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Stefano Colantuono has promised that Atalanta will see out a testing final three fixtures of the season in competitive spirits.
The Orobici mathematically confirmed their stay for another season in Serie A at the weekend, when a win over Fiorentina extended their gap over the relegation zone to 10 points with three games left.
However, with the Nerazzurri set to play title rivals Milan and Juventus away from home in between a home fixture with Champions League-chasing Lazio, Coach Colantuono has promised that his team won’t roll over to three defeats.
“We want to improve even more, so we’ll play until the end,” the 49-year-old told the assembled media on Monday afternoon.
“We have to run and fight as well, to play these final games with the same determination - in the next three games we will meet motivated teams. But, we also want to boost the League ranking so as to make our season all the more beautiful.”
The Coach has been linked with a move in the summer to a bigger club, but he had some words of reassurance for Atalanta fans.
“As long as I am wanted I will stay here. There are no sirens. The work we have done can be seen by everyone, but I would like to stay in Bergamo.
“The team’s success is down continuity of results. I remember someone in the first round of fixtures predicted our decline, but that did not happen.
“We won the same number of points in the second round. There were predictable difficulties, but even in those moments we were shown to be competitive, like the first games with Milan and Juventus.”
Week 37’s fixture between Cagliari and Juventus could be moved to a Sunday evening kick-off so as to be played at the same time as Inter-Milan.
Locked in a tight battle for Lo Scudetto, the two clubs are understood to prefer to play at the same time as each other so as to ‘remove any extra pressure on the match officials’ and to maintain the Rossoneri’s motivation for their derby.
Should both teams win their Week 36 tests this midweek, then Juve could mathematically wrap up the title with a win against Cagliari, which if played before the Milan derby, could render that game a nothing encounter for the red half of the city, something that the likes of Udinese, Lazio and Napoli would be keen to avoid for opponents Inter.
This is according to Sky Sport Italia, who say that a meeting held between Rossonero Vice President Adriano Galliani and Bianconero director general Beppe Marotta has the clubs in agreement on moving the fixture. A final decision on moving the game will be down to the Lega Calcio.
12-13 AC Milan Shirt Officialy Released 30.4 ||webmaster
Press release from Adidas:
The new jersey is going to debut May 2nd for the match against Atalanta.
April 30th 2012
A cutting-edge communication campaign reminding the origins of AC Milan Club, born in 16th December 1899. The debut of the new redandblack jersey will be set for May 2nd during the match against Atalanta.
That’s how adidas and the most successful Club in the world have chosen to present the redandblack jersey for the 2012/13 season. Once again 2 brands, that represent the excellence in football, have found an innovative way to communicate with all the Rossoneri supporters around the world and enhance Italian and Milanese roots of A.C. Milan.
The idea of the communication campaign, created by TBWA\Italy for adidas, is to rediscover the reasons that 113 years ago inspired Kilpin and all the founders of Milan Cricket and Football Club, by retracing the sites where the story took place.
The communication campaign is set by a press campaign of three subjects where players are portrayed in front of three symbolic sites in Milan (Castello Sforzesco, Colonne di San Lorenzo and San Siro stadium), and an activation on adidas and AC Milan digital platform – through their official websites - Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, thanks to three viral videos, made on the streets of a very gothic Milan, from the dusk till dawn of the next day. That’s the night, when the most significant moments of AC Milan history took place and unforgettable national and international trophies were won.
That’s because in a December night, among the liberty buildings of the historic center of Milan, just a few steps from the Duomo, began the history of AC Milan, in that night Herbert Kilpin said: "We are a team of devils. Our colours are red as fire, and black, to invoke fear in our opponents".
The videos show key places in AC Milan history , during this story some details of the new jersey, are revealed, step by step. The Rossoneri fans had to find out on Facebook, like after like, the three episodes and also the day on which the jersey will be fully revealed.
Back to the wider stripes: 5 in total including 3 black and 2 red. The polo collar is back after three years, with “AC Milan” labeled on its back and the three white stripes are confirmed. The main detail is an Italian flag’s reference, in vertical, between the black and red stripes, and on the front side this detail is recognizable by a green oblique insert, and another one red, interposed with a white neck.
In the next season the AC Milan football players will have only one shirt that includes both TECHFIT ™ and FORMOTION ™ technologies. The new jersey will not have the TPU stripes anymore, but it will still ensure the advantages of the muscle compression thanks to the built-in stretch fabrics, knitted in the T-shirt and thanks to a perfect fit obtainable with the FORMOTION ™ technology.
Serie A: Siena 1:4 AC Milan - goals/highlights 29.4 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri can’t help but feel regrets that Milan had to do without the inspirational Antonio Cassano for most of the season.
FantAntonio was given his first start since suffering an ischemic stroke and undergoing heart surgery at the end of October, scoring and providing two assists in a 4-1 victory at Siena.
“It was important to win today so we could stay close to Juventus. Now we have to hope they drop some points in these final three games, while we’d have to win them all,” said the Coach on his 100th official match at the club.
“In any case, if we continue like this then we can finish the season without regrets. The only problem was that Cassano and Gennaro Gattuso suffered physical problems that could not be predicted by anyone.
“We paid a heavy price for all the injuries, as don’t forget Mario Yepes and Mathieu Flamini were also out for months at a time. The shortage didn’t allow me to rest some players who have now reached the end of the campaign totally exhausted.
“It’s also a pity that with the timing of the Champions League we paid for the strains of facing Barcelona by dropping points to Fiorentina and Bologna. We gave away too many goals and a side like Milan cannot do that.”
Allegri commented on Saturday that he was “on the Milan bench until May 13, then we’ll see,” so he was again asked about his future.
“I have an excellent rapport with President Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani. In two years we have won the Scudetto and a Super Cup, while we are still in the race for the title now and were unlucky to be eliminated by Barcelona from Europe.
“The thing that disappoints me is that the media has ganged up on me and the team with talk of contracts at a key moment of the campaign.”
Serie A: Siena 1:4 AC Milan - match report 29.4 ||webmaster
Antonio Cassano marked his first start in six months with a goal and two assists as Milan conquered Siena 4-1.
The Rossoneri needed a victory to stay in the Scudetto race, as pressure was increasing on Coach Massimiliano Allegri. He again dropped Robinho and Clarence Seedorf, supposedly to help them regain their form, while Urby Emanuelson, Massimo Ambrosini, Alexandre Pato, Gianluca Zambrotta and Pippo Inzaghi were injured. Siena had almost secured their safety with some positive results, but Luigi Giorgi, Pablo Gonzalez, Angelo, Emanuele Calaiò and the suspended Andrea Rossi missed out.
Antonio Cassano was given his first start since suffering a stroke and undergoing heart surgery at the end of October. He inspired their early chance, spreading the play for an Ignazio Abate cross that was well intercepted by Zeljko Brkic.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed wide from a Cassano assist, while Kevin-Prince Boateng was flagged offside when he hit the crossbar.
Cassano marked his comeback after six months out with a goal to put Milan in front. Ibrahimovic sprung the offside trap and pulled back, but Brkic fumbled the ball at the near post and allowed Cassano to tap in the rebound. It was a howler from the goalkeeper.
Moments later Milan made it 2-0 with a moment of magic from Ibra. The Swede gathered from Cassano and got a bit of space in the box to immediately smash a rocket under the bar from 12 yards.
Brkic flew to palm Boateng’s blockbuster round the post and Siena’s day got worse when Claudio Terzi limped off after an accidental collision with ‘Prince.’ Sulley Muntari’s first touch let him down on another Cassano assist.
Siena should’ve had one back on 43 minutes when a defensive error left Mattia Destro totally unmarked from six yards, but he mistimed his volley and incredibly got the ball caught between his feet, falling over to sit on the sphere!
After the restart Destro hit a weak effort into Abbiati’s arms, while Boateng tested Brkic from an improbable angle. Ibrahimovic’s right-foot screamer was palmed round the far post. Ibra flicked on a Boateng cross for Alberto Aquilani, whose shot was well saved.
Siena were dangerous on the counter-attack, but Erjon Bogdani was flagged offside. The home side did get back into the game in the final minutes. Brienza combined with Destro for an angled drive parried with one hand by Christian Abbiati, but Bogdani pounced on the loose ball from four yards.
Milan were under pressure, but Antonio Nocerino went on a magnificent solo run from the centre-circle to secure their victory. He dribbled between three Siena players and kept his cool to smash under the bar from 12 yards.
With the last kick of the game, Cassano turned in the area and rolled across for Ibrahimovic to stroke home the fourth goal.
Giuseppe Sannino says it is “an honour for us to face the reigning champions,” but Siena will give their all “knowing football can be unpredictable.”
Milan visit the Stadio Franchi on Sunday afternoon and need a victory to keep the pressure on leaders Juventus, but the Tuscans also want points to secure their safety.
“It is an honour for us to face the reigning champions who are in the race for the title, but we will try to give our all, knowing football can be unpredictable,” said the Coach.
“We can play with no pressure on our minds and look for a great achievement in front of our home fans. We start two or three steps below them in terms of quality, so it means we have to run extra hard to make up for it and finish off an extraordinary year.
“All of the Milan players are important, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter if some are missing, as they can have anyone make the difference at any moment.”
Andrea Rossi is suspended for Siena, while Angelo, Emanuele Calaiò, Luigi Giorgi and Pablo Gonzalez are sidelined.
Massimiliano Allegri admits his future at Milan is up in the air if he doesn’t win the Scudetto. “The club will decide whether I failed or not.”
Reports are intensifying that President Silvio Berlusconi will pull the plug on Allegri if he ends the season empty-handed.
“I do not judge myself, the club will decide whether I failed or not,” he said in today’s press conference.
“On May 13 we will draw a line under the campaign and evaluate it. I am not irritated by these reports, nor worried. Up until May 13 I am on this bench, then we’ll see. I can give advice on players to sign, but the club chooses the Coach.
“We are still in the race and I like to think Milan still have a chance, even if it above all depends on Juventus. All we have to do is focus on getting three points against Siena tomorrow.”
Clarence Seedorf, Robinho and Urby Emanuelson are left out for the trip to Siena, while Thiago Silva has not recovered in time.
“Thiago Silva still doesn’t feel confident, so I won’t risk him. Kevin-Prince Boateng is 99 per cent sure of starting, then I have to see whether to start Antonio Cassano or Stephan El Shaarawy.
“Robinho is not feeling sharp, so I kept him out to allow him to recover fully and opted to call those in better shape. We have all paid the price for so many games and the race to catch up Juve, but tomorrow we are forced to win and therefore put pressure on Juventus.
“Looking at the Bianconeri, it’s difficult to think they can lose points, but anything can happen in football.”
Maxi Lopez is not letting go of his Milan career, nor his Scudetto hopes. “We cannot let anything go right now.”
The striker arrived on loan from Catania in January, but has struggled to find playing time even during the injury crisis, so his future is not yet secure.
“I am very happy here. I am always at the disposal of the Coach and try to be ready whenever I am called upon,” he told Milan Channel.
“Every time I have had the opportunity to play, I have been up to the task. I am fired up and ready to go.
“It will be difficult to win the Scudetto, but we cannot let anything go right now. Siena are tough opponents at this moment, as they are in great shape physically.
“It’s a shame we dropped the advantage we had at the top of the table, as we went from being four points clear to three points behind. We’ve been playing every three days for the last three months and eventually that weighs on you.
“However, it’s not over yet and we’ve got to push, because you never know when Juventus could slip up.”
On Sunday afternoon Juve visit Novara, while Milan are hosted by Siena.
Pirlo: 'Scudetto race is special' 28.4 ||webmaster
FIFA have confirmed they will test Hawk-Eye goalline technology in live games from next month after pressure from clubs including Milan.
The Rossoneri were leading the protest in favour of technology after the ball crossed the line during their 1-1 draw with Juventus, but the goal was not spotted by the referee or his assistants.
On Friday FIFA announced the Hawk-Eye system, already used in tennis and cricket, will be used in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup Final between Eastleigh FC and AFC Totton on May 16 at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium. Another fixture will also be tested, but that is yet to be confirmed.
However, the referees will not have access to the technology, so “only the EMPA observer in the stadium” will view the readings.
Another system is also undergoing tests in Denmark, titled GoalRef, and is considered by the International Football Association Board.
The IFAB is expected to decide on whether to use goalline technology at a meeting on July 2.
Aquilani set for Liverpool return 27.4 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri continues to believe Milan can win the Scudetto after scraping past 10-man Genoa.
“Until the mathematical possibilities are wiped out, we will continue to believe and try to fight back,” said the Coach of the three-point gap from leaders Juventus.
“The pessimism is around us, but not within the team. If Juventus reach 86 points then it means they have deserved the title. We’ll have to wait and see.
“It is a pity that we have dropped five points on home turf, but we were coming off months at full tilt. The important thing was to win and keep the Scudetto race alive. I believe something can still happen.”
It looked to be a goalless draw until Kevin-Prince Boateng’s late winner, though Genoa had penalty appeals for an Alessandro Nesta handling offence in the first half.
“It was a penalty, looking at the footage,” confessed Allegri. “Genoa did well on a tactical level today and did not allow us any space.
“We had pressure on us to win, as we were coming off two disappointing home performances. After the break we created a few more scoring opportunities. We do tend to find goals, but the problem recently is we’ve given too many away.”
Serie A: AC Milan 1:0 Genoa - goal 25.4 ||webmaster
Serie A: AC Milan 1:0 Genoa - match report 25.4 ||webmaster
Kevin-Prince Boateng marked his comeback with a late winner for Milan, but 10-man Genoa slide closer to relegation.
Both clubs were in crisis after chaotic events on and off the field. On Sunday afternoon Milan scraped a 1-1 home draw with Bologna that left them three points adrift of leaders Juventus and saw Clarence Seedorf argue with Massimiliano Allegri. Genoa had their game with Siena suspended for 40 minutes when they were 4-0 down and the home fans staged a furious protest. The ultras demanded the players remove their jerseys, as they were “unworthy” of the club colours, until Giuseppe Sculli negotiated a truce for the match to continue.
Alberto Malesani was sacked for the second time this season after a three-month spell under Pasquale Marino, so Gigi De Canio took over for his debut on the Genoa bench. They had only a one-point gap from the relegation zone and were without a win since February 9.
As for the teams, Daniele Bonera, Giandomenico Mesto and Marco Rossi were suspended with the injured Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Seedorf, Philippe Mexes, Massimo Ambrosini, Thiago Silva, Gianluca Zambrotta and Pippo Inzaghi. Sculli bizarrely had to play as right-back.
Genoa had penalty appeals after eighht minutes when Alessandro Nesta came sliding in to block a Juraj Kucka strike and it hit his arm, but the referee judged it to be involuntary. It was an extremely controversial decision, as the arm was definitely raised.
Sculli intercepted a dangerous Antonio Nocerino cross from the right for the unmarked Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the back post.
It was an extremely sluggish start to the game, as Mark Van Bommel, Alberto Aquilani and Sulley Muntari had timid long-range attempts.
El Shaarawy had a good chance on the counter, but his angled drive after shaking away Emiliano Moretti was cleared off the line by Andreas Granqvist. A free kick was awarded to Genoa, as Granqvist was essentially barged into the net by Ibra.
Sculli nodded a Van Bommel cross out for a corner when Sebastien Frey did not call, then from that set play Muntari’s header was wide. Ibra’s free kick hit the wall and Muntari slipped when trying to get on the end of the rebound.
Granqvist was having a great game against the club that has been linked with his signature next season, stopping El Shaarawy’s counter with a well-timed challenge.
Christian Abbiati flew to palm away a tricky Valter Birsa free kick before half-time with Granqvist ready for the header, then on the counter Ibrahimovic tried to turn between two defenders in the box, but was closed down.
Straight after the restart Rodrigo Palacio went clear on the counter-attack and it required an excellent Nesta sliding tackle to stop him pulling the trigger in front of Abbiati. Moments later Abbiati got down to beat away a Birsa cross.
Massimiliano Allegri made a double change, introducing Antonio Cassano and Boateng’s comeback after three weeks out. Within seconds Ibrahimovic smacked a fierce half-volley that stung Frey’s palms at the near post.
Ex-Milan defender Kakhaber Kaladze went on a surprising run and skipped past old teammate Nesta, but was eventually closed down by Abbiati.
Boateng had a fantastic scoring opportunity on the hour mark when Luca Antonini crossed from the by-line and he was pulling the trigger on a spectacular volley from seven yards when a defender came flying in to charge it down.
Milan seemed to change gear with Cassano and Boateng on the field. Ibrahimovic knocked down an Ignazio Abate cross for Urby Emanuelson, who smacked the left-foot volley from the edge of the box that whistled inches past the far post, perhaps with a touch off Granqvist.
Abbiati smothered a fierce long-range Jankovic attempt, but Nocerino horribly scuffed a good scoring opportunity set up for him by Ibrahimovic.
Frey performed a splendid reaction save with his feet to parry a Mario Yepes strike from nine yards, but play was halted anyway for Muntari’s offside position.
Genoa got themselves reduced to 10 men when Jankovic received a second yellow card for bringing for Abate on the edge of the penalty area. It was a tense few days for Jankovic, who was involved in a training ground brawl with teammate Sculli yesterday.
Cassano curled a right-foot gem from the edge of the box that whistled just wide of the upright with Frey beaten.
San Siro fell silent when news filtered through that Juventus were winning at Cesena, but Boateng brought back the noise with a late strike.
The Ghanaian gathered a deflected Emanuelson cross and kept his cool to get it under control at the back post, then smash the angled drive beneath Frey’s body from six yards.
AC Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Antonini (Maxi Lopez 80); Nocerino, Van Bommel (Boateng 50), Muntari; Emanuelson; El Shaarawy (Cassano 50), Ibrahimovic
The Gazzetta dello Sport is today suggesting that Kevin Prince Boateng may be sold by Milan in order to raise funds.
Although the paper does make it clear that a sale is not certain, it does state that the club could consider such an option for a number of reasons.
Boateng is one of the outfit’s most valuable assets, an attacking midfielder who has the potential to fetch around €18m on the transfer market.
Now may also be the time to cash in on the player who has had his physical problems during the 2011-12 campaign.
Boateng, 25, has been limited to just four goals in 14 League games for the Rossoneri this term.
The Gazzetta also alleges that Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri is not totally happy with the player’s discipline.
Real Madrid, the story continues, could be interested in the former Portsmouth man who joined the Rossoneri in 2010.
The Gazzetta doesn’t think that the Diavolo would consider offers for €40m rated Thiago Silva, while it doubts any other club would pay €30m for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then give him €9m a season in wages.
Clarence Seedorf has looked to clarify the alleged falling out between himself and Coach Massimiliano Allegri during Milan’s weekend draw with Bologna.
With the Rossoneri 1-0 down at the time, Allegri replaced the Dutchman with Antonio Cassano and Seedorf reacted angrily by storming straight down the tunnel to the dressing room.
Reports later alleged that the two had an argument in the dressing room, which Allegri did not outright deny was the case in his Press conference today. Alongside his Coach, Seedorf, however, did take time to explain the situation and why he reacted as he did on Sunday.
“I was not happy when I came off, but not for having been replaced, even though it seemed that way,” began the midfielder.
“I have been angry for a while - this team should be in a different situation. At that moment, we were losing to Bologna, I wanted to do something, but in leaving the field I felt helpless. I am very passionate and I think that after so many years that people would know this, things are born and then they die almost as quickly.
“With the Coach I made this clear, although there was little to clarify. With the team everything is ok, and I know I am available to the Coach. This is definitely not the time to create controversy.
“The outburst did occur, but it was one of someone who cares a lot, perhaps too much for what might be best for Milan.
“This was the reaction, then I am not accustomed to tell you what happened in the dressing room, even if nothing has happened this time.”
The player was asked if he felt a personal pressure to improve Milan’s situation as a more experienced member of the squad.
“I wish I could be in a situation to give that kind of contribution, but this is not the time to speak of Seedorf. Mine is a clarification to reiterate that I would never put my personal situation ahead of that of Milan, the fans, the Coach and most importantly of all, my teammates, who have absolutely nothing to do with this.
“I know what makes a team, a group and that is being united. But I’m a person too, I too have emotions, it is very hard at the moment, we are still fighting for the title, there are still five games to go. My only goal is to support the team, on the field, on the bench or in the stands, to help it reach its season ambition.
“The moment is delicate, there have been many things that have gone against us in recent games too. I’m talking about our errors that we have paid for dearly.
“We must simply believe, to conclude the season as best as possible and to try to win every remaining game, starting with tomorrow’s.”
Massimiliano Allegri has demanded an improvement from his Milan players for the rest of the season, to forget a ‘disunited’ performance against Bologna.
The Rossoneri dropped two more points in the Sunday afternoon draw to Stefano Pioli’s side, which coupled with Juventus’ win over Roma, saw the Milanese lose further ground in the title race.
Preparing to welcome struggling Genoa to San Siro on Wednesday night, Allegri has admitted that the team must make a change.
“The last performance fell short. We have also made technical errors recently,” the Coach reflected in his conference today.
“It is true that we are not as bright as a month ago, but there should be no excuses. Against Bologna we became a little disunited after they scored. We need to limit our mistakes, we must improve and be more skilled as a team.
“We are Milan, we are three points behind, Juventus are favoured now, however, there are five games still to play and we have to think about coming back to win the Scudetto.
“We still have targets, we must do our best for the League title and to earn more points than we did last season.
“Reasons for this decline? The injuries, other setbacks, some decisions that have penalised us. There are many things we will add to that at the end of the season.”
The Coach was asked about the title race - Juve need four victories from their remaining five games to win the Scudetto.
“We must not think about Juventus winning, but only about ourselves. Tomorrow we play at the same time, we have to think about securing the points and then evaluating things at the end.”
Allegri was also grilled on speculation that he could leave in the summer.
“Since these are assumptions I question the need to talk about them now. I want to think only about these five games, then the club will evaluate these things.
“I will play out the championship until its end, everything else does not need consideration right now.
“I have not thought about where I may have gone wrong, I will do so after May 13 with my staff, when we analyse the entire season, as is usual at the end of a season.
“But, I repeat that these five games are most important right now.”
Video: 12-13 AC Milan Shirt (Part 2) 24.4 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri is remarkably close to having a fully fit Milan squad to work with for the remaining weeks of the season.
Kevin Prince Boateng, Thiago Silva and Massimo Ambrosini all trained with the main group in Monday’s session, meaning that apart from the injured Alexandre Pato and suspended Daniele Bonera, the Rossoneri have almost everyone available for their midweek fixture with Genoa.
It is the closest Allegri has been all season to being able to select from a full roster, with 2011-12 otherwise characterised for the number of continued absences the team have been faced with.
Only six games ago did the Diavolo travel to Parma with a season-high 13 players unavailable for selection. Milan currently trail League leaders Juventus by three points in the race for the Scudetto, having dropped seven points from the past four rounds of action.
AC Milan will fight on, says Abate 23.4 ||webmaster
Milan’s Scudetto hopes hang by a thread, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic snatched the 10-man Rossoneri a last-gasp draw with Bologna.
The Rossoneri were now chasing leaders Juventus and needed to beat the often tricky Bologna, who earlier this season took points off Juve and crushed Inter 3-0 at San Siro. The injury crisis dragged on with Thiago Silva, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alexandre Pato, Massimo Ambrosini, Pippo Inzaghi and Flavio Roma sidelined. Mark van Bommel featured on his 35th birthday. Bologna missed Nico Pulzetti, Jose Crespo, Casarini, Rene Krhin and goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet, so Federico Agliardi got a rare start.
In the opening 54 seconds Agliardi smothered a Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike, but the Swede wasted a golden opportunity on 15 minutes when he gathered unmarked from Clarence Seedorf’s cross only to fire wide.
Alessandro Nesta needed to clear a dangerous Gaston Ramirez through ball before any of the other Bologna players could get on the end of it from close range.
It was only a warning, as Ramirez gave Bologna the lead moments later. Birthday boy Mark van Bommel lost the ball in midfield to spark an Alessandro Diamanti counter and it was rolled across for Ramirez to prod past Christian Abbiati at full stretch.
Abbiati got a Diamanti free kick under control and Milan poured forward, but nobody got on the end of a Robinho pass. Marco Di Vaio threatened a second with his header whistling wide from Gyorgy Garics.
Gaby Mudingayi showed great strength to hold off Daniele Bonera when springing the offside trap and blasted across the face of goal. The midfielder could’ve gone down as Bonera grabbed his shirt, but opted to stay on his feet.
Ibrahimovic was having an unusually poor day, making mistakes even with the simplest touches. Straight after the restart Agliardi smothered a Seedorf attempt and Robinho was well wide under pressure from Andrea Raggi.
Antonio Nocerino wasted a golden opportunity, as Robinho pulled back from the by-line for his angled drive that flew past the base of the far post.
Abbiati had to scramble on to a strange looping Diamanti cross-shot, so Antonio Cassano replaced Seedorf in a bid to fire up the timid Milan attack.
Ibrahimovic was furious on 58 minutes when he went clear on goal and his lob beat the ‘keeper to be cleared off the line – after it had crossed over – by Cherubin. However, the offside flag was incorrectly raised, as Daniele Portanova was keeping him in play. It was a splendid Cassano assist.
Cassano went close to an equaliser in his give-and-go with Ibra, but a Bologna defender made a crucial block as he pulled the trigger from nine yards. Bologna were defending deep, but dangerous on the counter when Safir Taider struck the side-netting from a tight angle and Gyorgy Garics tested Abbiati.
It got even worse for Milan, as Bonera received a second yellow card for a sliding tackle on Robert Acquafresca.
Ibrahimovic flicked up a cross for a spectacular overhead kick that only skimmed the upright.
However, in the final minute Ibrahimovic got the equaliser with a delightful cushioned finish at the back post.
Moments later the 10-man Rossoneri tried to get in front with Nocerino drilling just wide, but on the counter Taider also threatened a victory by testing Abbiati. Ibra was halted for another offside position when clear on goal, while Agliardi plucked an Ibrahimovic assist off the head of Alberto Aquilani.
Deep into stoppages, Robinho’s diving header whistled wide of the near post from eight yards from an Urby Emanuelson cross.
Massimiliano Allegri is confident “Milan can win all the remaining games and be ready to take advantage of a Juventus slip-up.”
The Rossoneri are just one point behind the Serie A leaders going into the weekend and welcome Bologna to San Siro on Sunday afternoon.
“Bologna are a very technical side who have achieved their objective of safety, so will have nothing to lose and can play without pressure,” said the Coach in his press conference.
“We must face this match with our heads and do better than in recent outings. There are six games to go and the next two could be decisive. We know how important this moment is and must face Bologna with the right determination.
“Our objective is to win the title. Milan can and must win all the remaining games. We must not end the season with regrets that we failed to take advantage of a Juventus slip-up.”
The injury crisis drags on, but Allegri denies reports Antonio Cassano would be given his first start since undergoing heart surgery at the end of October.
“We are without Massimo Ambrosini, Alexandre Pato, Thiago Silva and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Cassano has not played in a long time, although he is making important progress. I am happy for him, Milan and the Italy squad.
“Bologna have talents like Alessandro Diamanti, Henry Gimenez, Marco Di Vaio and Robert Acquafresca. They are also well-drilled in defence and if it’s hot then we must make our quality count, seeing as it’ll be a slower tempo.”
Pioli: 'Final for AC Milan and Bologna' 21.4 ||webmaster
Stefano Pioli thinks this could be a very unusual end to the season, as tomorrow is “the first of six finals for both Bologna and Milan.”
The postponement of last week’s fixtures means the remaining rounds will be compressed together.
“It has never happened before that the season ends with six games crammed into 20 days,” said the Rossoblu boss.
“Each team still has an objective to achieve. It’s the first of six finals for both Bologna and Milan, as they have shown strength to fight for the Scudetto with Juventus and know they must always win, while we need points to stay in Serie A.
“I don’t really care about the title race, as all we are taking into consideration are the points for us.
“I expect Milan to be very aggressive at the start, but we have trained well over the week and will be up to the task.”
Bologna are without goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet, so Federico Agliardi gets a rare start at San Siro.
Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has personally covered the €67.3m hole in the club’s budget from January to December 2011.
The shareholder’s meeting was held today and it was confirmed the club raised its income from €253.2m in the previous year to €266.8m.
However, this still meant the Rossoneri ran at a loss of €67.3m, down from the gap of €69.8m in 2010.
“The losses are completely covered by the Fininvest company,” explained Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“I feel the need to thank the passion of President Berlusconi. You cannot stay at the top of Italian football just with income alone, even if Milan have the highest income, especially in commercial terms.
“The stadium is what it is. The television rights are sold by the Lega Serie A and UEFA, while we had an increase in income from the Champions League, but a decrease in the League because of the Melandri law.
“Unfortunately in Italy all the top clubs lose money and the small ones make a profit, because the costs remain and the income is divided collectively. We are talking about a balance sheet from a year in which we won the Scudetto and Italian Super Cup.”
Milan were among those most unhappy at the change that saw the Lega Serie A sell pay-per-view television rights in bulk rather than the previous arrangement of clubs selling their own rights individually.
This often led to chaos and delays in starting the season, as some clubs could not find an adequate deal.
Milan man Sulley Muntari has launched a sensational attack on Inter director Marco Branca. “None of the players like him.”
Muntari joined the Rossoneri on loan from their city rivals in January and he was happy to get away from the Beneamata.
“I don’t know what happened at Inter,” he told the Corriere della Sera. “I trained and did everything to be ready, but I don’t know what was going on in their heads. They told me nothing.
“They continued to do what they wanted and I continued to give my best. You don’t treat people in such a way.
“Who? Branca. Please, write down his name,” added Muntari. “When he entered the changing rooms, he wanted me to bow down to him as if he was my God. But, he and I are both employees and paid by Massimo Moratti.
“The truth is that none of the Inter players can stand him. I’m a man, a clean man. He, instead, is a fake.
“I couldn’t take it any longer after three years. Before I left for the African Cup of Nations, I told his associate Piero Ausilio that my patience had come to an end.”
The 27-year-old has scored two goals in eight Serie A games for Milan since his arrival at the start of 2012.
Daniele Bonera believes Milan will be back on the ball after a week’s break in fixtures and ready to fight Juventus for the Scudetto.
Last week’s Serie A games were postponed due to the death of Piermario Morosini, the decision coming just 30 minutes before the Rossoneri were set to kick off against Genoa.
“Now quite a few players are starting to come back from injury. We are ready for the next games,” he told MilanNews.it.
“From the start of the season we realised something had changed at Juventus, as Antonio Conte has given them the grit they had lost in recent years. They were coming off difficult campaigns and started from scratch.
“But we will not forget what Milan have done over the past two years. If we look at the number of points we have notched up in two seasons, it’s exceptional.
“No games are easy and we proved that with our home defeat to Fiorentina. The break has allowed many of our players to catch a breath and do personalised work in training, which we hadn’t been able to do in the past month with three games a week.
“We have everything that is needed for these final six matches to prove decisive in our favour.
“Who is the toughest striker to mark in Serie A? Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which is why I am happy he is on my side!
“As for opposition defenders, I really admire Andrea Barzagli. He’s had a great season at Juventus and I like his attitude, as he never stirs up trouble and always gives his contribution.”
Bonera has played more than he did last term, partly because the many injuries allowed him to take centre-back and full-back roles.
“In recent years I’d have two days of training and spend the next two on the treatment table, but this time I feel more confident. I’m happy to be versatile, because it’s important for a Coach to have players who can take on different positions.”
AC Milan and Inter track Kawashima 18.4 ||webmaster
Milan Coach Massimiliano Allegri believes the Scudetto “will be won by the team with the strongest nerve” and doubts Alessandro Del Piero will leave Juventus this summer.
Only one point separates these teams in the Serie A table and the tactician took to Twitter for a one-off Q&A with fans.
“The Scudetto will be won by the team with the strongest nerve,” said the tactician.
“What do I do when we’re doing badly at half-time? I tell the players a joke. Clearly so far my favourite moment with Milan is winning the Scudetto. If I had to describe this first spell on the bench in three words I would say intense, fascinating and enthusiastic.
“There are many differences between coaching a small club and a more important one. The main thing is that you play every three days and always have the pressure to win, whereas with smaller sides it’s once a week.
“My two years at Milan have helped me grow and taught me to do two things well – communicate and have patience.”
Milan went out of the Champions League quarter-finals to Barcelona and Allegri was asked what he’d change if he played the Camp Nou leg again.
“I’d change the first half result. In any case, I think Barcelona will win the trophy this season. I’d love one day to be in a Champions League semi-final, but for the moment I’ll watch tonight’s game on television.”
Fans on Twitter asked Allegri whether he thought Juventus would part company with captain Del Piero or offer him a last-minute contract extension.
“In my view, Juventus will not let Del Piero get away.”
Massimiliano Allegri explains his tactical decisions to revamp Milan, replacing Clarence Seedorf with Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The Coach won the Scudetto in his first San Siro campaign and is only one point behind leaders Juventus in this season.
“It is a very different environment to what I was used to before, as at Milan you play every three days to win,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“There is a big club behind you. With Adriano Galliani we try to improve many situations and I immediately found a great atmosphere in the locker room, with people who really wanted to get back on track.
“Choices must be made at the right moment. With the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Boateng and Robinho, we had to change our style of play.
“I removed Seedorf because he had different characteristics to Boateng, whose physical strength could give us a bigger hand in attack.
“Clarence was doing very well at the time, just as he is now in a wider role.”
Allegri was also asked how important a Coach is in the wider scheme of things.
“He has to transmit his character and help on a psychological level, but then the champions make the difference.”
Prandelli: 'Cassano in my Euro 2012' 18.4 ||webmaster
Cesare Prandelli has confirmed Antonio Cassano “is in my personal Euro 2012 album” after Panini stickers left him out of the Italy section.
The teams have not yet been announced for the tournament to be played in June, but Panini have presented their legendary sticker album and Cassano does not have a place.
“In my personal Euro 2012 album, Cassano is there,” the Italy Coach told TV programme Le Iene. "But I want him pictured with a smile."
Prandelli has pledged to wait until the last minute for Cassano to pass fitness tests, as he has just returned for Milan after five months out following heart surgery and a mini-stroke at the end of October.
He had also wanted to wait for Giuseppe Rossi, but the Villarreal striker damaged the same knee ligament that ruled him out for six months, so will be sidelined until next season.
Ibrahimovic: AC Milan is my future 18.4 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has looked to quell rumours that he is increasingly unhappy at Milan by coming out to confirm his desire to stay with the Rossoneri.
The tall Swede has faced gradually escalating speculation in recent weeks that he intends to leave the defending League champions in the summer. However, the 30-year-old told the club’s official channel that he is resolute in his future.
“As we said six months ago I am happy here, I have a contract, I have no other thoughts and I am determined to finish this season well in the shirt of Milan and then that of my national team,” expressed the Swede, in anticipation of Euro 2012.
“Milan has brought me my smile and my desire to play, Milan is my future. I have no reason to say otherwise - I play well because I am happy here, on and off the field.
“More than this I cannot have. After the holidays I will be back preparing for next season with this shirt on me.”
Ibrahimovic is enjoying his best goal-scoring return in Serie A, yet it could be the first season he has played in the League that he could finish without winning the Scudetto.
“There are six games in the League and we will do everything to get maximum points. We are here and we must remain focused and prepare well for each game.
“We have one point less, but if we concentrate, we can take back the lead. Games against Catania and Fiorentina, with hindsight, are ones we could have won. It is important not to repeat those mistakes and to do our best in upcoming games. Hopefully we will be back on Sunday and I will score.
“All players believe this team can then become stronger, but that is not easy in the current transfer market. So far, the club have done everything promised to me and I am happy to stay here.
“I just do my talking on the pitch, with my feet, to pay back the club’s respect.”
Luis Muriel’s agent has suggested that the attacker will spend next season at Udinese, despite links to Inter and Milan.
The tricky Colombian forward, who turns 21 on Wednesday, has attracted attention this term on loan at Lecce, having netted seven times for the relegation strugglers.
However, where Muriel has been pushed towards the likes of Inter, Milan and Napoli, his agent believes that he won’t be making a big move this summer.
“Do Inter and Milan want him? Today, all of Italy’s top clubs have discovered Muriel’s skill,” declared Mauro Cesarini on Radio Crc.
“The problems with adapting to the League have already been passed by my client.
“All the top clubs may be interested in him, but Udinese have the option to take him back and I think he will mature for another year there.
“Have Napoli come forward for him? I’ve not spoken with them or any other team. I do believe that the player is under observation from the big clubs every Sunday, but I think it is most logical that for another year he will remain with Udinese.
“The Zebrette are good at taking important players who have not yet exploded on to the scene. Muriel can cover any position in attack, but I can see him as a lone striker.
“How much would he cost? Udinese know the market very well…”
Udinese reportedly paid Deportivo Cali €1.5m for the player in 2010.
The Lega Calcio has decided that Week 33’s postponed round of fixtures will now be played on the midweek of April 25.
After the entire round’s postponement over the weekend in the wake of Livorno player Piermario Morosini’s death on Saturday afternoon, there was dispute between top-flight clubs over when the games should be played instead.
A majority of clubs were happy to have next weekend’s Week 34 games shifted back a few days into an April 25 midweek round and for Week 33’s matches to then take next Saturday and Sunday’s slot.
However, the likes of Inter, Udinese, Chievo, Genoa and Napoli reportedly pushed for Week 34 to stay at the weekend and Week 33 to instead move to the April 25 position.
After holding a meeting between the League’s clubs on Monday evening, a decision has now been reached to leave Week 34’s fixtures scheduled for this coming weekend and then play Week 33’s postponed games the following midweek, on Tuesday April 24 and Wednesday April 25.
Kick-off times for the new midweek round are all mid-to-late afternoon, to appease UEFA regulation that they cannot be played at the same time as Champions League games. The second leg of the semi-final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid will be played that Wednesday evening.
Agent Andrea D’Amico has spoken about the futures of Maxi Lopez, Gennaro Gattuso and Sebastian Giovinco.
It is unclear where the trio will be playing their football next season, but the representative has given an indication of what may happen.
“Maxi Lopez will remain at Milan,” he said of the Argentine player who joined the Rossoneri on loan from Catania in January.
“He has demonstrated that he is a player who deserves to be with the Rossoneri.”
D’Amico expects Lopez to be flanked by Gattuso at Milanello next term even if the veteran’s contract expires in the summer.
“Gattuso will continue to play for a long time. He is a leader for the club.”
The future of Parma’s Giovinco is a bit more problematic to predict given that the Italian international is co-owned by two clubs.
“The first thing that has to be settled is his ownership,” D’Amico noted. “However, Parma could be in a strong position if they go into talks with Juventus backed by an important offer from another club.
“Whatever happens, Giovinco will be playing for a big team next season.”
The 25-year-old forward is apparently liked by Juventus boss Antonio Conte, even if Barcelona have also been linked with a swoop.
Antonio Conte prepares Juventus for Cesena’s synthetic pitch, but insists Massimiliano Allegri’s phantom goal obsession “has become deathly dull.”
With only one point separating the teams at the top of the Serie A table, the Milan Coach again referenced the Sulley Muntari strike that crossed the line unseen by officials during their 1-1 draw.
“This issue has become deathly dull,” replied Conte in this morning’s press conference. “After our reaction at Parma we were told to shut up, which is what we did. The others talk every three days and continually repeat the same things.
“In all honesty, this bores me. But then that’s football, let’s move on. Would we deserve the Scudetto? A week ago you said if Juve win then it’s deserved, now seven days later you’ve already changed your minds.”
As things stand, Juventus are one point in front and visit bottom of the table Cesena on Sunday, one of only two Serie A stadiums with a synthetic pitch.
President Enrico Preziosi urges his Genoa to stay united against Milan today, “then those who made errors will pay.”
The Grifone had spent millions on the transfer market this season and had European ambitions, but with six rounds to go find themselves fourth from bottom.
“In order to save ourselves, we need to pick up seven points in the next five games. We can do that,” Preziosi told Secolo XIX newspaper.
“At this moment a protest is of no use to anyone, as we must only stay united. There’s no point putting anyone up on trial, whether it’s a Coach, player or President. Clearly at the end of the season we’ll evaluate the situation and then those who made errors will pay.”
Preziosi chopped and changed during the campaign, as he axed Alberto Malesani in December only to recall him this month after sacking replacement Pasquale Marino.
“I did not fire Marino because I didn’t have faith in his abilities, but just because after nine games without a win the team had totally lost confidence.”
AC Milan confirm Granqvist interest 14.4 ||webmaster
Milan director Ariedo Braida has confirmed “we are interested in” Genoa defender Andreas Granqvist, who they’ll face tomorrow.
The Swede is an option to refresh the Rossoneri back line, as Alessandro Nesta, Mario Yepes and Gianluca Zambrotta are all over 35.
“It’s true, I tracked Granqvist many times and we are interested in the player,” Braida told Swedish newspaper Expressen.
“He is an excellent player and seems like a good lad. Is it true we will try to sign him this summer? It doesn’t seem fair to talk about these issues now, especially as we are facing Genoa tomorrow, so it wouldn’t be professional to discuss their players.
Massimiliano Allegri defends Milan’s performance this season, before demanding full focus on beating Genoa on Saturday night.
Recent weeks have seen the Rossoneri’s title bid falter, as a draw to Catania and a defeat to Fiorentina has turned a four-point lead over Juventus into a one-point deficit.
Predictably, in facing the Press ahead of Week 33’s clash with struggling Genoa, Allegri has faced questions on the team’s diminished title chances and whether he is nervous for his future in the job.
“I’m not nervous. I have seen some observations saying that Milan’s season is being viewed as unsuccessful, which I don’t think it has been up until this point,” the Coach declared on Friday.
“We have had many injuries and we must change something there, but we are a point away from the lead in the League, we exited the Champions League quarter-finals to Barcelona and managed to get to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.
“If Juve are considered to be doing great things then so too should Milan, unless you think that Milan had to win 100 points.
“We have to win tomorrow and then we’ll see about the Scudetto. We cannot afford to talk about this though, we must focus on the game against the Rossoblu.
“We’ll have to play well tomorrow and with force, not as we have against Fiorentina or Chievo. Genoa have quality players in spite of their position in the table. It is not easy, but this game will require full concentration for 90 minutes. I think that for their characteristics, Genoa will play openly.”
Allegri was asked about Sulley Muntari’s disallowed goal for the club in their League game with Juventus in late February, given that the Bianconeri sit a point ahead in the standings right now.
“At the moment it is significant, but we’re not thinking of what might have been, there are games left to play. We think of tomorrow, to take three points and return to the top of the table.
“Meanwhile, we returned to victory in Verona, not having played well, but in a performance to be proud of. We are here still playing for the League.
“In these last six games peace of mind will count a lot - we can pick up three points and then see how Juventus do the next day.”
Marcello Lippi has defended Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri from criticism amidst rumours that he could be axed.
Allegri’s long-term future has been brought into question following the club’s recent exit from the Coppa Italia and Champions League.
“I don’t understand how in Italy one day you can be the best and the next you can be sacked,” the 2006 World Cup winner wrote in his Gazzetta dello Sport column.
“For a year and a half Allegri has gained great results and they have not been achieved by chance,” the former Juventus tactician underlined.
“Allegri has overseen this cycle as a true leader.
“Milan didn’t pick him by luck, he’s part of a series of young winners – like Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, Carlo Ancelotti – who, with great motivation and tactical innovations, have constructed the recent history of this club.
“If today Juventus are winning the plaudits, I don’t think that it is right that Max and his players deserve criticism. Especially the Coach.”
There were suggestions that club owner Silvio Berlusconi is pondering a change of tactician in the summer because he wants to see a different brand of football.
Allegri, a former midfielder, joined the San Siro outfit in the summer of 2010 and immediately led the team to the Scudetto.
Milan are just one point behind Serie A leaders Juventus with six games to go.
Nesta, Seedorf, Balotelli? Juventus say no 12.4 ||webmaster
Juventus have denied any transfer interest in Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and Mario Balotelli.
The Old Lady have been linked with the Milan pair amid reports that Andrea Pirlo has spoken to them about joining him in Turin, while Balotelli could be made available by Manchester City in the summer.
“It’s one thing to talk to players and another to negotiate,” Juve director general Beppe Marotta commented.
“We, as a club, are not used to asking our players to conduct transfer talks for us. That is not the way that we work here.
“We only moved for Pirlo ourselves after we spoke to Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani first. We have a good and proper relationship with them.
“We have a very valid squad, we are working out a strategy and these two players are a long way from our thinking.”
Juventus signed Pirlo on a Bosman and whispers are suggesting that the Old Lady want to make similar moves for the Milan pair given that they just have a matter of months left on their deals.
Turning to the question of Balotelli, Marotta insisted that he would not be getting involved in any auction for the Italian.
“A lot of people are interested, but we are out of it,” added the former Sampdoria official.
“I hope that he stays at City, where the club and the directors have focused on him a lot. I hope he finds a balance and the mentality to become a champion.”
Massimiliano Allegri slammed naysayers after they “kept the Scudetto race alive” by beating Chievo. “The criticism of Milan has been excessive.”
The Rossoneri picked up one point from the previous two games and lost the Serie A leadership to Juventus, but temporarily have it back after tonight’s 1-0 victory.
“Tonight it was an extremely important game. We didn’t play well, but if we didn’t win then we could definitively drop out of the Scudetto race.
“We brought home a crucial result despite missing so many players. We had to field a 19-year-old and we saw Rodney Strasser, Gennaro Gattuso and Mario Yepes make their comebacks.
“The criticism of Milan has been excessive,” continued Allegri. “Everyone was waiting for us to fall, but fortunately we got back up again. Even when we were four points ahead there was a media campaign against us, as everybody was calling for our defeat.
“This evening the lads were able to keep the Scudetto race alive. Some had already performed our funeral, but we're not dead yet.”
There were reports Allegri’s job could be on the line if he ends the season empty-handed after President Silvio Berlusconi criticised his style of football against Barcelona.
“I often speak with Berlusconi and there are no problems. He wished us all good luck for the game and he believes in this Scudetto.
“What disappointed me the most is that during this period we are fighting Juventus for the title, but people act as if they are doing something extraordinary while we should be thrown out with the trash.
“We have had so many injuries and played many more games than Juventus. I could not ask for more from these lads.”
Serie A: Chievo 0:1 AC Milan - match report 10.4 ||webmaster
Sulley Ali Muntari’s strike earned Milan a crucial victory away to Chievo, but they had to fight hard to scrape the points.
The Rossoneri had just one point from two rounds, which allowed Juventus to leapfrog them at the top of the table. They faced this trip to the Bentegodi with an entire team missing, as Massimo Ambrosini, Alberto Aquilani and Daniele Bonera were suspended. Urby Emanuelson and Philippe Mexes were late additions to the injury list, only fit for the bench, as Mark van Bommel, Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini, Thiago Silva, Pippo Inzaghi, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Flavio Roma, Alexandre Pato and Djamel Mesbah were ruled out.
It means 19-year-old Mattia De Sciglio received his Serie A debut and Mario Yepes faced his former club, while Gennaro Gattuso got a start to confirm his eye problems were behind him. Chievo were missing Boukary Dramè, Davide Moscardelli and Nikola Gulan.
Milan were under pressure early on, but took the lead when Sulley Ali Muntari smashed a left-foot strike from 30 yards that flew past Stefano Sorrentino into the near bottom corner.
Sergio Pellissier blasted over after De Sciglio lost the ball, as Chievo continued to control the possession and launch waves of attacks, albeit fairly ineffective ones. The Rossoneri seemed to be sorely lacking in confidence after recent poor results.
Alberto Paloschi had the ball in the back of the net on 23 minutes, but was marginally offside, so it did not count. Moments later Cyril Thereau did spring the offside trap, but his shot from nine yards was fingertipped on to the side-netting.
Sorrentino sprinted off his line to close down Antonio Nocerino after a fine long pass from De Sciglio, as the midfielder’s first touch was heavy.
Pellissier nodded a Nicolas Frey cross past the back post and there had to be a pause in proceedings as both Christian Abbiati and Gattuso underwent treatment.
Despite all the pressure, Milan went extremely close to going 2-0 up when Robinho’s step-over allowed him to shimmy past a defender and force Sorrentino to turn his angled drive out for a corner.
There was also a promising counter-attack from Chievo’s corner sparked by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Clarence Seedorf, but a misplaced pass saw the move break down.
Paloschi set up Pellissier for an angled drive from outside the box that Abbiati did well to smother.
In first half stoppages Luca Rigoni blazed just wide of the near stick with only the goalkeeper to beat after Yepes was beaten down the right. Marco Amelia warmed up at half-time, but Abbiati was able to continue despite a toe problem.
Abbiati had to be ready when beating away a fierce Pellissier volley after Muntari’s error. From the corner, Pellissier’s strike was deflected over from a tight angle for another set play.
An Ibra free kick struck the wall, but Milan were uninspired, so Stephan El Shaarawy replaced Gattuso, moving Seedorf into a deeper role.
A dangerous Luciano cross whipped all the way through the box with no Chievo teammates ready to tap in. Ibrahimovic had a promising opportunity and curled the finish just wide of the far post.
A well-worked Chievo free kick was scrambled clear, then from the throw-in Thereau’s backheel flick volley was charged down by Nesta’s arm, but the officials got it right by flagging him offside.
Luciano scuffed his shot from the edge of the box and De Sciglio fired wide after a strong run. All the Milan substitutions were completed when Yepes appeared to break his nose in an accidental clash of heads with Thereau in stoppages.
With a decimated side the final kick of the game saw Chievo put the ball in the net, but again it was clearly offside.
Andrea Pirlo warns that his former teammates “Milan are not in crisis, but now the Scudetto depends only on Juventus. Lazio are merely the first hurdle.”
The Bianconeri wiped out a four-point gap in the space of two rounds to go top of the Serie A table and welcome Lazio on Wednesday evening.
“Being back on top of everyone else is great fun,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia ahead of the midweek round.
“We hadn’t been the leaders for a while, but were always aware we could do well. Now we are up there, we must continue to think big and take it one game at a time.
“Our chances are 50-50, as it takes the slightest slip-up and it all changes. We must focus on beating Lazio, who are only the first hurdle.
“In all honesty, we did not expect Milan to lose against Fiorentina, especially as they had gone in front and we didn’t think the result would be turned around like that. They did us this favour and we took advantage.
“I must admit that stepping on to the field against Palermo in the knowledge Milan had already lost did fire us up even more.
“However, I don’t believe Milan are in crisis. It’s only normal to feel a little tired after the Champions League. We have to focus only on ourselves, as we are top and seven finals await us. At this point I can’t even comment on the differences in the run-ins, as the results of other teams should not interest us.”
Pirlo faces the first of those ‘finals’ on Wednesday evening when third-placed Lazio come to the Juventus Stadium.
“It is not the toughest obstacle from here to the end of the season, but it is the first on the road to our dream. They are a great side and already proved it last season, but we cannot afford to slow down now.”
Massimiliano Allegri welcomes back some first team names but loses others for the Milan squad for the trip to Chievo on Tuesday evening.
The Rossoneri, who lost 2-1 at home to Fiorentina at the weekend, have the opportunity in the first fixture of the midweek round to at least temporarily reclaim the top spot in the table from Juventus.
For the game, Antonio Cassano as expected drops out after making only a brief comeback on Saturday, whilst Alberto Aquilani, Daniele Bonera and Massimo Ambrosini are all out through suspension.
However, Allegri can welcome back Alessandro Nesta, Rodney Strasser, Clarence Seedorf and Mathieu Flamini to his selection.
Milan squad to face Chievo: Abbiati, Amelia, Piscitelli, De Sciglio, Mexes, Nesta, Zambrotta, Yepes, Emanuelson, Flamini, Gattuso, Muntari, Nocerino, Seedorf, Strasser, Valoti, Cassano, El Shaarawy, Ibrahimovic, Maxi Lopez, Robinho.
Season is still long, says Allegri 9.4 ||webmaster
Milan are still on course to retain the Italian championship, boss Massimiliano Allegri has said on the eve of the Chievo game.
The Rossoneri lost top spot to Juventus on Saturday following a shock 2-1 home loss to Fiorentina, but Allegri is remaining optimistic.
“I would have preferred to stay out in first place rather than have to chase, but it doesn’t mean that the Scudetto race is over,” he noted on Monday.
“The championship was long for Juventus when they were behind us and we were in front. It’s still long now.
“After just a few games of the season we were six points behind Juventus. Nothing has been compromised.”
Milan took the lead against the Viola, but the struggling Tuscans hit back with goals from Stevan Jovetic and Amauri.
“I’m not worried,” continued the Coach. “We had difficulties on Saturday because the pitch didn’t make things easy for us.
“We were up against a Fiorentina side who played well and we were not at our best. We have injuries and suspensions, but that is no excuse. We want to win the championship.”
The Diavolo, one point behind the Old Lady, will resume their campaign at the Stadio Bentegodi on Tuesday evening.
“The game in Verona is important after our slip on Saturday – we need to make sure that everyone in the squad is aware of that.
“Chievo’s season is not over. They still want to ensure their survival and we’ll have to be very good tomorrow.”
Allegri added that he still has to make his mind up over the fitness of some players, but ruled out an Antonio Cassano start.
“Mark Van Bommel trained yesterday, but we’ll have to see how he is,” he added. “Alessandro Nesta is fine.
“Cassano? Players are not machines. Cassano was out for five months. He’s only completed two and a half training sessions since and he’s played just 15 minutes. It will take time for him to start a game.”
The Italian international had heart surgery in late 2011 and he returned to action on Saturday afternoon.
Chievo will have to stop Ibrahimovic 9.4 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri sniped “some couldn’t wait for us to lose,” but insists his job is not on the line as speculation grows Milan will fire him if he fails to win the Scudetto.
The last week has been disastrous for the Rossoneri, who dropped a four-point lead to fall behind Juventus in the Serie A table and were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.
“I absolutely do not feel at risk,” insisted Allegri after the 2-1 home defeat to Fiorentina.
“Certain evaluations are down to the club and will only be made at the end of the season. I prefer to concentrate on what we have to do right now.”
President Silvio Berlusconi was critical of Allegri’s approach during the two legs against Barcelona, fuelling speculation failure to win the Scudetto will result in a new Coach.
“We all have to live it day by day, game by game, because too many calculations have been made over the past few days.
“There are still seven rounds to go. Everyone said Juve had a great chance of winning the Scudetto when they were behind us, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t in the same position.”
Allegri also sniped at the media and chasing pack after the shock 2-1 home defeat to Fiorentina, which saw Milan go in front with a very dubious penalty.
“I realised that many, let’s say the vast majority, couldn’t wait for Milan to lose. There, it happened. Now we will move forward.
“Nobody expected this defeat, not even us, but we have the character to get back on our feet. It can happen in a season. Don’t forget we had a long run-up to go four points clear of Juve, so you do pay for this strain. It’s not over yet, though.”
La Gazzetta dello Sport is already speculating on potential replacements for Allegri, including Marco van Basten, Marcello Lippi, Fabio Capello and the promotion of Clarence Seedorf.
Rossi: 'Fiorentina had nothing to lose' 7.4 ||webmaster
Delio Rossi believes Fiorentina “felt more psychologically free because we had nothing to lose” when shocking Milan at San Siro.
The Viola were without a win in over a month and hadn’t conquered this stadium since 2001, but Amauri struck late on for a surprise 2-1 victory.
“Yesterday in the press conference someone asked what on earth we were going to do in Milan, but I go to play games and look for the result,” smiled Rossi.
“I saw a good performance and perhaps we felt more psychologically free because we had nothing to lose. I am happy for the lads, the directors and the fans. It was an important match and I only wish we’d played this way more often.”
It had started badly, as Maxi Lopez received a highly dubious penalty for a shirt-tug in the first half.
“You come here and play a good game, then go behind to a penalty like that… My players did very well, because a blow like that is enough to kill an elephant, especially as news filtered through that all the teams behind us in the table were winning.
“The club and fans deserve more than this situation. The Della Valle brothers have always been close to us and never abandoned the team, even when we were indefensible.
“Can this result change the Scudetto race? As far as we are concerned, the only important thing about it was breaking away from the relegation zone.”
Massimiliano Allegri feels refereeing errors balanced themselves out, but Milan went the wrong way about the “unexpected” defeat to Fiorentina.
The Viola earned a shock 2-1 victory at San Siro that re-opens the Scudetto race, as Juventus could now go top.
“It was an unexpected defeat and a complicated game thanks to Fiorentina. We felt tired, but once we had taken the lead the equaliser came far too quickly,” said Allegri.
Milan had gone in front with a very dubious penalty awarded for a tug on Maxi Lopez, but Allegri pointed to Antonio Cassano’s late spot-kick appeal.
“It was a generous penalty, but then the referee gave back that generosity with his decision on Cassano. There has been too much talk about referees lately and I think everyone should accept decisions in a calm manner.
“There was too much haste in trying to win the game, so we went for long balls when I was asking for short passes. It’s a shame that we lost, because now Juve have the chance to go in front, although there are still seven games to go.
“It is not true that the Champions League elimination to Barcelona affected us, as we have immediately put it behind us. More than anything else, it was a waste of energy.
“The only thing we could’ve done here was come out better for the second half. We must accept the defeat and resume with more determination.
“I used Maxi Lopez alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic because I expected Fiorentina to sit back, so I wanted to reference points in attack.”
Serie A: AC Milan 1:2 Fiorentina - match report 7.4 ||webmaster
It could be a Scudetto turning point, as Fiorentina beat Milan at San Siro with Juventus-owned Amauri in stoppages! Antonio Cassano also made his comeback.
The Rossoneri saw their lead at the top of the table whittled down to just two points last week, so the pressure was on, especially after Champions League elimination. There were also panic stations at Fiorentina, who had dropped to fourth-from-bottom and ran the very real risk of relegation if they couldn’t stop the slide.
Milan’s injury list remained huge with Alessandro Nesta, Djamel Mesbah and Luca Antonini joining Thiago Silva, Mark van Bommel, Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato, Pippo Inzaghi, Rodney Strasser, Alexander Merkel and Mathieu Flamini. Maxi Lopez got a rare start, while Antonio Cassano was on the bench for the first time since suffering that stroke in late October. The Viola had Riccardo Montolivo and Alessio Cerci suspended along with the sidelined Alessandro Gamberini, Juan Manuel Vargas, Mattia Cassani and Per Kroldrup. Adem Ljajic was chosen ahead of Amauri.
The tension was evident from the start, as after six minutes there was a bitter scuffle between Massimo Ambrosini and Manuel Pasqual in midfield. Fiorentina got off to a much stronger start and dominated possession in the opening stages, Stevan Jovetic’s screamer charged down by Ambrosini and Ljajic curling a free kick over the bar.
Houssine Kharja and Jovetic also skimmed the woodwork from distance. Milan slowly started to get into the game and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic rocket of a free kick stung Artur Boruc’s palms, but Sulley Muntari incredibly fired the follow-up wide from point-blank range!
Nastasic crucially closed down Urby Emanuelson as he pulled the trigger from eight yards on a Maxi Lopez long ball.
The referee pointed to the spot after half an hour when Nastasic was accused of pulling down Maxi Lopez as he tried to get on the end of a Gianluca Zambrotta cross. The contact did not seem particularly strong and Fiorentina protested. Ibrahimovic coolly converted to put Milan in front, sending Boruc the wrong way.
A long-range Ljajic free kick dipped mercilessly right in front of Christian Abbiati and the veteran goalkeeper scrambled it off the line at the last moment.
Maxi Lopez had a great opportunity to double Milan’s lead, but his chest and half-volley from the outside corner of the box smacked against the base of the far post.
Jovetic blasted wide and Ibra burst through a crowd of defenders, but eventually fired over under pressure.
Straight after the restart it was 1-1, as Ignazio Abate was keeping Jovetic in play, so the Montenegrin sprinted clear towards the goal and flashed an angled drive past Abbiati despite the goalkeeper getting a foot to it.
Abate had a shot charged down in the penalty area, but there was controversy when the referee allowed play to go on when his own teammate Pasqual was down with a head injury, but Ljajic passed it straight into Abbiati’s hands to waste a golden opportunity.
Nobody managed to get the decisive touch to a Zambrotta ball across the face of goal, including Maxi Lopez and goalkeeper Boruc.
Fiorentina threatened to go in front when De Silvestri went screaming forward on the counter-attack and Abbiati had his palms stung by the Jovetic finish, then Philippe Mexes risked giving the ball away again during his clearance.
Boruc required a desperate save to deny Maxi Lopez when the Argentine controlled an Ibrahimovic throw-in and shot from point-blank range. Zambrotta’s shot was charged down, the same fate befalling Alberto Aquilani during a very long Milan siege on the Viola box.
There was a very special moment, as Antonio Cassano made his comeback for the first time since suffering a stroke and undergoing heart surgery at the end of October. All of San Siro was on its feet for the returning striker.
In a strangely fitting finale, Fiorentina took the lead with Amauri, a player still owned by their Scudetto rivals Juventus! Mexes made the mistake that allowed Amauri through and he exchanged passes with Jovetic to fire past the on-rushing Abbiati. It was particularly remarkable, as the Viola had the worst away record in Serie A.
Cassano dribbled past De Silvestri in stoppages and tumbled under a small shove in the back, but the referee waved play on this time.
Italian media report Manchester City will hand Carlos Tevez to Milan and Mario Balotelli back to Inter next season.
The strikers have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past few months and it’s claimed City are prepared to part company with both of them.
Tevez had already been on the verge of a transfer to Milan in January, but the Citizens put a stop to it by refusing to accept a loan deal.
The Rossoneri had raised the necessary cash by agreeing to sell Alexandre Pato to Paris Saint-Germain, but when the Brazilian turned down that move, the entire Tevez affair came to an end.
It is widely reported Tevez is going to join Milan in the summer after all with the two clubs on considerably better terms.
Balotelli had also been linked with Milan, as he has never disguised he is a Rossoneri supporter, but the latest reports suggest a return to Inter instead.
SuperMario grew up in the Nerazzurri youth academy and became a star player, but was sold to Manchester City for €22m in August 2010.
Recently he hit headlines yet again for a row on the pitch with teammates and alleged fisticuffs with Yaya Toure in the locker room.
According to the Italian media, Balotelli’s recent surprise trip to the Inter training camp – where he gatecrashed new Coach Andrea Stramaccioni’s presentation press conference – was a sign he wants to come back.
Balotelli could make the move to Inter along with City teammates Aleksandar Kolarov and Nigel De Jong.
It would be a bit of an awkward situation for De Jong to follow Balo to Inter, as this week he said “sometimes Mario is a fool and at other times he is a genius – there are two sides to him.”
Antonio Cassano might make his comeback after heart surgery in Milan-Fiorentina today. “With this enthusiasm I could fly on to the field.”
The striker has been out of action since suffering a mini-stroke on October 29 and underwent surgery to correct a congenital heart defect a few days later.
He was given the all-clear by a panel of medics this week and is in the Rossoneri squad for this afternoon’s match with Fiorentina.
“I missed the everyday training sessions with my teammates, pre-match get-togethers, tension of game situations, but at the same time I was happy to stay home with my wife and son,” Cassano told Mediaset.
“If (Coach Massimiliano) Allegri tells me to come off the bench, then with this enthusiasm I could fly on to the field.”
Antonio Cassano is back in the Milan squad to face Fiorentina and Massimiliano Allegri confirms “he could be on the bench.”
The striker has been out of action since suffering a mini-stroke on the way back from a 3-2 win at Roma on October 29.
He underwent surgery to correct the congenital heart defect that caused it and was given the all-clear this week to resume his professional career.
Cassano is named in the 19-man squad for Saturday’s match with Fiorentina.
“Antonio is fine physically, of course for what he can be in his condition. He has so much class and this can compensate for a lack of shape,” commented Coach Allegri. “There is a good chance he will be called up and on the bench.”
Absentees for this game are Alessandro Nesta, Mark van Bommel, Thiago Silva, Clarence Seedorf, Djamel Mesbah, Alexander Merkel, Pippo Inzaghi, Alexandre Pato, Rodney Strasser, Flavio Roma and Mathieu Flamini.
AC Milan squad: Abbiati, Amelia, Abate, Bonera, De Sciglio, Mexes, Zambrotta, Yepes, Ambrosini, Aquilani, Emanuelson, Gattuso, Muntari, Nocerino, Cassano, El Shaarawy, Ibrahimovic, Maxi Lopez, Robinho
Delio Rossi tells Fiorentina their only hope to trouble Milan on Saturday is to “play like provincial minnows,” but admits his team feel like they are under siege.
The Viola are in dire straits and dropped to fourth from bottom, although five points separate them from the drop zone.
“When I arrived on the Fiorentina bench we played against Milan and got a draw, so I don’t understand all this pessimism ahead of tomorrow’s game,” insisted Rossi.
“We will gamble with our cards the way we always have done, hoping it can all go well, from our attitude to the performance of the referee.
“We have to step on to the field as if we were provincial minnows, which means being efficient and focusing on the objective of securing safety. Clearly there are concerns within the locker room, otherwise they’d be fools, but we are not afraid. That’s a different thing.
“We’ve nothing more to say and just need to get out there on to the pitch. In a certain way, everything we say now could be used against us.”
Fiorentina do feel they are under siege from their own fans amid angry protests and this week the ultras turned down the chance to talk to their Coach in a private meeting.
“I think the President met with them. A summit was planned over the last few days, but was not possible. I never said the fans were behind the crisis – I merely asked for their help.
“It’s obvious the blame for the current situation lies with me and my players. In my career I always managed to make a mark on the teams I trained, but so far in Florence I haven’t done that yet. It is beyond doubt that there are some problems and mistakes were made.”
Allegri: Forget Europe, win Serie A 6.4 ||webmaster
Max Allegri is keen for Milan to move on from their European exit in midweek by ensuring that they win the Scudetto this season.
The Rossoneri were knocked out of the Champions League in midweek after defeat to Barcelona, but they go into the final eight weeks of the Serie A campaign still two points ahead of Juventus, an advantage that Allegri believes the team must hold on to.
“We must forget the elimination from the Champions League,” the Coach asserted to the assembled media on Friday.
“We need to think about the points and winning games, starting tomorrow, which will not be easy despite the difficult period Fiorentina are in.
“We feel as we did last year when we had Inter and Napoli two and three points behind us. We must remain calm, we have 64 points and nobody has gifted them to us.
“It will be a fascinating battle to the end and we have an obligation, even without the head-to-head record to get to the finish a point ahead of Juventus, and so we start from tomorrow.”
Antonio Conte reportedly told his Juventus players in a midweek address that Milan ‘will have to spit blood’ to win the League title.
“We’d have to get beaten in order to spit blood,” reacted Allegri. “It’s always a game of football and we will try to win with technique and with determination after an important season in which we also had to make a comeback in. It won’t be easy because Juve is going strong.”
The season run-in will be without Alexandre Pato, however, after he was ruled out for the rest of campaign with another muscle injury sustained just 13 minutes into his comeback in midweek.
“I saw him again this morning, he is being treated and is trying to return as soon as possible. We are all sorry for these injuries, he is a boy of 22.
“However, I always want to see things positively and I think that a bit of tranquillity, with some re-education and a little more attention, will definitely return Pato to the strength of a few years ago.”
Allegri could welcome Antonio Cassano back to the first team, after he was given the all clear to resume his playing career this week.
“Antonio is fine physically, of course for what he can be in his condition. He has so much class and this can compensate for a lack of shape.
“Will he be picked tomorrow? I will decide after training, but there is a good chance he will be called up and on the bench.”
The Coach was also pressed for a reaction to how the fixture calendar has now presented Milan with a slight advantage of playing before Juventus in each of the next four rounds of games.
“The League is a competent body and I think they will make the right choice for fairness and balance at the end of the season so no team has an advantage or disadvantage.
“The championship will be very open towards the end and I think that the League thinks this too, in trying to avoid controversy.”
Milan will go on to win the Scudetto following Champions League elimination, says former boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The Rossoneri only have Serie A to play for after Barcelona knocked them out of Europe and Juventus, their biggest title rivals, ended their Coppa Italia hopes.
“The Scudetto battle is uncertain,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s up to Milan to win all of their games as they have a two-point lead. They’ll win the championship though.
“Their elimination from the Champions League will certainly give them a decisive push for victory in Serie A. The Rossoneri will have more mental energy for the title now.
“In 2004 we were knocked out by Deportivo after a 4-1 first leg win. That was a massive psychological shock, but we recovered by beating Empoli with a late goal. And then we won the Scudetto.”
While Milan started the campaign as favourites, the Old Lady – another club formerly coached by Ancelotti – have been the surprise package.
“It won’t be a drama if Juventus don’t win the League,” the Paris SG tactician noted. “Antonio Conte is only in his first season at the club and he’s already succeeded by competing with Milan for the title.”
Ancelotti also defended Rossoneri boss Massimiliano Allegri from the criticism of President Silvio Berlusconi, the club owner who reportedly wasn’t overly impressed with the side’s first leg performance against Barca.
“Milan did everything possible against Barcelona, but at the moment it is clear that they and Real Madrid are superior.
“Berlusconi, since 1986, has wanted entertainment and control of the way the side play.”
Milan have promised to have Alexandre Pato back ‘soon’ and ‘even stronger than before’, after his latest injury setback.
A 13-minute comeback cameo off the Camp Nou bench against Barcelona was enough to rule the Brazilian out for the rest of the season with another muscle injury, reportedly his 14th in 27 months.
Where club doctor Jean Pierre Meersseman expressed his sorrow and confusion at the striker’s latest setback, the club have come out with a strong message of belief that they can help the player overcome these struggles.
“All at AC Milan are strongly determined to solve in a positive manner and within the shortest timeframe possible the muscle problems of Alexandre Pato,” read a statement released through the club's website.
“Numerous roads both diagnostic and therapeutic remain open and there is no doubt that the current situation will be overcome in a satisfactory manner. Pato will soon come back even stronger than before.”
Just last week and before Pato’s appearance against Barca, the club flew him out to America to consult a specialist in a move that left Meersseman and Adriano Galliani in agreement that a ‘definitive solution’ had been found.
Jose Mourinho sent out a message in support of Milan, who were “the latest club to be penalised against Barcelona.”
Real Madrid manager Mourinho has for many years carried on a high-profile media war of words with the Blaugrana, accusing them of receiving special treatment from referees in Spain and especially Europe.
“Every year we learn new things,” Mou’s spokesman Eladio Paramés wrote on Twitter. “For instance, now we know that you can blow the whistle for a penalty before the ball comes into play.
“Chelsea, Inter, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Milan have all been penalised. At least now we know who is going to win the Champions League!”
He was referring to the second controversial spot-kick awarded to Barcelona in last night’s 3-1 Champions League quarter-final win over Milan.
Alessandro Nesta was penalised for tugging Sergio Busquets’ shirt while simultaneously hauled back by Carles Puyol and possibly before the corner had actually been taken.
Massimiliano Allegri said the penalties cost Milan dearly against Barcelona, though “the referee gifted them with the second one.”
The Rossoneri had gone 1-1 at the Nou Camp when the Dutch referee pointed to the spot for Alessandro Nesta’s shirt tug on Sergio Busquets when he was simultaneously being pulled by Carles Puyol.
“It’s a shame, as it was a moment of the match where Barcelona weren’t doing much and it was just before the break. They had two penalties, one gifted by us, the other gifted by the referee,” Allegri told Sky Sport Italia after a 3-1 defeat.
Curiously, Lionel Messi has scored only three goals in his entire career against Italian opposition, all of them penalties past Milan.
“We made a lot of mistakes and misplaced passes where we had the chance to run into space. We opened the game for a while and I think we go out with our heads held high.
“After the 1-1 we felt that we had the chance to qualify, as Barcelona had some pressure on them and it showed. It’s only normal that after going 3-1 up it was all easier for them.
“It was difficult, as going into the locker room at the break with that dubious penalty, then after the restart a lucky deflection gives them a third, it gave Barcelona a psychological boost and they started to move the ball around much better.
“I think we had numerous chances to create scoring opportunities, but we misplaced many passes and got some decisions wrong. We knew Barcelona were the best team in the world right now.
“In the opening 10 minutes we lost the ball too often, which is precisely what you shouldn’t do against Barcelona. We often caught them one-against-one with an open field in front, but chose the wrong pass or got the measurements wrong, much like the first leg.”
Alexandre Pato made his comeback for the first time since February 25, but lasted only 13 minutes on the field before limping off again.
“He felt another twinge on the back of his thigh and the medical staff will evaluate it. If he has hurt himself again, then that will be a problem, as the poor lad has been carrying these problems for two years.”
Ambrosini blasts Barcelona penalty 3.4 ||webmaster
Milan assistant manager Mauro Tassotti admits Barcelona’s line-up “surprised us a little” for the Champions League quarter-final.
“They did surprise us a little. Xavi and Cesc Fabregas were not too well yesterday, but they are starting tonight," Massimiliano Allegri's assistant told Sky Sport Italia.
“With all these players they will probably be even better in possession. We must close the lines and avoid the mistakes we made last Wednesday.
“How do we play? Defending is not enough. Barcelona always give you something, but we mustn’t throw ourselves forward and get too greedy.
“At times they exasperate the concept of offside and defend very high up the field. In the first leg there were a few favourable situations that with a little more focus could’ve become very important for us.
“Tonight we will try to do better.”
Champions League: Barcelona 3:1 (3:1 AET) AC Milan - match report 3.4 ||webmaster
Antonio Nocerino’s away goal was not enough, as Milan go out of the Champions League to a couple of Lionel Messi penalties in a 3-1 defeat to Barcelona.
The first leg of this Champions League quarter-final ended goalless, so a score draw would be enough to send the Rossoneri through on the away goals rule.
Thiago Silva, Mark van Bommel, Alexander Merkel and more were sidelined, but Alexandre Pato was back on the bench for the first time in six weeks. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ignazio Abate and Alessandro Nesta passed fitness tests to start with a very experienced midfield, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic faced his former club.
Xavi recovered from a calf problem to start with Javier Mascherano and Cesc Fabregas, but Isaac Cuenca was a surprise pick and only turns 21 later this month.
Milan were again in their ‘lucky’ all white strip and it took a sliding tackle from Gerard Piqué to put off Ibrahimovic as he burst into the box after three minutes, but Lionel Messi went on a rapid counter-attack only to fire straight at Christian Abbiati.
A well-worked move saw Dani Alves and Fabregas combine to set up Messi’s shot across the face of goal to skim the back post.
However, Philippe Mexes gave away the ball in midfield to allow Messi on the counter and Luca Antonini at first managed to intercept, but then brought down Messi for a penalty as the move continued. Abbiati got the right angle, but could not stop Messi’s spot-kick from nestling into the near bottom corner.
Abbiati smothered another Messi snapshot and a combination of Alessandro Nesta, Antonini and Abbiati managed to close down Dani Alves.
Milan had little possession, but took advantage of it by equalising with Antonio Nocerino. Ibrahimovic had his back to goal and threaded through a pass for Nocerino to spring the offside trap thanks to a Mascherano error and place an angled drive across Victor Valdes. As this was an away goal, it would count double if the tie ended level overall.
Xavi stung Abbiati’s palms with a long-range screamer and a Fabregas attempt was easily smothered.
However, the referee pointed to the spot again for Nesta’s rather soft shirt-tug on Sergio Busquets as a corner was whipped in. Nesta was furious, especially as he was being fouled by Carles Puyol at the same time, but also received a yellow card that will suspend him for the next game. Messi took the opposite angle to his first penalty, but still got it on target, sending Abbiati the wrong way.
Messi dribbled through the defence for a crucial one-handed Abbiati save. After the restart Mascherano tackled Ibra in the box, then a Xavi free kick whistled just wide of the top corner, though Abbiati had it covered.
Milan were beaten by an unlucky deflection for Barca’s third goal. Messi’s shot ricocheted into the air off Mexes and allowed Andres Iniesta to curl in undisturbed from six yards as Abbiati rushed off his line.
Messi’s lob was off target and Boateng nodded over from a corner. There was a controversial moment when Robinho charged down a Pique clearance with his armpit and surged towards goal to test Victor Valdes, but the referee stopped play for a handling offence.
Boateng’s pass across the area for Robinho was crucially intercepted, but at the other end Messi sent Thiago Alcantara totally clear to pull an angled drive across the face of goal and past the far post.
Alexandre Pato made his comeback for the first time since February 25. Dani Alves intercepted a dangerous Ibrahimovic cross as Alberto Aquilani was lining up his diving header, while Victor Valdes smothered at Pato’s feet.
Pato’s comeback lasted all of 13 minutes before he limped off again to make way for former Barcelona man Maxi Lopez. Fatigue was showing for the Rossoneri and Nesta had to scramble clear when Abbiati at full stretch intercepted a Dani Alves cross for Messi in the six-yard box.
Adriano burst down the left flank totally unmarked, but fired wide of the near post with only the goalkeeper to beat. Victor Valdes fumbled a cross, but Ibra was not quick enough to take advantage. In stoppages Messi curled a free kick over the bar.
Milan go out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate, while Barcelona go through to the quarter-finals against Bayern Munich.
Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Daniel Alves, Piqué (Adriano 75), Mascherano, Puyol; Xavi Hernandez (Thiago Alcantara 63), Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Fabregas (Keita 78), Isaac Cuenca
Arrigo Sacchi believes Barcelona are the favourites in tonight’s quarter-final, but “it will be a very open game and Milan can do damage.”
The first leg ended 0-0, so the Rossoneri would qualify for the next round of the Champions League with a score draw at the Camp Nou.
“It will be a very open game, even if I see Barcelona as slight favourites,” the former Milan and Atletico Madrid manager told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
“Neither side was particularly aggressive in the first leg, as Barca’s possession was very slow and several players seemed to be off form.
“Milan have many experienced players and are coming off a positive spell. They can do damage to the Catalans, especially if Barcelona are not aggressive and the defence shows the same problems it has had over the campaign.
“Thiago Silva and Mark van Bommel are big absentees for Milan, but there are many other players capable of hurting Barcelona.
“I see Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, even if his personality does not allow him to be consistent throughout an entire season.”
Lionel Messi has reiterated Barcelona’s focus for tonight’s quarter-final with Milan: “We have to win, we have no choice.”
The Catalan side are aiming for a fifth consecutive competition semi-final appearance, but to achieve it they must beat the Rossoneri at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.
With the advantage of having not conceded an away goal to Barca, Milan go into the tie knowing that a score draw will be enough to advance to the next round, something that Messi has made clear his side are keen to avoid.
“We have to win, we have no choice,” he wrote on Barcelona’s page on social networking site Weibo.
“Milan is a tough team to face because they know how to defend themselves very well. We must beat them at all costs, so as to go through.
“The victory is the only condition that will meet that target. Our hunger has never waned, it is a key to having so much success.”
Messi is currently the competition’s top goal-scorer this season with 12 goals, but from seven previous career appearances against Italian opposition, he has scored only one goal.
Galliani: 'Guardiola's Barcelona like Sacchi's AC Milan' 3.4 ||webmaster
Adriano Galliani may compare Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side to Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan team, but he still thinks Max Allegri’s Rossoneri will have a say tonight.
Guardiola’s Blaugrana entertain Allegri’s Milan on Tuesday evening for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
In the Catalan city during the day’s final preparations, Vice President Galliani took questions on the game ahead, one that Barca legend Johan Cruyff believes the Spanish are favourites for.
“We are delighted to be here, to play in the quarter-final against the best team in the world,” began Galliani to Sky Sport 24.
“Cruyff says that Barcelona will win? He was a great player and as a great player he can say whatever he wants. Sacchi’s Milan, Cruyff’s Ajax and Guardiola’s Barca are the teams that no other has done better than in the last 40 years.
“Tonight there are no favourites, Milan and Barcelona are two great teams, it will be a spectacle.
“How do I see Ibrahimovic? He was very focused. Out for revenge? No, there is no vendetta.”
Galliani also again commented on the first leg controversy surrounding the quality of the pitch.
“Guardiola is right to say that the surface at San Siro was poor, but the first to be affected by this situation is us, because we play so many games on it during the year. In the first leg, Barca asked us to water the pitch in the morning before the game but after that we did nothing more.
“Hopefully next year Inter and ourselves can play on a field that is partly natural and partly synthetic.”
Bojan Krkic has told his former Barcelona teammates what Milan’s biggest weakpoint is, ahead of the two sides’ Champions League quarter-final tonight.
With the Rossoneri preparing for the second leg of their knockout fixture with the Catalan side tonight, former Barca boy Bojan, who is technically midway through an effective two-year loan in Italy at Roma, offered his support and insight to the Blaugrana.
“The weakest point to Milan is their goalkeeper Abbiati,” the young striker told Radio Catalunya.
“With my teammates at Roma I have discussed this big match at Camp Nou and we have all come to the same conclusion - if there is one team that can pierce the defence of Milan, it is this Barcelona.
“I have no doubt, I see Barcelona as European champions and La Liga winners.”
Bojan scored against Abbiati earlier this season for Roma, when he latched on to a parry from the ‘keeper during the final minutes of Milan’s visit to the Stadio Olimpico in Week 10.
Former Milan and Inter Coach Leonardo has explained why a lot of his transfer work as sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain has been based in Italy.
The Brazilian, who spent four seasons as a player with the Rossoneri in the late 1990s before then finishing his on-pitch career with the club in 2003, is now responsible for heading another former club PSG’s direction in the transfer market.
From Coach Carlo Ancelotti through to signing the likes of Jeremy Menez, Mohamed Sissoko, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta and Salvatore Sirigu, as well as being linked with Federico Balzaretti and former Milan man David Beckham, Leonardo’s work in the French capital has maintained a strong Serie A flavour.
The man who spent a season as Coach of Milan and then another in the same position at rivals Inter, has now revealed the reason for this clear preference.
“Yes, I come from Italy and then people say I have become Italian,” he began, talking to L’Equipe this week.
“But the truth is that if we have bought a lot of players from Italy last summer, it was because the Italian clubs are experiencing a very difficult situation, from an economic standpoint. As things are today, Serie A are only sellers.”
Leonardo also suggested conversely that PSG’s rediscovered strength in the market, under Qatari ownership, also has its downsides.
“When a player is on sale, now they say that PSG follows him. Then it becomes easier for agents to use us as bait - maybe they put the rumour out that we are after their player. All this to try to get a re-evaluation of an existing deal with other clubs.”
The 42-year-old then hinted that he could be open to a return to coaching one day.
“What do I miss most about being a Coach? Above all, the atmosphere of the game, the adrenaline of the match. But now my work is this.
“Would I return to a bench? It can happen, I’m open to everything. Yet, perhaps doing so here in Paris, after being sporting director, can be a bit complicated. I did it at Milan, but there it was a different matter.”
Former referee and current President of the Italian Referees’ Association Marcello Nicchi believes Milan didn’t score a second goal in Catania in Week 30.
The Rossoneri yesterday wrote a letter to the Italian FA (FIGC) - that they posted on their website - asking for goalline referees to be introduced in reaction to what they claimed was a legitimate goal not being awarded on Saturday.
Robinho saw a second-half effort cleared off the line by Catania defender Giovanni Marchese, with replays proving inconclusive as to whether or not the ball completely crossed the line.
However, head of referees Nicchi, in responding to Galliani’s request, is sure that it was not a goal.
“Up until Sulley Muntari’s missed goal in Milan-Juve there was little to discuss,” Nicchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We all saw it, I was at the stadium, it was a plain mistake and the first thing we did was to study how this could happen. It’s like when the goalkeeper misses a save, an attacker a goal or a tackle that becomes crucial.
“Catania’s episode, however, is different. Robinho’s goal was not there - no-one can prove that it was a goal. We are talking about something that does not exist, the ball never entered the goal, I strongly support that it was not a goal.”
Nicchi welcomed the proposals for goalline technology and extra match officials to stand behind the goals.
“Referees accept the criticism because it gives strength to them to keep on working and to improve themselves.
“When a referee is wrong, they respond like a football player. They don’t throw away their shoes, they go out there and regain strength both physically and psychologically. The referees are a team of great value that is trying to always do better.
“We apply the rules that are there and if you want to take a step forward to help referees with technology, we are the first to welcome it so we can avoid any discussion. As for goalline officials, we have always been favourable to this because more eyes can see more.”
Antonio Cassano has received the green light to resume his playing career, after heart surgery last autumn.
Yesterday a panel of medical experts gave Cassano their go-ahead, with the player then only required to present his case this morning to the Istituto di Medicina Sportiva dell'Acqua Acetosa.
The Milan and Italy striker hasn’t played since October when he fell ill after the Rossoneri’s match at Roma. Tests revealed a rare heart condition that required minor surgery, which the player has been working back to full fitness from ever since.
The club have confirmed that the player has been approved by the Institute this morning and that he can now work towards making a return to first-team action.
Massimo Ambrosini has called for a united team effort from his Milan teammates tonight to try to overcome Barcelona.
The quarter-final second leg is in the balance, with the aggregate score still set at 0-0. Ambrosini, who is likely to captain the side tonight, believes that only an collective effort will help break down a Barcelona side that will make it hard for them.
“They make you run without possession until you are empty,” reflected Ambrosini to the Press ahead of the match tonight.
“In terms of the game we have to face them with courage. With a strong attitude. Everyone must work for the group, from the goalkeeper to the striker.
“As captain I can say that it is a special experience to be here, but it would be even more beautiful if we progress to the next round.
“We do not know what it feels like to beat Barcelona here in recent years. We’ll try to have to do it ourselves.”
Allegri looks for AC Milan courage 3.4 ||webmaster
Pep Guardiola has indicated that Milan will face an all-out attacking Barcelona in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.
The Rossoneri travel to Camp Nou for the second leg of their knockout clash with the Catalans with the score at 0-0.
Milan know that a win or a score draw will see them progress to the semi-finals, something that conversely has Guardiola approaching the game with the ambition of Barca scoring as many goals as possible.
“The situation is simple. Whoever wins will go to the semi-finals,” exclaimed the Coach to the collected media on Monday evening. Guardiola answered questions in Spanish and Italian.
“The perception I have is that we must raise our game thinking that Milan can score against us. In recent days I have studied how we can create many chances without it being a danger in defence.
“I don’t mind if we concede a goal, but I must find ways for us to create as many chances as possible.
“Milan has the capacity to play, as in Italy, to dominate the game. They defend well in their area. They have Ibra and can create chances through well-directed passes to him and in this case they are better than us.
“We do not know how to defend a result either for a long period of time. If Milan dominate us, then we should be more careful in defence.
“We will try to attack them in the best way and more often than them. I think if it was 3-0 we would not stop, we’ll look for another goal.”
Guardiola also passed comment on Milan’s weekend match at Catania, a game in which they dropped two points amid claims of having scored a legitimate and potential match-winning goal turned down.
“We must say that the game at Catania was not easy for Milan. In games that count, the Italians know how to play. They know how to win.
“We must play with great intensity and find the right time to attack them. They are also dangerous on set-pieces. Sometimes there are situations that are unfavourable but a team that wants to progress overcomes these things.
“The important thing is that my players leave the pitch tomorrow with a conscience that they have given everything. Let everyone be clear, we will give everything.
“To me, these situations motivate me. Going to the hotel and thinking that we are playing in a quarter-final match tomorrow motivates me a lot.
“It’s like the first year, a privilege to experience it all again. Tomorrow we just need the players to do the rest.”
Carles Puyol has given Milan’s Champions League quarter-final second leg clash with his Barcelona side top billing.
The two sides meet at Camp Nou on Tuesday night to determine a place in the semi-finals of the European competition. The Catalans are looking for a fifth successive semi-final, but are without an away goal advantage, having been held 0-0 at San Siro last week.
“This is the most important game of the year,” declared Puyol to the assembled media on Monday evening.
“It’s a final and there is no margin for error. Our idea is still to play our game, taking into account that we are facing a great team.
“They are dangerous. For this, we must play a great game to overcome every obstacle.
“The draw, unless it is 0-0, will condemn us, but we are playing at Camp Nou, where the public supports us from the first to the last minute. Sure, we will try to score in a hurry.
“It is complicated to manage it, but if we get ahead, we will go for more goals.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic again prepares to face his former employers, who he has been less-than complimentary about in a recent autobiography.
“He is one of the best strikers in the world, he is very difficult to fight against, but defending is the responsibility of the whole team. We must keep him out of the penalty area and ensure no good passes find him.”
Fiorentina 'don't want AC Milan repercussions' 2.4 ||webmaster
Sandro Mencucci has appealed to the Italian game’s governing bodies to ensure that Fiorentina do not become victims of Milan’s recent refereeing misfortune.
The Rossoneri drew 1-1 draw with Catania on Saturday, but felt they were denied a second goal that might have won the game when Robinho’s second-half effort was cleared off the line, with replays proving inconclusive.
Viola general manager Mencucci believes that it was a goal, but has asked that his team, who are next in line in the League to face Milan, are not the ones to fall foul to reactionary officiating favourable to the San Siro side.
“I have read of the controversies of the disallowed goal for Milan against Catania, but I would like people to not forget the two mistakes that were made yesterday against Fiorentina.
“They were errors in good faith, but certainly they have not helped. I would not want Fiorentina on Saturday against Milan to become sacrificial victims. Already we are in a difficult situation and so if you add the mistakes of the referees to that…”
That difficult situation is 17th place, five points above the relegation zone.
“Against Chievo we have not played a bad game, but there was a clear penalty not given. In Parma there was a penalty whistled against us for a light shirt pull, while yesterday a kick against our player in the box was not seen.
“I’m saying this now and not in a few days, because from now there is a whole week before Milan-Fiorentina. I reiterate that the Milan goal at Catania was unchallengeable, but we do not want retaliation for this situation.
“We have always been quiet and I speak now because I do not want to pay for our refinement. Against Milan we expect a prohibitive encounter because they are fighting for the Scudetto.
“I do not think it will be a crucial match for our League survival, because otherwise I would feel bad. I hope that other games are decisive for our survival.”
Mencucci then commented on the rumours today linking Sinisa Mihajlovic with a return to the bench in place of Delio Rossi.
“Our club is not accustomed to change Coaches during the season. Rossi is competent and we are confident in our choice. Mihajlovic also was strong and competent. When we replaced him we realised it was because we needed the change.”
According to Adriano Galliani, Milan may have found a solution to Alexandre Pato’s recent struggles with injury.
The Brazilian youngster has been blighted by muscle-related injuries in the past two-and-a-half years and in a bid to solve the mystery behind why they keep recurring, he flew out to America last week to consult with a specialist.
With Pato back from that meeting and in the Rossonero squad to face Barcelona on Tuesday, Vice President Galliani revealed that the club are optimistic for the future.
“I’m not a doctor, but according to Jean Pierre Meersemann, who I really respect, in America they have found a definitive solution to his problems.”
This echoes Meersemann’s take on the situation over the weekend.
Galliani was speaking to reporters at Malpensa airport, awaiting Milan’s delayed flight to Barcelona to face the Catalans in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash, one that he hinted Pato could be involved in.
“Pato played in the first Barcelona game, we’ll see how he does in training tonight and then the Coach will decide.”
Massimiliano Allegri has implored his players to forget the dropped points against Catania so as to focus fully on beating Barcelona in midweek.
The Rossoneri were held to a 1-1 draw away to the Sicilians on Saturday evening, which with Juventus winning at home to Napoli, saw their lead at the top of the table cut to two points again.
However, with the second leg of the quarter-final with Barcelona on the horizon as soon as this Tuesday, Allegri has told his players that concentration must now shift.
“The team must not think about the mistakes made in Catania,” Allegri declared to Milan’s official website.
“We go to Barcelona to play a game for a place in the semi-finals, so the players will have to think about the Champions League now. The Scudetto can wait for a few days.
“The duel with Juventus will last until the end. In their last three games they have beaten Fiorentina, Inter and Napoli, scoring 10 and not conceding in the process. However, they’re still behind us.”
The tactician took that train of thought further, suggesting that it is taking attention away from his players.
“They are doing well, but less so than us as we have two points more.
“I think people are under-estimating that Milan are doing great things. We have two more points than we had at this stage last season.
“It would have been better to not have suffered those refereeing errors and had five or six points more, but the championship would still be open if that was the case.”
Allegri then looked ahead to the second leg European encounter with the Spanish.
“Given that we are playing for a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League, I’m convinced that we will play the best Barcelona of the season.
“Barcelona remain the best side in the world, but in tomorrow’s game it will be two or three key moments that we’ll have to be good at interpreting.
“I’m not making any calculations about the results at our disposal. It could even finish 0-0 and go to penalties even if I doubt that is how it will end.”
The Coach was able to name Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta and Christian Abbiati in his matchday squad, so provided an update on the trio.
“I saw Pato yesterday after a month. He took part in his first training session and he’ll take part in the second tonight. I’ll evaluate things after that. You don’t need to be that fit to play 30 minutes.
“As far as I know, Abbiati has no problems. I’ll see about Nesta after he trains at the Camp Nou tonight.
“From a tactical point of view, given that we play every three days, I haven’t had the time to prepare for it properly.
“We’ll do that tonight even if we already know them well given that we played against them only last week.”
Antonio Conte is very proud of Juventus for crushing Napoli and going within two points of the leaders, but warns “only Milan can lose the Scudetto now.”
The Bianconeri took full advantage of Milan’s draw in Catania to close the gap at the top of the table to just two points after hammering the Partenopei 3-0 this evening.
“In the last two weeks we clearly beat Inter and Napoli, two teams who most assumed would be ahead of us at this stage of the season. The victory over Napoli must be a source of pride, because they are an excellent side who did very well in the Champions League and are growing under Walter Mazzarri.
“I am proud of what my lads achieved tonight. We are also maturing in psychological terms and this result is crucial to put second place under lock and key, which is already beyond our expectations for the season.
“Of course we are glancing in front of us, because it is only right to do so, and we will try to take advantage of Milan slip-ups. Only they can lose the Scudetto now, because no-one else has the strength in depth at their disposal.
“The Rossoneri are a very strong side who won the Scudetto last year and remain top despite their many injuries. On top of that, they’re still in the Champions League after drawing with Barcelona, the best team in the world.”
Conte changed his tactics again for this match, adopting a 3-5-2 that mirrored Napoli’s system, although he counted the wing-backs as part of the defence. He also defended his decision to start with Marco Borriello.
“We have one certainty and that is the three-man midfield. Therefore we can play 4-3-3 or 5-3-2. As for Borriello, he has quality and I feel if he had arrived in June to work with us pre-season, then he’d have a different experience here. He is growing and gave us a big hand today.
“I think a Coach needs to be complete, so focus on both the tactical and motivational aspects. Of course, a Coach is nothing without players who share his vision and support him. I have the added good fortune of having a group of players eager to make up for two disappointing seasons and write club history.”
Marotta 'won't respond' to Allegri 1.4 ||webmaster
Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta refused to “fuel more controversy” by responding to Milan Coach Massimiliano Allegri’s criticism.
Allegri was furious after the 1-1 draw with Catania on Saturday, suggesting Marotta “ought to shut up” for continuing to complain about refereeing errors.
“Allegri is a very good Coach, but I do not respond to opposition tacticians,” Marotta told Sky Sport Italia ahead of tonight’s Juventus-Napoli match.
“I do not want to fuel more controversy. I think Robinho’s goal should’ve stood, but this requires new technology and not just having extra officials on the line. The more errors are reduced, the better football will be.
“If Milan put in a formal request for goalline sensors to be used in Serie A next season, then we will be by their side.”
Marotta is in the stands for tonight’s big game against Napoli and commented on their Three Tenors.
“We also have some talented tenors,” he smiled. “Do we miss a player like Edinson Cavani? Maybe, but we still score many goals and will certainly act on the transfer market in the summer to improve our strike force.”
Cesare Prandelli admits he will wait until the last minute for Antonio Cassano when picking the Euro 2012 squad.
“We are waiting for Antonio to be given the all-clear by medical staff,” explained the Italy Coach.
“In the moment when he gets that news, he will have a huge burst of energy and passion. We will wait for him.”
The Milan striker has been out since suffering a mini-stroke and undergoing surgery for a congenital heart defect in October.
Despite the long injury list, the Rossoneri are still top of the table in a Scudetto duel with Juventus.
“It gets more and more fascinating. Both Milan and Juventus will fight to the very end for the title.”
Prandelli also commented on the Lega Serie A’s decision to reject his request for a mid-season get-together of Italy players.
“I am still waiting for official response, but over the last few days I received some very positive messages. I believe at the end of the day there will be a decision dictated by good common sense from everyone.”
Pato in AC Milan squad for Barcelona 1.4 ||webmaster
Catania defender Giovanni Marchese insists Robinho’s shot did not cross the line, despite Milan’s protestations.
The Rossoneri were furious when he cleared this effort during Saturday’s 1-1 draw, as they felt it had already gone over.
“Milan claim it was a goal? Absolutely not,” assured Marchese. “I was on the trajectory and was able to prevent it completely crossing the line.
“It’s true that in part the ball went in, but not entirely, so it is not a goal. We played well against the Serie A leaders and I must underline a great performance from our goalkeeper, Juan Pablo Carrizo.”
Even replays and zoomed-in footage do not entirely clarify whether the ball had completely crossed over, as even a few millimetres on the line would prevent it from being a goal.
Galliani: 'AC Milan goals not given' 1.4 ||webmaster
Adriano Galliani was furious after another Milan ‘phantom’ goal. “When it crosses the line, it is a goal, but not for us. It’s frankly unacceptable.”
The Rossoneri saw Sulley Muntari’s effort not recognised in a 1-1 with Juventus, then today their 1-1 with Catania had Robinho’s shot cleared when the ball had possibly crossed over.
“When it crosses the line, the rules say that it is a goal, but not for us,” moaned the Vice-President.
“It is the second time this has happened to us. I understand refereeing errors can happen and we accept them, but I really don’t understand why our goals that cross the line are not given. It’s frankly unacceptable.
“In other games the officials have been very good at spotting these incidents and getting the right call. It looks as if we are just very unlucky.
“I hope this bad luck ends and that this incident does not alter the Scudetto race.”
Vincenzo Montella refused to comment on the refereeing decisions in Catania’s draw with Milan. “We have important ambitions.”
The 1-1 result was dominated by controversy over a Rossoneri ‘phantom goal’ and the Elefantini’s effort ruled offside.
“I never comment on refereeing decisions. Everyone can judge things their own way, they have the eyes to see. I made that pledge when I first started doing this line of work,” explained Montella.
“We have important ambitions and want to try to the end, so whether we achieve it or not is irrelevant.
“This was a very entertaining game of football. We started well, then Milan took over, but we were always in it and after the break came out with amazing pace. We could’ve scored a few more goals, while Milan had the chance to win it at the last second.”
Montella has been heavily linked with a move away from Sicily next season, as the likes of Inter, Lazio and Napoli have shown an interest.
“It’s all just gossip for now. At this moment I am focused solely on Catania and it’s only right to give this club and these players credit for what they are doing.
“It’s pleasing to hear that Lazio respect me and my history with Roma is not a barrier. It might be complicated, but then I don’t like to make proclamations, as anything can happen over the years.”