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"AC Milan would like pay homage to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the great champion who, thanks to his huge talents, makes the Italian football more spectacular. 101 goals scored in our league playing with Milan, Inter and Juventus. Thank you Ibra."
Genoa invite Gattuso and Cassano 29.11 ||webmaster
Genoa captain Marco Rossi asked Gennaro Gattuso and Antonio Cassano to make the trip with Milan after their recent health scares.
Cassano is out for six months after suffering from a mini-stroke and undergoing surgery on a congenital heart defect, while Gattuso’s recovery time is unknown due to the paralysis of an optical nerve that affects the vision in one eye.
“I was emotional at seeing how much dignity Gattuso showed in telling the world what had happened to him,” said Rossi.
“Fortunately, it seems as if the problem might be resolving itself. His message was so extraordinarily humble and he gave such courage to those who are suffering.
“It would be wonderful for me and my teammates to salute him in person when Milan come to Genoa on Friday. There would be very special hugs for him and for Cassano.”
Milan’s Serie A trip to Marassi has been brought forward to Friday evening.
Merkel - El Shaarawy swap snubbed 29.11 ||webmaster
Domenico Di Carlo concedes Chievo “got everything wrong” in their 4-0 demolition at the hands of Milan.
“Evidently I didn’t get my point across to the players,” he said of the disastrous first half performance.
“We didn’t manage to close down the middle, where our opponents were always first to the ball and this gave space to champions like the Rossoneri.
“We were too stretched. Compliments to Milan, who are one of the form teams in Serie A. It’s better to lose one game 4-0 rather than four by 1-0.”
Di Carlo admits it was difficult to give a half-time team talk when Chievo were already 4-0 down.
“The lads knew they got everything wrong that it was possible to get wrong. At half-time I just asked them to stay calm and play like Chievo, so we did seem like more of a team unit in the second half.
“I know full well my Chievo is a different side to the one we saw tonight.”
Massimiliano Allegri insists the Scudetto race is wide open and hailed his Milan firepower.
“Juventus still have a game in hand, but if Napoli win that on Tuesday then they’ll be right back in the title race,” warned the Coach.
“Inter earned an important win today, plus there are Lazio and Udinese. It was therefore crucial we win this evening, especially after the Barcelona game when we risked a drop off in concentration levels.
“It’s great to keep a clean sheet and we did well to prepare our attack, starting from the full-backs and the midfielders pushing forward into space created by the strikers,” he said of the 4-0 win over Chievo.
“I was pleased with the attitude and pressure we immediately put Chievo under.”
Alexandre Pato broke his duck on his first start since that thigh injury, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 101st Serie A goals.
“Ibra’s talent needs no comment. It was important that Pato get back to scoring and had a good performance, but the really crucial thing to note is that they were both supported by a solid team that allowed nothing to their opponents.
“Kevin-Prince Boateng was more tired than anyone after Barcelona, so he played with maturity tonight and that’s something he needs to improve. He can’t always think of playing at 100mph. He has to improve his skills and not rely only on his grit.”
Allegri was also asked about the negotiations with Manchester City outcast Carlos Tevez.
“These are all rumours, I’m sure there will be more going into January.”
Ibrahimovic: 'More of the same, Milan' 27.11 ||webmaster
Milan were utterly dominant to crush Chievo 4-0 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace breaking through the 100 Serie A goals mark.
The Rossoneri were impressed with their performance in the Champions League midweek, even though they lost 3-2 to Barcelona, but lost Christian Abbiati and Alessandro Nesta to injury, so Mario Yepes faced his former club. They had won six of their last eight Serie A games and welcomed giant-killers Chievo. Both Ibrahimovic and Sergio Pellissier were looking for their 100th top flight goal.
Ibra was in no mood to waste time, as within 50 seconds he had unleashed a screamer that smacked against the crossbar.
Stefano Sorrentino rushed off his line to charge down Alberto Aquilani from an Ibrahimovic through ball.
It was all Milan and they broke the deadlock after eight minutes. Kevin-Prince Boateng feinted a cross, but instead rolled it back for the on-rushing Thiago Silva’s precise daisy-cutter from outside the box into the far bottom corner. It was a particularly special moment for the defender, who was wearing the captain’s armband.
Chievo threatened with a free kick that Marco Amelia rushed out to parry Pellissier’s effort with his legs.
However, Ibrahimovic scored his Serie A Century with a smart almost powerful chip over the goalkeeper from the D, as he had two defenders in front of him and with very little backlift booted it under the bar. It was his 100th Serie A goal in 196 games.
Davide Mandelli picked up an injury and limped off for Francesco Acerbi. Luca Antonini pounced on a loose ball and it was charged down by a shoulder from point-blank range.
From that corner, Milan made it 3-0. Aquilani’s snapshot from the D was deflected into the path of Alexandre Pato, who couldn’t miss seven yards out from an open goal.
Chievo finally created a chance on 42 minutes, as American international Michael Bradley’s smart volley skimmed the far post with Amelia beaten.
However, moments later Pato dribbled into the box and was knocked over from behind by Luciano. Ibrahimovic confidently buried the penalty by smacking it into the top corner.
Within 50 seconds of the restart, the Swede had threatened a hat-trick with his fierce finish thumping the bar.
Pellissier had the ball in the net, but only after he was caught marginally offside. Pato turned his man, but Sorrentino smothered at his feet, while Amelia grabbed Pellissier’s deflected free kick and a swerving late Hetemaj strike.
Massimiliano Allegri worries Milan might have trouble changing pace and mentality to go from Barcelona to Chievo.
“It will be completely different to Wednesday, as after the great concentration and tension of that game, we must immediately settle back into the Serie A mentality, which is the most important thing right now,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“We have five games from now until December 20, where we are forced to get as many points as possible to stay near to the top of the table.
“I think Juventus are more than ever the favourites for the Scudetto. Udinese continue the work they’ve done in recent years, Lazio were up there until the final rounds last season. Milan won the title, so obviously people put us among the favourites.
“We came out of the Barcelona game with a good performance, but mustn’t just be content with that. It helped our self-esteem and awareness grow, as we can battle against the top clubs in Europe.
“Against Barcelona and Fiorentina we played well, but made some mistakes and need to play more as a team.
“Chievo must not be underestimated. They defend solidly and are very dangerous on the counter-attack, so it will not be an easy game. Chievo have beaten Fiorentina and Catania, so we’ve got to give it our all.”
Alessandro Nesta is out for a month following a thigh strain and Philippe Mexes is not yet fit, so Mario Yepes or Daniele Bonera will step in.
Milan have been heavily linked with Carlos Tevez this week and the Manchester City man’s agent confirmed negotiations.
“I won’t talk about Tevez, because it’s not right to discuss players belonging to other clubs,” insisted Allegri.
“At this moment we have to focus on what we’ve got to do, then from January 1 we’ll see what happens.”
Juventus fight AC Milan for Tevez 26.11 ||webmaster
Carlos Tevez’s future seems to be in Serie A, but his agent confirms “Milan are the first choice” while Juventus raise their offer.
The Manchester City rebel had a total breakdown in the rapport with manager Roberto Mancini and a January move seems inevitable.
Representative Kia Joorabchian is in Italy at the moment and confirmed negotiations with the Rossoneri are on-going.
“Manchester City authorised me to meet with the Milan directors. Since this summer Carlos has received three offers from Corinthians, Inter and another Italian club, but City turned down Inter’s proposal.
“At the moment Milan are the first choice, as Carlos wants to wear the Rossoneri jersey. I am certain he’d win there, just as he has everywhere else. We have not yet spoken about the economic aspects with Adriano Galliani.
“Carlos’ problem in the Premier League is not City, but Mancini.”
This morning all the Italian newspapers suggest Milan may have got in there first, but Juventus are mounting a head-on assault to snatch Tevez away.
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the Bianconeri have offered €4m wages net to play from January to June.
If the club activates the buy-out clause, then Tevez will have a three-year contract worth €9m per season plus performance-related bonuses.
This is reportedly far superior to the current terms on the table at Milan.
Robinho has declared that his current period with Milan is the happiest of his six-year spell in European football.
The Brazilian gave a full and honest interview to Brazilian football website globoesporte.com this week, during which he discussed various topics ranging from his departures from Real Madrid and Manchester City to his dedication to the Brazilian national team. The player began, though, with a glowing account of his current situation at San Siro and of the club’s love for Brazilian footballers.
“I feel at home in Milan. I’m going through a really good time. It is a club that loves Brazilians and treats us very well. I am adapting more and more, I am very happy here.
“In Madrid it was very good too. It is an excellent club and Spanish football is easier to adapt to for a Brazilian player. But there was jealousy during my time there for my trips abroad with Brazil.
“Here it is different, they treat us superbly. Even in Manchester it was good, but the field was very different. English football has a lot of strength and it is complicated for a Brazilian footballer to adapt to it. Even more so for one who plays up front like me.
“In Milan there are only good things. They love Brazilians and always speak well of those that have passed through here. There is this love, this openness from the beginning. I did not expect it was that good.
“To date, there has been much talk of Kaka, Serginho, Dida, Cafu, even of Ronaldo who made more history at Inter, he is highly regarded here. Now we are making our history.
“Of course, when a Brazilian player sits on the bench they get very upset still, but it is part of life, it is normal in football.”
The 27-year-old discussed how he feels he has developed as a footballer since arriving in Europe in 2005 and whether the perception that he has become a more tactical player is correct.
“I think I have changed the way I play. Today I prefer to shoot at goal than try a stepover. But without losing the joy, of course. That is something we must always have. European football has taught me to play more for the team and a little less for the individual.”
The player was asked if he had any regrets for past decisions made in his time with Real Madrid and Manchester City.
“In Madrid I wanted to leave for being dissatisfied with the club, which was not valuing me as I wanted at the time. But I ended up going to a club which is quite difficult to adapt to as a Brazilian.
“Even today if I was to ever leave Milan I do not know if I would choose City, with all due respect to the club. The question is more England itself, which is a country that is not so good for my football. I do not regret having left it.
“I do regret the way I left Madrid though, fighting. That was not good for my image, or towards the club. Now I am happy. In Milan, I play and have been helpful to the team. This is most important.”
The No 70 then left an interesting side-comment with regards his current happiness at San Siro.
“Of course, in football things change very fast. A guy might get two or three months on the bench and think ‘oh, I want to make la Seleção, I want to play’ and already they are thinking about returning to Brazil. For now though, I am happy.”
Robinho also took time to press home his commitment to the national team. With kind words for Ronaldinho, Kaka and Adriano, Robinho put himself amongst them in terms of experience he believes is still important for Brazil going forward.
With 90 caps to his name, the attacker also refused to rule out offering that experience to younger players at the Olympics next summer, which incidentally run into the middle of August and pre-season for Milan.
“Everything that is related to Brazil I am all for. I think when a player is called he has to go, this is our country. You must have the will, joy and desire to play.
“I do not know the will of the Coach, if he wants to pick me. So I believe that for the Olympics, no. But I will prepare myself as if I am going to be called up. The Seleção is always important.”
Robinho finished the interview with a reflection on if he will ever be crowned the best in the world by FIFA.
“This will always be a dream, but it is not an obsession. If I am not the best in the world, I cannot feel frustrated by it. I will always work for myself and always want the best.
“If it happens, great. If not, I’ll continue playing my football. There are many players who have not won this award and are marked in history. It is a dream that I hope to accomplish.”
There is growing optimism in Italy that Milan could sign Carlos Tevez from Manchester City in January, although Juventus may try to hijack the move.
The Argentine’s agent held talks with Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani on Thursday where progress is reported to have been made.
Tevez is looking for a new club after he fell out with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini earlier this season.
Milan, given the likely absence of Antonio Cassano for the next six months, are keen on the player even if there are several economical hurdles to get over.
Stories in the peninsula today suggest that the Rossoneri could pay City €5m after Christmas for his six-month loan.
Milan would also net the option to sign him outright in the summer for a further €20m.
However, agreeing personal terms with the player may be more difficult given that he reportedly nets €8m a season.
However, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, the former West Ham man’s representative will speak to Juventus at some stage today to see what they could offer.
The Turin giants are currently overflowing with attacking players given that they have Amauri, Alex Del Piero, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella, Luca Toni and Mirko Vucinic in their squad.
Taiwo targets AC Milan breakthrough 24.11 ||webmaster
Clarence Seedorf said football was the winner. “Both teams went for the victory and there were five goals. It was spectacular.”
The Dutchman saw Milan lose 3-2 at San Siro to Barcelona in a Champions League tie worth little, as both sides had already qualified.
“It was a game in which both teams went for the victory, played good football and there were five goals. It was spectacular,” said Seedorf.
“As for us, the team is growing and our self-belief has without doubt improved as well after this performance.
“Finishing top of the group was only important to a degree. The fact remains I am truly happy with the way we played this game.
“Barcelona’s great quality is in players who can beat their opponents in a one-on-one and therefore push forward in numbers. If you are patient and press them at the right time, then they have problems too.”
Pep Guardiola was very proud of Barcelona, as “winning at San Siro is not easy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic? There’s no point...”
The Coach, who speaks fluent Italian thanks to his time playing for Brescia and Roma, was interviewed by Sky Sport Italia after his side’s 3-2 victory over Milan.
“We are happier compared to the last game,” he said, referring to their 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou.
“Coming here to San Siro to win and putting in a performance like this was not easy. It’s always a pleasure to play in this stadium, especially against Milan, who are one of the most successful clubs in the world.
“The crowd is so passionate and always cheers on its players throughout the match.
“We created many scoring opportunities, but so did Milan. At the start we wanted to serve Leo Messi down the right flank, but it wasn’t easy with Gianluca Zambrotta there. This is why he was then moved to the centre.”
The lead-up to this match was marred by Ibrahimovic’s autobiography, which claims Guardiola pushed him out of Barcelona.
“Ibrahimovic? There’s no point replying to him, in any case this soap opera won’t be shut down,” he sighed.
Allegri: 'AC Milan on the right track' 24.11 ||webmaster
Scorers: Van Bommel og 14 (B), Ibrahimovic 20 (M), Messi pen 31 (B), Boateng 54 (M), Xavi 63 (B)
Milan fell 3-2 at home to Barcelona at the end of a spectacularly entertaining game, including a Kevin-Prince Boateng gem and a soft penalty.
Both teams were already qualified, so this was a head-to-head for the top spot in Group H and neutrals were hoping for a repeat of the dramatic 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou. Alexandre Pato was still not fit to start after two months out with a thigh strain, while Antonio Cassano, Gennaro Gattuso and Philippe Mexes were among the absentees.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mark Van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta started against their former club, while Barça missed Andres Iniesta and the suspended Dani Alves. The Spaniards were unbeaten in 26 games in all competition and played in their green away strip.
Milan had a chance in the first 40 seconds, but Barca’s rather unusual defensive line-up managed to scramble clear from Ibra and Robinho. At the other end, Van Bommel needed a perfectly-timed tackle to stop Messi on the edge of the box.
Barcelona took the lead with their first real chance. Messi’s cross-field pass found Seydou Keita and his low pass across the six-yard box went past David Villa, deflected in off Van Bommel’s shin.
It was almost 2-0 on 17 minutes, as a chipped pass found the Cesc Fabregas half-volley, but Christian Abbiati did very well to parry with his legs at the near post.
However, Robinho wasted an incredible opportunity when Boateng pulled back across for the unmarked Brazilian to balloon over from four yards!
The pressure paid off, as Milan equalised moments later. A long pass found Clarence Seedorf down the left and he rolled a perfect pass into the path of Ibrahimovic, who nutmegged Victor Valdes.
Fabregas sprung the offside trap and it was pulled across for Messi to clip the crossbar from five yards under pressure from Ignazio Abate.
The referee awarded a very soft penalty when Xavi tried to run on to a Fabregas pass and went shoulder-to-shoulder with Alberto Aquilani. Messi took a very stuttering run-up, which is against the rules, so it had to be re-taken. The Flea had a proper spot-kick at the second attempt, firing low just past Abbiati’s hand.
Abbiati needed a brilliant save at the near post from point-blank range to palm David Villa’s strike down and it bounced on to the roof of the net.
Valdes had his palms stung by a Boateng half-volley and Mascherano needed a last-ditch tackle from behind to stop Robinho running clear on goal. A Seedorf free kick was charged down and Van Bommel’s follow-up struck Keita in the stomach from point-blank range. Thiago Alcantara also got back to throw himself at a Seedorf half-volley and from the corner Thiago Silva nodded just wide.
Pato replaced Robinho for the second half and Milan equalised with a sensational solo effort from Boateng. The Ghanaian trapped a short clearance and flicked it off the inside of his heel to get past Eric Abidal and sweep it in with his right foot at the near post.
Barcelona restored their lead for the third time with a classy team goal. Messi’s inspired angled pass went through a crowd of defenders to find Xavi for a finish at full stretch.
More bad news for Milan, as Alessandro Nesta picked up an injury and had to make way for Daniele Bonera. Ex-Udinese starlet Alexis Sanchez replaced Villa. Abbiati needed a double reaction save to parry two different Sanchez tap-ins from a free kick.
In stoppages Sergio Busquets had to be at full stretch to intercept a through ball that was sending Pato clear.
Milan 2-3 Barcelona
Scorers: Van Bommel og 14 (B), Ibrahimovic 20 (M), Messi pen 31 (B), Boateng 54 (M), Xavi 63 (B)
Milan:Abbiati; Abate, Nesta (Bonera 66), Thiago Silva, Zambrotta; Aquilani, Van Bommel (Nocerino 71), Seedorf; Boateng; Robinho (Pato 46), Ibrahimovic
Kevin-Prince Boateng reveals why he retired from international duty with Ghana. “My knee has undergone six operations.”
The midfielder surprised many when he decided to quit playing for his country after a splendid 2010 World Cup campaign, aged just 24.
“While I was at Borussia Dortmund, I could divide my time,” he told Vanity Fair.
“However, with Milan I play in Serie A, the Champions League and Coppa Italia, so I can’t do it anymore.
“My knee was injured six times and has undergone six operations. Even flying in a plane hurts because of the change of pressure. Therefore, I had to say goodbye to Ghana because I care about my health.”
Boateng also commented on Milan President and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“I met him twice. You don’t expect a President to give you a pat on the back, but he really is a good man and very playful.”
Seedorf: 'AC Milan - Barcelona a show' 22.11 ||webmaster
Clarence Seedorf is looking forward to testing his mettle against Barcelona again in a game he describes as a spectacle.
Speaking in the pre-match UEFA Press conference alongside Massimiliano Allegri, Dutch midfielder Seedorf looked forward to the challenge facing him and his Milan teammates on Wednesday night.
“For Milan, the main objective is to enter the field to win. Even if tomorrow there are many other things at stake besides the win, I think it would be a great thing for us.
“We are playing the best team in the world and the respect we have for them is total and we must strive to maximise this opportunity to grow and of course the result must obviously favour Milan.
“I believe that these games are always spectacular because you deal with two clubs that have a great history in football. Perhaps the Spanish create a better show on the pitch, but the Italians have won a great deal.
In the end I think this is a spectacle - a game between two teams who know what it means to win have that mentality.
“For me it will be a special game as it is every time we play in Europe - over the past five years, Barcelona have more or less been the best team in the world and this is an opportunity for us to achieve an important result.
“We must congratulate Barcelona for their successes, but Milan must play in the best way possible. Lionel Messi is always a pleasure to watch, if we stop we’ll get in trouble.”
Seedorf then reflected on the club’s ambitions for this season in Europe.
“Certainly, the Champions League calls me and everyone, it is the most important cup to win. After the disappointment of last year, all at once there was the desire to do better - I think we are right to dream, to have the ambition to aim high and to win.
“We have the means to do so, of course, we must grow, but the fact that we are already qualified gives us a way to do so before February and March.”
When the Rossoneri travelled to the Camp Nou for the reverse fixture on matchday one of the Group Stages, they earned a surprise 2-2 draw, with goals scored in the first and final minutes of play.
“Few would have bet on a draw - that result gave us a great push forward and the belief that we are better than last year - we had begun by drawing with the strongest team in the world.
“We are stronger than last year in all senses and to play against the best is a great opportunity to grow.
“Honestly, I was not happy with our performance in Barcelona, we could have done better. But you have to see the glass as half full, and seeing the result and how the match went and the size of the team we played against, overall it was a good game.
“Also, defending is an art and we defended very well.”
The match also sees Zlatan Ibrahimovic line up against his former teammates for the first time since his autobiography was published. In that, the forward describes in detail his clashes with Barca Coach Pep Guardiola whilst labelling his former Catalan teammates as ‘schoolboys who do what they’re told’.
Sergio Busquets admitted on Monday that the Barcelona players are unsure as to how they will react to seeing Ibra on Wednesday, but Seedorf has looked to play down the book’s significance.
“I believe that Guardiola is a very intelligent person and that is reaction is always that of absolute calm. I think that Ibra has really wanted to play and to prove himself, but I do not think there’s much more to it than that.”
Massimiliano Allegri has outlined his hopes, expectations and plan of attack in facing European champions Barcelona on Wednesday night.
Speaking ahead of the Champions League Group H match between the two at San Siro that will in effect determine who takes top spot, Allegri admitted he is primarily humbled by the chance to face the Blaugrana.
“Experiencing these evenings is the dream for everyone,” cites the Rossoneri Coach, who admits Barcelona go into the match as “the strongest team in the world.
“We must try to win by playing well and making the most of the opportunities that we create, also because in Barcelona in the first 20 minutes we had several.”
Allegri detailed how he anticipates facing and trying to beat Barcelona, a team renowned for high possession statistics in games.
“They are hard to play against because they are technical and can vary the pace of the game, they are good at speeding it up and slowing it down.
“It will take a lot of balance, we cannot be impatient and will need to play a little higher on the pitch to make sure that Barcelona has less possession.”
The Coach has seen his squad’s injury crisis lessen in recent weeks, with Alexandre Pato’s return against Fiorentina at the weekend presenting a selection decision in attack. Pato netted a first-minute opening goal at the Camp Nou in the reverse fixture in mid-September.
“There are no major doubts. I have to decide who will play between Pato and Robinho and in midfield I will assess in the afternoon the condition of Clarence Seedorf and in defence Gianluca Zambrotta will return.”
Allegri also reflected on seeing Antonio Cassano return to the club’s training base yesterday, just 17 days after undergoing heart surgery.
“It was a pleasure to see him at Milanello, we hope to have him back in the best condition as soon as possible.”
Alexandre Pato made an impressive, albeit unlucky, comeback for Milan after two months. “I’ve been working on my muscles and my mind.”
The Brazilian had been out of action since suffering yet another thigh strain at the end of September and was unfortunate not to score in last night’s 0-0 draw with Fiorentina, hitting the post.
“I could’ve played sooner, but I trained so hard and I missed the pitch during these two months,” said The Duck.
“It felt great, as I was able to make my usual movements. I was a bit unlucky with the upright, but hopefully the ball will go in easier on Wednesday against Barcelona.”
Coach Massimiliano Allegri said in Friday’s Press conference that he expected more from Pato, who should learn from the Milan veterans.
“In these two months I arrived early in the morning, at 8-8.30, and would do a double training session every day,” explained the striker.
“I will always work hard from here on in to ensure I don’t suffer an injury relapse. I am happy, as I worked on my muscles and my mind, because often recurring injuries can knock you down. I always trained with joy, as I wanted to come back and now I’m happy.”
Milan dominated in Florence, hitting the woodwork and seeing Clarence Seedorf’s goal incorrectly disallowed, but it ended 0-0 on Delio Rossi’s debut.
The new Coach made his debut on the Viola bench and the Stadio Franchi crowd was out in force celebrating Sinisa Mihajlovic’s sacking. He had to do without Stevan Jovetic, Mattia Cassani, Per Kroldrup and the suspended Cesare Natali.
Therefore Alessio Cerci and Andrea Lazzari supported lone centre-forward Alberto Gilardino, while Matija Nastasic stepped in at centre-back.
Milan were coming off five consecutive Serie A victories and had won their last four visits to Florence, but Antonio Cassano, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini, Marco Amelia, Philippe Mexes, Stephan El Shaarawy and the suspended Kevin-Prince Boateng were absent.
The Rossoneri had the stronger start and penalty appeals on seven minutes when Valon Behrami clumsily intercepted a cross as it was about to land on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s chest. Seedorf horribly scuffed from the edge of the box after a good team move and Ibra backheel flick.
Seedorf did get the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes afer a splendid move and replays show the Dutchman was level when Ibrahimovic volleyed the assist through the middle, so the linesman got it wrong by disallowing the goal.
Ibra attempted a spectacular scorpion flick that sailed over the bar and Alberto Aquilani’s header skimmed the woodwork, then Nastasic got a crucial touch to stop Robinho pulling the trigger in the area as Milan continued to dominate.
Gilardino did get a chance before the break, but blasted it over the bar, then Robinho’s angled drive flashed across the face of goal and Artur Boruc blocked another Seedorf strike.
Rossi changed his tactics for the second half, introducing striker Santiago Silva for the quiet Cerci. It was still Milan, though, as a corner fell to Antonio Nocerino for a swerving effort that skimmed the base of the upright.
Behrami was booked for a horribly mistimed tackle on Abate, but Fiorentina finally came out of their shells after allowing the Rossoneri over 70 per cent possession in the first half.
Alexandre Pato made his comeback after two months out with muscular problems, but it was Manuel Pasqual whose angled drive flashed just past the far post.
Pato has previously scored in all five of his meetings with Fiorentina and nearly made it six, as he skipped between defenders and unleashed a daisy-cutter that Boruc fingertipped on to the base of the upright. The move continued and Boruc parried Urby Emanuelson’s tap-in with his legs from point-blank range.
Pato continued to be the danger man, as Nastasic needed a crucial sliding tackle to stop The Duck prodding home from seven yards. Again Ibrahimovic chipped a ball over the defence for Pato, forcing Boruc to rush out and snatch it from him. There were even penalty appeals for a Nastasic shove on Pato.
Massimiliano Allegri welcomes back Alexandre Pato, but points out “I expect something more from him. He should learn from the veterans.”
The Brazilian has been out of action for two months after another muscular injury and will be on the bench for tonight’s Fiorentina-Milan test.
“Pato doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, so he won’t start the match, but he is physically fit,” said Allegri.
“However, when he does recover match-fitness, I expect something more from him. If he runs as hard as the others with the quality he and his teammates have, then Milan can become an even stronger team.
“He’s got to make the most of this opportunity that is given to him and learn from the example set by the veterans of Milan.
“One must always improve and be up to the test, otherwise you’re going nowhere.”
Ibrahimovic nominated for FIFA award 19.11 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dejan Stankovic are in the running for FIFA’s Puskas Award that recognises the best Goal of the Year.
The award was set up in late 2009 to recognise the best goals scored in competitive football each year. Members of the public can view the shortlist of the 10 best strikes seen in the year across the men’s and women’s game on FIFA’s official website and then vote for their favourite.
The first round of voting to determine the top three candidates closes on December 5, whilst the final winner is then determined in a second vote that will conclude on January 9 at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.
Ibrahimovic is nominated for his left-footed 30-yard half-volley against Lecce in Serie A, whilst Stankovic finds himself on the list for his volley from the halfway line against Schalke in the Champions League.
Others nominated in the final 10 include Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Neymar. Past winners of the award named after Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskas are Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 and Hamit Altintop in 2010.
Allegri puts Fiorentina above Barcelona 18.11 ||webmaster
Alberto Aquilani says he’s delighted to be at Milan after being rejected by Juventus and refusing a move to Fiorentina.
The Italian international joined the Rossoneri in the summer from Liverpool following a loan stint at Juve last term.
Although he had a decent campaign in Turin, the club didn’t take up their €16m option to sign him on a permanent basis.
“I didn’t think that I would be transferred outright,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “The buy-out fee was too high.
“Juventus offered me an opportunity and I made the most of it. The directors tried to get close to me again towards the end of the window, but then Milan arrived. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Italian champions Milan made a move for the Roman after he rejected a possible switch to Tuscan giants Fiorentina.
“There was no backwards step,” he added. “I spoke to then boss Sinisa Mihajlovic and I told him that I would have only accepted a definite move.
“I was offered on loan with a buy-out of €12m and I said no. That figure was too much and they wouldn’t have kept me.
“Here at Milan the fee is set at €6m and will become mandatory after I play 25 games. It was more of a guarantee for me.
“And then you can’t say no to Milan. I always had the hope that I could become a Rossonero. I thought I could have been the ‘Mr X’ they were talking about.
“Milanello is a footballing paradise because it offers the very best facilities to work in. I’ve played for four great clubs, but there is no comparison with Milan in terms of structure and organisation.”
When questioned on his hopes for the season ahead, Aquilani surprisingly placed the Scudetto above the Champions League.
“I want the title,” he noted. “I was in the youth team at Roma when they won it in 2001 and I went close in 2008 when, for a time on the last day of the season, we were virtual Italian champions.”
Jovetic injury blow for Fiorentina 17.11 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri admits Milan’s Champions League clash with Barcelona is “like a Final.”
The two teams have already qualified for the knockouts, but go head-to-head on Wednesday in order to decide the group winners.
“We have to treat this game like we would a Final, knowing that we have only one result available to us in order to finish first,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“However, right now what counts even more is the game with Fiorentina on Saturday night. We’ll face a team revitalised by the change of management and the atmosphere this has brought about in the fans.
“Florence is a difficult arena, but we have worked very well in the past week with the players we had.”
Alexandre Pato and Gennaro Gattuso returned to training over the break for international duty, though the midfielder still has blurred vision.
“Pato is doing well, but hasn’t played for two months, so we’ll have to see if he’s ready to feature at the Stadio Franchi. Ringhio isn’t ready yet and we must be cautious, but it was an important sign to train the way he did.”
Milan have clambered back up the table after a poor start thanks to five consecutive Serie A victories.
“Lazio and Udinese are top of the table, confirming the good work they did last season, while Juventus are the real novelty, as they changed so much over the summer that they can now challenge for the Scudetto.”
Adriano Galliani has refocused Milan’s transfer talk, welcomed the idea of Silvio Berlusconi's return and praised Rino Gattuso’s recovery.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia on Monday evening, the Milan Vice-President covered a number of topics. He looked to backtrack on reports seemingly confirming an agreement between the club and Catania for Maxi Lopez, but instead opened up interest in Didier Drogba.
“Who will reinforce the attack? It is being said that someone will arrive in January, but Santa Claus is still far away…we will assess Cassano’s condition as we have guaranteed him a starting role when fit.
“If he returns then we will not go into the market. We will evaluate what to do a little later. Maybe we’ll just get one for the primavera side. Anelka? If he continues to score, we’ll see. He is an important player, but I was in love with Drogba when he played at Marseille.”
Meanwhile, Galliani also confirmed that Berlusconi is likely to return to an official capacity as club President in the near future after resigning as Italian Prime Minister on Sunday.
“Frankly, I never realised that he had stopped. A football team is not a company, it is something that concerns the all different feelings. Berlusconi was President and will return to being President, but to me he has never stopped, he has always been close.
“I hope that he will formally decide to take back the Presidency of Milan. The trophies Milan have won have always been with Berlusconi as President, since we are in the race for the Champions League we hope he comes back.
“His passion has always been the same, both as President and not.”
Whilst looking to dispel controversy on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography and downplaying certainty over the Rossoneri’s bid to win a second successive Scudetto, Galliani also gave his view on Gattuso’s return to playing football after a problematic eye condition.
“Gattuso is feeling better. He is constantly changing his glasses, so that means that he is improving. I was told he can fully recover any time between two and six months.”
AC Milan making progress on recovery 14.11 ||webmaster
Maxi Lopez is already looking forward to his January move to Milan. “I’ll help Zlatan Ibrahimovic win the Champions League.”
The Catania striker is widely expected to be signed while Antonio Cassano recovers from heart surgery.
“I am grateful to Catania for all they have given me. As long as I am here, I will always give my best for them,” he told the Corriere dello Sport.
“It is a great joy for me to be linked with Milan, as I grew up in Buenos Aires watching Serie A and admiring the Rossoneri. If the interest is real and Catania are open to it, then I feel ready to make the most of this opportunity.
“I like pressure, as that is where you see the real champions. I can do well, have reached my full football maturity and feel that I can take this chance. Replacing a star like Cassano is a responsibility that I would like to shoulder.”
Maxi Lopez has a particular target to share with potential new teammate Ibra.
“I already won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006. If I come to Milan, then I’ll do everything possible to help Ibrahimovic win the Champions League, as he deserves it.
“Along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, I’d say Milan are currently among the strongest teams in the world.”
The Argentine could also in theory begin his international career for Italy.
“I would certainly think about it. Playing for the Azzurri would be an honour.”
Robinho maintains AC Milan momentum 13.11 ||webmaster
Robinho hopes the break for international duty has not affected Milan’s momentum. “We want to get back to the top of the table.”
The Rossoneri were on sparkling form with five consecutive Serie A victories that took them into third place.
“Our mentality is to pick up as many points as possible because we want to get back to the top of the table,” the Brazilian told Milan Channel.
“Obviously winning the Champions League group would also be important, but we are doing well and have already qualified. Naturally, we hope to do even better.
“We want to win the Scudetto, so we have to target the victory in every single game.”
Robinho remains at Milanello this week to train with his club side, as he was not called up by Brazil.
“We did a lot of physical and technical work, which is important now that we finally have a week to train solidly.
“Of course I think about the Selecao, but these were friendlies and I have to focus on recovering my best form so that I can get back into the Brazil squad.”
Milan have been rocked by Antonio Cassano’s mini-stroke and heart surgery, which rule him out for around six months.
“We miss Antonio a great deal and hope he can return soon. He is wonderful, though we have many talented players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato who can ensure the quality level won’t drop too much.”
Inzaghi: "Does AC Milan need me?" 13.11 ||webmaster
Pippo Inzaghi sent a stark warning to Massimiliano Allegri. “If I can’t be a protagonist with Milan, then I’ll go elsewhere” in January.
The 37-year-old striker has been left off the Champions League list and has barely set foot on the field in Serie A this season despite recovering from a knee ligament injury.
SuperPippo played 93 minutes with the Rossoneri youth team today to prove his fitness.
“I really wanted to play the whole match, as I haven’t done that in probably over a year,” he told MilanNews.
“I am happy and it was tough, but the most important thing was to get some fuel in the engine. I preferred to play with the youth team, as a competitive match is different to a training session.
“I train hard and try to ensure I am ready. I am relaxed and very hungry to get back to the top level, because I still enjoy my football. Playing makes me feel happy.
“Today it felt like going back to 20 years ago when I was at Piacenza, going to college and eating in the lunch hall. I even went to a pre-match training camp, because that’s what I’m like. I want to feel useful.
“My dream is to end my career at Milan and that could well happen, but we have to see if they still need me,” continued Inzaghi.
“I want to continue as long as I feel important. I would hate for others to tell me to stop, as I want it to be my decision. We’ll see what happens in the next two months, because I want to be a protagonist.
“If I can’t do it at Milan, then I can try to achieve that elsewhere. As I said, my dream is to end my career with Milan, but we have to see if they still need me.”
Milan’s search for a new striker is taking them to Chelsea, as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are reportedly in their sights.
The club need a replacement for Antonio Cassano, who is out for around six months following heart surgery and a mini-stroke.
According to today’s newspapers in Italy, the hot favourites are Chelsea teammates Drogba and Anelka.
“Maxi Lopez is one of the main candidates, but it will cost them to take him away from Catania,” agent Claudio Pasqualin told Radio Sportiva.
“Milan also have to decide whether they want a number 10 or an 11, as in the latter case Adrian Mutu of Cesena would be dropped from the list.
“It’s a real puzzle, though at this moment I think the most likely transfer operation to go through is the one for Drogba, whose contract is set to expire with Chelsea, so he is cheaper than Marco Borriello.”
Ivory Coast international Drogba also has the advantage that he could be used in the Champions League from February, as he has not yet played for Chelsea in the competition this season.
Anelka would be cup-tied, though he is also coming to the end of his current deal at Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, newspapers continue to link the Rossoneri with a summer bid for Ajax midfield talent Christian Eriksen.
Milan star Kevin-Prince Boateng has been nominated for the African Player of the Year Award.
The nod comes just days after Boateng announced he would retire from international duty with Ghana at the age of 24.
Prince is one of 10 nominees for the trophy, won last year by former Inter striker Samuel Eto’o.
Naturally Eto’o, now at Anzhi, is on the list again with Adel Taarabt (Queen’s Park Rangers/Morocco), Andre Ayew (Olympique Marseille/Ghana), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain/Ghana), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, Ivory Coast), Moussa Sow (Lille/Senegal), Seydou Keita (Barcelona/Mali), Gervinho (Arsenal/Ivory Coast) and Yaya Toure (Manchester City/Ivory Coast).
The winner will be decided by a vote of Africa's national team Coaches and announced at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana, on December 22.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography covers the Calciopoli scandal, Luciano Moggi in tears and the battle to “break down Inter’s clans.”
The Milan striker is going to release his book, titled ‘Io Ibra’ on Friday, but the Gazzetta dello Sport has leaked some intriguing excerpts about the 2006 Calciopoli trial.
“It was all rubbish, at least most of it,” wrote the Swede. “Referees did us favours? Oh come on! We fought hard on the pitch. We risked our legs and did it all without having any help from referees. It’s all a load of crap.”
The scandal centred around wiretapped phone calls made by Bianconeri director general Moggi and Ibrahimovic reveals what happened in a crisis meeting to discuss the situation with the squad.
“He started crying, right there, in front of all of us. It was like a punch in the stomach. I had never seen him weak before. This man always irradiated a sense of power and strength. Now, suddenly, I felt compassion for him.
“The first time I met Moggi, he was wearing a very elegant suit and fiddling with a large cigar. You could understand straight away this was a powerful man.”
Ibra left Juventus when they were demoted to Serie B during the scandal in 2006 and joined their rivals Inter, but found problems here too with Brazilians against Argentines.
“The real challenge at Inter was breaking down the cliques. I hated them from the first day. All teams perform much better when there is cohesion in the ranks. It was the opposite at Inter.
“I went straight to President Massimo Moratti and told him we had to break down these damn clans. We cannot win if the locker room is not united.”
Van Bommel considers AC Milan exit 8.11 ||webmaster
Antonio Cassano has written a letter expressing his gratitude for the support he has received in the last few days.
After falling ill on the return journey from Milan's Week 10 game away at Roma, the forward was diagnosed with a minor congenital heart problem that he has since undergone surgery to cure. Since his admittance to hospital, the striker has received many visitors and messages offering support.
Published on Milan's official website, the striker has thanked everyone and promised a speedy return to action. It is unclear if the player will be back in time for the end of the season.
“Dear friends, I just wanted to express my gratitude, on behalf of myself and my family, for the well wishes that have poured in over the last few days.
“Whatever sadness or difficulty I felt was soon replaced by the show of affection from people all over the world. The President, Silvio Berlusconi, Adriano Galliani, Massimiliano Allegri, the doctors Tavana and Mazzoni, all the staff, my team mates and everyone involved at Milan have constantly been close to me.
“Thanks to them and the doctors who have taken care of me I was able to face this strange 'injury' with courage.
“I would like to send out a hug to all those who have shown their support and made me feel important by coming to the Policlinico of Milan or through the numerous messages sent to me.
“I would like to dedicate a huge thank you to all the people at Real Madrid, particularly the President Florentino Perez and the Coach Josè Mourinho."
Real Madrid's players wore 'Forza Cassano' t-shirts before their weekend game with Osasuna as a message of support for the former Merengues striker.
“Now I will rest as much as possible at home and will be glued to the television when Milan are playing, or when Italy are playing. Also I will be following the developments in Genoa, a city that remains in my heart and that I know will soon recover from problems of recent days.
“I will do the same and I promise that I will be back on the pitch as soon as possible.”
AC Milan are Scudetto favourites again 7.11 ||webmaster
Ignazio Abate, Mario Balotelli and Alessandro Matri are called for Italy’s friendlies against Poland and Uruguay. “I’ll wait for Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi.”
The Azzurri have already qualified for Euro 2012 and therefore have two international tests, which are particularly important with Cassano and Rossi out for six months.
“I visited Cassano in hospital and he was doing well with real hunger to get back on the field, which is a good sign,” said Cesare Prandelli on Stadio Sprint.
“Unfortunately we have lost two important players like Antonio and Giuseppe, but I’ll wait for them. In the meantime, we have to evaluate some other options, so these friendlies have come at the right time.
“The plan was to put Balotelli between those two, as we are really counting on him. I’ve called up Abate, who is in great shape for Milan, but he has to prove he deserves the Nazionale by performing consistently.”
Juventus duo Matri and Simone Pepe also return to the squad, but there is no call for top scorer Antonio Di Natale or Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti.
Italy will take on Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland in Wroclaw on Friday November 11 and then welcome Copa America winners Uruguay to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Tuesday November 15.
Scorers: Ibrahimovic pen 7 (M), Robinho 23 (M), Lodi og 68 (M), Zambrotta 74 (M)
Milan made short work of Catania with this four-star performance, in which Robinho scored one and a half goals.
The Rossoneri played their first game since it became clear Antonio Cassano had suffered a mini-stroke last week. He was sent home this weekend after surgery to resolve a congenital heart defect and should be out for six months.
Also missing this match were Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Alexandre Pato, Philippe Mexes, Mathieu Flamini and suspended duo Kevin-Prince Boateng and Antonio Nocerino. Catania were fresh from giant-killing exploits to beat Inter and Napoli, though their away record was not as strong as in Sicily.
Milan came out fighting and scored after seven minutes. Davide Lanzafame clattered into the back of Robinho for a clear penalty, which Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted. It was the first spot-kick given in favour of the Rossoneri this season.
Catania also wanted a penalty for Gianluca Zambrotta's handling offence, but the Lanzafame cross struck his trailing arm that was behind his back.
Gonzalo Bergessio got on the end of a Francesco Lodi free kick from seven yards, but under pressure he couldn't quite prod it into the net.
However, Milan resumed their push and doubled their lead with a wonderful Robinho solo effort. The Brazilian got down the left, skipped past Bellusci's tackle and curled a marvellous finish across Mariano Andujar in off the far post.
It was nearly 3-0 moments later, as Clarence Seedorf ran on to an Ibrahimovic through ball only for Andujar to rush out and smother at his feet.
Another Robinho angled drive was off target, while he provided an assist for Seedorf to horribly scuff wide. Alberto Aquilani tried from distance and was not far off the bar.
Massimo Ambrosini's header from a set play was fumbled off the line by Andujar under pressure.
Christian Abbiati complained he had been fouled by Gonzalo Bergessio, but got the shot away and Daniele Bonera had to clear off the line.
In first half stoppages, Andujar again had to rush off his line to smother at Robinho's feet.
After the restart Gomez saw his cross-shot clip the crossbar, but Milan made it 3-0 in chaotic circumstances. Ibra's through ball sent Robinho down the left and his angled drive was going in off Andujar's leg, but Lodi accidentally turned it into his own net from a yard while trying to anticipate Seedorf.
Gianluca Zambrotta definitely got the fourth, as Andujar only parried Aquilani's free kick into the veteran's path for an easy tap-in.
Pippo Inzaghi was given a standing ovation by San Siro after a month in which he was not even on the bench. SuperPippo almost scored with his first opportunity, springing the offside trap from an Ibra through ball, but his angled drive was denied by an outstretched Andujar trailing leg.
Antonio Cassano is “happy and relaxed” following heart surgery, said FIGC Vice-President Demetrio Albertini after his visit.
The Milan and Italy star has been in hospital for a week after he suffered a form of mini-stroke on the plane back from Rome last Saturday.
It was caused by a small hole between the two atriums in his heart and on Friday morning he underwent surgery to block the gap with a small umbrella, though he could be back on the field in six months.
“Antonio is happy and relaxed,” revealed FIGC Vice-President Albertini this evening.
“The medics were in the hospital room as well. The most important thing is his health and Antonio says that too. He was amazed by all the messages he has received.
“Antonio will only need 15-20 days of complete rest, then he can even start running, if he wants to.”
Cassano will need to be on anti-coagulant drugs for six months to ensure the ‘umbrella’ settles into the heart and does not prompt any blood clots.
There are reports that the player asked for fries and bruschetta for lunch today.
Massimiliano Allegri warns Milan not to let the momentum slip against Catania, even though they are distracted by Antonio Cassano’s surgery.
The Rossoneri are on a roll of four consecutive Serie A victories, but they were held to a 1-1 draw by BATE Borisov midweek and saw Cassano suffer a mini-stroke on the plane back from the Roma game.
“The important thing is that the operation went well and the medics say there is real confidence he can return in four to six months,” noted the Coach after Friday’s surgery to plug a small hole in Cassano’s heart.
“We hope to have him back as soon as possible. He was in my view having the best season of his career.”
Kevin-Prince Boateng and Antonio Nocerino are suspended for Sunday’s game with Catania, joining the injured Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Philippe Mexes.
“It is going to be a very difficult game, as Catania are in excellent form. A team that picks up points against almost all the top clubs has to be respected.
“Over the past month we have been able to qualify for the Champions League knockouts and climb back up the Serie A table. Tomorrow is the last push before the break for international duty.
“The most important thing is understanding just how difficult this match is,” continued Allegri. “What counts is the victory and to achieve it we need everyone to work hard against a side that is very dangerous on the counter.
“We are a great team, but have to win against BATE Borisov, which on Tuesday we didn’t do. Milan must boost their self-belief.”
Allegri hinted he could use Urby Emanuelson as a trequartista behind Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Catania have made their name as giant-killers this season, but Vincenzo Montella warns “people act as if we’re the favourites against Milan.”
The Elefantini have beaten Inter and Napoli in recent weeks, while they also took points off Juventus and Lazio.
“It seems to me as if some have forgotten tomorrow we’re facing the reigning champions of Italy,” said the Coach.
“Over the last few days I’ve heard people act as if we’re the favourites against Milan. It makes me smile, but at the same time we all have to be concentrated and keep our feet on the ground. We can’t have any arrogance in thinking this could be an easy game for us.”
The Rossoneri do certainly have problems at San Siro, missing the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alessandro Nesta, Antonio Nocerino, Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano.
“It’s still 11 players on the field and, despite the absentees, Milan will have a world class line-up. I wish Cassano a speedy recovery, but if he is out then Robinho steps in. If Nocerino is suspended, then Clarence Seedorf comes back.
“Plus they have Thiago Silva, who I don’t think has any weak points. He is so strong in the air, when sprinting and knows how to start attacking moves. He is the perfect defender.”
Catania must also do without some of their stars, as Mariano Izco is unavailable, though Maxi Lopez is again likely to start from the bench.
“If we had faced a team on our level, I won’t deny we might’ve felt a slight drop in concentration levels, but facing Milan at San Siro fires up the team automatically. There’s no need for me to motivate them.”
Antonio Cassano’s cerebral damage “should disappear” with time after he underwent heart surgery, said the chief neurologist.
The Milan player was under local anaesthetic on Friday morning when doctors inserted a ‘Pfo occluder’ to plug a small hole between the atriums of his heart, which had caused the ischemic attack last Saturday.
“In my experience, this situation tends to have a positive evolution and the lesion will disappear a little at a time,” explained neurologist Nereo Bresolin.
“I hope to send Cassano home on Sunday. The patient can generally begin sporting activity after six months.”
Professor Mario Carminati performed the surgery and revealed more about the procedure.
“It went very well and there were no problems. We went in through the femoral artery and reached up to inside the heart, where we positioned the occluder, which is like a small umbrella that closes the anomalous communication between the two atriums.
“Cassano’s heart defect is present in a high percentage of the population, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs it to be closed. The indication for this procedure is above all in young people with no apparent risk factors who suffer a cerebral ischemic attack.
“The post-procedural therapy simply means going back to normal life and taking anti-coagulant medication for six months.”
Milan are without the recovering Antonio Cassano and several other key players for the visit of giant killers Catania.
It’s been a trying week for the Rossoneri. They’ve had an anxious wait for the results of tests carried out on Cassano, who has been hospital bound ever since falling ill on the flight home from Rome last Saturday.
That wait ended on Wednesday and it was relatively good news. Although the striker underwent heart surgery, his condition is not as grave as first thought and he should be fit to resume playing next year.
His absence, combined with the suspensions incurred by recent hat-trick heroes Kevin Prince Boateng and Antonio Nocerino, means that the champions will face Catania without the players responsible for eight of the last 14 goals they’ve scored in Serie A.
Massimiliano Allegri is expected to call upon veterans Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini to fill the gaps in his midfield, as the Diavolo go in search of their fifth consecutive League win.
Vincenzo Montella’s Catania have been the surprise package of the season so far. The Sicilians are 6th with 14 points and a win on Sunday could draw them level with 4th placed Milan. Having already avoided defeat against Juventus, Inter, Lazio and Napoli, Gli Elefanti are aiming to complete a set of shock results against Serie A’s biggest clubs.
Montella was a slightly left field choice for the job given his youth and experience, but his bold decisions, such as ditching the 4-3-3 system in favour of a 5-3-2 and benching star man Maxi Lopez, have paid off so far. Most significantly of all, the 37-year-old appears to have removed the psychological complex that afflicted Catania away from home last season.
Rino Gattuso, Philippe Mexes, Alexandre Pato and Matthieu Flamini are Milan’s other absentees. Catania’s injured include Cristian Llama, David Suazo, Marco Biagianti, Pablo Ledesma, Pablo Alvarez and Mariano Izco.
Keep an eye on: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan) – Ibracadabra has four goals in his last three games for Milan, and is also on blistering form in the pages of his new autobiography it would seem. An excerpt from the book was published in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Thursday and caused a sensation, revealing all the explosive details of his dressing room conflict with Pep Guardiola in Barcelona.
Last five in Serie A: Milan (L W W W W) Catania (D W D D W)
Last season: Milan 1-1 Catania
Stat fact: Catania have lost only one of their last five visits to Milan, escaping from San Siro with three draws and a win in the 2007-08 Coppa Italia last 16.
Milan (probable): Abbiati; Abate, Thiago Silva, Nesta, Zambrotta; Aquilani, Van Bommel, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Ibrahimovic, Robinho
Stephan El Shaarawy’s agent feels Milan already have the man to fill in for Antonio Cassano. “It’s a great opportunity for him.”
The ‘Little Pharaoh’ was expected to go out on loan in January after failing to earn much playing time at San Siro since his move from Genoa.
However, with Cassano out for at least six months due to heart surgery, Coach Massimiliano Allegri could well turn to El Shaarawy.
“This is the right moment for Stephan. He has to prove he is ready in training and show the Coach he can be used in Serie A,” agent Roberto La Florio told Itasportpress.
“El Shaarawy has the tricks and the quality to play in Milan’s starting XI during this difficult time. He is talented, but also lucky, seeing as he scored on his debut.
“It is an important opportunity for him and he mustn’t let it get away. After all, the club has faith in him and the reports he’ll be loaned out in January do not seem accurate to me. No Milan director has ever told me he’ll leave mid-season.
“It’s a shame for Cassano, of course, but this does open up an interesting avenue for Stephan and he has to make the most of it.”
El Shaarawy and Pippo Inzaghi were left off the UEFA list, so cannot take part in the Champions League until February.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn't held back in his forthcoming autobiography, with serialised quotes emerging this week detailing his rift with Pep Guardiola.
Ibra spent the 2009-10 campaign at Barcelona working with the young Coach before returning to Italy in a move to Milan.
The striker has since regularly vocalised his issues with Guardiola and has now put them into writing in the form of his upcoming autobiographical offering.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet ran the opening chapter in which Ibra reflects upon his unhappy spell in Spain and how he accused Guardiola of being afraid of Jose Mourinho, at that time in charge of Inter.
“It was a childhood dream to join Barcelona and I was walking on air. It started well but then Messi started to talk.
“He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed.
“So I asked for a meeting with Guardiola - for a discussion, not an argument. I said I was being used in the wrong way and that they shouldn't have bought me if they wanted another type of player.
“I told him what a friend had said to me - 'you bought a Ferrari but drive it like a Fiat'. The chat seemed to go well but then Guardiola started to freeze me out.
“I would walk into a room; he would leave. He would greet everyone by saying hello, but would ignore me.
“I had done a lot to adapt - the Barca players were like schoolboys, following the Coach blindly, whereas I was used to asking 'why?'.
“I like guys who run red lights, not pedantic and strict rules. So I tried to be overly nice, didn't dare lose my temper.
“But after this I stopped trying to adapt. For example, at Barca, players were banned from driving their sports cars to training.
“I thought this was ridiculous - it was no-one's business what car I drive - so in April, before a match with Almeria, I drove my Ferrari Enzo to work. It caused a scene.”
Ibrahimovic's account continues, translated via Eurosport, as he reveals his worsening behaviour when it became clear that he would be on his way out of the Catalan club.
The below except is in relation to an incident Ibra alleges took place after Barcelona's 4-1 win away to Villarreal on May 1, 2010. It was the first game after the club's Champions League semi-final exit to Mourinho's Inter.
“Pep was staring at me and I lost it. I thought 'there is my enemy, scratching his bald head'. I yelled to him: 'you have no balls!' And probably worse things than that.
“I added: 'You are s***ing yourself because of Mourinho. You can go to hell!' I was completely mad.
“I threw a box full of training gear across the room, it crashed to the floor and Pep said nothing, just put stuff back in the box.
“I'm not violent, but if I were Guardiola I would have been frightened.”
Pato 'to return after international break' 3.11 ||webmaster
Alexandre Pato has confirmed he is recovered from injury, but won't be playing for Milan until after the international break.
Pato has missed the last few weeks of action with a thigh strain, but where he confirmed on Thursday of his return to fitness, the Brazilian has stated that Sunday's clash with Catania has come too soon.
“When I was hurt I also spoke with the doctor of the Brazilian national team and he confirmed this injury would need four to six weeks.
“Six weeks have just passed, I am ready, but it is impossible to play against Catania because I have not trained with the team. I will be back after the [international] break.”
Pato denied that the San Siro pitch was to blame for his continued problems and confirmed that he is determined to maintain his fitness when he returns.
“I have to work much more on the hamstrings with exercises in the gym and on sand. I do not know if I'll get more injuries but I will try to play as many games as possible.
“After each injury I come back even stronger because it is hard to go to the stadium to watch the team from the stands.”
Antonio Cassano will need minor surgery to correct a congenital heart problem, Milan have confirmed.
The Italian has been in hospital since Saturday night after developing problems with his speech, movement and vision on the flight home following the 3-2 win at Roma.
The 29-year-old has undergone a series of tests this week which have eventually found the cause of the problem.
Cassano suffered an ischemic attack which was triggered by a restriction of blood supply to his brain, caused by a slight perforation in the heart, but fortunately without any lasting damage.
“Antonio Cassano has experienced ischemic cerebral damage,” a club statement read. “The player will undergo surgery in the next few days and is expected to be out of action for the next few months.
“The instrumental and neuroradiological examinations required 72 hours for their course and have highlighted the problem in the circumscribed area of the brain that did not result in persistent neurological deficits.
“The cause was identified as the presence of a patent foramen ovale septal heart, detectable only with sophisticated specialized investigations.
“The timing of therapy established has allowed a rapid recovery and improvement of clinical conditions that are good.
“In the coming days the player will undergo a small surgical interventional cardiology (closure of the foramen ovale).
“The recovery time for return to playing will be better defined after the surgery, but probably will be a few months.
“Milan gratefully acknowledges the facilities of the Polyclinic of Milan for what they are doing with great promptness and professionalism.”
Massimo Ambrosini and Alberto Aquilani are not happy at picking up a point in Minsk. “It’s a shame, we should’ve won.”
Milan had been leading 1-0 at half-time through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but were held 1-1 by BATE Borisov after a soft penalty.
“I don’t know if it was a penalty or not, but the fact remains we should’ve finished off the game with a second goal,” said Ambrosini.
“At international level it can happen that they catch you up. It’s certainly a shame, as we had so many chances to make it 2-0.
“Now we’ll have to battle for first place with Barcelona, even though it looks as if we’d have to beat them at San Siro to make that happen now. We also wanted to dedicate a victory to Antonio Cassano, but we have been reassured as to his condition.”
Aquilani was naturally also asked about Cassano, who is in hospital with a mystery illness.
“I talked to Antonio via text message and he told me he’s relaxed. I’ve known him for many, many years and he often helped me out. I care for him and this news shocked all of us, so we can’t wait to hug him,” said the former Roma man.
“We wanted to come here and get the three points, but instead we didn’t finish off the game despite a well-played first half and bring back an unconvincing point.
“It felt as if we switched off after conceding the goal, BATE gained confidence and that prompted the result. If Barcelona win tonight, then we’re practically qualified, so we can focus on finishing first later on.”
Allegri: 'AC Milan paid the price' 1.11 ||webmaster
Milan rue wasting first half chances, as a soft penalty wiped out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal for a 1-1 draw with BATE Borisov.
The Rossoneri hoped to maintain their strong Serie A and European form, although Antonio Cassano was in hospital after being struck by a mystery illness on Saturday evening. He joined absentees Alexandre Pato, Luca Antonini, Philippe Mexes, Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini, while Pippo Inzaghi and Stephan El Shaarawy were off the UEFA list. BATE Borisov were looking for their first win of the campaign, as they had one point so far in Group H. The Belarus side play all their European home games in Minsk, as their stadium does not meet UEFA codes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the first chance after five minutes, as with a give-and-go with Robinho on the outside edge of the box he curled towards the far top corner, forcing Gutor into a save. At the other end, Christian Abbiati smothered a Skavysh solo effort.
Robinho was flagged offside when clear on goal in a dubious decision. Alberto Aquilani had a double opportunity, as his header was charged down in the box and he got on the rebound from six yards for a shot deflected wide.
Ibra's snapshot stung Gutor's gloves from distance, then the Swede aimed a fierce free kick at the goalkeeper too.
Ibrahimovic was testing the BATE goalkeeper several times and he broke the deadlock. The move started from Milan's final third, but they went on the counter and Robinho crossed from the right for Ibra to fire low from eight yards.
There was a sweet gesture during the celebrations, as Boateng revealed he had Antonio Cassano's shirt under his own.
Moments later BATE threatened an equaliser, as Abbiati flew to fingertip a dangerous Skavysh header out from under the crossbar.
Another Rossoneri counter was stopped due to an incorrect offside flag, while Robinho's sudden dipping strike from distance was flapped over the bar.
Bressan burst through the middle of the Milan defence and felt he was blocked off by Thiago Silva, but the referee waved play on, as it looked as if he had already lost possession. Radkov got in front of Thiago Silva to fire off target on a cross from the right.
Robinho should've scored on 39 minutes, as he went on a blistering run through the centre starting from the centre-circle, dribbled round the goalkeeper, but then the angle was too narrow and he hit the outside post of an empty net.
After the restart BATE threatened with Baga's half-volley saved by Abbiati from a Bordachev cross. Robinho ran on to a Boateng through ball down the left and his swerving shot towards the far post was well beaten away.
However, Kontsevoi burst into the box from the left and fell under a nudge when shoulder-to-shoulder with Ignazio Abate, but replays suggest it was a very soft penalty. Renan Bressan stepped up and slotted low into the near bottom corner despite Abbiati guessing the right corner.
The equaliser really fired up the home side, who began to pour forward in waves and Abbiati had to parry a fierce Baga strike at the near stick. Moments later Skavysh trapped a cross and was pulling the trigger when Taiwo blocked him off.
Massimo Ambrosini won back possession in midfield and set up Ibrahimovic to test Gutor from close range. More bad news for the Rossoneri, as Alessandro Nesta pulled up with a muscular problem and made way for Daniele Bonera.
Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic both jumped for a free kick, causing each other problems to nod wide.
Milan had a great chance on 76 minutes, as Boateng sprung the offside trap and had his first shot charged down by the goalkeeper, then the follow-up denied by a desperate Simic goalline clearance.
Boateng jumped above the crowd to nod a Robinho cross wide, while Skavysh fired over when he should've set up one of his teammates in more promising positions.
Massimiliano Allegri threw on Simone Marco Ganz, the son of ex-Milan striker Maurizio Ganz, in place of Robinho for some fresh legs in attack. Taiwo tried a couple of audacious and entirely unnecessary long-range attempts.
BATE threatened a late winner with a classic counter-attack aided by Bonera's slip, but the Skavysh strike stung Abbiati's palms at the near post.