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The Archive

November 2006

AC Milan reject Sheva talk
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have denied that they are in talks with Chelsea to bring Andriy Shevchenko back to the San Siro.

The Ukrainian has failed to adapt to life in the Premiership after his £30m move to Chelsea in the summer, fuelling speculation that he could return to the Serie A as early as January on loan.

“Adriano Galliani wishes to make it clear that there have been no negotiations with Chelsea to bring Shevchenko back to our club,” read an official note on the Rossoneri’s website.

The news suggesting Sheva’s return spread on Wednesday, although it seems that the rules limiting the arrival of non-EU players from a foreign club would make a January move impossible.

In the meantime, Shevchenko has reiterated his commitment to Chelsea and his desire to be a success in English football.

“I give 100 per cent all the time – I am committed and hungry for success with Chelsea,” said the player after the win at Bolton on Wednesday.

“I have total respect for the club and fans as well as for football in England and the culture of the country.

“There are always good and bad moments in sport, that’s normal. If that means there is criticism then I respect that,” concluded the former Dinamo Kiev star.

Oliveira admits goal relief
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Ricardo Oliveira was relieved after ending his goal drought in Tuesday’s Coppa Italia tie with Brescia.

The Rossoneri qualified for the quarter-finals with a 6-3 aggregate success, continuing the club’s mini revival after returning to winning ways in Serie A against Messina.

“Winning is fundamental,” Oliveira told the club’s website. “For a striker a goal is important, especially as I hadn’t scored for 844 minutes.

“That is way too long, it had never happened to me before,” continued the Brazilian, who netted his second goal for the outfit, after the one in Week 1 with Lazio.

“I’m satisfied because I scored and I played well, but I must continue working, I’m sure better times are just around the corner.

“Milan are a great club and the technical potential is enormous, just like the passion of our fans, and that’s exactly why I am sure things will change.

“Milan invested a lot in me and I want to show them I am able to repay this trust,” continued Oliveira, whose sister was kidnapped in Brazil at the beginning of October and is yet to return to her family.

“I must remain focused on my work. I speak often with people in Brazil to get updates on the situation, but unfortunately there’s been no news.

“Now I try to think as little as I can about the problem and just work and work more. My teammates help me, I must have faith and remain calm. This will pass, it will all work out.”

In the meantime, Alessandro Nesta and Serginho could be set for a two-month stop, as both players are expected to undergo surgery.

The former Lazio man injured his shoulder in the Champions League tie with Anderlecht, while the Brazilian has not recovered from his hernia problem.

Both Rossoneri might be operated on before Christmas and are not expected to be back in action for a couple of months.

Loophole blocks Sheva return
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko cannot complete a loan comeback to Milan in January due to a legal loophole on non-EU players.

Newspapers in England are today insisting that the Chelsea star is so unhappy at Stamford Bridge that he is in negotiations for a shock return to San Siro mid-season.

However, the rules limiting the arrival of non-EU players from a foreign club would make this impossible, as the Rossoneri have already filled their quota with Ricardo Oliveira’s switch from Real Betis Sevilla.

If Shevchenko were to come back to Serie A, it would have to be in the summer, when another non-EU place opens up.

There is another alternative, one already used by Juventus when they brought in Adrian Mutu following his contract termination with Chelsea.

If another Serie A side with a free non-EU place signs the player, then turns him over to the larger club, this gets around the regulations.

Yet this would be very tricky to complete in a purely loan deal, so Chelsea would have to sell Shevchenko to another side in order to then send him forward to the Rossoneri.

The Ukrainian and former European Player of the Year moved to Chelsea for around £30m in the summer.

Sheva set for AC Milan loan?
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Chelsea are ready to allow Andriy Shevchenko to rejoin Milan on loan in January, reports in England are suggesting.

The Ukrainian signed for the Stamford Bridge outfit in a £31m move this summer, but has not yet adjusted to his new reality.

He’s scored just three League goals this term and has been heavily criticised by the Press in recent weeks.

According to The Sun newspaper, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is prepared to send the striker back to the San Siro for personal reasons.

Not only is Shevchenko struggling to adjust to the change, but wife Kristin is also believed to be finding life tough in London with their two small children.

Milan would welcome Sheva back with open arms, especially given their attacking problems since he was sacrificed six months ago.

Should the former Dynamo Kiev man leave, Chelsea would ponder making a £21m move for Valencia man David Villa in January.

However, President Juan Soler has claimed that no firm bid has been made and any buyer would have to pay Villa’s £100m buy-out clause.

Shevchenko has been consistently associated with an imminent return to the Rossoneri, even if he has ruled out such a possibility on numerous occasions.

AC Milan set Dida deadline
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has told Nelson Dida to quickly come to a decision on his Rossoneri career.

The goalkeeper’s agreement expires in June 2007 and their has been whispers of a split given that talks over a new deal have not yet brought a compromise.

The Brazilian’s agent, Oscar Damiani, had recently stated that the two parties were close to an agreement, but the knee injury suffered by Dida in Athens has brought negotiations to a halt.

“I hope Dida renews his contract as soon as possible so we can stop all the rumours involving our goalkeepers,” said Galliani.

“If Dida opts not to sign for us then we will be forced to consider alternative options,” he added.

“Nelson is aware of our conditions and knows there are parameters that must be respected. Obviously he remains our first choice and if he stays with us he will be the No 1.”

The club have been linked with Marco Amelia of Livorno and AEK shot-stopper Stefano Sorrentino as possible Dida replacements, but Galliani insists they are not on their way after Christmas.

“There will be no arrivals in January,” added the chief. “We will not make any moves on the market because we hope that Dida will recover sooner than expected from his injury.”

Galliani was also asked to comment on Ramon Calderon’s latest Kaka pledge after the Real Madrid chief said he didn’t think his gravestone would say: ‘Here lies the man who did not bring Kaka to Madrid.’

“I don’t know what to say, I don’t like this gravestone talk,” responded the Rossoneri official.

“In any case, I will try to do all I can so that mine will one day say: ‘Here lies the man who kept Kaka at Milan.’”

AC Milan win delights Ancelotti
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with more than just qualification after last night’s Coppa Italia win at Brescia.

Two early goals allowed the Rossoneri to collect a 2-1 victory at the Rigamonti, 6-3 on aggregate, to secure safe passage into the last eight.

“This kind of game must always be played in the best possible way and I think we interpreted it correctly,” noted the Coach.

“It was a very balanced match and both sides had several opportunities to find the back of the net.

“Ricardo Oliveira returned to scoring ways and that is always important for a striker. He is slowly recovering his best condition.

“Yoann Gourcuff is also improving with every game. His determination and personality continue to grow. I am sure he will be an important player for Milan.”

Ancelotti’s side, who got back to winning ways on Saturday against Messina, can now focus on the Serie A championship.

“We are slowly getting back on track and we hope we can continue to win games,” added the former midfielder.

“However, we are still in an emergency situation with regard to injuries. I just hope to have players like Rino Gattuso, Nelson Dida and Serginho back as soon as possible.”

Milan have had a nightmare start to the season, but the tactician is looking to the future with optimism – even if he won’t have any reinforcements in the New Year.

“I am sure we will do well starting from January, but it would be great if we could do so even earlier, in order for our Christmas holidays to be more serene,” he noted.

“[Vice-President] Adriano Galliani has said that Milan will not buy anyone during the January transfer window and I accept that will be the case.

“At the moment, we want to focus on the most important objective which is for our injured players to recover completely,” concluded the Coach.

Iaquinta rejects AC Milan rumour
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Udinese star Vincenzo Iaquinta has shot down claims he will be joining Milan after Christmas. “They are not true,” he stated.

The Rossoneri have been associated with a host of strikers in a bid to correct their misfiring attackers.

Having sold Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea in the summer, Pippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino and Ricardo Oliveira have scored just one League goal each.

“I’ve read the reports which have claimed that I’m on my way, but I am only thinking about Udinese right now,” said the international.

“I have a contract at Udinese until 2010 and my future will just sort itself out.”

Udinese have suffered from inconsistency so far this season, but they are still just four points shy of a Champions League spot.

“I’m sure that we will have a good season,” added the World Cup winner. “However, we have to start collecting results and winning with more regularity.”

The Bianconeri were the first side to be beaten by Chievo in the League on Saturday following a 2-0 loss in Verona.

Brescia 1:2 (3:6 on aggregate) AC Milan - match report
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Oliveira 15 (M), Zoboli og 19 (M), Hamsik 43 (B)

Milan are safely through to the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia after a 2-1 win against Brescia on Tuesday evening.

After returning to winning ways in the League on Saturday against Messina, the club’s mini revival continued at a cold Stadio Rigamonti.

Milan went into the game with a 4-2 first leg lead and with seven youth team players in their squad.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti clearly believed that qualification was firmly in the Rossoneri’s control and their promising start suggested they’d stroll into the last eight.

Although Brescia threatened with Hamsik and Stankevicius, the five-time Coppa Italia winners took the lead on 15 minutes.

The impressive Gourcuff floated in a corner which was flicked on by Andrea Pirlo for Ricardo Oliveira to head home his second of the season from the six-yard line.

The Serie A side increased their lead soon after thanks to a Zoboli own goal. The defender, who was perhaps fouled by Marco Borriello at the time, accidentally put a Gourcuff volleyed cross past his own goalkeeper.

Although Oliveira created a sublime chance for himself in minute 35, Brescia finished the half well.

Possanzini and Stankevicius wasted close range opportunities, before the home boys hit back. A wonderful quick counter-attack saw Hamsik slot home a perfect Possanzini pullback just before the break.

The second period opened with a dangerous Pirlo free-kick and a Cristian Brocchi long ranger, before Brescia went close to making it 2-2 on the night. Former Under-21 international Del Nero came off the bench and his angled shot across the face of goal just drifted wide.

Oliveira then went close after his header from a Borriello cross was tipped over, before Brescia struck the woodwork. Zoboli set himself up for an overhead kick in a packed area and his acrobatic 73rd minute effort skimmed the crossbar.

Substitute Gilardino – on two occasions – and Oliveira attempted to make the Rossoneri’s grip on the game even tighter, while Jadid was denied by Zeljko Kalac, but it ended Brescia 1 Milan 2.

The latter will now play the winners of the Arezzo-Livorno tie which currently stands at 2-1 to the Serie B minnows.

Carletto's Coppa hope
28.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Coach Carlo Ancelotti hopes that Milan can prove that their recent crisis is behind them in the Coppa Italia clash with Brescia.

The Rossoneri defeated Messina on Saturday, returning to winning ways thanks to captain Paolo Maldini.

Next up is a game with against the former Serie A outfit, with Milan leading 4-2 from the first leg, despite having slipped to a 2-0 goal deficit.

“The Coppa Italia will help us to continue on the right path,” said Ancelotti. “We have an advantage from the first leg, but we must be careful.

“The victories increase our serenity, but the road is still long and there are many obstacles that we must be ready to overcome.

“We need to evaluate the condition of some of our players, including Daniele Bonera.

“Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf won’t play, Kaka won’t be in the starting line-up but may be part of the match later in the game.”

Carletto then went on to explain the outfit’s objectives for the season, a list which is unsurprisingly topped by the Champions League.

“The Coppa Italia remains third on our list. The first is the Champions League, the second is the :eague, in which our main objective is to reach fourth place,” explained the former midfielder.

“At the moment everything is focused on the other competitions, but perhaps a good game and a good result tomorrow night could improve our overall situation.

“As for January, our priority is for our injured players to recover, then we will see. At the moment, our strikers aren’t doing too well but they are great players and we must be patient.

“Once our play improves and speeds up, I am sure our strikers will have more opportunities to score,” concluded Ancelotti.

Real still want Kaka
27.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid chief Ramon Calderon will not give up on his dream of bringing Milan star Kaka to Spain.

The attacking midfielder was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer, when the Rossoneri warned the Merengues against making any attempts to contact Kaka.

However, the Spanish club’s officials had recently stated that they were still considering making an offer for the Brazilian.

“We have signed a contract for our television rights, the most impressive one in professional sports,” said Calderon to Spanish newspaper Marca.

“The money will allow us to sign the best players in the world. We will see if the promises I made in the summer about Kaka will become a reality,” added the chief, referring to the statements released during the campaign preceding his election at the helm of the club in June.

“One thing is certain, I don’t think they will write on my gravestone ‘here lies the man who did not bring Kaka to Madrid’. I do not make promises that I do not keep,” concluded Calderon.

Maldini could play on
26.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini has admitted that he may reconsider his retirement plans after scoring in Milan’s 1-0 win over Messina on Saturday night.

The captain, who will turn 39 in June, did recently suggest that this would be his last campaign as a professional.

But the Rossoneri faithful are urging him to reconsider, especially after his display at the Meazza in Week 13.

“I think I am in a position to still give something to this team, otherwise I would have already quit by now,” he stated.

“I would love to continue because I still enjoy playing and training. However, it is sometimes hard to work in pain,” added the defender who is still struggling with fitness issues.

“You will have to ask my knee whether we can continue or not. However, anything can happen between now and June.”

Maldini also used last night’s performance to silence some of his critics who have been questioning his worth recently.

“I’ve not liked some of the things which have been said and written,” he underlined after his 28th career League goal.

“However, I’ve not been giving them too much weight. I’m just focusing on doing my job on a daily basis.”

Ancelotti: Win was vital
26.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti insists tonight’s win over Messina will allow his players to get their campaign back on track.

After collecting just one point from their last four games, there was understandably talk of a crisis at the San Siro.

But the side got back to winning ways thanks to a single Paolo Maldini goal which the Coach believes will calm nerves.

“These are three important points which will help us work without anxiousness from now on,” said the tactician after the final whistle.

Although happy with the result, Ancelotti is well aware that his club have some way to go to get back to their former greatness.

“The side still needs to grow,” he added. “We had a few problems in the first half, but I’m happy with how we ended the game.

“Kaka? He played well and deserved a goal the more the match went on.”

The Brazilian did shine and also hit the woodwork, even if he isn’t too disappointed with his failure to ripple the net. “It went well as winning was all that counted,” he claimed.

“We took the lead early which made things easier, it’s just a shame that the second goal didn’t arrive.

“Their goalkeeper [Marco Storari] was in good form tonight. He deserves credit as we kept trying to score and he just parried.”

Messina boss Bruno Giordano accepted the defeat with dignity and a little bit of disappointment.

“It went as we expected in terms of the fact that they kept the ball for long periods. We did well though and with a little luck we could have netted a positive result," he said.

“We wanted to contain them but we conceded after 10 minutes.

“Christian Rigano? We can’t attack all of the time as we must take into account the interests of the team.

“You can’t expect to come to the San Siro and create 15 attempts on goal. You need a little bit of luck.”

AC Milan 1:0 Messina - match report
25.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Maldini 13 (M)

Paolo Maldini grabbed the only goal of the game as Milan got back to winning ways against Messina. The Rossoneri captain headed home a 13th minute opportunity to breath new life into the club’s problematic campaign.

Milan went into the tie hungry for a win that would ease their mini crisis. The Rossoneri had only collected one point from their last four games and the pressure has been increasing on boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Yet the tactician’s job has been made spectacularly difficult by an injury crisis. Goalkeeper Dida was the latest casualty to be ruled out – for two months – in midweek, while Seedorf only started on the bench this evening after picking up a minor complaint in training. Gourcuff took his shirt on the left-hand side of midfield.

Messina, fresh from last week’s 4-1 home humbling to Lazio, fielded a 4-5-1 system which was designed to stifle the Rossoneri. Yet that didn’t really happen in the opening 45 minutes where the San Siro giants threatened and entertained.

Gilardino went close on 10 minutes after some fine footwork by Gourcuff who is confirming himself as a star for the future. The striker’s right foot shot beat the ‘keeper, but he failed to add to his solitary one Serie A goal so far this term.

Milan did take the lead soon after through their symbol. Pirlo floated a dangerous ball into the penalty area from a free-kick and Maldini jumped highest to head past Storari. It was a lead which they managed to hold on to until the break, even if they wasted numerous chances to increase it.

Bonera was getting forward dangerously and he assisted Gilardino and Gourcuff on separate occasions. The first cross saw Gila head wide, while the Frenchman forced a save from Storari. The latter also denied Kaka a chance at goal in minute 27 and a Pirlo long ranger.

Messina’s only real effort of the opening 45 unsurprisingly fell to Serie A top scorer Rigano. He underlined his heading ability, but he failed to get the necessary contact or direction to beat giant Australian custodian Kalac.

The second half started in the way the first ended – with Milan pushing for a second. Inzaghi and Gourcuff both saw early efforts sail over the bar, until SuperPippo asked Storari to expertly save his fine volleyed effort.

Milan’s lack of a killer instinct almost came back to haunt them in the 66th minute when Rigano’s header just skimmed past the post with Kalac beaten. Yet that was an all too rare Messina attack as the Rossoneri continued to have the better chances.

Storari was again superb to deny a Maldini header and a shot from substitute Seedorf, until the woodwork interfered with the Diavolo’s season again. After hitting 10 posts in 12 games already, the on-fire Kaka made it 11 with a sublime effort.

Floccari and Kaka exchanged efforts in the closing stages but they didn’t change the result of the tie. Milan, for tonight at least, are now just eight points away from fourth place and next season’s Champions League.

Milan: Kalac; Bonera (Nesta 70), Simic, Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Gourcuff; Kaka, Inzaghi (Seedorf 72), Gilardino (Borriello 87)

Messina: Storari; Zoro, Iuliano, Rea, Parisi; Lavecchia (Alvarez 52), De Vezze, Cordova, Coppola (Floccari 64), Masiello; Rigano (Di Napoli 74)

Ref: Gava

Tavano agent mentions AC Milan
25.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Valencia striker Francesco Tavano could join Milan in the January transfer window, his agent has insisted.

The Italian has failed to feature regularly for the Liga club since his summer switch from Empoli and a New Year return is expected.

Although Roma have been associated, his representative claims a Rossoneri switch is more likely.

“To have a request from Roma is something which we are proud of, but I don’t think there has been any contact to kick start the negotiations,” noted Stefano Guercini.

“However, there is the possibility that we will see Tavano back in Serie A after the Christmas break.

“Hopefully he could join Milan, a side who are following him and a team that Tavano really likes.

“Francesco is happy in Spain, but it is clear that Italy is in his heart.”

The player himself is keeping all of his options open and has revealed that he may know what lies ahead in the very near future.

“I’ve got a meeting scheduled with the club to discuss our plans in the next few days,” noted the creative striker. “I just hope this situation can be resolved soon.

“Where will I go? That really doesn’t matter. I would even stay with Valencia so long as I am considered on a par with everyone else.”

AC Milan ponder Sereni swoop
25.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lazio’s Matteo Sereni is the latest goalkeeper to be linked with a January move to Italian giants Milan.

The Rossoneri are expected to sign a new shot-stopper after Nelson Dida picked up a knee injury at AEK Athens in midweek.

The Brazilian international will definitely be out for at least two months, but could also be sidelined for as many as four.

With that in mind Milan are looking for a custodian and Sereni is a realistic target for a New Year loan move.

Sereni, 31, is only a back-up at the Stadio Olimpico as Lazio boss Delio Rossi prefers veteran No 1 Angelo Peruzzi.

The former Ipswich man would come with the added bonus of being eligible to play in the Champions League.

Milan have also been paired with Livorno’s Marco Amelia, yet his use in the UEFA Cup this term means he wouldn’t be able to feature in Europe’s premier club competition.

Dida injury blow
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan will be without first-choice goalkeeper Nelson Dida for at least two months due to a knee injury.

The Brazilian hurt his knee during the Champions League match with AEK Athens and was forced to leave the pitch before the end of the 1-0 defeat on Tuesday evening.

The player underwent detailed medical tests on Thursday, which confirmed the initial fears, as Dida suffered a partial lesion of his left quadriceps tendon.

Further tests will follow in the next few days but the initial prognosis is of a two or three month stop, if there are no further complications.

Milan may now bid for Livorno goalkeeper Marco Amelia in January as an immediate replacement for the injured No 1, as suggested by the latest reports in Italy.

Gilardino backs AC Milan revival
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Alberto Gilardino is confident that the Rossoneri’s winning cycle has not ended, despite their recent poor run.

The San Siro outfit are struggling to find their best form in Serie A, although they managed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages despite the 1-0 defeat to AEK Athens.

“We have suffered due to the very short break after the World Cup, but we will soon recover the morale we need,” said Gilardino.

“Now we will try to win as much as possible and try to improve our fitness during the break. Even if I have not been here long, I can guarantee that the Milan cycle has not ended.”

Milan’s attacking department has not lived up to expectation, having scored only five times in the last five matches played, with four of these goals netted in the Coppa Italia match with Brescia.

“It’s not only the strikers’ fault. To put this difficult moment behind us we need everyone’s determination and help,” explained Gila.

“The transfer market? I do not listen to rumours, I only want to work well in order to be ready whenever Coach Carlo Ancelotti decides to send me on to the pitch,” concluded the striker.

Milan host Messina at the San Siro on Saturday in what will definitely be an interesting match, as the Rossoneri are currently six points behind their Sicilian opponents going into this game.

Kaka staying at AC Milan
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka will not be leaving Milan for Real Madrid, according to transfer market consultant Ernesto Bronzetti.

The Brazilian, who the Rossoneri have always said is not for sale, was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer and Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon recently confirmed the star remained a target for the Merengues.

“Real Madrid would like to buy Kaka, that is for sure,” said Bronzetti to Tgcom.

“However, I don’t think he will leave the Rossoneri, Vice-President Adriano Galliani will never let him go, not even if he were offered the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s future at the club has also been questioned recently during the outfit’s poor run, but Bronzetti believes he will not be leaving the San Siro.

“He is one of the best Coaches on the market, this is just a strange period for him but he will not leave according to what I know. Last year Real Madrid wanted him but Galliani said no and extended his contract.”

Bronzetti is also convinced that there will not be any sensational moves during the January transfer window.

“Milan may make a few signings, as well as Roma, because their squad is not large enough. Inter are already competitive and I don’t think they are planning anything big.

“Buffon has at least two Italian clubs interested in him – Milan, who have not yet extended Nelson Dida’s contract and Inter.

“Barcelona and Manchester could also make an offer, whereas Real already have a goalkeeper,” continued Bronzetti, who does not think that Antonio Cassano will return to Italy.

“I think he will stay in Spain, there are no clubs interested in him. Milan do not need strikers, Massimo Moratti likes Antonio but I don’t think there will be any move for him. Furthermore, Antonio is not a player who would accept any team.”

The transfer consultant then commented on the rumours suggesting David Beckham could move to the Nerazzurri when his contract with the Merengues ends in June 2007.

“This could happen, although I believe that Moratti will renew Luis Figo’s contract. Beckham could move to the United States, but in the end he may decide to stay with Real,” concluded Bronzetti.

AC Milan consider Amelia swoop
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan look set to bid for Livorno goalkeeper Marco Amelia after Nelson Dida picked up an injury during the Champions League match with AEK Athens.

The Brazilian hurt his knee and was forced to leave the pitch before the end of the 1-0 defeat and there are fears that he could be sidelined for two months.

The latest Rossoneri injury in the defensive department forces Milan to reconsider their next market plans and could convince them to answer Amelia’s call.

The Italian International is keen to leave the Tuscan minnows with the San Siro his preferred destination, as confirmed by the player himself last week.

“I would like to move to Milan – I think this is normal because we are talking about one of the strongest clubs in the world,” Amelia had insisted.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti thanked Amelia for his availability, but was keen to stress that Milan are well catered for between the sticks.

“We want to thank Amelia, but Milan’s goalkeepers are Dida, Zeljko Kalac and Valerio Fiori,” he noted.

“His arrival in January is unthinkable. We are looking at various players on the market – not for the winter transfer window, but for next summer.”

If Dida’s injury is confirmed to be serious, the Via Turati outfit may contact Livorno, considering that Kalac’s performances in his Coppa Italia appearances have been far from impressive.

Inzaghi: We should have won
23.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi is delighted with Champions League qualification, but insists Milan should have beaten AEK Athens on Tuesday.

The Greeks beat the Italian side 1-0 in a game in which Inzaghi struck the post, but the draw between Lille and Anderlecht ensured that the Rossoneri topped Group H anyway.

“We deserved to win, but unfortunately we were off target in front of goal and their goalkeeper did well,” he stated. “That’s the way it goes in football sometimes.

“Nevertheless, our main objective was to qualify and we can now concentrate of recuperating some positions in the League,” added the former Juventus man.

“It has been said that we are not cynical enough in front of the net, but I don’t think that is the problem.

“We played well last night, but sometimes you have few chances and you finalise, other times you have many chances but the ball just won’t go in.

“It’s just one of those moments. I scored six goals in the first six games and now I am not scoring anymore, just like the other strikers,” continued the 32-year-old.

“Maybe we will grab four goals in the next game. We need to say that yesterday’s performance was positive, [AEK ‘keeper Stefano] Sorrentino played really well, but we could have done more.”

In the meantime, Sao Paulo defender Ilsinho has denied that he is close to moving to the Rossoneri.

“I have read this news in the newspapers, but there is nothing concrete,” said the 21-year-old to ESPN Brazil.

“Furthermore, I would like to play my entire career with Sao Paulo if possible, just like goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni.”

The defender was watched by transfer guru Ariedo Braida during his trip to South America and has been targeted as a successor to 36-year-old Marcos Cafu.

AC Milan eye Mexes
23.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are reportedly interested in Roma defender Philippe Mexes and could make a move when the January transfer window opens.

The 24-year-old Frenchman is contracted to the Giallorossi until 2008, but a clause in the agreement would allow him to leave for as little as £7.5m.

Roma’s sporting director Daniele Pradè has admitted they would have to fight to hold on to Mexes after the club put new contract talks on-hold until the New Year.

Milan are keen to strengthen their defence, seeing as veterans such as Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Marcos Cafu may be retiring in June.

Mexes had recently denied that he was interested in leaving the capital city club, despite having attracted the interest of clubs of the likes of Real Madrid.

“I cannot see myself playing for another club, it’s not about the money and in any case I have no intention of availing myself of the rescission clause,” the defender had declared.

The Giallorosso’s name remains the first one on Milan’s wish list, followed by Palermo man Andrea Barzagli, although he is valued at £14m and is also a reported target for Juventus.

Juventus snub AC Milan’s Trezeguet bid
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus have rejected a January bid from Milan for star striker David Trezeguet, according to reports in Italy.

The Frenchman had already been paired with the Rossoneri during the summer after the Old Lady were relegated to Serie B, but his departure was blocked by the club.

According to the Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport, Milan have made a fresh offer to Juventus to bring the French international to the San Siro after Christmas.

However, the Bianconeri management have no intention of letting the former Monaco man leave as they consider him a key player for an immediate return to Serie A.

The striker, who has been valued at £14m, is contracted to Juve until 2008 and he has failed to commit his future to the Bianconeri.

With that in mind, Milan could make a fresh bid in the summer as they are still looking for a suitable Andriy Shevchenko replacement.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Lyon are also interested in the player’s services and the striker’s father and agent Jorge will meet Juve officials shortly to discuss possible options.

Meanwhile, sporting director Alessio Secco and Coach Didier Deschamps are already working on the Juventus of the future.

"Deschamps has all that is needed to stay here with us for a long time,” said Secco to Tuttosport.

“He could start a new era, just like what happened with Marcello Lippi. Didier was a Juventino and he knows the environment very well.

“He accepted the Serie B challenge with us because he was eager to sit on the Juve bench.

“We are already starting to plan in view of a return to Serie A. We have been contacting our most important players to convince them to stay with us and we are planning three important signings – but I cannot reveal their names…”

Brocchi hits out at Inter
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Cristian Brocchi has revealed that his Inter stint was a nightmare. “It was the worst year of my career,” he declared.

The 30-year-old played for the Nerazzurri in 2000-01 before joining city rivals Milan, but he hardly has pleasant memories of his time with the Via Durini outfit.

"At Inter I spent the worst year of my career. I got injured and then, when I recovered, I was sold,” said Brocchi in an interview to the Italian weekly magazine Chi.

“The rush of always wanting to change is the defect of those who have too much money,” he added.

“By acting this way, Inter never managed to build a solid base of players who could represent a reference for the others.”

Brocchi, who spent last season on loan at Fiorentina, also denied reports that there is increasing tension within the Rossoneri camp.

“The squad is very united, there’s great humbleness and respect amongst us. You can be sure that here you will never see dramas like those that took place at Inter,” he continued.

“Considering that after the Calciopoli scandal Juventus were relegated to Serie B and strong opponents like Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina were penalised, if Inter don’t win this year, then they will never win.

“They even took advantage of Juve’s difficult moment to purchase Patrick Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who otherwise would never have been bought so easily,” concluded Brocchi.

Cafu ponders future options
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu will decide whether to end his Milan stint or sign a new contract with the Rossoneri at some point in January.

The 36-year-old had sensationally stated over the weekend that he wanted to return to Brazil next year, but he admits that he could decide to stay on at the San Siro.

“There is a good chance that I might renew my agreement,” said Cafu to the Brazilian news agency Estado.

“But I have also had some offers from other Italian and European clubs and one in Brazil, so I am thinking about the decision to make and talking with my family about it.

“I think I will decide on my future by January and it will be final,” continued the two-time Scudetto winner.

“It would be nice if I could choose whether or not I want to continue my career instead of getting in a situation where nobody wants to sign me.”

Cafu, who arrived at Roma in 1997 from Palmeiras, joined Milan in 2003 and has since then appeared in 88 Serie A matches, as well as 32 Champions League games.

Milan are set to undergo a complete renovation process in 2007, as veterans Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta have both confirmed that they will probably retire at the end of the season.

Seedorf not superstitious
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf has urged his Milan teammates to put more effort into scoring goals rather than complaining about bad luck.

“I don’t want to talk about bad luck, as we can do something more in front of goal and some of these chances could’ve been converted with a bit more cynicism and focus.”

The 1-0 defeat at AEK Athens was their fifth in seven competitive games, but the Rossoneri still qualified for the final 16 thanks to the 2-2 draw between Lille and Anderlecht.

“We’re very happy to be through and that little boost doesn’t hurt in the circumstances. In any case, the team is united and enthusiastic, so with that approach we are bound to get out of this situation and our qualification helps morale.”

Milan had been undefeated in the Champions League this season, but their dismal Serie A form has seemingly spread to Europe as well.

“It’s the knockout rounds next, but right now we must focus on Serie A. Milan’s problem at the moment is needing to relax and have more belief in front of goal. We cannot expect luck to turn all by itself, we have to help it along,” continued Seedorf.

“The midfield can give the defence more protection and the strikers support. I’ve seen a definite improvement in this respect over the last two games, as we’ve given our opponents hardly any scoring opportunities.”

The San Siro giants’ fall from grace has provided some juicy newspaper headlines, but the Dutchman claims it’ll only help them along, including reports that Paolo Maldini will retire this summer.

“We have to take everything the media has said about us and transform it into motivation. I hope the Press keeps talking about Maldini as a former player, because it’s really boosting him and giving him the desire to prove everyone wrong. He’s our captain and a great player, so he’ll keep going while he feels like it.”

Seedorf was booked during the AEK Athens game for measuring the distance between a free-kick and the wall and remained unrepentant.

“Why is it in the rules? I called the referee and he ignored me, so I had to prove a point! Anyway, I managed to get the wall back to where it was supposed to be, so I couldn’t care less about the yellow card!”

Luck will change, says Maldini
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Captain Paolo Maldini is praying that qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League represents the end of Milan’s bad luck.

They lost their first game of the competition 1-0 to AEK Athens last night, but still progressed as Group H winners after Lille and Anderlecht drew 2-2.

“We had many opportunities tonight, but the main problem is represented by injuries,” said Maldini after the match in which Pippo Inzaghi also struck the post.

“Tonight we had two youth team players on the bench which means we are limited right now.

“I hope someone returns to action soon because playing a match every three days with the same men isn’t easy,” added the defender.

Milan lost Marcos Cafu to injury in training this week, Dario Simic in the pre-match warm-up and goalkeeper Nelson Dida in the second half.

“All these injuries are really strange, especially Dario’s,” added Maldini. “I hope that our unfortunate moment is over seeing that we have qualified as group winners.

“Today, with all the negative things there was also good news. Our mindset is not a problem, if we made it tonight then we can always make it. I am sure everything is about to change.”

Striker Ricardo Oliveira, who has struck the post three times in Serie A this season, believes that the main problem is due to the lack of goals.

“We must score. This is the priority,” said the Brazilian. “The team is playing well but we are missing chances. We hope to solve this problem as soon as possible.

“We must continue to work hard. We have advanced to the knock-out stages which is very important and we must remember that,” ended the former Betis man.

Galliani sounds calcio warning
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan vice-President Adriano Galliani has warned Italian football must change its economic rules to keep up with Spanish sides.

“We did what we had to with Kaka, penning a new five-year contract. We’ll keep Kaka close by, but Spanish football has an advantage on the transfer market because of their more comfortable economic packages, lower taxation and relaxed rules on non-EU players,” explained the former Lega Calcio chief.

“All these other players we’re interested in cannot be picked up because of their passports. If this system doesn’t change, the Serie A sides won’t be able to play many Champions League Finals over the next few years.”

The Rossoneri have been locked in several transfer battles with Real Madrid this year, including over Kaka, Higuain and Marcelo.

“If you count up the number of big players Milan and Inter signed 10 years ago and their transfer activity this summer, you’ll see an incredible difference. The limits on non-EU members entering Serie A has seen important figures leave Italy, including two Ballon d’Or winners this summer in the form of Andriy Shevchenko and Fabio Cannavaro.

“If something isn’t done about it, then calcio faces a bleak future purely from a level of infrastructure.”

Galliani was also upset at the number of fitness issues affecting Milan this season, as Dario Simic pulled out during the warm-up of their 1-0 Champions League defeat at AEK Athens.

“Before the game I was counting how many players were injured and by the end of the match it was six just from the defence and goalkeeping sections. It’s really incredible, I can’t figure out how we’ve managed such a run of bad luck.”

They have nonetheless qualified top of Group H thanks to their record against the other clubs, so the vice-President is confident.

“We have to get back some of our injured players, but above all some good fortune, as the team does create a lot of scoring opportunities.

The Champions League is our natural stage. I think our passage to the next phase will prove to be a turning point, as I saw the players smiling and relieved at the final whistle,” he continued.

“People act as if Milan have been in a crisis forever, but our first defeat was October 22 after 11 games without losing in all competitions. This side is not ringing the death bells yet. It was caused by the lack of holiday and early start to the Champions League, the Calciopoli trial, injuries and bad luck, so it all came together.”

The real problem has been the lack of goals, especially when it comes to the forwards, but once again in Athens they were kept out by the frame.

“The difference between an upright and a goal is a couple of centimetres, so I consider all those posts we’ve hit with alarming regularity to be semi-goals and that reduces the deficit we can see,” insisted Galliani.

Milan are facing a future without Paolo Maldini, with reports today that he is to retire at the end of the campaign.

“I haven’t asked Paolo. It’s purely a physical issue and he’ll see how he feels at the end of the season, I don’t think he’s made a decision yet. He is so strong that he could play until the age of 45, the only problem is the cartilage.”

Ancelotti thinks positive
22.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti focused on the positive aspects of Milan’s qualification and insisted his era would continue despite their dismal form.

“What went wrong? Just the fact that this is a period when everything is happening,” said the Coach after their 1-0 Champions League defeat at AEK Athens.

“We lost Marcos Cafu and Dario Simic at the last minute on top of the six players at home, then Dida got injured. We had a host of chances and hit the woodwork, but despite it all we are qualified and this gives us the strength and confidence to keep going.”

The Rossoneri are still certain of top spot in Group H thanks to Lille’s 2-2 draw with Anderlecht, even after losing their unbeaten record in the Champions League this season.

The injury crisis continues, though, as Cafu suffered a setback yesterday, then Simic pulled out with a problem during the warm-up and Dida hurt his left knee in the second half.

“Dida picked up an injury and was able to carry on for a while, but then it got worse. We’ll see what the situation is after some tests over the next few days.”

Milan dominated the match in Greece and had almost 70 per cent of the possession, but couldn’t hit the back of the net.

“The team played very well at the start and kept the tempo high with three or four clear-cut chances. They were also good in the second half, but hit the upright with Pippo Inzaghi and had a few more opportunities,” added Ancelotti.

“When a striker is without goals, it’s like he’s missing the fundamentals of his game. We just have to maintain the strength to keep going, focus, work hard and trust the goal will come eventually.”

The winning goal was a soft one, as Clarence Seedorf gave away a free kick on the edge of the area and the defensive wall didn’t seem to be set out very well when Julio Cesar curled in.

“I always tell my players that if they let a goal in the very top corner we must compliment our opponents. If it doesn’t, then we’ve made a mistake,” said the Coach.

“We have to remember that, regardless of the defeat, we achieved our objective in topping the Group so that in February we’ll get back into the tournament in better shape. Of all the negative things that have happened recently, we’ll take it as a positive sign that we lost and still went through.”

With their appalling form, losing five of their last seven games in all competitions, the Press asked what this meant for the future of the Ancelotti era.

“This era is continuing. I like the idea of staying at Milan for 10 years, but I’d like to do it the way I am now – on the field every day, in sync with the club and planning together for the future.”

Maldini confirms retirement idea
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini has confirmed this morning’s reports that this may be his last season as a professional footballer.

The Milan captain has been suffering with knee problems for some time and stories on Tuesday claimed he would end his extraordinary career after 23 seasons with the Rossoneri.

“Everything is going fine at the moment,” noted Maldini, a seven time Serie A winner, to Milan Channel.

“I am playing with continuity and that is what I planned on doing at the start of this campaign. I am very happy.

“But I am not thinking about renewing my contract next year. If I were to think about June now then I could consider quitting.

“However, I may change my mind in the meantime. Many other things might happen, but at this time in the season I admit that I am considering such an option.

“In June I will turn 39 which is a fairly considerable age for a footballer, but I don’t want to think about that problem now.

“I am trying not to think about the renewal and the possibility of retiring. The will to continue doing my job at my best is what allows me to remain at these high levels,” concluded Maldini.

Italy’s most capped player, thanks to his 126 games, is likely to play against AEK Athens in the Champions League this evening.

Fiorentina vs. AC Milan kick-off moved
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Week 16 fixtures Fiorentina-Milan and Udinese-Cagliari have had their time-slots switched round.

This means that the Viola will take on the Rossoneri at the Stadio Artemio Franchi with an 18.00 local time (17.00 in the UK) kick-off on December 16.

The evening match on Saturday will instead be Udinese-Cagliari at the Stadio Friuli, which will start at 19.30 UK time.

The decision to exchange the two games was made due to a conflict of security and crowd control issues in Florence.

Popular singer Claudio Baglioni’s concert will be at the Mandela Forum in the same city as the match against Milan on December 16, prompting fears over the large numbers of people travelling in the area.

AEK Athens 1:0 AC Milan - match report
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Julio Cesar 32 (A)

Milan dominated possession and hit the woodwork with Pippo Inzaghi, but lost their Champions League unbeaten record at AEK Athens. They still qualify for the next phase thanks to Lille's 2-2 draw with Anderlecht.

The Greek outfit had never won a match in this tournament before a fortnight ago, but managed to notch up their second on the trot in a shock result that confirms the Rossoneri's dismal period of form.

Carlo Ancelotti had originally picked Dario Simic, but he suffered an injury in the warm-up, so Cristian Brocchi had to improvise as a right-back with Yoann Gourcuff coming into midfield. They needed only a point from this match to be sure of their passage to the next phase, but AEK Athens were also in the running for a place in the final 16.

Alessandro 'Billy' Costacurta made history as the oldest player ever to appear in the Champions League, the 40-year-old stepping into the breach with Marcos Cafu, Alessandro Nesta and Serginho injured.

There were chances for both sides in the opening three minutes, as ex-Roma defender Traianos Dellas turned a free header off target from a corner kick, then Clarence Seedorf's volley from a Kaka cross was charged down by former Inter man Bruno Cirillo.

Goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino - also an ex-Serie A star at Torino - beat away a Ricardo Oliveira snapshot before Dida blocked a similar effort from Liberopoulos.

Milan went closer than anyone after nine minutes, as Daniele Bonera's cross found Pippo Inzaghi and Sorrentino came flying out to close down the striker from six yards. From the resulting corner, Kaka's header was just wide.

Sorrentino was again brave, rushing forward to pluck the ball off Kaka's foot following a smart one-two with Inzaghi. Two minutes later Sorrentino performed another desperate save on Inzaghi.

SuperPippo couldn't believe it when he was kept out by Sorrentino once more, a brilliant one-handed save at the near post from his left-foot strike after hooking down a pass.

Yet AEK threatened against the run of play on 23 minutes, as Cirillo's piledriver from long-range took a deflection to leave Dida stranded, the ball thumping the upright.

Zikos' effort was comfortably held, but the Greeks broke through from a set-piece. Julio Cesar curled in a free kick from outside the area that slotted into the far top corner with Dida going the wrong way, as the defensive wall split.

Andrea Pirlo's free kick was flicked on for Kaka at the back post, his finish hitting the side-netting, and a weak Ricardo Oliveira effort was easily gathered.

Ancelotti made a substitution at half-time, introducing Marek Jankulovski for Costacurta, pushing Bonera into central defence so he could take the left flank.

Inzaghi's luck hadn't improved, though, as when he finally managed to beat Sorrentino, flicking on Jankulovski's low cross with the outside of his right boot, his shot thumped the base of the upright on 54 minutes.

There was chaos in the Milan area on the hour mark, as a goal clearance was allowed to bounce. Dida managed to parry the first attempt and Nikos Liberopoulos fired the follow-up wide following a series of defensive errors.

Dida made up for it moments later, as Julio Cesar was left unmarked to get away a volley with the outside of his left foot, but the Brazilian goalkeeper flew to palm it out with one strong hand. Dida suffered a knee injury in that move, but was able to continue.

Kaka's shot from a corner was charged down by a mass of defensive bodies, but when it came time to replace Oliveira, it was youngster Marco Borriello who was chosen rather than Alberto Gilardino. It was his first appearance in the Champions League since 2003.

Dida's palms were stung by a fierce Kiriakidis strike from 25 metres and Kaka drilled over.

There was controversy when Seedorf was booked for pointing out the wall was only six yards away when Milan were waiting to take a free kick from the very edge of the area. When it was finally taken, Borriello fired it wide.

Dida's earlier left knee injury finally forced him off the pitch, so Zeljko Kalac came on for the last 12 minutes, the final substitution at Ancelotti's disposal.

Borriello couldn't quite get on the end of Jankulovski's fine cross, flattening Cirillo in the process, then Inzaghi with his back to goal set up the ex-Treviso striker for another effort that was charged down.

Pirlo aimed one of his trademark long-range free kicks at the far top corner, only just missing the target.

AEK Athens: Sorrentino; Cirillo, Dellas, Papastathopoulos, Tziortziopoulos (Moras 78); Emerson, Zikos, Tozser (Kiriakidis 66); Manduca; Liberopoulos, Julio Cesar (Hetemaj 86)

Milan: Dida (Kalac 78); Brocchi, Costacurta (Jankulovski 46), Maldini, Bonera; Gourcuff, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Borriello 70), Inzaghi

Ref: Braamhaar (Hol)

Rijkaard set for AC Milan switch
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Frank Rijkaard could leave Barcelona at the end of the season for Milan, according to speculation in Italy.

The Dutch tactician is contracted to the Camp Nou outfit until 2008, but his deal allegedly has a clause – dubbed the ‘Milan clause’ – which would allow him to walk away from his £2m a season deal in June.

Rijkaard has been linked with the Via Turati club in the past few weeks following the whispers that Carlo Ancelotti is on his way out – even if his deal is also set to expire in 2008.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the relationship between the former Milan midfielder and his current Spanish club has deteriorated.

Rijkaard is allegedly tired of the tension between himself and Johan Cruyff, who has been sponsoring the arrival of Marco Van Basten.

The pink paper believes that much will depend on Milan and Barcelona’s future in this year’s Champions League, but suggests that Rijkaard could also take a sabbatical at the end of term in view of starting a fresh challenge in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Catalan giants have turned down a supposed January Milan offer for defender Juliano Belletti.

The Spanish side have insisted that the player is currently unavailable for transfer, but they may consider a sale at the end of the campaign.

Maldini reveals quit plans
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan captain Paolo Maldini is set to retire from football at the end of the season, according to the latest reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri symbol is in his 23rd campaign with the club, a new record in Italian football as the previous best was Silvio Piola’s 22, but it may also be his last.

Maldini, who will turn 39 next year, is still suffering with knee problems which haven’t been solved by the surgery he had in Belgium at the end of the last campaign.

“Things are not going well,” said the captain to some friends, according to Il Corriere dello Sport. “Both knees hurt and it isn’t easy to train this way.

“I have played some good matches recently, but the situation is not that positive for the future. At this point in time I think I will retire at the end of this season,” added the Rossonero.

The legendary stopper has made 591 appearances in Serie A so far, winning seven Scudetti with Milan.

He was capped 126 times by the Nazionale over 14 years, an all-time record in Italy, ending his Azzurri career on June 18, 2002, in the 2-1 World Cup defeat against South Korea.

Maldini has not yet decided on what he will do after he hangs up his boots, but he doesn’t seem keen on following his father’s example and becoming a Coach.

“To say the truth, I haven’t thought of what I will do after I stop playing football,” Maldini has stated in the past. “But in any case it’s too early to think about it.”

Dida will extend, say AC Milan
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani says the club is determined to extend the contract of goalkeeper Nelson Dida.

The Brazilian’s agreement expires in June 2007 but there have not yet been any talks regarding a new deal, fuelling speculation that the player could be set to leave the Rossoneri.

“We will extend his contract,” said Galliani to Sky Italia. “We will meet as soon as possible and I hope Dida will stay with us for many years to come.

“If we do not reach an agreement then we will face the problem in July, but it would not be dramatic if Dida were to leave.

“I am convinced that contracts can be renewed if both parties involved want this to happen, but can also not be renewed without this being a drama.

“However, I hope he will stay even if no one is irreplaceable in the team,” added the former Lega Calcio chief.

Should Dida quit the San Siro, Milan may make a move for either Livorno’s Marco Amelia or Gigi Buffon of Juventus.

Galliani was also asked to comment on River Plate ace Gonzalo Higuain, a Milan target who Real Madrid made a £5m bid on Monday – an offer which was rejected as being too low.

“Is our offer higher than Real Madrid’s? I don’t think so. It will be very hard for Italian clubs to compete with the Spanish ones as they have higher revenues,” he added.

“There are less taxes in Spain and if things continue this way I fear that in a few years’ time Italian football will not be able to keep pace with the top clubs in Europe.”

Ancelotti's final countdown
21.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is confident Milan will wrap up qualification at AEK Athens on Tuesday. “We’ll return here for the Champions League Final,” he said.

The Rossoneri need a point to reach the knock-out stages of the competition in a stadium which will host the 2007 European Cup finale in May.

“A draw would be sufficient, but AEK’s quality has improved since September and we must be very careful,” said Ancelotti, whose side beat the Greeks 3-0 at the San Siro in Matchday 1.

“They will give their all, but we will do the same. I hope the team will show the same determination I saw in Empoli on Saturday.

“Our main objective is to be sure of qualification,” added the Coach.

However, Ancelotti expects his struggling Serie A side to face some difficulties this evening in an atmosphere which is expected to be hot.

“I’m worried by the fact AEK have won all of their points at home,” he added. “They play with the same strength home and away, but the extra factor is their fans.

“I am sure it will be a very entertaining and open game because both sides want to win.

“I don’t want to talk about our recent bad luck as we don’t want any alibis. I can only say that luck favours the brave and I guess that Milan are not brave at the moment.”

The match is scheduled at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, a venue that brings back happy memories for the Rossoneri.

“It’s an important stadium for us because this is the city where we won the Champions League in 1994 [4-0 against Barcelona]. We are now here to test the pitch and return for the Final.”

The Rossoneri were reportedly interested in AEK goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, as Nelson Dida is yet to extend his contract, but Ancelotti has dismissed all rumours.

“Sorrentino is a good player but we already have three goalkeepers and we aren’t interested in him,” concluded the tactician.

The Rossoneri, currently on 10 points, have never lost to Greek opposition in European competition, while the other game in Group H will see Lille play against Anderlecht.

AEK Athens (probable): Sorrentino; Moras, Cirillo, Dellas, Tziortziopoulos; Hetemaj, Zikos, Emerson, Tozser; Julio Cesar, Liberopoulos

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Maldini, Simic, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Oliveira, Inzaghi

Ancelotti eyes Athens glory
20.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is keen for Milan book their spot in the knockout phase of the Champions League against AEK Athens.

The Rossoneri are first in Group H with 10 points and are on the brink of qualification ahead of Tuesday’s match, despite their struggles in Serie A this term.

“We are not taking anything for granted, we still need one point to qualify and our objective is to do our best and stay in first place,” said Ancelotti before leaving for Athens.

“We want to play well and see some improvements on the field. We will leave our worries about the League behind us – the Champions League can help us regain serenity.

“Paolo Maldini said that this season reminds him of the one which ended with the Champions League victory in Manchester and I hope he is right.

“I am optimistic because I understand the group’s value, the players’ quality and the unity of the squad,” continued the tactician.

“We are still the first club in Europe, we have earned this leadership in the past five years and we want to keep it.

“In any case, the match in Athens will not be easy, they have improved a lot since the game on Matchday 1,” said Ancelotti, referring to the 3-0 win at the Stadio San Siro.

“I think we must continue what started with the step forward against Empoli. The standings don’t make me sad, instead the situation pushes me to find a solution to the problems that we have.”

Vice-President Adriano Galliani also believes that the Rossoneri are not going through a crisis and will soon return to winning ways in the championship.

“We have always done well in Europe and also in Italy. In the past season we earned 88 points and we were first in the European rankings,” explained Galliani.

“We are going through a difficult moment that I hope will finish soon. Milan aren’t in a crisis, I don’t understand why everyone is focusing on the recent games.

“Certainly we aren’t satisfied with the season, but there is no reason to talk about a crisis because there isn’t one.

“Europe remains our first objective, in addition to reaching one of the top four places in Serie A and going as far as possible in every competition,” concluded the former Lega Calcio chief.

Maldini staying positive
20.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini believes that Milan can take plenty of positives out of their goalless draw with Empoli on Saturday.

The Rossoneri may have been unable to score against the Tuscan side, but they hit the woodwork twice with Ricardo Oiiveira.

“This has not been a fortunate period for us, but the squad has shown good unity and we remained concentrated until the final minute,” Maldini told Milan Channel on Sunday.

“Empoli are an excellent side, and they are doing well in the championship. As for us, I think we have taken the first step forward to come out of what has been considered a ‘crisis’.

“There is a thin line between a win and a defeat, it’s just a few centimetres of woodwork.

“In the past, we have been able to break the deadlock but this year it hasn’t happened and this is a problem because scoring and winning is decisive.”

Maldini hit back at those who have criticised the Rossoneri saying that the side is too old.

“We continue to do our job without listening to those who don’t know anything about football, but the Coach sees what we do in training during the week,” said the 38-year-old player.

Milan travel to Athens where they will play AEK on Tuesday in their Champions League Group H tie, as they look to secure qualification to the knockout phase.

“I have to say that this season is like that of 2002-03, when we had some problems in the League and then had great success in the Champions League,” concluded the captain.

Oliveira rues bar tab
20.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have hit the woodwork 10 times in 12 games, but Ricardo Oliveira is confident their luck will turn.

“I am training well and think sooner or later luck will give me a hand,” said the Brazilian who has struck the crossbar twice and upright once in the last two matches.

“I am convinced that I will start scoring goals again quickly, because I feel increasingly as if I really belong in this team.”

It has been a difficult time for the Brazilian, whose sister was kidnapped several weeks ago and has not been heard from since.

“It’s not easy to play in my current situation, but I want to keep going and feel it is the right thing to continue in my work. Playing for the Selecao on Wednesday was also important, as it gave me confidence and security, but it’s not enough.”

The Rossoneri are now 19 points adrift of the leaders – which could turn to 22 if Inter beat Reggina this afternoon – and the main problem has been goals.

Last season’s top scorers in Serie A have netted just 11 times in 12 games, but the statistics also show a different side.

Of the 10 occasions in which they’ve hit the woodwork, seven of them could’ve been decisive for the final result.

“It’s crazy, I don’t think we can keep going like this for much longer,” said Marcos Cafu. “Ricardo already hit the bar against Roma, then struck the crossbar and the upright at Empoli. Sooner or later his luck will turn.

“If the strikers aren’t scoring, then perhaps it’s also because the rest of the team isn’t providing enough support. In this difficult moment we must all continue to help each other and maintain our belief.”

Ancelotti curses unlucky streak
19.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims he saw improvements in Milan’s performance at Empoli, but that bad luck continues to strike his team.

“In my opinion, the side played fairly well and we didn’t allow our opponents any real scoring opportunities,” he said after the 0-0 draw at the Stadio Castellani.

“It was overall a small step forward and in the second half we could’ve done better upfront, but a draw is an acceptable result.”

The Rossoneri are having real problems hitting the back of the net this season and once again found the woodwork instead.

In the first half alone, Ricardo Oliveira struck the frame of the goal twice – first the crossbar and then the far upright.

“These were two very important incidents, because our unlucky streak continues. We hit the woodwork twice again today and at the moment the results are not reflecting our performances. This was certainly an improvement on the 2-0 defeat at Atalanta,” added Ancelotti.

“We were more focused and balanced in the middle of the park, especially against a fast-paced team. We didn’t allow them many counter-attacks and that was the key issue, so we can find some positives in this draw.”

Empoli boss Gigi Cagni agreed that Lady Luck had smiled on his men at the Stadio Castellani this evening.

“It was a great performance from my men and it’s doubly satisfying because we deserved it. Of course, we had a bit of luck, but you also make your own luck in this world,” said the Coach.

“Igli Vannucchi is a player of great talent who has made a lifestyle choice in acting as leader for Empoli, an example for our younger squad members to look up to. I’m optimistic we can avoid relegation, even if we must maintain our trademark aggression and pace.”

Cafu: I'm going home
18.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu has sensationally announced he’s returning to Brazil permanently, possibly as early as January.

“I want to go home. It could happen in January or at the end of 2007, I don’t know yet,” he was quoted as saying in Brazilian newspaper ‘La Folha de Sao Paulo.’

“There are negotiations already in place, not only with Sao Paulo. I thank everyone for having opened so many doors and now it’s up to me to choose.”

The 36-year-old defender had already considered his career almost over after his contract with Roma expired in June 2003, agreeing a move to Japan’s J-League.

However, Milan gave him the opportunity to extend his Serie A stay, which is now in its 10th season.

“I want to be closer to my family. I’ve already spoken to some clubs, but there is nothing concrete yet.”

Cafu had returned to Brazil to take care of family matters earlier this year and it seems it could be a permanent arrangement.

The Rossoneri have earmarked his replacement at right-back, fellow Brazilian Ilsinho of Sao Paulo.

“Even if he is still only at the start of his career, Ilsinho has already proved he can become a big name who matters on the world stage.”

Pendolino made his Serie A debut in Roma’s 3-1 win at Empoli on August 31, 1997 and has notched up five goals in 142 appearances for the Selecao.

Empoli 0:0 AC Milan - match report
18.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan's dismal form continued with a stalemate at Empoli, but Ricardo Oliveira hit the woodwork twice.

The Rossoneri had lost four of their last five Serie A games and, including the Calciopoli penalty were eight points adrift of Empoli.

It was the Tuscans who had the first real chance after 11 minutes, as Antonio Busce' got down the right flank and Dida only just got hold of his cross before Luca Saudati came sliding in from six yards.

Milan went incredibly close to an opener soon after, as Ricardo Oliveira unleashed a strike from 20 metres that took a slight deflection to smash against the crossbar.

Moments later, Marcos Cafu combined with Kaka for a shot tipped on to the side-netting. From the resulting corner, Ricardo Oliveira's header was cleared off the line by Fabio Moro.

Davide Matteini went off on the counter-attack and brought a save out of Dida, but it was mainly Milan in the first half, a free kick touched on for Clarence Seedorf to drill wide.

Marek Jankulovski performed a crucial tackle to stop Igli Vannucchi as he sprinted into the area and Oliveira's header whistled wide from Paolo Maldini's cross. It took a deflection off Raggi's shoulder, but the referee did not award a corner kick.

Ricardo Oliveira was again frustrated by the frame of the goal, as on the stroke of half-time his angled drive had beaten Balli, but was stopped short by the base of the far upright.

After the break the Rossoneri spread the play to an unmarked Kaka, whose powerful but central finish stung the palms of Balli.

Vannucchi went off on the counter-attack for a Busce' shot smothered by Dida, then Pippo Inzaghi replaced a disappointing Alberto Gilardino. Seedorf smashed a volley so off target that it went to the outside corner of the penalty area, then Inzaghi was unable to turn in Cafu's centre.

Yet Empoli were very dangerous on the counter, as Busce' was allowed to roam forward and Dida fingertipped his angled drive round the far post. From the resulting corer, Matteini's volley was over. Milan co-owned striker Nicola Pozzi came on to refresh the home side's front line.

Dida spilled another long-range Vannucchi snapshot and substitute Marco Borriello's header into the air from a defensive mess-up was off target.

Yoann Gourcuff floated the ball back across the face of goal for a Borriello header, but in stoppages the Rossoneri had another great chance to win it. Billy Costacurta and Maldini redirected a corner kick and Balli stuck out a foot to make a decisive reaction save.

Seedorf's long-range free kick flew wide of the upright, but neither team could break through the deadlock.

Empoli: Balli; Raggi, Marzoratti (Adani 68), Vanigli, Lucchini; Marianini, Moro; Buscè, Vannucchi, Matteini (Ficini 80); Saudati (Pozzi 66)

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Costacurta, Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo (Gourcuff 68), Seedorf; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Borriello 78), Gilardino (Inzaghi 59)

Ref: Tagliavento

AC Milan admiration delights Ronaldinho
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Barcelona ace Ronaldinho has fuelled talk of a Milan move by admitting he is honoured by the Rossoneri’s interest.

The 2005 European Footballer of the Year has been linked with the club for some time and the Via Turati outfit have not ruled out the idea of making a summer bid for the Brazilian.

“I can only be honoured by the fact that a glorious club like Milan and an important person like Silvio Berlusconi are interested in me,” said Ronaldinho.

“I am pleased, but for now I am a Barcelona player and I want to only think about Barcelona.”

The player’s brother and agent Roberto Assis agrees with his client, although a meeting is allegedly scheduled in Madrid with a Milan official on Friday.

“The relationship between Ronaldinho and Barcelona does not seem destined to end,” said Assis, who was thought to be trying to get his brother a new Nou Camp contract.

“We enjoy it here and if we haven’t spoken to the club it’s because we do not think there is any need.

“At the time being I do not see any reason to not continue with Barcelona, but I do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future.

“I have an excellent relationship with Milan,” added the representative.

Assis also noted that he soon intends to travel to Milan and offer his support to Ricardo Oliveira, another of his clients, who is anxiously awaiting news about his kidnapped sister.

“Ricardo is going through a difficult time, which has nothing to do with football at all,” he continued.

“I am sure that he will prove his true value when he recovers his best condition. Now we can only hope that his personal problems get solved.”

Real keen on Kaka
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon has confirmed that Milan star Kaka remains a target for the Merengues.

The attacking midfielder was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer and sporting director Predrag Mijatovic had recently stated that the Spanish side intended to renew their attempts to sign Kaka.

Real Madrid have now finalised the sale of their television rights, a contract worth £570m over the next seven years, boosting their transfer kitty considerably.

“Kaka and Lionel Messi? Why not?” said the chief in an interview to Onda Madrid.

“If their current clubs were to sell them we would definitely be interested,” added Calderon, whose club has just secured the signing of Brazil full-back Marcelo from Fluminense.

The Galacticos are also reportedly closing in on Gonzalo Higuain of River Plate and Fernando Gago of Boca Juniors, both eyed by Milan transfer guru Ariedo Braida.

In the meantime, Kaka put in a decent performance for the Seleçao in Wednesday’s friendly against Switzerland, scoring the decisive goal in the 2-1 win.

Teammate Ricardo Oliveira also returned to the international scene, after being ruled out of the World Cup by a knee injury.

“It's always important to play for the Seleçao, I was disappointed not to play in the World Cup,” said the striker after the match.

“I am settling in very well and finding my form at Milan – they are a great club.”

Amelia eyes AC Milan move
16.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Livorno goalkeeper Marco Amelia has revealed that he is hoping to join Milan in January.

The Italian International is keen to leave the Tuscan minnows, with the San Siro his preferred destination as the Rossoneri No 1 Nelson Dida is yet to extend his deal with the Via Turati club.

“I would like to move to Milan – I think this is normal because we are talking about one of the strongest clubs in the world,” said Amelia.

“I am flattered that my name is being associated with the Rossoneri. The transfer window will reopen in January and anyone interested in my services will have to speak to Livorno.

“I like it in Livorno, but I don’t think a side that is fourth and in good form can be criticised by its President,” he added, referring to Aldo Spinelli, who has repeatedly lambasted Coach Daniele Arrigoni for his tactical choices.

“If there will be an opportunity to leave, I hope I will not miss it,” concluded the former Roma man.

Nesta stands by Rossoneri
16.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta has rejected claims he is to leave Milan for a return to Lazio and reveals why the Azzurri dropped him.

“I am happy here and so is my family,” he told Milan Channel. “I’ve never spoken about this, just leaving the newspapers to say what they wanted to. The rumours I want to leave are completely untrue.”

The 30-year-old has been on disappointing form this season and his contract is set to expire in 2008, prompting reports he is looking for a return to hometown club Lazio.

“We are talking to the club, just as other Rossoneri players have, before signing a new contract. This is why I think we’ll stay here.”

The defender missed much of the World Cup with an injury and that could still be affecting his form, so he agreed with Coach Roberto Donadoni to skip tonight’s international friendly against Turkey.

“I spoke to the people I needed to and explained at the moment I’m not in great shape physically. I have to recover my fitness, that is my priority, then we’ll see how my body responds and decide from there.”

Most of his Milan teammates are also lacking their usual sharpness, falling to four defeats in their last five Serie A games.

“We are paying the price for the very short summer holidays, as we had to rush back to prepare the Champions League preliminary round game at the last minute,” he explained.

“We are aware we’re not great at the moment, even if we put everything we’ve got into our performances. Perhaps it isn’t much right now, but we’re working hard to get back to our old selves. Now we have to notch together a run of positive results so that we can sort ourselves out over the Christmas break.”

Following Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s assurances earlier today, Nesta also pointed out there was no truth in the rumours about locker room bust-ups between Daniele Bonera and Yoann Gourcuff.

“When a team is in difficulty, the media tries to sink them without trace. These are things we have to learn to ignore so we can focus only on working. Sooner or later, it’ll all get back to normal.”

Ancelotti reveals AC Milan truth
16.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has cooled rumours of growing tension within the Rossoneri changing rooms.

Newspaper speculation this morning suggested that not everything was well in the camp, with Ancelotti even looking for the squad insider who allegedly fed reporters with information around the alleged training ground bust-up between Daniele Bonera and Yoann Gourcuff.

But Ancelotti has this afternoon looked to put the record straight during his Press conference at Milanello.

“Many things have been written over these last few days,” began the tactician.

“I feel that I must reply by saying that the team, the Coach and the club are in perfect synchronization and this unity will allow us to put this difficult period behind our shoulders.

“Critics have the right to express their opinions, but reporting things that haven’t happened is another thing. I am making this clear so we don’t have any more surprises in the next few days.

“Journalists can criticise the Coach and team, that is perfectly legitimate, but you cannot make up things that are not true,” underlined the under-fire boss.

The Rossoneri have been struggling to find their best form and are currently 20 points behind Serie A leaders Inter and Palermo.

In the meantime, Milan representatives will meet with the brother and agent of Barcelona ace Ronaldinho this week, according to newspaper La Repubblica.

The Rossoneri have not yet ruled out the possibility of signing the Brazilian ace, who is yet to extend his contract with the Blaugrana.

The chances of seeing Ronaldinho at the San Siro may increase if Coach Frank Rijkaard leaves the Camp Nou.

The former Milan man has been listed as a possible replacement for Ancelotti if he were to leave the bench in June.

Viola plan Bonera bid
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Fiorentina could launch a January bid to sign unsettled Milan defender Daniele Bonera, according to reports.

Bonera moved to the San Siro in the summer after four seasons with Parma, but has struggled for form in the first part of term and was also involved in an alleged bust-up with teammate Yoann Gourcuff on Monday – although that has been denied.

Fiorentina director general Pantaleo Corvino is looking for a new defender to add to Coach Cesare Prandelli’s squad and reports suggest that club President Andrea Della Valle is keen on the 25-year-old talent.

Prandelli has already worked with the player at Parma and has a high consideration of Bonera, who can easily adapt to all roles in the defensive department.

If Milan were to agree to a transfer, a loan deal could be finalised in January, allowing the former Brescia man to join the Viola as they fight to remain in Serie A.

Lippi denies AC Milan talks – again
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcello Lippi has once again denied that there is any truth in the latest rumours linking him to the Milan bench.

The World Cup winning Coach has been paired with a move to the San Siro, amidst whispers that Carlo Ancelotti will end his five-year stint with the Rossoneri in the summer – even though his contract doesn’t expire until 2008.

But after already rubbishing the story last week, the former Juventus maestro has again hit out at the speculation.

“Last week it was Napoli, two weeks ago it was Spain, now Milan. Not even half a word is true in what has been written,” said Lippi to TG1.

Lippi, who is keen on starting a new job in 2007, has stated several times that he has not received any offers from Italian clubs since taking time off at the end of the German triumph.

Lippi has been associated with a move to Mexico and a return to Napoli, where he worked in 1993-94, but rumours have also suggested his next job may be in England.

The Viareggino was also eager to comment on Francesco Totti’s latest performances with Roma, as the player seems to have rediscovered his best form again.

“I chose to support him and believe in him after he injured his ankle. I am happy to see that he is now a fully recovered player.

“It’s a pleasure to see him happy and confirm himself as a real leader for his side,” concluded Lippi.

Bonera denies Gourcuff row
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Daniele Bonera has denied clashing with teammate Yoann Gourcuff in training. “This story was invented,” he declared.

The Corriere dello Sport reported on Tuesday that the pair had a confrontation during training and that the alleged homesick Gourcuff was even considering a return to Rennes.

“This is something which was made up by someone who wants to create problems to a group which already has some to solve,” said Bonera to Milan Channel.

“This is a delicate moment and hearing that I had a row with Yoann makes no sense.

“He and I have a really good relationship, we live near each other and once in a while we travel to Milanello together in the same car,” added the former Parma man.

“There really are no problems between us and when we heard about this thing we even laughed about it.

“The newspaper said that the fight was caused by a tackle during training, but on Monday there was no such episode.

“And even if there had been a tackle, that would be no reason to fight, it’s part of the game,” concluded Bonera.

Gourcuff was also eager to deny the row and confirmed that he is happy at Milan since his summer switch.

“I read the newspapers and what was written about me and Bonera. There are no problems, there was no quarrel and I get on with everyone,” said the midfielder to Milan Channel.

“I am very pleased to be here so I was surprised to read this. This would not happen in France, you wouldn’t see this in the papers, I suppose I have to get used to the Italian Press.

“I hope to stay here for a long time and become a great Milan player. The atmosphere is good even if our results haven’t been excellent.

“Of course it would have been better to come back to a team that was top of the table after my injury.

“The positive thing is that the Champions League has been going well, we haven’t lost and are top of our group after a series of good results,” concluded the 20-year-old.

Empoli vs. AC Milan - match preview
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Empoli and Milan seem to have swapped roles in recent weeks and the Rossoneri will be eager to return to the norm with a win at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. With the pressure mounting Empoli could deliver a knockout blow to Carlo Ancelotti and Co.

Four defeats in their last five Serie A matches has left the Milan fans reeling, and many have started calling for Ancelotti’s head to roll. The lack of goals from strikers Alberto Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira and Pippo Inzaghi has been given as the main reason for their dreadful start and they could find their futures in as much threat as their Coach’s if they once again fail to find the target.

The last three weeks have been particularly downhearted for the Rossoneri. As if losing to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina wasn’t bad enough, following it with further losses to Atalanta and Roma must have put a real dent in their confidence. It is that resulting low morale that Carletto must combat if he is to stay in employment much longer.

Ancelotti’s task isn’t made any easier by some important absentees including World Cup winner Gennaro Gattuso. The battling midfielder is unlikely to feature for Milan again until early 2007 and to make matters worse his usual replacement Massimo Ambrosini is also injured. Add to that the similar problems for Serginho, Kakha Kaladze and Giuseppe Favalli and the Rossoneri medical staff are being kept busy.

In Francesco Pratali and Sergio Almiron, Empoli Coach Luigi Cagni has his own injury worries, even if they are less numerous than his opposite number. But that isn’t to say they won’t be just as costly with Pratali in particular being a rock in defence for the Azzurri so far and both players will be badly missed.

The Tuscans have hardly set Serie A alight so far, but they have been picking up plenty of points. They are now just one point away from the final Champions League place and have gone five matches without a defeat. Most of those results have been draws, but you can’t argue with their League position and they have only conceded two goals in their last four matches. The Azzurri have already beaten Palermo at the Castellani this term and will be confident they can add Milan to their collection of big-name scalps.

Man on fire: Cristian Brocchi (Milan) – The Rossoneri may be underperforming this season, but Brocchi’s excellent showings when covering for Gattuso have justifiably earned him his first call-up to Roberto Donadoni’s Italy squad.

Last season: Empoli 1-3 Milan

Form guide: Empoli (D D D D W) Milan (L W L L L)

Empoli (probable): Balli; Raggi, Marzoratti, Vanigli, Lucchini; Marianini, Moro; Busce, Vannucchi, Matteini; Saudati

Milan (probable): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Gilardino, Oliveira

Ancelotti facing AC Milan ultimatum
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti will be replaced by Milan unless he ensures the side qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Rossoneri are struggling in Serie A, but club chief Silvio Berlusconi and Vice-President Adriano Galliani have both confirmed their trust in Ancelotti who is under contract until 2008.

However, it is understood that Ancelotti must guide the side to a top four finish or face the realistic possibility of being replaced.

Although they are 20 points behind leaders Inter and Palermo, they are still just nine points shy of fourth.

Nevertheless, several names have already been strongly associated with his job should things not improve.

They include Marcello Lippi, Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard, Dutch tactician Marco Van Basten and Luciano Spalletti, who has not yet discussed a contract extension with Roma.

In the meantime, Ancelotti is aware that the present situation is fragile and knows that things must change in a hurry.

“This is a delicate situation and what we have done so far is not enough,” said the former Reggiana, Parma and Juve boss.

“We must give more, this is what I told the players in the dressing room after the match against Roma. We make too many mistakes,” added the former midfielder.

“In the past we got away with certain errors, but now we are paying for every single distraction dearly. Therefore we must avoid any kind of mistakes.

“Whenever we went through a difficult period in the past, I saw our players use their pride to emerge from it.

“The key is our defence. At the start of the season it was excellent, but we’ve lost concentration too often in the past few matches,” concluded Ancelotti.

AC Milan give up on Gago
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have reportedly lost out to Real Madrid in the race to sign Boca Juniors midfielder Fernando Gago.

Rossoneri transfer guru Ariedo Braida is presently scouting in South America and had eyed Gago and Gonzalo Higuain of River Plate, but both youngsters would seemingly prefer a move to Madrid.

Now the AS newspaper claims that Gago, similar in style to former Real and Milan man Fernando Redondo, is on the verge of reaching an agreement with the Merengues.

“He is going to happily come to us, he is a talented player and I believe we have been very lucky,” said former Fiorentina striker and current Real sporting director Predrag Mijatovic.

“I think buying him is a good move, although we still need to finalise the deal. He’s wanted by other big clubs, but he prefers Madrid.”

Milan have also targeted Ilsinho of Sao Paulo as a successor to 36-year-old Marcos Cafu after Lazio again told them to forget about Massimo Oddo.

The 21-year-old Ilsinho was viewed by Braida over the past few days and impressed the club official who is considering an offer.

However, the defender does not have an EU passport and could therefore land at the San Siro only in June if a non-EU spot is left vacant.

The player is under contract until 2009 and has been valued at something around £1.7m.

Meanwhile, there seems to be growing tension in the Milan locker room after Daniele Bonera and Yoann Gourcuff allegedly argued on Monday.

The Corriere dello Sport reports that the pair clashed during training and the homesick French starlet may even be considering a return to Rennes.

Cafu expects AC Milan revival
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu has insisted that Milan are not a side in crisis. “Two or three wins would put us back on track,” he declared.

The Rossoneri suffered their fourth defeat in five games on Saturday, losing 2-1 to Roma at the San Siro, and are now fifth from bottom – 20 points behind joint leaders Inter and Palermo.

“A defeat is always hard to accept and it isn’t easy, but we must try to react and leave this difficult period behind us,” Cafu told Milan Channel.

“It's a tough time, but we know that two or three consecutive victories would put things back on track and help to create the right kind of confidence we need to look ahead with optimism.

“We lost on Saturday although we played well and this is exactly what happened in the derby where we didn’t do badly, but were still defeated 4-3.

“This is just how things are going right now – we are playing well but not winning any points.”

Although Milan quickly wiped out their eight point Calciopoli deduction, the San Siro giants have stalled in recent weeks.

“It’s unpleasant to look at the table and see that we only have seven points,” added the former Roma full-back. “Nobody expected this situation but as we got ourselves into it, we will get out of it.”

Cafu also took comfort from the fact that he had lived through a similar experience while he was with Sao Paulo.

“After a series of less than positive results, we were able to turnaround the situation and this is how we were able to win the League for the sixth year in a row,” he noted.

“This means that what is happening here is something that has been known to happen to every team in the world, but it can be solved and that is what we must try to do.”

The World Cup winner also underlined that he doesn’t consider his international career to be over despite now being 36.

“The relationship between Brazil and myself isn’t completely over, my objective is to arrive at 150 games and I am only two short. Then, as for the future, we will see what happens.”

Oddo snubs AC Milan interest
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Oddo says he is tired of being paired with a move to Milan and hopes to imminently sign a new contract at Lazio.

The Italian international was heavily paired with a switch to the San Siro during the summer, but no transfer fee was agreed after Lazio chief Claudio Lotito refused to lower his £8m asking price.

And with the January transfer window on the verge of opening, rumours of a move to the struggling Rossoneri have now unsurprisingly started once again.

“I would like to continue here, but I also believe Lazio need to make the first step,” said the club captain from Italy’s training camp in Bergamo ahead of the Turkey test.

“Over the past four years my name has always been mentioned while the transfer window was open.

“I enjoy living in Rome, but now I hope the club will make a move given that my contract ends in a year and a half,” concluded the 30-year-old former Verona player.

Milan see Oddo as an ideal heir to Marcos Cafu even if Lotito has again reiterated the club’s intention to keep the stopper at the Stadio Olimpico.

“Oddo? He is not on sale,” said the fiery chief last night. “He is our captain and there is no way we will let him leave.”

Oddo was on target for Lazio at the weekend when he curled home a free-kick during the 5-0 trouncing of Udinese.

Seedorf back for Oranje
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf has been named in the Holland squad for the friendly with England after a two-year absence.

The Milan midfielder will replace Wesley Sneijder of Ajax, who picked up an injury on Sunday and will not be available for Coach Marco Van Basten.

Seedorf last appeared for the Oranje in Euro 2004 and had recently admitted that he still wanted to play for his national team.

Van Basten, formerly of Milan, had previously hinted at a return for the former Real Madrid ace, but it would appear as though he will merely be a squad player for his country.

“In the last two years I spoke three times with Clarence and explained to him why we didn’t invite him,” said Van Basten last week.

“Clarence had his chance under five Coaches and never convinced. We chose a new direction two years ago and found no reason to pick him.

“He must compete with Rafael Van Der Vaart and Sneijder. For the time being, those two have my preference.

“I will not say that Seedorf will never get a chance with me as Coach, but the fact is that I prefer other players for now.”

Holland will host England on Wednesday evening at the Amsterdam Arena in one of the most high-profile friendlies scheduled this week.

Nesta considers Azzurri exit
13.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Alessandro Nesta is considering retiring from international football, according to reports in Italy.

The 30-year-old has struggled for form of late, and he is not part of the squad who will face Turkey in a friendly on Wednesday in Bergamo.

Friends of the former Lazio man have confirmed that he could abandon the Nazionale, having suffered several injuries in the past few months, including the one which kept him out of much of the World Cup,

“You cannot always keep a clear head playing so often – I’m thinking of leaving the national team," said Nesta after the match with Roma, according to Il Corriere della Sera newspaper.

A defensive error by Nesta allowed Francesco Totti to score the opening goal of the evening on Saturday, when the Rossoneri were defeated 2-1 by the Giallorossi at the San Siro.

He was also at fault against Palermo in Week 7, when his howler was punished by Mark Bresciano, who netted the first goal of the game which ended 2-0 to the Rosanero.

Nesta is yet to extend his deal with Milan, which ends in 2008, and has recently been paired with a return to Lazio, where he appeared from 1993 to 2002.

President Claudio Lotito is allegedly ready to make an offer to bring the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year nominee back home, although the defender is currently paid £2.8m per season.

He could therefore decide to honour his agreement with the San Siro outfit and then return to Lazio on a free transfer.

Gonzalo Higuain praises AC Milan
13.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan target Gonzalo Higuain has admitted that the Rossoneri are a great club, although he has not yet chosen his next destination.

The 18-year-old Argentine, whose contract with River Plate ends in June, has been paired with several of Europe’s biggest clubs, with the Rossoneri, Real Madrid and Chelsea all interested.

“Milan are a great side and I would consider a move,” said Higuain to newspaper Controcampo.

“However, I will follow the advice I will receive from my agent and my father, seeing as Milan is not the only club that has made a request for me,” added the striker, who has a French passport.

River Plate Vice-President Domingo Diaz denied last week that any offer had been presented for Higuain, dismissing the reports suggesting that Chelsea had made a £8.5m bid.

Meanwhile, Milan are looking forward to the January market, when they hope to strengthen their side after the disappointing first part of the season.

David Trezeguet is reportedly one of the names on their wish list, despite Juventus’ latest statements reiterating that the Frenchman would remain with the Old Lady.

The Rossoneri could also make a move for Udinese striker Vincenzo Iaquinta in the next month, altough they might wait until June to bid for defenders Felipe and Cristian Zapata.

Milan are also yet to solve the goalkeeper issue, as Nelson Dida has not yet extended his contract, which ends in June 2007, and has allegedly asked for £4.2m for the next two years.

Zeljko Kalac is also set to leave the club, while the Via Turati outfit have not ruled out the idea of signing Golden Ball nominee Gianluigi Buffon.

It is also alleged that they have already reached an agreement in principle with Livorno man Marco Amelia.

Brocchi thanks Prandelli
13.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Cristian Brocchi has dedicated his first call-up to the Italy squad to his former Fiorentina Coach Cesare Prandelli.

The Milan midfielder was a new entry in Roberto Donadoni’s squad for Wednesday’s friendly match with Turkey at Bergamo, along with Roma youngster Alberto Aquilani.

“This is very exciting, a dream which comes true and the reward to all the work done,” said the 30-year-old, who netted in Milan’s 2-1 defeat to the Giallorossi on Saturday.

“It would be petty for me to say that I want to dedicate this call-up to my wife, grandparents, mother and all of my family.

“The only dedication I really want to make is to a Coach who helped me a lot – that is Cesare Prandelli,” explained Brocchi, who worked with the tactician in 2005-06 at Fiorentina.

“This dedication comes from the heart – if I managed to return to these levels it’s thanks to him. He taught me a lot and was very important for me.”

The Azzurri will face Turkey at the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia on Wednesday and will be without Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero, while Alberto Gilardino returns to the squad.

Galliani rules out Sheva return
13.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Vice-President Adriano Galliani has denied that Andriy Shevchenko will return to Milan, despite Silvio Berlusconi’s latest claims.

The Ukrainian ace, who moved to Chelsea in a £30m deal during the summer, has struggled with the Blues and has only scored four goals in 14 appearances so far.

Berlusconi, however, made a shocking statement over the weekend, claiming Sheva had asked for a return to Serie A – only for Galliani to dismiss them just a day later.

“Shevchenko’s return is technically impossible," said Galliani on Monday. “He is a non-European player and his spot has been taken by Ricardo Oliveira.

“The President thinks ahead and speaks about feelings, but he doesn’t look at the acquisitions.

“There is no point in remembering the rest, that Sheva is a Chelsea player, that they paid many millions for him and this was a life choice, and so on,” concluded Galliani.

In the meantime, Shevchenko himself apparently denied that he is eyeing a return to the peninsula, although he confirmed he did speak with Berlusconi recently.

“There is nothing to these rumours,” the Ukrainian told Il Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“The comments on the fact that I would like to come back was said out of simple courtesy,” explained the striker.

Milan are currently fifth from bottom in Serie A, 20 points behind leaders Inter and Palermo after the defeat to Roma at the San Siro on Saturday evening.

One of their biggest problems has been goalscoring, particularly from their strikers. Pippo Inzaghi, Oliveira and Alberto Gilardino have scored just one goal each in Serie A this term."

Ancelotti admits to AC Milan crisis
12.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti concedes that Milan fell asleep towards the end of their defeat to Roma and that his team is in a crisis.

“We are paying the price for the fact we had to rush our preparation for the Champions League preliminary round in August, but that mustn’t be an alibi. We have a serious problem getting results right now and have to get out of this situation,” said the Coach.

The Rossoneri started the campaign with an eight-point Calciopoli penalty, but have now lost four of their last five Serie A games.

Worse still, the 2-1 fall to Roma was the first time in 40 years they’ve suffered three consecutive home defeats in the top flight.

“I think we used up a lot of energy trying to get back into the game after Roma’s early goal and they are a side that really make you run over the 90 minutes. It had been a good Milan performance, then we lost our unity towards the end.”

Francesco Totti bagged a brace at San Siro to secure the Giallorossi’s first win here since 1987.

“With the second goal, we did fall asleep a little bit,” admitted Ancelotti. “We could’ve gone on the counter-attack, but instead lost the ball and allowed Roma to score.”

Cristian Brocchi scored Milan’s only goal and the drought suffered by the strikers is prompting many to ask for Andriy Shevchenko’s recall from Chelsea.

“Shevchenko was an important player for us, but it’s not right to regret his departure. The problem is that what we’re doing now isn’t enough, as we must do more and not let our heads drop. We are playing good football and paying for some distractions. The team has to remain more focused throughout the entire game.”

Alberto Gilardino has scored just twice in all competitions this season and was again disappointing against Roma.

“This isn’t a lucky time for us, but we must not look for excuses,” said the striker. “We seem to struggle to get certain things done. I’m sure that up until a few months ago some of these chances would’ve gone in. We have to do more to get out of this situation and I’m sure we will.”

AC Milan 1:2 AS Roma - match report
11.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Totti 7, 83 (R), Brocchi 56 (M)

Francesco Totti's splendid brace has given Roma their first 2-1 win at San Siro in 20 years for Milan's fourth defeat in five games.

The Rossoneri were reeling from three defeats in their last four Serie A games, leaving them 17 points adrift of the leaders, while Massimo Ambrosini, Giuseppe Favalli, Kakha Kaladze and Gennaro Gattuso were out injured. Roma's Scudetto hopes were still alive, though their last League win at San Siro was in 1987.

Rodrigo Taddei's audacious backheel flick was stopped, almost by accident, by Dario Simic, and Roma took the lead after seven minutes.

An Alessandro Nesta defensive error failed to effectively clear Christian Panucci's cross, so Taddei put it back into the centre for a spectacular Francesco Totti volley from six yards. It's the eighth time Totti has scored against Milan.

The home side hit back with Ricardo Oliveira sprinting through the centre, but Max Tonetto got a toe in to deflect it wide with the 'keeper committed. From the resulting corner, Oliveira's handling offence wasted an Andrea Pirlo pass.

Kaka nodded an Alberto Gilardino cross off target, then Philippe Mexes was at full stretch to poke a deflected Cristian Brocchi effort off Clarence Seedorf's foot.

The Rossoneri were pouring forward and Alexander Doni fingertipped an accidental Taddei deflection from a corner inches wide of the near post. At the other end, SImone Perrotta's touch back for a fierce Totti half-volley was smothered by Dida, while Doni held a Kaka angled drive.

There were three Milan chances in the space of 20 seconds in the 23rd minute. Seedorf's first looping attempt beat Doni and clattered the top of the bar, his follow-up was wide and as the move continued Gilardino's close-range tap with the outside of his foot was caught on the line by the Brazilian goalkeeper.

Doni beat away a Kaka cross-shot, while Paolo Maldini and Simic combined beautifully on the left for Gilardino to volley over. Ricardo Oliveira comically scuffed at a Seedorf cross with only the 'keeper to beat, but his blushes were spared by the fact he was also offside.

Ricardo Oliveira was admittedly very unlucky moments later, his stunning 20-metre left-foot strike cannnoning off the bar past Doni's outstretched hand.

Yet only a perfectly-timed Marek Jankulovski tackle prevented Totti getting on the end of a Taddei through ball on the counter-attack. Oliveira had another good chance, but the strike was weak and easily smothered. In first half stoppages, Doni rushed out to charge down Kaka's effort with his foot.

After the break Oliveira drilled wide, Simic's 30-metre strike was blocked and Dida got down well to push Totti's snapshot round the post. Seedorf's powerful angled drive from outside the area flew past the far upright.

The siege finally paid off with an equaliser on 56 minutes. A corner kick was cleared out as far as Brocchi, who unleashed a fearsome effort from 25 metres that beat Doni at the near post. The goalkeeper probably didn't see the ball until late because Cristian Chivu was blocking his view.

Brocchi fired a similar effort wide, as Roma were now permanently pinned back into their own half. Yet a disastrous Dida error nearly restored the Giallorossi's lead, as his pass was wayward with four opposition players in the area, but Milan managed to clear for a corner.

Totti stroked a free kick to the centre where substitute Alberto Aquilani's spectacular first-time strike was palmed out from under the bar by Dida.

Pippo Inzaghi replaced Gilardino and within seconds he forced a tough tackle out of Chivu after hooking down Seedorf's searching pass.

It was a wonderful game and Roma were woken up by a fantastic team move. Max Tonetto and Mancini combined until Aquilani's dummy left Totti free for an angled strike that thumped the base of the far upright.

Pirlo's chipped pass found Jankulovski's volley charged down for a corner, then Doni parried a powerful Kaka attempt and there were penalty appeals for a Seedorf handling offence. Mexes went off with an injury.

A touched-on free kick for Totti whistled wide, while Maldini held off Daniele De Rossi inside the area and moments later the midfielder horribly scuffed wide in front of Dida.

It was chaotic end to end stuff in the closing stages and Roma were once again more clinical in front of goal. A fine team move, inspired by Aquilani's left-foot rabona - where you cross your legs and hit the ball with the back foot - was put into the centre by Mancini for Totti's header at the back post.

Inzaghi's angled drive was wide, then his header into the net was disallowed for an offside position.

Milan: Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Borriello 77), Gilardino (Inzaghi 64)

Roma: Doni; Panucci, Mexes (Ferrari 77), Chivu, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta (Aquilani 61), Mancini (Cassetti 87); Totti

Ref: Messina

Maldini's AC Milan baby steps
11.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini says Milan must take it one game at a time if they are to emerge from their crisis, starting tonight against Roma.

The Rossoneri have lost two of their last three Serie A encounters, sitting 17 points behind joint leaders Inter and Palermo, and face another tough task against Roma this evening.

“We’ve had a few problems, it’s pointless denying it,” said the captain. “We had a good start and won our first three matches, but at least in terms of results, haven’t done a great deal recently.”

While Scudetto talk may be shelved now, Maldini is trying to focus on short-term objectives.

“We have to take it one game at a time. As Serie A is a longer competition than the Champions League, there’s more time to recover, but we also started with an eight-point deficit and that makes it difficult to picture a campaign in the spotlight,” he said of the Calciopoli penalty.

“The best thing for us to do right now is not look too far into the future, concentrating only on the sides closest to us in the table and taking it week by week.”

The difference in form between Italy and Europe has been particularly jarring in the circumstances, as Milan went from a 4-1 mauling of Anderlecht to losing 2-0 at newly promoted Atalanta in the same week.

“So far we’ve done well in the Champions League and need only one point to secure qualification for the next round, so we have to learn from those performances and apply them to Serie A.”

If he’s not looking into the future for his club, then Maldini is doing the same on a personal level, staving off talk of retirement.

“I feel good and this season have almost always been available for selection. It’s my intention to experience this year playing consistently.”

AC Milan have Dida doubt
11.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are dealing with another injury dilemma as goalkeeper Nelson Dida may miss the Roma clash on Saturday.

“Nelson has a back problem and was not able to train today,” said Coach Carlo Ancelotti in Friday’s pre-match Press conference.

The Rossoneri have suffered several blows during the week, as Gennaro Gattuso and Giuseppe Favalli will both be out of action until 2007, adding up to the recently injured Massimo Ambrosini, Serginho and Kakha Kaladze.

“We will see if he will recover in time for tomorrow’s game,” added the former Milan midfielder.

“We have many injured players and I think this is due to the fact that we do not have enough time to rest between matches.

“Take Gattuso for example, he has never suffered an injury [knee ligament damage] like the one he is dealing with now.

“Roma are maybe the worst opponents we could face in this moment, they are strong and have very talented players in the midfield such as Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta.

“However, we are forced to return to being the real Milan, which play with enthusiasm and courage. We are very motivated and we want to start well.”

Ancelotti, unsurprisingly, could not avoid questions on the latest rumours speculating he may leave the club in June, seeing the difficulties encountered so far this term.

“Journalists have been speaking about this for the past five years and I don’t think Adriano Galliani’s renewal of trust in me will stop you all from continuing,” said the smiling Coach.

On a different note, Galliani dismissed Friday’s reports suggesting the club was considering loaning Ricardo Oliveira to Sao Paulo.

“OIiveira has the club’s full trust and will not leave, neither in January, nor on a loan or in any other kind of deal,” read an official note on the club’s website.

Rijkaard set for AC Milan?
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Stories in Spain on Friday are suggesting that boss Frank Rijkaard could leave Barcelona for Milan in June.

The AS newspaper suggests that the Blaugrana Coach is ready to quit the Nou Camp given his strained relationship with sporting director Txiki Beguiristain and the constant presence of Johan Cruyff.

The sports daily goes on to suggest that Rijkaard, who played alongside current boss Carlo Ancelotti during their Milan days, may also bring Ronaldinho with him to the San Siro.

However, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani last night insisted that Ancelotti would remain and virtually ruled out signing the Brazilian.

Meanwhile, CSKA Moscow midfielder Dudu is allegedly interested in a move to Milan and hopes to complete his dream switch next summer.

The 23-year-old could be an interesting addition to the squad, although it seems likely that CSKA will ask for a significant amount of money before selling.

Vucinic out of AC Milan clash
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roma will take on Milan at the San Siro on Saturday night without summer signing Mirko Vucinic.

The 23-year-old former Lecce ace pulled a calf muscle in Wednesday’s Coppa Italia win at Triestina which has seen him return to the treatment room.

The Serbian only returned to first team action a few weeks ago after spending the previous five months out with a knee problem.

However, Coach Luciano Spalletti is expected to have both Philippe Mexes and David Pizarro at his disposal.

The French defender didn’t finish the Cup match at the Stadio Nereo Rocco in great shape, but he’s expected to come through a fitness test on Friday.

Pizarro, who missed the midweek tie because of a ban, is also struggling with a muscular problem even if he is likely to make the squad – although he may not start against the Rossoneri.

Roma are likely to begin the League game with Francesco Totti as a lone striker, leaving Vincenzo Montella warming the bench.

The Giallorossi, who beat Fiorentina 3-1 last week, are currently four points behind joint leaders Inter and Palermo in the standings.

AC Milan consider Oliveira loan
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Ricardo Oliveira may join Sao Paulo on loan in January – thus allowing the striker to return to Brazil as he anxiously awaits for his kidnapped sister to be released.

She was taken from her home by armed men on October 4 and the Selecao ace is understandably finding life tough on and off the field.

Although he scored on his debut for the club against Lazio in Week 1, he’s struggled to adapt to his new surroundings ever since.

The Via Turati club are now considering the idea of loaning Oliveira to Sao Paulo, in order to allow him to be closer to his family.

Milan do not want to sell him outright as they still believe in the potential which convinced them to part with £15m in the summer for the Real Betis striker.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Nelson Dida has still not renewed his contract with the Rossoneri and could now leave for nothing at the end of the season.

Dida has asked Milan to wait until the end of November, but the Tuttosport newspaper claims that the outfit already have an agreement in principle with Livorno’s World Cup winner Marco Amelia.

Alessandro Nesta is also yet to extend his deal with Milan and could return to Lazio when his contract ends in June 2008, according to the latest reports in Italy.

Ancelotti wins AC Milan vote
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan chief Adriano Galliani insists Coach Carlo Ancelotti will remain at the club until his contract expires.

Although the tactician is tied to the Rossoneri until June 2008, speculation suggests that he could leave at the end of the season given his difficulties this term.

However, Galliani has shot down those reports and handed the former midfielder a massive vote of confidence.

“He has a contract with us and will still be on the bench in 2008,” Galliani noted on Thursday night. “That is official and definite.”

Numerous men have been linked with Ancelotti’s job, including Italian World Cup wining boss Marcello Lippi.

“Lippi is a great Coach and I rate him highly. I think there is a friendship between us, but the Milan boss is Ancelotti,” added the ex-Lega Calcio President.

Galliani’s words come just a few hours after Lippi himself ruled out such a switch.

“Me to Milan? No thanks,” stated the cigar smoker. “I have too much respect for Ancelotti.”

Turning to transfer matters, Galliani did suggest that the club are ready to buy even if they may have to forget about a certain Barcelona player.

“I don’t think we can present Ronaldinho to the fans as it seems that Barca won’t sell him,” he continued.

“But our supporters deserve to be rewarded for their passion. If we can get them a present then we will.

“However, I really don’t think it will be Ronaldinho.”

Ventola not joining AC Milan
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Atalanta President Ivan Ruggeri has rubbished talk that Nicola Ventola could join Milan during the January transfer window.

Ventola scored in the 2-0 win over the Rossoneri on Sunday and has been mentioned as a possible future acquisition given the Milanese club’s attacking problems this term.

However, Ruggeri has insisted that the San Siro giants haven’t even made an enquiry about the former Under-21 international.

“Milan have never been in touch about Ventola,” noted the Bergamo chief following the striker’s fine form this term.

“It’s not as if they need a new forward just because they weren’t able to score past us at the weekend.

“Milan already have some excellent strikers in their squad.

“Ventola? He’s an Atalanta player at this moment in time and I think that will remain the situation,” he concluded, fuelling whispers that he is ready to offer him a new deal until 2011.

Ventola, who flopped after a big money move to Inter, has scored four goals in Serie A so far this term.

Meanwhile, an Andriy Shevchenko shy Milan have seen Pippo Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira and Alberto Gilardino score just one apiece in the First Division.

Lippi dismisses AC Milan link
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcello Lippi has rejected the rumours that he is set to replace Carlo Ancelotti on the Milan bench.

The world champion is reportedly one of the candidates to be Ancelotti’s successor, as it is alleged that the latter’s five-year stint with the Via Turati club will come to an end in June.

“The rumours about my move to Milan are exactly like the ones suggesting I was going to be the new Napoli Coach,” said the Viareggino on Thursday.

“There has been no contact with any of the two clubs, and I am eager to reiterate this also out of respect for my colleagues – there is nothing going on and there have been no meetings.

“When will I return? Not before June 2007, as I am not interested in taking over from another Coach during the current season,” concluded Lippi.

In the meantime, Ancelotti has insisted that he is not worried about the speculation surrounding him as he expects this will continue in the future.

“I am not scared about the news suggesting Lippi may come to Milan. I wish Marcello all the best,” said the Rossonero.

“Many names are being mentioned as my replacement and I am sure many more will be added in the next few days. I know this is the situation but these reports do not bother me at all.”

AC Milan monitor Alexis
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are interested in signing Getafe defender Alexis Ruano, according to the Spanish club’s chief Angel Torres.

The 21-year-old joined the Primera Liga side in the summer from Malaga, where he grew up in the youth team, and has impressed in Bernd Schuster’s team.

He hit the headlines after scoring the winner against Real Madrid in October, although he has been sidelined in the past few weeks after suffering an injury against Recreativo.

“Milan are following Alexis, who is a phenomenon,” said Torres. “You mustn’t forget that the Italian club had already tried to sign him when he was 16-years-old.

“Getafe is a club where the President presides, the Coach coaches and the players play," concluded Torres, referring to claims he was interfering with his Coach’s plans.

Spalletti denies AC Milan talks
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roma Coach Luciano Spalletti has dismissed suggestions in Italy that he is set to become the new Milan boss.

The latest reports in Italy suggest that Carlo Ancelotti could leave the Rossoneri at the end of the season.

Spalletti is seen as one of the possible replacements seeing as he has not yet extended his contract with the capital city outfit which ends in June 2007.

“I wish to thank everyone for the words of appreciation, but I am happy at Roma,” said Spalletti after the Coppa Italia match at Trieste. “I am in total agreement with the club’s management.”

Spalletti then commented on Roma’s 2-1 away at Triestina, thanks to Vincenzo Montella’s brace.

“We played a good match and I think the result is fair, although they proved to be a good quality side, reacting well in the final part of the game,” he said.

“Montella deserves a special mention for his performance, as he scored two excellent goals. I fielded some players who are recovering from injuries and needed some time on the pitch.

“I am sorry I wasn’t able to rest Daniele De Rossi, but unfortunately you can’t always have everything you want.

“All things considered, we are satisfied with what we achieved with this match,” concluded the tactician.

Roma will now visit Milan at the Stadio Meazza on Saturday night in the big Week 11 match, with both sides eager to win the three points.

The Giallorossi are looking to keep pace with leaders Inter and Palermo, while the Rossoneri hope to return to winning ways after their recent poor performances in Serie A.

Carletto praises reaction
10.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with the team’s comeback in the Coppa Italia match against Brescia, but still sees room for improvement.

The Rossoneri came from two goals down before the break to win 4-2 at the San Siro on Wednesday.

They netted four goals in the last half hour, but the Coach admits he was not happy with the first half performance.

“I was really mad in the dressing room, as we can do much better than that,” explained Ancelotti. “I was pleased with the team’s reaction, although it would be better to act rather than react.

“We can’t think of starting to play well only when we are behind, this is something we will have to work on.

“We must improve our game and the quality of our defence. In the second half we were able to create more occasions and we also played better at the back.”

Ancelotti fielded 19-year-old defender Luca Antonelli in the game, who came out of it with great credit.

“I am pleased with his performance and I am sure he will soon be included in the first team, considering that many of our defenders are suffering injuries.

“I think the match with Brescia can be a morale booster in view of Saturday’s clash with Roma.

“We must try to start well and not wait to concede a goal before we show what we can do. We must be immediately aggressive,” concluded the Rossoneri boss.

Galliani warns Real off Kaka
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani confirmed that Kaka is not on sale, despite the latest statements coming from Real Madrid.

“To my friend Predrag Mijatovic I wish to say, with no intent to be controversial, that I agree with him on the fact that Kaka is an excellent player,” said Galliani in a note on the Rossoneri’s website.

“That is exactly the reason why we consider Kaka to be absolutely untransferable,” ended the statement, reiterating the club’s position, which has never changed since the summer when the Spanish giants first started their moves to bring the Brazilian to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Merengues sporting director Mijatovic told Spanish newspaper ‘AS’ on Wednesday that his club would renew attempts to sign the attacking midfielder in the future, although he was aware that it wouldn’t be an easy task.

“We tried to convince Kaka to leave Milan last summer, but we did not finalise an agreement as he wanted to honour his contract with his current club,” said Mijatovic. “In any case, we will try again in the future because he is an excellent player and he would be a perfect target for us,” added the Real Madrid official.

It’s rumoured the Spaniards offered £50m to tempt the 23-year-old away from San Siro, but Milan reported them to FIFA for an illegal approach during Kaka’s preparation for the World Cup in June.

AC Milan to line up Lippi
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy are speculating that Marcello Lippi will replace Carlo Ancelotti on the Milan bench next summer.

Ancelotti’s contract with the Via Turati club ends in 2008, but it is alleged that their five-season relationship will come to an end by mutual consent in June.

Lippi is one of the names on the list of possible successors to Ancelotti, who is supposedly looking for a national job ahead of the 2010 World Cup, after the former Juventus boss made it clear that he wants a return to football.

However, Lippi confirmed on Tuesday that he has not received any offers from Italian clubs after taking time off at the end of the World Cup triumph.

Lippi had already replaced Ancelotti in 2001-02 at Juventus, immediately winning the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup.

Lippi is not the only name on Milan’s shortlist, though, as Luciano Spalletti, Marco Van Basten and Mauro Tassotti have also been paired with the Rossoneri.

The Roma Coach has not yet extended his contract with the capital city outfit which ends in June 2007 and is highly considered by Milan.

If that option were to arise, Ancelotti may end up at Roma in a swap deal as the team holds a special place in the former Giallorossi midfielder’s heart.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi would ideally like to see a former player return to the club, but Van Basten doesn’t seem ready to quit his Dutch national job.

Tassotti could also be an alternative after his spells as assistant to firstly Cesare Maldini and now Ancelotti.

Madrid want Kaka for Real
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid will renew their attempts to sign Milan ace Kaka. “I’m sure everything will fall into place,” said sporting director Predrag Mijatovic.

The attacking midfielder was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer, but an infuriated Rossoneri side told the Spanish giants to poach elsewhere.

“We tried to convince Kaka to leave Milan last summer, but we did not finalise an agreement as he wanted to honour his contract with his current club,” Mijatovic told Spanish newspaper AS.

“In any case, we will try again in the future because he is an excellent player and he would be a perfect target for us,” added the former Fiorentina striker.

“It will not be an easy operation, but I am confident that in the end everything will fall into place.”

However, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani had recently confirmed that Kaka is not for sale and would not be included in any transfer operation.

“I will never sell Kaka,” stated the former Lega Calcio chief. “I have told my sons that they are authorised to do anything they want to me if I ever agree to sell the player.”

Meanwhile, Mijatovic was also asked to comment on Antonio Cassano’s situation in the capital with the Italian still refusing to make peace with boss Fabio Capello following a row.

“I really hope he speaks to Capello and apologises for his behaviour because he was disrespectful,” he noted.

“We will wait and see what happens in the next few days, but now everything depends on Cassano.”

As a result rumours of a January separation are rife despite claims by Giuseppe Bozzo, his agent, that he will remain until 2010.

However, according to the website, Cassano has indirectly announced his Real departure.

During a running session with the club’s fitness trainer, he declined to run faster by allegedly answering that he did not want to be bothered as he would soon be leaving the outfit anyway.

AC Milan 4:2 Brescia - match report
8.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Serafini 34 (B), Alfageme 37 (B), Simic 60 (M), Brocchi 67 (M), Inzaghi 78 (M), Borriello 86 (M)

Milan were looking at another shock home defeat to Brescia, but scored four goals in the last half-hour to win 4-2.

The Rossoneri had a dismal start to the Coppa Italia tie after a run of poor Serie A results, falling 2-0 by half-time thanks to two Zeljko Kalac howlers.

Serafini had opened the scoring on 34 minutes by getting on the end of a Marius Stankevicius free kick and moments later Luis Alfageme took advantage of another Kalac error on a relatively simple ball to double the Serie B outfit’s lead.

Fielding a weakened side, Carlo Ancelotti threw on Pippo Inzaghi at the break and it made all the difference to the team performance.

Dario Simic began the comeback on the hour mark by nodding in Marcos Cafu's cross and Cristian Brocchi drew the giants level with a splendid strike from distance.

Inzaghi was very lively and put Milan into the lead for the first time 12 minutes from the end, turning a corner under the crossbar, before Marco Borriello sealed the scoreline with a chest and angled drive.

This two-goal advantage gives the Rossoneri more of a safety net for the second leg at Brescia’s Stadio Rigamonti, even if they gave away two away strikes.

Milan 4-2 Brescia
Scorers: Serafini 34 (B), Alfageme 37 (B), Simic 60 (M), Brocchi 67 (M), Inzaghi 78 (M), Borriello 86 (M)

August 19th start for Serie A?
8.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lega Calcio chief Antonio Matarrese has picked August 19 as a possible start date for the next Serie A season.

“We have no problems in starting our season on August 19,” explained Matarrese this evening.

The campaign usually kicks off in the first week of September, but with crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against France on September 8 and the Ukraine four days later, it’s feared the Azzurri’s form will still be shaky.

“We still have to wait for the UEFA calendar to be finalised, but as far as we are concerned, the 2007-08 term could begin on August 19 and conclude on May 18.”

However, this would mean shortening the Winter break so that play resumed on the Befana festivity – an Italian version of Boxing Day.

“I have to alert the President of the Players’ Association Sergio Campana, because we intend to play on January 6 so that there will be only two midweek rounds,” concluded Matarrese.

Italy’s form in the opening Euro 2008 qualifiers suffered badly due to the lack of match fitness in their players.

Roberto Donadoni’s men managed just a 1-1 draw with Lithuania and 3-1 defeat in France in the first week of September.

The 2006-07 Serie A season didn’t begin until after those ties, on September 8 and 9, due to delays from the Calciopoli trials.

Gattuso out until 2007
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Tests have confirmed Gennaro Gattuso’s knee injury is worse than previously feared, as he’ll be out until the New Year.

The Milan midfielder limped off during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Atalanta’s Stadio Azzurri d’Italia in Bergamo.

At first the medical staff has hypothesised a month-long lay-off for the Italian international, but today tests in Antwerp with Professor Martens showed a worse picture.

“Gattuso has suffered a sprain to his left knee with damage to the collateral medial ligament,” explained club doctor Massimiliano Sala on the official website.

“Martens excluded the need for surgery, but Gattuso should return to action in January and will begin the first phase of treatment this week. He’ll be constantly monitored and will visit Professor Martens for another check-up at the start of December.”

It’s a blow for the Rossoneri, who are already struggling with three defeats from their last four Serie A games.

Cristian Brocchi, who was brought back after a loan spell at Fiorentina in the summer, is set to take over Gattuso’s role in midfield.

As for the other Milan players on the treatment table, Massimo Ambrosini and Alessandro Nesta are almost ready to return, but it’ll take “at least another few weeks” for Kakha Kaladze to recover from his thigh strain.

Giuseppe Favalli is now over his muscular problem and is considered fully fit.

AC Milan ponder Emerson option
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are reportedly ready to make an offer to sign Real Madrid midfielder Emerson next season.

The former Juventus ace moved to Real last summer after the Bianconeri were demoted to Serie B, but it seems that the Brazilian’s adventure with the Merengues could be nearing its end.

Emerson is apparently not happy in Madrid and his non-celebration of his goal against Celta Vigo on Sunday was perhaps indicative of his current status.

The Puma would allegedly accept a return to the peninsula with the Rossoneri his preferred destination.

The Tuttosport newspaper claims that Real have already contacted Milan intermediaries to discuss a possible switch, although no economic details have been discussed.

It’s thought that the Spanish giants could be willing to wave goodbye to the former Roma man for a fee of around £7m.

Moratti blasts Milan 'gaffe'
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Newly elected Inter President Massimo Moratti has hit out at suggestions that the decision to assign the Nerazzurri last term’s Scudetto was illegitimate.

Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa did question the act to hand Juventus’ revoked title on national television at the weekend, a stance which has infuriated Moratti.

“It was a real gaffe – especially when you consider that who said this has juridical knowledge,” said Moratti. “Our Scudetto is more than legitimate and is also a reason for our supporters to be very proud.

“It wasn’t easy to suffer all that we were forced to go through in the past few years and what we must still face now, as the other clubs are complaining that they are victims.

“Some people seem to have forgotten what happened during the summer and the phone interceptions.”

Cantamessa looked to diffuse the situation on Tuesday as the Lega Calcio official responded to Moratti’s blast.

“Mine was not a gaffe,” he explained. “I only gave a juridical evaluation of the issue, which is different from what President Moratti believes.

“There is no need for him to get angry though as any other technical judgement could be wrong.

“I have an excellent relationship with Moratti, I only have a different opinion from the one of the commission who decided to assign the Scudetto to Inter, there is nothing more than that.”

Meanwhile, Cantamessa was asked for his view on the decision to suspend referee Tiziano Pieri for two weeks after his controversial performance in the Rossoneri’s 2-0 loss at Atalanta.

“Maybe I was right about Pieri,” added Cantamessa. “Although I never said that his direction on Sunday was scandalous. I am sorry he was suspended.”

No AC Milan plot, insists Galliani
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has insisted that his club have never felt that they were victims of a conspiracy.

The Rossoneri were defeated 2-0 by Atalanta on Sunday and Coach Carlo Ancelotti blamed his side’s third loss in four games on the poor performance offered by referee Tiziano Pieri, but Galliani has played down the issue.

“I have never thought that there was someone who had instructed Pieri to not give us a penalty,” said the club official. “It was a mistake due to the fact that the referee was not equal to the task.

“I spoke to President Silvio Berlusconi and he agrees with me that we must not fuel the rumours suggesting we are being targeted.

“I believe that Milan are not playing well and the referees are making several mistakes,” explained the former Lega Calcio chief.

“When things do not go well then there are always several causes and it is clear that we are also responsible for our latest bad performances.

“We did not have an easy summer, some of our players are still recovering from the World Cup, we had to regain training earlier than expected because of the Champions League preliminary ties and finally the eight-point deduction was not reduced.

“All these factors are influencing our attitude, that is clear. But I am sure that we will soon obtain the results we need as the team’s potential is evident.

“Milan do not depend on Kaka, we have many strong players. I do not know yet if we will move during the January market, we will first wait to see how serious Gennaro Gattuso’s injury is.”

Milan lie 17 points behind Inter and Palermo and will host Roma at the San Siro in Saturday night’s big match.

Maldini rejects conspiracy theory
6.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini does not want to hear the word conspiracy used to explain Milan’s difficulties in Serie A this term.

The Rossoneri suffered their third defeat in four championship matches after losing 2-0 to Atalanta on Sunday, with boss Carlo Ancelotti blaming referee Tiziano Pieri.

However, the tactician also revealed that it was becoming an all too familiar story with the Diavoli this season.

“Conspiracy? I really hope that is not the case, because it would have been carried out in front of everyone’s eyes,” said the skipper.

“Of course it isn’t pleasant for us to see certain mistakes made by the referees and repeated frequently.

“We are not enjoying much luck, but we must analyse the situation carefully and work on our defence.

“We must also concentrate on the side’s attitude and try to improve our overall performances as much as possible,” concluded the defender.

In the meantime, Milan transfer guru Ariedo Braida will travel to Brazil and Argentina this week as he searches for possible transfer targets, according to Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

“Ariedo will stay in South America for 15 or 20 days,” said Galliani. “He has already eyed some interesting players, just like he did in the past with Kaka.

“Signing talents like Ronaldinho is possible when they are still at Gremio or PSG, but if they move to larger clubs like Barcelona, you can't sign them for less than £40m.”

Milan have reportedly targeted Lucas Pezzini Leiva and Evaldo Silva Santos, both currently contracted with Gremio.

The 19-year-old Pezzini, who also has an Italian passport, is set to leave the Brazilian club in January and has also been eyed by Atletico Madrid, whereas Evaldo could move at the end of the season.

Gattuso injury blow
6.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is facing a month on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury on Sunday.

The world champion limped off during the 2-0 defeat against Atalanta, reducing the Rossoneri to 10 men in the final 15 minutes as Coach Carlo Ancelotti had used all his substitutions.

The first exams on Monday morning confirmed that Gattuso sprained his left knee, also injuring ligaments.

Ringhio will undergo further tests on Tuesday to assess the exact extent of the damage sustained and the medical staff will then confirm the prognosis.

Gattuso will miss the big match with Roma next weekend at the San Siro, when the Diavoli will try to make inroads on the 17-point lead held over them by leaders Inter and Palermo.

Carletto's ref fury
6.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has slammed Italian referees after his side’s 2-0 defeat to Atalanta.

The Rossoneri are now 17 points behind League leaders Inter after their third defeat in four Serie A matches.

But although the tactician admits that there are problems that his side needs to solve, there are some factors that claims he has no control over.

“I’m very angry, this is the third or fourth time this season that we are penalised by the referee,” said Ancelotti, referring to several penalty claims that were turned down by Tiziano Pieri during the match at the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia.

“What is taking place is under everyone’s eyes is clear. There have been too many negative episodes over the last 10 days.

“We were denied yet another penalty [for a foul on Daniele Bonera], which could have changed the match and there was a strange call in the second half made on Yoann Gourcuff.

“I like to think these things happen by chance, I believe in this system, and we have to have faith and hope. But unfortunately, they are happening to us with increasing frequency.”

Ancelotti was ready to take some of the blame for the defeat to the Bergamaschi, but believes that the main reason for the Rossoneri’s struggles is down to the men in black.

“We have problems carrying out our game, but there are also other issues here,” insisted the former Juventus boss.

“It is not a good situation for us at the moment, so we have to work harder paying attention to the problems we can solve.

“However, others have to ensure that games are refereed in a correct way. Furthermore, they didn’t even reduce our point deduction – I can only say things are strange.”

Atalanta 2:0 AC Milan - post-match comments
5.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Stefano Colantuono: “We’ve had some good results up until now, but must always look behind us in the table. We played well today and I think the win was deserved, even if we were obviously favoured once Milan went down to 10 men. We have to keep our foot on the gas and, although the squad is strong, Cristiano Doni has made us step up in quality.”

Carlo Ancelotti: “Coincidence is when something happens once or twice, but from the start of the season we’ve had too many refereeing errors go against us. I really hope it doesn’t repeat itself. What happens to the Rossoneri directors outside the field of play is obvious to everyone. I don’t know if they’ve got it in for us, but we were the only club not to receive a discount on the Calciopoli penalties.”

Atalanta 2:0 AC Milan - match report
5.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Ventola 50 (A), Soncin 92 (A)

Ex-Inter striker Nicola Ventola took revenge by inflicting Milan's third defeat in four Serie A games, leaving them 17 points adrift of the leaders.

The Rossoneri's Scudetto ambitions were all but wiped out by back-to-back home defeats to Palermo and Inter, but the 4-1 drubbing of Anderlecht in the Champions League this week and Alberto Gilardino's rediscovered scoring touch boosted confidence going into this game. However, there was a defensive crisis with Alessandro Nesta, Serginho and Kakha Kaladze injured.

Atalanta were smarting from a controversial 3-1 loss at Parma and had to do without Riccardo Zampagna, the suspended Simone Loria and Moris Carrozzieri. The Bergamo boys' last win over their local rivals here was in 1985.

A free kick was touched on for Marek Jankulovski, whose strike was deflected over the bar early on. A corner was cleared as far as the edge of the area, where Yoann Gourcuff controlled with his chest to smash a volley just wide of the near post.

Andrea Pirlo's searching pass found Alberto Gilardino to beat Alex Calderoni, but he was denied his third goal in as many games by a Rivalta goalline clearance.

Migliaccio won the ball back in midfield with a tough tackle on Kaka and set Nicola Ventola running, the ex-Inter striker's shot on the bounce skimming the frame of the goal.

Gennaro Gattuso suffered a large bruise under his eye in an accidental clash with Migliaccio, but was able to continue. Daniele Bonera had penalty appeals waved away for a tussle with Tissone.

However, just as Milan were pouring forward, Atalanta struck against the run of play. Calderoni's clearance was flicked on by Migliaccio for Ventola's spectacular half-volley into the top corner of the net.

Pirlo's free kick was fingertipped on to the crossbar by Calderoni, but it was soon followed by a moment of controversy. Gilardino rolled back the ball for Gourcuff and he clashed with Bellini. The referee awarded a penalty, but after discussing it with the linesman changed his decision to a yellow card for simulation.

Gilardino wasted another good chance when springing the offside trap on Clarence Seedorf's pass, as he couldn't keep his finish on target.

Milan were unlucky, as they finished the game in 10 men for the final 15 minutes after Gattuso limped off with a muscular problem and all the substitutions had been completed.

Dida parried an angled drive from substitute Soncin and Kaka wasted a golden opportunity in the final minute set up by Ricardo Oliveira.

There was drama in stoppages with a Calderoni reaction save on Kaka and Gilardino's follow-up, but on the counter-attack Soncin's deflected strike looped into the top corner past a helpless Dida.

Atalanta: Calderoni; Bellini, Rivalta, Talamonti, Ariatti; Ferreira Pinto, Bernardini (Tissone 14), Migliaccio, Donati; Doni (Bombardini 81); Ventola (Soncin 75)

Milan: Dida; Bonera (Cafu 70), Simic, Maldini, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Gourcuff (Seedorf 57); Kaka, Gilardino, Inzaghi (Oliveira 70)

Ref: Pieri

Ancelotti: We can win Scudetto
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may be 14 points adrift of the leaders, but Carlo Ancelotti insists they can still challenge for the Scudetto.

“Last season we were 14 points off the top spot, just as we are now, yet we managed to battle until the final game for that title. You never can tell in football.”

Juventus seemed to be running away with the Serie A Championship last term only to suffer a poor run that allowed their rivals to catch them.

In the end the Scudetto went to Inter after the Calciopoli scandal – the same trial that saw Milan have to start this season with an eight-point penalty.

“We are the only club that the CONI Arbitration did not give a discount to. We feel penalised, as they took eight points from us,” said an irritated Ancelotti.

“The fact that our Vice-President Adriano Galliani was promised more lenient sentencing on appeal and the Federation went back on its word shows what’s happening at the moment. Milan are certainly not viewed well by the current political climate, I think that’s obvious to everyone.

“However, that book is now closed and a new season kicks off for us from this weekend. We have to try to fight back up the table taking it one game at a time, especially as in the last few weeks we’ve struggled to get points.”

The San Siro giants have lost their last two home matches on the trot in Serie A to joint leaders Palermo and Inter, so the trip to Atalanta becomes crucial.

The midweek Champions League mauling of Anderlecht may have boosted morale, but the 4-1 result also saw Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze pick up injuries.

“Alessandro will be back next Sunday, while Kakha needs to rest for at least a week,” explained Ancelotti, who celebrates the fifth anniversary of his appointment to the Rossoneri bench today.

The crisis of their forwards in recent weeks has been uppermost in Milan’s thoughts, especially with unsettled Real Madrid men Ronaldo and Antonio Cassano calling for a return to Italy.

“All players are useful and none are indispensable. On form, Ronaldo is an extraordinary player, as certain qualities do not disappear, they only get clouded over. However, if I did need a striker for the January transfer window – and I do not – then I’d ask for one who could play in all competitions.”

Both players are Cup-tied for the Champions League this season, even if they’ve had only 46 minutes each on the pitch.

Gilardino channels his anger
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino says he used the anger and frustration of his goal drought to push him on and it could even help his campaign.

“I’d be a liar if I said I was relaxed and calm when the goals aren’t coming,” confessed the Milan striker.

“Hitting the back of the net is very important for a forward, let alone for someone who is accustomed to scoring regularly. Yet the anger and frustration I felt during this period pushed me to always do better.”

Gilardino finally broke through the barrier that had even seen him dropped for Italy’s recent Euro 2004 qualifiers, scoring in Milan’s 4-3 derby defeat to Inter and netting his first ever Champions League goal in a 4-1 mauling of Anderlecht.

“In Italy people are too quick to judge, both positively and negatively. There isn’t the right balance, so players are put on a pedestal and knocked down almost immediately.

“A mature sportsman has to accept criticism and look ahead. It’s crucial not to let them get to you or lose sleep over it. I’ve always worked hard in this period with the confidence that it’d sort itself out eventually.”

The former Parma man certainly isn’t the only Milan forward in the dock, as Pippo Inzaghi and Ricardo Oliveira haven’t scored in Serie A since Week 1.

This drought prompted inevitable complaints about the £30m sale of Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea.

“It’s only normal that when the team isn’t scoring a few people looked back to someone who was no longer there,” added Gila.

“This is a forward line of great quality and we can do very well. Shevchenko’s shadow doesn’t loom over me and I don’t think it’s fair to compare us. I have been here for just two years, while he gave a great deal to this club over seven seasons. I hope it’s what I’ll be able to do and I try every day to make sure he’s not missed.”

The Rossoneri are 14 points adrift of leaders Inter, partly thanks to the eight-point Calciopoli penalty, but the midweek victory over Anderlecht all but secured their passage to the next round of the Champions League.

“It’s not true that we put more effort into the European games. It’s not easy to go for the Scudetto looking at the table right now, so from Sunday we must take it one match at a time without paying attention to our position in the standings. We have to react against Atalanta and try to recover as much lost ground as we can.”

Gilardino thanks Ancelotti
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino could not hide his joy after scoring his first ever Champions League goal against Anderlecht. “I want to thank the Coach,” stated the striker.

The world champion had been struggling for form and was suffering a worrying goal drought.

However, he was on target in the derby with Inter before netting his first Champions goal in the final minutes of Wednesday’s match against the Belgian side.

“I’ve now scored two goals in two important games. I am happy because Milan played a great game, so my goal was just another reason to be satisfied,” said Gilardino to Milan Channel.

“Recently, everyone has been talking a lot and not all of what I heard was appropriate. But this is just the way football is.

“There are moments when everything goes well and you are lucky, while there are moments when everyone criticises you and you feel a lot of pressure,” continued the 24-year-old.

“However, I have the fortune of being part of a great team that cares for me. The Coach showed his trust in me and without that it would have been difficult to give my all.

“After the goal against Anderlecht I wanted to celebrate with the fans because they have always been great.

“They support us no matter what and last night’s victory was due to them as well,” said the ex-Parma man, who moved to the San Siro in 2005.

“It isn’t true that we are only motivated in the Champions League. Without the point deduction it would have been easier in the League, but we want to win points and fill in the gap.”

Doni to face AC Milan
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Atalanta have received a massive boost ahead of their game with Milan as Cristiano Doni returned to full training on Thursday.

The attacking midfielder was a worry for boss Stefano Colantuono after he picked up a slight muscle strain in midweek.

However, the in-form summer signing successfully came through today’s session and should feature in Bergamo on Sunday.

Doni has been key for the Nerazzurri this term after netting five of their 14 goals in the top flight so far.

Kaka rules, says survey
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

A survey in Brazilian newspaper O’Globo insists Milan ace Kaka is better than Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

A massive 82 per cent have backed the Rossoneri sensation with the stuttering European Footballer of the Year winning just 18 per cent of the vote.

Kaka has been in fine form for the Italian club this term and netted a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Anderlecht in the Champions League last night.

Meanwhile, Milan target Ronaldinho has struggled to live up to his billing as the best player in the world.

The former Paris Saint-Germain ace endured a disappointing 2006 World Cup and has started the season slowly at the Nou Camp.

AC Milan eye Diego
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Werder Bremen midfielder Diego is reportedly a target for Milan after his impressive start to the season.

The 21-year-old, who moved to the Bundesliga side in May 2006 from Porto, has already scored six goals in his 12 domestic and Champions League appearances.

His form saw him included in the list of 22 players called up by Brazil Coach Carlos Dunga for the upcoming friendly match with Switzerland, scheduled on November 15 in Basel.

The Werder man, capped 12 times by the Selecao, was signed by the Sao Paulo team Santos at the age of 12 and grew up in their youth team, making his debut in 2002.

He moved to Porto in 2004 in a £5m deal, but struggled to find a place in the starting line-up and was bought by Werder Bremen last summer for £4.2m, signing a contract until 2010.

The player immediately adapted to his new surroundings and has expressed his best football in the past few months, impressing his Coach Thomas Schaaf and the Milan observers.

Diego has an Italian passport as well, which makes him even more enticing for the Rossoneri, who could make a summer move to bring him to the San Siro.

Kaka: I am not the King
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Football Italia

Kaka has laughed off Carlo Ancelotti’s suggestion he’s “better than Ronaldinho” after his spectacular Champions League hat-trick.

“I am happy that my Coach said that, but I still have a long way to go and need to improve in many areas,” said the Milan star.

He netted the first three goals in their 4-1 victory over Anderlecht last night, Alberto Gilardino bagging the final strike.

Ancelotti claimed in his post-match comments that Kaka is “the most decisive player in the world right now,” more so than Ronaldinho.

“Ronaldinho has always been an idol for me and I watched him with great interest at Paris Saint-Germain and in Brazil,” continued the youngster.

“I’d never scored a hat-trick in the Champions League, so the third goal was very special for me. I also enjoyed the second in combination with Marcos Cafu.”

Kaka had a dip in form, but has certainly rediscovered his shape with this hat-trick. Some in the Italian media would say it was because he has worked through his personality clash with Ancelotti, as they bickered in front of the cameras in a Serie A match last month.

“MilanLab have all my tests from this season and my fitness levels have always been stable. I didn’t have an argument with Ancelotti. He asked me something and I said I wasn’t entirely happy with it, but that I would adapt. After all, he is the Coach and it’s my job to follow his orders.”

The debate was a tactical one, and Kaka proved how effective he could be in support of two strikers last night rather than as part of a Christmas Tree formation.

“I prefer playing as a Trequartista, as I like to run at the goal from distance. However, I want to always learn and become a more complete player, so I have to try every system and new positions to improve.”

The Rossoneri need just one point from their remaining two Champions League Group H games to be secure of qualification for the next round, but currently lie 14 points adrift of Serie A joint leaders Inter and Palermo.

“Unfortunately the start from eight points down caused us some problems, but we have the time to recover and will give it a go, especially now we’re relatively secure in Europe,” added Kaka.

The Selecao hero also gave some advice to fellow countryman Adriano, who is in Rio de Janeiro for a period of rest and recuperation.

“This is a tough time for Adriano and he has to try to stay relaxed. He needs to know he’s an important player for Inter, Brazil and world football.”

AC Milan dismiss Cassano link
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has denied that Antonio Cassano will move to the San Siro in January. “There are no negotiations underway,” he declared.

The Bari-born striker was excluded from the Real Madrid first team after hitting out at Coach Fabio Capello over the weekend.

Cassano accused his ex-Roma boss of being ungrateful following his non-use in the 3-1 win over Gimnastic and has since been paired with a January move to the Rossoneri outfit.

“We are not discussing Cassano, there will be no move at least for this year,” said Galliani after Milan’s 4-1 win over Anderlecht in Wednesday’s Champions League tie.

“Former Real Madrid President Florentino Perez was at the stadium tonight and he told us that we must trust Ricardo Oliveira, who is a great player.

“Alberto Gilardino is finally scoring, Pippo Inzaghi will do well, while we also have Marco Borriello – so we really don’t need Cassano this year.

“I like the player, but I know Capello well and if he decided to punish him I am sure he had his reasons to do so.

“Cassano is very talented, but he now has to learn to be disciplined as well, when you are part of a group there are certain rules you have to follow.”

President Silvio Berlusconi also believes there is no need for additional players to strengthen Milan’s attacking options.

“Cassano and Ronaldinho can stay where they are, I think we are fine with the men we have,” stated a visibly pleased Berlusconi to Milan Channel after the San Siro match.

“There is no one I would swap Kaka with, not even Ronaldinho, although I would like to see them play together.

“Kaka is a complete player, we all know that – his excellent performances are no surprise for me anymore.

“We have always played well this season, there hasn’t been a single game where the team hasn’t shown its potential.

“Of course, there have been some unlucky matches, but we always played well. Against Inter, for example, we hit the post while today Kaka's shot went in.

“I am optimistic, if you are at the head of Milan you cannot lose hope. This is an intense season, we are protagonists in Europe and I am sure we will be protagonists in the Serie A.

“I cannot say if we will win the Scudetto, but I know we will finish in the top positions,” concluded the former Italian Prime Minister.

Ancelotti: Kaka is better than Ronaldinho
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims hat-trick hero Kaka is the “best player in the world right now” – better than Milan target Ronaldinho.

“Kaka is the best player in the world right now. He does extraordinary things with great simplicity and efficiency,” said the Coach after the 4-1 Champions League win over Anderlecht.

“Kaka is the most decisive player on the planet. Considering the way he plays and how he affects the results, I can’t see anyone better out there, including Ronaldinho.”

The Rossoneri have been heavily linked with Brazilian star Ronaldinho, but Ancelotti hinted that he would prefer to keep the players at his disposal.

The Coach was even happier with Gilardino’s late strike – his first ever Champions League goal.

“Maybe Gilardino’s one goal was more important than Kaka’s three! We had waited such a long time for this moment. This week he broke through in Serie A and the Champions League, so he’ll be back to his old self again.”

Milan aren’t quite qualified yet, as AEK Athens earned a 1-0 victory over 10-man Lille in the other Group H game, but they are nonetheless five points clear at the top.

“We thought this result would take us through, but we still need a point and will try to take our chances in Athens. Milan played well today, even if we struggled a little at the back, but the strikers were in excellent form.

There was bad news, though, as Kakha Kaladze suffered a suspected thigh strain in the warm-up and Alessandro Nesta came off during the first half with a shoulder problem.

“I don’t think either of them will be ready for next weekend. Now we’ve got a bit of a shortage at the back. We have been more vulnerable in defence recently, so we have to work on that, but at least we’ve ended our goal drought.”

Ancelotti explained his tactical choices against the Belgians, resting Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo.

“I thought we’d need to push forward right from the start, so I opted for a more attacking midfield with Yoann Gourcuff and Clarence Seedorf, so Cristian Brocchi was then in front of the defence. Yoann had been out for a month, so he didn’t have 90 minutes in his legs.”

Despite the 4-1 scoreline, there were some hairy moments towards the end with Anderlecht repeatedly risking a second.

“We started brilliantly, but after our third goal we came under pressure, perhaps we relaxed a little bit.”

Now that their European qualification is all but assured, will Milan focus more on their Scudetto ambitions, even if they’re 14 points adrift of leaders Inter and Palermo?

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to catch up in Serie A or not, but we certainly have to do better than in the last six games, where we dropped far too many points. Our performances in the League have got to improve.”

Gilardino joy at Euro breakthrough
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Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino was overjoyed at finally ending his Champions League curse, scoring his second goal in five days.

“It was important to win and my goal came too, so it was doubly satisfying. After the derby it was crucial to show our character and I think we did that today,” said the striker after Milan’s 4-1 victory against Anderlecht.

Gilardino had never before scored in the Champions League, but netted in the final minutes to round off the scoreline.

Much of the credit for the victory goes to Kaka, however, after he bagged a sensational hat-trick.

“Kaka is a phenomenon. He’s a great player, champion and man. As long as he’s playing like this, then Milan can’t help but be in good shape.”

The Rossoneri needed a confidence booster after their two consecutive Serie A home defeats to Palermo and rivals Inter, leaving them 14 points adrift of the leadership.

“We’ve had a few slip-ups this season, but have the time to make up for it and continue to compete in every tournament,” insisted Gilardino.

AC Milan 4:1 Anderlecht - match report
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Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka pen 7, 22, 56 (M), Juhasz 61 (A), Gilardino 87 (M)

Kaka's splendid hat-trick and Alberto Gilardino's first ever Champions League goal thumped Anderlecht 4-1, but there were two injuries.

The Rossoneri needed a confidence-booster after two consecutive Serie A home defeats against Palermo and Inter. With a win tonight and AEK Athens failing to beat Lille, they would be automatically qualified for the knock-outs.

Daniele Bonera was suspended following his dismissal in the last match and Kakha Kaladze pulled up with a suspected thigh strain during the warm-up, so Marek Jankulovski stepped in at the last moment. Yoann Gourcuff returned from a long injury lay-off for a cracked rib, as Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso were rested.

Gourcuff's cross from the right found Ricardo Oliveira's looping header off target, then on three minutes the Brazilian skipped past a defender on the left and rolled across the face of goal where Alberto Gilardino incredibly missed the ball completely from six yards. Gila has never scored in the Champions League and that pass only needed to be touched in.

Gilardino was about to open his account moments later when he sprung the offside trap on Clarence Seedorf's through ball, but Roland Juhasz clipped his heels as he prepared to shoot. The referee pointed to the spot and Kaka buried the penalty into the top corner. The Brazilian had also scored in the 1-0 victory in Belgium a fortnight ago.

Goor's free kick floated well over, but the Rossoneri had an excellent chance to double their lead with a corner kick finding Dario Simic for a point-blank Zitka save.

Gilardino acrobatically tried to reach a Seedorf cross to the back post and Dida captured a Vanderhaeghe strike from a corner, but Milan's bad luck with injuries continued, as Alessandro Nesta came off with a shoulder problem. Cafu took the right-back role, moving Simic to central defence.

The Rossoneri went 2-0 up with a splendid team effort. Gourcuff set Kaka running from midfield and he exchanged passes with fellow Brazilian Cafu before rifling in a powerful yet graceful finish over the goalkeeper.

Gilardino's shot on the bounce was well smothered by Zitka on Cristian Brocchi's cross, while Dida parried a Boussoufa effort. Gourcuff was again impressive on a solo run and was sent flying by a late Juhasz challenge. The French talent landed awkwardly, but was not seriously injured.

Paolo Maldini went to left-back and he crossed for Seedorf's header to skim the near post. Anderlecht threw on Turkish striker Serhat Akhin before the break and Jankulovski charged down a Vanden Borre effort.

The Belgians were more attacking in the second half, Tchite firing two opportunities over the bar, but Kaka again sprinted past his marker down the left and his cross was flicked off the head of an unmarked Gourcuff by a crucial defensive intervention.

There was no doubting the Man of the Match at San Siro, as Kaka completed his hat-trick with a simply magnificent goal. He skipped past a defender out wide on the left and unleashed an unstoppable right-foot rising missile into the far top corner.

But the Rossoneri's disappointing record from set-pieces was confirmed when Anderlecht got a goal back with Juhasz allowed a free header from a corner kick.

Moments later it was nearly 3-2, as Serhat's cross was deflected on to the frame of the goal by Jankulovski, then Dida blocked Goor's long-range attempt. Gennaro Gattuso replaced the tired Gourcuff, who had been out for six weeks.

Anderlecht's tails were up and Dida parried a Serhat strike and soon after performed a great reaction save on Tchite's effort from point-blank range following another defensive error.

Cafu saw the Belgian goalkeeper off his line and an ambitious cross-shot skimmed the crossbar.

The visitors nearly scored an own goal with Kaka on another driving run down the left that De Man prodded wide of the net. Andrea Pirlo replaced Oliveira to further strengthen the midfield.

Gattuso found space and preferred to cut across for Seedorf, whose shot was charged down by an arm, but the referee considered it to be an involuntary gesture.

Milan were fortunate that Anderlecht wasted a good chance from another set-piece. The free kick was twice turned back across the face of goal until Hassan came sliding in at the back post and turned wide from six yards.

Gilardino scored his first goal of the season on Saturday against Inter and finally broke his career Champions League duck in the final minutes. He ran on to a long pass over the defence and thumped a fine angled drive into the far corner. The ex-Parma striker's wild celebrations along with the Milan fans earned him a booking.

Dida had a scare in stoppages on Hassan's snapshot and Kaka was stopped by a desperate challenge as he again sprinted up the field looking for his fourth of the game.

Milan: Dida; Simic, Nesta (Cafu 19), Maldini, Jankulovski; Gourcuff (Gattuso 65), Brocchi, Seedorf; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Pirlo 72), Gilardino

Anderlecht: Zitka; Vanden Borre (Legear 84), Juhasz, De Man, Deschacht; Goor, Biglia, Vanderhaeghe (Serhat 39), Hassan; Boussoufa (Mpenza 80), Tchite

Ref: Fandel (Ger)

Ancelotti: Europe then Italy…
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Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is hoping that a win over Anderlecht on Wednesday will allow them to focus on their Serie A recovery.

The Rossoneri will face the Belgian side at the San Siro and a win should be enough for Ancelotti’s team to book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“We are doing well in the group and although Anderlecht are a good side we want to win and then concentrate more on the domestic championship,” said the Coach.

"It will not be an easy game, but I believe we can win and make our qualification to the next phase near to certain.

“After that we will finally be able to focus on Serie A, trying to fill in the gap that separates us from the leaders of the table as soon as possible,” continued Ancelotti.

“We have to start well, we are where we want to be in the Champions League but it is the opposite in Italy where we are 14 points behind Inter.

“We lost against Palermo and Inter and although we were not dominated we had some difficulties in the first half,” explained the Rossoneri tactician.

Milan, despite being down to 10-men, collected a 1-0 win in Brussels two weeks ago and the Coach expects a similar result.

“I am not planning any changes to our usual tactics and I think Anderlecht will also maintain the same characteristics they had in their home match,” he added.

“They are very quick and well organised, especially in defence, we will need to be very determined.

“Yoann Gourcuff will probably be in the starting line-up seeing as has completely recovered from his injury, whereas Giuseppe Favalli, Serginho and Massimo Ambrosini are out.

“Alberto Gilardino's goal in the derby has helped relax him and this may be useful tomorrow evening,” concluded Ancelotti.

The match will kick-off at 20.45 local time and has been assigned to Herbert Fandel of Germany.

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