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The Archive

June 2006

Pirlo: Germans fear us
30.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo has explained why some sections of the German media have criticised the Azzurri. “They fear us,” he noted.

Despite reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Marcello Lippi’s boys have come in for some criticism for their style of play.

Yet Pirlo feels that the condemnation thrown towards the Azzurri is as a result of the March friendly when Italy thumped the hosts 4-1.

“The Germans criticise and attack us because they fear of meeting us in the semi-final of the competition,” said the former Brescia sensation.

“They have fear inside of them given that they still remember what we did to them in the Florence game.”

Italy and Germany could meet in the last four should they get past Ukraine and Argentina respectively.

Pirlo should start in tonight’s match against the Ukraine where he will come up against his now former Milan colleague Andriy Shevchenko.

“I spoke to him on the phone this week,” revealed the playmaker. “What did we say to each other? We simply wished one another luck.”

Gattuso: Silence is key to victory
30.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

A superstitious Gennaro Gattuso refused to give an interview to the media on Thursday, claiming he didn’t want to jeopardise Italy’s World Cup bid.

The battling midfielder was approached by a number of scribes for comments today, but explained that it would perhaps be better if he remained silent.

“I don’t want to talk, otherwise we could go out of the competition,” stated the former Rangers fan favourite.

“If you prefer, I can stop and we can do an interview. But I really don’t want to and the reason is purely superstitious.

“Those who know me are aware that I don’t talk about football on the day before games.

“If I do then I fear we might be eliminated…”

Gattuso is likely to take on his former Milan teammate Andriy Shevchenko when Italy and Ukraine meet on Friday.

The winner of that Hamburg quarter-final will take on either Argentina or hosts Germany in the last four.

Calderon: Kaka has Real deal
28.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Despite extending his contract with Milan, Kaka will join Real Madrid this summer, insists Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon.

“There are no doubts that Kaka will play with Real Madrid next season,” the businessman told Spanish newspaper ‘As’.

“If I should fail to win the election, then I’d explain to the new President how to make the move happen, because Kaka does want to come here.”

Calderon’s interest in the Brazilian starlet is nothing new, but his announcement that he would speak personally with the player at the World Cup camp in Germany infuriated Milan.

The club referred the matter to FIFA as an illegal approach, then extended Kaka’s contract until 2011 in a bid to end the rumours of a future with the Galacticos.

“I signed this contract and now the stories about me going to Madrid should go away,” said the Selecao star when he put pen to paper. “I have no intention of leaving Milan. I am happy here.”

Calderon has been proclaiming many deals ahead of the contested Real Madrid Presidential election, pledging to bring Juventus Coach Fabio Capello and Chelsea’s Dutch master Arjen Robben to the Bernabeu.

His latest comments, however, are set to earn him another reprimand from Milan and therefore FIFA.

Nesta eyes semi comeback
28.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta has confirmed that he will miss the World Cup quarter-final against Ukraine with injury.

The Milan stopper underwent a number of tests on his leg muscle problems this morning which ruled that he wouldn’t be fit in time for Friday’s clash.

“I went for more examinations at a Duisburg clinic earlier today,” he stated. “I still have a few problems to resolve, but things have greatly improved.

“Although I won’t be ready for the Ukraine match, I could be available for the next one should we get there.

“If we do qualify for the semi-final then I will give it my all to be ready in time. The doctor gave me reasons to be hopeful.”

Nesta, now likely to be replaced by Andrea Barzagli, is a massive loss to Italy given his knowledge of Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko – his former Milan teammate.

“You need to be at 100 per cent to limit his impact,” noted the Lazio youth team product. “Make as few errors as possible.

“Shevchenko has few weaknesses and you can’t leave him alone for all of the 90 minutes. Ukraine have some good players, but Sheva is a great.”

Italy have been accused as being defensive in the tournament so far, but Nesta defended his team and Italian people in general from floods of criticism.

“We played offensively in our first match against Ghana, then we had to deal with certain situations like dismissals,” he argued.

“As for Italians, we have taken our experience all around the globe. From fashion to our restaurants, we are a nation of hard workers.

“People criticise us for the way we are, but they then want to dress like us and eat like us. There is a little jealousy…”

Nesta’s final thoughts went to Gianluca Pessotto, his former international teammate, who is seriously ill in hospital after a fall in Turin.

“We have all been affected as a lot of us have played alongside him for club and country,” he noted. “It’s sad. Let’s hope that he can resolve the problems he has had.”

Milan target Torres and Maxi Rodriguez
27.6 || webmaster

AC Milan want to sign Atletico Madrid's World Cup stars Maxi Rodriguez and Fernando Torres.

The Italian giants currently have the £30million they received from Chelsea for Andriy Shevchenko burning a massive hole in their pockets.

And now, according to reports from Italy, they're ready to splash out for two of the biggest stars so far at Germany 2006.

The reports, published in Spanish daily Marca on Monday, say the Rossoneri are willing to pay 40million Euros (around £27million) plus a player for the Atletico pair.

Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi is ready to tell his staff to make contact with Atletico to make the deal happen.

Argentina midfielder Rodriguez has been a big hit in his team's run to the last eight - scoring three goals in the process.

He boosted his reputation yet further with a sensational extra-time winner against Mexico in round two last Saturday.

Torres meanwhile has also netted three times and has been hugely impressive leading the Spanish line.

'El Nino' is also wanted by the Premiership's two biggest guns Chelsea and Manchester United.

But he could see a move to Italy as preferable and Milan have the cash to spend.

Gilardino on the offensive
27.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino has conceded that the Azzurri’s lack of killer instinct in front of goal almost cost them dearly against Australia.

The Azzurri were clearly creating the more dangerous scoring opportunities in Monday’s last 16 clash, but only went through 1-0 thanks to a Francesco Totti penalty after they had also been reduced to 10 men.

“We created plenty of chances in the first half, but were a little unlucky and not too clinical, so we didn’t get the goal,” he stated. “Thankfully, we kept our cool after the red card and in the end got the win.”

Boss Marcello Lippi reintroduced the attacking trident of Gilardino, Luca Toni and Alessandro Del Piero for the tie and Gila admits they did experience some initial difficulties.

“We changed tactics with Luca in the centre and me spreading out a little more, but it’s fairly natural for me to go towards the middle,” he added.

“Perhaps we were a little too central at times instead of pushing the play wide and are still working on this system.

“Australia were very careful and packed the midfield, so it wasn’t easy for the Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo to get the balls through to us, but we got there eventually.”

All three of the attacking trio were replaced in the game which has raised doubts about whether they will start again in the quarters against Ukraine.

“The Coach will make his decisions over the next four or five days and we are ready for whatever he proposes,” concluded the Milan man.

Gattuso puzzled by dismissal
27.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian gladiator Gennaro Gattuso says he was astonished when Marco Materazzi saw red against Australia.

The Inter stopper was instantly dismissed for a foul on Marco Bresciano, which arguably deserved a yellow rather than the maximum punishment

“I honestly still can’t understand why Materazzi was sent off,” said the player who was converted into an emergency centre-back until Andrea Barzagli was brought on.

“The referees have very different criteria for giving out cards, as some fairly harmless ones from behind get you sent off, whereas much more dangerous tackles are let go.

“Maybe last night’s Portugal-Holland game prompted this referee to be harsher, or being a Spaniard he knows Marco’s reputation and considered it more serious than it was.

“This result means two years of work and our adventure continues, even if we struggled badly. Only a real team can get the win despite that red card.

“As for my own booking, that was understandable.”

Gattuso admitted that Australia started the game brightly even if he argues that the Azzurri deserve their place in the last eight.

“It was a bit confusing at first, as we didn’t know who had to go and pick up the wide men, as Australia kept changing them, but we slowly got a hang of it,” he added.

“We created four or five scoring opportunities again today and, although we’re not as pretty as some others, we make sure our opponents respect us and are tough to beat.

“I’d rather play ugly and reach the quarters than be entertaining and go out.

“We hope to have many more joyful moments like this. We proved again that there are no easy games in the World Cup, but we’re a tough side and that’s important in a competition like this.”

Gattuso also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the Italian media for their reaction to Marcello Lippi’s outburst at them in last night’s Press conference.

“I don’t see why the media has to cause controversy before an important match,” he underlined.

“We have to remain united and everyone loves the Azzurri jersey. I saw journalists crying with joy when the ball went in.”

Kaka: I'm happy at Milan
25.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has put the Real Madrid rumours behind him by pledging his future to Milan, while Marcos Cafu prepares to make history.

“I am happy to stay at Milan, that is why I accepted the contract extension until 2011,” said the Brazilian youngster who has been named as a transfer target for Real Madrid.

Merengues Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon publicly stated he would sign Kaka if he was elected and bring in Juventus Coach Fabio Capello. This infuriated the Rossoneri, who referred the matter to FIFA as an illegal approach.

“I have said it before and I confirm – I really like living in Milan and this too is important when making a decision. It doesn’t matter who is elected for Real, I am staying where I am.”

He isn’t the only Selecao star from Milan, as Marcos Cafu is preparing to make history. If he features in the second round match with Ghana, the captain will have more World Cup appearances than any other Brazilian, surpassing Carlos Dunga and Claudio Taffarel – also ex-Serie A heroes – to reach 19 games.

“It’s fabulous,” smiled the right-back. “I wanted to come on against Japan, but Coach Carlos Parreira didn’t want to hear of it, as I could’ve risked a second yellow card. He wanted to be sure I’d be there against Ghana.”

Adriano was also rested for that 4-1 victory and his replacement, Robinho, was in fine form, but the Inter man looks set to come back as the talented youngster suffered a thigh injury during training.

Nesta 'ready for quarter-finals'
25.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta’s World Cup is not over and, although he’ll miss the Australia match, he could recover in time for the potential quarter-final date.

The Milan defender limped off during the opening stages of Thursday’s 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic with a recurring groin problem.

Tests were completed this morning and Italy doctor Enrico Castellacci confirmed the injury was not as serious as some had feared.

“There are no large bruises,” he explained. “Obviously he won’t play against Australia, but we are trying to get him back to full fitness as soon as possible. We’re optimistic.”

There were originally concerns that he could be out of action for up to 15 days, which would effectively end his World Cup participation.

However, although he’ll skip Monday’s match with the Socceroos, it’s likely he would be ready if Italy reached the quarter-finals on June 30.

It’s believed that Marco Materazzi, who replaced Nesta against the Czechs and scored the opening goal, will step in to the centre of the Azzurri defence.

Gila: Totti's not a burden
25.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

As Francesco Totti’s form sparks debate in Italy, Alberto Gilardino insists the Roma star does deserve to play in his current condition.

The headlines and editorials in today’s newspapers all deal with the Totti problem, as his disappointing performance against the Czech Republic – and his own admission that he is “not the player I was three months ago” – leads some to question his starting place against Australia on Monday.

“Totti is fine,” assured teammate Gilardino in this morning’s Press Conference. “There is no debate about him in the locker room. Francesco has the confidence of the Coach and is not considered a burden, as he always does his best.”

There were originally fears he would not be ready to play in Germany 2006 at all when fracturing his ankle in February, but even after a remarkably rapid recovery, Totti is still a long way from the creative force he was for Roma and Italy before the injury.

With Luca Toni sensationally dropped for the 2-0 win over the Czech Republic and Pippo Inzaghi hitting the back of the net, there are calls for major changes to the forward line against Australia on Monday.

If Marcello Lippi again chooses the 4-4-1-1 system with Totti supporting a lone striker, the battle to be that one centre-piece is set to be a fierce one, currently topped by Milan man Gilardino.

“This is not a problem for us within the squad, as Francesco has worked hard like everyone,” continued the ex-Parma star. “I wouldn’t call myself untouchable, but I am happy to take on the responsibility of leading the line and always give 100 per cent for the Azzurri jersey. I am grateful for Lippi’s faith in me.”

Australia represent a tough test of Italy’s World Cup credentials, especially as they are Coached by Guus Hiddink, whose South Korea eliminated the Azzurri with a Golden Goal four years ago.

“We are ready for the second round and are preparing today by watching video tapes of our opponents. They are physically strong and must be faced with due care from a psychological point of view. Hiddink knows how to motivate his men more than any other and it’s never easy to take on his teams, as at Milan we also struggled against his PSV Eindhoven. We are superior in terms of experience and technique, but must be efficient and not repeat the mistakes made against the USA.”

Injured Nesta needs more tests
24.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta will undergo a series of tests on Saturday in a bid to find out whether his World Cup is already over.

The Milan man limped out of the Azzurri’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic yesterday with a recurrence of the groin strain which has troubled him for some months.

Although Nesta did have a scan this morning, more examinations are required before an accurate diagnosis can be given.

Nesta, who previously picked up strains against Messina in Serie A and in the pre-tournament friendly against the Ukraine, is definitely out of Monday’s last 16 clash versus Australia.

However, there are serious concerns that the stopper could be sidelined for up to 15 days and thus play no further part in Germany 2006.

Nesta was expertly replaced by Marco Materazzi on Thursday as the Inter man even netted the Azzurri’s opening goal.

Boss Marcello Lippi’s only other reserve option for a centre-back berth is Palermo youngster Andrea Barzagli.

I’m innocent, says Galliani
23.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Outgoing Italian League President Adriano Galliani has pleaded his innocence after he was one of 26 people indicted on Calciopoli charges.

The Milan Vice-President – plus 25 others and four clubs, one of which are the Rossoneri – will stand trial for alleged sporting fraud next week.

As a result, Galliani last night resigned as Lega Calcio boss but simultaneously insisted that he had no case to answer.

“I consider my personal indictment as an act of total injustice and I underline that I have no part in this matter,” he stated.

“I have acted with total honesty and correctness in my comportment as President of the League and as a man of sport.”

Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa was confident that Galliani would be cleared of any charges thrown in his direction.

“Doctor Galliani has been indicted for something ambiguous which will be quickly resolved, I’m sure of it,” he said,

Yet Galliani’s club, Milan, will also have to face the sporting tribunal after they joined Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina on the charge sheet.

“Milan’s position is not as serious as others in the case,” continued Cantamessa. “Their objective responsibility is very modest.”

It’s understood that Milan’s inclusion in Calciopoli is in relation to certain intercepted phone calls, by Milan official Leonardo Meani, regarding the Chievo match of April 2005.

Although all clubs charged face the threat of points deduction or even demotion, Milan President Silvio Berlusconi insists his beloved Rossoneri are clean.

“There is no chance that Milan will come away from this with responsibility which they don’t have,” stated the former Prime Minister.

“I don’t expect us to be penalised at all because accusations can’t be based on the odd phrase which is said in a telephone conversation.”

The trial, for all involved, will begin at some stage next week. A verdict is expected by July 9, with any appeal verdicts to be delivered by July 20.qw

Galliani quits as Lega chief
23.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani has quit as President of the Italian Football League after he was one of 30 subjects indicted on Calciopoli charges.

Although the Milan official has denied any wrongdoing, he has this evening resigned as President of the Lega Calcio.

The FIGC prosecution team did indict four clubs – Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio – this evening, as well announcing that 30 “subjects” would also face a sporting tribunal.

The names of those people have now been revealed and Galliani is joined by more high profile figures of the game which include officials from both clubs and the FIGC.

A number of referees are also on the list which reads as follows: Luciano Moggi, Antonio Giraudo, Adriano Galliani, Leonardo Meani, Andrea Della Valle, Diego Della Valle, Sandro Mencucci, Claudio Lotito, Cosimo Maria Ferri, Franco Carraro, Innocenzo Mazzini, Tullio Lanese, Paolo Bergamo, Pierluigi Pairetto, Gennaro Mazzei, Pietro Ingargiola, Paolo Bertini, Massimo De Santis, Paolo Dondarini, Fabrizio Babini, Domenico Messina, Gianluca Paparesta, Gianluca Rocchi, Pasquale Rodomonti, Paolo Tagliavento, Claudio Puglisi.

Calciopoli: Four clubs charged
23.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina have been charged with sporting fraud as part of the Calciopoli scandal.

These are the clubs referred to the Disciplinary Commission at the end of a wide-reaching investigation into alleged match-fixing and collusion with referees.

While Juventus were the side at the centre of the inquest following wiretaps on former director general Luciano Moggi’s telephone conversations, and the Turin giants are expected to run the biggest risks.

They could face anything from docked points to stripped titles and demotion into Serie B or even Serie C. However, as yet the FIGC has not confirmed what precisely the prosecutors are asking for. It's believed that information will be released tomorrow.

Milan insisted they were the victims of sporting fraud rather than the perpetrators, but they too have been indicted.

Lazio and Fiorentina are thought to have had secondary roles, yet risk demotion if their involvement in sporting fraud is proved.

In all, 30 individuals have been charged, but their names have not been released due to legal reasons. Udinese, Sampdoria and Parma were under investigation, but are not considered implicated in the scandal.

The clubs have been indicted for violation of article 1 and/or 6 of the sporting justice code. Article 1 refers to the “general duties and obligations”, whereas Article 6 is more serious. The latter notes: “altering the result of a match or securing an advantage in the table with any means is considered sporting fraud. The clubs, its directors and players have the duty to inform the authorities if they believe this is in progress.”

In effect, a club or individual only charged under Article 1 does not risk a great deal, but Article 6 is where the serious repercussions come in. Even then, it depends on whether they are in direct or indirect violation of Article 6.

The trial will begin on June 28 and an appeal will be heard between July 7 and 9. The final appeal, at the Federal Court, will give its verdict before July 20.

Pippo makes his mark on World Cup
23.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi was a late entry for the World Cup party, but explained what he was thinking as he celebrated his 22nd international goal.

“This was my 50th cap, too, so I’m very happy to celebrate my Silver Anniversary! It was wonderful to see the affection my teammates and the fans have for me, so it was great to share this moment with everyone,” said the Milan striker

He sprung the offside trap in the centre circle and waltzed round Petr Cech to seal the 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic.

“Thankfully, I wasn’t thinking about anything! I was trying to dummy a pass to Simone Barone so I could send Cech the wrong way, even if he’s very tall and it was a risk, but it went well. If you think about what you’re doing too much, it becomes much more difficult.”

The Azzurri go through to the second round, where they’ll face either Australia or Croatia, having avoided Brazil by topping the group. Curiously, both goals in this win were scored by substitutes making their debuts in this tournament.

“We have to focus now, as we’ve seen that every game is difficult and that a great team spirit can make the difference. We have the best defenders in the world and I should know from facing them every week! It’s great to see that the benchwarmers are the most passionate fans for their teammates to do well.”

Inzaghi has become a super-sub figure for Milan and Italy, able to take advantage of tiring opposition defences.

“When you only have half an hour to make your mark after six weeks without playing, it can make you tense and try too hard. I had gone close, but kept believing and this was very satisfying for me. I have to thank Marcello Lippi, the directors and the other players, as they made me feel important despite the fact I hadn’t set foot on the field yet. I may suffer, but I always try to train hard and make use of the time I am given. It’s not always easy to get into the match with so little time at your disposal.”

Nesta out of Italy's next game
23.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta will not be fit for the second round clash, while Alberto Gilardino and Gianluca Zambrotta talk tactics.

“Unfortunately, Nesta had a muscular problem in the same area where he had an injury beforehand. We will only be able to do tests tomorrow, so even at our most optimistic, I doubt he’ll be ready for the next game,” explained Professor Castellacci. Italy will face the second placed side in Group F - probably either Croatia or Australia - on Monday at 5pm UK time.

Alberto Gilardino spotted a curious coincidence after making way for Vincenzo Iaquinta against Ghana and Pippo Inzaghi this afternoon.

“This is the second time I’ve come off and my replacement has scored! It’s all good and we played an intelligent game, inviting the Czechs forward and hitting them on the break. It’s only normal that you have to work extra hard and hold up the ball when on your own upfront, but our idea was to bring the midfielders forward and it went well with this victory. I’ve had the opportunity to play in many different systems in my career, so it’s not a problem for me.”

Gianluca Zambrotta respects the Czech Republic and insists this was a difficult test for the Azzurri.

“I think we played well throughout the team and are happy to have qualified. We went on to the field with a determined attitude, but we were facing a tough opponent and what counted for us was the result. We ran a few risks, but it went well.”

His Juventus teammate Pavel Nedved was the most dangerous Czech star during the encounter and had several shots on goal. “Pavel played well and has always given his all in every game, so he deserves praise for this performance.”

Zambrotta, however, struggled a little and revealed why Italy had a poor start to the game. “I was a little tired with the muscle I had injured before the tournament, so as a precaution I opted not to push quite as hard as usual. I don’t think we were afraid in the first half, as our side tends to emerge as time goes on.”

The charges for the Calciopoli scandal will be revealed later this evening, but FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi was keeping tight-lipped. “It was a great result and an excellent squad is at Italy’s disposal. This is what football is all about.”

OFFICIAL: AC Milan signs Yohann Gourcuff
22.6 || webmaster


AC Milan have signed 19 years old French midfielder Yohann Gourcuff from Rennes for an undisclosed fee. The Frenchman's contract will expire on June 30th 2011.

You can check out one of his goals in this video (00:56):

We’ll qualify, pledges Gattuso
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy’s World Cup campaign will not come to an end this week, combative midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has promised.

“We respect the Czech Republic, but we don’t fear them and are certain that we are staying in Germany for a little longer,” he predicted on Tuesday.

Gattuso has played through the disappointments of 2002 and 2004, an extra incentive to make sure his side net at least the draw they need later this week.

“It is inevitable to think about our exits from the past, but we need to focus on the present now,” he stated.

“We know that it will be a very hard game for us in terms of what we will have to do physically for 90 minutes.”

The tough-tackling midfielder also added fuel to the fire when asked about Pavel Nedved’s supposed ‘diving’ antics.

“He is a great player,” he noted. “I have a tendency to gesticulate a lot on the pitch, while he likes to fall to the ground.

“I’ve been angered by him on a few occasions in the past, even if I repeat that he is a fine player.

“But let’s not judge others, we need to just think about ourselves at this time.”

Gattuso was rushed back into the side following injury during the American game once Daniele De Rossi had been sent-off.

“I felt no pain or had any problems against the USA and that is positive,” announced the former Rangers man. “I’m not at 100 per cent, but I’m fine.

“De Rossi’s elbow? I can’t give him any advice, that needs to come from somebody who is a little calmer than myself,” he smiled.

Inzaghi set for Czech tie?
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy striker Pippo Inzaghi is a serious contender to start against the Czech Republic on Thursday, reports are suggesting.

The Milan striker was a late addition to the Azzurri squad after his sensational 2006 at club level, but has yet to appear on German soil.

Nevertheless, it is understood that boss Marcello Lippi is pondering including him in his next starting XI.

Italy need to avoid defeat to secure qualification, while a victory would see the Azzurri top their group and miss out on Brazil in the second round.

And with star striker Luca Toni struggling to perform, Lippi may opt to give his former Juventus disciple a chance to shine.

Inzaghi reminded everyone of his presence in a training game on Monday when he netted six goals.

He could now start in a 4-3-1-2 alongside club colleague Alberto Gilardino and be supported by Francesco Totti.

Inzaghi would certainly seem to be a popular choice for fans back home in the Italian peninsula.

Internet polls on various sites, such as the Gazzetta dello Sport’s interactive platform, have him ranked as the player most would like to see brought into the side.

Lippi admitted on Sunday that he perhaps should have brought SuperPippo on while they struggled to break down nine-man America.

Inzaghi has also won the backing of Paolo Rossi. “Pippo only needs 40 minutes to make an impression, he’s always there when needed,” said the Spain ’82 top scorer.

It now remains to be seen whether Lippi does opt for the experienced Inzaghi or keep faith with the Gilardino-Toni partnership.

Milan line up Buffon bid
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian international goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon could be defending the Milan goal in the new campaign, reports are suggesting.

The Juventus man has been heavily linked with a summer move and fresh whispers in the peninsula on Tuesday claim a San Siro switch is highly likely.

The Turin giants, facing the spectre of Serie B football, want to lower their wage bill and are prepared to sacrifice the shot-stopper.

It is believed that the Rossoneri are ready to offer the Old Lady around £15m in cash plus Christian Abbiati.

The latter spent last term on loan at Juve and impressed while Buffon was sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Milan are keen on a new shot-stopper after failing to agree terms with Nelson Dida, currently on World Cup duty with Brazil, over a new deal.

The South American is now likely to be sold with some in Italy suggesting that Manchester United are keen on him.

Nevertheless, Buffon’s possible switch from Juve to Milan will depend on the outcome of the Calciopoli investigations.

The two clubs are involved in the scandal and could, in theory, both be playing outside of Serie A next term.

Buffon joined Juventus in 2001 after Parma accepted a goalkeeping world record £32m offer for the current Azzurri No 1.

Sheva doesn’t rate Italy
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Former Milan man Andriy Shevchenko has snubbed Italy as potential candidates for Germany 2006 glory.

Although many of the Ukraine’s former colleagues are on duty for the Azzurri, the side’s 1-1 struggles with America didn’t go down well.

“The strongest sides at the tournament so far are Argentina, Spain and Holland,” stated the recent £30m Chelsea acquisition.

Sheva left his own mark on the tournament yesterday when he netted in his country’s 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia – their first ever victory in World Cup history.

“I’m very happy, but I’m more satisfied with the great performance of our attack,” continued the former European Footballer of the Year.

His nation started their bid this summer with a 4-0 reverse to Spain, but they certainly made up for that loss on Monday.

“We went into this game with a different mindset from the first match,” continued the ex-Dynamo Kiev king.

“The fact that it was our debut affected us, as did the extremely hot conditions for the Spanish game.”

Milan ponder Thuram snatch
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are being associated with a surprising move for Juventus and France stopper Lilian Thuram.

The defender may be coming towards the end of his Turin stint if they are demoted to Serie B for sporting fraud this summer.

Reports in the peninsula suggest that the Rossoneri are ready to profit from what would be a mass exodus of footballing talent by snapping up the 34-year-old.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti is a massive admirer of the veteran who he did have at his disposal while in charge of Parma.

It’s understood that the two clubs could include Christian Abbiati as part of any proposed transfer deal.

The goalkeeper spent last term on loan at the Stadio Delle Alpi and his agent has recently revealed that he would be ready to remain on a permanent basis.

Thuram, also recently linked with Lyon and Monaco, has so far declined to answer any questions on his future at Juventus.

When asked during a Germany 2006 media conference, he simply stated: “Juventus? Juventus who?”

Milan are looking for a new centre-back after they lost Dutchman Jaap Stam who has joined Ajax on a two-year deal.

Milan deny Fernando Torres deal
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan insist they haven’t offered £20m for Fernando Torres, but they have reported a Real Madrid candidate to FIFA for illegally approaching Kaka.

The Spanish Press has been full of Rossoneri rumours ever since Andriy Shevchenko’s £30m move to Chelsea freed up a considerable sum of cash for the San Siro side.

This week there have been strong and insistent reports that the ideal replacement for Sheva comes in the form of Atletico Madrid starlet Fernando Torres and that a £20.4m swoop had already been agreed.

The 22-year-old, who scored a fabulous World Cup goal against the Ukraine, has also been linked with Manchester United.

However, Vice-President Adriano Galliani was eager to point out that all talk of a deal was premature at best.

“It is totally false that we wish to sign Fernando Torres now, as we haven’t spoken to anyone from Atletico about this,” he told ‘Marca’ newspaper in Spain.

“I am a good friend of President Miguel Angel Gil and would never do something like this without his knowledge.”

Approaching a player illegally is an issue preying on Galliani’s mind at the moment, as Milan have followed up on their pledge to report Real Madrid Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon to FIFA.

Calderon caused shockwaves when he pledged to bring both Coach Fabio Capello and Rossoneri star Kaka to the Bernabeu if he was elected. The businessman even went so far as to claim he was flying to Germany in order to “meet and get to know Kaka” ahead of the World Cup.

“There is no way in the world that Calderon can bring Kaka to Madrid,” warned a furious Galliani. “We have written to Carlos Sanchez Albornoz and FIFA to register our complaint, because Calderon is a member of the Real board and contacted Kaka via Predrag Mijatovic as a weapon in his election campaign. Kaka has four years left on his contract with Milan and nobody can talk to him about a move.”

However, the transfer guru also reassured this didn’t mean all-out war with the club. “This will not alter our excellent rapport with Real Madrid, as we have always had an open dialogue without problems.”

Pirlo remaining optimistic
20.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo insists the shock draw with USA hasn’t changed the Azzurri’s plans this summer – they still want to win the World Cup.

“Our objective for this tournament is still the same as it was,” the Milan man said after this morning’s training session.

“People were saying that we were title contenders before Saturday’s game, now doubts have emerged because of the draw with America.

“The reality is that a draw will be enough against the Czech Republic while a victory against Nedved and Co is not beyond us either.”

Pirlo insists his side will be looking for the three points, especially as they would probably have to face Brazil in the last 16 if they only finish second in Group E.

“It is clearly better for us to win our section,” noted Italy’s in-form playmaker. “Anyhow, our destiny is in our own hands.”

Marcello Lippi’s boys did start the campaign with style thanks to a 2-0 win over Ghana, but have been criticised after only drawing 1-1 with nine-man America.

Yet it was Italy who were first to have a man sent-off when Daniele De Rossi was punished for a rash elbow.

“It was an instinctive gesture and he swears that he didn’t do it on purpose,” noted Pirlo. “Now we just have to win.”

The former Brescia starlet also laughed at the claims of USA boss Bruce Arena that the Italian side were constantly diving.

Pirlo himself was hacked down by Pablo Mastroeni which resulted in a red card for the stopper. “If my leg was on the ground when he made contact then he could have broken it,” assured Pirlo.

Italy are next in action on Thursday and Pirlo is hoping that his side’s massive attacking options can make the difference.

“I hope Luca Toni can score, seeing as he has come from a few games without scoring and has been criticised as a result,” he concluded.

Gattuso advises De Rossi
18.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso and Demetrio Albertini have told off Daniele De Rossi for his dismissal, but also reassured the Roma youngster.

Gattuso came on for Francesco Totti after just 35 minutes and tried to reassure De Rossi, who could be facing a lengthy ban for elbowing Brian McBride.

“I gritted my teeth to be here today and help my teammates, as I was recovering from a serious injury. De Rossi made a stupid mistake and he knows that. He felt very badly afterward.”

Former player Albertini, who is now working for the FIGC, also tried to explain De Rossi’s behaviour.

“It was a mistake and certainly not a good image for Italian football, but he is a smart boy and will get over this error. I hope he’ll be able to play more games in this World Cup.”

Gattuso recovered from a thigh injury sooner than expected and was thrown on to reinforce the midfield following De Rossi’s foolish red card.

“We weren’t all that sharp, but even then there is regret, as we really wanted to get the three points. We tried to keep our feet on the ground after that great opening result, but it’s a World Cup and there are no easy games,” said the Milan man.

“We certainly didn’t make calculations before the game and won’t do that before the final round either. The 3-0 defeat the US suffered against the Czechs was very harsh and didn’t show their true quality.”

Lippi experiments with Pippo
17.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi could start in a trident attack with Alberto Gilardino against the USA, but Marcello Lippi warns not to underestimate their opponents.

“We have to play with the same determination and character that we showed with Ghana,” said the Coach ahead of Saturday’s crunch match.

After their 3-0 defeat to the Czech Republic, the Americans must get a result or face an early exit from Group E.

Italy need the full points and as many goals as possible to challenge for the top qualifying spot – therefore avoiding Brazil in the second round.

“It would be a terrible mistake to underestimate the Americans,” continued Lippi. “It’s important to get a result here, not focus on how many goals we score. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park.”

Lippi confirmed that Gianluca Zambrotta is back to full fitness and available for selection after he recovered from a thigh strain that had forced him out of the 2-0 opening victory.

He experimented with a new line-up in training this afternoon, introducing Inzaghi for Luca Toni, supported by Francesco Totti and Milan teammate Alberto Gilardino.

That squad also included Cristian Zaccardo, Alessandro Nesta, Marco Materazzi and Zambrotta in defence with the same midfield of Simone Perrotta, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi that proved so effective against Ghana.

The other team played a 4-3-3 system, one used several times during Lippi’s reign, that had Massimo Oddo, Andrea Barzagli, Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Grosso at the back. Mauro Camoranesi, Simone Barone and the recovered Gennaro Gattuso – who is back in action sooner than expected from a thigh strain – supported the trident of Toni, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero.

Sardinians to keep Suazo
17.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Although the £8m rated striker has been linked with Milan and Manchester United, Cagliari insist they won’t sell David Suazo this summer.

“We don’t need to sell any of our players,” pointed out President Massimo Cellino. “Since 1999 we have been financially stable enough that we don’t have that imperative to part with our stars.”

Honduran international Suazo is the hot favourite to join Milan as a replacement for the Chelsea-bound Andriy Shevchenko thanks to his club record 22 Serie A goals this season.

“I can understand that someone might be ambitious to play in great stadiums like San Siro or the Olimpico, but Cagliari is a healthy club that has been totally exempt from scandal in all these years.”

The Sardinians also have other talented players who are attracting interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, but Cellino is determined to keep his squad together.

“Suazo has been playing for Cagliari for eight years and I am very attached to him, just as I am to Mauro Esposito, Antonio Langella, Daniele Conti and Antonio Chimenti. These are players I haven’t sold and will not sell, despite the many requests that have been received.”

Cagliari presented new Coach Marco Giampaolo to the Press and the former Ascoli assistant manager explained why he had chosen the Stadio Sant’Elia on a two-year contract.

“I am happy to be part of a project that I believe in,” said the tactician. “Cagliari have important players, like Suazo, but my job right now is to give the team an organised structure. It’s early to say whether I’ll change their system, as first I need to watch them and evaluate their characteristics.”

Berlusconi returns to Milan
16.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Silvio Berlusconi has officially been reinstated as President of Italian giants Milan, it has been confirmed.

Berlusconi returns to the role after being forced out of the position due to a conflict of interest row while he was Italian Prime Minister.

However, after recently losing the election to rival Romano Prodi, he did state his intention to take charge of his beloved club once more.

The media mogul was first elected as Rossoneri chief back on March 24, 1986, where his financial power helped the club become the best on the planet.

Berlusconi was then forced to resign at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 29, 2004.

That step effectively saw chief executive Adriano Galliani run the club even if the President’s seat remained vacant.

Pirlo: We can bring the Cup home
15.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo believes Italy have a great chance of bringing the World Cup home “for the fans” and praised Coach Marcello Lippi.

“We have to bring this trophy home for the people,” said the midfield maestro. “You go into a tournament in order to go for the maximum objective. You can’t get better than to be crowned World Champions. It’s why Italy are here and we want to go as far as possible, but we must also keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

The Azzurri are considered among the favourites following their confident opening display with Ghana, where Pirlo opened the scoring from the edge of the box. It would be a real boost to Italian football after disappointing early exits under Giovanni Trapattoni in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.

“Two years ago, we didn’t prepare for games anywhere near as well as this,” pointed out Pirlo in a sideswipe at Trap’s technique. He’ll again take the creative reins on Saturday in their second Group E encounter.

“It’s important to get the three points against USA, but obviously the decisive match will be with the Czech Republic. The Americans are not to be under-estimated, as they have to beat us or they’re out.”

Pirlo then joked with Milan teammate Kaka over who netted the best strike this week. “Kaka scored a great goal against Croatia, but mine was better. Why? Because I scored it!” smiled the Italian. The Rossoneri midfielder netted the winner that allowed the Selecao to get their campaign off to a positive start against Croatia, while Pirlo grabbed an equally impressive drive when the Azzurri saw off Ghana 2-0.

“Brazil struggled, just like many teams have done so far in this World Cup. The opener is always a difficult one, as you’re under so much pressure to perform. Brazil have players who can make the difference at any moment, so you have to be ready for anything against them, but so far I think the best football has been played by Italy and Argentina.”

If Italy go through in second place, they’ll most likely take on Brazil in the next round, so topping the group is crucial.

Gianluca Zambrotta looks set to be fit for the USA clash after recovering from a muscular problem, while Gennaro Gattuso is recovering quickly from a thigh strain and could be ready for the Czech decider.

“Francesco Totti has reacted well to the bruise he received against Ghana,” explained Italy Doctor Castellacci. “There are no problems and today’s tests confirmed that diagnosis. We are monitoring Gattuso’s condition and he is also improving.”

Lippi oversaw a game between ranks today with Angelo Peruzzi, Massimo Oddo, Andrea Barzagli, Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Grosso, Ciro Ferrara, Pirlo, Gattuso, Alessandro Del Piero and Alberto Gilardino with the orange bibs.

Gianluigi Buffon, Cristian Zaccardo, Alessandro Nesta, Marco Materazzi, Zambrotta, Simone Perrotta, Simone Barone, Daniele De Rossi, Totti and Pippo Inzaghi wore white. The white team won 3-2 with Totti, De Rossi and Inzaghi fighting back following Del Piero’s early brace.

In a curious training ground system, Lippi ordered the team that conceded to do 10 sit-ups after every goal as ‘punishment.’

Milan tempt Torres
14.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement could well be Spain striker Fernando Torres, as Milan line up a £20m swoop.

The Atletico Madrid youngster has been a Rossoneri target for several years now, but the high price-tag and Shevchenko’s presence made the move untenable up until now.

The £30m cash provided by Chelsea for Sheva will prove useful for bringing in the Spaniard, who it’s reported could be tempted into a switch for between £20.5m and £24m.

“I feel that my future depends on this World Cup,” commented Torres, whose contract expires in 2008 with a £60m buy-out clause.

Chelsea and Arsenal are also interested in the 22-year-old, who was his country’s leading scorer in qualifying with seven goals.

Curiously, he’ll be facing off against Shevchenko in this evening’s clash between Spain and Ukraine in Group H.

Pirlo and Iaquinta's Azzurri dreams
13.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo and Vincenzo Iaquinta both scored on their World Cup debuts and admit it was a dream come true.

“It was my World Cup debut and I managed to score a goal, so I couldn’t have asked for more than that. More or less everyone in the side was starting out in this competition, so there were some nerves, but we got hold of the situation and played well. It was a good opener,” said the Milan star.

He was voted Man of the Match after scoring one and setting up another, as the Rossoneri midfielder seems to have finally found his form following a disappointing season for his club side.

“These balls are a little different from the Milan Adidas ones, but they do pick up pace, as we’ve seen in the other games, so it’s an extra option to shoot from distance and we’ll practice that this week. I’ve been training hard to be in the best shape for this World Cup and I think that work is paying off.”

Italy are now unbeaten in 19 official games under Marcello Lippi, since their 1-0 qualifying defeat in Slovenia on October 9, 2004.

Udinese striker Iaquinta had to fight off competition from Christian Vieri and Cristiano Lucarelli to be part of the World Cup party and proved his worth by breaking his Azzurri duck.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m so very happy, the Coach has always believed in me, and today I tried to give my all. It’s my first goal for the Nazionale, so to do that in the World Cup is incredible.”

Iaquinta was familiar with some of the African stars, most notably club teammate Sulley Ali Muntari.

“Ghana are a tough side, especially in midfield with players of real quality. I know Muntari from our Udinese time together and how good he can be. They proved their talent tonight and put us under pressure at times.”

There could’ve been an earlier strike for Iaquinta, who was hacked down by Samuel Kuffour after play had been stopped for an offside flag.

“I was clear on goal and didn’t think it was offside. When I was lining up the shot, I felt a hard challenge from behind and searing pain. I was also doubtful about another offside flag when I was sent clear by Simone Perrotta’s pass, but it was a fast-paced move, so the linesman can make a mistake.”

Iaquinta marred his performance with a yellow card for throwing the ball away after a free kick went against him, infuriating Marcello Lippi.

“We’ve told the players 850 times that you can’t kick the ball away, so when Iaquinta was booked, I turned to my bench and said ‘It was the right decision.’ I don’t know how we can make it any clearer,” added the tactician.

Nesta: "I'm ready for action"
12.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta insists he has shaken off his injury, while Vincenzo Iaquinta is excited at rumours he’ll start against Ghana tonight.

“I am at the Coach’s disposal,” assured the Milan man. “I have taken part in two training sessions and feel pretty good.”

The defender was a major doubt for the Group E match after a recurring thigh problem flared up again during the friendly 0-0 draw with the Ukraine.

However, he has been able to recover and is set to line up alongside Fabio Cannavaro in the Italy defence against Ghana.

Francesco Totti is also set to feature after coming back in record time from a fractured ankle he suffered on February 19.

“We’ll see if Totti plays from the start, but I can see Marcello Lippi’s reasoning, as I also saw him in fine form in training,” continued Nesta. “Since we’ve been in Germany, he hasn’t missed a single session and I think he’s physically in shape.”

With Gennaro Gattuso and Gianluca Zambrotta ruled out and major doubts for the USA match, Nesta’s recovery is an important boost for the side.

There are conflicting reports flying around the Azzurri camp as to which line-up Lippi will use against the Africans this evening.

While he has confirmed Totti will appear – either from the start or as a substitute – newspapers claim that Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino could be benched in favour of Simone Perrotta and Iaquinta.

“I don’t know if I’ll play, but if I do, it’ll be a dream come true,” said the Udinese striker who has scored nine Serie A goals this season, six of which were penalties.

“The World Cup is a great window to show yourself off and a goal in this tournament makes your entire career.”

Iaquinta made his Azzurri debut in a 0-0 draw with Iceland on March 30, 2005, and is yet to score a single goal in 12 appearances.

Probable line-ups:
Italy: 1 Buffon; 2 Zaccardo, 13 Nesta, 5 Cannavaro, 3 Grosso; 16 Camoranesi, 21 Pirlo, 4 De Rossi; 10 Totti; 11 Gilardino, 9 Toni
Ghana: 22 Kingston; 15 Painstil, 4 Kuffour, 5 Mensah, 6 Pappoe; 18 E. Addo; 10 Appiah, 8 Essien, 11 Muntari; 9 Gyan, 14 Amoah
Ref: Carlos Simon (Bra)

Chievo agree Sammarco deal
11.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Sammarco will remain at Chievo Verona next season after his loan deal from Milan was extended.

Although the midfielder is well regarded by the Rossoneri, they have opted to allow him to remain in order to net more experience.

Sammarco is a battling central midfielder who has just enjoyed a splendid campaign at the Stadio Bentegodi.

Sammarco was also a part of Claudio Gentile’s Italian Under-21 outfit who abdicated their European crown in Portugal last week.

Nesta given green light
10.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Italian medical staff have told boss Marcello Lippi that Alessandro Nesta is fit enough to face Ghana on Monday night.

Nesta had been a doubt for the tie after sustaining a slight muscle strain in last Friday’s 0-0 draw with the Ukraine.

Lippi had already indicated last night that the Milan man would probably return to the side and the Azzurri team doctor has confirmed that news this afternoon.

“Nesta is again at the disposal of the Coach,” Enrico Castellacci told reporters at their Duisburg base.

Italy have suffered a succession of injuries in the run up to the tournament with Gianluca Zambrotta and Gennaro Gattuso also picking up leg muscle problems.

But Castellacci has revealed that all three men are well on the road to recovery, thus boosting Italy’s World Cup hopes.

“We carried out a number of tests on the three players this morning,” continued the national team medic.

“Nesta is available again. As for Zambrotta, we are hoping to have him back in shape at some stage next week.

“Gattuso is making some great improvements. The situation will be clinically evaluated again in a few days time. We’re optimistic.”

The Juventus defender may return against USA on June 17, while the June 22 tie against the Czech Republic could see Gattuso make his comeback.

Kaka agent rules out switch
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Kaka is not on the verge of leaving the Italian giants for Real Madrid, his agent-father has insisted.

The Brazilian was linked with a move after Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon apparently lined up a swoop.

Those claims were followed up by reports in the Spanish Press that a member of Kaka’s entourage had confided that the youngster was open to the switch.

But his representative has today categorically denied any contact between his son and the European giants.

“I don’t know anyone who has said that my boy will go to Real Madrid,” stated Bosco Izecson Perreira.

“I’ve had no contact with anyone working for the Merengues and I am the only person authorised to speak about my son’s future.”

There were suggestions that Kaka would be the next big name to leave the Rossoneri after the surprise sale of Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea.

“Kaka has no problems with Milan,” continued Perreira. “He’s happy there and he’ll keep playing there.

“Milan have everything needed to triumph in the football world. As things stand, I can see him staying in Milan for some time to come.”

Real Madrid are on the look out for a Kaka-type player given that they will lose Zinedine Zidane to retirement.

Yet the former Sao Paulo talent himself isn’t paying too much attention to the stories surrounding his future.

“There are four Real players with me in the Brazil squad and it is only normal that they tell me about Madrid life,” said the 23-year-old.

“But that is it, we haven’t spoken about anything in particular because there is nothing serious going on here.”

Milan make Gourcuff bid
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have made Rennes an offer for midfield starlet Yoann Gourcuff, the French Ligue 1 club have revealed.

The 19-year-old has been linked with the Rossoneri who are ready to pay up to around £2.5m for the youngster.

And now Rennes have confirmed that the French playmaker is a summer transfer target for the San Siro outfit.

"With regard to Yoann, we had the ambition to keep him here for a long time and to make him a symbol of the club and the public," chief Emmanuel Cueff told the club's official website.

"We received an official proposal from Milan and we are studying with them the possibility of a one-year loan after the immediate transfer."

Gourcuff is set to be sold as he has just a year left on his present agreement with the French team.

Lippi has Nesta hope
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy boss Marcello Lippi has revealed that Alessandro Nesta may recover from injury in time to face Ghana on Monday.

The Milan stopper suffered a slight muscle strain in the 0-0 draw against Ukraine on Friday which made him a doubt for their World Cup opener.

But Lippi has insisted on Thursday that Nesta could see his name included on the team sheet in Hanover.

“Nesta has a good chance of recuperating,” said the tactician.

The Azzurri’s plans have been hampered by injuries seeing as Gennaro Gattuso joined Gianluca Zambrotta on the sidelines yesterday morning.

Lippi, though, has rubbished claims that he thought of replacing the midfielder, who will miss two group games, and noted that these problems are almost inevitable.

“As soon as we verified the seriousness of his injury, I abandoned any thoughts of replacing Gattuso,” he stated. “But don’t worry, I haven’t brought worn out players with me to Germany.

“I don’t like crying over spilt milk. We need to stay positive and we are going forward with optimism and with the players who are at my disposal.

“I want to transmit as much faith to the team as possible, also in any moments of difficulty. I will motivate them until the end.”

Italy seem to have the quality to have a successful tournament, yet the confident Lippi is taking one hurdle at a time.

“We have made no predictions,” he said. “We are here to honour the tournament. We must now beat Ghana, a fundamental game, then the rest will simply follow.

“The players are as enthusiastic as I am and I’m sure that they won’t disappoint me. I’ve always dreamed of being a part of a World Cup. This is a magical tournament.”

Lippi concluded by playing down reports that the Azzurri snubbed fans on their arrival in Germany yesterday and silenced Calciopoli questions.

“There were eight police cars and eight police motorcyclists who surrounded us as soon as we landed,” he argued.

“We couldn’t rebel ourselves against that. Then, when we got to Duisburg, the boys came out of the hotel to meet the fans following our refereeing meeting with FIFA.

“The scandal? We were ready to answer all of your questions at Coverciano, but it’s now time to stop. We will only be speaking about the World Cup in Germany.”

Oddo runs towards Rossoneri
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Oddo admits he’s eager for a move to Milan, where he’d hook up with Under-21 sensation Pasquale Foggia.

“Milan have always been the team I have supported and having grown up in their youth system could count in my favour when considering the future,” commented the Lazio full-back.

He has made no secret of his intention to join the Rossoneri and Vice-President Adriano Galliani this week confirmed an offer had been made, but the Capital club is trying desperately to hang on to him.

Oddo’s price-tag could rise if he impresses for Italy in Germany 2006, where he is set to replace the injured Gianluca Zambrotta in Monday’s opener against Ghana.

“I didn’t come here to be part of the furniture, but I also hope to find room in the team on my own merits rather than due to the injuries of my teammates. We have worked with great intensity in training this week and our legs are a little heavy, but this is all part of the preparation process.”

If Milan are trying to sign Oddo, then they can already count on the services of Under-21 international Foggia, who moved from Ascoli to sign a four-year contract.

“I don’t want to seem arrogant, but I do hope to impress Carlo Ancelotti in the summer training camp, prove what I can do and work my way into the team,” said the wide man.

“It was my destiny to reach San Siro. We were only a few weeks into the season and I read Zvonimir Boban’s opinion piece in the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ saying Raffaele Palladino and I were the future of Italian football. I was surprised, but those words charged me up even more.”

Rossoneri transfer guru Ariedo Braida added today: “We really believe in Foggia and are convinced this was a bargain.”

Cagliari defender Michele Canini was with Foggia in the European Under-21 Championships, where he suffered a serious knee injury. He underwent surgery today on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and will be out for six months.

Maldini sees Azzurri success
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Former Italy captain Paolo Maldini insists that Brazil are the only team at the World Cup with more ability than the Azzurri.

Although few neutrals are backing Marcello Lippi’s boys to make an impact at Germany 2006, the legendary stopper is remaining optimistic.

"In my opinion, we are inferior only to Brazil, and we have a solid group which counts for a lot,” the Milan man told daily newspaper La Repubblica.

"The negative experiences [in World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004] have helped us to get going again.”

Italy’s build up to the championship hasn’t been the easiest given the Calciopoli scandal which has affected the game.

Yet Maldini believes that the 23-man squad will be able to solely focus on footballing matters and leave the troubles behind them for the next month.

"I think the squad can stay out of it. The matches will be an important moment to refocus attention on the sport," added the 37-year-old.

"As for the scandal, we cannot pretend that nothing has happened. We must not be afraid to discover everything there is to discover.

"To get everything cleared up is necessary, because kids must be certain that football is a serious thing."

Maldini also backed Fabio Cannavaro to keep the captaincy despite calls from some quarters for him to step down after he was questioned by magistrates last week.

"A captain has to take on a lot of things, but Fabio has big shoulders,” he said. “He is already at his third World Cup. What can I teach him?"

Maldini handed Cannavaro the armband as the Rossoneri hero retired from the international game after appearing in his fourth World Cup in 2002.

Gattuso distraught by injury
8.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Injured Italian hardman Gennaro Gattuso admits he almost broke down into tears after being told that he would be sidelined for the next two weeks.

The Milan man was today informed that he would miss the start of the World Cup Finals as a result of a muscle problem which he picked up in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Switzerland.

“When I came out of the hospital this morning I just wanted to cry, then I saw an old man in the street and realised there are more serious problems in this world,” he said.

“I have to admit that I am deeply disappointed inside, but I have to stay positive for the rest of the squad.

“Being sidelined for 10 to 15 days is an eternity for me, but I usually have a very quick recovery time.”

Gattuso is now expected to miss the games against Ghana and USA, but is hoping to be fit for the Czech Republic tie.

There were suggestions that Gattuso may even be withdrawn from the squad, but both the Coach and the player have rubbished that claim.

“I’ll replace him on the pitch, but not in the squad,” said Marcello Lippi. “He will stay with us. It’s often better to pick up injuries now rather than in the competition.”

Gattuso responded: “Even if Lippi decided to send me home then I would have chained myself to the team bus. You would have had to call the police to take me away.”

Gattuso becomes the Azzurri’s third injury victim with Gianluca Zambrotta and Alessandro Nesta both set to miss the Ghana opener.

“I’ve never been superstitious, but it does seem as if someone has cast a spell on us,” the midfielder concluded.

Cassano to be Sheva heir?
6.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have decided that Antonio Cassano would be the perfect replacement for Andriy Shevchenko, claim reports today.

A host of names have hit the headlines as potential transfers after the Ukrainian’s £30m move to Chelsea, including Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Hernan Crespo and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

The latest addition is former Roma prodigy Cassano, whose career has hit problems over the past year.

He was signed from Bari for £20m in 2001 and left the Giallorossi in January of 2005 after six months on the sidelines for refusing to sign a contract extension.

However, his time at Real Madrid has been disappointing, as problems with his weight and form have seen the ‘Genio di Bari Vecchia’ barely step on to the Spanish turf.

Now there are claims the starlet, who will turn 24 next month, is set for a Serie A comeback at San Siro to partner Alberto Gilardino.

The only major stumbling block, suggest the newspapers, is the possible arrival on the Real bench of Fabio Capello.

Cassano has never hidden his desire to work with ‘Don Fabio’ again after their spell together at Roma and would relish the opportunity to prove himself in La Liga under his guidance.

Another issue is the increasingly fraught relationship between Milan and Real Madrid after Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon claimed he would sign Kaka if elected.

The Rossoneri were infuriated and repeatedly threatened to report him to FIFA if he attempted to contact the Brazilian, who is under contract.

Rossoneri see media conspiracy
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Football Italia

Milan have released a statement accusing the Press of organising a conspiracy to drag them into the Calciopoli scandal with Juventus.

“AC Milan rebel against the organised media’s campaign against us,” read the release on their official website.

“There are entirely arbitrary theories of a ‘Milan system’ by misinterpreting snippets of phone conversations, bending the wise words of FIGC Commissioner Guido Rossi and trying to turn a cordial meeting between Adriano Galliani and Rossi into an interrogation.”

Juventus have until now been at the centre of the Calciopoli scandal and risk anything from docked points to demotion into Serie B.

However, the new tactic used by Luciano Moggi’s legal team is to claim that the former Juve director general was only trying to “defend himself against the real power centres of football” – namely Milan.

The Turin-based newspapers have printed several stories supporting this theory over the past few days, including allegations that a linesman was a Rossoneri supporter and today ‘Tuttosport’ claimed that the club gifted watches to referees.

“The final aim of this campaign of misinformation is manifest: they intend to transfer the investigation and its verdicts elsewhere, struggling to generate a concert of malicious suggestions to those who must analyse and decide,” continued Milan’s statement.

“Nobody from these newspapers has tried to transcribe, nor even probably to read, the original information provided by the Lazio police in their investigations so far.”

This is the statement printed by magazine ‘L’Espresso’ and the Milan website, provided by the Lazio-based Carabinieri police on January 21, 2006, as part of their investigations:

“The evidence acquired thus far reinforce the investigative theory that Luciano Moggi has absolute power over the entire football system. It’s an even more alarming situation due to the exclusivity of this power, next to which there is no counter-balance able to contrast it.”

The temperature in Calciopoli is rising sharply with less than three weeks to go before the investigation is set to conclude and the first verdicts delivered.

Galliani, who is Vice-President of Milan and President of the Lega Calcio, is set to meet with Federation Commissioner Rossi on Monday morning to discuss how they’ll move forward in revamping the football system.

There are also reports this will sanction Galliani’s resignation from the Lega, something which has been repeatedly requested by Vice-President Maurizio Zamparini, who has already handed in his own notice.

Despite the increasingly bitter row between the two clubs, Galliani confirmed yesterday that the Trofeo Berlusconi would again be a Milan-Juventus match in August. The tournament began in 1991 and is set for its 16th edition, almost all of them with these two sides.

Gallas demands Milan move
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Football Italia

Milan have said they’re ready to wait for William Gallas to free himself from Chelsea, but the defender is demanding an immediate switch.

“I was disappointed with the Chelsea directors when I wanted to renegotiate my contract, I cannot accept the lack of respect,” he was quoted as saying in ‘The People’ newspaper.

“If they had given me what I had wanted at the start of the season, I would have decided to stay. Now they are offering me more than Milan, but it is too late.”

Yesterday the Rossoneri confirmed they had approached Chelsea for Gallas, but that the deal was off for the time being because the Stamford Bridge side had no intention of releasing him.

“Gallas has another year left to run on his contract and Chelsea have told us they intend to make him respect that. If no renewal is agreed, he’ll be free to evaluate his future next season,” explained vice-President Adriano Galliani.

However, the French international is determined to walk out now after repeatedly venting his frustration at life in London.

Fresh from receiving £30m cash from Chelsea for Andriy Shevchenko, Milan can only sit and wait to see how the situation develops.

Cafu considers new role
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Football Italia

Marcos Cafu has no intention of hanging up his boots – the Milan man wants to extend his career by switching to central defence.

“At Milan, there is a model for all defenders: Franco Baresi. Seeing as people are starting to say I’m too old to run up and down the flank for 90 minutes, I wouldn’t be disappointed at marshalling the defence from the middle like Franco.”

The Brazilian earned the nickname ‘Pendolino’ during his Roma days, reminding fans of the high-speed train that rushes commuters to the big city and back.

He has already changed his position once before, moving from a winger to the right-back position, but despite turning 36 next Wednesday, he has no intention of retiring.

“I could extend my career by taking a central defensive role. After all, my positioning sense has always been my forte,” smiled the Selecao captain.

Meanwhile, Milan have again warned Real Madrid Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon to stop using Kaka as a campaign tool.

“Calderon, nor any other candidates, will become Real President at Milan’s expense,” snapped director Ariedo Braida in Spanish newspaper ‘AS.’

“Nobody can touch one of our players who is under contract. If the rumours that he will fly to Switzerland in order to talk to Kaka at the Brazil training camp prove true, we will put the case in FIFA’s hands.”

Following Andriy Shevchenko’s £30m switch to Chelsea, the Rossoneri are determined not to let another star name be tempted elsewhere.

“If we sold Shevchenko, it is only because of his personal reasons and because he had been in the side for many years. We won’t sell Kaka for all the gold in the world.”

Milan signed Kaka from Sao Paolo for just £5.6m in 2003 and he proved an immediate hit, voted Serie A Player of the Year in his debut season.

The 24-year-old Brazilian has just completed his most prolific campaign with 14 Serie A goals and five in the Champions League. He is tipped by many to become a key Selecao star in the World Cup this summer.

Galliani: 'Henry wanted Milan'
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Football Italia

Milan chief Adriano Galliani outlined their transfer policy, aimed another sideswipe at Real Madrid and Chelsea, then revealed Thierry Henry talks.

“Our dream was to bring Henry to San Siro. I can say he certainly would’ve joined us had he not decided to stay with Arsenal,” announced the Rossoneri vice-President. “Milan are a buying club, not a selling one, and we want to remain at the top of the European tree.”

Henry had been linked with both Barcelona and Milan ahead of the Champions League Final, but it’s believed the loss convinced him to extend his contract with the Gunners instead.

Following Andriy Shevchenko’s £30m move to Chelsea, the media around Europe has gone into overdrive trying to identify who’ll come in – and who might go out.

“Shevchenko will be replaced by someone worthy of him, but we won’t sign a big star unless he’s useful to the side. Didier Drogba and Ruud Van Nistelrooy are centre-forwards, so they wouldn’t substitute Shevchenko in the system. I say no to Ronaldo, as it’s impossible to get close to a Real Madrid player without getting bled dry.”

“We aren’t in a bad way upfront,” continued Galliani. “There’s Pippo Inzaghi, Marcio Amoroso and above all Alberto Gilardino, who has our faith for the future. Pasquale Foggia will return from his loan spell at Ascoli and will stay at San Siro, while we’re in advanced negotiations for Yoann Gourcuff after entering very productive talks with Rennes.”

Galliani did everything possible to make Shevchenko’s move to Chelsea smooth, but aimed a few pointed comments in his direction after the Ukrainian insisted he made the switch to appease his American wife.

“Dario Simic is an important player for our defence and he will stay… seeing as his wife is happy to remain in Milan.”

There is also a very bitter row brewing between the Rossoneri and Real Madrid, after Presidential candidate Ramon Calderon announced plans to fly to Switzerland this week to ‘get to know Kaka.’

“I requested Massimo Oddo, but Lazio said he was not for sale and I respect that decision. I have no intention of irritating clubs that make their intentions clear, unlike for example Real Madrid’s strategy,” added Galliani.

“William Gallas is a similar issue, as he has another year left to run on his contract and Chelsea have told us they intend to make him respect that. If no renewal is agreed, he’ll be free to evaluate his future next season.”

Milan are eager to play down the idea that Shevchenko’s departure has weakened the side and insist nobody will be following him out of the club.

“Clarence Seedorf rang me to ask if he could inherit Manuel Rui Costa’s Number 10 jersey, so this shows you he has no intention of leaving Milan. Christian Abbiati, Marco Borriello and Foggia are our players, while Fiorentina have not taken their option on Cristian Brocchi and he wants to come back. Some of this group will be loaned out, but definitely not sold.”

Sheva: Watch Italy's World Cup
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Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko was on the bench for Italy’s friendly draw with the Ukraine and has wished his ex-Serie A colleagues a glorious World Cup.

“I had fun, but the only worry was that neither side lose players to injury, especially in the more fiery final 15 minutes,” noted the former Milan striker.

He did not feature in the 0-0 encounter, as he’d only just flown back from London, where he completed a £30m move to Chelsea.

“I wouldn’t judge Italy on this performance, as they played only three days ago against Switzerland in a tough test and are tired after training regularly. We shouldn’t put pressure on the players, who are doing very well up until now.”

Even after the Stamford Bridge switch, the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner kept a special eye on his old Rossoneri companions: Andrea Pirlo, Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Nesta.

“I saw Pirlo play very well, as in the first half we left him too much space and I told my teammates to stop that! If given space, he can put the ball where he likes and his passes caused us problems.

“Gilardino moved well and combined excellently with Luca Toni. I saw Nesta go off and hope it’s nothing serious.”

Milan defender Nesta requested a substitution midway through the second half due to a muscular problem and will have to undergo tests to verify the extent of the injury.

Shevchenko has taken the Ukraine to their first ever World Cup, but took the opportunity to wish Italy the best in Germany 2006.

“I hope the Calciopoli scandal doesn’t affect them, as right now Italy needs its national side to put in a great performance and focus on football again. I hope the Azzurri have a wonderful World Cup, as they deserve it and in my fantastic seven years in Serie A I can say they’ll never lose face, even with all these recent problems,” concluded the striker.

Another ex-Milan man, Demetrio Albertini, is now working with the Federation as a director accompanying the side.

“There are a few days to go and the physical status will be much better by the time Ghana come around. That sharpness will come in time, and psychologically the team is in great shape. With that extra pace, the ball will move around more quickly and everything’ll work better,” said the former midfielder.

Question marks remain over which line-up will start on June 12, with Francesco Totti a particular doubt, as his presence would totally change the tactical system.

“There’s 10 days to go for everyone, including Totti, and I’m sure the Coach will evaluate the situation throughout the squad. As I said, it’s important to put some fuel in the tank now, as there’s no point in peaking early.”

Milan: Hands off Kaka, Real!
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Football Italia

Kaka is a prime target for Real Madrid, but Milan warn that after Andriy Shevchenko's departure, they'll report illegal approaches to FIFA.

“I read in the newspapers that Real want me,” said the Brazilian. “I am happy to hear such an important club is interested in me, but now I am totally concentrated on the World Cup and don’t want to think about anything else. This isn’t the time to discuss club football.”

There are strong reports that Kaka was very disappointed to see Shevchenko leave Milan for Chelsea in a £30m deal this week and is evaluating his own future in the light of this weakening of the side.

Real Madrid are entering another Presidential race, so candidates are pledging to bring big names to the Bernabeu if elected.

Ramon Calderon has named Kaka as his ‘gift’ to the fans and is rumoured to be flying out to the Brazilian World Cup training camp to begin talks, bringing a bitter reaction out of Rossoneri vice-President Adriano Galliani.

“If a club contacts one of our players under contract, they will immediately be reported to the authorities. Real have been warned. Any director, or potential director, who contacts our players will have to answer to FIFA.”

Galliani and Milan agreed to let Shevchenko join Chelsea, even though his deal was not set to expire, simply because the striker stated he was unhappy and wanted to move on. This, warns the transfer guru, will not happen again.

“Our players are happy to stay at Milan. If someone is unhappy, seeing the Sheva situation, then after 20 years I have decided to change my strategy. They can be as unsatisfied as they like, but they’re going nowhere until the end of their contracts.”

Kaladze warns Sheva
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Football Italia

Milan defender Kakha Kaladze has spoken of his disappointment at seeing Andriy Shevchenko depart the San Siro for Chelsea.

However, Kaladze was also quick to warn his former Rossoneri teammate that he may not find life in England as enjoyable as he did in Italy.

“We have lost a great champion and I have lost a great friend,” the Georgian international, who was teammates with Sheva in their days at Dynamo Kiev, told the Milan Channel.

“I am happy for him because I know he is content with the choice he has made.

“However, I don’t think it will be as easy to acclimatise in England,” he added.

“Here in Italy there is great hospitality and warmth, I believe that in countries like England and Germany people are colder. I don’t think that Andriy will feel the warmth he has done in Italy.”

Unlike Shevchenko’s Ukraine, Georgia failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.

Although Kaladze has been with his national side for friendly matches he is keen to get back to Italy and the domestic game as soon as possible.

“I am feeling the lack of Italian football, Milan, my friends and the fans,” he said. “But we have the obligation now to rest and to recharge ahead of next season.”

Galliani dismisses fix reports
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has dismissed suggestions that Milan’s draw with Udinese at the end of the 2004-05 season was fixed.

Reports in Italy suggest that there was a telephone conversation between Leonardo Meani, Milan referee liaison, and an Udinese official before the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

It is alleged that the two clubs intended to draw the game to gift Udinese a Champions League spot.

“I know nothing of the call that they talk about,” Galliani defiantly stated.

“It is obviously evident and clear even to a child that this has originated from Turin. They want to involve Milan so that their position, which everyone knows about, does not look so bad.

“They’re looking to make it seem that the Juventus system and the Milan system are the same thing.

It is not true at all – there is only the Juve system and everyone else has been affected and damaged by it.”

In a final statement loaded with irony, the Lega Calcio chief suggested that journalists should look at the club’s trophy cabinet before making such claims.

“I read the papers this morning and they made me laugh,” he added.

“I thought in the last 10 years we have done well in the Champions League and that we are always at the top of the European ranking, but we have only won the Scudetto twice.

“If it is true we are involved in all this then obviously our way of going about it is all wrong.”

Kaka hoping for Azzurri meeting
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Football Italia

Brazilian starlet Kaka has revealed that he is dreaming of meeting Italy in the World Cup.

The Milan midfielder is a crucial element for the Samba Boys, who are most people’s favourites for Germany ’06.

There is a big chance of them coming up against Marcello Lippi’s Azzurri side in the second round of the competition, seeing as the Group E qualifiers will meet the teams who progress from Group F.

“Meeting Italy in the last 16 would be special for me – unlike any other game,” Kaka told FourFourTwo magazine.

“It would be difficult to come up against so many of my friends and club mates, but it’s a World Cup and everyone has to defend their own team.

“It wouldn’t be easy playing against Alessandro Nesta. I try everything I can think of in training to get past him, but it’s not easy.”

However, the former Sao Paulo playmaker’s first priority is just to qualify from the group, which he claims is far from easy.

Despite being drawn against relative minnows Australia, Croatia and Japan, Kaka has warned his teammates not to underestimate anyone.

“It’s not east at all, it’s tough,” he continued. “Japan and Croatia both have good Coaches.

“They have nothing to lose, and Croatia have a pretty good record in the World Cup too.”

Sheva will never forget
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Football Italia

New Chelsea signing Andriy Shevchenko has admitted that he will never forget his time in Italy.

The Ukrainian star left Milan this week for around £30m after spending seven successful seasons at the San Siro.

And he has reiterated his claim that the decision had little to do with football and plenty to do with his family.

“When you have a family, you must think about what is best for them,” insisted the 29-year-old.

“It was been very hard to make this make this decision. I'll never forget Italy and I enjoyed my time there.”

But the former Dynamo Kiev ace was quick to dismiss claims that his only reason for leaving was due to his desire to learn English, as his wife is American.

“There has been a misunderstanding - I had several reasons for leaving,” he said.

“There are many things involved and by no means was it just the language. Now all I want to do is to concentrate on the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, the arrival of Shevchenko at Stamford Bridge has been met with the approval of one of the Blues’ other summer signings, Michael Ballack.

“I am very happy to play with him next year – he is a great player and I am really excited,” revealed the former Bayern Munich ace, who was a target for Inter before his Premiership switch.

“I have not been in touch with him over the transfer and have not spoken to him since. I will wait until after the World Cup to get started with such things."

Moggi: I was Milan's victim
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Football Italia

Luciano Moggi’s lawyer claims the former Juventus director general was a victim of Milan’s power rather than the puppet master of Italian football.

The transfer guru’s intercepted phone calls sparked the wide-ranging Calciopoli scandal amid allegations of match-fixing and collusion with referees, re-named the ‘Moggi System’ by the Press, but he is taking on a new line of defence as Juve risk docked points or even demotion.

“Moggi has always moved only to preserve Juventus’ status against the real power centres,” claimed lawyer Fulvio Gianaria in newspaper ‘La Stampa.’

“I am referring to Milan, who have the television companies and therefore the possibility to negotiate and buy up the pay-per-view rights of the clubs.”

Gianaria is referring to the fact that Silvio Berlusconi, who owns Milan, also has substantial shares in Mediaset.

So far the Rossoneri have had only a marginal role in the investigation and the telephone calls intercepted have mainly suggested they were trying to prevent Moggi and Juventus dominating the system.

Now Moggi and his legal team claim the situation is reversed, creating even more confusion in the inquest.

“The intercepted conversations were between six or seven people and the police have whittled down 2,500 calls to around 40 to support their theory of a football Mafia dominated by Moggi,” continued the lawyer.

“We want to listen to and collate every single phone call to show the real power centres: television rights, the strength of clubs and the corporations within the football system. To think Moggi could not only re-balance that situation, but even become the real power, is a joke. If we don’t have the documentation, we cannot defend ourselves, so we won’t go to any interrogation for the moment.”

As Moggi has now resigned as Juve director general, he is no longer legally obligated to attend an interrogation by the Italian football Federation.

Milan have reacted angrily to these allegations and released a statement this afternoon. “Milan deplore the manifestly untrue statements that we buy and sell television rights. This is completely absurd.”

Meanwhile, public prosecutors interrogated Lazio President Claudio Lotito today over allegations of match-fixing and financial irregularities.

“We are able to prove that what we have been accused of does not square with the reality of the situation,” he said as he left the building.

“Lazio are totally alien to conditioning and illegitimate interests. This is a clear and honest club based on the principles and values of sport. I’ve done nothing wrong and have no reason to be worried.”

Gila feels Germany 2006 pressure
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Football Italia

Goalscorer Alberto Gilardino has stressed the importance of clinical finishing in the World Cup after tonight’s friendly draw in Geneva.

“We didn’t have many chances in the first half, but Fabio Grosso put in a great cross and thankfully I was able to turn it in,” explained the Milan striker who scored in the 1-1 friendly draw with Switzerland.

The Azzurri tested out a 4-3-2-1 tactic with Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero supporting the lone striker, which switched to the more traditional two-forward shape in the second half.

“The Coach wanted to experiment this system tonight and I think it went alright. That’s what friendlies are for, but at the same time it was a ‘real’ game with tough challenges and Switzerland also performed well.”

Gilardino was picked ahead of Serie A Capocannoniere Luca Toni for this test and his goal was cancelled out by a Daniel Gygax screamer.

“We were wary of the counter-attack and didn’t create as many scoring opportunities as usual, but the important thing is to be ready when those chances to arrive. Above all, teams in the World Cup have to be clinical in front of goal and try to use the counter-attack to hurt opponents.”

Totti made his first start since undergoing surgery for a fractured ankle in February and seemed to improve as the game went on.

“Totti moved, ran and fought well. It’s up to the Coach now to decide if he’ll start again on Friday with the Ukraine. His fitness levels will be evaluated tomorrow,” continued Gilardino.

The mood in the Azzurri camp ahead of this tournament has been fraught with tension, as the investigation into the Calciopoli scandal continues to build.

“We have been able to separate ourselves from all the chaos that has surrounded us recently. Our greatest strength is that we are a united side, mixing experience with youth and quality, so we’ll continue to work hard to be 100 per cent ready for the Ghana game.”

OFFICIAL: Sheva completes Chelsea move
1.6 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko is officially a Chelsea player after completing his £30m move from Milan this evening.

The 29-year-old Ukrainian was given permission to fly in to London today and go over the final details of his four-year contract after undergoing a medical and tonight Milan announced the sale on their website.

The club thanked “Andriy Shevchenko, an extraordinary man and striker, for the many emotions he has given us during his seven years with the Rossoneri jersey.”

This sale could be a new British record, beating the £30m Manchester United paid for Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand in 2002, but no financial details have been confirmed.

"I am here for the challenge and the excitement of the Premier League," said the Ukraine captain on the official Chelsea website.

"I am going from one big club to another and joining a team of champions. There is a right moment to join a football club and I think I have arrived here at the perfect time."

Sheva first joined the Rossoneri in July 1999 and won the Ballon d’Or, Champions League, Scudetto, Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup and European Super Cup with the club.

"The Champions League has to be a realistic target for next season but it is not just about the Champions League. Chelsea is going for their third Premiership as well and I like the club's mentality of wanting to win every game they play."

The hitman also praised his new Coach, Jose Mourinho.

"I have followed Mr Mourinho's career carefully for the last few years and have been hugely impressed with the way he manages. He puts team ethic before individual expression which is the way I believe great teams are created."

Shevchenko again rejected suggestions his move was prompted by money, reiterating that family considerations were utmost in his thoughts.

"Had money been my motivation for coming, I would probably have stayed in Milan. I am pleased that Chelsea managed to conclude everything before the World Cup - I can go to Germany with a clear mind and proud to be a Chelsea player."

The former Dynamo Kiev hero is also Milan’s all-time second top scorer with 173 goals and was the Champions League’s leading marksman this season with nine goals.

He explained last week that he was handing in an official transfer request because he wanted to learn English, as his wife, model Kristen Pazik, is American.

“Today is a day when the dream became reality," added Mourinho. "Andriy has always been my first choice for Chelsea since I arrived. He has great qualities, ambition, discipline, tactical awareness and of course he is a great goalscorer."

Shevchenko had been repeatedly linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but he and Milan had always rejected the offers which were said to have reached £50m at one stage.

“I did not need to meet with him to convince him about Chelsea, in the same way we did not need to talk a lot about why I wanted him. Milan is a big club, a great club, but for him to leave Milan for Chelsea is a big statement about where Chelsea is," continued the Portuguese tactician on

“This is another proud day for Chelsea," noted Chief Executive Peter Kenyon. "The deal is a new club transfer record and is a straight cash deal. We are delighted to have signed one of Europe's greatest goalscorers."

This confirms that Milan will receive no players as part of the deal, although they remain interested in Didier Drogba, Hernan Crespo and William Gallas.

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