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The Archive

August 2006

AC Milan lift TIM Trophy
31.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan won the Trofeo TIM on Thursday evening after defeating both Inter and Juventus in the annual three-team friendly tournament. The Rossoneri came from behind in both games to deservedly lift their first trophy of the season.

Milan 2-1 Inter
Goals: Cruz 19 (I), Favalli 32 (M), Borriello 36 (M)

Milan came from behind to win the opening Trofeo TIM tie by beating city rivals Inter 2-1. Two goals in four minutes from Giuseppe Favalli and Marco Borriello stunned the Italian champions who had looked in control of the game until the equaliser.

Inter started brightly and Alvaro Recoba looked in inspired mood with some sublime passing. And it was no coincidence that his pinpoint cross saw Cruz expertly chest the ball past Paolo Maldini – playing his first game in four months after injury – to fire superbly past Zeljko Kalac.

Yet the Nerazzurri paid the price for some slack finishing as Hernan Crespo and Cruz wasted some glorious chances, with the first even missing an open goal. Milan gradually came into the 45-minute match and made it 1-1 on 32 minutes. Clarence Seedorf opened up the Inter defence and Favalli slid the ball past Julio Cesar just months after making the city switch.

Milan won it in minute 36 through Borriello. The youngster, who was wanted by Livorno and Udinese this summer, turned his marker Marino in the box and his cross-shot struck the post before sneaking past the Brazilian shot-stopper. That win saw Milan move on to three points, leaving Inter on zero.

Inter 1-1 Juventus (3-4 on pens)

Juventus 1-3 Milan
Goals: Zalayeta 5 (J), Seedorf 26, 47 (M), Kaka pen 37 (M)

Milan secured the sixth edition of the Trofeo TIM by defeating Juventus 3-1 in the last tie of the night. Although they again went behind, the home side hit back with Clarence Seedorf and Kaka to net a victory they desperately wanted.

Juventus hit the front early as they did in their first match. Zalayeta broke the offside trap, thanks to a Daniele Bonera positional error, and the Uruguayan ran in on goal to fire past Valerio Fiori in the Milan goal.

Despite Juventus’ youthful look, as Pavel Nedved and Alex Del Piero started the game on the bench, they did show great maturity in the opening period as Milan struggled to create any serious threat. So much so that Milan’s first effort was an off target long range Cristian Brocchi drive.

The Old Lady threatened twice more with distance shots from Nedved and Marchisio, but Milan responded by striking the woodwork. Borriello found space in the area and his wicked left-footed shot beat Emanuele Belardi in the Juve goal, but whacked the post.

They were a little more fortunate soon after when they did make it 1-1. Some super one-touch pass and move stuff from Milan around the box saw the ball fall to Seedorf, whose shot hit the underside of the bar and was adjudged to have crossed the line – even if some Geoff Hurst doubts remain…

Milan started to increase the pressure and take control of the tie. Although Del Piero did worry Fiori with a free kick, a second Rossoneri goal did look to be on the horizon and it came in the 37th minute. Kaka was brought down in the box by Birindelli and the Brazilian fired home the penalty himself. Seedorf then blasted in a third in injury time.

Final table:
Milan 6 points
Juventus 2 points
Inter 1 point

AC Milan working on Oddo's and Iaquinta's transfers
31.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

AC Milan will try to finalise Massimo Oddo and Vincenzo Iaquinta’s captures before the transfer deadline.

Milan are also courting defender Oddo of Lazio, who is set to leave the Biancocelesti despite being contracted until 2008.

The two clubs are trying to reach a compromise on the economic aspects after Lazio chief Claudio Lotito valued the world champion at £6m.

Oddo may now arrive on a £1.7m loan, with an option to buy at the end of the season, but no official confirmation has been released.

The two clubs have also agreed in principle to the switch of Pasquale Foggia. The 23-year-old will arrive in Rome on loan and replace the injured Valon Behrami – out until November.

Milan have also not yet ruled out the idea of landing Iaquinta, although Udinese chief Franco Soldati confirmed on Wednesday that he was not leaving the Zebrette.

Milan are willing to offer up to £10m for the world champion, who could be replaced at Udinese by either Amauri of Chievo or Erjon Bogdani of Siena.

OFFICIAL: Oliveira to AC Milan, Vogel to Betis and Amoroso out
31.8 || webmaster


A.C. Milan announced that:
A) they have purchased Ricardo Oliveira from Real Betis Balompié and that he has signed a contract with the Rossoneri until June 30, 2011;
B) they have transfered Johann Vogel to Real Betis Balompiè;
C) they have come to a mutual agreement regarding contract termination with Marcio Amoroso.

Ancelotti: Oliveira or bust
30.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti insists if Milan don’t sign Ricardo Oliveira, they won’t net any strikers, and claims Kaka will never leave San Siro.

“If he doesn’t arrive, then we won’t tear our hair out, but he is a great striker despite the fact not many people in Italy seem to know who he is,” noted the tactician.

Oliveira has undergone a medical at MilanLab, but the transfer appears to have collapsed with Real Betis Sevilla suddenly raising the £10m price-tag on the Brazilian.

“Considering the characteristics he has, he’s the best player that we can pair with Pippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino. If we sign Oliveira then that’s great, but alternatively we’ll stay as we are.”

This slams the door on continuing reports that Oliveira was only ever a ploy to push Real Madrid into lowering their demands over Ronaldo.

The Rossoneri are still in negotiations for Massimo Oddo from Lazio and rumoured to be tracking Didier Drogba, but the huge summer signing to replace Chelsea-bound Andriy Shevchenko has not materialised yet.

“The big name didn’t come, but it’s not necessarily true that a successful transfer campaign is one packed with stars. We have many promising young players in the squad, above all Yoann Gourcuff. The side is also compact and familiar from previous seasons, so we hopefully won’t need long before getting into gear. Having an eight-point handicap gives us extra motivation to do well.”

The Calciopoli scandal rocked the Rossoneri this summer, as their Champions League presence was at first cancelled and then given a reprieve via the preliminary round win over Red Star Belgrade.

The future of their star names was also in doubt with Real Madrid’s continual requests for Kaka, but Ancelotti was always confident their bids would remain unsuccessful.

“Kaka will never leave Milan. He is a symbol of this club and will have the same status here as Paolo Maldini, Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. Shevchenko wanted to leave in the last few weeks and we don’t regret that move because Milan never keep hold of someone who doesn’t want to be here.”

Serie A Fixtures: AC Milan vs. Lazio in Round I
30.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Title holders Inter will begin the 2006-07 Serie A campaign at Fiorentina, while Milan-Lazio also kicks off the season on September 10.

The Stadio Artemio Franchi clash and Roma's game with Livorno will be brought forward to Saturday September 9 due to Champions League commitments.

It’s set to be a blistering start, as the Scudetto showdown between favourites Inter and Roma will be played in Week 3 at the Olimpico. It’s one of the midweek rounds and will be played on Wednesday September 20.

The Milan derby will take place in Week 9 (October 29), while Lazio-Roma kicks off in Week 15 (December 10). It’s almost certain the Derby della Madonnina will be brought forward to Saturday October 28 due to the Champions League.

If the title goes down to the wire, then Inter have a tough task. Their final game of the season is at San Siro against Torino. Roma welcome Messina and Milan travel to Reggina.

After the season was delayed due to the Calciopoli scandal and its legal ramifications, the Serie A and B calendars were finally drawn up in Rome this evening.

Fiorentina (19), Reggina (15), Lazio (11) and Milan (8) all start with a points penalty due to the scandal, while Juventus are in Serie B for the first time in their history.

Roma chief Rossella Sensi was elected Vice-President of the Lega Calcio this evening before the button was pressed to begin the fixture process. “I am very excited and happy to have this position. It’s important to remain united and give credibility back to the sport for its fans.”

Week 1 - 10/9/06 (Return 21/1/07)
Fiorentina-Inter (Sat Sept 9)
Roma-Livorno (Sat Sept 9)

Week 2 – 17/9/06 (Return 28/1/07)

Week 3 – 20/9/06 (Return 4/2/07)

Week 4 – 24/9/06 (Return 11/2/07)

Week 5 – 1/10/06 (Return 18/2/07)

Week 6 – 15/10/06 (Return 25/2/07)

Week 7 – 22/10/06 (Return 28/2/07)

Week 8 – 25/10/06 (Return 4/3/07)

Week 9 – 29/10/06 (Return 11/3/07)

Week 10 – 5/11/06 (Return18/3/07)

Week 11 – 12/11/06 (Return 1/4/07)

Week 12 – 19/11/06 (Return 8/4/07)

Week 13 – 26/11/06 (Return 15/4/07)

Week 14 – 3/12/06 (Return 22/5/07)

Week 15 – 10/12/06 (Return 29/4/07)

Week 16 – 17/12/06 (Return 6/5/07)

Week 17 – 20/12/06 (Return 13/5/07)

Week 18 – 23/12/06 (Return 20/7/07)

Week 19 – 14/1/07 (Return 27/5/07)

AC Milan monitor Ronaldinho situation
30.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s hopes of signing Ronaldinho have increased after a reported bust-up between the player and Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard.

The Brazilian attacker was left out of the Liga debut against Celta Vigo at the weekend, which they won 3-2, after apparently refusing to attend Saturday’s training session.

Rijkaard, already unhappy that the South American was busy with promotional activities just hours before the 3-0 defeat to Seville in the European Super Cup, subsequently dropped him.

That incident has inevitably fuelled speculation that the former Paris SG ace is coming towards the end of his Nou Camp stint, especially given the admiration which Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has for him.

Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that a deal can be finalised this summer with the transfer window closing on August 31.

However, the Rossoneri could make a bid for the World Cup player ahead of the 2007-08 Serie A campaign.

Ronaldinho is contracted to Barcelona until 2010 and an extension until 2014 is still under discussion.

Milan officials are currently in contact with the South American star’s brother and agent, Roberto de Assis Moreira, to finalise Ricardo Oliveira’s transfer to Italy from Betis, but may now decide to discuss Ronaldinho himself.

Despite the fact that the attacker’s price-tag has dropped slightly after a disappointing World Cup, it’s understood that it would take something around £50m to net him.

AC Milan now targeting Drogba
30.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are closing in on Chelsea’s Didier Drogba after their proposed swoop for Ricardo Oliveira hit the rocks.

Betis President Manuel Luiz de Lopera has complicated the transfer after he reportedly upped his demands by asking for £12m plus Milan midfielder Johann Vogel.

The latter has supposedly already passed his medical examination with the Spaniards, but has informed Milan that he is not willing to accept the wage decrease proposed by the Liga outfit.

The Via Turati side have eyed Drogba as a replacement for Oliveira and conversations are underway to finalise his transfer before the August 31 deadline.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani allegedly met the Ivorian striker in a Milan restaurant, supposedly by chance, and the player expressed his availability to move to Italy.

Director general Ariedo Braida should now fly to London in a last ditch effort to convince the Stamford Bridge side to sell with a £21m offer.

However, Chelsea are unwilling to let the player leave unless they can get in a replacement by the end of tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Milan are also close to signing Massimo Oddo of Lazio with the two clubs ready to agree to a £2m co-ownership, plus the free loan of Rossoneri winger Pasquale Foggia.

Reports on Wednesday also suggest that the European giants have targeted goalkeeper Marco Amelia of Livorno.

The Tuscan minnows are discussing with Milan the possibility of signing either Marcio Amoroso or Marco Borriello, offering the Rossoneri an option on Amelia in return.

Nesta set for comeback
30.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta is on the road to recovery and is optimistic that he will be ready for the start of the season.

The defender has not played since the Italian World Cup match against the Czech Republic in June when he suffered a recurrence of a groin strain.

“I am saddened of how my World Cup went,” said the 30-year-old to Milan Channel. “I was only able to play two matches because of my injury.

“I was very disappointed that I couldn’t take part in exciting challenges like the match against Germany or the Final with France.

“I really tried to recover for the match against the host nation and even if I didn’t make it, I feel I am part of the Azzurri triumph,” added Nesta.

The former Lazio captain has been left out of the Italy squad for their first two qualifiers against Lithuania and France, but he’ll have his boost on again this week.

“I am now recovering and will discuss with Milan’s medical staff if I can take part in the Tim Trophy [scheduled for Thursday at San Siro against Inter and Juventus].

“What would I like to win next year? This team is made for the Champions League and I would love to win it,” he stated.

“However, we will have to start out aiming at all possible goals, seeing where that will take us at the end.”

Milan are set to start the 2006-07 Serie A with an eight-point penalty because of their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.

AC Milan conciliation appeal fails
29.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The conciliation meeting between the FIGC and Milan failed on Tuesday, as the club attempts to see their point deduction for this season reduced.

The Rossoneri were handed an eight-point penalty for the 2006-07 Serie A for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.

Milan presented their case in front of the CONI Conciliation Court and will now go the CONI arbitration, just as Lazio decided to do last week.

“The club and the FIGC were not able to conciliate, but the parties have agreed on the possibility of trying arbitration,” read an official statement.

In the meanwhile, the one-match home ban and the 100,000 Euros fine that were also handed to Milan have been suspended until the next hearing.

Leandro Cantamessa, one of the club’s lawyers, was hoping in a better outcome although he was not totally disappointed.

“We would have preferred to conciliate today, but we are moderately satisfied of the fact that the home ban was suspended,” said Cantamessa.

“We will continue our fight within arbitration. These are the rules of the game and Milan play by the rules.

“We hope the point deduction will be reduced, but if that were not the case we will accept the decision.”

Cantamessa has therefore ruled out the possibility that his club could turn to the civil justice system and appeal to the Lazio Tar.

Ronaldo: AC Milan duo want me
29.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Ronaldo is set to leave Real Madrid and admits that he could join either Milan or Inter by the end of this week.

“I honestly don’t know what jersey I will wear next year, football players are always the last to know what is happening,” said Ronaldo in Monaco, where he was awarded the 2006 Golden Foot.

“I do not know what my destiny will be and in any case I could not confirm anything before details are finalised,” added the Seleçao international, confirming reports from Spanish radio Cadena Ser.

“Inter have made it clear that they are interested in me and it’s always nice for me to think back to the time I spent there.

“I have been speaking to Massimo Moratti very often, but at the time being I cannot promise him that I will not go to Milan.

“In any case, I am very proud of the fact that two sides from the same city are both keen on signing me.”

Milan allegedly gave up their attempt to net Ronaldo last week, after no compromise could be reached with Real Madrid regarding a fee.

President Ramon Calderon insisted that Milan midfielder Kaka be included in the deal, but the Rossoneri have long since stated that the player is not on sale.

Inter instead could propose a swap deal involving Adriano, but Calderon has apparently asked for an additional £7m.

There are only two days left before the summer transfer window closes and firm offers could be discussed as soon as Wednesday.

AC Milan's striker search continues
29.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are looking for an alternative to Ricardo Oliveira should they fail to agree a fee with Betis before Thursday’s transfer deadline.

The negotiation for Oliveira stalled after Betis upped their demands for the hitman, although a £10m agreement may be close if the Rossoneri include midfielder Johann Vogel.

The Rossoneri have allegedly already bid £21m for Didier Drogba of Chelsea and reports in Spain suggest they have also offered £17.8 for Real Madrid striker Robinho.

Drogba had already been eyed by Milan in the past and the Ivorian striker allegedly met with Vice-President Adriano Galliani on Monday to finalise details.

Chelsea chief Roman Abramovich could indeed let the player go if the Rossoneri’s offer were to be confirmed.

Furthermore, Spanish newspaper AS suggested that the Via Turati club was ready to make an offer for Robinho, although Real Madrid have given no clue that they intend to sell the 22-year-old Brazilian.

Milan have not yet ruled out the idea of bringing Ronaldo back to San Siro, despite talks with the Merengues collapsing last week.

The Fenomeno has confirmed that both Milan sides have eyed him, although he told Real Madrid’s official website on Tuesday that he wanted to stay at Real for years to come.

Milan also still need to score a top level signing to please their supporters after missing out on Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rivals Inter.

Oddo set to leave Lazio
29.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Massimo Oddo is set to leave Lazio despite being contracted until 2008, with Milan his preferred destination.

Reports are claiming that the world champion had a heated argument with President Claudio Lotito after the Coppa Italia match lost against Messina on Sunday.

Oddo has made no secret of his desire to leave the capital and has been courted by Milan since last spring, but Lotito insists that no firm offer has been presented by the Rossoneri.

The 29-year-old, on international duty with the Azzurri at Coverciano, is preferring to not pass comment on his situation.

“I am not going to speak about the summer market until August 31,” he stated. “However, you all know that the best signings are finalised at the end…”

The main obstacle to the defender’s transfer now seems to be an economic one for the San Siro side.

Milan, still trying to sort out a fee with Betis over Ricardo Oliveira, will have to meet Lotito’s £6m asking price.

The Rossoneri, however, are allegedly willing to include 23-year-old winger Pasquale Foggia in the swoop.

Coach Delio Rossi is in desperate need of a replacement for the injured Valon Behrami, who will not be available until November, and has already approved the operation.

Biancocelesti chief Lotito could accept a fee of almost £3m for the right-back if Foggia arrived on loan as part of the deal.

Oddo has also been courted by Liverpool, Monaco and Real Mallorca, whose bids were all rejected, and is liked by Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti given his offensive nature.

AC Milan's Oliveira deal stalls
28.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Ricardo Oliveira’s transfer to Milan is in doubt after Real Betis upped their demands for the Brazilian hitman.

The Spanish club’s President Manuel Luiz de Lopera is furious with the player, who flew to Milan on Friday without permission instead of attending negotiations with Zenit St Petersburg and Fenerbahce.

Betis have therefore raised the price from £10m to £12m and have handed the player a substantial fine.

Oliveira spent much of last season on loan at San Paolo while he recovered from a knee ligament injury.

The 2004-05 Liga top scorer took his medical examination at MilanLab on Saturday afternoon, but no further information has been released since then.

Apparently conversations are still underway in Spain and reports suggest that Milan midfielder Johann Vogel could be included in the deal.

The Rossoneri are still in need of a striker to replace Andriy Shevchenko upfront and have been forced to change their plans after they failed to bring Ronaldo to San Siro.

Milan’s summer market has not yet scored a top level signing, after missing out on Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rivals Inter.

Mystery on Oliveira's AC Milan move
27.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan confirmed Ricardo Oliveira underwent a medical yesterday, but his agent warns there are still obstacles to the transfer.

The 26-year-old Brazilian hitman, who spent much of last season on loan at San Paolo while he recovered from November’s knee ligament injury, took his medical examination at MilanLab on Saturday afternoon.

However, the official confirmation of the results – or of a signed contract – are still nowhere to be seen 24 hours later.

It’s now reported that the player and his agent have returned to Spain for a meeting with Real Betis Sevilla directors, as the club is holding out to delay this £10m transfer.

There are claims that President Lopera won’t release Oliveira until he pays the £700,000 fine for returning from Brazil nine days later than planned.

There could also be another penalty for his flight to Milan on Friday, as the striker failed to attend negotiations with Zenit St Petersburg and Fenerbahce, choosing instead to finalise details with the Rossoneri.

“It’s a delicate operation and we need time, so this has to be taken very, very slowly,” warned agent Roberto de Assis Moreira in the ‘Corriere dello Sport’.

“Milan are one of the biggest clubs in the world and, in particular, are always well supported in Brazil.”

Oliveira’s choice has also sparked interest among the Italian and South American newspapers, as his agent is the brother of Ronaldinho – a confirmed Rossoneri target.

“My brother is my idol,” said Moreira. “He is a hero who has always helped me in my life.” It’s reported that if Ronaldinho does decide to leave Barcelona, his number one choice would be Milan.

Other newspapers take a different view of the situation, believing that the delay in Oliveira’s transfer is so that the San Siro giants can renew their bid to sign Ronaldo from Real Madrid.

Negotiations for a £15m move collapsed earlier this week due to the price-tag, but with Coach Fabio Capello unsure of his fitness, the Spaniards could still drop their demands.

AC Milan medical for Oliveira (official statement)
26.8 || webmaster


MILANELLO - Ricardo Oliveira underwent his medical at Milanello at noon CET today.

Berlusconi dreams of Ronaldinho
26.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have captured Ricardo Oliveira and given up on Ronaldo, but patron Silvio Berlusconi admits he’s still dreaming of Ronaldinho.

“If Ronaldinho was on the market, it’d be something I’d have to think about,” commented the President and former Italian Prime Minister.

“I prefer him to anyone else, but he remains an impossible dream because Barcelona have no intention of selling.”

The FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or holder has been repeatedly linked with the Rossoneri this summer, but appears to have opted to stick with Barca for the time being.

Ronaldinho’s price-tag after a disappointing World Cup may have dropped slightly, although the clause to buy him out of his contract remains a staggering £81m.

The club officially terminated its attempts to sign Ronaldo from Real Madrid yesterday, judging the £15m asking price too much.

Instead, the Milan officials returned from Spain with Ricardo Oliveira in tow – the Real Betis Sevilla striker who missed much of last season with a cruciate knee ligament injury. He’ll undergo a thorough medical before completing the £10m transfer, joining the legion of Brazilians at San Siro.

However, his arrival has caused shockwaves in the Italian Press because the forward’s agent, Roberto de Assis, is Ronaldinho’s brother.

Inevitably, the rumour mill has sprung into life with claims this is a surreptitious start to their bid for the Selecao hero.

AC Milan hours away from Ricardo Oliveira
25.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Having abandoned their bid for Ronaldo, Milan are hours away from signing ex-Betis Seville forward Ricardo Oliveira, confirmed the player.

“I am happy to have been signed by such an important club as Milan,” commented the 26-year-old Brazilian as the private jet touched down this evening.

He was accompanied by Rossoneri transfer gurus Ariedo Braida and Adriano Galliani, who were in Spain this week to discuss Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid, but turned their attention to another Liga-based Selecao star instead.

It’s reported Oliveira will put pen to paper on a four-year contract worth £1m per season after sealing a £10m switch from Real Betis Seville.

The transfer depends on the results of a medical, though, as Oliveira was the Spanish League’s top scorer in 2004-05 with 22 goals before snapping a cruciate knee ligament in November last year.

He was loaned to Sao Paulo in his homeland to help recover from the injury and helped them reach the Final of the Copa Libertadores.

AC Milan end Ronaldo chase
25.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have failed in their attempt to sign Real Madrid striker Ronaldo, the Italian club have confirmed on Friday.

“Milan would like to communicate that negotiations over Ronaldo’s possible transfer should now be considered as definitely over,” a note on their website stated.

The two clubs have been in talks over the Brazilian for the last few days, but no compromise could be reached regarding a fee.

This afternoon’s development comes just hours after Brazilian newspaper Globo reported that an agreement had been found with the player.

They claimed that the international had accepted a five-year contract which would allow him to maintain control of his image rights.

However, the Via Turati club now seem to have definitely put the Ronaldo option behind them and are considering alternative options.

The next name on Milan’s shortlist is Betis Seville striker Ricardo Oliveira and reports in Spain suggest that a £6.7m offer has already been made.

The player has just returned after a loan spell with Sao Paulo and was handed a £700,000 fine, having prolonged his stay in Brazil by nine days without being authorised by the Spanish club.

On the other hand, Inter may try to take advantage of the situation and the Spanish newspaper AS suggests they have proposed a swap deal with Real Madrid for Ronaldo involving Adriano.

But Inter technical director Lele Oriali has denied such a scenario developing, saying the Nerazzurri are not interested in their former striker.

“This is pure fantasy, we are happy with the players we have and we are sure that Adriano will have a good season,” he said.

“If we had been interested in Ronaldo we would have made an offer.”

"Easy" draw delights AC Milan
24.8 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan official Umberto Gandini is confident his club will have few problems in reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Rossoneri director made the boast this evening after his side were placed in a comfortable group which will contain Lille of France, Greece’s AEK Athens and Anderlecht.

“I was expecting a tough draw, but you can’t describe this section as that on paper,” he commented.

“We are up against teams which have done well. Lille and AEK came through the qualifiers, while Anderlecht represent Belgium football which isn’t at the top of the European game.”

Gandini was also delighted with the way the calendar has been drawn up with San Siro ties against AEK in Week 1 and Lille in Week 6.

“The fact that we start and end the group stages at home is quite an advantage for us,” he added.

“The team needs to play with great intensity, but I’m sure that we are ready to go all of the way in this competition.”

When asked whether the Calciopoli hit club had been received differently in Monaco today after this summer’s off field dramas, Gandini insisted he encountered no problems.

“Nothing has changed,” he argued. “We’ve not lost any of our allure on the European stage. Everything is as it was.”

Milan fixtures: Sept 13 Milan-AEK; Sept 26 Lille-Milan; Oct 17 Anderlecht-Milan; Nov 1 Milan-Anderlecht; Nov 21 AEK-Milan; Dec 6 Milan-Lille.

AC Milan give up on Ronaldo
24.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani has confirmed that Milan and Real Madrid are unlikely to agree on Ronaldo’s transfer, despite the deal seemingly being finished on Wednesday.

“Short meetings are never positive,” said the Rossoneri Vice-President. “There is a major gap between the request for the player and what we can offer.”

Real Madrid value Ronaldo at £18m and wanted midfielder Kaka to be included in the deal, but the Via Turati club was not willing to offer more than £10m, with no player in exchange.

Spanish newspapers AS and Marca both stated on Thursday that Kaka was the main obstacle to a positive outcome of the negotiations between the two clubs.

The Diavoli are now forced to change their plans and may formalise their offer for Udinese’s Vincenzo Iaquinta, rumoured to be worth £7m plus striker Marco Borriello.

David Trezeguet and Adriano are also on Milan’s shortlist, but Juventus don’t intend to let the Frenchman leave and Inter are not keen on selling to their direct competitors.

Milan’s summer market has not yet scored a top level signing, after losing Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rivals Nerazzurri.

Champions League Draw: AC Milan's Group
24.8 || webmaster

Group H

AC Milan
AEK Athens

Ronaldo just hours away from AC Milan
24.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo is just hours away from leaving Real Madrid for Italian giants Milan, reports in Spain are suggesting.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani and director general Ariedo Braida flew to Madrid on Wednesday where the player confirmed his availability to wear the Rossoneri jersey.

The Milan officials then met Real chief Ramon Calderon before watching the Liga outfit defeat Anderlecht in the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.

Meetings continued after the match and Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the two clubs were close to finalising a deal.

Real Madrid value Ronaldo at £17.8m whereas Milan have offered £15.7m, but a compromise is expected to be reached given the relatively low difference in valuation.

However, Galliani has confirmed that Real target Kaka will not be included in any swoop for the former Inter striker.

An agreement between the two clubs could be reached on Thursday and the Via Turati side are hoping Ronaldo will be in Italy by the end of the week.

Ronaldo has been paired with both San Siro clubs in the past few weeks following the arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the Spanish capital.

The Brazilian star spent six seasons at Inter before walking out in 2002 after the club returned him to full fitness.

Inter owner Massimo Moratti also fuelled talk of a possible move by admitting that Ronaldo was the best signing of his era as Nerazzurri owner.

However, it now seems that Milan will win this city derby after Inter pipped them to both Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic earlier this summer.

Buffon snubs AC Milan
23.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gianluigi Buffon has confirmed he will stay with demoted giants Juventus, but admits that a move to Milan would fascinate him.

The world champion has been paired with the Rossoneri outfit after the Calciopoli verdicts relegated Juve into Serie B, but now seems set to remain in Turin.

“I told Juve that I was at their disposal and was willing to leave if they needed to sell me,” said Buffon to the La Repubblica newspaper.

“If the club instead wants me to stay I will do so. I think I owe it to Juve, to the family that owns the team and to the supporters,” added the 28-year-old.

“Many people have been telling me I would be moving to Milan in the past few weeks and I admit I wouldn’t say no to such an offer, but I would be very sorry to leave Juve.”

Rumours in April had already suggested Buffon could join Milan, in a part exchange deal involving Christian Abbiati.

But after the match-fixing verdicts were delivered, the negotiations stalled and Abbiati - who spent last season on loan at Juve - finally signed for city rivals Torino.

“I was keen on moving, I wanted to play in a different stadium, see different faces, experience a new environment,” added the Azzurri goalkeeper.

“I think this is a normal reaction after five or six years in the same place.

“Now, however, I feel I cannot leave Juve. I guess I will find new motivation playing in a different Division,” added the Tuscan player.

Buffon enjoyed success at Parma for six years before moving to Juventus in 2001.

He also received the 2006 Lev Yashin Award for the World Cup’s best goalkeeper during Italy’s German success.

AC Milan: We want Ronaldo!
23.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian giants Milan have admitted that they are in talks over a proposed swoop for Real Madrid’s Ronaldo.

Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani confirmed the club’s interest in the player after their 2-1 win at Red Star Belgrade ensured Champions League qualification.

“Ronaldo is available and now it’s a matter between Milan and Real Madrid,” commented the official.

“We have officially asked for the player,” he added. “Now we will now wait and see what will happen.

“We will be pleased if a deal can be completed, but if that were not the case then we will be happy with the players we have.”

Talks are set to begin as soon as today and Real Madrid maestro Ramon Calderon is ready to do business.

"I know Milan have already talked to the player and I don't think that is right, but we are still prepared to receive representatives from any friendly club," Calderon told reporters.

Real had insisted they are not interested in selling the 30-year-old, but may consider the option if Milan were to offer Brazil midfielder Kaka in exchange – something which seems highly unlikely.

"We don't want to get rid of Ronaldo, but we are prepared to negotiate," added the Merengues’ chief.

"If Ronaldo wants to leave we'll have to look for a solution, we don't want money, we want something else,” referring to Kaka.

Calderon had promised to buy the Brazilian starlet during his election campaign in June much to Milan’s disgust.

Real Coach Fabio Capello has also reiterated his desire to see Kaka at his disposal, although aware of the difficulty in striking a deal.

"Kaka is one of those rare players who can make the difference and for us he is a priority, but if he isn’t for sale, we cannot buy him,” said Capello.

As to Ronaldo, Capello stressed the fact that he only needs motivated players on his side.

"Ronaldo is a great player, the fact that he is courted by many teams means that he is talented, but a player should stay only if he is happy to do so,” stated Don Fabio.

“If that is not the case, then he must speak out in order for the club to examine the situation and consider the options.”

The Brazilian, who is still recovering from knee surgery he underwent following the World Cup, will not play in Real Madrid’s first match of the season against Villarreal on Sunday.

FIGC warn Calciopoli clubs
23.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Italian Football Federation [FIGC] have threatened Calciopoli hit clubs that they risk additional punishments should they appeal to the civil courts.

After expressing their disappointment at Juventus’ decision to appeal to the TAR Lazio civil court on Monday, FIGC officials have now opted for a more resolute position.

“In reference to the appeals discussed in front of TAR Lazio and having acknowledged the rejections of the appeals themselves, the Federation invites the clubs to limit further similar actions,” read an official statement.

“This is also in consideration of the FIFA directives, which were confirmed to the Federal Commissioner, providing disciplinary sanctions in case the justice obligation is violated.”

The Federation therefore is not willing to accept any further appeals aiming to overturn the sentences and invites the clubs to accept the verdicts handed out by the sporting tribunals.

The FIGC was pleased with the rejection of the appeal presented by Luciano Moggi and Antonio Giraudo against their five-year bans from the sport.

The former Juve directors attempted to overturn the sporting justice system’s sentences on Tuesday but with no success.

“The verdict was in our favour,” continued the FIGC statement. “Moggi and Giraudo’s appeals were aiming to obtain a suspension in the sanction inflicted by the Federal Court and were rejected.

“It is clear that there is a losing party and a winning party, the precautionary phase can now be considered closed.”

Lazio and Fiorentina have also suggested that they will go to the TAR should their CONI conciliation meeting fail to see their points penalties, of minus 11 and 19 respectively, not be scrapped.

As it stands, Milan will also start the campaign on minus eight and Reggina have been handed a 15-point penalty.

Ancelotti hails AC Milan "justice"
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims Milan are back where they belong after the Champions League preliminary round, while Pippo Inzaghi was the hero again.

“Now that it’s over, we all feel very relieved, as it wasn’t nearly as easy as it seemed,” noted the tactician after the 3-1 aggregate victory over Red Star Belgrade.

“We have to thank the players and fitness Coaches for working very hard to prepare for a game we hadn’t factored into our season.”

The Rossoneri were set to enter the competition direct after finishing second in Serie A last season, but the Calciopoli trial saw their position change constantly.

They went from total European exclusion to entering via this round, although UEFA released a statement noting they were unhappy with the fact Milan were in the tournament at all.

“We still consider the fact we had to play this preliminary round as an injustice, but we’re back where we belong now and must look forward,” continued Ancelotti.

The club had held back in its transfer campaign until the cash from the Champions League was secured, so now there should be some reinforcements – possibly including Argentine sensation Carlos Tevez.

“The squad proved it is compact, united and competitive. Now we have time to think about other things.”

Once again, Super Pippo Inzaghi was the hero, as he scored both the only goal of the first leg and the opener in Belgrade. Clarence Seedorf rounded out the 2-1 scoreline this evening.

“It’s fortunate we took an early lead, as the atmosphere could’ve caused some problems, but this was a great Milan squad and we performed well in the circumstances. Our fitness levels were better than the first leg and our quality shone through,” said the striker.

Inzaghi may ensure Andriy Shevchenko isn’t missed, but Alberto Gilardino is yet to break his Champions League duck.

“Gila didn’t score, but he put in some crucial work for the team and without him and all my teammates, I wouldn’t be able to get so many goals.”

Red Star Belgrade 1:2 (1:3 on agg.) AC Milan - match report
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 29 (M), Seedorf 79 (M), Djokic 80 (R)

Pippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf scored to send Milan safely through to the Champions League, winning 2-1 in Belgrade.

The Rossoneri had a 1-0 lead from the first leg thanks to Inzaghi’s goal and the veteran was again in the starting line-up alongside Alberto Gilardino and Kaka. Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini were still injured, though Daniele Bonera was not even on the bench after the end of his one-match ban.

This is the second time Milan have played at the Marakana in Belgrade, earning a controversial win on penalties in the 1988 European Cup. The home side had been winning 1-0, but the game was suspended due to fog and had to be replayed the next day.

It was Milan, playing in a black away strip, who had the first chance after 90 seconds with Ivan Randjelovic spilling Kaka’s effort. At the other end a Serginho error left Dejan Milovanovic clear and Marcos Cafu was just about able to clear. From the resulting corner, Nikola Zigic nodded over.

Gilardino was caught offside, firing straight at the goalkeeper anyway, and Andrea Pirlo’s set-piece was held, while a free kick was taken quickly and Bosko Jankovic blasted wide.

Milan broke through after 29 minutes with another goal from first leg hero Inzaghi. Kaka spread the play wide so Gennaro Gattuso’s cross from the right was deflected and Super Pippo readjusted his position to nod in from six yards.

Pirlo’s long pass found Serginho, but his first touch let him down one-on-one with the ‘keeper, as Crvena Zvezda seemed a little stunned by that goal. The home side wanted a penalty for Cafu’s challenge on Dusan Djokic, but the striker seemed to back into him.

Kaka and Blagoy Georgiev wasted good chances on the stroke of half-time, while after the break Dida was alert to the danger of Zigic following a Billy Costacurta error.

Ibrahim Gueye was booked for a lunging tackle on Inzaghi and the striker nearly got his revenge by taking advantage of a lucky ricochet and his shot was charged down for a corner.

Clarence Seedorf combined with Kaka and Randjelovic stuck out a foot to keep the Dutchman’s drive from going into the far corner. Inzaghi’s glancing header on a Cafu cross was wide and at the other end a Zigic effort was too weak to trouble Dida.

Kaka received a rare booking for a clash with Milan Bisevac and Milan adopted a more solid formation with Massimo Ambrosini for Inzaghi. Gilardino is yet to score a single goal in the Champions League and pushed wide from Serghino’s assist.

The Rossoneri put the final seal on their passage into Thursday’s draw when Kaka’s mazy run was closed down, but only so far as Seedorf for a thumping strike.

Red Star at least gave themselves a consolation goal moments later, Costacurta’s poor clearance keeping the move alive until Djokic struck home from close range.

Red Star Belgrade: Randjelovic; Basta, Bisevac, Gueye, Pantic (Purovic 60); Jankovic (Perovic 55), Milovanovic (Andelkovic 70), Kovacevic, Georgiev; Zigic, Djokic

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Favalli 82), Simic, Costacurta, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Inzaghi (Ambrosini 68), Gilardino (Borriello 87)
Ref: Bo Larsen (Den)

Tevez invites AC Milan offer
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s interest in Carlos Tevez could materialise in the next few days after he walked out on Corinthians, but they face competition from Manchester United.

The Argentinean has been linked with the Rossoneri as they continue their search for Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement.

Tevez expressed his desire to play for one of Europe’s major clubs, although he is contracted to Corinthians until 2007.

The 22-year-old striker took his side to the Brazilian Championship last year scoring a total of 19 goals, but is now ready to leave after his relationship with new Coach Emerson Leao turned sour.

“I will no longer play for Corinthians if Leao is on the bench. I’m leaving and won’t play for him ever again,” snapped the young talent.

He hasn’t turned up to training for two days, infuriated with the new tactician’s decision to strip him of the captain’s armband.

“I don’t know how much longer I will stay with Corinthians. I may well have already played my last game for this club.”

Milan are waiting to see what the future holds after tonight’s crunch match against Red Star Belgrade. If the Rossoneri fail to qualify for the Champions League group stage, their summer market strategy may officially close or at least be reconsidered.

They can’t afford to hesitate too much, as reports suggest Manchester United are prepared to offer £25m to bring Tevez to England.

Meanwhile, Milan have not yet ruled out the idea of bringing Ronaldo back to the peninsula. Real Madrid Coach Fabio Capello was cryptic when questioned on the Brazilian international’s future.

“Ronaldo to me is only a Real Madrid player at the moment,” said Capello in a Press Conference.

“The fact that he is courted by many teams means that he is talented, but I believe that a player should stay only if he is glad to do so,” added Don Fabio.

“If that is not the case, then he must speak out in order for the club to examine the situation and consider the options.”

AC Milan prepare transfer assault
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are understood to be lining up a series of late swoops should they beat Red Star Belgrade in tonight’s Champions League tie.

The Rossoneri have been relatively quiet on the market so far, but that may all change should they qualify for the group stages of the competition on Tuesday.

Reports suggest that a positive night in Belgrade will see club officials fly to Madrid to start talks for Ronaldo.

The Brazilian striker has been associated with the Via Turati club recently even if Inter may try to hijack the deal by offering Adriano to the Liga club in exchange.

Milan are still in need of a striker to replace Andriy Shevchenko and have also eyed Udinese’s Vincenzo Iaquinta, Carlos Tevez of Corinthians and Internacional Porto Alegre’s Rafael Sobis.

However, the latter is now understood to be on the verge of moving to Spain with Racing Santander.

There is also speculation that Milan are still interested in Gianluigi Buffon given that Nelson Dida has not yet renewed his contract which expires in 2007.

The World Cup winner has committed his future to Juventus, but a tempting offer may see a change in his future plans.

It is also understood that defender Edu Dracena, currently contracted to Cruzeiro, is on Milan’s shortlist too.

The South American, who has an Italian passport, has been targeted by Roma recently and is valued at £5m by the Belo Horizonte club.

Sobis heading to Spain
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Rafael Sobis will not be joining Milan after reports in Brazil suggested that he has agreed to join a Spanish club.

The 21-year-old Internacional Porto Alegre striker has revealed that he is heading for Europe, but has failed to disclose the name of his new club.

“The goal I scored against Palmeras was the last one with Internacional,” said the Brazilian international.

“I have finalised an agreement with a Spanish club, but I cannot reveal the name of them just yet.”

The striker was being eyed by Milan as the replacement for Andriy Shevchenko and had expressed his availability, but the Rossoneri’s delay in closing the deal may have proved to be fatal.

Sobis was decisive in the recent Copa Libertadores Final against Sao Paulo, scoring twice in the first leg, and has been also courted by Seville, Racing Santander and Valencia.

No kick-off delay, say Lega
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lega Calcio chief Antonio Matarrese has confirmed that the 2006-07 season will start on September 9 despite Juventus’ appeal to the civil courts.

“The new season is scheduled to start on the weekend of September 9 and 10 and that is what we can confirm,” said Matarrese.

“I can not make any forecast and I don’t know what will happen, but at this moment in time I can guarantee that the Serie A and Serie B fixtures for the new season remain set to be drawn up in Rome on August 30.

“I understand that Juventus are living a very dramatic moment in their history and I respect them, but we also have to respect all the other teams.”

Juventus decided to appeal to the TAR Lazio in an attempt to regain their top-flight status on Monday, after the conciliation meeting with the Italian Football Federation on Friday failed to reduce their Calciopoli punishments.

The Bianconeri will now be called to appear in front of the TAR on September 6 which has cast doubt on the start of the campaign.

Should the Italian giants be reinstated to Serie A, the court could potentially block the new season’s kick off.

TAR President Pasquale De Lise stated that the option of an extra hearing in August is being considered to specifically discuss Juve’s case and to avoid any further delays.

“We cannot exclude that there will be a special hearing in August, but it’s too early now to set a date,” said De Lise.

“There is a hearing scheduled for August 22 and we now have to see if we can add another one, respecting all the claimants and the correct procedures.”

Lecce open Vucinic door
21.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lecce are ready to sell Mirko Vucinic – but only if they receive an adequate offer for the 22-year-old striker.

Sporting director Guido Angelozzi has valued Vucinic at £5.7m and confirmed that Roma have been tracking the player for some time.

“We are willing to sell Vucinic because we want to somehow repay his extraordinary past performances for this club,” he told the GRT news agency.

“However, we will only do so if certain conditions are respected,” he warned.

“If Lecce receive an adequate offer we will let the player leave, otherwise he will stay with us for this season.”

Roma, despite recent claims from Giallorossi boss Luciano Spalletti, do seem to be in pole position for the Serbian international who only missed the World Cup Finals because of injury.

“We have been working to find an agreement with the Roman club and are willing to consider a co-ownership,” noted Angelozzi.

“But the main point remains that Vucinic is a champion and he must be paid as such.

“What will happen now? There is as much chance of him staying as him going. However, if he is still here it means that no one has made us the right offer yet.”

Vucinic has also been linked with the likes of both Milan clubs in the last 24 months.

The youngster caught the eye of many sides while netting 19 goals in 28 games under Zdenek Zeman in 2004-05, but was less prolific last term when he only bagged nine.

Ancelotti: It’s win or bust
21.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes that Milan are at a crossroads as they prepare for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League qualifier against Red Star Belgrade.

The Rossoneri travel to Belgrade with a 1-0 first leg advantage, but Ancelotti insists his men won’t simply try to defend that lead as they look to qualify for the group stages of the competition.

“This match represents a crucial moment for our season,” said the tactician before leaving for Serbia. “I hope the team will have more certainties than last time and will be in its best condition.

“We will not play defensively though. I hope we can close the match as soon as possible and earn a spot in the Champions League. This competition is too important for the club.”

Ancelotti does have selection problems though and can’t count on Alessandro Nesta or Paolo Maldini, who are both injured and won’t even travel.

Newly signed defender Daniele Bonera could instead make his debut with the Rossoneri jersey after he missed the first leg because of a one-match ban.

Ancelotti also needs to decide on whom will start alongside first leg scorer Filippo Inzaghi with rumours suggesting that Alberto Gilardino may be left on the bench.

Nevertheless, Milan seem very motivated and understand the importance of their task as confirmed by midfielder Clarence Seedorf.

“We have the desire to win and we also have the right amount of anger in us,” said Seedorf at the Malpensa airport.

“We feel somebody has made fun of us because we now need to win a game we shouldn’t have played in the first place [because of the Calciopoli verdicts].”

The tie against Red Star Belgrade will kick off at 21.00 hours local time and will be refereed by Dragutin Poljak of Croatia.

AC Milan name Belgrade squad
20.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have named their squad travelling to Belgrade for Tuesday’s Champions League crunch match.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has called 22 players for the Preliminary Round tie against Red Star at the Marakana Stadium.

Daniele Bonera (pictured) could make his official debut after missing the first leg due to a ban left over from his time with Parma.

Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini remain sidelined with injury, so 40-year-old Billy Costacurta is again expected to captain the side from central defence.

The Rossoneri have a 1-0 lead from the first leg at San Siro thanks to a goal from Pippo Inzaghi, but Red Star are still in with a shout of Champions League qualification.

The referee has also been assigned for this game. Dane Claus Bo Larsen has already officiated Milan twice in his career, a 2-0 UEFA Cup win over CSKA Sofia in October 2001 and last season’s entertaining 2-2 Champions League draw at Schalke 04.

Milan squad:
Gk: Dida (1), Coppola (78), Kalac (16)
D: Bonera (25), Cafu (2), Costacurta (5), Favalli (19), Jankulovski (18), Serginho (27), Simic (17)
M: Ambrosini (23), Brocchi (32), Foggia (83), Gattuso (8), Gourcuff (20), Kakà (22), Pirlo (21), Seedorf (10)
F: Amoroso (37), Borriello (12), Gilardino (11), Inzaghi (9)

Sobis warns AC Milan
20.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Rafael Sobis has still not struck a deal with Milan and his agent warns that further delay could see him poached by a Spanish side.

The 21-year-old Internacional Porto Alegre striker has been pinpointed as the replacement for Andriy Shevchenko and confirmed his enthusiasm for this proposed switch.

“I haven’t got an agreement with Milan yet, so everything will be decided next week. I have other offers too and must evaluate them all with due calm.”

Sobis hit the headlines when he scored a decisive brace in the Copa Libertadores Final against San Paolo, but the Serie A giants aren’t the only side interested in him.

“Valencia are also in the running and, if Milan don’t get a move on, Rafael could end up in Spain,” warned agent Machado in the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’.

However, the matter isn’t quite as urgent as the representative is suggesting, as it’s likely the striker won’t leave South America until the New Year.

“One of the points up for discussion is the Club World Cup, as we don’t know if I’ll leave Internacional now or in December,” added Sobis. “Alternatively, I could not come to Europe at all. Whatever happens, I’ll be happy.”

The Club World Cup has replaced the Intercontinental Cup with the winners of the six major continental competitions facing off in Japan.

Ambrosini wary of Red Star
20.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Ambrosini is back in the Azzurri squad, but he hasn’t the time to celebrate as Milan face their Champions League decider in Belgrade.

“Victory in the preliminary round could give us the boost we need to start a campaign with results we haven’t had in a while,” commented the midfielder.

“This match really is worth a whole season to us. Red Star are a tough side and the Marakana has an unusual atmosphere, so we have to be both relaxed and concentrated.”

Pippo Inzaghi’s goal has given the Rossoneri a 1-0 lead from the first leg, but the pressure is on Carlo Ancelotti’s men to enter the Champions League after the Calciopoli scandal had threatened to exclude them from Europe altogether.

Ambrosini could start on Tuesday in a more packed midfield with one striker upfront and he has been in the headlines this week, having worn the Azzurri jersey for the first time in two years.

“It was very satisfying to be called up to the Nazionale, although I was hoping for a better overall performance,” he said after the 2-0 friendly defeat to Croatia.

“The criticism that preceded and followed that match were too severe against the Coach and the players. There are many factors to be considered, as we were playing together for the first time and none of the World Cup winners were present.”

Roberto Donadoni was vilified in the Press for picking such an experimental side, but Ambrosini insists the criticism was unjustified.

“Right from the start you could sense almost anger aimed at this squad. We were coming off a World Cup victory for Italy and everyone was new, so there should’ve been a bit more enthusiasm rather than people queuing up to knock us down.”

Simic key to Oddo switch
19.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Oddo’s proposed move to Milan could be back on the cards if Lazio accept Dario Simic as part of the deal.

The right-back has not hidden his desire to complete the move to San Siro, but the £6m price-tag put on his head by the capital club has so far proved a stumbling block.

It’s now reported that the transfer could be back on if Croatian international Simic is included as part of the agreement.

Pasquale Foggia had been offered on loan to help cut the cash sum, but the Biancocelesti rejected that proposal.

“If Oddo wants to leave I will not force him to stay,” said Lazio Coach Delio Rossi earlier this week.

This isn’t the first time that Simic has been named on Milan’s exit list, as he has also been linked with Atalanta, but he warns he won’t be an ideal replacement for Oddo.

“It’s easier for me to play as a central defender and I can make the difference there rather than at right-back,” said the ex-Inter man. “Of course I can take that role, but I give my best in the middle.”

Meanwhile, the Croatian is preparing for Tuesday’s decisive Champions League preliminary round trip to Red Star Belgrade.

“I’ve played at the Marakana a few times and it really is a ‘hot’ place to come into and it’s tough to beat them there,” he explained after the 1-0 first leg win.

“In any case, we are a good squad and are ready for anything, as we really want to enter the Champions League this season. Their tactics should change from San Siro, as they’ll use two strikers and a Trequartista, so there will also be more crosses for Nikola Zigic.”

Trofeo Berlusconi postponed
19.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The traditional August meeting between Milan and Juventus for the Trofeo Berlusconi has been postponed until January.

The competition, which began in 1991 and saw the Rossoneri take on a variety of opponents at San Siro, was set for late August.

The Calciopoli scandal forced a rethink because Milan are busy with the Champions League preliminary round, so the two clubs couldn’t find a date to agree on.

With this in mind, they have decided to play the showcase match, last year won by Milan 2-1, on January 6, 2007.

The tie had to be played, or they would’ve broken a contract with television companies who have paid up to transmit the game until 2014.

In the early years, the Trofeo Luigi Berlusconi was against sides like Inter, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but since 1995 it has become a traditional appointment for Milan and Juventus.

Sobis: "I'm ready for AC Milan"
19.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazilian starlet Rafael Sobis has confessed he is on the verge of signing for Milan and cannot wait to get started in Serie A.

“It’s true, the negotiations are advanced and I can’t wait to run to Milan,” the Internacional striker told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’.

“I have to admit that I am very enthusiastic about this adventure. All day I have been surfing the Internet so I can find out everything about Milan. I already knew the team, but I’m discovering more about the city itself and it seems perfect for me. I hope everything can be concluded as quickly as possible.”

Sobis would be the replacement for £30m Chelsea man Andriy Shevchenko, joining other Brazilians such as Marcos Cafu, Ricky Kaka, Nelson Dida and Serginho.

“I have heard of everyone in the side, but I’ve not personally met any of them. I am in a tricky position at the moment, as I know talks are progressing well, but there’s nothing official yet. We follow Serie A games in Brazil and know Milan are one of the best teams in the world. My style is very different to yours, though, so I’ll need some time to settle in.”

It’s possible that the Rossoneri will let go of Marcio Amoroso, who arrived in January and barely set foot on the playing field, but he could prove useful as an introduction for Sobis.

“I like to move around off the ball, come back into midfield and make the most of my pace,” continued the youngster.

“What I love the most is running into the box and trying to score. I am a centre-forward, a born finisher. If you want a comparison, then I suppose you could say I resemble the early Amoroso, or perhaps Lyon striker Fred.”

Meanwhile, reports in the same newspaper suggest the road to Ronaldo’s door is still open, as Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani rang the Real Madrid star.

The key to bringing in the £10m rated Fenomeno lies in their Champions League qualification. That will be decided on Tuesday, after the second leg of the preliminary round tie with Red Star Belgrade.

Fixtures date finally set
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Serie A and Serie B fixtures for the new season will finally be drawn up in Rome on Wednesday August 30.

New Italian Football League chief Antonio Matarrese confirmed the news this evening following a Lega Calcio meeting.

The divisional calendars were delayed by the Calciopoli scandal which also subsequently led to a postponement to the start of the season.

The 2006-07 campaign was set to start on August 26, but will now kick off on the weekend of September 9 and 10.

It’s win or bust, says Cafu
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu deems Tuesday’s match against Red Star Belgrade as a crucial moment in Milan’s season.

The Rossoneri travel to Belgrade with a 1-0 advantage in the hope of qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League.

“This match represents a most important appointment for us,” said the 36-year-old defender on Friday.

“In the past few weeks we have played some friendlies and the Teresa Herrera Trophy in Spain, but the next match is crucial because it will decide the rest of our season.

“We were not on top form at La Coruña, but we were focusing on Red Star Belgrade and I hope we will be at 100 per cent ready on Tuesday.”

Although the Italian giants are in pole position, the South American considers their rivals as a quality side.

“You must always fear your opponents, in football you need to be respectful,” commented the former Roma man.

“I am sure they will play differently from the first leg at San Siro where I don’t think they expected us to be so aggressive on the pitch.

“Red Star impressed me, they are a young team that plays good football and they have many high-quality players, including their goalkeeper.”

Cafu also commented on rumours suggesting that young Rafael Sobis is close to signing a contract with Milan.

“I know him well, he is a very talented player and that is why he was called by Coach Carlos Dunga to play with our national team,” he added.

“You are only hearing his name now because of his excellent performance in the Copa Libertadores.

“However, I can guarantee that he is a very good player who has already shown all his potential.”

AC Milan close to Oddo as well
18.8 || webmaster

It seems that AC Milan will seal the transfer of Lazio's Massimo Oddo next week, according to sources in Italy.

The deal bringing Oddo, a right back and an ex-Milan youth player, might involve cash and the transfer of Pasquale Foggia to the Roman club.

From Brazil: Rafael Sobis move to AC Milan almost complete
18.8 || webmaster

From Brazil comes the news that AC Milan has reached a deal with Internacional Porto Alegre for the purchase of Rafael Sobis for no less than 8 million euros.

There are certain technicalities that need to be solved before the player will be presented officially by Milan which should happen in the next coupld of days.

The player's agent, Jorge Machado, confirmed the ongoing negociations.

Iaquinta unsure of future
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Vincenzo Iaquinta has conceded that he is unsure whether he will stay at Udinese – even if he admits he’s received no serious offers.

The World Cup winner has been associated with some of Europe’s top clubs, but the striker has yet to pack his bags.

“I honestly don’t know myself what will happen,” said the former Pescara hitman. “I’ll have to speak with the President and then we’ll see.

“I’ve seen my name linked with Milan, Juventus, Manchester United and Roma in the Press, but in reality there is no truth in it.”

It subsequently looks increasingly likely that the man who almost joined Barcelona in January 2005 will keep performing at the Stadio Friuli.

“The fact that I could still be defending this club’s colours is not something that I find hard to deal with,” he continued.

“I’ve achieved some really satisfying things here which include winning a place in an Italian squad that won the World Cup.

“I’m sure that we can have a good season this term.”

Capello blocks Ronaldo exit
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello has told Milan and Inter to archive any thoughts of signing Ronaldo this summer.

The former Juventus maestro was questioned about the Brazilian’s future on Thursday and was categorical in his response.

“Ronaldo will not move to Milan and will not go to Inter either, just to make things clear,” he declared.

“I only like to talk about players who I have on my team and I don’t like discussing sales or new signings before they are finalised.

“However, in this case, I can confirm that Ronaldo is going absolutely nowhere,” concluded the former Italian international.

The 29-year-old has been paired with the two San Siro clubs with the Rossoneri supposedly slightly favoured in the chase.

Ronaldo is now back in training after becoming the World Cup’s top scorer of all time during Germany 2006 when he grabbed his 15th Finals goal against Ghana.

AC Milan eye Tevez
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy are suggesting that Argentine Carlos Tevez is Milan’s new target as they search for Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement.

The Rossoneri have already been linked with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Didier Drogba and Vincenzo Iaquinta in their quest to find the Ukrainian’s successor.

Tevez is currently contracted to Corinthians and his name has now been added to the Via Turati club’s shortlist.

The 22-year-old striker has expressed his desire to leave the Brazilian Champions, after leading them to victory by scoring a total of 19 goals in last year’s championship.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Lance, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani flew to Brazil to discuss Tevez’s transfer with the club and may offer up to £13m to bring the striker to Serie A.

Tevez joined Corinthians in 2005 for £10m after four years with Boca Juniors, also being voted South American Player of the Year for the last three consecutive years.

The young striker led Argentina to the Olympic goal medal in 2004 and was one of the most impressive players on Jose Pekerman’s squad at the 2006 World Cup.

Milan will now wait for the result of their Champions League third qualifying round match against Red Star Belgrade before making a firm offer.

If the Rossoneri were to fail to qualify for the Champions League group stage, their summer market would be officially considered closed.

Ambrosini takes responsibility
16.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Ambrosini wore the captain’s armband in tonight’s friendly and admits their condition is not up to scratch yet.

“Our physical condition isn’t great at the moment, but we still managed to create some opportunities. Clearly, we could’ve done more, but it wasn’t easy at this stage of the season.”

Coach Roberto Donadoni’s debut on the Italy bench was a 2-0 defeat to Croatia in Livorno, but he fielded only one World Cup winner and seven absolute beginners at this level.

Ambrosini was the player with the most caps to his name going into this match, just 22, and hadn’t pulled on the jersey in two years.

“I don’t think it was a wasted opportunity, as the team played well considering the circumstances. In football at this level you have to take your chances and Croatia did that, whereas in the first half we had the better of the overall play.”

One of the main talking points following the tie was Fabio Liverani’s role. Many members of the Italian Press noted that all the play went through the Fiorentina midfielder, including set-pieces, leaving the team few other options.

“Liverani played an excellent first half and I believe he did well in the role of midfield director. We had faith in him and probably left the initiative to him a little more than was necessary,” added Ambrosini.

Milan duo fight for Rodriguez
16.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan and Inter are reportedly interested in Maxi Rodriguez of Atletico Madrid – even if he seems intent of remaining in Spain.

The paths of the two Milan sides have often crossed during this summer’s transfer market after the Nerazzurri won the duel to net Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rodriguez now seems to be a target for both teams again who would certainly like the Argentine international at their disposal this term.

The Atletico Madrid ace, who easily adapts to playing as an attacking midfielder or as a winger, has however expressed his intention to remain at his present club under boss Javier Aguirre.

The Spanish club have confirmed contact with both Italian sides, but consider the No 11 as untransferable and may offer Rodriguez, who is currently signed until 2008, an extension.

The 25-year-old, who also has an Italian passport, is more than content in Madrid and is optimistic that his side can fight for the Liga title.

The South American grew up in the Newell’s Old Boys youth team and moved to Spain in 2002 when Espanol made a successful bid for his services.

He netted 15 times during his third campaign in the Liga and then moved to Atletico Madrid in 2005 for £8.5m.

Rodriguez made his debut with Argentina in 2003 after winning the Under-20 World Cup in 2001.

He was also part of Jose Pekerman’s squad at the 2006 World Cup where he scored three goals before their quarter-final defeat to Germany.

Sobis next on AC Milan list
16.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are still searching for a striker and have picked out Rafael Augusto Sobis of Internacional Porto Alegre as a possible target.

The Rossoneri have yet to replace Andriy Shevchenko upfront, after his departure to Chelsea, with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Didier Drogba and Vincenzo Iaquinta on the Via Turati club’s shortlist.

Sobis’ name has now been added to that piece of paper after negotiations to bring Ronaldo back to Italy from Real Madrid came to an abrupt halt.

The 21-year-old moved to Porto Alegre after one year with Corinthians and has won seven caps with the Under-21 Brazilian national side.

Sobis impressed with his performance in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores Final last Wednesday, when he netted two second half goals allowing Internacional to defeat Sao Paulo 2-1.

Sobis is not a totally new name for Italian football fans after he was paired with an Inter transfer in November 2005.

Massimo Moratti’s club expressed an interest in the player, whom they were apparently willing to offer £7m for, but no compromise could be reached with his Brazilian club.

Rossi eyes AC Milan future
16.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Manchester United youngster Giuseppe Rossi admits he would someday like to return to Italy, with Milan his preferred destination.

The 19-year-old support striker made his debut for the Azzurrini on Tuesday where he impressed Coach Pierluigi Casiraghi with his encouraging display.

"I would like to return to Italy in the future where football is more technical and tactical," said Rossi in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The Premiership is very different, the competitive spirit seems to be the most important factor, although clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have now changed their mentality.”

The youngster grew up as a Milan fan and would love to someday wear the Rossoneri jersey, just like his idol Marco Van Basten.

“I have always had a liking for Milan and I am now glad I will be able to see Andriy Shevchenko at work with Chelsea,” he noted.

Rossi landed in Manchester in 2004 when Alex Ferguson signed the Italo-American player from Parma for just £200,000 pounds.

The striker, considered as one of the most promising talents in the game, could play a key role at Old Trafford this season after Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s departure to Real Madrid.

Rossi received his first call-up from Under-21 boss Casiraghi on Friday and was enthused over the opportunity to represent his country.

"I'm happy for the call-up, it’s a unique occasion and I want to do my best," declared Rossi before last night’s 0-0 draw with Croatia.

Although Rossi was only used as a second-half substitute, he showed his potential by almost heading in a Simone Padoin cross.

Calciopoli discounts on the way?
15.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The FIGC will take part in the CONI Conciliation meetings with the Calciopoli clubs and newspapers predict further cuts to the original penalties.

Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio and Milan all saw their handicaps slashed in half by the first appeal, but have staged another legal action with the CONI.

As the start of the season is impending and there is another court left that these sides can appeal to – the Lazio TAR Tribunal – it’s claimed the Federation will negotiate a discount to end the issue now.

Juve are the first to be heard on August 18 and, if the FIGC attempts to offer a deal in order to avoid going to the TAR, then the other three sides can expect similar treatment.

Although it’s highly unlikely the Bianconeri will be allowed back into Serie A, they should have a few more points shaved off their handicap.

The original Calciopoli verdicts ordered them to start the 2006-07 campaign with a 30-point penalty, but that was cut to just 17 on appeal.

Lazio and Fiorentina were demoted, then brought back up to the top flight with an 11 and 19-point penalty respectively.

Milan’s original 15-point handicap was reduced to eight on appeal. They also had a one-match ban on playing at San Siro.

“It’s not true this is a whitewash,” assured a Federation source in the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’. “The scandal has been noted and the sporting justice system must be respected for its verdicts.”

Meanwhile, Messina, Lecce and Brescia have formally been admitted to Juve’s CONI meeting as third parties in the scandal, as they seek a return to Serie A.

AC Milan ponder Iaquinta option
15.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan could turn to Udinese striker Vincenzo Iaquinta as their search for an Andriy Shevchenko replacement continues.

The Serie A kick-off is less than a month away and the Rossoneri have not yet found an alternative for the Ukrainian following his departure to Chelsea in May.

Iaquinta is highly considered by Coach Carlo Ancelotti and could land in Milan for something around £10.7m.

The former Pescara player is being eyed given the problems that the Italian giants are encountering on the transfer market.

The chances of seeing Ronaldinho arrive are thinning out day after day as the Brazilian seems set to extend his contract with Barcelona.

The Via Turati club are also still considering the options represented by Ronaldo and Fernando Torres, but neither of the two seem close to finalising a San Siro switch.

Ronaldo’s return to Italy seems more complicated after Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon said that the player wishes to stay in Spain.

The Fenomeno, who is not Ancelotti’s first choice, is scheduled to meet Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello in the next few days to clarify his position with the Merengues.

While Torres is considered as untransferable by Atletico Madrid and if he were to be sold, the club’s asking price of £28.5m for El Niño is deemed as excessive.

Iaquinta, now a world champion following Germany 2006, would represent an excellent alternative with Milan youngster Marco Borriello set to be included in any possible deal.

The 25-year-old Iaquinta has spent six seasons in Udine where he has netted 44 goals in 145 Serie A matches.

Sheva apologises for kiss
15.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has apologised to Milan fans for kissing his Chelsea shirt after scoring his first goal in England on Sunday.

The Ukrainian netted a temporary equaliser for the Stamford Bridge outfit in the 2-1 Community Shield defeat to Liverpool.

After rippling the net, Sheva opted to kiss his jersey just months after he ended his seven-year love affair with the Rossoneri.

“I had no intention of hurting the feelings of the Milan fans, the truth is that when I score a goal I lose my mind and I don’t know what I could do,” said the striker.

“I didn’t think I would cause any reaction to the Rossoneri faithful, the only jersey I really feel I should kiss is the one of my national team Ukraine.

“Aside from that, I am not the kind of player who tries to win the fans’ affection with weird gestures or ways of exulting,” added the former Dynamo Kiev hero.

“Milan was my family for seven years and I showed the supporters what I could on the pitch, that is exactly what I plan to do at Chelsea.”

Sheva’s former teammate Massimo Ambrosini, who is currently training with the Nazionale in Tirrenia, has invited everyone to remember that the Ukrainian is no longer a Milan player.

“The fans will be disappointed by his behaviour, but Sheva is a grown-up and he needs to take responsibility for his actions,” stated Ambrosini.

“We all need to accept that he does not play for Milan anymore,” added the midfielder who will captain the Azzurri on Wednesday.

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti was rather ironic about the incident. “It didn’t take him long to grow fond of his new outfit,” he said with a smile on his face.

Sheva completed his £31m move to Chelsea – where he signed a four-year contract – after winning the Ballon d’Or, Champions League, Scudetto, Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup and European Super Cup with the club.

The hitman was also Milan’s all-time second top scorer with 173 goals and was the 2005-06 Champions League leading marksman with nine goals.

AC Milan target Ronaldo to remain
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid chief Ramon Calderon believes Ronaldo will stay despite admitting that Milan are keen on the Brazilian.

“There has been contact with Milan,” stated Calderon after the Rossoneri missed out on both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo to Inter last week.

“We are talking about an extraordinary player, the best centre forward in the world and it’s logical that many teams are interested in him.

''Milan have contacted him, but I can say that he wants to stay here as he believes in the plans for the club.

“He has said this personally to me and we will accept his demands,” added the Merengues chief.

“Ronaldo is looking forward to playing next to Ruud Van Nistelrooy this term, he is very content here and I don’t think he is planning to leave.”

Despite Calderon’s comments, reports suggest that Milan officials are scheduled to meet their Spanish counterparts in order to understand if a transfer is feasible or not.

Ronaldo will face some fierce competition for a striking shirt in La Liga this season and has made no secret of his affection for the city of Milan, despite his stormy departure from Internazionale in 2002.

However, negotiations could be problematic given the frosty relationship between the two clubs at the present time.

The Italian side blasted Real for their numerous attempts in trying to sign Rossoneri sensation Kaka this summer.

The Brazilian was one of three players [the others being Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas and Arjen Robben of Chelsea] promised by Calderon during his election campaign in June.

However, the Spanish chief has now stated that none of the trio will arrive before the transfer window closes.

It is also unclear at this stage how much Ronaldo could cost Milan with valuations ranging from £11m to £21m.

Ronaldinho to snub AC Milan
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s hopes of signing Ronaldinho are about to end once and for all with reports suggesting he is on the verge of extending his Barca contract until 2014.

The Brazilian’s brother and agent Roberto de Assis is scheduled to meet Blaugrana sporting director Txiki Beguiristain next week to finalise all details regarding a renewal.

Milan expressed their interest in the former Paris Saint-Germain ace after the World Cup and have been planning to bring him to Italy for some time, despite the South American insisting that he would not leave Spain.

Ronaldinho, who has just returned to Catalonia after the pre-season tour of Mexico and the United States, is currently tied to the Liga outfit until 2010.

Although keen on extending for a further four years, talks regarding his £10m a year image rights are proving to be problematic.

Ronaldinho reportedly wants to stay in control of the rights while Barca are keen for him to hand them over in return for a significant increase in wages.

Only if a compromise can’t be reached could Milan swoop for the World Cup player as Barca chief Joan Laporta has suggested.

“Milan have asked for Ronaldinho and although he is not on sale, we have to treat him correctly and try to find a compromise between his needs and the needs of the club,” he told newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.

It’s understood that Silvio Berlusconi is ready to allow the Italian club to part with £57m in order to net the European Footballer of the Year.

The proposed deal would also see the attacking sensation sign a five-year deal worth £8.5m a season.

AC Milan suffer Deportivo loss
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan were defeated 3-1 by Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday in the final match of the Teresa Herrera Trophy.

The Rossoneri failed to impress and were a shadow of the team that had won against Atletico Madrid only the day before.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti fielded a 4-3-1-2 formation with Alessandro Costacurta guiding the defence and the striking duo of Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi.

The Spanish side scored six minutes into the game with former Milan player Fabricio Coloccini taking advantage of a mistake by the Rossoneri defence and easily sending the ball past Ferdinando Coppola, who replaced Dida for the evening.

Milan were assigned a penalty 23 minutes later when a cross by Serginho from the left ended up on Alberto Lopo’s arm and Kaka managed to temporarily equalise.

Four minutes later though and Deportivo took the lead again with Ivan Sanchez Riki as he netted a free-kick from the right with the help of some indecision by Coppola.

The second half was a relatively dull affair with few scoring opportunities after both sides made numerous changes.

Deportivo did manage to ripple the net with another free-kick, this time by Juan Rodriguez, to ensure that his side won the match 3-1.

The Spaniards went on to win the Teresa Herrera Trophy in front of their fans at the Riazor Stadium for the 14th time, the sixth edition in a row, whereas no Italian team has been able to win the tournament since Roma in 1984.

Milan will now rest for two days before returning to train in view of the Champions League preliminary match against Red Star Belgrade, scheduled for August 23.

The Rossoneri won the first leg 1-0 thanks to a Pippo Inzaghi goal.

Deportivo 3-1 Milan
Scorers: Coloccini 6 (D), Kaka 29 (M), Riki 33 (D), Rodriguez 93 (D)

Deportivo: Mackay; Barragán, Lopo, Arbeloa, Rodri; Sergio (Manuel Pablo 88), Coloccini; Arizmendi (Verdú 90), Juan Rodríguez (Iván Pérez 94), Riki (Cristian 84); Bodipo (De Guzmán 70)

Milan: Coppola; Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Serginho (Amoroso 77); Gattuso (Foggia 70), Pirlo, Seedorf (Jankulovski 72), Kaka; Inzaghi (Brocchi 46), Gilardino

Ref: Iturralde González

Sacchi sees Inter minefield
13.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Arrigo Sacchi has given his views on Calciopoli, Milan’s ticket to Europe and why Inter’s big spending risks seeing the team implode.

“In my view, the appeal verdicts caused a lot of confusion in Calciopoli,” explained the former Italy Coach.

“If a club is guilty of the accusations levelled at it, then its history and standing in the football community should count for nothing. They must be punished with the idea that justice is equal for all. In the same vein, if they are innocent then that’s all there is to it.”

Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina were originally demoted to Serie B when found guilty of sporting fraud, but after the appeal only the Bianconeri were effectively relegated.

“To me it resembled the usual Italian approach, combining the two verdicts to create a situation that pleased nobody. It’s true the scandal was treated with more determination than usual, but more could’ve been done.”

One of the clubs involved was Sacchi’s old hunting ground, Milan, as their 15-point penalty was halved to eight and they were controversially allowed back into the Champions League through the preliminary round.

“I think their situation represents the state football had turned into as a whole,” he told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’.

“The Milan I knew didn’t look for short-cuts. The only way to win was to play better than your opponents. However, in a situation where the rules clearly had no meaning anymore due to Luciano Moggi’s interference, I think someone in the club tried to protect them from being cheated out of results. This is why I hope Italian football can rediscover the spirit of that old Milan side, because that’s the way out of this mess.”

Inter were handed the 2005-06 Scudetto as a result of Calciopoli and proclaimed it “the title of honesty,” but it’s not a theory that sits well with Sacchi.

“I wouldn’t have assigned that title at all, because if the season was irregular, then it is in total. When a club takes on the leaders, they put in another kind of effort from when they’re playing the side in third place. I don’t consider Inter’s championship to be correct.”

The former Atletico Madrid Coach also had a warning for Roberto Mancini, whose side has been snapping up world class players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo, Patrick Vieira and Fabio Grosso this summer.

“Inter have to sell now, because they’re starting to have too many stars. To boast six strikers of that calibre is not only a slap in the face to those clubs struggling to get by, but it’s also a minefield in the locker room.”

It’s a situation Sacchi is familiar with from his time as a director at Real Madrid. There is an Italian feel to the Spanish side now that Fabio Capello and transfer guru Franco Baldini have taken over.

“I think Capello’s return to Madrid will be a winning one. He is capable and experienced, has already protected the defence with the arrival of Emerson and I think Mahamadou Diarra will join him. Florentino Perez left behind a very rich club – the positive side of transfer choices dictated by marketing. However, like Inter, Real will now have to start selling.”

Seedorf: AC Milan can win it all
13.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan must start the new season with an eight-point handicap, but Clarence Seedorf still believes they can win the Scudetto.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I don’t think Milan are dead and buried. We can fight and be competitive in every tournament,” insisted the Dutchman.

The penalty from the original Calciopoli verdict had been 15 points, but that was reduced to eight on appeal and the club was allowed in to the Champions League preliminary round.

It would seem their transfer strategy hangs on whether they’ll qualify for the European competition proper, as they currently lead Red Star Belgrade 1-0 and travel to Serbia on August 23.

“The club knows what to do and will make the necessary adjustments,” added Seedorf. “We did well against Red Star in the first leg, but will be in much better shape physically for the decider. The 1-0 win was a great result in the circumstances and we are convinced we can score an away goal, too.”

The delays have hit their transfer policy, though, as targets Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo were snapped up by rivals Inter this week.

Several other options to replace Andriy Shevchenko have been bandied about in the Press, from Atletico Madrid man Fernando Torres to former Nerazzurri star Ronaldo.

Ambro brings down Atletico
13.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan earned a prestigious 1-0 friendly victory away to Atletico Madrid thanks to Massimo Ambrosini’s lone strike.

The Rossoneri already impressed in their 1-0 Champions League preliminary round win against Red Star Belgrade earlier this week and continued their warm-up in the Teresa Herrera Trophy in La Coruna.

It was an even first half and the Italians improved after the break, taking the lead when Ambrosini turned in a Yoann Gourcuff corner kick from close range.

The midfielder was already celebrating his return to the Azzurri squad after two years with a call-up for the upcoming friendly test against Croatia.

Kaka played for the final 25 minutes and Milan seemed to be in control, especially as Fernando Torres – said to be a main transfer target for the San Siro side – was extremely quiet.

The tournament concludes on Sunday when Carlo Ancelotti’s men take on hosts Deportivo La Coruna. Atletico Madrid will play Uruguayan outfit Nacional Montevideo.

Milan 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Scorers: Ambrosini 51 (Mi)

Milan: Dida; Bonera, Simic, Favalli, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Vogel (Kaka 65), Ambrosini (Gattuso 74); Gourcuff (Cafu 80); Amoroso (Foggia 60), Borriello (Gilardino 84)
Atletico Madrid: Leo Franco; Seitaridis (Varela 57), Pablo, Perea, Pernìa; Maxi Rodriguez (Galletti 80), Luccin (Costinha 60), Gabi (Miguel 72), Petrov; Aguero (Mista 60), Torres
Ref: Rodriguez Santiago (Spa)

AC Milan prepare Torres swoop
12.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

After losing out on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo, Milan are aiming for Fernando Torres, although Kaka admits he’d prefer Ronaldo.

The Spanish youngster, who impressed at the World Cup this summer, has been linked with the Rossoneri for several years now and this might finally be the time to complete the transfer.

In the wake of Andriy Shevchenko’s £30m switch to Chelsea, the club has shown interest in a number of strikers, but Ibrahimovic and Crespo’s decision to join Inter this week left them empty-handed.

Atletico Madrid would be willing to release Fernando Torres for around £22m and it’s reported that director Ariedo Braida will meet with the Spaniards to discuss the move.

“We are in talks with Atletico and have been for some months,” explained the player in ‘As’ newspaper. “I always said the first club I’d talk to would be Atletico and we are negotiating to add another year to my contract, but I haven’t signed anything yet.”

The opportunity for negotiations is provided by the Teresa Herrera trophy, which will see Milan take on Atletico Madrid in La Coruna this evening.

However, their transfer policy is in stasis awaiting the second leg of their Champions League preliminary round tie with Red Star Belgrade. Carlo Ancelotti’s men currently lead 1-0 thanks to a Pippo Inzaghi goal.

Another option mentioned this week was a surprising bid for Real Madrid outcast Ronaldo, who would be available for just £10m. The idea did not please the majority of fans who remembered his Inter past, but at least one man would be content with the move.

“I would like him to come here, as he is a great player and a friend,” said Kaka. “I don’t know how good the chances are of Ronaldo arriving, so you’d have to ask the club that. I haven’t been able to speak to him over the past few days.”

Kobe Bryant almost became a soccer player
12.8 || webmaster

CHICAGO - Many U.S. soccer fans have wondered what would happen if the nation's best athletes played soccer, especially after seeing the United States' disappointing performance during this summer's World Cup

One of the athletes U.S. soccer fans dream about most actually dreamed about playing the sport himself.

When Kobe Bryant's father moved his family to Italy where he was playing pro basketball, then 6-year-old Kobe was introduced to soccer and the culture that came with it. Bryant often went to the parks in Italy to play basketball and would jump in on a game of soccer before hitting the basketball court.

"I wasn't anything spectacular," Bryant said. "I would have moments of doing something crazy that really wasn't done on purpose. I'd pull off a nice move that was unintentional.

"I started out at goalkeeper because my arms were so long and I didn't really have a good feel at handling the ball. As I practiced and progressed, they moved me to midfield."

The Bryants moved back to the United States in 1991. With few kids playing soccer in his Philadelphia neighborhood, Bryant turned his sports attention strictly to basketball.

Bryant never played high school soccer, but he credits his playing days in Italy for helping his basketball game.

"I'm comfortable (with basketball) footwork because I played soccer," said Bryant. "From changing up rhythms to foot speed, to being comfortable with having my right foot as my pivot foot and my left foot as my pivot foot."

Bryant entered the NBA straight from high school and has won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.

What would have happened if he had stayed in Italy?

"I would have kept playing (soccer) - that's for sure," Bryant said. "I loved basketball so much, but I also wanted to play for AC Milan. That was my team growing up."

Following AC Milan these days has been a challenge for Bryant with his schedule, but he says it's getting easier with the increase in Internet coverage and soccer channels.

Bryant attended the Brazil vs. Japan World Cup match this summer in Germany with his wife. He now hopes to attend an AC Milan match.

"To this day, I've never seen my team, AC Milan, play in person," Bryant said. "My mother never let me go to games in Europe. She'd say, `No, it's too violent. What happens if the fans go crazy and (you get) squished up against the fence?'"

On Saturday, Bryant emceed Nike's pep rally for FC Barcelona in Los Angeles. Bryant was unable to participate in the event's soccer activities because of a recent knee surgery, but he insists he can "still put it in the net."

Bryant and Barcelona star Ronaldinho met for the first time on stage at the event and exchanged phone numbers.

Imagine if Bryant met Ronaldinho under different circumstances this summer. Not on a stage in Hollywood, but on the world's biggest soccer stage in Germany.

"If myself, Tracy McGrady, and LeBron James had a soccer ball at our feet instead of a basketball at 2 years old, with our size, it could have been something," Bryant said. "If we had played soccer all our lives, I think (the U.S. soccer team) would have been pretty potent."

Suazo extends Cagliari deal
12.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

David Suazo was heavily linked with Milan and Manchester United, but he has extended his contract with Cagliari until 2010.

The Honduras international hitman impressed this season in Serie A with a club record 22 goals in 37 games.

This earned him a high profile and links with both Manchester United and Milan, but the £8m price-tag and his untested status in European competition seemed to put them off.

There was still interest, yet Suazo has opted to stay in Sardinia, extending his contract until June 30, 2010.

“There was pandemonium in the newspapers, but I never had any doubts over where I would be playing this year,” said Suazo.

“I have always remained relaxed and calm, so I spent the summer relaxing. I am staying at Cagliari and I’m very happy about that.”

It’s quite a coup for the club, who picked up the former Celano Olimpia forward in 1999, when he was just 19 years old.

Compared to George Weah amongst others, the pacey Suazo is now 26 and has scored 80 League goals between Serie A and B for the club in seven seasons.

AC Milan lodge Calciopoli appeal
11.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Despite claiming they wouldn’t appeal the eight-point handicap, Milan have confirmed they will enter the CONI Conciliation with the other Calciopoli clubs.

“Our objective is to shave off as many points as possible from that sentence,” explained lawyer Leandro Cantamessa. “Unfortunately, due to the time frame, there’s nothing we can do about being forced into the Champions League preliminary round. This is our final appeal, though, so we won’t be going to the TAR tribunal.”

The Rossoneri had originally been frozen out of Europe altogether and ordered to start the 2006-07 campaign with a 15-point penalty, but the appeal allowed them into the Champions League via the back door – they currently lead 1-0 over Red Star Belgrade ahead of the August 23 second leg – and cut the handicap to eight points.

Milan had hinted there would be no further legal action, but they are also now included in the CONI Conciliation and Arbitration Committee hearings on August 29.

Fiorentina (September 5), Lazio (September 5) and Juventus (August 18) will lodge their appeals to the same committee to have their Calciopoli punishments reduced.

Today it also emerged that Treviso have booked an appointment with the CONI to demand reinstatement to Serie A. The relegated club was allowed back in to the top flight when Fiorentina, Lazio and Juventus were demoted, but following the CAF’s sentence only the Bianconeri were pushed into Serie B.

If the Conciliation meetings fail to achieve the desired objectives, it’s likely these clubs will continue their legal battles in the Lazio TAR Tribunal.

Meanwhile, the second wave in the Calciopoli investigation has seen Reggina indicted and they risk demotion.

“We are innocent,” stated President Lillo Foti. “We didn’t commit the crime: this is the verdict we expect to hear. Reggina have within their soul the courage of honest, as we have proven over 20 years, not just on the field, but also in our day to day actions.”

Ronaldo next on AC Milan list
11.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are now pondering a swoop for Ronaldo after losing Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to city rivals Inter.

The Rossoneri are considering a bid for the Real Madrid striker, who has made no secret of his affection for the city of Milan, despite his stormy departure from Internazionale in 2002.

The Brazilian star is thought to be available for just £11m and has always been highly considered by Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti, even if his physical condition still needs to be verified after his disappointing performance at the 2006 World Cup.

Ronaldo, who is currently injured and has not taken part in Real’s pre-season tour of America, faces fierce competition for a striking shirt in Madrid after new boss Fabio Capello signed Ruud Van Nistelrooy from Manchester United.

The Liga club are willing to let the player go given his difficult relationship with the fans and despite the recent dispute with the Via Turati outfit over Kaka.

However, the Rossoneri have not yet ruled out the idea of signing Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid or Juventus scorer David Trezeguet.

Torres has been recently linked with Milan, but seems close to extending his contract with the Colchoneros instead.

The Spanish club though are also not willing to let the player leave for less than £21m, which makes Ronaldo an even more alluring option.

Trezeguet instead may not be available, as Juventus are doing their best to convince him not to leave the outfit after the mass departures following their relegation in Serie B.

Milan have also eyed David Suazo of Cagliari, Ajax striker Jan Huntelaar and Chelsea forward Didier Drogba.

They were also paired with Barcelona star Ronaldinho before the player confirmed his desire to stay in Spain.

Yorkshire MEP demands investigation againts AC Milan
11.8 || webmaster

A Yorkshire MEP has written to Uefa calling for an inquiry into the result of the 1973 Cup Winners' Cup final between Leeds United and AC Milan.

Richard Corbett said recent corruption in Italian football had prompted him.

He said the referee in the game was banned for life but Milan were allowed to keep the title, after winning 1-0.

"Uefa must investigate games like these and if Milan are discovered to have fixed the match, then Leeds should be awarded the trophy," he said.

His letter to Lars-Christer Olsson, Uefa's Chief Executive, expresses concern over the decision to admit AC Milan to the 2006/7 Champions League competition, despite the club being found guilty of attempting to influence domestic fixtures improperly.

He said the Italian Football Federation had also stripped Juventus of the titles it won over the last two years.

Such action would visibly and dramatically demonstrate Uefa's commitment to fair play

His letter went on: "Uefa should investigate not just the recent period but past events in which match fixing may have played a role, even as far back as AC Milan's win over Leeds United in the 1973 Cup Winners' Cup final.

"Such action would visibly and dramatically demonstrate Uefa's commitment to fair play and to taking breaches of it seriously.

"Failure to take visible action that demonstrates clearly to clubs, fans and the wider public that cheating will not succeed will leave football vulnerable to a slow corrosion of confidence in the game that will undermine its future."

Napoli to net Dalla Bona
10.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan owned midfielder Samuele Dalla Bona is on the verge of joining Serie B giants Napoli, his agent has stated.

“We’re on the last lap of negotiations,” Claudio Pasquali told Radio Kiss Kiss as rumours of a move gathered pace.

“There is a desire from all parties to close these talks by the end of this week,” added the representative.

“The prospect of moving down to the Second Division? Serie B will be very competitive this season, it will almost become a Serie A2.”

Napoli will be gunning for promotion along with demoted Juventus, newly promoted Genoa and Bologna in 2006-07.

Dalla Bona is understood to be keen on a switch after failing to really settle in Italian football following his move from Chelsea in 2002.

He joined Milan back then but has been subsequently loaned out to the likes of Bologna, Lecce and Sampdoria in recent seasons.

Dalla Bona, born in 1981, is currently training with the Rossoneri who last night beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 in the Champions League.

Kaka now staying for real
10.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Kaka has put the Real Madrid rumours behind him after he played in the Champions League last night.

The Brazilian appeared in the 1-0 win over Red Star Belgrade which will now probably bury reports of a Liga switch given that he would now be cup-tied in the competition.

“I have been affected by all of the transfer speculation,” the South American stated following the San Siro victory.

“I have not spoken to that many people in the last few days in order to not disturb my colleagues, but this Real saga has now finally come to an end.”

Milan moved a step closer to the group stages of the Champions League on Wednesday with a slim win, one which Kaka insists was the very least they deserved.

“We did waste a host of scoring opportunities, but we did all that we could do in the circumstances,” noted the attacking midfielder.

“[President Silvio] Berlusconi came down to the changing rooms and told us that we did well, even if we have the second leg to play.

“I would say that 1-0 is a positive result but not a great scoreline. We certainly know that it is not going to be easy in the return leg.”

Yet the fact that Milan were playing last night at all is hard to digest for the youngster after his club were demoted to third in last season’s championship as a result of the Calciopoli probe.

“We didn’t deserve to be forced to play at this stage of the competition,” he added.

“We struggled a little, but we proved ourselves to be protagonists and we will win back our place in the Champions League.”

Italian World Cup winner Pippo Inzaghi was the goal hero as he netted against the former European champions.

In the other Italian preliminary round Champions League clash, little Chievo lost 2-0 at Levski Sofia.

Ancelotti admires AC Milan strength
10.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is satisfied with Milan’s Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade in difficult circumstances.

“The team gave everything and played with good tempo for an hour, which was all we had considering the fitness preparation,” said Ancelotti after Pippo Inzaghi’s strike at San Siro.

The Rossoneri lead 1-0 over the Serbians after the first leg of the preliminary round – a tie the club had not prepared for.

They were set to enter the competition directly, then were eliminated from Europe altogether by the Calciopoli trial before an appeal gave them the key to this lower-ranking entry on July 25.

“We could’ve scored more goals and created plenty of chances, but in the circumstances it was a great result. We hope to be in even better shape for the second leg.”

This game also saw the debut of French summer signing Yoann Gourcuff, who is nicknamed ‘Petit Zidane’ in his homeland.

“Gourcuff is a very talented individual with some fascinating qualities. He’s a wonderful buy and a real Milan player.”

This was their 100th victory in the history of the European Cup and they hope to seal their passage to the competition proper after the second leg encounter on August 23.

AC Milan 1:0 Red Star Belgrade - match report
9.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Inzaghi 22 (M)

A goal from Pippo Inzaghi on his 33rd birthday gave Milan a 1-0 lead against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League preliminary round.

The Rossoneri had only a couple of weeks to prepare for this preliminary round at San Siro after the Calciopoli appeal revoked the earlier decision to rule them out of Europe altogether.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti had to do without the injured Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta, while new signing Daniele Bonera was suspended. Therefore 40-year-old Billy Costacurta led the defence and Kaka started behind Alberto Gilardino and 33rd birthday boy Pippo Inzaghi, effectively ending the rumours of a summer switch to Real Madrid for the Brazilian.

It was Red Star who had the first chance after 90 seconds when Costacurta was dispossessed, but Dida came to the rescue with a good save on a Georgiev Blagoy side-foot finish. Moments later Milan also threatened with Clarence Seedorf wasting two good opportunities created by Andrea Pirlo and Marcos Cafu, then Gilardino just failed to tap in a taut cross from the impressive Cafu.

The Brazilian veteran was in scintillating shape after the World Cup and Gilardino nodded his chipped assist straight at the goalkeeper. Kaka had a slow start, but after 19 minutes his change of pace left the defence stranded and a shot beaten away.

Milan eventually broke through with a splendid team goal finished off by the birthday boy. Some wonderful one-touch football came through to Gilardino and then Kaka, whose slide-rule pass found Super Pippo Inzaghi for the strike at the near post – his 53rd in European competition.

Inzaghi nearly made it 2-0 on the half-hour, but a pinball inside the area couldn’t find the final ricochet past a panicked Randelovic. Red Star were still dangerous on occasions with a Nikola Zigic header over the bar, but Milan were comfortable and Gaj was booked for hauling down Gennaro Gattuso when he had a clear run at goal. It was only a yellow card because the foul occurred just past the centre circle. A lucky deflection fell to Inzaghi, but his shot looped over off a defender.

The second half started in similar fashion with Pirlo’s long-range free kick beaten away, but Blagoy went close when his effort from outside the area skimmed the bar. Pirlo sent Cafu running and the goalkeeper somehow scrambled the ball away from Gilardino from six yards.

The former Parma striker is still looking for his first Champions League goal and wasted a great opportunity from point-blank range, spinning Kaka’s shot at the ‘keeper. Moments later Gilardino’s glancing header brought a fine one-handed save out of Randelovic, then the Belgrade shot-stopper denied Seedorf’s piledriver.

Massimo Ambrosini replaced Gilardino, pushing Kaka further up in support of Inzaghi for the closing stages, while Cristian Brocchi replaced the excellent Cafu and Yoann Gourcuff made his official Milan debut. Dario Simic’s woeful lobbed backpass almost got Dida into trouble, but Zigic fouled the Brazilian to let Milan off the hook.

Ancelotti’s side go to Belgrade on August 23 with a 1-0 lead, but it could’ve been so much more if their forwards had been a little more level-headed within sight of goal. Considering the brief period of time they had to prepare, it was an impressive overall performance in front of over 50,000 fans.

Scorer: Inzaghi 22 (M)

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Brocchi 79), Simic, Costacurta, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo (Gourcuff 81), Seedorf, Kaka; Inzaghi, Gilardino (Ambrosini 72)

Red Star Belgrade: Randelovic; Pantic, Bisevac, Gaj, Perovic (Tutoric 66); Basta, Kovacevic, Milovanovic (Dokic 81), Blagoy; Jankovic (Krivokapic 89); Zigic

Ref: Wegereef (Hol)

How to watch AC Milan vs. Red Star Belgrade live!
9.8 || webmaster

Source: The Red & Black Forums

Our forum member bill0621 has a series of posts detailing how to watch Milan's match live here:
Browse to post #616 and read from there. Excellent quality & English commentary!

Gattuso rallies 'robbed' Milan
9.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso has called on his Milan teammates to take back what was unfairly taken away from them in tonight’s Champions League clash.

The Rossoneri were ‘relegated’ from automatic entry into the group stages of the competition by the Calciopoli verdicts and were subsequently handed a tough test against Red Star Belgrade in the preliminaries.

“We have been deprived of something that we deserved and we must now fight to get it back,” said Italy’s World Cup hero.

“We were forced to interrupt our holidays and come back earlier to train for this match and we know that we are not as prepared as our opponents.

“We know of our present limits and will try to take advantage of our qualities, such as experience, technical skills and ball possession.”

A large crowd is expected at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza as over 42,000 tickets have been sold in the past few days.

“I am very proud of such a fact,” added Ringhio. “We will need all our supporters to cheer us on in this difficult match and I want to thank everyone starting from now.

“I know a lot is expected from me and the other world champions, but this does not worry me. I only want to work for my physical and mental well-being.”

Milan’s tenacious ball winner has admitted that he did consider leaving the Via Turati outfit after the 2005 Champions League Final loss to Liverpool, but does not consider that an option any more.

“I was not feeling well at the time and had decided that a change may do me good, but I then understood that the problem was not Milan, but myself,” he added.

“The club helped me a lot at the time and made me feel I was part of a family.”

The 28-year-old landed in Milan in 1999 after spells with Perugia, Glasgow Rangers and Salernitana.

He has won 41 caps for the Azzurri to date and was a symbol of the side which were crowned world champions during the summer.

Ancelotti slams UEFA 'head butt'
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims tomorrow’s Champions League preliminary round clash with Red Star Belgrade “shouldn’t have been played,” but prepares Kaka for duty.

Milan were originally removed from Europe as a result of the Calciopoli trial, but the appeal saw their penalties slashed and entrance into the competition put back on the table through the preliminary round.

However, UEFA almost rejected their candidacy, pointing out “grave misgivings” at allowing the move.

“UEFA’s comments were out of place, a bit like a Zinedine Zidane head butt,” said the Coach, who maintained their total innocence in the scandal.

“We had to rush back from our holidays to prepare for this tie, which was not on the schedule. The mood in the locker room is positive, as we know we did the best we could in the time allotted. We’re ready to play a game we shouldn’t have been forced into and will now try to win.”

The first leg will be played at San Siro tomorrow evening and Ancelotti must do without the suspended Daniele Bonera, while Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta are injured, with Marcos Cafu, Dario Simic and Serginho in doubt.

“Red Star are a side with great enthusiasm, good individual talents and the desire to do well, which goes some way to cancelling out their lack of international experience. Considering the situation, these are delicate matches, even if we’ll already have two weeks’ worth of training in our legs by the time the second encounter comes around. We must be wary of them raising the tempo, as it’d be a waste of precious energy.”

This game could also be decisive for Milan off the field, as the rumours of Kaka’s move to Real Madrid would be severely dented if he were to feature and become Cup-tied for the campaign.

“Kaka is ready for action and will probably play on Wednesday,” added the tactician.

Milan squad: Dida, Coppola, Kalac; Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Jankulovski, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Foggia, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kaka, Pirlo, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Borriello, Inzaghi, Gilardino

New Milan Calciopoli indictment
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Calciopoli trial isn’t over yet, as the club was indicted as part of the second wave of investigations.

Last night Reggina were indicted for sporting fraud after investigation into six games of the 2004-05 season. President Lillo Foti, former refereeing designator Paolo Bergamo and referees Pieri and Paolo Dondarini were also indicted by FIGC prosecutor Stefano Palazzi.

The area of the inquiry that relates to Milan, however, is that concerning Arezzo’s Serie B encounter with Salernitana that same season and a telephone conversation in which a linesman mentioned “holding back” Salernitana as they were attacking. Arezzo and three unnamed members of the club have been indicted.

Tonight it emerged that Milan were also on Palazzi’s list put forward to the sporting tribunal due to former referees’ liaison for the club Leonardo Meani.

Meani was the man responsible for wiretapped telephone calls that saw Milan stripped of their automatic Champions League qualifying place, the chance to win the 2005-06 Scudetto and ordered to begin the next season with an eight-point handicap.

“It is with immense amazement that AC Milan discovered they had been indicted for indirect responsibility for an alleged irregularity by Leonardo Meani, relating to an event that supposedly took place around Arezzo-Salernitana in 2004-05,” read an official statement from the club.

“This was a Serie B match and the personal behaviour of Meani could not in any way be considered official Milan business, as the Federal Court confirmed in its appeal hearing.”

The indictment is for failing to report an alleged irregularity to the authorities.

It has also been confirmed that Reggina's case will be heard on August 13 and Arezzo follow on Monday.

Milan in pole for Ibrahimovic
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus are ready to sell want-away striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Italian rivals Milan, reports are suggesting.

Stories circulating in the peninsula on Tuesday claim that the two clubs are in advanced negotiations and a switch may be imminent.

Ibrahimovic has made no secret of his desire to leave the Old Lady after relegation to Serie B and the Rossoneri now seem to be his only option after Hernan Crespo signed for Inter on Monday.

The Via Turati club now seemingly lead a solitary chase for the former Ajax man and are willing to bid up to £17.8m in their attempt to find Andriy Shevchenko’s successor.

The deal may be concluded in the next few days if the two clubs can finalise the economic details of the transfer.

The Bianconeri did set a shocking £28m price tag on Ibrahimovic’s head last week in the attempt to keep him in Turin, but they may now be willing to accept something around £21m.

The player himself is also set to accept a deal on Milan’s terms as they are offering him a £2.1m a season contract, whereas Ibra was hoping in a £3m deal.

The 24-year-old striker, dubbed as the new Marco Van Basten, was signed by La Vecchia Signora in 2004 for £11.5m.

Juventus chief executive Jean Claude Blanc had said on Monday he was still planning to have Ibrahimovic at the team’s disposal next season, despite his refusal to play in a friendly against Spezia on Friday.

Although Milan seem in a perfect position to bid, the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper is failing to rule out a late Inter offer.

The pink paper suggests that Nerazzurri officials will meet with Juve at some stage today in an effort to hijack the move. Inter are also keen on David Trezeguet.

Meanwhile, Ibra’s proposed move to Milan could represent the end of the war between Juventus and Milan and may also make goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s transfer to the Rossoneri outfit an easier task.

Inzaghi fears Red Star test
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi has conceded that Milan face a struggle in their Champions League game against Red Star Belgrade. “It’s harder than a Final,” he argued.

The two teams meet at the Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday and the difference in preparation between the sides is a cause for concern.

“It won’t be an easy task,” Inzaghi, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday tomorrow, told Milan Channel.

“Our opponents have been training for two months and have already started their national League, whereas we have had very little time together, but we will do our best.

“We know why we are here, but we now have the chance to earn a place in the next stage of the Champions League and this means a lot to us.”

The Rossoneri have been forced to take part in the preliminary round of the tournament after they were punished as part of the Calciopoli probe.

“We are all disappointed as Milan should not be in this scenario,” he argued. “We showed everyone what our value is on the pitch and the punishment is unfair.

“Now we can only accept the situation and do our best to win this preliminary round and overturn the eight-point deduction in Serie A next season.”

Inzaghi, like teammate Marcos Cafu, has also urged the Rossoneri faithful to turn up in large numbers for Wednesday’s tie.

“It’s very important for us to play the first game at San Siro and I trust in our fans, their support can be decisive,” he went on.

“We are not yet on top form, but we are a better team from a technical point of view and we will try to achieve this victory which is important for the club,” continued the former Juventus star.

Inzaghi added that the past victories of his teammates and himself would have a part to play in the outcome of the tie.

“When you are lucky enough to win a Scudetto, the Champions League or the World Cup you experience wonderful feelings,” he noted.

“Those feelings will always remind you of how nice it is to win, for yourself and for the team you play in. It will give you the strength you need to face every challenge with the right attitude.”

Dida paired with Corinthians
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida could be on the verge of joining Corinthians for the third time in his career.

Reports from South America this evening are suggesting that the international is wanted by the Brazilian club.

The 33-year-old, who recently appeared for his country at World Cup 2006, initially joined Corinthians in 1999 from Lugano before moving to the Rossoneri in 2000.

However, he was back at the South American club for the 2001-02 campaign on a loan deal from the Italian giants before returning to Serie A.

Dida’s future has been in doubt for some months seeing as he’s been unable to reach agreement with the San Siro club over a renewal.

The former Cruzeiro No 1 is only tied to the outfit until June 2007 which means Milan may look to cash in before he becomes a free agent.

However, a move will only occur if Milan sign Italian international Gigi Buffon from demoted giants Juventus.

Football Italia understands that is still a possibility even if Buffon has recently committed his future to the Bianconeri.

The supposed plan is that Milan will look to sign Marco Amelia from Livorno, but then immediately offer him to the Turin giants in a player plus cash deal.

Amelia is considered as one of the country’s most promising shot-stoppers and was part of the Azzurri’s successful World Cup squad.

Milan prepare Gallas bid
7.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are looking to tempt unhappy Chelsea defender William Gallas to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

After negotiations for Lazio’s Massimo Oddo stalled, mainly because of the £8.5m price tag set by President Claudio Lotito, the Via Turati outfit are now focusing on the 29-year-old.

Gallas failed to join his teammates for their pre-season get-together in Los Angeles and it seems unlikely that the player will remain at Stamford Bridge.

“I want to leave Chelsea, but it doesn’t only depend on me,” said the Frenchman and World Cup finalist.

“The club wants me to stay and we are discussing the situation, but there are several recent facts that I didn’t like at all, last but not least having to give my No 13 shirt to Michael Ballack.”

Arsenal have also expressed their interest in the versatile stopper, but Gallas will seemingly leave the Premiership.

“I will have to leave sooner or later and there are many other championships which are equally challenging,” he continued.

Gallas’ agent Pierre Frelot confirmed that Italy may be his client’s next destination, also considering that Chelsea would prefer not to sell the Frenchman to the Gunners who are one of their direct rivals.

Milan on the other hand have a very good relationship with the London club, confirmed by Andriy Shevchenko’s recent move across the Channel.

Gallas is contracted to Chelsea until 2007, but rumours of a Blues exit have been rife since before the end of last season.

Milan are expected to make an offer of approximately £7m depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s Champions League preliminary match against Red Star Belgrade.

The Rossoneri have already bought in two defenders this summer in the form of Giuseppe Favalli from Inter and Parma’s Daniele Bonera.

Angry Milan prepared, says Cafu
7.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu insists Milan will be ready for their Champions League qualifier against Red Star Belgrade despite their chaotic preparations for the tie.

Cafu is one of numerous players rushed back to pre-season training after the Calciopoli verdicts relegated them to third in last season’s standings and therefore forced them to qualify for the group stages of the European Cup.

Yet the Brazilian is optimistic ahead of Wednesday’s first leg clash at the Meazza even if he admits that he finds the club’s situation difficult to comprehend.

“We are ready for Wednesday’s match, we have been training and we hope we will be in an almost perfect shape for this very important event,” said the former Roma defender to Milan Channel.

“We know this is a crucial moment for the team, but we will face it with the right spirit,” added the World Cup player.

“We are angry as we have been forced to play this preliminary round because of the Calciopoli scandal.

“However, once we start the game I am sure we will leave that to one side and focus on the match.”

Although it is holiday season in Milan, the veteran has called on the Rossoneri faithful to play a decisive role during the first 90 minutes of the 2006-07 campaign.

“I know everyone is leaving for the seaside and the city is empty, but this is a very important match for our future in the Champions League,” he said. “I really hope the stadium will be packed.”

Cafu may not be part of the game, though, seeing as he is still struggling to find top form, yet another defender who will not be available for Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The first leg of the third round preliminary is scheduled for August 9, kick-off at 20:45 local time, and the referee will be Jan Wegereef from Holland.

Gourcuff eyes Milan debut
7.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan summer signing Yohann Gourcuff hopes his debut with the Italian giants will be imminent.

The Rossoneri are putting the finishing touches to their preparation in view of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Red Star Belgrade and the Frenchman is hoping to feature.

“It was very exciting for me to enter San Siro,” said the former Rennes starlet to Milan Channel after the squad trained on the Stadio Meazza turf.

“I am getting along with the rest of the team very well and I feel I already fit in,” continued the 20-year-old midfielder.

“Coach Carlo Ancelotti has told me to keep on working as I have until now and that is exactly what I plan to do.

“All of my teammates have made me welcome, especially Johann Vogel. He speaks my language and has been helping me a lot by giving me some good advice.”

The Frenchman, who in France was dubbed Petit Zidane, is hopeful there will be a chance for him in Wednesday’s match and is doing his best to impress Ancelotti.

The tactician tested the team on Sunday, assessing the conditions of both Milan’s attack and defence, and ended the training session with a friendly match.

Ancelotti’s main concerns surround the defence he will be able to field against the former European champions, who started their national championship with a 2-0 victory against Vozdovac on Saturday.

Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze, Alessandro Nesta, Marcos Cafu and Daniele Bonera are all unavailable and Dario Simic may not recover from his back sprain in time for Wednesday.

This may lead to Cristian Brocchi and Marek Jankulovski playing as full-backs and placing Alessandro Costacurta and Giuseppe Favalli in the centre of the Rossoneri defence.

Kaka - Real row flares up again
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani has again lashed out at Real Madrid’s attempts to poach Kaka and hopes the rumours can end with a Champions League appearance.

The Brazilian starlet was named as a new arrival even before President Ramon Calderon was elected to the Merengues Board, but extending his contract until 2010 and lodging an official complaint to FIFA have not stopped the rumours of an imminent £40m switch.

Spanish newspaper ‘As’ claims that transfer guru Predrag Mijatovic has been advising Kaka’s father, who also acts as his agent, on how to force Milan into a sale.

“On Wednesday Kaka will play for Milan in the Champions League and this story will be over,” said Rossoneri chief Galliani.

The Brazilian will feature in the Preliminary Round tie against Red Star Belgrade, which would Cup-tie him for the campaign.

“It is not normal that Calderon, Mijatovic and Franco Baldini talk continually of Kaka, because he is staying at San Siro. I have great respect for the history of that club, but not for their directors in this administration. They really aren’t worthy of such a world class side.”

Costacurta condemns Calciopoli
5.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Billy Costacurta believes Juventus should not have been demoted to Serie B for the Calciopoli scandal, but would gladly welcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the side.

“Juventus shouldn’t have gone to Serie B. The club was penalised too harshly, while the real people responsible didn’t pay as much as they should’ve. Those who ended up paying the price were the clubs, fans, sponsors and players. It’s all down to two people and the rule about indirect responsibility should be scrapped,” said the defender.

The Bianconeri were demoted, stripped of two titles and ordered to start the next season with a 17-point penalty. Lazio and Fiorentina were also originally sent to Serie B, but brought back up on appeal, while Milan’s penalty was cut from 15 points to eight.

The 2005-06 Scudetto was assigned to Inter by default after the shake-up, a decision that the long-time Rossoneri star supports.

“I think it was right to give the title to Inter, as in the light of the verdicts there was no other alternative, although in my view Milan deserved it more. I was irritated by Roberto Mancini’s comments, because it is not ‘The Scudetto of the honest people.’ It is a result created by the trial, nothing more. All the players are honest here.”

Juve’s demotion has seen many stars move away and Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to follow. Milan are said to be closing in on a deal for the Swede, who was fined by the Bianconeri for refusing to attend a friendly match on Friday.

“Should we sign Hernan Crespo or Ibrahimovic? I really like Hernan, but in football terms I am totally in love with Ibrahimovic. I have to say Gourcuff impressed me in training. I may be exaggerating, but he has a touch that reminds me of Zinedine Zidane.”

Milan’s adjusted punishment has allowed them to enter the Champions League, albeit from the preliminary round against Red Star Belgrade. UEFA’s Emergency Committee allowed the move, but pointed out they had grave reservations about letting the Rossoneri into the competition.

“The situation was compounded by some power play. Just think that Sepp Blatter is in charge of FIFA, so I can’t comment on him without saying something ungentlemanly. People more qualified than me said that UEFA’s statements were ridiculous, but I don’t think we’ll be penalised by referees in the Champions League because of it.”

Costacurta is 40 years old, but he’ll have to lead the defence in the first leg against Red Star at San Siro on Wednesday because Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Dario Simic and Marcos Cafu are out of action.

“I thought my Champions League career had ended with last season’s semi-final against Barcelona,” he smiled. “I am proud, but as a Milan supporter, I’d hope the best players were on the field.”

He has some frightening memories of Red Star, as the Rossoneri were almost eliminated from the European Cup at the Maracana in Belgrade 18 years ago before bad weather forced play to be suspended and a brawl broke out.

“I remember we scored a goal that wasn’t spotted by the referee, but then in the players’ tunnel there was a strange atmosphere with opponents and the police ganging up on us. We all felt very intimidated.”

Oddo wants Milan discount
5.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Massimo Oddo has not lost hope of joining Milan and has begged Lazio to lower their £8m asking price.

“Claudio Lotito is said to be asking for £8m to release me, but if Real Madrid paid just £5m for someone like Fabio Cannavaro, I don’t see why I should have such a price tag put on my head,” pointed out the full-back.

Oddo was one of Cannavaro’s World Cup winning teammates in Germany and has already set his sights on the club he wants to join this summer.

“Through thick and thin, I have always remained a Milan supporter,” admitted the 30-year-old. “On top of that, they are a world class club. It’s clearly obvious that I wouldn’t reject such an opportunity.”

The Rossoneri will begin the 2006-07 campaign with an eight-point penalty due to the Calciopoli scandal and must wait to see if they’ll enter the Champions League after their preliminary round tie with Red Star Belgrade.

In other transfer news, newly promoted Catania have officially signed Verona midfielder Giuseppe Colucci in a co-ownership deal. The 26-year-old has also worn the jerseys of Modena, Brescia, Reggina and Livorno.

Juve: We won't hold Ibrahimovic back
4.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli admits they won’t hold Zlatan Ibrahimovic against his will in Serie B.

The Swedish international has reiterated several times over the past few days that he has no intention of playing in the Second Division following the Calciopoli scandal and would prefer a switch to Milan or Inter.

“If we can get it into his head that staying with us would be a good idea and convince him of this, then Ibrahimovic will happily play a part in our project. Otherwise the situation would be more complicated,” Cobolli Gigli told Sky Italia.

The former Ajax star’s agent, Mino Raiola, told newspapers yesterday that he was willing to take legal action to extricate him from his contract with the Bianconeri.

“We could stage a battle and a player can be tied to a chair to keep him at a club, but his head is the main territory to be conquered,” continued the Juventus President.

“You can wage war with your body, but not with your mind. You need conviction to stay on. We require players who are determined and committed to us so they are willing to drain their last drop of sweat for the club.”

The situation between Ibrahimovic and Juventus is deteriorating, as he will not be fielded in tonight’s friendly test against Spezia, a side that has just earned promotion to Serie B. The striker remained at the Pinzolo training camp rather than making the trip to Rovereto and it is currently unclear whether it was due to a fitness problem or disciplinary action.

Milan face Champions emergency
4.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may have to face next week’s Champions League clash against Red Star Belgrade with an emergency defence.

Paolo Maldini, Kaka Kaladze and Alessandro Nesta are unavailable for the first leg of the Preliminary Round due to injuries, while Marcos Cafu has just returned from Brazil and is far from top form.

Newly signed Daniele Bonera will also be left out of the game at San Siro on August 9 because of a one-match ban from his time at Parma. The situation deteriorated today with Dario Simic suffering from back pain that makes it unlikely he’ll recover in time for Wednesday.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti will therefore be forced to field Cristian Brocchi and Marek Jankulovski as full-backs, with Alessandro Costacurta and Giuseppe Favalli in the centre of the Rossoneri defence.

Midfielder Brocchi, who just recently returned to Milan after one season with Fiorentina, will make his debut in a position that is totally new for the 30-year-old player, whereas Favalli will return to a role he already covered at both Lazio and Inter.

Czech international Jankulovski is at least familiar with the left-back demands, having regularly taken that position for his country.

Milan played their first summer friendly against Lecco on Wednesday, defeating the Serie C team 2-0, but the Rossoneri defence did not impress.

Qualification to the Champions League group stage is fundamental for the Via Turati outfit, sentenced to start the Serie A Championship with an eight-point deduction because of its involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.

Milan were only given the green light to enter the Champions League on Wednesday after the UEFA Emergency Panel admitted the club, although “deeply concerned” with the Italian scandal.

Ronaldinho snubs AC Milan interest
4.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazilian star Ronaldinho has rejected transfer links with Milan by insisting he will not be leaving Barcelona.

“Milan’s interest flattered me, it’s always nice to know that an important team is after you, but I am glad to be here and am only thinking about playing for this outfit,” said the Balon d’Or winner.

“I don’t know if there has been any contact with my brother [and agent], but all I have in my head now is training.

“The only thing I want to say to the Barcelona fans is that they need to be confident as I am, I want to continue winning with this team.

“Barcelona is the perfect place for me and nothing has changed," added the former Paris Sanit-Germain player.

The attacker added that he’s pleased with the new additions and believes that next season will be as successful as the past one, which ended with the Spanish title and the Champions League.

"We had a strong team and now we have made it stronger," said Ronaldinho, alluding to newly signed Eidur Gudjohnsen, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta.

The South American superstar, who has a contract with the Camp Nou giants until 2014, rejoined his teammates on Tuesday to begin their tour of Mexico and the United States.

Galliani refutes Ronaldinho talk
3.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has rejected suggestions that they are lining up an £85m bid for Ronaldinho.

At the end of the team’s first summer friendly against Lecco, Galliani answered the inevitable questions on the club’s interest in Ronaldinho. And his response was very clear: “The deal is impossible, so let’s stop joking.

“This story must end, I understand that papers need to please the readers, but now it’s enough.”

Nonetheless, Galliani’s denial may not correspond to the Via Turati club’s real intentions.

President Silvio Berlusconi is not willing to abandon the idea of signing the Brazilian star and Milan’s qualification to the Champions League group stage will be fundamental for the beginning of any negotiation with the 26-year-old Barcelona striker.

Galliani was also satisfied with the 2-0 win over Lecco ahead of next week’s Champions League qualifying match against Red Star Belgrade.

“The team seems fairly fit, also in consideration of the fact that we started our pre-season very late and had to review our plans after the appeal verdicts,” said Galliani.

“I am satisfied about this test, everyone has been working hard and you can see the results.

“Red Star Belgrade are at a further stage in their preparation, but we still have a week to train and this match was a good chance to test our conditions.”

Lens criticise Milan admission
3.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

French club Lens have criticised UEFA’s decision to admit Milan to the Champions League, but will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The French outfit, who finished fourth in Ligue 1 last term, had argued they should replace scandal-hit Milan after UEFA decided to further study the Rossoneri’s position on ethical grounds.

Director general Francis Collado was furious after Wednesday’s final verdict was confirmed, finding the reasons behind why UEFA failed to kick out the Italian outfit hard to digest.

“UEFA’s statement says that Milan were admitted only because of an insufficient legal basis in the regulations,” he said. “Where are the ethics?

“The Italian Football Federation organised a strange scheme to have Milan admitted in the Champions League, when it is clear they were responsible, as well as others, of in some way fixing the championship,” he added.

Lens President Gervais Martel was also very disappointed, as he argued that no Italian team should have been allowed to take part in the European competitions.

However, he has confirmed that his club would not appeal against the decision after previously hinting that would be an option they would consider.

Milan will now play former European champions Red Star Belgrade in the third qualifying round [first leg at San Siro on August 8], after the Serbian side completed a 4-0 aggregate win against Cork City.

Friendly: Lecco 1912 0:2 AC Milan
2.8 || webmaster


Milan's first friendly ends with a 2-0 victory against Lecco on the Rigamonti-Ceppi stadium. The scorers were Pippo Inzaghi in the first half and Marco Borrielo in the 41st minute of the second half.

Ibrahimovic to quit Juventus, says agent
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not changed his mind and still intends to leave demoted Juventus, his agent Mino Raiola has confirmed.

Coach Didier Deschamps has been trying hard to convince the Swede to stay as he looks to guide the side back to the top flight, but all his efforts have seemingly been useless.

“Ibra will very probably leave Turin,” said Raiola to Roman radio station Radio Radio on Wednesday.

“I can exclude that my client is interested in joining another club on a loan as that is a very difficult solution when dealing with such important players,” added the Juventino’s representative.

“The question here isn’t about choosing to play in the Champions League or not. In this case we are talking about Serie B and that makes a difference.”

The 25-year-old forward has been heavily linked with a move to one of the Milan outfits, but Premiership sides such as Manchester United and Tottenham have also shown they’re keen.

“There are both Italian and foreign clubs who are interested in the player, I can’t exclude any scenario at the time being,” concluded Raiola.

Juventus made a shocking valuation of £28m for their forward on Monday, seemingly in an effort to scare off any interested club.

However, it now looks like Ibrahimovic will be yet another player to leave the Old Lady after their Calciopoli relegation to Serie B.

UEFA verdict satisfies Milan
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa said the club expected the positive UEFA verdict and believed there was no alternative to the Rossoneri’s Champions League admission.

“We are innocent and we thought this was the only possible outcome of the Emergency Panel meeting,” Cantamessa told Milan Channel immediately after the decision was notified on Wednesday.

“The club was already handed down a disciplinary sanction despite our innocence, there was no way this could happen a second time.

“UEFA’s decision to further examine our position did not bother us, but the situation was not ideal for the team.

“Now we can finally concentrate on next week’s European Cup debut,” concluded Cantamessa.

The Rossoneri will play either Cork City or former European champions Red Star Belgrade in the third qualifying round, the latter leading 1-0 after the first leg.

UEFA have also revealed the motivations behind the decision, which may cause further reactions from the Via Turati club.

The Emergency Panel came to the conclusion that it had no choice but to admit Milan to the Champions League preliminaries “because of an insufficient legal basis in the regulations”, it said in a statement.

The governing body also stated that the admission was “far from being given with the utmost conviction, in the belief that Milan took advantage of the lack of legal grounds to refuse the club's admission” and said it would change its regulations as a result.

"The club has obviously not yet properly perceived the troubles it is in and the damage it already caused to European football," added the note.

Kaka wants Real, says Cicinho
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star and Real Madrid target Kaka would like to play for the Spanish giants, international teammate Cicinho has declared.

The Real full-back has spoken to his Seleçao buddy about the rumours, Spanish newspaper AS claims on Wednesday.

“I spoke to Kaka,” said Cicinho. “He preferred to not answer my direct question about his imminent arrival in Madrid.

“But everyone wishes to play in a prestigious team such as ours and Kaka’s case is not any different.

“If his transfer were to be finalised it would be a major improvement for the side,” added the South American.

“There are very few players who are capable of keeping their cool in the penalty area as he does.”

Rumours linking Kaka with Real Madrid began prior to the World Cup and have resulted in a verbal war between Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani and Merengues chief Ramon Calderon.

The 24-year-old Kaka and his agent father have denied the constant reports coming out of Spain regarding his proposed Real future.

Milan insist that the young attacking midfielder is not transferable and recently extended his contract until 2001.

More from UEFA on their decision
2.8 || webmaster

UEFA's Emergency Panel has admitted AC Milan to the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Consequently, the Italian club will play against either FK Crvena Zvezda or Cork City FC as per the draw made last Friday at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon.

UEFA statement
A UEFA statement issued on Wednesday read as follows:

“Having examined the request of the Italian Football Association (FIGC) to register AC Milan for the UEFA Champions League 2006/07, the submissions of the Chief Disciplinary Inspector of UEFA, and the statements of AC Milan and the FIGC, the UEFA Emergency Panel has today admitted AC Milan to participate in the third qualifying round of the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League. As a result, the Italian club plays the two legs of the competition's third qualifying round as drawn on 28 July 2006 in Nyon.

"The UEFA Emergency Panel, being competent to decide on this matter, came to the conclusion that it had no choice but to admit AC Milan for the UEFA club competitions 2006/07 for formal reasons because of an insufficient legal basis in the regulations which would allow not admitting AC Milan under the specific circumstances.

"The UEFA Emergency Panel made a clear statement to the club that 'this admission is far from being given with the utmost conviction. AC Milan takes the advantage of the fact that UEFA lacks of legal grounds to refuse the club’s admission. In this respect, AC Milan is herewith informed that the necessary adaptations will be made to the Regulations concerned. The UEFA Emergency Panel is deeply concerned that AC Milan has created the impression of being involved in the improper influencing of the regular course of matches in the Italian football championship'.

"From the statement of AC Milan, the Panel concluded that 'the club has obviously not yet properly perceived the troubles it is in and the damage it already caused to European football. UEFA and the club's opponents will observe with the utmost attention the future attitude of AC Milan around UEFA club competition fixtures. UEFA will not hesitate to intervene severely, should AC Milan be involved in any activities aiming to arrange improperly the outcome of a match.'

OFFICIAL: UEFA allows AC Milan into Europe!
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have been allowed to take part in this season’s Champions League, UEFA have confirmed on Wednesday.

European football’s governing body were considering expelling the club from the competition on ethical grounds after they were punished as part of the Calciopoli probe.

However, after an emergency meeting, UEFA have given the Italian outfit the green light to enter the competition.

Milan were relegated to third in last season’s final Serie A standings and handed an eight-point penalty for the 2006-07 campaign.

The Rossoneri will play either Cork City or Red Star Belgrade in the third qualifying round next week.

OFFICIAL: New season delayed
1.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Italian Football League have confirmed that the new Serie A season will now kick off on September 10.

The fresh campaign was originally scheduled to start on August 27, but that date has been deemed as unrealistic given another summer of controversy in Italian football.

Due to the various appeals with regard to the initial Calciopoli sentences and the threat of another tribunal hearing involving more clubs, the new season’s start date has been delayed by two weeks.

Serie A will start on September 10 and come to a conclusion on May 27, 2007. Serie B will begin on September 9 and end on June 10, 2007.

There will be four midweek fixtures in the First Division and four Sunday breaks in the schedule as a result of international commitments and Christmas.

The Coppa Italia will kick-off on August 19, with the two legged Finals set for April 18 and May 9, 2007.

The Italian Super Cup Final between newly crowned Italian champions Inter and Roma, last season’s Coppa runners-up, will be played on August 26.

Serie A
Starts: September 10, 2006
Ends: May 27, 2007

Midweek games:
Wednesday September 20, 2006
Wednesday October 25, 2006
Wednesday December 20, 2006
Wednesday February 28, 2007

Rest days:
Sunday October 8, 2006
Sunday December 31, 2006
Sunday January 7, 2007
Sunday March 25, 2007

Serie B
Starts: September 9, 2006
Ends: June 10, 2007

Ancelotti expects European entry
1.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful UEFA will allow Milan to play in the Champions League, but knows that the Rossoneri will not face an easy task on the field of play.

Milan’s Coach believes that his team has already suffered enough and anxiously awaits UEFA’s Emergency Panel decision, which is due on Wednesday, following the club’s involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.

“We are optimistic about our chances of playing next week’s match [August 8],” said Ancelotti. “UEFA’s decision can only be a positive one.

“We have already been disturbed enough in our training, so we will wait for the verdict with a smile on our faces.

“We are sure the outcome of the meeting will be in our favour,” continued the Rossoneri boss on Tuesday.

“In the meantime we will continue our preparation in view of the preliminary round [against Red Star Belgrade or Cork City], which won’t be easy.

“We will be missing three central defenders in the shape of Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini and Kakha Kaladze, as well as Marcos Cafu.” New signing Daniele Bonera is also suspended.

Wednesday’s friendly with Lecco will be a good outing for Milan, allowing Ancelotti to test his men’s progress.

“We were forced to change our plans because of the appeal verdicts and many players had to race back to Milanello from their holidays to start pre-season training,” added the ex-Parma and Juve tactician.

“It wasn’t easy for the internationals to interrupt their vacations, but they didn’t complain and started working hard, knowing that our European debut on August 8 is very important for the club.

“It will be impossible to field a perfectly fit team next week, but luckily football is not only about physical condition.

“Motivation, experience and enthusiasm are just as important and we have plenty of those. We absolutely want to win,” concluded the former midfielder.

Milan still want Juve duo
1.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are still trying to sign the Juventus pair of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gianluigi Buffon, reports in Italy are insisting.

Although the Turin giants have insisted that nobody else would be sold once Patrick Vieira quits the outfit, Ibrahimovic and Buffon could now seemingly follow.

“Ibrahimovic will stay in Turin,” chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc stated. “We know we will need a very strong team, even in Serie B.

"Patrick Vieira's departure for Inter, which was finalised on Tuesday morning, will be the last operation done by Juventus this summer.”

However, reports suggest that Rossoneri club officials met the Swedish striker’s agent Mino Raiola in Milan, who confirmed Ibra’s interest in leaving the Bianconeri.

Milan will also allegedly try to sign the Azzurri goalkeeper, a fact that goes some way to explaining why the Old Lady are being linked with £7m rated Livorno ‘keeper Marco Amelia today.

Milan’s move for the Juventus duo may take some time to complete and further developments will depend on UEFA’s Emergency Panel decision on Wednesday.

If the Panel allows Milan’s participation in next season’s Champions League preliminaries, the Via Turati outfit will place an offer that is likely to be somewhere in the region of £50m for both players.

Ibrahimovic alone was given a £28m price tag on Monday, presumably in an effort to scare off both Milan and Internazionale.

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