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The Archive

April 2002

Pirlo prays for Inter defeat
30.4 || scharatz

Andrea Pirlo has held his Milan credentials high by admitting he hopes that Inter lose the Scudetto on the last day of the season.

The former Nerazzurri starlet spent more time on the bench than on the field and admits he has nothing but bitter memories of the club.

“I really hope that Inter don’t win this,” said the Under-21 international in today’s press conference. “I don’t care if Juventus or Roma take the title, but the important thing is that it’s not Inter.”

“They never had any faith in me,” explains Pirlo, “so it is right that I changed teams. I am the one who decided to leave and I had the good fortune to end up at Milan.”

The midfielder – once tipped to be the next Roberto Baggio – left last summer in a surprise £15m deal.

For the first few months his career appeared to be heading in the same direction, but with Manuel Rui Costa’s continuing injury problems Pirlo found himself an integral part of the team.

“Since the first day at Milan,” explained the 23-year-old, “I decided to give everything as this could be the turning point in my career, the right team to hit the heights.”

“When I wore the Nerazzurri jersey I didn’t feel any faith in my abilities. Now I trust my own talents and have matured thanks to my teammates and this club. I hope one day to become a leader for Milan.”

Inter had signed the youngster in 1998 from Brescia, only to send him out on loan to Reggina a year later. Even the arrival of his former Under-21 Coach and mentor Marco Tardelli did not find him space at the club.

Now it is hoped that he can stay part of the Milan starting eleven even when Manuel Rui Costa returns to full fitness.

“I think that it is possible to co-exist with Rui. I have proved that I can play in midfield as well as behind the front two. Sacrificing myself for the team is not a problem for me.”

His winning goal at Verona last week – keeping his cool to dribble round the goalkeeper – could prove decisive in Milan’s attempts to qualify for the Champions’ League.

A victory against Lecce at the San Siro – and Bologna’s failure to beat Brescia away – would automatically assure them of fourth place.

“Lecce won’t do us any favours just because they are already relegated,” warns Pirlo, “but our motivation is certainly stronger. The Champions’ League is within our grasp and we don’t want to mess it up.”

Serie A: Final day scenarios
30.4 || scharatz

With just 90 minutes of the season left there are still a host of scores to settle. Here is outlined what results teams need to complete their objectives.


Inter win the title if:
- They win against Lazio
- They draw with Lazio while Juventus and Roma both fail to win
- They lose against Lazio while Juve lose and Roma fail to win

Juventus win the title if:
- They beat Udinese and Inter fail to win against Lazio

Roma win the title if:
-They beat Torino, while Inter lose and Juve fail to win

Inter-Juventus Scudetto play-off if:
- Inter lose to Lazio, Juventus draw and Roma fail to win

Inter-Roma Scudetto play-off if:
-Inter draw, Roma win while Juventus fail to win


Milan qualify if:
- They beat Lecce while Bologna fail to win
- They draw with Lecce, Bologna lose and Chievo and Lazio both fail to win

Milan play-off with Bologna if:
- Milan win and Bologna win
- They draw with Lecce, Bologna draw and Chievo don’t win

Milan play-off with Lazio if:
- They draw with Lecce, Bologna lose, Chievo fail to win and Lazio beat Inter

Bologna qualify if:
-They beat Brescia and Milan don’t win against Lecce
-They draw with Brescia, Milan lose and Chievo and Lazio fail to win

Bologna play-off with Lazio if:
- They draw with Brescia, Milan lose, Chievo fail to win and Lazio beat Inter

Chievo qualify if:
- They beat Atalanta and both Milan and Bologna fail to win

Lazio qualify if:
- They beat Inter, while Milan and Bologna lose, while Chievo all fail to win


(Udinese safe because of better record v relegation rivals)

Verona survive if:
- They don’t lose to Piacenza (Verona have better record v rivals)
- They lose to Piacenza but Brescia fail to win

Piacenza survive if:
- They beat Verona
- They draw with Verona and Brescia don’t win
- They lose and Brescia don’t win

Brescia survive if:
- They beat Bologna and either Piacenza or Verona lose

Brescia-Piacenza play-off if:
- Brescia win and Piacenza draw

Kaladze - We can hold on
30.4 || scharatz

Milan's Khaka Kaladze is hoping a victory over Lecce on Sunday will see his team hold on to the fourth spot, and a Champions League berth.
The Georgian defender said: "I would really love to play in the Champions League next year.

"I'm very happy with the victory over Verona but most of all, I'm happy because the whole team played well.

"Now we must focus on the match with Lecce, a game we've got to win.

"I think that the management's idea of selling the tickets for this match half-price is very good. We need our fans."

Vice president Adriano Galliani believes that now that his team has finally managed to get back into the fourth spot, they must not make the mistake of squandering this big opportunity.

He said: "For the first time this season we are in control of our future and we do know that it is only up to us to secure the fourth spot.

"Finally we don't have to look ahead of us to try to catch up with some other team."

Galliani believes that if the team had stayed fit this season, they would have been in the title race. He adds: "This has been a terrible season for us with all of our best players from Rui Costa to Paolo Maldini and Filippo Inzaghi suffering long-term injuries.

"Rui Costa, in particular has skipped more games this season than he did in all of his previous seven years in Italy.

"Therefore finishing the season with a Champions League berth would give us incredible satisfaction."

Laursen quashes World Cup fears
29.4 || scharatz

Denmark centre-half Martin Laursen will not miss the World Cup, despite suffering an ankle injury playing for AC Milan against Verona on Sunday. "The injury is not as bad as I first feared," he confirmed.

Laursen underwent a medical examination on his left ankle, but no serious damage was revealed.

"I expect to be back in training in a fortnight, but I have probably played my last Serie A game this season," admitted the Dane.

AC Milan take on relegated Lecce next Sunday, hoping to hang-on to the fourth Champions League qualification spot.

Laursen will almost definitely miss this game, and has made Denmark's World Cup training camp in two weeks' time a more realistic target.

"The accident happened as I cleared a ball out of defense, and I initially feared I had broken my ankle.

"However, closer examination shows there is no break, and so I now hope to join up with the Danish camp in two-weeks time."

Laursen joined AC Milan for £5 million in the summer of 2001 from Verona, where he was on loan from struggling Parma.

The strapping Dane has since established himself in the Rossoneri defensive line, and will be an invaluable member of Morten Olsen's Danish World Cup squad.

Verona 1- 2 Milan - match report
28.4 || webmaster

Scorers: Mutu 27 (V), Inzaghi 65 (M), Pirlo 78 (M)

Milan have bad memories of this stadium as a defeat once cost them the Scudetto on the last day of the season. Since that day the city has become known as 'Il Fatal Verona'.

Filippo Inzaghi wasted two early opportunities, but it was Verona who had the best chances. Defensive errors allowed Mario Frick and Mauro Camoranesi to go extremely close to breaking the deadlock, but the Rossoneri scrambled them away.

The defence could do absolutely nothing on Adrian Mutu's strike as the Romanian rifled in a magnificent effort from a good 25 metres. Christian Abbiati had no chance of stopping this powerful and accurate shot.

Milan were a constant danger from set-pieces but while Andrea Pirlo thumped the near post, Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko failed to turn in the loose ball.

Soon after Fabrizio Ferron flew to slap another Inzaghi effort out of the top corner.

However, at the dawn of the second half Cassetta clearly tripped Kakha Kaladze for a spot-kick. Serginho stepped up, but his penalty thumped the near post.

Milan continued to pour forward and Inzaghi beat the 'keeper but not Dainelli, who cleared off the line. Superpippo Inzaghi eventually broke through with a counter-attack. Both the former Juve man and Shevchenko were onside and able to draw level.

This was an extremely tense encounter and a scuffle broke out in midfield following a vicious challenge on Jose Mari.

Moments later Milan took the lead when Pirlo dribbled round the 'keeper and slotted in what could be a decisive goal for their Champions' League campaign.

Verona: Ferron; Cannavaro, Zanchi, Dainelli; Cassetti, Italiano (Mazzola 77), L Colucci, Seric (Adailton 89); Camoranesi, Frick (M Cossato 68), Mutu

Milan: Abbiati; Chamot, Laursen (Helveg 34), Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso (Contra 58), Ambrosini, Serginho; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Ref: Farina

Missed pen: Serginho 49 (M)

Ancelotti keeps the faith
28.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti continues to hold out hope that Milan can finish fourth and therefore qualify for the Champions’ League.

“If we take six points from these last two games then we have a good chance of finishing fourth,” assures the Coach, “especially as our rivals for that position have a much tougher fixture list.”

Chievo, who currently hold the hallowed fourth spot, travel to Roma and welcome Atalanta.

Bologna and Lazio clash this afternoon, while the Rossoblu will take on Roby Baggio’s Brescia away for the final match.

The Biancocelesti will face title-chasing Inter next week.

“We are in excellent condition,” continues Ancelotti, “and I am not worried about our recent goalscoring problems. Andriy Shevchenko is getting back to his old self and when you play this well the goals will come eventually.”

This afternoon the Rossoneri travel to the Stadio Bentegodi against a team that has become known as ‘Il Fatal Verona’ for this side. Milan lost a Scudetto on the last day of the season here and have suffered numerous upsets.

“Verona has always been lucky for me,” insists Ancelotti. “I achieved promotion into Serie A in this Stadium when I was in charge of Reggina, then was assured of a Champions’ League spot with Parma. Milan have other memories of this place, but those don’t matter now.”

“We have been playing well for almost two months now and only made a huge mistake in the 4-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund.”

“The real regret of this season,” concludes the Coach, “are the points we dropped on home turf. There was a period in which we just couldn’t seem to win at the San Siro and those are the points standing between us and the Champions’ League.”

Maldini targets top four
26.4 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini believes that a Champions League place is still within Milan's grasp and he is keen to avoid the Intertoto Cup route into Europe.
The Milan skipper believes that his team have performed well lately even though they have collected very little in terms of points.

"I know that scoring one goal only in the last three game isn't much, but we played against Chievo, Juve and Roma who do have the best defences in the Serie A," he said.

"The problem is that you only make a difference if you keep on playing well continuously and for a series of reason we have been unable to do so this year."

Maldini, however, says he is conscious that at this point his team may not qualify for a Champions League berth and may even end up having to play the dreaded Intertoto Cup.

Nevertheless, he believes that by winning the last two games of the season, they could still end up in fourth place.

"The risk of having to play in the Intertoto Cup is very real, but we also still have the chance to finish the season in fourth place. There are four clubs vying for one spot and with six points in the last two games we could still make it."

Maldini also talked about the club's future, stating that even if no big changes are necessary, the Rossoneri should start trying to sign talented players before they become too expensive.

"I don't think we'll need a revolution, but in order to stay at the top we need to make some financial sacrifices. That's a must," he said.

"We've got to learn that we can't wait too long because otherwise other sides will get the best players on the market.

"Of course we've got to let our youth team grow and look for talents in the Serie B but for a club that aims at the top it is also necessary to sign players of a certain prestige."

Milan join Tristan chase
26.4 || scharatz

Deportivo La Coruna hitman Diego Tristan is top of the wanted lists of AS Roma, Juventus and AC Milan, according to his agent Paco Duran.
The recent injury to Tristan has not prevented his name being linked with a string of clubs, whose front-runners are now reported to be the trio of Italian giants.

The interest in Tristan from Fabio Capello's Roma - to replace the ageing Gabriel Batistuta - has been an open secret for some time, but now the Scudetto holders have been joined by two of their Serie A rivals.

"I think AS Roma, Juventus and AC Milan are the teams bidding for him," Tristan's agent Duran told Spanish sports daily AS.

The rumours of interest from La Vecchia Signora are substantiated by reports in Italian paper Tuttosport, which announced on Thursday that "La Juve wants Tristan", adding that Moggi, the Turin club's general director, is in the process of arranging contacts with Depor chairman Augusto Cesar Lendoiro.

The player's agent told AS that although he had received "no official contact", there had been "enquiries through third parties".

He said that the interest began "after Tristan had such a good game against Juventus", referring to the Champions League second phase fixtures when Tristan scored in Depor's 2-0 win at the Riazor.

Duran added that "Roma are clearly still interested, and even Arsenal may make a move".

However, Deportivo are almost certain to use the 19-goal striker's contractual terms as a bargaining counter.

The club will refer interested parties to his buy-out clause - a form of armour-plating designed to protect against the tentacles of Real Madrid and Barcelona - which currently stands at £45million, and rises to the absurd figure of £75million on June 30.

AC Milan Plan Wholesale Changes In Attack
26.4 || scharatz

According to reports from Italy, AC Milan appear to be making wholesale changes to their attack for the 2002-03 season. While VP Adriano Galliani has confirmed that Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi, Rui Costa & Andrea Pirlo will remain at the club next season, the same cannot be said about Milan's remaining strikers. It now appears that Milan are ready to offload Javi Moreno, José Mari and possibly Marco Simone and bring Jon Dahl Tomasson and Simone Inzaghi to the San Siro.

As Soccerage reported earlier this week, Milan have signed Tomasson on a free transfer from UEFA Cup finalists, Feyenoord in a bid to replace the disappointing Javi Moreno who has all but been sold to Athletico Madrid. Simone Inzaghi has reportedly been acquired from SS Lazio after failing to nail down a starting spot ahead of Hernan Crespo and Claudio Lopez, increasing speculation that the biancocelesti will sign Di Vaio over the summer. Inzaghi Jr. arrives at Milan after being recommended by his older brother and Milan striker, Filippo Inzaghi who has won the Milan ultras over within months of joining the club.

Javi Moreno's fellow countryman José Mari is also set to move back to Spain (possibly on a loan deal) after failing to live up to high expectations. The 23-year old has been lively for the rossoneri all season long, but has netted only 5 goals (all in 2002) and has not been an ideal back-up striker. Marco Simone, who is on loan from French side PSG is also expected to return though his excellent relationship with the Milan fans as well as management may well earn him a permanent deal. Young Nigerian Aliyu however is a sure stay and is expected to feature more regularly in the coming season.

Atletico open Moreno talks
26.4 || scharatz

Javi Moreno’s Milan nightmare is set to come to an end after the club confirmed they are in talks with Atletico Madrid for the striker.

The Spaniard has had a disappointing debut season in Italy after failing to convince firstly Fatih Terim and then new boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"The only transfer negotiations that we are involved with at the moment regards Atletico’s interest for Javi Moreno," revealed Vice-president Adriano Galliani.

"As for the other stories they are all false. Andriy Shevchenko and Martin Laursen are both untouchable.

"As is Rino Gattuso. I can categorically say that we haven’t spoken for even one minute to Juventus about him."

Moreno has been linked with a return to Spain for much of this season after he was La Liga’s top scorer last term while at Alaves.

He was signed by the San Siro giants for £6.5m last summer. Moreno’s poor form has also seen him dropped from the national side.

Maldini’s final Azzurri dream
25.4 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini says he’s hoping to end his glittering international career by winning the World Cup this summer.

The Azzurri legend has again confirmed that he will retire from the Italy set-up after the Korea and Japan tournament, but he is hoping to go out with a bang.

"I’ll end my international career after the World Cup Finals. The tournament will be my last chance to win something with the Azzurri and hopefully, after going so close on a number of occasions, we can lift the trophy. We have the ability to become protagonists," he said.

When asked whether Roberto Baggio could be part of the Finals, Maldini diplomatically answered.

"Coach Giovanni Trapattoni considers every option that he has available. He’s made a few surprise call-ups in the past but at the end of the day he has to make his decisions."

Although Maldini’s international career is coming to an end, he is set to continue playing with Milan for the immediate future.

"I still have two years left on my contract and once that ends then I could hang up my boots. Even if I will decide once I get closer to that date. One thing is for sure, I won’t become a Coach," he added.

The Azzurri captain, also Italy’s most capped international, concluded by commenting on Milan’s disappointing campaign this term.

"We’ve lacked consistency this season. But we are forced to fight until the end of the season in a bid to qualify for the Champions’ League," he said.

"For the future I think that this club needs to focus on the youth programme. It is vital that clubs invest in youngsters that they can bring through the ranks."

Verona vs. Milan - match preview
25.4 || scharatz

A complex mathematical problem is not often associated with Italian football, but that is precisely what Ancelotti & Co. are faced with on Sunday. Most Milanisti may be ruing the missed opportunities versus Juventus and Roma in the past rounds, but little do they know that Milan are very close to qualifying for Champions' League football if lady luck can finally smile upon their ravaged team. Milan's competition for the final Champions' League spot comprises Chievo (who are traveling to Rome), Lazio and Bologna (who are facing each other at the Dall'Ara). Hence, Milan's destiny quite simply lies in their own hands, and more specifically in their ability to win at the Bentegodi.

Hellas Verona's story is not straightforward either. Their position in the standings in no way reflects the high quality of football they have played this season upsetting Parma and Lazio and giving AS Roma a scare. Adrian Mutu and Massimo Oddo in particular have been in scintillating form all season and will be key in their team's last two games as they look to obtain "la salvezza". Milan know well the dangers of traveling to the Bentegodi and we all know only too well that absolutely anything is possible on Sunday. A draw would not be a very bad result for Malesani's men, but a win would surely guarantee Serie A football for yet another season.

Hellas Verona last 6 league: LLLDWL
Verona have slipped from a near UEFA Cup position to 2 pts. off relegation in the last month or so. Six losses in seven games condemned the team to the bottom of the standings and only a couple of wins in the past weeks have ensured that their fight for survival continues. But, it is not wise to forget that Verona's problems have mainly come away from home. At the Bentegodi, they still remain a formidable side.

AC Milan last 6 league: WWWDLD
After three wins on the trot, Milan have hit some big bumps in Chievo, Juventus and Roma (all teams ahead of them in the standings). But, take note of the fact that riddled by injury, Ancelotti's men have played some very fine football of late and have failed to win more often due to bad luck than bad play. The thirst for Champions' League football coupled with a meeting with Serie A's not-so-finest may just get their season back on track.

Adrian Mutu (Hellas Verona):
A starter in's Serie A's best XI earlier this month, Mutu has been truly inspirational for Verona this season and it is a pity that he won't be taking part in the World Cup next month. The Romanian who has notched up 11 goals this season is being tracked closely by Juventus and would like to end his season on a high by saving his team from the drop.

Martin Laursen (AC Milan):
One of three former gialloblu players (Inzaghi and Brocchi are the others), Laursen was the rock at the heart of the Verona defence last year until he was taken back by Parma and packed off to Milan. At Milan he has been suspect at times, but for the large part has been rather close to the barbican defenseman that he was at the Bentegodi. Returning to his home ground of yesteryear, he will look to silence the advances of Frick and Mutu and earn his team a vital three points.

Hellas Verona (3-4-3): Ferron; Dainelli, Zanchi, Cannavaro; Cassetti, Italiano, L. Colucci, Seric, Camoranesi; Frick, Mutu
Injured: Filippini, Gonnella, Oddo
Suspended: -

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Helveg, Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Serginho; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Shevchenko
Injured: Rui Costa, Albertini, Costacurta & Redondo
Suspended: -

Milan and Lazio stars stunned by wage-cut proposal
25.4 || scharatz

Leading clubs in Italy want their players to agree wage-reductions ahead of next season as the cash crisis in football spreads and a Uefa directive insists on maximum first-team squads of 25.

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani announced on Thursday that the Rossoneri would look to offload a fifth of their squad over the summer, while Lazio vice-president Michele Uva explained his club were researching how to pay their players less.

"We are studying how to keep players on the payroll who don't interest us anymore, but who have contracts. We will pay them a percentage of their salary, although it would all have to be done through unofficial channels," he said.

The scheme would require the cooperation of the players and Milan forward Jose Mari is sceptical.

"It seems the clubs are trying to take this decision on their own, but they would need a gentleman's agreement with the players involved. The way I see it, the clubs must either sell their unwanted players or come to an agreement with them."

AC Milan midfielder Massimo Donati added: "It wouldn't be a good thing to be on the black list, knowing the club doesn't really want you around.

"It's a strange situation. If they don't want me, I would rather they helped me find another team or looked for a better solution."

Players' union president Enrico Campana claimed the plans were probably illegal. "Obviously football is in a difficult economic situation, but I'm not satisfied when owners try to find solutions outside the law.

"They have to find a way out of this by talking to everyone involved, while at the same time respecting the rules," added the lawyer and former player.

Laursen laughs off Parma link
25.4 || scharatz

Denmark international defender Martin Laursen has scotched rumours that he is about to join Parma and insisted he is willing to fight for his place at AC Milan.

"No thanks, I feel good at Milan," he said. "Now I'm ready to play in a great team. I have played a number of matches and I needed to understand the way Milan play.

"Coming here I knew it would be impossible to play every match but here a good player can become a better player."

Vice-president Adriano Galliani added: "I know Parma asked for information about Laursen. I also know that Juventus asked about our midfielder Gattuso.

"But I can answer now, next year these two players will again be Milan players."

Milan still harbour hopes of a Champions' League place next season and Laursen is aware Sunday's encounter with former club Verona is a must-win game.

"It's a very important match for both teams," he said. "We need to win to keep our dream of a Champions' League spot alive. Verona need at least one point to save themselves."

Milan to keep Laursen and Gattuso
24.4 || scharatz

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani has announced that Martin Laursen and Gennaro Gattuso will stay at the club despite speculation suggesting otherwise.

"I can categorically state that both Martin Laursen and Rino Gattuso are not for sale," said Galliani on Wednesday.

"These two players will certainly be part of the Milan squad for the 2002-03 campaign. We have never thought about swapping these men for any other players."

Reports in Italy claim that Milan are set to offer the Danish defender (pictured) to Parma as part of the deal that could see Fabio Cannavaro move in the other direction.

The Rossoneri have openly admitted that the Italian is an objective for next season but a cash asking price of around £20m has forced them to consider a cash plus player bid.

Meanwhile, Gattuso has long been linked with a summer move to Juventus in exchange for Carlo Ancelotti ‘favourite’ Alessio Tacchinardi. With some reports suggesting that a deal has already been reached.

Galliani’s confirmation of the highly rated duo comes just 24 hours after he denied that Andriy Shevchenko was leaving the San Siro. He’s believed to be a Real Madrid target.

Rui Costa set for Verona return
24.4 || scharatz

AC Milan's Portuguese star Manuel Rui Costa should be back in action for the Rossoneri against Verona on Sunday.
The former Fiorentina player, whose first season at AC Milan has been blighted by injuries, says he is hoping that from now on he will not have to deal with anymore injuries, and is able to get back to his old self and return in Milan's next Serie A match.

Rui Costa said: "If everything goes to plan, I will be back for the game with Verona this Sunday.

"I hope that AC Milan finally have the old Rui Costa available, the player who has not been able to be his usual self because of the many injuries suffered this year."

It has been estimated that so far this season the Rossoneri have suffered at least 23 injuries that have kept the injured players away from the field for a minimum of ten days, and Rui Costa is convinced that this is the reason why his team is only fighting for fourth spot.

He said: "The great games we've played against Roma and Juventus are proof that without so many injuries we could have been there at the top fighting for the title with them and the Neroazzurri.

"Now, however, we must concentrate on a Champions League place. We will do our best even though we know that two games may not be enough."

Rui Costa, however, is hoping that at least in the upcoming World Cup he will be able to achieve an important result with the Portuguese national team.

"I really believe that we could do well at the World Cup but I honestly don't know how far we could go," he admitted.

"We want to do well and make a good impression. Of course I don't want to say that we will win the World Cup, even though of course any player whose team will be in the competition is thinking about that."

Serginho: We're getting better
23.4 || scharatz

Serginho believes AC Milan still have room for improvement but says that the Rossoneri have already made giant steps forward.
Milan's Brazilian midfielder said: "In order for us to score more goals we must work on our playmaking.

"However, we are convinced that we can play well and therefore it's safe to say that we'll go to Verona to win the match.

"The team is eager to achieve great results and we are much closer to a Champions League place than the Intertoto Cup.

"Last season we were fighting for the fourth spot as well but it was much tougher because Parma were way ahead of us. This time we're the favourites."

However, Serginho has not denied his disappointment at being seen as one of the problems of the team and has said that he is ready to leave at the end of the season if the club wants him to go.

He added: "For me, it's enough to have Carlo Ancelotti's trust and respect.

"However, it is true that when things go wrong in this team it's only Rui Costa and I who are put on the stand."

Serginho, who has recently been linked with Flamengo and Lione, said he is ready to pack his bags if needed: "My contract with AC Milan lasts for three more years and I love being here."

"However, if the management believes that I'm a problem to this team, then I'm ready to move elsewhere."

Despite the fact that he's never been one of Felipe Scolari's favourite players, Serginho is still hoping to be included in the Brazilian World Cup squad.

He continued: "I don't know yet if Scolari will call me or not. But if he doesn't I won't make a big deal out of it. After all, the national team has never been part of my life."

Inzaghi: Inter won't win Serie A
23.4 || scharatz

AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi believes that his friend Bobo Vieri and Inter Milan face a difficult task in trying to win this year's title.
"Inter Milan still have a one-point advantage on the table but they'll have a terribly hard time at the Olimpico with Lazio on the last match day," he said.

The former Juve striker also stressed that his former team-mates do have quite a few chances to win, saying: "When you win even the toughest match at the very last minute and with a bit of luck, that means this could be your year and I think this is what's happening to them now."

Pippo, however, says he has no regrets about leaving Juve at the end of last season but also admits that he would be happy for his former team mates if they were to succeed in winning the title.

"I have no regrets about leaving Juve because, even though I spent four fantastic years there, I knew that our time together was up," he added. "These are just things you can sense and, at the end of the last season, I knew that my adventure with the Bianconeri was over.

"However, this doesn't mean that I'm envious either. I still have many friends in Turin and I'd be happy for them if they could win the title."

Inzaghi also stated his belief that the Rossoneri should have won at least one of their last few games.

He added: "We are a bit saddened because in the last two games we played very well but collected just one point.

"However, I'm happy because we have proven to be a team that can battle with such squads as Juve and Roma."

Milan Agree Deal For Tomasson
23.4 || scharatz

According to reports in the Italian press, AC Milan have pipped Barcelona in the race to sign Feyenoord striker Jon Dahl Tomasson.

The Danish international is out of contract in the summer and will join the Rossoneri on a free transfer.

He will replace Javi Moreno who is widely expected to move back to Spain in the close season.

It was earlier reported that Barcelona had agreed a deal with Tomasson, but it would now appear that Milan have won the race to sign the ex-Newcastle United misfit.

Shevchenko untouchable say Milan
23.4 || scharatz

Adriano Galliani has again maintained that Andriy Shevchenko will not be sold by Milan this summer.

Speculation has increased recently that Shev could be on his way to either Real Madrid or even Roma at the end of this campaign.

But despite a lack-lustre season, the Ukrainian striker has been told that his future lies with the Rossoneri.

"I would like to confirm to everybody that Shevchenko is not for sale. We’ve never held talks with any other clubs over his departure and we shall never do," proclaimed Vice-president Galliani.

"I met with Shevchenko last night and I told him that he is not available for transfer. I added that he would be the focal point of our attack for the new season."

The Milan chief continued: "I’m aware that Shevchenko’s fitness problems have affected his form this term. But he’s calm about the situation and he’s happy that we have complete faith in him.

"For the time being the only thing he needs to concern himself with is to get back to full fitness as soon as he can.

"Once he’s done that he will return to being the great player that we have witnessed at Milan for the past three years."

Scudetto regrets for Rui Costa
23.4 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa believes that the gap between Milan and the title chasing trio is not as wide as the League table suggests.

"Our excellent performances against Juventus and Roma in recent weeks should help us reflect on what might have been. In those games we demonstrated that we were as good as the sides battling for the title," he said.

The Rossoneri started the season as potential Scudetto champions but their campaign has been marred by injuries and a lack of consistency.

But in recent weeks the San Siro giants have seemed to hit a certain patch of form which saw them unluckily lose to Juve before holding Roma 0-0 on Sunday.

"I saw a good Milan performance against the Giallorossi. We looked for a win from start to finish despite the fact that we had many players missing through injury and that we were up against a great side," added the Portuguese international.

"We need to focus on our final two games in order to achieve our last objective of the season which is to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions’ League.

"I’m hopeful that we can make it even if aware that it doesn’t just depend on our results. We could win both games and it still wouldn’t be enough."

Rui Costa himself has struggled to adapt since his move from Fiorentina this summer due to numerous fitness problems.

"I’ll hopefully be back on the field on Sunday against Verona," continued the playmaker. "I just hope Milan can count on the old Rui Costa next season after my injury set-backs."

Del Piero owns up about tiff with Inzaghi
22.4 || scharatz

Alessandro del Piero has admitted that his relationship with former Juventus team-mate Filippo Inzaghi got so bad that manager Carlo Ancelotti was forced to intervene.

"I don't hate him, but it happened," admitted Del Piero. "Ancelotti had to sort us out."

The pair formed Juve's strike partnership during a highly successful spell in the late 1990s, but off the pitch they barely exchanged a word.

Neither player claims to bear a grudge, but the revelation could spell problems for the harmony of Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup squad, of which both players are expected to be a part.

Inzaghi left Juventus last summer for AC Milan, where he is once again coached by Ancelotti, but the forward denies that the rift with Del Piero was behind his move.

"Why did I leave the Bianconeri? My time was over. I'm not upset, nor do I have any regrets about my time at Juve. Perhaps the only thing I'm disappointed with was being out for four months with a knee injury.

"I spent four great years in Turin and now I'm happy in Milan. I feel that I'm loved by the Rossoneri just like I used to be loved by the Bianconeri.

"I never expected this kind of welcome in Milan and for that I'm grateful to the directors, my team-mates and the supporters."

AC Milan 0-0 AS Roma - post-match comments
22.4 || webmaster

Carlo Ancelotti: It’s pointless making calculations ahead of the final two games. Chievo are favourites for the Champions’ League spot as they are two points in front. We’ll just try to win the remaining two matches and then we’ll look at the table. We wanted to emerge victorious today, but despite a good performance we weren’t able to achieve this aim. Roma are not the kind of team that allows you many chances.

Fabio Capello: We had the toughest tie today as Milan are on top form and Roma do not have a good history in this stadium. We had good opportunities to win it at the end, but did not make the most of them. It’s a shame. Now we have a very tough encounter with Chievo. Concentration and the desire to win will be decisive for the Scudetto. Roma have both these qualities.

Capello: "Roma always unlucky on San Siro"
22.4 || webmaster

AS Roma head coach Fabio Capello commented on the 0-0 draw with AC Milan. He announced: "Roma have always been unlucky at San Siro stadium. The game was difficult because Milan were in the best shape.

By the end of the match we had some good chances but we failed to use them. Milan used the same scheme as they used in the game against Borussia. And we often played in the defence line."

In addition, Capello praised Carlo Ancelotti's side and disclosed Roma plans in the nearest future. He said: "Milan proved that they are a fine team. Now we will play an uneasy game against Chievo, but other teams are also going to face difficulties. We must concentrate and have a desire of winning."

After the game against the Italian champion, Milan remain behind Chievo with two points. Carlo Ancelotti announced: "It is useless to talk about results. Cheivo have two points more than we. We must win the last two matches and only then can talk about results. We played well against Roma. We were keen to win but we failed. Besides, Roma don't surrender easily."

AC Milan 0-0 AS Roma - match report
21.4 || webmaster

Roma have traditionally had real problems in the San Siro and were here forced to make the trip up north in need of points to stay in the Scudetto chase.

The Rossoneri were also desperate for a win if they were to stay in the hunt for fourth place. However, the side was decimated by injuries to Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Cosmin Contra, Thomas Helveg, Manuel Rui Costa and Demetrio Albertini.

Milan had an aggressive start and within the first two minutes Filippo Inzaghi sliced the defence in two, but Francesco Antonioli was able to parry the ball away. Inzaghi was a constant danger for the Giallorossi back three and combined well with the rapidity on the break of Andriy Shevchenko.

Vincenzo Montella hit back at the other end of the field and his fine volley went just over the bar. Just before the break Walter Samuel's header from a corner fell into the path of Montella, but the striker just failed to tap in.

The first chance of the second half fell to Roma as Christian Abbiati - celebrating his 100th Serie A appearance - flew to palm out a remarkable Francesco Totti effort from 40 metres.

Marcos Cafu also failed to turn in another opportunity created by Montella. The 'keeper would have been beaten had the Brazilian made better contact as he came sliding in.

Serginho brought a fine save out of Antonioli, while Abbiati flew to punch out a Vincent Candela free kick as the match continued to move from end to end.

In stoppage time Montella fired perhaps his best chance over the bar from the edge of the box.

There were tense moments as the final whistle came during a Roma free kick punted into the box. Coach Fabio Capello had to be restrained from taking his protests too far.

Milan: Abbiati; Roque Junior (Sarr 71), Laursen, Chamot, Kaladze; Gattuso (Brocchi 88), Ambrosini, Serginho; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Shevchenko (Kutuzov 79)

Roma: Antonioli; Panucci, Samuel, Zago (Aldair 29); Cafu, Tommasi, Emerson, Candela; Totti (Cassano 75); Montella, Delvecchio (Fuser 82)

Ref: Paparesta

Capello: We are our own worst enemies
20.4 || scharatz

Fabio Capello’s trademark confidence was slipping ahead of a crucial trip back to his old club Milan.

Roma have always struggled in the San Siro – losing 3-1 to Inter last month – and this season have had an unusual number of problems playing away from home.

“I went back and watched the tapes of some of our matches played in Milan,” explained Capello, “and I noticed that we were always punished by our first mistake.”

“I cannot reprimand my team for their performance, but unfortunately the result is all that counts. It’s undeniable that the overall balance of results is negative for us.”

The San Siro is not the only Stadium that has seen Roma struggle in during this season.

“The truth is,” continued the Coach, “that on our travels this year we just went into some games with the wrong attitude. Venezia was the last really bad performance on that level.”

“As for some of the others, I am still trying to understand what went wrong. On some occasions we went out there too confident of victory. In others we were able to fight back against results that seemed insurmountable. I look on the positive aspects and always see the glass half full.”

Journalists at the press conference suggested a hint of arrogance may have damaged Roma this year. “I’d say it was a lack of concentration,” rebuked Capello.

It is an error they cannot afford to repeat against Milan this afternoon. “We must be careful not to make mistakes because that is something the opponents can take advantage of.”

“Milan are on great form at the moment. They want to qualify for the Champions’ League and will fight to the death in order to get there.”

Francesco Totti returns after three weeks out injured, but Gabriel Batistuta has not made the trip up north.

“I spoke with Gabriel and he did not feel up to it after having eight stitches put in his lip. As for Francesco, when he is well then our captain is a valuable asset to any team. I hope the rest made him hungry for this match.”

Vincenzo Montella will start upfront with Marco Delvecchio placed out wide on the left.

Ancelotti bites back at doubters
20.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has hit back at suggestions that Milan ‘aided’ Juve last week in order to prevent Inter from winning the Scudetto.

“From November 6 2001 I have been working for a club that I love very much,” said the Rossoneri boss, “and I hope to stay here for a very long time."

"We play football for ourselves, for Milan and to reach the Champions’ League.”

Inter President Massimo Moratti had made the allegations by stating, “Throughout the years when Juve and Milan play each other the result is never in favour of Inter.”

“Moratti is a professional and honest person,” assured Ancelotti, “and I’m sure his comments were just a method of relieving tension. It’s understandable as this is a delicate stage of the season and his team is on the verge of winning the Scudetto.”

“I’m certain that he also knows that Milan did everything they could to win last week’s game at the Delle Alpi. Against Roma we will do the same – trying to win for ourselves without thinking of doing favours for anyone else.”

The Rossoneri have many reasons to need all three points against Roma, as the fourth and final Champions’ League spot is still up for grabs.

“Achieving this aim is possible,” insists Ancelotti. “The team is playing well, is motivated and determined. I am confident in the future and will not hear of a possible Intertoto Cup participation. Milan are thinking of the Champions’ League.”

It will not be an easy task as a spate of injuries have decimated the side.

Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati may be celebrating his 100th Serie A appearance, but Manuel Rui Costa, Demetrio Albertini, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Thomas Helveg and Cosmin Contra are out of action.

The Romanian winger may be able to sit on the bench.

Nonetheless, in an unusual move the Coach announced his plans for the line-up and hinted that attack was the best form of defence.

“I have practically decided. Serginho and Andrea Pirlo will both be on the field. In these games you must take your opponents’ characteristics into account."

"Roma are strong in midfield and fast down the flanks. Then again we must make the most of our qualities.”

“I expect an open and unpredictable game without excessive tactics involved."

"Roma have a poor track record at the San Siro,” he smiled. “We want to keep that tradition going.”

Shevchenko celebrates award
20.4 || scharatz

Andriy Shevchenko has been named Eastern Europe’s top player by Romanian magazine Focus Vest.

The Ukrainian beat competition from Emmanuel Olisadebe of Panathinaikos and Milan teammate Cosmin Contra in the award voted for by European journalists.

“I am very honoured to receive the Focus Vest award,” said Shev at the Milanello training ground. “It is a recognition that gives me many emotions.”

It is, however, scant consolation for the hitman who will be forced to watch the 2002 World Cup from home.

“It is also nice to get one back on Olisadebe, as his Poland side eliminated the Ukraine from the qualifying spot for Japan and Korea."

"Of course,” added the ex-Dynamo Kiev star, “it would have been better to actually go to the tournament.”

Gullit: Inter will suffer for Scudetto
20.4 || scharatz

Ruud Gullit has not forgotten his title-winning exploits at the San Siro, but warns Inter that there is much work to do before they can celebrate a Scudetto.

The former Milan and Sampdoria star spoke to ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ during a promotional tour in London for the official FIFA 2002 World Cup computer game.

“I know how it feels to be close to something that you have never achieved before,” explained the Dutchman. “Your mind is filled with doubts and fears. These are the things you must overcome.”

“Stepping onto the field you must think only of this match and not the fear of losing it. This is why I think Inter will suffer in the remaining three weeks of the season, whereas for Roma it will be much easier.”

Milan are now struggling to qualify for the Champions’ League and hark back to the era when Gullit’s side won all there was to win.

“Yes,” admits the Rossoneri legend, “but they must also understand that we had eight years of uninterrupted success. This is an incredible streak that cannot easily be repeated."

"You cannot expect to be like that forever. Sooner or later, there comes a time when it doesn’t go your way.”

Carlo Ancelotti was a teammate in that side and now sits on the bench where Arrigo Sacchi ruled supreme.

“Sacchi was very important to our success. He gave his heart, soul, everything. I had a good rapport with the Coach and could tell him everything. He was the man who created the Great Milan and I matured under his leadership.”

The conversation naturally drifted towards the Azzurri’s chances in Japan and Korea. “Italy are always difficult to judge. They are always very good at concentrating on these competitions.”

“Maybe they’ll start badly and risk a shock exit in the first round,” added Gullit, “but going forward the Azzurri become extremely dangerous opponents that improve with every game."

"Yet Italy's best performance in recent years was a defeat: the Euro 2000 Final against France.”

Gullit has experienced football in both Italy and England. His explanation for the current negative trend in Europe looked to the controversy surrounding Serie A.

“English football went through a crisis, but was able to come out of it by bringing in many foreigners, but not eliminating their fundamental principles of pace and technique.”

“I think that in Italy there is too much controversy. The referees are under constant fire with television programmes every day of the week dissecting errors and penalty incidents."

"I don’t think this is good for football and in England it is simply unheard of.”

Coloccini coming back to Milan
20.4 || scharatz

Fabricio Coloccini will return to Milan at the end of the season, but the Argentine international could pack his bags again soon after.

Alaves have passed on their option to buy the loan player outright. “I will have to see,” he told Spanish newspaper ‘Marca’, “if Milan will sell me off or keep me at the San Siro.”

“One thing is for certain,” added the 20-year-old. “I do not want to be sent out on loan for another season. I need a club where I can set down roots, play and mature.”

Coloccini is said to be a target for clubs throughout Europe, including Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Milan are scouring the market place for defenders following the almost certain departure this summer of Cosmin Contra, Roque Junior, Jose Chamot and Martin Laursen.

September 11th Charity Match Banned By American Soccer Bosses
19.4 || scharatz

A high profile end of season clash between Milan and Glasgow Celtic has been scrapped, despite plans to raise around $1m for families of victims of the September 11th attacks.

Soccer bosses in America have said that the game, planned for New York's Meadowlands Stadium, cannot go ahead as the US national side are due to play Jamaica on May 16th – two days after the planned charity match.

Celtic have arranged to play another friendly, for the same charity, in January 2003, but have been left disappointed by the decision.

A spokesman said, "We have been working for some time to bring the event together and raise substantial funds for the families of emergency services personnel who lost their lives in the tragedy. Unfortunately, due to local US soccer regulations we are unable to stage the match in May. We are disappointed that, despite our best efforts, these regulations could not be waived, particularly given the charitable nature of this event."

"However, we are delighted to announce that we plan to stage a match in New York in mid-January 2003 against high-profile opposition, details of which will be announced as soon as possible. This new date will allow supporters more time to make arrangements and will also allow us to maximise the great potential which this initiative clearly has and ultimately achieve our aim of raising $1million for a very worthy cause."

Milan vs. Roma - Ambrosini's pre match comments
19.4 || scharatz

AC Milan's Massimo Ambrosini is convinced that fans are going to witness a spectacular clash this Sunday when his team host Roma in the San Siro.
"It's going to be a very important and very spectacular match," he said. "We care about winning this team and so do Roma who are chasing their second title in a row.

"And it seems that Francesco Totti will be back so I foresee a very intense challenge.

"We got to continue on the path we started in the last few games because even though we did not collect much in terms of points, we have played well and showed a great determination.

"And despite the many injured players, the team maintains a positive attitude."

Ambrosini is obviously unhappy at the statement made by Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti, who has accused Juve of behaving unfairly and has hinted at a possible co-operation between AC Milan and Juve players to let the Bianconeri prevail last week and keep on chasing Inter Milan.

Ambrosini says he is hoping Moratti was joking, but added that these controversies only harm the world of football.

"I interpreted Moratti's words as a joke even saying thing like this means ruining the beauty of this sport. And then you often wonder why Italian Player want to move abroad.

"The truth is that in Italy you sometimes create a lot of confusion only to be in the news."

Ancelotti backs Roma for title
19.4 || scharatz

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti believes that Roma are favourites for the Serie A title despite their two point deficit from leaders Inter.

"The Giallorossi have been the most consistent throughout the campaign," he said. "Apart from their display at Venezia a few weeks ago, I’ve not really seen them struggle."

Ancelotti, a former Roma player, whose Milan side actually face the Rossoneri on Sunday added: "They are also the only team from the title trio that have really caused us difficulty this season.

"Totti and Co were outstanding against us earlier this term while our defeats to Inter and Juventus were somewhat fortunate."

The ex-Juventus boss concluded: "Juventus definitely have the easier run in with games against Piacenza, Brescia and Udinese and could grab all nine points available.

"Inter have a two point lead but they have the worst set of fixtures. Their two away games at Chievo and Lazio should not be underestimated."

Signori not tempted by £6m Milan switch
19.4 || scharatz

Giuseppe Signori has committed the rest of his career to current club Bologna, despite interest in his services from AC Milan.

"I want to confirm for the first and last time that I'll end my career in a Bologna shirt," said the former Italy striker, following reports of a £6 million switch to the San Siro, with Massimo Donati going the other way on loan.

"According to the rumours, I should leave Bologna every year, but I always stay," he added.

Milan are in need of cover for first-choice strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, as Javi Moreno is thought to be heading for Atletico Madrid in the summer, while Marco Simone will return to Monaco following a six-month loan spell.

Jose Mari has also failed to live up to expectations and the Rossoneri intend to sign at least two forwards over the summer to compensate.

Signori, whose Bologna side are set to deny Milan the fourth Champions' League place, has been a crucial figure for the club since returning from injury, finding the form that saw him finish as Serie A top scorer three times with Lazio in the mid-1990s.

The 34-year-old has earned an extension to his contract with Bologna until the end of next season.

Milan vs. Roma - match preview
18.4 || scharatz

Life and death is at stake at the Stadio San Siro this weekend as Milan and Roma meet in a clash that could not only decide the scudetto, but also have significant bearing on the final Serie A standings. Roma have not beaten Milan at the San Siro in 15 years and they have in fact beaten Inter only once in that time period. The San Siro is obviously not a lucky ground for them. Don Fabio, who led Milan to much of their success in the 90s, has had little luck himself scrapping together a handful of draws at the very stadium where he is still regarded as a deity. But, if the campione d'Italia are to hold on to their precious tricolor shield, they must change their fate and beat Milan at their home ground and hope that Inter slip-up.

AC Milan still have the bitter taste of the Turin game in their mouths and will look forward to finishing off the season in style by disposing of AS Roma for the second year in succession. Milan fans shall cheer Inter and Inter fans Milan as the two teams look to not only further their claims for the scudetto and Champions' League respectively, but as they help eliminate the competition for the other. Ancelotti's men will have the more arduous of tasks having to deal with a Roma side that have a miserly goals conceded per game average of 0.8 and have lost only two games in the whole season! But, if Champions' League is to be a reality for Milan, only a win will suffice.

AC Milan last 6: WWLDWL
Milan have not been in bad form of late, but have been decimated by injuries far too often this season. Last weekend, a good Milan side was overshadowed by multiple injuries and forced to play with ten men for the last hour, Ancelotti's men went down to Juventus. Their home form however has been impressive of late with smashing wins over Parma and Dortmund proof of what this Milan side can do.

AS Roma last 6: WLLWDW
Roma's form, like Milan's is comprised of a couple of losses, a draw and three wins. The back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Inter may well prove to be the defining moments of the giallorossi's season as they make look back ruefully at the two games that ended their dream for silverware this season. However, as they proved last weekend, they are a very strong side that is deadly when in form. They have been impressive on their outings so far this season (not to the San Siro though) and will look to continue in their pursuit of lo scudetto.

Carlo Ancelotti must be cursing his luck after losing four more players to injury last weekend. Demetrio Albertini, Cosmin Contra, Serginho and Thomas Helveg are all ruled out of the clash. However, skipper Paolo Maldini makes his comeback after picking up a knock three weeks ago and Andrea Pirlo gets another rare start in place of Rui Costa.

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Roque Jr., Laursen, Maldini, Chamot; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Kaladze; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Shevchenko
Injured: Rui Costa, Costacurta, Serginho, Contra, Albertini, José Mari & Redondo
Suspended: Serginho

Capello will head off to his old hunting grounds with his strongest side (albeit without the out of sorts Bati-no more-gol). Frenchman Zebina makes his return from injury but is unlikely to be included in the starting eleven. Zago will take his place alongside a defence comprised of "The Wall" Samuel and Panucci (who himself is fresh off scoring for his country midweek).

AS Roma (3-4-1-2): Antonioli; Panucci, Samuel, Zago; Cafu, Tommasi, Emerson, Candela; Totti; Montella, Delvecchio
Injured: Lassissi, Batistuta
Suspended: -

Inzaghi vs. Samuel: Pippo Inzaghi has become Milan's main man ever since Andriy Shevchenko's goal-drought started and he will undoubtedly be well watched by Roma's barbican sweeper Samuel. Pippo can be a slippery customer but proved midweek against Uruguay that his faults lay in the odd tap-in that he misses. He will have a chance to make up for his mistakes and prove to Il Trap (who is sure to be watching) that he deserves a WC start ahead of Montella and Del Piero.

Totti vs. Ambrosini: Vinny Montella may be Roma's most prolific player, but it is in Francesco Totti's feet that Roma's scudetto hopes lie and Massimo Ambrosini's job on Sunday will be to make sure that the azzuri fantasista is unable to setup his teammates with the suave plays that he is known for. If Max can keep Totti quiet for all of ninety minutes, I am sure he will get some help from the Italian dailies in his push for a call to the Mondiale squad.

No one can match Berlusconi, says Galliani
18.4 || scharatz

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has urged the club to leave the position of president vacant when Silvio Berlusconi stands down.

Galliani is expected to succeed Italian prime minister Berlusconi as Milan supremo after the Italian parliament ruled that the premier must give up the position under new laws prohibiting politicians from acting as company overlords.

But Galliani insisted that he would find it impossible to the boots of Berlusconi. "He has been the leader of this club for 16 years and I really don't think anyone will ever be able to replace him," he claimed.

"During his time at Milan, he has won 18 trophies and ensured that the club stay at the very top of the game - both in Italy and abroad. Personally, I cannot imagine an AC Milan without Berlusconi.

"I know that it is not really feasible, but I would like to do what they do in basketball and not give the position of president to anyone else. We retired the No 6 shirt when Franco Baresi stopped playing, now we should retire the president's shirt," he suggested.

Despite Galliani's gallant proposal, he is expected to be promoted to president shortly - a move that was recently backed by Piersilvio Berlusconi, Silvio's second son by his first marriage, and the vice-president of Mediaset, the family's media empire.

"We want to have continuity," he said. "Galliani will be our next president. He is a man who could take care of the team with heart and 100 per cent passion."

Galliani arrived at Milan when Berlusconi became president on March 24, 1986. He has always been heavily involved in the running of the club and took on additional responsibility in 1994 when Berlusconi founded the Forza Italia party.

Milan vs. Roma - Laursen's pre match comments
18.4 || scharatz

Milan defender Martin Laursen is confident that his side can beat Roma on Sunday to get their Champions’ League bid back on track.

The Rossoneri dropped vital points in the chase to finish fourth in Serie A last week when they lost to Juventus. But despite playing the Giallorossi next, Laursen is hopeful that the three points are a possibility.

"Roma are challenging for the title and it is a difficult game for us but we can get a result because it is by no means a mission impossible," said the Danish international.

"We’ve shown this season in games against the big clubs that we don’t struggle too often against them. And we are aware that we have to win our last three League games in order to try to finish fourth in the League."

Laursen, who turned down an approach from the capital club to join Milan earlier this season, acknowledged that the current Italian champions are a formidable opponent.

"They are a great squad and don’t have just one player to be scared of. Add to that the fact that they have a great Coach and it is clear that we have a tough game ahead of us," he added.

"Roma have an excellent array of forwards and if Francesco Totti returns from injury then that will be an extra thing to worry about. But Milan have some great players too who can turn a game in an instant."

Milan interested in Signori
17.4 || scharatz

Giuseppe Signori could be on the verge of a surprising summer switch to Milan according to reports.

The Bologna striker is said to be unhappy at having been dropped from the game against Piacenza on Sunday and is desperate to play Champions’ League football before retiring.

And with the Rossoneri seemingly favourites to land the all important fourth place finish in Serie A, the former international could move to the San Siro.

The Milanese giants are keen to acquire some quality back-up for Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko for next season after the disappointing form of Javi Moreno and Jose Mari who are both set to be sold.

Bologna are said to want cash for the veteran striker and the one season loan signing of midfielder Massimo Donati.

The latter is an established Under-21 international that has struggled to make an impact since his move from Atalanta last summer.

Signori, 34, joined the Dall’Ara outfit in 1998 from Sampdoria. He’s also had prior spells at Lecce, Piacenza, Foggia and Lazio.

Rui Costa Targets Roma Comeback
17.4 || scharatz

AC Milan midfielder Manuel Rui Costa has announced that he may return from his latest injury in his club's match with Roma this weekend.

The Portuguese playmaker damaged a thigh ten days ago in a clash with Chievo, and there were reports that he may miss the end of the season as well as the World Cup.

However, these suggestions have proved premature, and the 29-year-old is hopeful of a quick return to action.

"I am following the program of recovery and I will try to make an attempt to be ready for Sunday's game against Roma, even if know that it will be difficult. I will return, though, only when I'm fit enough to be useful to the team," he told the club's official site.

Coco ponders Barca future
17.4 || scharatz

Francesco Coco has said that he could stay at Barcelona next season despite strong reports claiming that he will return to Milan.

The Spanish outfit have an option to buy the £11m rated defender but the international is expected to leave after a mediocre Nou Camp stint.

However, Coco maintains that his Spanish adventure could continue. "Only I will decide my future and not Milan," he said.

"There is a lot of talk regarding what I will be doing next season but I’m happy at Barcelona. They are set to offer me a deal but I want to take my time and see which Coach takes over at the club next season."

Nevertheless, the former Under-21 international has admitted that he will have a number of Italian options if he decides to return to the peninsula.

"I’ve not had any direct talks with Italian clubs but the door to my future is always open. I know that Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti likes me and I would seriously consider a return to the Rossoneri," he added.

Albertini knew World Cup fate
16.4 || scharatz

Demetrio Albertini has revealed that he was immediately aware that he would miss the World Cup Finals after suffering an ankle injury on Sunday.

The Milan midfielder limped off the pitch during Juve’s 1-0 win at the weekend as his dreams of playing in his third Finals tournament were shattered.

"I knew as soon as it happened that I would miss the World Cup. In an instant I realised that I had damaged my Achilles tendon and I wouldn’t have recovered in time for the summer," he said

"I didn’t cry because there are other more important things in life that we shed tears for. But it was a massive blow."

The former Under-21 international will be out of action for the next two months at least.

The Azzurri vice-captain has had a number of injuries in recent times. His ill fortune started on November 18, 2000 when he came off worse in a challenge with Lazio’s Dino Baggio.

Then in May 2001, he underwent knee surgery and was ruled out for four months. He returned in late September but has rarely performed at his highest levels.

Costacurta Looking For America Move
16.4 || scharatz

AC Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta is keen on a move to the United States.

The centre-back is out of contract at the end of the season and looks unlikely to accept the one-year deal on offer to him.

Although he has spoken of his liking for the Premier League, his agent Fabio Parisi has now said: "Billy wouldn't mind an experience in the US."

Inzaghi - injuries to blame
16.4 || webmaster

Milan star Filippo Inzaghi believes that the many injuries suffered by his team this season have negatively influenced the rossoneri's campaign.

The likes of Paolo Maldini, Fernando Redondo Manuel Rui Costa, Demetrio Albertini and Inzaghi himself have been out for long parts of the season, and Redondo has not even played yet for the club since his move from Real Madrid.

But the former Juventus man said: "In today's football, the team that wins is always the one that makes less mistakes than the others, but also the one that has less injured players."

Inzaghi says he believes that with a bit more luck, not only Milan but also his former club could have done better this season.

He said: "When you have a big squad, you can't expect to have 20 top-notch players and it is only normal that you can have problems because of this in the long term.

"This season we've had this problem but the same happened to Juve as well."

Inzaghi however believes that the reason why there have been so many injuries lately is that there are way too many games for the players.

"Some injuries like mine, happen because of ordinary clashes between players. Others however are muscular injuries and those probably happen because we have far too many games to play," admitted the Italian international.

"This has certainly been an unlucky season for us. Lately we've been playing well but we often come up with nothing.

"In the game with Juve, for example we did not deserve to loose but at least I know that we can still fight for the fourth spot."

Inzaghi has even proposed to exchange favours between themselves and city rivals Inter. This weekend the nerozzzuri will face fourth-placed Chievo, Milan's key rivals for a Champions League spot while AC welcome second-placed Roma, who are pushing Inter all the way in the title race.

"I'll be forced to support Inter Milan this Sunday and we'll try to return the favour to the neroazzurri by defeating Roma," he added.

Milan to play freindly in Russia
16.4 || webmaster

AC Milan announced that they plan to play a friendly match in St. Petersburgh, Russia, against home team Zenit on May 27. After the end of the Italian championship, Milan will have a tour in USA, and then travel to Russia. The friendly game will mark the opening of celebrations of 300th anniversary since St. Petersburg foundation. Obviously AC Milan will field their reserve team.

Albertini Out Of World Cup
15.4 || scharatz

AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini will miss the World Cup finals after suffering an achilles injury against Juventus yesterday.

He was substituted after 38 minutes of the clash and although an operation isn't needed, he will miss the next two to three months.

It now surely means that the 30-year-old will not play at a World Cup again, although he will be back to help Italy qualify for Euro 2004 at the beginning of next season.

Gattuso, Ambrosini and Inzaghi in Italy squad
15.4 || scharatz

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni has added four more faces to his squad for this week's friendly against Uruguay after a spate of withdrawals following Sunday's Serie A programme.

Brescia defender Daniele Bonera, AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini, Juventus midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi and Lazio's Stefano Fiore come into contention for the match at the San Siro.

They replace Internazionale defender Marco Materazzi, Juventus centre-back Mark Iuliano and AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini.

Inter forward Christian Vieri, Roma striker Marco Delvecchio and Atalanta midfielder Cristiano Doni are also carrying knocks, but will be looked at by Italy doctors to assess their fitness.

Parma forward Marco di Vaio has been put on standby in case Delvecchio or Vieri do not make it.

Italy squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Francesco Toldo (Inter)

Defenders: Fabio Cannavaro (Parma), Alessandro Nesta (Lazio), Christian Panucci (Roma), Daniele Adani (Fiorentina), Daniele Bonera (Brescia)

Midfielders: Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus), Gianluca Pessotto (Juventus), Franceso Coco (Barcelona), Damiano Tommasi (Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Christian Zanetti (Inter), Luigi di Biagio (Inter), Cristiano Doni (Atalanta), Massimo Ambrosini (AC Milan), Alessio Tacchinardi (Juventus), Stefano Fiore (Lazio)

Forwards: Christian Vieri (Inter), Marco Delvecchio (Roma), Vincenzo Montella (Roma), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)

Paulo Cesar confirms Serie A future
15.4 || scharatz

Brazilian international Paulo Cesar has confirmed claims that he will be a new face in Serie A next season.

“I want to achieve complete economic independence,” said the right-back, “and at the same time help my current club. My departure can achieve both objectives.”

As reported on Football Italia earlier this week, the Fluminense winger is a strong target for Milan and Roma.

He acts as understudy to Marcos Cafu in the Selecao, but can also play on the other flank as a replacement for Roberto Carlos.

“I would be more than happy to settle down in Italy,” he explained. “In fact, it is my favourite option for my future.”

Agent Paulo Barbosa has offered the player to Milan, but new reports suggest that Roma director Franco Baldini has also held talks

Ambrosini's mixed Azzurri feelings
15.4 || scharatz

Massimo Ambrosini has expressed his delight at returning to the national side – even if it was at the expense of injured teammate Demetrio Albertini.

The Rossoneri midfielder has been drafted in along with Juventus’ Alessio Tacchinardi after Albertini (pictured) was forced to pull out of the squad. The latter picked up an ankle injury in the 1-0 loss against the Bianconeri on Sunday.

"I’m really happy to be back in the national squad," said Ambrosini on Monday. "It is really satisfying to be called up by Coach Giovanni Trapattoni. The only thing that is disappointing is that Albertini will now be sidelined for the immediate future."

Ambrosini himself has had a difficult campaign. He spent almost a year out of the game after he ruptured knee ligaments last season.

But just as he was re-finding his best form he was sidelined again for a month after meniscus trouble in his knee.

Italy will play Uruguay on Wednesday in Milan as part of their preparations for the 2002 World Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, another Serie A player delighted with an international call-up is Lazio’s Gaizka Mendieta.

Despite rarely featuring for the capital side this term, the former Valencia player has been included in the latest Spanish get together.

"I feel great that I’m back in the squad," said the midfielder. "It is important to feel that the Coach believes in you. Especially with a World Cup just around the corner."

Inzaghi pleads for Italy start before World Cup
15.4 || scharatz

Filippo Inzaghi has pleaded with Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni for a start in the friendly against Uruguay on Wednesday so he can push for a World Cup place.

"I would like to begin the match, but it is all up to the manager," said the AC Milan forward, who is not long back after a four-month lay-off to get over a knee injury.

"My whole season has been compromised by injuries," added Inzaghi, who admits he is struggling with his fitness in the busy run-in, having missed so many games.

"I could not do anything about the ligament injury, but now I have a few muscle problems due to the intensity of our schedule. I missed four months and maybe now I am playing too much. I was tired on Sunday (in the 1-0 defeat at Juventus)

"But I miss football and now I feel OK. I am ready to go back into the national team," he explained.

Milan lost valuable ground at the weekend in the race for the fourth Champions' League place on offer in Serie A and Inzaghi accepts the forthcoming match against high-flying Roma is now a must-win.

"It's the only way to reach fourth place," he acknowledged. "I hope Inter beat Chievo, although the Nerazzurri winning the Scudetto might present a problem for us.

"Both matches will be very complicated. I can't say what will happen," he added.

Juventus 1-0 AC Milan - post match comments
14.4 || scharatz

Juventus manager Marcello Lippi is satisfied with his team's performance: "It was a very balanced match, as I had expected, especially considering the importance of Milan, who proved to be a strong side. In the final 20 minutes we grew and found the goal that we ended up deserving after having scored it. I think this victory is a just one."

AC Milan's manager, Carlo Ancelotti declared that: "Unfortunately we lost Contra and Serginho in the first half and then Helveg and Albertini (when I had used up my changes). We were left to play in 10 men and lost due to an own goal: I can certainly say that we were not fortunate today and didn't deserve to lose. Our objective remains the 4th place and I believe we can achieve it in the end and even if our next match is against Roma we will certainly do well: it will be an intense and entertaining match."

Juventus 1-0 AC Milan - match report
14.4 || webmaster

Scorer: Chamot og 77 (J)

Juventus were launched back into the title race last week, but this match with old rivals Milan was the real test of their Scudetto potential.

The Rossoneri - headed by former Juve Coach Carlo Ancelotti - seemed to dominate the midfield in the early period of the game. Gianluigi Buffon got down well to block an Andriy Shevchenko low drive.

There was controversy when David Trezeguet fell under Jose Chamot's challenge, but the referee waved play on.

Milan's injury crisis continues as both Cosmin Contra and Serginho were substituted before the break. This forced Ancelotti to change tactics and bring Andrea Pirlo into the centre.

Juventus threw striker Marcelo Zalayeta into the mix, but on the counter-attack Shevchenko was stopped for an extremely dubious offside ruling.

Alessandro Del Piero was on good form and his angled drive went just wide. Although Juve began to push Milan back into their own half, they struggled to create any real danger for Christian Abbiati's goal.

It was again Buffon who was forced to make a desperate save as first Shevchenko's close-range effort was parried, then Pirlo fired the follow-up wide.

Milan were forced to play the final ten minutes in ten men as Demetrio Albertini limped off after all three substitutions had been used up. Moments later Juventus finally broke through with an own goal. Chamot accidentally turned a free kick into his own net.

Soon after both sides had good chances to net again. Abbiati turned a Del Piero free kick round the post, while Inzaghi fired a counter-attack straight at the 'keeper.

In stoppage time a fantastic Del Piero run from his own half was wasted by Trezeguet in front of an open goal.

Juventus: Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara, Iuliano (Birindelli 68), Pessotto; Zenoni (Zalayeta 52), Conte, Davids (Paramatti 65), Zambrotta; Del Piero, Trezeguet

Milan: Abbiati; Helveg (Roque Junior 71), Chamot, Laursen, Kaladze; Contra (Albertini 38), Gattuso, Ambrosini, Serginho (Pirlo 45); Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Ref: Borriello

Milan to reunite Inzaghi bros.
13.4 || scharatz

Milan have pulled out of the race to sign Fabio Cannavaro, but admit that Simone Inzaghi could soon be joining his brother.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani made the revelations in an interview with ‘Corriere dello Sport’ newspaper.

When asked about the rumour linking the Lazio striker with the club that last season signed elder brother Filippo, the de facto President merely smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

The two siblings – separated by two and a half years – have never played together at club level, but once featured in the same Italy line-up during an international friendly.

“However, at a price of £24m,” explained the Rossoneri representative, “Cannavaro will not be coming to Milan. But we remain friendly with both Parma and Juventus.”

This move effectively puts the Turin side in pole position for the Italian international, although Roma also remain contenders.

Juve’s summer reinforcements should also include one of Lazio pairing Dejan Stankovic or Stefano Fiore. This move would be linked with that of Edgar Davids to the Capital.

Fellow Dutchman Van der Meyde of Ajax is the latest addition to the Lazio wishlist along with Leeds United midfielder Olivier Dacourt.

Meanwhile, Juan Sebastian Veron took part in training alongside former teammate and fellow countryman Hernan Crespo.

The Manchester United star has long been linked with a return to Lazio and he is in Rome until Tuesday to train with the squad and work with club doctor Andrea Campi on an Achilles problem.

Milan chase Cafu 'clone'
13.4 || scharatz

According to recent reports from South America, Milan are in talks for Paulo Cesar.

The Fluminense star is said to be a ‘clone’ of Roma winger Marcos Cafu and is his understudy in the Brazilian national side.

His agents, Paulo Barbosa and Vitor Santos, are in Italy this weekend to discuss a possible move to Serie A.

They are said to have held extensive talks with the Rossoneri in order to bring Paulo Cesar in as a replacement for Cosmin Contra.

Despite scoring midweek in the UEFA Cup, Romanian international Contra has not settled at the club since his summer move from Alaves and a return to La Liga looks likely.

The agents also revealed that if a deal could not be struck with the San Siro side, then French club Lyon was following developments closely.

Meanwhile, Udinese and Roma are showing interest in another Brazilian international.

Anderson Polga has replaced Antonio Carlos Zago in the Selecao central defence and could leave Gremio this summer.

Sources close to the club suggest that the giant defender, who is particularly strong in the air with an eye for goal, is in talks for a Serie A move.

Juventus vs. Milan - match preview
13.4 || scharatz

Week 31's big game takes place at the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin, a stadium that is going to see less of the bianconeri and more of cranes and concrete mixers over the next twelve months as it is given a complete face-lift. AC Milan travel to Turin in the hope of keeping their hopes of a Champions League berth alive. A win would not only keep them in the hunt, but may even move them up to fourth should Bologna drop points at home this weekend. For Lippi's men the task is simple. Much like Milan, they need to win four out of four games and hope their opponents slip up. But, their target is a little more serious: lo scudetto. What's going to be against the bianconeri? The entire city of Milan! Should Ancelotti be able to spring a surprise in his old hunting grounds, no one may be happier than Interisti around the world.

Juventus last 6: LWWLDW
A loss at the Tardini followed by a tie at home against the biancocelesti had all but killed Juventus' hopes of fighting for the title, until they were bailed out by Atalanta who stunned Inter at the San Siro last week to put Juve back in Contention. The bianconeri put in one of their best performances of the season last week when the thrashed Perugia 0-4 away from home and will look to continue where they left of against Milan.

AC Milan last 6: WWWLDW
With the exception of the glaring hammering received from Dortmund, Milan have been in supreme form, playing extremely well led by none other than ex-Juve man Pippo Inzaghi who has now netted four times in four games for the rossoneri. If anyone doubted Milan after the 4-0 loss to Dortmund, they must have changed their mind after seeing the return leg where Ancelotti's men proved that had they had better luck in the first leg, they could have well progressed to the final.

A huge blow for Lippi as Juve's best player and one of the world's most wonderful players, Pavel Nedved is suspended for the tie. Paolo Montero finally makes his return from injury but Tudor, Maresca and Salas are still out. Lippi will choose between Davids and Tacchinardi before the game.

Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Thuram, Montero, Ferrara, Iuliano: Zambrotta, Conte, Davids, Pessotto; Del Piero, Trezeguet
Injured: Salas, Tudor & Maresca
Suspended: Nedved

Ancelotti still misses Rui Costa and Maldini, though there is a slim chance that the latter will be available for the game. Billy Costacurta is ruled out for the rest of the season, but defenders Roque Jr. and Helveg have recovered from their respective injures and are in the running for a starting role.

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Contra, Laursen., Chamot, Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Serginho; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Shevchenko
Injured: Maldini, Costacurta, Rui Costa & Redondo
Suspended: -

Lippi's dilemma in midfield will be centered around Nedved's replacement and it appears that Gianluca Pessotto (who has played in that position several times) may deputize for the Czech international. However, with Montero not a 100% and Tudor still recovering from injury, it may make more sense for him to play Pessotto at left back and move Iuliano to the center. Cristiano Zenoni meanwhile will be hoping that his boss has been listening to Lilian Thuram's rants about playing in the center in the hope of earning a rare start. Del Piero and Trezeguet (Serie A's top attacking couple with 33 goals) are set to start up front and will torment and ailing Milan defence deprived of its classy veterans.

Lippi's game plan will probably center around an imposing midfield where the likes of Davids, Conte and Zambrotta will try and impose themselves on the unbalanced Milan midfield. Del Piero will drop back often to create chances for his team-mate Trezeguet and one should not forget Lilian Thuram's probing runs from right-back. The danger men for me are clearly Zambrotta, who always excels against Milan and David Trezeguet.

Ancelotti would be silly to repeat his mistake of leaving Italy's most wonderfully talented youngster on the bench. Andrea Pirlo is the heart and soul of this Milan side's creativity. Inzaghi may have scored some nice goals in the past weeks, but rest assured that all of them have passed through the feet of Andrea Pirlo. With him, Serginho, Contra, Shevchenko and Inzaghi on the field, Milan can stop worrying about scoring goals, even against the imposing Juve defence. Another mistake that Ancelotti is extremely unlikely to repeat is leave Cosmin Contra on the bench. The Romanian may struggle to defend at times, but his crosses alone are worth a start.

Ancelotti's game plan will probably center around Andrea Pirlo who will mastermind the Milan attacks. The job of Gennario Gattuso and Demetrio Albertini will be to get Edgar Davids of Pirlo's back while still keeping tabs on the Juve midfield. I think it is very important for Milan to attack freely as they did in midweek and make use of Contra and Kaladze on the wings. Up front, Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi should be more than a handful for Thuram & Co.

Kallon and Coco to swap places
13.4 || scharatz

Milan and Inter are set to switch stars this summer as Francesco Coco returns from his loan spell at Barcelona.

The Spaniards do not seem intent on taking up their option on the Italian international, so he will be back in the San Siro at the end of this season.

Inter have shown interest in Coco for some months now and striker Mohamed Kallon represents the right incentive to hand him across to the other side of the city.

Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti has long been a fan of the Sierra Leone star and the move would cost neither club a single Euro.

This is hardly the first time a player has moved straight from one local rival to another. In recent years Andrea Pirlo, Andres Guly, Maurizio Ganz, Christian Brocchi and Taribo West have crossed the city.

Ancelotti advises semi-final ref to try basketball
12.4 || scharatz

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has blamed French referee Gilles Veissiere for his side's elimination by Borussia Dortmund in the Uefa Cup semi-finals on Thursday night.

The Rossoneri beat their German opponents 3-1, but still missed out on the final after last week's 4-0 thumping at the Westfalenstadion.

Ancelotti moaned: "I stopped playing football ten years ago and I haven't seen anything like it since.

"Veissiere even blew the whistle on me, saying that I had committed a 'technical foul'. That's ridiculous, he should be officiating basketball, not football.

"Someone fouled [Gennaro] Gattuso at the same time, but the referee was watching me. He was the worst aspect of the game and if he had given us a penalty when [Pippo] Inzaghi went down, we could have produced a miraculous win."

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani supported his coach. "I have to thank the team for the way they played and I'd like to thank the fans too," he said. "But we had this referee, who we had against Hertha Berlin as well, and we are clearly unsatisfied.

"He had to give us a penalty when it was so clear-cut. That is what referees are there for."

Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer was equally upset with the referee, despite seeing Lars Ricken score an injury-time goal to secure his side's passage to the final.

"I am obviously really happy, but I hope Uefa send a referee to the final who doesn't want to take centre stage," said the former Germany sweeper.

"When you are 2-0 down after 20 minutes, you have to be afraid. But my team reacted in a positive way. We looked nervous at first and I am not sure why," he added.

Milan 3:1 Borussia - Ancelotti's post match comments
12.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that his side did believe at one point that they could overturn Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 first leg advantage last night.

The Rossoneri won the return 3-1 but their display in the first 20 minutes – coupled with two goals - had suggested that a miracle was on the cards.

"We did believe that we could do it after we went 2-0 up and we created so many chances in the first half. But the game went as it did and we must now look to the future," said Ancelotti.

"I obviously have regrets about the first leg. But we’ve been playing well for the last month and it is sad that we struggled so badly in Dortmund.

"In Germany we just had a bad night but we showed at the San Siro that we were just as good as Dortmund. But this 3-1 win has increased morale for the last month of the season.

"My side had a good balance to it and we did well in attack with Shevchenko and Inzaghi. When I have fully fit players then this side is born to attack. I must also compliment Pirlo and Gattuso who controlled the midfield."

Dortmund boss Mattias Sammer, formerly of Inter, said: "I’m happy that we are in the final but we didn’t make things easy for ourselves.

"We only woke up after we went 2-0 down. But I must compliment my side and also Milan who put in a really good performance."

Milan 3:1 Borussia - Shevchenko's post match comments
12.4 || scharatz

AC Milan's Andrji Shevchenko has praised the team for their valiant attempts to overturn the 4-0 deficit against Dortmund in the UEFA Cup.
With their 3-1 victory in the San Siro last night, the Rossoneri came very close to making a historic comeback, but in the end their best was still not quite enough.

"We really gave our heart and soul tonight," said Shevchenko. "I believe that we've won this match deservingly and gave a great performance playing excellent football.

"I'm truly sorry that our best was not enough to take us to the final but I'm convinced that our fans had a good time watching us play tonight."

He added: "Now we've got to prepare at our best for the match with Juve on Sunday.

"This is always a peculiar game and we have to focus on it fully without thinking about trying to get into fourth place."

Ancelotti's revenge
12.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti hopes to wreak devastating revenge on Juventus on Saturday and deliver a potential fatal blow to his former club's hopes of lifting the Italian championship.

Ancelotti, now the AC Milan coach, was sacked by the Turin giants last year, but finds himself under severe pressure with his team in fifth spot in Serie A and clinging onto an outside hope of making it to the Champions League next season.

"I have regrets about Juve, but I have to beat them to gain access to next years Champions League," said Ancelotti as he tried to take the edge off what will be a highly charged encounter.

However, this season's record is against him as Juve got a point in a 1-1 draw at the San Siro in the first meeting between the two sides and then were knocked out of the Italian Cup 3-2 on aggregate.

Despite his cautious approach to the game, the events of last season still rankle with Ancelotti, whose Juve team had been pipped to the title on the last day of the 1999-2000 season by Lazio.

He was then informed last May that he would be removed and replaced by Marcello Lippi even though at that time Juve were very much in contention for the 2000-2001 title.

He chose not to tell the players but in the end the news leaked out and despite a brave late rally by the Turin side, AS Roma held out to win their first title for 18 years, meaning Ancelotti was denied the perfect parting shot.

Milan 3:1 Borussia - match report
11.4 || scharatz

A brave Milan gave everything they had as they attempted to overturn the 4-0 first leg defeat but could only beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the return.

The drubbing in Germany seven days ago proved too much of an obstacle even if the Rossoneri put in a dignified performance which won them back some respect after the first leg debacle.

But the Germans had looked rather rattled in the first half as Milan went into a two goal lead in less than 20 minutes. Pippo Inzaghi broke the deadlock after Shevchenko played the ball to Serginho whose cross was nodded in by the Italian international.

The home side doubled their lead just nine minutes later. An Andrea Pirlo free-kick was saved by Jens Lehman but the rebound found its way to Cosmin Contra who couldn’t miss. Just minutes later the former Milan ‘keeper nearly conceded again but managed to hold on to another Pirlo set-piece.

Dortmund did find their feet as the half came to a close but they should have wrapped up the tie early in the second. Marcio Amoroso – who netted a first half hat-trick last week – somehow managed to blast over from close range.

Milan did start to tire but continued to push forward. Under-21 international Pirlo had a great 38th minute chance but blew the one on one he had with Lehman. With time running out, the home side where awarded a penalty which Serginho duly slotted home in injury time.

With less than 120 seconds of added time remaining Milan piled forward in search of the goal that would take the tie into extra time. But the ball found its way into the wrong goal as Lars Ricken took advantage of time and space to angle his shot home.

Milan: Abbiati; Helveg, Chamot, Laursen, Kaladze; Contra (Jose Mari 63), Gattuso (Albertini 77), Serginho; Pirlo; Shevchenko (Simone 71), Inzaghi

Borussia: Lehmann; Reuter, Woerns, Metzelder, Dede; Oliseh, Rosicky, Heinrich (Evanilson 58), Ewerthon (Ricken 73); Koller, Amoroso

Ref: Veissiere (France)

Milan trauma keeps Desailly at Chelsea
11.4 || scharatz

France captain Marcel Desailly has reaffirmed his decision to see out his contract at Chelsea after admitting that the upheaval he experienced on leaving AC Milan was too painful to repeat.

"I will not be changing clubs again, I'd only regret it," he said. "I have absolutely no desire to inflict that sort of violence on myself again."

Desailly won the European Cup with Milan before signing for Chelsea prior to France's victorious World Cup campaign in 1998.

And even lifting the World Cup at the Stade de France failed to break his depression brought on by leaving the San Siro.

"I loved AC Milan so much that leaving was a horrible shock," he said.

"The day my team-mates saw me in the dressing room with a Chelsea shirt, where I was going to be transferred to, they asked me what I was doing and told me to take the shirt off.

"Then the first two or three months in London I was really down, but at Chelsea I refound my taste for life and became motivated again.

"In London I became just another guy and I had more time to spend with my family."

So strong was Desailly's bond with Milan, that even the advances of Real Madrid were laughed off by the France international.

"When they approached me in 1996, and they really did want me, my attitude was wrong. I was pretentious towards them because I was already playing for a great club. They really wanted me but I didn't want to hear anything about it," Desailly told Le Parisien.

But as Milan's fortunes dropped, Desailly did admit to having misgivings about not signing for Real.

"Milan had two feeble seasons after that and today I feel I really ought to have thought twice about that offer," he said.

Desailly enjoyed FA Cup final success with Chelsea in 2000 before being an ever-present in the France team which won the European Championship that summer. His Chelsea contract expires in 2006.

Thuram wants to be United or Milan middle-man
11.4 || scharatz

Juventus defender Lilian Thuram has revealed he will seek a transfer to Manchester United or AC Milan if he keeps being played at right-back.

"If Sir Alex Ferguson or Carlo Ancelotti call and say: 'You can play in the middle,' I will consider my future," he said. "I have no doubt that I am a central defender, but as a player I can only do what the manager wants."

Thuram denied that playing on the right for Juve was no different to fulfilling the same role for France.

"There is a big difference," he said. "I play fewer matches for the national team than with my club and it is easier for the France coach to move one player and let me play centrally. With Juventus, all ten would be messed around.

"This is the first time I have played so many matches as a right-back," he added. "I am not used to it and, even though I think I have had a good season, I am sure I can do better in the middle.

"My team-mates understand the effort I have put in. They know I have been trying to accept the new situation and working hard. I have got much better at crossing, for example.

"But now I want to understand what the future holds. I will have to discuss a lot of things with Lippi. I have been ready to sacrifice myself before, but now I want to enjoy my football again in my proper position - and as soon as possible."

Thuram's outburst is sure to alert United, who will lose Laurent Blanc to retirement in the summer. Injuries to Wes Brown and Ronny Johnsen this season have also left the Premiership giants short of central defenders.

Ferguson enquired about Thuram before his £22 million move from Parma to Juve last summer and would jump at the chance to land the elegant Frenchman a year on, providing funds were available.

Milan are in a similar situation, with veteran Billy Costacurta possibly on his way out at the end of the season. Ancelotti also knows all about Thuram's prowess from their time together at the Ennio Tardini stadium.

Ancelotti calls upon fans to support Milan
11.4 || scharatz

AC Milan play Borussia Dortmund in UEFA Cup second leg semifinal tonight at San Siro.

Brazilian Marcio Amoroso's hat-trick for Dortmund in a 4-0 home victory over the Italians in the first leg means Carlo Ancelotti's men are virtually out of the competition.

"We need our fans' support, enthusiasm and passion today. The more Milan supporters come today to stadium, the better. But we are not going to surrender. Maybe we have less than 10% of chances to reach the finals, but we will fight," said Milan coach.

"Borussia have very strong attack and they have proved it for many times. But if they are forced to defend, then things get worse for them. That's why we must force them to defend. The 4-0 score must only stimulate us to a better performance," Ancelotti concluded.

Milan vs. Borussia - Ancelotti's pre match comments
10.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti says he will put out his best side as AC look to overturn their 4-0 UEFA Cup semi-final deficit against Dortmund on Thursday.

Ancelotti is determined to put out his best possible team in order to try to turn the tables after the humiliating defeat suffered at the hands of the German side last week.

And even if the Rossoneri's attempt prove futile Ancelotti wants his boys to try, even if their task does prove to be too much.

He said: "Andrea Pirlo, Serginho, Filippo Iznaghi and Andrie Schevchenko will all be in the line-up tomorrow.

"I want a fully offence-oriented team, even if I know that may not be enough and that's why I'm asking our fans to support us. The more Rossoneri we have at the Stadium tomorrow, the better.

"We want to try even if we know that it will be incredibly hard to turn the tables around. However, I have seen so many seemingly impossible things happen in this sport, so we've got to try even if I'd say that we have less than a 10% chance of succeeding.

"I want to see a very focused team. We will leave the field only after we have given it all, especially because we are playing in front of our fans."

Milan vs. Borussia - Sammer's pre match comments
10.4 || scharatz

Ahead of UEFA Cup second leg tie between AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund the manager of the German club Matthias Sammer warned his players not to rely on their 4-0 win in the first leg.

"We have come to Milan not for a promenade. 4-0 is not a score to rely upon," said Dortmund manager to SID sports agency. Of course he remembers UEFA Cup match in 1985 when Dynamo Dresden, where Sammer played, winning Bayer Uerdingen at home 2-0, in the second leg lost 3-7 after leading in the first half 3-1.

"Milan Stadium is a place where something of the kind can easily happen," says Europe 1996 champion, "if there are players in my side who don't understand we have got the most real chance (after winning Champions League in 1997) to progress to UEFA Cup finals then I have nothing to speak with them".

Sammer hit back speculations he plans to rest his team's key players ahead of the successive Bundesliga tie in Kaiserslautern, saying he is not crazy.

Chivu ready for life after Ajax
10.4 || scharatz

Ajax's hopes of holding onto coveted defender Cristian Chivu are fading fast after the Romanian admitted he was ready to leave the club.

"I have told coach Ronald Koeman that I believe that I'm ready for a foreign adventure when a good side is interested," the Romania international said.

"I'm captain of Ajax and a player who has become a source of inspiration for his team-mates," Chivu told the Algemeen Dagblad. "But lately I have increasingly wondered who I can still learn from at Ajax."

The central defender added, however, that there was no question of him leaving Ajax until the Eredivisie title chase had been resolved.

Chivu, rated at £14 million, could leave Ajax for a much lower fee because of a clause in his contract, which does not expire until the summer of 2006.

The 21-year-old, who has attracted interest from AC Milan, Internazionale and Barcelona among others, is in his third season at Ajax, who signed him from University Craiova at the start of the 1999-2000 season.

He immediately became regular fixture in the side, and is now one of the most consistent players at the Amsterdam Arena.

Ajax, meanwhile, have begun the search for a replacement but the club will only take action when the departure of their captain is certain.

Galliani: Milan to rebuild for Scudetto
10.4 || scharatz

Adriano Galliani has said that Milan’s transfer campaign this summer will prove that the club will still be targeting the Scudetto next season.

The Rossoneri have had a disappointing term in which with four games to go they are still not guaranteed a top four finish in Serie A.

But the Vice-President claims that the club will continue to be a force in the Italian game despite another below-par 12 months.

"This season will not be the end of Milan," Galliani stated. "And we will be back with the realistic intention of winning the title."

Speculation recently had suggested that a host of players would leave the club this summer including Gennaro Gattuso who has been hotly tipped to join Juventus. However, Galliani dismissed such rumours.

He said: "All of our midfielders will be confirmed for the new campaign. And that extends to striker Andriy Shevchenko (pictured).

"Real Madrid made an offer last year but we turned them down. And even though we have received no further bids, Shevchenko will remain here."

The Rossoneri chief also admitted that Parma’s Fabio Cannavaro was of interest even if the Italian international is also being chased by Juventus. He’s valued at £20m.

Milan vs. Borussia - match preview
10.4 || scharatz

A miracle is what is needed in the San Siro on Thursday night to prevent the presence of Matthias Sammer's Dortmund side in the UEFA Cup Final in Rotterdam. I for one, can not remember the last time a side that went down 0-4 in the first leg of a European tie bounced back to proceed to the next round. What's more, I am confident that the Germans will go on to lift the UEFA Cup in Rotterdam irrespective of the opposition they face (Inter or Feyenoord). They have shown great character, courage and talent on the pitch and should be considered a force to reckon with in next year's Champions' League. Milan, meanwhile need to try and salvage some pride, but not get carried away in the process. At this point, their weekend fixture versus Juventus could be of more significance than the midweek UEFA clash. Ancelotti's team will look to finish fourth in the Serie A in order to compete in Europe's premier club competition after a year of absence.

AC Milan last 6: WWWWLD
Aside from last week's hiding, Milan have been in rather good form of late and even a host of injury problems have not seen them slip up in league play in the last rounds. They are still in with a chance of claiming the coveted fourth Champions' League berth, but seem to have ended their European campaign for this year.

Borussia Dortmund last 6: WWWLWW
Some of the most sensational displays of attacking football seem to be coming from the top two of the Bundesliga this season. While Bayer Leverkusen dismantled Liverpool earlier today, Dortmund have put in stunning performances themselves against Freiburg, Liberec and Milan.

Both teams may choose to rest a few players ahead of key fixtures versus Juventus and Kaiserslautern respectively. However, Ancelotti is expected to start with most of his available stars in the hope of getting a few early goals to turn the score around. But, should his men fail to break down the Dortmund defence, I suspect the likes of Inzaghi and Ambrosini will be withdrawn in light of the Delle Alpi clash. Dortmund, meanwhile will almost certainly be without Amoroso and Rosicky.

AC Milan (3-4-1-2): Abbiati; Roque Jr., Chamot, Kaladze; Contra, Albertini, Ambrosini, Serginho; Pirlo; Inzaghi, Javi Moreno

BVB (4-4-2): Lehmann; Oliseh, Wörns, Metzelder, Köhler; Reuter, Ricken, Dede, Heinrich; Koller, Ewerthon

Brocchi claims AC Milan will succeed
9.4 || scharatz

Milan's Christian Brocchi is convinced that his club will qualify for a ChampionsLeague berth, despite having to face Juventus on Sunday.
"We are competing with Bologna for a Champions League spot and even if our game against Juve in Turin will no doubt be difficult, it is also true that Francesco Guidolin's side will have quite a tricky game," said the midfielder.

"Piacenza are fighting to avoid relegation and so far they always managed to give a headache to the so-called big clubs."

However before the next round of Serie A games, AC Milan welcome Borussia Dortmund on Thursday in a game that may appear useless to some but that will see AC Milan fighting till the end, Brocchi assures.

"This game is very important to us and we want to do well. Also because their celebrations at the end of the game (after their 4-0 win) have really annoyed us.

"We know that qualifying for the final is difficult but we must try. We'll have to try to score right

away, even though, of course this could give them an advantage on the counter-attacks but we have our defence to take care of that."

Milan to aid Inter glory?
9.4 || webmaster

Gennaro Gattuso has admitted that Milan may well prove decisive in city rivals Inter winning their first Serie A title since 1989.

The Rossoneri are desperate to finish fourth in the championship and will be looking to take points off both title chasing Juventus and Roma in two of their last four games.

"We still have a real chance of qualifying for the Champions’ League and that is our aim. Even if by beating Juve and Roma we would help out Inter in the Scudetto race. But we are thinking about ourselves and no one else," he said.

Gattuso has been satisfied with Milan’s performances in the last four weeks and is confident that fourth place is obtainable.

Even if he is desperate for Milan to prove their worth in the second leg of the UEFA Cup after their 4-0 drubbing against Borussia Dortmund.

"On Thursday I want to play until the death because I can’t erase that 4-0 defeat from my mind and I want some sort of revenge," he added.

"In the last month Milan have shown that they can play some good football apart from the game in Germany against Borussia. Now we have just four League games to go and the return UEFA Cup tie to once again show how good we can be."

The former Rangers midfielder also thanked national boss Giovanni Trapattoni for his constant praise towards him.

He concluded: "I’m honoured that Trap rates me so highly despite some questioning whether I’m worth a place with the national side."

Portugal boosted by Rui Costa prognosis
9.4 || webmaster

Portugal and AC Milan playmaker Rui Costa has dismissed speculation that he will miss the rest of the season and the World Cup after injuring his thigh against Chievo on Sunday.

The midfielder has had an injury-ravaged first season at the San Siro after joining the club in the summer from Fiorentina.

But Rui Costa said on Tuesday that the latest setback, a thigh injury against Chievo, was not as serious as first thought.

He said: "It's not true that my season has ended. I don't know whether I'll return in a week or ten days, but it's certain that I will play before the end of this season."

Rui Costa broke his hand and arm in Milan's first match of the season at Brescia, then sat out several weeks in the New Year with an ankle problem, before this latest thigh complaint, which first appeared against Piacenza two weeks ago.

Rui Costa added: "It makes me sad because every time I recover from an injury something like this happens."

Injuries have forced him to miss Portugal's last two friendlies and he is now struggling to line up for his country against Brazil on April 17.

Just two weeks ago, national coach Antonio Oliveira backed the midfielder to overcome his form and fitness problems at the San Siro - and guaranteed him a place in his World Cup squad.

"It has never occurred to me not to count on his magic," declared Oliveira.

Chievo - AC Milan - post-match comments
7.4 || webmaster

Luigi Del Neri: The draw is fine as earning a point against a team like Milan is a good thing. We are still in the running for a spot in the Champions’ League and have all the qualities to do it. I really think that I will stay with Chievo for another year.

Carlo Ancelotti: It certainly is a shame to drop points in such an important match due to a single defensive bout of amnesia. We played well, fought hard and ran fast – a good sign of reaction following the 4-0 defeat at Dortmund. The race for that Champions’ spot is wide open and next week’s game with Juventus will not be easy for either of us.

Chievo 1-1 AC Milan - match report
7.4 || webmaster

Scorers: Inzaghi 13 (M), Moro 21 (C)

This was a desperate Campions' League showdown as the three-way fight for the fourth and final qualifying spot rages on.

The Rossoneri showed a real weakness down the flanks in their 4-0 UEFA cup defeat at Borussia Dortmund midweek, and found a Chievo team that uses a similar style. In fact, Bernardo Corradi nodded just over the bar within the first minute.

However, it was Milan who broke the deadlock on 13 minutes when Filippo Inzaghi slipped around his marker to nod in a Manuel Rui Costa centre.

The lead did not last long as the defence left Fabio Moro completely unmarked for the easiest of free headers on an Eugenio Corini free kick.

It was an exciting encounter and Rui Costa's curling set-piece almost got the better of Cristiano Lupatelli. In first half stoppage time Corini blasted over the bar from an extremely favourable position.

Rui Costa limped off with another thigh strain, while Andriy Shevchenko made his first appearance in almost a month. The Ukrainian was hacked down by goalscorer Moro for his second yellow card and Chievo were forced to play the final 15 minutes in ten men.

However, the strains of Thursday's UEFA Cup tie showed on the Rossoneri and it was Chievo who continued to have the best opportunities. In the final minute Inzaghi turned over an open goal with only the 'keeper to beat.

Chievo: Lupatelli; Moro, D'Angelo, Legrottaglie, Lanna; Eriberto (D'Anna 76), Perrotta, Corini, Franceschini; Corradi, Marazzina (Cossato 69)

Milan: Abbiati; Chamot, Laursen, Roque Junior, Kaladze; Brocchi (Jose Mari 75), Gattuso, Albertini (Pirlo 84), Serginho; Rui Costa (Shevchenko 60); Inzaghi

Ref: De Santis

Sent off: Moro 74 (C)

Maldini injured again
6.4 || scharatz

AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini received an injury in the UEFA Cup semifinal match against Borussia Dortmund. Maldini was out of action for three months and had recovered recently.

This time he harmed his thigh, and the term of his absence will be known after next week's medical. As of today physicians think that he has to miss for one week.

"I felt pain in the first half of the game against Borussia, but after consulting with physicians I decided to continue playing," Maldini announced.

The absence of the captain creates problems in the defence line of Milan. Besides, Contra and Costacurta are also out of action.

However, Milan head coach Carlo Ancelotti must not be worried because Rui Costa and Andriy Shevchenko will play in the game against Cheivo, although it is unknown whether the Ukrainian forward will perform from the first minute of the match.

Milan head Cannavaro chase
6.4 || scharatz

Milan have leapt into pole position to snatch the signature of Parma star Fabio Cannavaro.

The defender is likely to be sold this summer following their disappointing season and all the big clubs – including Inter, Juventus, Roma, Lazio, Real Madrid and Manchester United – are said to have tabled bids.

However, whereas Juve were said to be close to a deal, Milan have made an impact with a new offer.

Former Atalanta midfielder Massimo Donati plus cash for a total bid of around £33m is likely to tempt the Gialloblu.

Milan are traditionally close to Parma and are also said to be in talks for Daniele Bonera. The Brescia starlet has already signed a £10m move to the Tardini, but could be re-routed towards the San Siro.

It has been suggested in the Italian press that the Rossoneri are also interested in Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia.

The defence is set to be revolutionised this summer as Cosmin Contra, Jose Chamot, Roque Junior and Martin Laursen are on the market.

The move comes just as Juventus renew their attempts to take Italian international teammate Alessandro Nesta away from Lazio.

Milan set to sign Santos starlet
6.4 || scharatz

Brazilian sources have confirmed that Milan are in advanced talks for Santos starlet Diego Ribas Da Cunha.

The Rossoneri have offered around £4.7m for the 17-year-old who was given a regular spot in the starting line-up by Coach Celso Roth.

“There is a proposal,” admitted the creative midfielder, “and it’s clear that I am attracted by Italy. It all depends on Santos.”

Diego’s contract is 60% owned by Santos and 40% by his father, who also acts as the players’ agent.

Ancelotti: Forget Dortmund
6.4 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has asked his men to retaliate against the 4-0 drubbing in Dortmund with a victory at Chievo this afternoon.

“You can fall down in football,” assured the Coach, “but you must also know how to pick yourself up again with determination and courage.”

Virtually out of the UEFA Cup following that disastrous Semi-Final first leg in Germany midweek, Milan’s last remaining objective for the season is fourth place and qualification for the Champions’ League.

This head to head clash with Chievo is therefore their most important match of the season so far, but the pressure could get to the San Siro outfit.

“There is that risk,” concedes Ancelotti, “but we must remember that in some games the motivation to do well must be stronger than the fear of failure.”

“We must forget Dortmund as in Serie A this team has notched up three consecutive victories. The team has to keep this fact in mind if they are to reach fourth place.”

Thursday’s defeat also had an effect on Ancelotti’s choices as Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo suffered injuries during the match, although Andriy Shevchenko does return from a month-long lay-off.

“Manuel Rui Costa will start, as Pirlo is a little tired.” The former Juve boss had categorically ruled out the possibility of the two midfielders playing in the same line-up, but in the space of seven days he has seemingly changed his mind.

"I tried out that theory in training and saw that the two players often combine well. In certain situations it is possible that they can play together.”

Chievo have picked up their early season form once more in recent weeks and operate in a similar style to Borussia Dortmund – pace and power down the flanks.

“I expect to see Chievo in the same kind of form that gave us so many problems in our first encounter,” admitted Ancelotti. “Against Perugia I saw that they had recovered that strength, speed and determination.”

“In theory we could suffer the same problems on the flanks that we had at Dortmund, even if this time we must approach the game in an entirely different manner. We defended very badly in Germany and were simply unable to contain their counter-attacks.”

Ancelotti is one of the many Serie A managers who are rumoured to risk the sack at the end of this season.

“After a 4-0 Semi-Final defeat, it is only normal,” he admitted. “My position is firm and the club has backed me more than once. We’ll think about my future after May 5.”

Chievo Verona vs. AC Milan - match preview
5.4 || scharatz

A place in Europe's elite club competition is not out of the reach of either of the sides that meet in this weekend fixture. Chievo Verona are no longer the surprise package of Serie A. They are well and truly safe from relegation, but are showing that they are human after all by falling to sixth place in the standings after leading it at one time. They haven't had the best of times of late, but can make amends to that by cementing that UEFA Cup berth and also pushing for a Champions League spot.

AC Milan are the "joke of the day" in Dortmund today. While grand hopes were being raised of an all-Milanese European final, no one noticed a very angry Borussia Dortmund team coming. Well, they came and they went and left Milan all but dumped out of the UEFA cup in the process. The 4-0 humbling that Milan faced cannot be made up for, but what the rossoneri can do to atone for this sin (in their fans' eyes), is qualify for Champions' League 2002-03. However, it would be interesting to debate their intentions as this last defeat clearly showed they are not among Europe's elite any longer.

Chievo Verona: DDDDWD
Two wins in thirteen league games have done no good to Chievo's hopes of extending their stay in dreamland and playing Champions' League football next season. It's true that they would be more than happy with the UEFA Cup as well, but surely they need to battle right to the end for the fourth spot. The fact that they are far more superior at home may count for something when they host Milan on Sunday.

Impressive, isn't it? The four Ws stand proudly, but it is easy to overlook that the last L has a tale of its own. Milan were obliterated by Dortmund midweek 4-0 ending their hopes of UEFA Cup glory. What's more, it could have been worse. True, Milan missed a good number of chances, but so did Dortmund. The score could have easily been 6-1 or even 7-2! Now, Milan have just one thing to do – win five out of five to try and finish fourth to appease the incensed San Siro public.

Del Neri is still without the services of his star left winger Christian Manfredini. However, he has his best to pick from other than that and the only doubts in his mind will be whether to leave defender Lorenzi and forward Marazzina on the bench in favor of Moro and Cossato or not?

Chievo Verona (4-4-2): Lupatelli; Moro, D'Angelo, Legrottaglie, Lanna; Eriberto, Corini, Perrotta, Franceschini; Corradi, Cossato
Injured: Manfredini
Suspended: -

Ancelotti will have the huge task of motivating his team ahead of this crucial clash and the absence of Shevchenko and Costacurta will not help his cause. Only one of Rui Costa or Pirlo is expected to get the start and even Serginho might get the nod considering Milan's attacking flair is significantly diminished when he is absent.

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Roque Jr., Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Ambrosini; Pirlo or Rui Costa; Inzaghi, José Mari
Injured: Shevchenko, Costacurta & Redondo
Suspended: Contra

Bernardo Corradi: After continuing his fine run of form, which included a pair of goals versus Perugia last week, Corradi is setting his sights on a big club and his destination may well be Milan come summer. Watch out for him to impress the Milan scouts at the game.

Andrea Pirlo: I have a feeling he will get the start. Pirlo shone in last week's triumph over Parma but struggled to lead his team to glory midweek. But, don't forget that he almost scored against Dortmund and set up Inzaghi for what should have been an equalizer. Had luck been on the youngster's side, Milan would have tied it at 2-2 at that point and who knows what would have happened next?

Maldini blasts Italian football
5.4 || webmaster

Following the thrashing suffered at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan skipper Paolo Maldini admitted that the present situation of Italian football is very, very, alarming.

"Italian clubs are in a crisis and we must understand why. We face teams who care much more of the offensive phase and are less worried than us. We care only of the result, and I'm not only talking about Milan. Italian teams are supposed to be great on the defensive side, but when we face offensive-oriented teams, we go in deep trouble," Maldini told reporters on Thursday night.

AC Milan's loss at Dortmund last night was just the last of a series of embarrassing results suffered by Italian teams in Europe throughout the past two seasons.

All that is left to restore Italian honor now is the World Cup, where Maldini is expected to captain the Azzurri outfit.

Galliani proposes renovations concerning CL
5.4 || webmaster

AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani announced before the match against Borussia Dortmund that the clubs that reach the UEFA Cup final should have the right of automatically entering the next Champions League. Galliani announced the UEFA has to think of this problem because there is the necessity to revise the access rules of the most important European tournament.
"We've talked also to Borussia Dortmund president, and he agrees with our idea", Galliani said. "The teams that take part in the semifinals and finalists should have this right, because their national championship is seriously conditioned by this competition. And the same thing refers to the teams who will join the Champions League final."
Galliani brought an example: "Alaves last year played in the UEFA Cup final, losing it, and this year they won't play in Europe. This is not positive."

Ancelotti: "Milan must still believe"
5.4 || webmaster

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has said that his side must still believe that they can get to the UEFA Cup Final despite their 4-0 first leg defeat in Dortmund.

The Rossoneri were swept aside by Borussia last night when goals from Serie A rejects came back to haunt the San Siro giants.

Former Parma striker Marcio Amoroso netted a first half hat-trick before ex-Fiorentina defender Jorg Heinrich slotted home the fourth.

"It is a difficult time for us," said a disappointed Ancelotti. "But we are forced to believe that we can still do it. But before the return we need to pick ourselves up because we are still chasing fourth place in Serie A."

The former Juventus boss was understandably saddened by the performance. "We were not alert enough at the back and wasteful in attack. We were also poor on the wings. I’m not surprised by Borussia’s attacking potential, but I am for our poor show."

Defender Thomas Helveg admitted that the defeat was what the side deserved. "There are no excuses," he said. "We played badly and allowed Borussia to dominate us. The goal we conceded early cut off our legs basically."

The 4-0 loss last night was one of Milan’s heaviest in Europe. Their worst was a 5-1 defeat against Barcelona in 1959-60 season.

Sammer beaming after Milan demolition
5.4 || webmaster

Dortmund boss Matthias Sammer lauded heavy praise on his troops after virtually booking their UEFA Cup final berth with a 4-0 battering of Milan.

Milan, who were the overwhelming favourites, went into the break last night at Dortmund three goals down and witnessed some magical football by their German counterparts.

A first-half hat-trick from Marcio Amoroso gave Borussia the perfect start and Jorg Heinrich made it an unforgettable night in the second half just after the hour.

52,000 fans saw a fantastic performance, one of their best in years, with Brazilians Amoroso and Ewerthon as well as Christian Wörns the outstanding players.

Sammer beamed afterwards: "I think the first half was quite perfect. In the second half, they did very well overall. We did quite a good job and Milan were certainly surprised.

"Marcio is a world-class player. But a world-class player has to come up with this kind of performance permanently. That's what I'm working at with him," added Sammer, who says that his star striker can get even better.

On the other side of the fence, Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti will have plenty of thoughts to dwell upon in the next few days to explain the reasons that lead to the defeat.

However at a first glance, he said that the team's concentration was poor.

He said: "The team has been very unfocused in defence and we wasted too many chances up front.

"We didn't play well out on the flanks and we allowed Amoroso to have too much freedom. He's a great player and this is what happens when you let him play.

"The great game played by Borussia came as no surprise for me. What really left me puzzled was our performance."

Borussia 4:0 Milan - match report
4.4 || scharatz

Milan’s hopes of reaching the UEFA Cup Final have evaporated after a heavy 4-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund.

A first-half hat-trick by former Parma striker Marcio Amoroso virtually sealed the tie for the Germans in a game where Milan were a shadow of the side that had won their last four games.

Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti decided to promote Andrea Pirlo to the starting line-up after his heroics at the weekend but the German outfit proved too hot to handle.

Borussia, Coached by former Inter flop Mathias Sammer, started the game in lighting fashion and won a clear eighth minute penalty when Cosmin Contra brought down Amoroso in the box. The Brazilian picked himself up to slot home the spot kick.

Milan tentatively tried to get back in the game but efforts from Pirlo and Maldini did little to threaten former Rossoneri ‘keeper Jens Lehmann in the Dortmund net.

And after the classy Rosicky went close, Amoroso grabbed his second with a splendid right foot shot after Martin Laursen was outclassed on 34 minutes.

Milan hearts sunk even further just five minutes later when Ewerthon’s excellent work on the right was finished off by Amoroso who beat Contra to the ball to make it 3-0.

The Italian were desperately trying to get that crucial away goal but their night got even worse on 62 minutes after Ewerthon broke through the offside trap to square the ball for Heinrich, who tapped in from close range.

Both Pippo Inzaghi and Serginho did have late chances to try to grab an away goal that could have given the side hope for the second leg but the pair failed to take advantage of the opportunities.

Borussia: Lehmann; Reuter, Woerns, Metzelder, Dede (Kohler 77); Oliseh, Rosicky, Heinrich (Evanilson 71), Ewerthon (Reina 89); Koller, Amoroso

Milan: Abbiati; Contra (Roque Junior 65), Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso (Rui Costa 61), Albertini (Seginho 46), Ambrosini; Pirlo; Jose Mari, Inzaghi

Ref: Poll (England)

Inzaghi sparks Milan revival
4.4 || Kenneth

It has been a long winter for AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, but since the arrival of spring - and particularly the return to action of striker Filippo Inzaghi - life at the San Siro is finally beginning to look up.

Victory over Chievo this weekend would go a long way to ensuring the Rossoneri a place in the Champions' League next season, and Milan can still dream of silverware as they prepare for Thursday's Uefa Cup semi-final with Borussia Dortmund.

The club still have a long way to go to achieve both aims, but for Ancelotti the turnaround has proved a job-saver.

At the beginning of last month, his side's 2-0 defeat at Champions' League rivals Bologna was hailed as the worst Milan performance of a terrible season. Four days later, Hapoel Tel Aviv beat Milan in the first leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final.

Thankfully for Ancelotti, Inzaghi was on the mend. A tearful SuperPippo had been carried off with knee ligament damage after scoring in Milan's 3-2 win over Chievo in early December, and with him went Milan's spark.

Loss of form then injury then deprived Ancelotti of Andriy Schevchenko, but with the return of Inzaghi, the pendulum has swung back in the coach's favour.

Ancelotti was accused of risking Inzaghi too soon, but the coach's judgement is not now being called into question.

"Inzaghi has made AC Milan a new team," vice-president Adriano Galliani said. "All his team-mates play better with him on the pitch.

"He feels loved at AC Milan and he gives all he can for this shirt as he has shown since his return. He is exhausted at the end of every game."

Inzaghi came back off the bench following the Tel Aviv debacle to help his side to a 2-1 win over Torino at a nervy San Siro, then started for the first time as Milan overturned their first leg Uefa Cup deficit to knock out the Israeli side.

Another narrow win, this time away to Piacenza, followed before Inzaghi marked his return with two goals as Parma were overwhelmed at the weekend.

Inzaghi has lost just once while playing for Milan, a 1-0 defeat against Torino on 4 November, and with the striker back in the side, Milan have won three Serie matches in a row for the the first time since September.

With Pippo on the pitch, even Milan enigma Manuel Rui Costa has been coaxed into finally reproducing the form he showed during seven glorious years at Fiorentina.

Shevchenko is unlikely to return for another two weeks, increasing the burden on Inzaghi who has thrived as the focal point of the Milan attack. Always teetering on the brink of offside, Inzaghi's lightning darts in the box give the midfield a willing target and a potent finisher.

Eight goals in 15 Serie A appearances since his summer move from Juventus tells a story of what might have been had both he and Shevchenko been fit to spearhead the Milan attack together.

With Andrea Pirlo, who scored his first of the season against Parma, also in excellent form and now giving Rui Costa cause for concern over his place in the side, Inzaghi is convinced that both he and Milan are peaking at the right time.

"The improvement has come about thanks to all of us, it is not just down to me," he said. "Pirlo is unbelievably talented and is the perfect midfielder to play behind me.

"He hasn't played much this season, but he has made an impact when he has. He is still young and I feel sure he will become one of the best playmakers in the world. Massimo Ambrosini has also recently returned and Paolo Maldini is finally back.

"Everyone, particularly those who have played most matches this season, is in much better shape now. I'm just looking forward to playing alongside Sheva."

With Milan returning to form, the omens do not bode well for Borussia Dortmund, particularly with an-all Milan final still on the agenda. "We'll go to Dortmund knowing how difficult this match will be, but we hope to get a good result that will allow us to qualify at home," Inzaghi added.

"The form we are in gives us every reason to feel optimistic. I am dreaming of playing in the Uefa Cup final - especially against Inter."

Tacchinardi set for Milan move
4.4 || Kenneth

Alessio Tacchinardi will almost certainly move to Milan this summer in exchange for Gennaro Gattuso.

Reports in Italy claim that the Juventus star will make the switch after not totally convincing Coach Marcello Lippi of his abilities.

The former Atalanta player has had a disappointing season and seems set to move to the San Siro to join up with former Juve boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The latter was a key figure in the midfielder’s development in recent times.

It is believed that the two clubs have already agreed terms on the deal which will see cash and international Gennaro Gattuso arrive at the Delle Alpi.

His arrival for the Old Lady should allow Juve to sell Edgar Davids.

Other transfer rumours suggest that the Bianconeri are considering a swoop for Manchester United’s Juan Sebastian Veron.

The Argentine is also a target for Lazio but Juve could offer the capital club Lilian Thuram in an attempt to persuade them to give up in the chase for the playmaker.

Galliani looking forward to Dortmund clash
4.4 || scharatz

AC Milan's vice-president Adriano Galliani says he is thrilled at the prospect of tomorrow's UEFA Cup semi-final against Borussia Dortmund.
AC Milan take on Dortmund at the Westfalenstadium tomorrow after overcoming Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-1 on aggregate at the quarter-final stage.

Galliani is delighted that Carlo Ancelotti's side have progressed so far in the competition, and said: "Finally, we are playing a in European semi final after seven years.

"I believe that all four clubs that have reached this stage are high profile teams. Borussia Dortmund, for example, have a great front line."

Galliani also talked about his team's future, stating that neither Rui Costa nor Andrea Pirlo would be leaving the club, and that Francesco Coco may soon be back from Barcelona.

"Rui Costa and Pirlo are two key players for us, even tough they don't necessarily have to play together.

"They are an important resource to us and they will be next season as well.

"As for Francesco Coco (who is on loan at the Catalan giants), Barcelona have until May 31 to renew his contract. If they don't he will certainly be back with us."

Inzaghi: Milan focused on Borussia
3.4 || scharatz

Pippo Inzaghi has maintained that Milan will not think about their crucial League game against Chievo until their clash with Borussia Dortmund has ended.

The Rossoneri will play the German side in the first leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final on Thursday in an attempt to set up an all Milanese final as Inter play Feyenoord on the same night.

"We’re thinking about just one game at a time now. We’re focusing on the Dortmund clash and then once the final whistle blows we can dedicate ourselves to the important Chievo game," Inzaghi said.

That clash is a potential Champions’ League play-off as both clubs are looking to finish fourth and win entry into Europe’s Premier competition. But for the time being concentration is very much on the Germans.

"Borussia are a very strong opponent and this is definitely the most difficult game out of the semi-finals. But we’ll play with grit and determination," the striker added.

"We’ve won our last four games and we’re in confident mood because the whole side is doing well."

Meanwhile, boss Carlo Ancelotti claims that both clubs have an equal chance of making the final. "There is no real favourite in our tie and both Borussia and Milan are in good form at the minute," he said.

"We need to stay alert and try to limit them to as little space as possible. As for who will play between Andrea Pirlo and Manuel Rui Costa, I’ll decide at the very last minute.

"Pirlo will probably be selected but I need to evaluate Rui Costa’s fitness. He trained yesterday and he’s in good shape."

Milan confirm Pirlo and Rui Costa
3.4 || Kenneth

Andrea Pirlo and Manuel Rui Costa will both remain at Milan next season according to Vice-president Adriano Galliani.

It was believed that one of the two could leave the side after Coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that the pair can’t play in the same side.

"They will both remain with us for the next campaign even if it will be difficult, I believe, to see them in the same team. But they will be two important figures in our squad plans," said Galliani.

Pressure is on Ancelotti to use more of Under-21 international Pirlo after he turned the game against Parma in the 3-1 win on Saturday. With the former Inter starlet netting a wonderful free-kick.

A display which Galliani was very impressed with even if he rejects claims that he stated that Pirlo and Rui Costa should be fielded in the same side from now on.

"They are two great players but I deny that I’ve said that they should always play together. Pirlo is a real talent as is Rui, but I don’t get involved in team selection."

The Milan chief also highlighted that Italian international Francesco Coco could return to the club this summer. The defender is currently on loan at Barcelona.

"Barca have until May 31 to decide on the option of whether to keep him or not. We don’t know their intentions but if he’s not wanted then he will definitely return here."

Borussia vs. Milan - match preview
3.4 || scharatz

The first leg of the UEFA Cup semifinals takes place on Thursday evening and one of the venues that all eyes will be glued on will be the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund. AC Milan have not won in seven trips to Germany and have to go as far back as 1968 to recall their Cup Winners' Cup final triumph versus Hamburg SV through a Hamrin brace.

The two sides haven't met in forty-four years from the days of Leidholm and Galli when Milan went on to win 5-2 over two legs in the European Champions' Cup. But, today is a different story. While the Rui Costas and Rosickys are still there to spice the tie up, the game shall witness two teams with extremely Contrasting seasons.

While Dortmund have prospered in the Bundesliga thanks mainly to their star trio of Amoroso-Rosicky-Koller, and are still within reach of the Bundesliga title, Milan have stuttered along and have only recently been able to display some sort of form in the league. Plagued by injury and controversy, the rossoneri currently lie fifth in Serie A and were out of the title race before it even heated up. But, for both sides, UEFA Cup glory would be something they would be very pleased with and hence a ferocious battle is definitely on the cards.

Borussia Dortmund
- Gained entry to third round via Champions League group stage
- vs. FC Copenhagen: Away 1-0; Home 1-0
- vs. Lille: Away 1-1; Home 0-0
- vs. Slovan Liberec: Away 0-0; Home 4-0

AC Milan
- Gained entry via sixth place finish in Serie A 2000-2001
- vs. BATE Borisov: Away 2-0; Home 4-0
- vs. CSKA Sofia: Home 2-0; Away 1-0
- vs. Sporting Lisbon: Home 2-0; Away 1-1
- vs. Roda JC: Away 1-0; Home 0-1 (Milan won on penalties)
- vs. Hapoel Tel-Aviv: Away 0-1; Home 2-0

Borussia Dortmund last 6 (all comps): WDWWWL
Borussia may have compromised their title hopes this weekend when they fell away to Stuttgart, but only a fool would overlook the fact that they have scored no less than 18 times in their last six games! However, their form in the UEFA cup has been less than desirable. They were made to struggle by FC Copenhagen and Lille and even Slovan Liberec held them scoreless for all of 141 minutes before the floodgates opened in their 4-0 victory.

AC Milan last 6 (all comps): LLWWWW
After reaching an all time low in terms of morale and failure as a result of the 2-0 loss at the hands of Bologna, the squad have bounced back in style, thanks largely to the return of some key players. Four wins out of four have not only seen the side into the last four of the UEFA Cup, but also within a point of Champions League qualification for the coming season.

José Mari vs. Christian Wörns: José Mari has already netted five times this year and each time it has been in an away game. He may not be the perfect finisher but his pace will be something that the slower Wörns will have to watch out for. One slip and he may punish them, if not by scoring, then by supplying the predatory Inzaghi.

Tomas Rosicky vs. Massimo Ambrosini: Massimo Ambrosini has done an exceptional job for AC Milan since his return but he is going to face one of the tests of the season when he comes face-to-face with Czech prodigy Tomas Rosicky on Thursday. The youngster has been the backbone of Dortmund's title challenge and there will be a lot of pressure on him to lead his side to victory over Milan. In his way, stands the ferocious Ambrosini.

Borussia Dortmund (3-5-2): Lehmann; Evanilson, Wörns, Metzelder; Dede, Rosicky, Ricken, Heinrich, Reuter; Amoroso, Koller

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Contra, Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Ambrosini; Rui Costa; Inzaghi, José Mari

Rui Costa to make Dortmund return
2.4 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa is among the players called up for Milan’s UEFA Cup Semi-Final at Borussia Dortmund.

The Portuguese international has been out of action for two weeks following a thigh problem, but doctors confirm that he has recovered completely and is back in full training.

However, Andriy Shevchenko is still out of action. The Ukrainian bruised his thigh during a training ground clash with Thomas Helveg.

The injury has taken far longer than predicted to heal, but reports suggest he is almost ready for a comeback.

Jose Chamot is also in doubt for the Dortmund game due to a slight shoulder injury.

Pirlo sets his sights high
2.4 || webmaster

Young AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo is adamant that the Rossoneri can still qualify for the Champions' League.

Pirlo has played a peripheral role at the San Siro since arriving from Inter this summer but his chances of playing an important role in the final straight of the season improved with an inspired performance against Parma at the weekend.

He came on for Serginho at the end of the first half and scored one goal and set up Filippo Inzaghi for another as Milan turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win.

And he said on Tuesday that he was confident of the team overtaking Bologna to clinch the fourth Champions' League spot. He said: "We have always believed in ourselves and now we are only one point behind Bologna.

"We have some difficult games coming up but AC Milan can compete against any team and we will start against Borussia Dortmund in the Uefa Cup on Thursday.

"I don't think what I did on Saturday is enough. I want to help this team further," he added.

Pirlo has struggled to make the playmaker role his own, even when Rui Costa has been injured.

But fellow midfielder Massimo Ambrosini praised the young midfielder. "I think Pirlo can help is a lot and he can become the number one playmaker, not only in Italy," he said.

"I think we have turned a corner and it was important that these wins came before the semi-finals against Borussia," he added.

Ambrosini: Parma win was crucial
2.4 || scharatz

Massimo Ambrosini believes that Milan’s win against Parma on Saturday was their most crucial of the campaign so far.

"The victory against Parma was the turning point of our season. We knew we had to react and we did," said the midfielder.

The Rossoneri had gone a goal down thanks to a splendid Marco Di Vaio strike, but a superb second half display saw Milan keep their Champions’ League hopes alive.

"It wasn’t easy, especially because Parma are deadly on the counter-attack. We were just too determined for them and few sides could have stopped us in that second half.

"It was vital to beat Parma before the Cup semi-final. The way we fought back shows what sort of character this side has.

"Winning four games on the trot has not occurred by chance. This sequence of wins has arrived in the most important point of the season and on the eve of an important game."

That clash is against German side Borussia Dortmund on Thursday as Milan and Inter both try to get through to the UEFA Cup Final.

"At this stage of the competition it would have been tough against anyone. But we have drawn the short straw because they are a German side. But we have everything we need to win and get to the final."

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