rossoneri are already planning their next summer moves and the midfielder is understood to be on the same wanted list as Ronaldinho and Gigi Buffon.

The 20-year-old, who is considered as one of the best youngsters in European football, was originally a defender.

However, the Swiss ace has been turned into a playmaker and now occupies a similar position to that of Pirlo.

Dzemaili is also at ease in attack and is renowned for his free-kicks, which have allowed him to score several goals throughout his brief career to date.

The player, who has Macedonian roots, joined Zurich in 2001 and was a member of the Swiss 2006 World Cup squad.

Dzemaili also made his debut in the Champions League this season when the Swiss champions were defeated by Salzburg in the second qualifying round.

According to reports, Milan have eyed the youngster and are willing to offer him a pre-contract, seeing as his deal with Zurich ends in June and he would therefore be a free agent.

Dzemaili, whose favourite player was Zinedine Zidane, has already stated that he would be happy with an Italian switch.

If he does complete a move to Milan, the youngster could be loaned out to a smaller club to gain experience.

Restart date still unknown
6.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian Football Federation commissioner Luca Pancalli will decide on Wednesday whether Serie A will resume this weekend.

Pancalli suspended all football in the country after rioting Catania fans caused the death of a 38-year-old police officer.

The FIGC chief did this evening admit that the various championships could kick-off again this Sunday, but any decision will only be made after a special government cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

“Technically speaking, I think we have the time to immediately resume football,” he stated this evening after discussing possible new regulations designed to improve safety at stadiums.

“I’m optimistic that these new proposals will be accepted. I think everyone has a part to play in situations like these.

“Everybody needs to take responsibility.”

Pancalli took the decision to bring a halt to games in the peninsula on Friday night and he’s certain he made the right choice.

“I said on Friday that I wouldn’t okay a restart without the activation and presence of serious and drastic measures which would allow games to be played in calm and safe surroundings,” he added.

“I repeat that today, especially after seeing the funeral of the policeman Filippo Raciti and hearing the words of his wife.

“We need to transform this grave crisis into a resource for the difficult road which we are facing,” he underlined.

“That is why I am satisfied with the decisions taken and that we have seen a strong reaction to what has happened.

“This comforts me that we can really write a new page in history and say ‘stop’ once and for all.

“I’m confident that everyone involved in football will have the maturity to accept the new regulations and will collaborate to redraw the future of Italian football.”

Maldini: Football needs fans
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Football Italia

Milan captain Paolo Maldini believes that the violence in Italian football is a problem that goes beyond sport and does not like the idea of playing behind closed doors.

The FIGC and CONI will meet with government representatives on Monday when they will decide when and how the matches will resume after Friday’s tragic accidents in Catania, with reports suggesting that games could be played with no spectators in the stadiums which do not fit the bill.

“I believe playing without the fans would be an absurd solution, I would rather prefer to stop for another week,” said Maldini.

“Playing behind closed doors would be the death of the game, although it is clear that those who committed the acts in Catania must be punished,” continued the Rossonero.

“The suspension of all activities including the Nazionale friendlies was a strong signal, from now on there will be a zero tolerance policy.”

The Milan symbol believes that these latest acts represent a social problem, which is not necessarily limited to sports.

“This goes beyond football. What happened occurred outside the stadium and it was a premeditated attack against the police.

“A mixture of the English and American models could represent a good approach. The English have strict laws and the American model brings more families to the concerts and games.

“Often the tensions are not just tied to the game, but to a general social unease. In Italy there is a different culture surrounding sports, a loss is never accepted, while in England they applaud even when a team is relegated.

“Yesterday was a sad day and it is our duty transmit the value of sportsmanship. Our attitude on the field counts and when it’s positive that is all the better,” concluded Maldini.

AC Milan in favour of zero tolerance
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and his Milan squad believe the key to beating fan violence is a zero tolerance policy.

“We need to go to the source of the problem and set out rules that will really frighten them,” said Massimo Oddo, no stranger to the Ultras after years at Lazio.

“Whoever commits these crimes tends to get arrested and then released the same day. If things remain the same, then of course these pseudo-fans will never be afraid and continue to behave this way.”

Coach Ancelotti took an even harder line on the tifosi after a policeman was killed during rioting outside Catania’s Stadio Massimino on Friday.

“I think that above all else we need to implement a zero tolerance policy,” noted the tactician. “The police have to be given extra powers.”

Although there are also crowd problems in Brazil, Kaka concedes he has no answers for the Italian troubles.

“I am not the right person to say how we are supposed to get out of this situation, but I do hope there will be some strong changes, because we cannot carry on like this.”

Season behind closed doors?
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Football Italia

It’s reported that the meeting between the Government and football authorities will decree the rest of the season be played behind closed doors.

“Nothing is to be excluded at this point,” commented CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) President Gianni Petrucci.

Following the riots in Catania on Friday evening, which resulted in the death of 38-year-old Chief Inspector Filippo Raciti, FIGC Commissioner Luca Pancalli ordered the immediate suspension of all football activity in Italy until further notice.

A meeting has been set up for Sunday between members of the Government, including Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and the sports authorities to discuss what the next step will be.

According to rumours from within the two camps, the season will be halted for two weeks and when it resumes, it will be behind closed doors for the rest of the campaign.

This will give the clubs and local councils the necessary time to complete renovation work that should already have brought the stadiums up to code under the Legge Pisanu ruling.

The Legge Pisanu demanded all clubs and arenas ensure CCTV footage, numbered and named tickets, stewards paid for by the sides to police the fans and adequate turnstiles, but so far very few stadiums fit the bill.

Vieri backs 'traitor' Ronaldo
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Football Italia

Christian Vieri has played on both sides of the San Siro and given his backing to Ronaldo after he made the same journey.

“It’s a little strange to see him with a Milan jersey, because in Italy he’d only ever played for Inter,” commented the well-travelled hitman.

“It is a choice that must be respected. He wanted to leave Real Madrid, Milan wanted to sign him, so he did well to take that opportunity.”

The Nerazzurri have dubbed Ronaldo a ‘traitor’ for returning to Serie A with their arch rivals, but Bobo doesn’t see the problem.

“If someone plays for a club and leaves, does that mean he is not allowed back into the country or something? What was he supposed to do, retire?

“I can understand it might irritate the fans, but he was at Inter many years ago. It’s only right he is allowed to make his decision and play where he wants to go.”

Vieri’s own passage to the Rossoneri was less than successful, as after six months and a handful of appearances, he left for another disappointing spell in Monaco.

“At the start it feels a little strange, as you’re wearing different club colours and in a new environment. I got on very well at Milan, though, right from the start with the Coach, teammates, trainers, physiotherapists and fans.

“They gave me an exceptional welcome and I’m sure they’ll reserve the same for Ronaldo. I am waiting for his phone call so we can go to dinner some time. We’re too old to go partying now, so dinner and an early night it is!”

Government blames 'lazy' clubs
3.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Home Office has blamed the clubs and football authorities for a “laissez-faire attitude” to controlling the Ultra’.

“There has been too much of a laissez-faire attitude and an unacceptable indulgence. My men are risking their lives here and in these conditions I won’t send them to games,” said Home Office Minister Giuliano Amato.

The Legge Pisanu was supposed to clamp down on violence in Italian football, but over a year on from the law’s inception, only a handful of stadiums are up to code.

CCTV systems are not in place, named tickets aren’t checked regularly and the clubs have not provided enough stewards to police the fans in the Curva.

“This situation can be tracked back to an increased number of ‘at risk’ games, the persistent conflict between violent factions of some fanbases and the desperate need to complete restructuring work on some stadiums. In the case of the latter, police are called in to make up for those weaknesses.”

The main problem in this case appears to be the on-going debate over who is responsible for the upkeep of the stadiums.

In Italy, the arenas are owned and run by the local council, but rented out to clubs for the matches. The Legge Pisanu hands the sides the responsibility of policing their own fans with specially paid stewards, but so far few have implemented the recommendations.

Also, the authorities have repeatedly allowed delays in the restructuring work for the stadiums.

“There was an under-estimation of how bad the situation was by accepting delays in bringing the arenas up to code,” said Silp-Cgil union chief Claudio Giardullo.

“Above all, there was an indulgence when it came to the relationship between the clubs and their fans, a rapport that still needs to be examined. At the end of it all we, as usual, end up paying the price.”

It has long been known that the Ultra’ wield a great deal of power with the clubs. Players often meet with the fans and attend the funerals of the leading figures in the hard-line faction of these supporters.

Last week Messina Coach Bruno Giordano was fired after a meeting between President Pietro Franza and the Ultra’ leaders.

Players urge year-long suspension
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Football Italia

The Players’ Association has urged the suspension of Italian football Leagues for a whole year after the latest tragic incidents.

“Football should stop for a year to reflect on all the evil that comes from it. The culture that surrounds our sport is wrong and has to be revolutionised. We need patience for that to happen and maybe passing on to another generation,” said AIC President Sergio Campana.

The FIGC called a halt to all Serie A, B, C and Youth Championship games this weekend after the riots that marred the Sicilian derby.

A 38-year-old policeman was killed in the battles with Catania supporters following Palermo’s 2-1 victory at the Stadio Massimino.

At the moment it is unclear when the fixture list will resume, but the Players Association is urging for a definitive stance.

“I think that faced with these events, football should stop for a year and see if we can change our whole approach to sport,” continued Campana.

“We have for some time been pointing out that there are weekly attacks on players because they lose a game. This means the very culture of sport in this country is wrong. Right when football is trying to rediscover its credibility after Calciopoli, this sort of thing leaves us dumbfounded.”

The last time Serie A ground to a halt over fan violence was on February 5, 1995, when Genoa supporter Vincenzo Spagnolo was stabbed to death ahead of a match against Milan.

“The death of a policeman in Catania and the many injuries as a result of this riot is a disturbing turn of events that calls for drastic measures,” said Minister for Sport Giovanna Melandri.

“The Government will no longer tolerate the need for thousands of police officers in every match to ensure the safety of its citizens. Along with the Home Office Minister Giuliano Amato, we consider the suspension of the next round of games to be an opportune decision by the FIGC.

“The Government and the world of sport must come together now to make sure the Leagues begin again in a totally different way.”

The Sicilian derby was the final straw in a situation that has been growing in the peninsula.

In March 2004 the Rome derby was abandoned at half-time after reports – which later proved to be false – suggested a child had been run over and killed by a police van outside the Stadio Olimpico. This claim prompted extreme tension and riots.

The most tragic incident was only last week, when Sammartinese director Ermanno Licursi died from a brain haemorrhage when a fight broke out between opposition players in the Calabrian amateur League. It emerged he had been kicked in the head.

Serie A and B suspended!
3.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Serie A and B Championships have been suspended after the death of a policeman in the Catania riots.

FIGC President Luca Pancalli made the announcement this evening. “We will immediately set up a permanent round table commission to discuss the situation between sport and politics. It’s not possible to carry on like this. If this is football, then I’m stopping everything.”

The Sicilian derby, eventually won 2-1 by Palermo this evening, had been interrupted after 57 minutes due to crowd trouble when tear gas floated on to the pitch.

While play resumed and the final whistle sanctioned the Rosanero’s victory, the problems intensified outside the Stadio Massimino.

A large group of Catania supporters engaged in a full-scale riot with the police and one officer, 38-year-old Filippo Raciti, was killed when struck in the face by a homemade bomb.

“Football in Italy must stop and take stock. Enough is enough,” continued Pancalli. “I cannot find the words to describe a 38-year-old man who lost his life in such a way. This is not sport.

“All the football authorities I spoke to immediately agreed that we had to stop everything. Words aren’t enough any more. Right now I am astonished by what has happened and this is completely unacceptable.”

It’s now reported that hundreds of people have been rushed to the local hospital with injuries, although none are thought to be life threatening.

This tragic incident comes just a week after Ermanno Licursi, director of Calabrian amateur side Sanmartinese, was killed in a fight with opposition players after the final whistle of a Serie D game against Cancellese.

The Amateur League was suspended and this latest shameful scenario has pushed the FIGC to take similar action with Serie A, B, C and the Youth Championships.

The incidents will no doubt harm Italy's bid to host the 2012 European Championships.

Ronaldo: I’m not finished!
2.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo is eager to prove that his glorious career is far from being over. “This is my challenge,” stated the new Milan striker.

The Brazilian was unveiled to the Press on Friday where he confirmed that he will wear the No 99 shirt and that joining the Rossoneri is a dream come true.

“I had received lucrative offers from Arabia, the MLS and I could have also chosen to stay in Madrid,” said Il Fenomeno.

“However, my move here is a challenge that I hope will prove to the world that my career has not ended.

“Being at Milan is very motivating for me and I want people to know that I am still a good player. Wearing this jersey is a dream for any footballer.”

One of the reasons for Ronaldo’s £5m switch was the lack of faith which Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello seemingly had for him.

“We never had any specific problem, but he did not have any trust in me and he never told me why. It was an ugly story, short and sad,” explained the South American.

Ronaldo was inevitably asked about his Inter past when he decided to walk out on the club in 2002 after the Nerazzurri had returned him to full fitness.

“My period with Inter was a very happy one, although it didn’t end well,” he added. “You mustn’t forget that I was sold because Hector Cuper asked the club to do so and that was where it ended.

“We all choose the road to take and I chose Milan. I hope I will do well for this club and its supporters, who have welcomed me in an incredible way.

“I wish [Inter owner Massimo] Moratti good luck and I will follow my path. I hope Inter supporters, who were on my side in the past, will respect me even now that I am their opponent.”

The striker is expected to make his debut in Sunday’s match with Ascoli, when Carlo Ancelotti might field him in the second half.

Ronaldo set for debut
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Football Italia

Ronaldo is expected to make his Milan debut at Ascoli this weekend after impressing during training.

The Brazilian joined the Rossoneri from Real Madrid on Tuesday and has been working closely with medical director Jean Pierre Meersseman.

Now reports in Italy suggest that the 30-year-old, who started in just three of Real’s Liga games this term, will see some kind of action against the minnows.

The Rossoneri are struggling for form and suffered another double blow on Wednesday, when both Nelson Dida and Filippo Inzaghi picked up injuries in the Coppa Italia semi-final with Roma.

Inzaghi’s absence is yet another factor which suggests that Ronaldo, who will wear the No 99 shirt, might make his first Serie A appearance since 2002 when he left city rivals Inter.

President Silvio Berlusconi has long since stated that he favours a formation with two strikers, but Coach Carlo Ancelotti has limited options of whom to field alongside Alberto Gilardino.

Marco Borriello has been suspended after failing a doping test and Ricardo Oliveira is clearly not considered a key player, as he was desperately close to joining Real Madrid this week.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo was officially unveiled to the Press on Friday by a visibly pleased Adriano Galliani.

“We had targeted Ronaldo since August 23 and we finally managed to sign him. I am sitting next to a player whose career, trophies and goals speak for themselves,” said the Vice-President.

“Ours was a technical choice, which was agreed to by the President, the Coach and the team. I am proud that such a great champion is here at Milan.”

AC Milan rocked by injuries
1.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have suffered a double blow after Pippo Inzaghi and Nelson Dida picked up injuries in their Coppa Italia semi-final with Roma.

The Rossoneri have been plagued by injuries this season and their problems are not easing after last night’s 3-1 loss.

Dida has picked up a shoulder knock just weeks after he made his Serie A comeback, following a two-month lay-off because of knee ligament damage.

The Brazilian has undergone a preliminary examination and is set to be out for at least a month, although pessimistic reports suggest that the goalkeeper’s season may be over.

The No 1, who has yet to sign a new contract with the Rossoneri, fell on his shoulder after making a fine save from Daniele De Rossi. He’ll undergo more tests over the next few days.

Marco Storari, who joined the club from Messina last month, may now make his debut against Ascoli at the weekend.

Turning to Inzaghi, the striker limped off the Olimpico turf just 14 minutes after coming on as a substitute for Massimo Ambrosini.

The No 9 suffered a muscle strain which may keep him in the treatment room for three or four weeks.

Milan will visit Celtic on February 20 in the Champions League and Coach Carlo Ancelotti is desperate to have him back for that last 16 clash.

The Rossoneri only have Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino and Ricardo Oliveira available in attack for Europe as Ronaldo is Cup-tied.

Gattuso pens new AC Milan contract
1.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso has put transfer rumours to bed by signing a new Milan contract until 2011.

“AC Milan announce they have extended Rino Gattuso’s contract until June 30, 2011,” read a Press statement on the club’s official website.

The midfielder had been linked with a Premiership move to Manchester United or Chelsea, but pledged his future to the Rossoneri with this deal.

The World Cup winner started his career at Perugia in 1994 before spells at Glasgow Rangers, Salernitana and Milan in 1999-00.

This is his eighth campaign at San Siro, in which he has scored five goals in 218 Serie A appearances.

Gattuso joins the list of Milan players who have recently tied themselves to the side until 2011, along with Clarence Seedorf, Kakha Kaladze, Andrea Pirlo, Ricardo Oliveira, Yoann Gourcuff and Kaka.

Costacurta: I'm quitting
1.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season.

The player, who will turn 41 in April, is in his 20th campaign with the club and has confirmed that he is preparing to say goodbye to the game and the club he loves.

“This will be my last year as a player, in five months I will definitely hang up my boots,” declared the stopper on Thursday.

The former Italian international had already been close to retiring two years ago, but Vice-President Adriano Galliani convinced him to extend his contract with the Via Turati outfit.

In his long career with Milan, Costacurta has won seven Scudetti and four Champions League titles in 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003. He has also won one Coppa Italia and five Italian Super Cups.

In the AEK Athens game on November 21, he became the oldest man ever to play in the Champions League, breaking the record previously set by Belgian goalkeeper Danny Verlinden.

Costacurta was capped 59 times by the Nazionale between 1991 and 1998, appearing in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups – although he was forced to miss the Pasadena Final because of injury.

Paolo Maldini, the only other player remaining from the glorious Milan squad guided by Arrigo Sacchi at the end of the ‘80s, has also stated that he might retire in June.

Ancelotti accepts AC Milan defeat
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted the game was up after Roma made it 3-1 in last night’s Coppa Italia semi-final. “David Pizarro’s goal ended the match,” he noted.

The Rossoneri had already been held to a 2-2 draw at the San Siro last week and only rippled the net through Alberto Gilardino at the Olimpico.

“We played well in the first half, even though we took several risks in defence,” said the disappointed Coach.

“After the break, Pizarro’s goal virtually ended the match and we conceded too much space which allowed Roma to counter-attack.”

Kaka had a particularly disappointing game, but Ancelotti was keen not to single out any individuals for their uninspired display.

“He didn’t play a great game but he has only recently returned to action after a month on the sidelines with an injury,” added the tactician. “He is regaining his best condition.

“The arrival of Ronaldo? I believe he is a really important player and will be able to help the team thanks to his desire to play for Milan.”

Gilardino mirrored his Coach’s views and accepted that the Giallorossi’s goal just after the interval was deadly.

“We played well in the first half even though we were a goal down, but their goal early in the second half was too much for us,” noted the striker.

“We did well, both from a mental and physical point of view. It’s a pity we didn’t manage to score another goal in the first half.

“Now we must focus on the next match at Ascoli. Filippo Inzaghi [who was forced to leave the pitch 10 minutes before the end of the match] felt pain where he picked up a knock on Sunday, so we will see in the next few days.

“I am disappointed that we are out of the Coppa Italia, but now we have to think about Ascoli and winning three points there.”

Coppa Italia: AS Roma 3:1 (5:3 on aggregate) AC Milan - match report
1.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Mancini 8 (R), Gilardino 18 (M), Perrotta 23 (R), Pizarro 46 (R)

Roma have reached another Italian Cup Final after an impressive 3-1 victory over Milan. Goals from Amantino Mancini, Simone Perrotta and David Pizarro were enough for the capital club to complete a memorable 5-3 aggregate triumph.

Roma kicked off in front of the 40,000 at the Olimpico in the driving seat, given the outcome of the first leg last week, and the Giallorossi wasted no time in underlining their advantage.

After Max Tonetto hit the side netting, the home boys took the lead in the eighth minute. A misplaced Billy Costacurta backpass caught out Nelson Dida and it was playground stuff for Mancini to make it 1-0.

Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini and Francesco Totti of Roma exchanged efforts before the away side got back into the tie.

Marek Jankulovski, after a fine solo run, supplied a pass for Alberto Gilardino and the Italian unexpectedly toe-poked the ball past Gianluca Curci to equalise on the night.

A lively Roma reacted well to that setback and they took advantage of how shaky Milan – and especially Costacurta – were looking at the back.

They capitalised soon after by making it 2-1 through Perrotta. Christian Panucci’s cross found an ignored Totti, his close range shot was parried by Dida’s foot which then fell into the path of Perrotta. He couldn’t miss from less than a yard out.

Milan looked for another equaliser with a 25-yard low Kaka drive which Curci stopped before Panucci cleared, while Cristian Chivu tried his luck for the capital side. His 34th minute free-kick cleared the wall but didn’t trouble Dida.

Carlo Ancelotti opted for a change at the break by bringing on Massimo Oddo for Costacurta, with Dario Simic moving into the centre of the defence as a result. It didn’t make any immediate difference though as Roma scored again…

Pizarro did the damage with a rasping low shot from outside of the area. That wonder goal was as a direct consequence of some wonderful give-and-go football between the Chilean and Totti.

Roma were visibly enjoying themselves against a static Milan and were unfortunate to not make it 4-1 through Daniele De Rossi. His long ranger dipped wickedly, but Dida saved in style.

The Eternal city outfit should have extended their lead in minute 63. They were awarded a penalty for a quite ludicrous Marcos Cafu challenge on Mancini, but Totti’s powerful spot-kick was blocked by Dida.

Jankulovski and substitute Pippo Inzaghi worried Roman hearts only for the home side to threaten again. Panucci rattled the bar in minute 78 with an athletic volley that had Dida beaten. It would have been a beauty!

As the clock ticked down Milan resigned themselves to defeat, especially when they were left with 10 men because of an injury to Inzaghi in the last 10 minutes.

Should Inter [3-0 up already] see off Sampdoria on Thursday, the Nerazzurri and Roma will meet in the Coppa Italia Final for the third season running. The northern giants won both of the previous encounters.

Roma 3-1 Milan (5-3 on agg)

Scorers: Mancini 8 (R), Gilardino 18 (M), Perrotta 23 (R), Pizarro 46 (R)

Roma: Curci; Panucci, Chivu, Ferrari (Cassetti 78), Tonetto; Pizarro, De Rossi; Taddei, Perrotta (Faty 88), Mancini (Wilhelmsson 85); Totti

Milan: Dida; Simic, Bonera, Costacurta (Oddo 46), Jankulovski; Cafu, Pirlo (Gattuso 60), Ambrosini (Inzaghi 66); Seedorf, Kaka; Gilardino

Ref: Rizzoli

Miss pen: Totti 63 (R)

No Real deal for Oliveira
1.2 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ricardo Oliveira will terminate the campaign with Milan after his proposed loan move to Real Madrid collapsed.

The Rossoneri were seemingly willing to hand over their summer signing from Real Betis, but the move was just too complicated to complete so close to the transfer window’s closure.

“It was a bit complex,” noted Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani. “Real Madrid would have been his third club this season after already appearing for Milan and Sao Paulo.”

Galliani was making reference to the FIFA rule which doesn’t allow an individual to play for more than three clubs in one term.

Although Liverpool have successfully managed to get special dispensation to sign Javier Mascherano from West Ham for the same reason, Milan and Real didn’t want to take any risks at such a late stage.

The Brazilian will therefore remain at the San Siro, a decision which also means that Andrea Caracciolo hasn’t left Palermo.

Milan were lining up the former Brescia man as a replacement for Oliveira who would have filled in for Ronaldo at Real following his Milan switch.

Meanwhile, Sampdoria have claimed that the Rossoneri were also interested in netting their star forward Francesco Flachi.

“Milan asked us for several players, including Flachi,” sporting director Beppe Marotta revealed. “But we decided to keep him in Genoa.”

Ronaldo makes trophy vow
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Football Italia

Milan new boy Ronaldo believes that he can live up to the fans’ expectations by leading the club to major honours.

Il Fenomeno completed his transfer to the San Siro on Tuesday and will immediately start training at Milanello in view of his debut, which could be on February 11 against Livorno.

“I wanted to play at Real Madrid, but I was not given the opportunity,” said the ex-Inter ace. “I am a dream come true for the Milan supporters? I hope that is true.

“I am sure that here I will have a chance to play or at least I will be able to compete for a spot in the first team. My main objective is to win again here in Milan,” added the three-time World Player of the Year.

Ronaldo joined the Rossoneri on a one-and-a-half year deal worth £5m, which might include striker Ricardo Oliveira, who could join the Spanish giants on a loan deal.

“I will stay in Madrid until Wednesday night to discuss Oliveira’s move,” confirmed Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

“The market here closes at midnight, we will see what happens. In the meantime, Oliveira has stayed in Milan.”

The Brazilian was not included in the squad for Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final against Roma, fuelling speculation that the Rossonero might be on the verge of leaving the San Siro.

Galliani backs 'motivated' Ronaldo
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani believes that new signing Ronaldo still has the motivation to play at the top level.

The Brazilian finally landed in Milan on Tuesday evening and will immediately start training with the rest of the team after the Rossoneri and Real Madrid agreed a £5m transfer.

“We are pleased with this signing. He will start his preparation on Wednesday morning, beginning his new life as a Milan player,” said Galliani to Milan Channel.

“Roni is very motivated and that is proved by the fact that he could have earned much more by moving to another country, but he didn’t choose the easy way.

“He really wants to do well. Hopefully, he will return to being Ronaldo – the Fenomeno we all know.”

Reports have suggested that Milan striker Ricardo Oliveira has also been included in the deal, as Real Madrid asked for the player to join them on a loan deal.

“I can’t deny that we have discussed the possibility of a loan with an option to buy at the end of the season, but I don’t think this will take place,” Galliani insisted.

“I can only say that it is exciting to have Ronaldo here, because of who he is, for all he has done and because he has written his own page in the history of football.

“He has scored many goals in Madrid and Real have officially thanked him for that. He is a star and I am really pleased with his arrival, as well as the signing of Massimo Oddo.”

The Rossonero does not fear the fans’ reactions, as Ronaldo returns to Milan after wearing city rivals Inter’s shirt from 1997 to 2002.

“It looks like Milan can finally lift their head after what happened in the summer. I am sure that Ronaldo will be greeted by our supporters.

“Intelligent people know that after five years a player can change, this happens to many players every year,” concluded Galliani.

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