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The Archive

October 2003

AC Milan vs Juventus - preview
31.10 || scharatz

The two most successful teams in Serie A history have faced off several times over the last few months, but now they engage in a duel for the top of the table.

Last week Milan’s crushing 3-0 win at Sampdoria placed them in pole position on goal difference after sharing the leadership with Juventus for much of the campaign. Both sides are unbeaten and between them so far have netted 33 goals.

Over the last year the two teams have clashed for the Champions’ League, Italian Supercup and Serie A, but the games have always been very closely matched and it would take a brave man to place a bet on this result.

Juve’s usually rock-solid defence has been leaking goals, keeping just two clean sheets in all competitions this season, while former Bianconeri hero Pippo Inzaghi returns from a thigh injury to partner current Serie A top scorer Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian has a habit of netting against the Turin giants and once scored the goal of the season against Gianluigi Buffon in this fixture.

The Rossoneri are constantly adapting their squad from week to week, able to use Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka’ in the same line-up or letting them battle it out for a single supporting role. Explosive winger Serginho is currently being used as a left-back to balance out Marcos Cafu on the right, so with the Juve defence lacking something in pace and Gianluca Zambrotta playing a similar role this could be a useful tactic on Saturday night.

Juventus have won the last two Italian titles and have never started so strongly with six wins and a hard-fought draw against Roma. Alessandro Del Piero has an outside chance of featuring after a lightning recovery from a torn calf muscle, but is more likely to be left out in favour of Marco Di Vaio and David Trezeguet.

Edgar Davids or Stephan Appiah can be chosen for a fierce midfield duel with Gennaro Gattuso, but one man particularly eager to make his mark is Pavel Nedved. The Czech international is a firm favourite to lift the Balon d’Or and was devastated when forced to miss the Champions’ League Final due to a one-match ban. He will get his chance to face Milan now and hopes to replicate the stunning goal he netted against Brescia last week.

Milan (probable): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaka; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

Juventus (probable): Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara, Legrotagglie, Zambrotta; Tacchinardi, Appiah, Davids, Nedved; Di Vaio, Trezeguet

Milan to lose Kaka?
31.10 || scharatz

Milan ace Kaka is at the centre of a club versus country row that could see him miss key games for the Rossoneri.

The attacking midfielder is wanted by Brazil for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Chile but Milan don’t want to release him for the January event.

It was believed that the South American giants would not call up the youngster at Milan’s request but that now doesn’t seem likely.

"We’ll only leave him out if FIFA change some of their rules over the next few months," warned Brazilian official Americo Faria.

The problems don’t finish there for the European Champions after three of their players were called up for Brazil’s November friendlies.

Goalkeeper Dida, Marcos Cafu and Rivaldo have all been included in the squad by boss Alberto Parreira.

Rivaldo has surprisingly been selected despite the fact that he continues to be ignored by Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"The international stage is the perfect place for Rivaldo to show his skills," said Parreira. "He will be very motivated to play well."

San Siro Pitch gets makeover
30.10 || Seamus

The much maligned San Siro pitch is being given a makeover ahead of Milan's clash with Juventus on Saturday night.

The central area of the pitch is being replaced by turf imported from France, with five trucks having delivered 1,500 square metres of grass from Bordeaux.

Several players have complained about the state of the surface this season, with AS Roma's Francesco Totti describing it as 'scandalous' on Sunday.

We have more quality than Juve - Nesta
30.10 || Seamus

Milan defender Alessandro Nesta says that his side have more quality than Juventus ahead of Saturday night's big clash.

"In terms of prestige it will give more conviction to the side that wins," he told Tuttosport. "Tactically it will be very equal and the key to who will win will come down to individual players. Juve have great spirit but we have the better quality."

Maldini after significant win
30.10 || Seamus

A win against Juventus on Saturday would be worth more than just three points according to Milan ace Paolo Maldini.

"We are playing for first place in Serie A but the game will be much more important for the mind," said the legend.

"Whoever wins will acquire a feeling of superiority over the defeated side even if in reality that may not be the case.

"This is a clash that could boost morale for the winner because beating your nearest rival will convince you of the strength of your team."

Maldini, who is set to play in his 720th game for the Rossoneri, will also come up against his Golden Ball rival Pavel Nedved.

"It is a race that I would be delighted to win," he continued. "However, if I’m not named the European Footballer of the Year then I’ll get over it.

"Especially as a few days later I will be playing in the Intercontinental Final against Boca Juniors.

"Winning trophies with my teammates are my real objectives. Targets that can be reached with our performances on the field of play."

Meanwhile, teammate Andrea Pirlo feels that next week’s game against Brugges is more crucial than the Juve tie.

"Our Champions’ League game in Belgium is more delicate after they beat us at the San Siro," stated the Italian.

"But we must try to delay any thoughts about the European Cup tie until after the game against Juventus."

Milan track attacking duo
30.10 || Seamus

Italian giants Milan have revealed the names of two strikers who they are keeping a close eye on.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Luis Fabiano plus Fabio Bazzani in recent months and Vice-president Adriano Galliani has confirmed Milan’s interest.

"Fabiano isn’t a specific target but we are following his progress in Brazil," stated the San Siro chief.

"While I really like Bazzani after his performances this season," he added. "He’s a real Milan fan too."

Fabiano is a 23-year-old striker who is catching the eye in South America with Sao Paulo. He’s also been linked with Inter.

As for Bazzani, he’s made an excellent start to the season with Samp. The 27-year-old first hit the headlines in Italy with Perugia.

Meanwhile, Palmeiras are being associated with a January swoop for the unsettled Rivaldo

The Brazilian, who has won two League titles and a Coppa Libertadores with the club in the past, is set to leave Milan in January after failing to break into the first team.

Shev eyes century mark
29.10 || Seamus

Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko says he’s looking to score his 100th goal for the club against Juventus on Saturday.

The Ukrainian moved to 99 strikes for the Rossoneri last week when he scored twice in the 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

And now he’s looking to reach the magical hundred mark after just four seasons with the San Siro outfit.

"It would be wonderful if I could complete this great achievement with a goal against Juventus," said the international.

"However, I’m not too keen on statistics. It seems as if my teammates are more interested in the landmark than I am."

The two sides have met each other frequently in recent months after their battles in the Champions’ League and the Italian Super Cup.

But now they are battling for solitary leadership in Serie A as they both have 19 points from their first seven games.

"Milan are as strong as Juventus," he added. "That was the case last season too even if they won the Scudetto and reached the Champions’ League Final."

Although confident of Milan’s ability, Shev admits that he does fear a certain member of the Juve side.

"Pavel Nedved is an extraordinary player," he added. "One of the few men in the world that can make the difference. It will be tough to stop him."

Shev was also questioned about his future. "I have three years left on my contract and I would love to end my career here," he added.

"But for that to happen then I must be certain that I can still be of real use to this club in the years to come."

Milan: Tom not for sale
29.10 || Seamus

Italian giants Milan insist that they have no plans to sell Jon Dahl Tomasson in January.

"Milan have never taken into consideration the possible sale or swap of Tomasson," stated Vice-president Adriano Galliani.

"The Danish international is a key member of this football club and he is not available for transfer."

Tomasson has been at the centre of numerous transfer stories in recent times after failing to command a first team shirt at the San Siro.

He was heavily associated with a switch to Juventus in the summer in a possible swap with Marco Di Vaio.

Over the past few weeks he has been linked with a move to Bologna but he has denied those stories.

While reports yesterday insisted that Barcelona could be a possible destination for the former Feyenoord player in the New Year.

Milan monitoring Alex situation
28.10 || Seamus

Milan are watching closely the contract talks between Alex and his club Santos.

The player is keen to gain parity with the other big players at the Brazilian outfit, and may decide to ask for a move if his demands aren't met.

Milan's Leonardo has apparently recommended the 21-year-old defender to vice-president Adriano Galliani.

Defensive Serginho impresses
28.10 || scharatz

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti says he is willing to keep playing Serginho at left-back after his display against Sampdoria.

The Brazilian midfielder was again fielded at full-back on Sunday and impressed the tactician in the 3-0 victory.

"Serginho struggled to adapt to the role at first because he prefers to play further up the field," said the former Italian international.

"But he is growing in that position and is giving his very best in order to succeed. If he keeps playing like that then I couldn’t care less whether he likes playing there or not."

The left-back role has been a problem area for the Rossoneri so far this season and numerous men have been fielded there.

Kakha Kaladze, Billy Costacurta and Giuseppe Pancaro have all been used in that position during recent months.

Tomasson rejects Bologna talk
27.10 || scharatz

Milan forward Jon Dahl Tomasson has dismissed speculation that he is on the verge of a move to Bologna.

"I think I’ve already been sold around 15 times this season according to the newspapers," said the Dane.

"Let me say it again, I’m very happy at Milan. I’m not joining Bologna or any other club in the near future.

"I’ve already scored twice in the League and I just want to be ready when boss Carlo Ancelotti needs me."

Although the Dane scored in the 3-0 win over Samp yesterday, he has never maintained a regular first team shirt at Milan.

He joined the Italian giants on a free transfer from Feyenoord after the 2002 World Cup Finals.

Sampdoria 0:3 AC Milan - report
26.10 || scharatz

Tomasson 38 (M), Shevchenko 59, 91 (M)
Stadio Luigi Ferraris

Milan were forced to do without the injured Pippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo, while Carlo Ancelotti opted to rest Kaka' in favour of Clarence Seedorf and Jon Dahl Tomasson. The Rossoneri needed a win to stay top alongside Juventus and recover from the shock 1-0 midweek defeat to Club Brugge.

Samp gave Japanese international Atsushi Yanagisawa a rare start in place of the disappointing Cristiano Doni. The home side had a great chance to take the lead on 15 minutes when Dida fumbled under pressure from Francesco Flachi and Yanagisawa fired straight at the 'keeper.

Milan gradually increased the pressure and ex-Rossoneri goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli flew to palm out a curling Manuel Rui Costa effort.

Ancelotti's men almost scored with a spectacular Andriy Shevchenko effort, but Carrozzieri was able to head it clear as it whistled towards the top corner.

Tomasson was given a starting spot after Inzaghi's injury and the Dane gave them the lead just before half-time. Dario Simic outsprinted his marker and clipped in a cross for Tomasson's foot.

Milan doubled their lead just before the hour mark with a wonderful team move. Serginho and Tomasson combined before a low cross was swept in for Shevchenko's accurate finish.

Samp made several changes to increase their attacking potential, but Cristiano Doni's effort was wayward and Tomasson nodded another opportunity wide on Rui Costa's centre.

The Dane then saw a goal disallowed for an offside position and Antonioli saved another Rui Costa effort.

Shevchenko made it 3-0 in stoppage time with a close-range header on substitute Kaka's sweeping cross.

Sampdoria: Antonioli; Sacchetti, Carrozzieri, Falcone, Bettarini; Diana, Volpi, Palombo (Doni 56), Yanagisawa (Zivkovic 46); Bazzani, Flachi (Colombo 63)

Milan: Dida; Simic (Pancaro 73), Maldini, Nesta, Serginho (Laursen 89); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Kaka' 83); Rui Costa; Tomasson, Shevchenko

Ref: Rosetti

Ancelotti calls for 'real' Milan
26.10 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has urged his side to beat Sampdoria with a show of force in order to silence the doubters.

“I think the defeat to Club Brugge was merely a blip,” insisted the Milan Coach, “but this next game will be the test of that theory.”

The Rossoneri are the reigning European Champions, but have always struggled to see off the smaller sides.

“Our first disappointing performance of the season was the 0-0 at Celta Vigo, but we must ensure this is just a worrying moment rather than a trend.”

Sampdoria have won only once so far this season despite their star-studded squad that includes ex-Milan men Massimo Donati and Francesco Antonioli.

“The Blucerchiati have always played well against the big teams and deserve more points than they have. This is an organised squad that will close down all the spaces, so we must learn to create that extra room.”

Much has been said on Ancelotti’s recent decisions, in particular leaving Manuel Rui Costa on the bench in favour of youngster Kaka’.

“I fielded the same men against Bruges as those who had beaten Inter and Lazio because they had played well and looked fit,” he explained.

“Some players are tired and will therefore be rested for this trip to Genoa. Rivaldo and Pippo Inzaghi have not been called as they are struggling with muscular injuries.”

Sampdoria vs. AC Milan - preview
25.10 || scharatz

Milan must win in order to stay level with Juventus at the top of the table and face a tricky trip to Marassi.

The Rossoneri are one of only three teams to remain unbeaten so far this season, but have struggled somewhat outside the San Siro. Held to a 1-1 draw by Perugia and struggling to see off Ancona, so this will be a real test of their title ambitions.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side has always found life difficult against the smaller clubs and must turn that trend around if he is to take the Serie A crown. The team could still be affected by the controversy surrounding their 1-0 win over Lazio and their midweek Champions’ League test with Club Brugge. Kakha Kaladze, Massimo Ambrosini and Rivaldo are doubts for this game due to minor injury worries, but Manuel Rui Costa may find his way back into the side in place of Kaka’.

Sampdoria are slowly but surely making their way up the standings with a series of improving results. Last week’s 1-1 draw at Chievo proved they are an organised set-up with a wild card in attacking winger Aimo Diana. The former Reggina man is their second top scorer with two goals and his prowess from distance make him a danger for the Milan defence. Fabio Bazzani and Francesco Flachi should be the starting strikers, although Massimo Marazzina has recovered from an injury to battle for his place.

Inzaghi sits out Sampdoria game
25.10 || scharatz

Pippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo will not step on to the field against Sampdoria this Sunday after picking up injury worries.

The Italian international was set to start at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but pulled a right thigh muscle during the final training session.

Club doctors suggest he stay on at the Milanello camp to perform specialist exercises and physiotherapy.

Rivaldo is also out of action for the trip to Genoa after suffering yet another muscular problem.

The Brazilian has barely featured for the Rossoneri this season due to a series of setbacks.

Therefore it is likely that Danish World Cup star Jon Dahl Tomasson will start alongside Andriy Shevchenko tomorrow afternoon.

There are also reports that Kaka’ will be partnered by Manuel Rui Costa in a more creative midfield after the Portuguese hero was left on the bench for the midweek defeat to Club Brugge.

Ancelotti: Luck favoured Belgians
22.10 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti believes his Milan side was unlucky in its shock 1-0 home defeat to Club Brugge.

“We didn’t score and that is the most important thing in football,” noted the Champions’ League winning Coach. “It would have been a different game had we been able to break the deadlock.”

The Belgians managed to inflict the first European defeat since last season’s Group stage.

Even more remarkable, Peruvian hitman Andres Mendoza scored the first goal conceded by Milan since the 1-1 semi-final 2nd leg with Inter.

“It wasn’t a great performance,” admitted Ancelotti, “but we had enough chances to score and just couldn’t get that ball in the net.”

“Once Bruges took the lead they managed to sit back even more and we were forced into long-range shots as all our cross-field passes were closed down.”

Once again the tempo seemed to be too slow at the San Siro and Kaka’ was not on fine form.

“Physically the team is fine and this is the same side that managed to beat Inter and Lazio in the last ten days.”

Crucially, the midfield was missing both the suspended Gennaro Gattuso and his injured replacement Massimo Ambrosini.

Milan were leading Group H going into this game, but Ajax now leap up to first place following their 1-0 win over Celta Vigo.

“The Group is not compromised, but clearly we need to win in Belgium. We certainly will try to achieve that and break away from our closest opponents.”

The Rossoneri now face two trips to the Low Countries, with Club Brugge and Ajax away.

AC Milan 0:1 Club Brugge - report
22.10 || scharatz

Mendoza 32 (B)

The reigning European Champions were shocked at the San Siro by Belgians Club Brugge.

Milan were expected to field Manuel Rui Costa in the same midfield line-up with Kaka', but Coach Carlo Ancelotti opted to play the young Brazilian in the driving seat. Gennaro Gattuso is suspended and Massimo Ambrosini injured, so Christian Brocchi was drafted in to act as the midfield battler.

The Rossoneri had a good start and a desperate B Martens intervention prevented Kaka' making the most of a good Clarence Seedorf assist after just four minutes.

Pippo Inzaghi saw an early goal disallowed for an offside position, but the flag was raised incorrectly for another chance during the opening 15 minutes.

Inzaghi was lively and ran on to a wonderful Marcos Cafu through ball, but failed to keep his shot down as the goalkeeper ran out to narrow the angle.

The pressure on the Belgian goal increased as Andrea Pirlo blasted a powerful effort inches over the bar.

However, Bruges tried to take advantage of the counter-attack and Dida punched away a De Coeck shot.

It was a warning sign and on 32 minutes the Belgians took a shock lead with Mendoza. The South American sprung the offside trap out wide on the left and drilled an unstoppable drive with the outside of his left foot into the far corner.

Milan poured forward with even more vehemance in search of an equaliser, Seedorf's fierce effort skimming the woodwork, but this left even more room to counter-attack in.

Ancelotti's men came out for the second half with all guns blazing and goalkeeper Verlinden performed a magnificent save on Pirlo's free kick.

Soon after Inzaghi somehow ballooned over from less than six yards after a corner kick was floated into the box.

The disappointing Seedorf then found space, but saw his effort fingertipped over the bar, while Andriy Shevchenko fired over from close range.

Ancelotti made changes and introduced Serginho and Manuel Rui Costa to introduce some more creativity.

The Portuguese international created a good chance within seconds of taking the field, but his chip was fingertipped over.

There was controversy on 64 minutes when Inzaghi fell under pressure from a defender, but the referee awarded Bruges a free kick for an offside position.

The five-man Belgian defence held on well and Jon Dahl Tomasson was the final gamble to replace a disappointing Shevchenko.

However, the Dane fired a horrible finish over the bar from the edge of the box.

In fact, Bruges substitute Saeternes almost netted a second for the visitors when his angled drive skimmed the far post.

Belgian goalkeeper Verlinden had a great performance and punched out another dipping long-range Rui Costa effort as it turned into a siege, but it was all to no avail.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf (Serginho 61), Kakà (Rui Costa 61); Shevchenko (Tomasson 76), Inzaghi

Club Brugge: Verlinden; De Coeck, Clement, B Martens, Van Der Heyden, Rozehnal; Simons, Ceh (Stoica 92); Gvozdenovic, Mendoza (Saeternes 78), S Martens (Verheyen 78)

Ref: Henning (Nor)

AC Milan vs. Club Brugge - preview
22.10 || Seamus

European Champions AC Milan host Club Brugge of Belgium at the San Siro stadium on Wednesday night in a game they home side will look to take all three points from. With a double-header against the Belgians on the line, Milan will hope to take maximum points from both games to secure qualification to the knock-out stages as early as possible.

But, Club Brugge are not going to roll-over and die for Milan. As Milan coach very correctly pointed out earlier this evening, Club Brugge have been impressive this year, no more so in their elimination of Borussia Dortmund in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, an action that condemned the German side's players into taking massive pay cuts. "Brugge are an organised and solid team, they are very strong physically, and without a doubt they are dangerous," noted Ancelotti in a press conference at the training complex at Carnago.

Milan are without Gennaro Gattuso who is still suspended. Kakha Kaladze and Massimo Ambrosini also miss out after failing to recover from injuries. Ancelotti will likely play Rui Costa in his place on the right while deploying Brazilian sensation Kakà in the middle of the park. Cafu will keep his place at right back ahead of Dario Simic while Guiseppe Pancaro replaces Kaladze on the left. Brazilian Rivaldo may make a second-half appearance.

Brugge welcome back Andés Mendoza and Sandy Martens back from suspension and the latter will take up his place in attack at the expense of the disappointing Bengt Sæternes. The combination of young and old, Alin Stoica and Gert Verheyen will provide the guile from midfield to fuel the Brugge attacks.

Milan last 6: WDWDWW
Milan have not lost a game all season. They are sitting top of Serie A having dropped only two points in their five games so far, those away to a feisty Perugia side when Milan were reduced to ten men with a good thirty minutes to go. The European Cup holders have collected four points in the Champions League thus far having beaten Ajax at home and held to a goalless draw away to Celta, and are top of the group. Their most outstanding form however, has come of late as they have beaten both arch-rivals Inter and Lazio with attractive displays of football.

Club Brugge last 6: DLWLDW
After opening their Champions League account with a home draw against Celta, Trond Sollied's men produced one convincing performance against Beveren in between two losses versus St Truiden and Ajax. Their form has picked up since then however as a hard-fought 1-1 draw against league-leaders and rivals Anderlecht was followed by a 4-0 drubbing of mid-table side Westerlo. However, it may be noted that Brugge have not yet netted a goal in Champions League, their only goal coming from an error from the opposition.

Milan (4-3-1-2): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Rui Costa, Pirlo, Kakà; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

Club Brugge (4-3-2-1): Butina; De Cock, Rozenhal, Clement, Van der Heyden; Cornelis, Simons, Gvozdenovic; Verheyen, Stoica; Martens

Ancelotti wants Brugge double
22.10 || scharatz

Milan’s next two games against Brugge will be crucial for their Champions’ League qualification according to boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The Rossoneri face the Belgian outfit this evening after picking up four points from their opening two games.

"These games against Brugge will be very important indeed," said Ancelotti. "I want us to wrap up qualification before the last game of the group.

"I really don’t want to be facing Celta Vigo needing a victory on the eve of our trip to Japan for the Intercontinental Cup."

Milan will start tonight’s clash as clear favourites for the win but Ancelotti is taking nothing for granted.

"We are playing a side that is very well organised and very strong physically," he warned. "They knocked out Borussia Dortmund so they will be respected."

The Rossoneri will be without the suspended Gennaro Gattuso this evening, so his place is set to be taken by Cristian Brocchi.

Whispers also suggest that Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa will be fielded simultaneously with Clarence Seedorf dropped to the bench.

Gattuso blasts scandalous San Siro pitch
21.10 || scharatz

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso believes something must be done to fix the San Siro pitch.

"It is simply scandalous. It seems like we are playing on a beach and our legs are continuously at risk," said 'Ringhio'.

"I don't want to offend anyone and I hope that nobody gets offended because I am always close to those who work, but this is my belief," he added.

The San Siro has continuously suffered from bad pitch conditions since the third level was added to the legendary stadium for the 1990 World Cup.

Kakà has Olympic dream
20.10 || Seamus

AC Milan starlet Kakà has expressed his desire to feature in the upcoming Athens 2004 Olympic games.

"The Olympics are an important goal for me. Let's see what AC Milan and the Brazilian federation decide this December. I think it is up to them to resolve the dispute," said Kakà.

AC Milan do not want the player to participate in the monumental event, but the Brazilian federation are very keen to claim the prestigious gold medal in the country where it all began.

Opinion: The best and the rest in week 6
20.10 || Seamus

Italian based reporter Dominque Antognoni highlights which individuals are on a high and a low after the Week 6 games.

The best…

Gennaro Gattuso (Milan)
Chelsea’s Claude Makelele is a dwarf compared to today’s Gennaro Gattuso. Even Edgar Davids hasn’t got the spark which the Milan man has. Gattuso retrieves balls in every corner of the pitch and has made incredible progress in recent seasons. He deserves the appreciation that the Rossoneri fans illustrate every time he touches the ball.

Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus)
He’s the best left-back in circulation. An immense athlete, Zambrotta is also catching the eye for his tactical sense of positioning. It is as if he’s been a defender for all of his life. Last year we criticised Marcello Lippi for ‘robbing’ Italian football of a winger but the tactician seems to have been proved right.

Daniele De Rossi (Roma)
His piece of skill, just before he crossed the ball for Walter Samuel to open the scoring against Parma, was a joy to watch. He controlled the ball as if he was Diego Maradona, he moved away from the defender as if he was Thierry Henry. This boy will go a long way, even if talk of a call-up for Euro 2004 may be too premature. He’s now a first team regular with Roma in Serie A at the age of 20. That says everything.

The rest…

Fabio Cannavaro (Inter)
Inter decided to keep him in the summer instead of buying Cristian Chivu from Ajax. But we are still waiting to see the very best from the Italian defender. He was beaten far too easily by Andrea Caracciolo, who is no Ruud Van Nistelrooy, at Brescia on Saturday.

Dejan Stankovic (Lazio)
He’s undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in circulation but he is not making the difference for his team this season. A player of his ability should really be more instrumental than he was against Milan on Sunday.

Francesco Toldo (Inter)
Everyone makes mistakes but Francesco Toldo has made a few in recent weeks. He doesn’t seem secure between the sticks anymore and he was at fault for gifting Roberto Baggio the opener in the 2-2 draw at Brescia. A player of his quality and experience should really know better.

Pirlo: We deserved win
20.10 || scharatz

Milan’s win over Lazio last night was the right result according to Rossoneri goal hero Andrea Pirlo.

The capital club considered themselves unlucky to lose after having a Dejan Stankovic goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.

However, Pirlo maintains that the best team won at the San Siro as Milan joined Juventus at the top of the table.

"It was an important game and we managed to win it," said the former Inter man. "I think it was the right result.

"We were far more superior to Lazio in the second half. We could have easily doubled our lead but that doesn’t matter as we still won."

Pirlo, who recently extended his contract until 2008, is now a key player at the club which was one of the reasons why Demetrio Albertini was allowed to leave.

The latter faced his former club on Sunday evening and was given a wonderful reception by the home fans.

A banner read: ‘Milan are in your heart, you are in our heart…Thank you Demetrio.’

The midfielder played 293 League games for Milan, where he managed to score 22 goals. He joined Lazio this summer after a loan spell with Atletico Madrid.

AC Milan 1:0 SS Lazio - report
19.10 || scharatz

Pirlo 37 (M)

Andrea Pirlo's lone strike ensures Milan stay top alongside Juventus, but Lazio have reason for complaint at this controversial victory.

Milan and Lazio are two of the main contenders for the Scudetto this season and perhaps even more importantly play some of Serie A's most entertaining football.

Rivaldo was not even called for this game, while Manuel Rui Costa was pushed on to the bench by a bout of flu and the remarkable form of Kaka'. Ex-Lazio stars Alessandro Nesta and Giuseppe Pancaro started in defence.

This was a very special day for Demetrio Albertini, as he returned to the San Siro as an opponent for the first time following fourteen years in the Rossoneri jersey. The veteran midfielder has found a new lease of life at Lazio and was seen warmly greeting his former teammates before kick-off. The fans also reserved a special welcome with a giant banner that read 'Grazie Demetrio'.

The visitors had a very aggressive start and created a great chance after just four minutes. A sweeping Stefano Fiore cross was nodded wide by Claudio Lopez, although the Argentine really should have done better from that position.

A tricky Sinisa Mihajlovic corner caused havoc in the Milan defence soon after as Roberto Mancini's men kept the pressure on.

The Rossoneri fought back and a taut Andriy Shevchenko cross just whistled past Pippo Inzaghi's outstretched foot on the six-yard box.

Lazio thought they had broken the deadlock on 16 minutes, but the goal was disallowed for a very controversial offside ruling. Bernardo Corradi cut back for Dejan Stankovic to sweep in from close range. However, replays show that the Serbian midfielder was clearly behind the ball and therefore could not be considered offside, but the goal was nonetheless disallowed.

It was a very open game and on the half-hour mark Fernando Couto performed an acrobatic clearance on a corner kick as Pancaro prepared to pounce.

The deadlock was eventually broken in chaotic circumstances. A series of shots were beaten away by defenders and Angelo Peruzzi before Andrea Pirlo fired in from six yards.

This goal lifted Milan's confidence and Marcos Cafu blasted wide from a good position.

Lazio threw on Italian international Massimo Oddo for the second half, pushing Jaap Stam into the centre of defence.

There was further controversy when Cafu handled in the box, but the referee judged it to be involuntary as the ball took a wayward bounce off his thigh.

Milan also protested when Shevchenko claimed he was pushed off the ball by Giuseppe Favalli, but it seemed to be a valid challenge.

There were early chances for both sides and Peruzzi performed a stunning reaction save on Pancaro after a Pirlo free kick was swept into the box.

Gennaro Gattuso almost scored a wonder goal moments later as his piledriver curled inches wide of the far post.

Lazio began to pour forward in search of an equaliser and it took a great Stam intervention to prevent Shevchenko scoring on the counter-attack.

Claudio Lopez had been on poor form this season and wasted a golden opportunity on the hour mark, firing straight at Dida when he had broken through the centre.

The Biancocelesti needed more firepower and replaced ex-Milan legend Albertini with Pippo Inzaghi's little brother Simone, pushing Lopez out wide on the left.

Dida punched out a couple of trademark Mihajlovic free kicks, while Kaka' curled a good chance wide and Peruzzi palmed away a fierce Shevchenko drive.

Mancini gambled in the final minutes with a fourth striker, Roberto Muzzi, as Milan were beginning to control the tempo.

As Lazio poured forward they left massive spaces at the back and with two minutes left on the clock Milan wasted a double opportunity to seal the scoreline. An unmarked Shevchenko hit the woodwork of an open goal and Kaka's follow-up was cleared off the line by Oddo.

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Simic 85), Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko (Serginho 91), F Inzaghi (Laursen 92)

Lazio: Peruzzi; Stam, Couto (Oddo 46), Mihajlovic, Favalli; Fiore (Muzzi 82), Albertini (S Inzaghi 63), Dabo, Stankovic; Corradi, Lopez

Ref: Racalbuto

Ancelotti: Lazio is a real test
19.10 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti claims that Lazio are a tougher test of their Scudetto potential than local rivals Inter.

“I think Milan are in good condition right now,” noted the Coach, “and we must seek consistency by repeating our derby performance.”

“However, Lazio will be tougher to face as they have more attacking options with several free kick specialists and good headers of the ball.”

That 3-1 derby win a fortnight ago kept the Rossoneri level on top of the table alongside Juventus.

Brazilian Kaka’ will retain his place behind the front two of Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi.

“He is certainly on form at the moment,” continued Ancelotti, “but there will be times when Manuel Rui Costa will take the reins of that midfield. It is a long hard season and there will be room for everybody.”

Except perhaps Rivaldo, as the veteran has again not even been called up for this Serie A game.

This week linked heavily with Tottenham and Liverpool, the World Cup winner is not part of the 21-man squad due to the presence of Under-21 starlet Marco Borriello.

Rivaldo is not the only star name to have been pushed out under Ancelotti’s tenure, as Demetrio Albertini left Milan in bitter circumstances.

“The fact that Demetrio and I were once teammates did not affect my tactical decisions,” assured the former midfielder.

“It was nothing personal. I merely preferred to give the nod to those who worked so hard last season and took this side to success.”

Albertini will be particularly eager to prove his point when stepping back into the San Siro with a Lazio shirt on his back.

The Milan squad for tonight’s game:

Gk: Abbiati, Dida
D: Cafu, Costacurta, Laursen, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic
M: Brocchi, Gattuso, Kakà, Pirlo, Redondo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho
F: Borriello, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson

AC Milan vs. SS Lazio - preview
18.10 || scharatz

Leaders Milan are on Cloud Nine after winning the derby, but face another tough test with Roberto Mancini’s all-attack Lazio outfit.

This was a very entertaining tie last season and saw the Rossoneri fight back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Fireworks are expected again in the San Siro with two sides that put the emphasis on creativity and finding space.

Following his fine performance and goal against Inter, Brazilian youngster Kaka’ is likely to retain his place behind Andriy Shevchenko and Azzurri hero Pippo Inzaghi. There is the possibility that Carlo Ancelotti will experiment with Kaka’ and Manuel Rui Costa together, a line-up that took them to a 3-0 win over Lecce, but with Lazio’s counter-attack capabilities it could be a dangerous gamble.

Alessandro Nesta and Giuseppe Pancaro will be facing their former club and both will start as Kakha Kaladze remains sidelined with a knee injury. There is another tricky tactical choice between the attacking Marcos Cafu, accustomed to testing Lazio in the Rome derby, and the more solid Dario Simic at right-back, while Serginho is another midfield option to give Milan more width.

Mancini’s Lazio base much of their forward momentum on the wings and Sergio Conceicao has recovered from an ankle problem. Cesar fractured his left foot for the second time in two months and will be sidelined for another eight weeks, so Italian international fullback Massimo Oddo may be pushed up to a midfield role. Simone Inzaghi is on fine form at the moment and can finally face his older brother on the playing field, pushing the disappointing Claudio Lopez on to the bench.

This will be a particularly emotional evening for Demetrio Albertini, making his first return to the San Siro as an opponent. The veteran midfielder spent 14 years in a red and black shirt, pausing only for last season’s loan spell at Atletico Madrid.

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka’; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

Lazio (probable): Peruzzi; Stam, Couto, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Fiore, Albertini, Stankovic, Oddo; Inzaghi, Corradi

Maldini honours Baresi for Balon d'Or
18.10 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini insists he will share the honour of the Golden Ball award with former teammate Franco Baresi.

“If I win this trophy,” said the veteran defender, “then I will share it with Baresi. For all that he did in his career, he certainly deserved it.”

The critics of the Balon d’Or often cite the fact that giants of the game such as Maldini and Baresi have never won.

Baresi is no longer eligible after his retirement, but his protégé is among the front-runners following a season in which he lifted the Champions’ League and Coppa Italia.

This week will see the captain play his 716th game with a Rossoneri shirt, matching the record set by Baresi.

However, the legendary figure has again reiterated that his international career is well and truly over.

“I do miss the Azzurri jersey,” admitted Maldini, “but I have made my decision. I must also point out that there are no problems with the Coach or the players. It is a purely personal decision.”

Giovanni Trapattoni had hinted that Maldini might come out of retirement for the Euro 2004 tournament.

Pirlo extends Milan deal
16.10 || Seamus

Andrea Pirlo has committed his future to Milan by agreeing to extend his contract with the Italian giants.

The midfielder has today put pen to paper on a new deal which will keep him at the San Siro until 2008.

The Brescia youth product arrived at Milan in the summer of 2001 after an unhappy spell at rivals Inter.

The former Under-21 international captain did have a tough start to his Milan career after he failed to break into the first team.

But that all changed last season after he was transformed from an attacking midfielder to a deep midfielder playmaker by boss Carlo Ancelotti.

It proved to be a highly successful move and the 23-year-old even broke into the Azzurri side playing in that role last term.

Pirlo dreaming of Portugal
16.10 || scharatz

Milan star Andrea Pirlo has set his eyes on being a part of Italy’s squad in next summer’s European Championships.

The former Under-21 international did feature in some of the Azzurri’s early qualifiers before he lost his place in the set-up.

"I am dreaming about playing at Euro 2004," he told the official Milan website. "But if I want to go there then I will have to play well for Milan first.

"Hopefully I can convince Trap to recall me even if I am well aware that those who played instead of me did an excellent job."

Pirlo was converted to a deep central midfield playmaker last summer which did see him used by Trap.

However, the national boss now prefers to play with Inter’s Cristiano Zanetti and Simone Perrotta of Chievo after their encouraging displays over the last 12 months.

"I am still improving though," continued the former Brescia player. "I am getting more experienced in the role and not making as many errors.

"In the last few months I have taken a step forward and I now lose the ball on far fewer occasions than I did in the past."

Maldini rejects Azzurri return
16.10 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini insists that he has no interest in coming out of international retirement for Euro 2004.

"Nothing has changed for me at all," said the Milan stopper who didn’t want to comment further on the subject.

Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni was still hoping to tempt Maldini back after the Azzurri’s recent qualification for Portugal next summer.

"I’ve never abandoned the hope of having Maldini at my disposal again," said the tactician on Tuesday.

"A few months ago we told each other that we would talk more in the future. I would say there is a 50-50 chance of seeing him in the national colours again."

The Milan legend, winner of 126 caps, quit the Azzurri scene after the 2002 World Cup but Trap wants him to be part of his Euro 2004 plans.

Maldini’s teammate Billy Costacurta also believes that we will never see Maldini play for his country again.

"I think he will stick with his initial decision," said the defender. "In all honesty, another European Championship won’t make any difference to Maldini’s career."

Trap wants Maldini back
14.10 || scharatz

Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni is still hoping to tempt Paolo Maldini out of international retirement.

The Milan legend, winner of 126 caps, quit the Azzurri scene after the 2002 World Cup but Trap wants him to be part of his Euro 2004 plans.

"I’ve never abandoned the hope of having Maldini at my disposal again," said the tactician on Tuesday.

"A few months ago we told each other that we would talk more in the future. I would say there is a 50-50 chance of seeing him in the national colours again."

The 35-year-old continues to be a rock for the Rossoneri defence and Trap believes he should be rewarded for his performances.

"I would give him the Golden Ball," he added. "He has won a lot in his career and deserves recognition for what he has achieved."

Italy booked their place at the European Championships over the weekend with a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan.

Bookmakers have them as second favourites but the Azzurri could be drawn in a group of death as they are unlikely to be one of the top four seeds with UEFA.

"We would have to meet a top team sooner or later anyway," said Trap. "We just need to believe in our own quality.

"A team to avoid? I would say Portugal even if we must just concentrate on our strengths."

Milan dismiss Fabiano claim
14.10 || scharatz

Milan chief Adriano Galliani has rubbished rumours that they are about to sign Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano.

The Sao Paulo player has been linked with the Rossoneri where he could team up with former teammate Kaka.

"I don’t know anything about these stories," said the Vice-president. "He is a good player but so are many other Brazilians."

There were claims that Milan could have started talks for the 23-year-old last summer when they clinched the capture of Kaka.

"We did sign Kaka from the same club but that doesn’t mean that we have a right to all of their players," he added. "These stories are unfounded."

Galliani was also asked about the future of Selecao star Rivaldo who has hinted at a Premiership switch.

"He will definitely stay with us until January, then we’ll see," he said.

Rivaldo did in fact terminate his contract with Milan last month before deciding to stay just 48 hours later.

Seedorf: Maldini is Golden
10.10 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini is the only candidate to win the 2003 Golden Ball according to Milan teammate Clarence Seedorf.

"The right man to award that trophy to is Maldini," said the Dutchman. "My captain really does deserve that honour.

"In all honesty, he should have already won it in the past. He can’t end his career without being named as the European Footballer of the Year."

The Italian legend is definitely a contender after winning the Champions’ League even if he faces stiff competition from Pavel Nedved of Juventus amongst others.

Seedorf too played a key role in Milan’s European Cup triumph last term but he has his eye on other honours this time around.

"The Scudetto is what we are after and I was expecting us to be as strong as we are illustrating so far this season," he added.

"We have improved a lot since last year. We are all aware of our strength and how to make the most of it."

Seedorf was also asked to comment on his thoughts on diving in the aftermath of the Gianluca Zambrotta incident last week, when the Juventus man ‘earned’ a penalty.

"I’ll fall to the ground only if I’m fouled," he added. "Maybe the fourth official should get more involved to help the referee make decisions."

Milan are top attackers
8.10 || Seamus

A statistical analysis of the opening five games of the season has found that Milan aim more shots on goal than any other team.

The Rossoneri have notched up 75 efforts on the frame of the goal, at an average of 15 per game.

The two Roman clubs are the next most attacking, while Juventus and surprisingly relegation strugglers Lecce follow.

Lazio registered 71 attempts on goal, then Roma with 70, reigning Champions Juve on 67 and the Southerners with a creditable 64.

The critics have poured scorn on Hector Cuper’s tactics and the statistics seem to back them up.

The Nerazzurri have scored only four goals in five Serie A games and had a total of 57 shots on goal.

With an average of 11.4 attempts for every match, that puts the Scudetto contenders in seventh place.

The least attacking team in the top flight is Modena with just 34 scoring opportunities, almost matched by Bologna’s tally of 35.

Nesta hails super Milan
8.10 || Seamus

Milan stopper Alessandro Nesta maintains that his side can still improve on their impressive destruction of Inter.

The Rossoneri have been heavily praised for their 3-1 derby win on Sunday but Nesta is promising even more.

"You’ve still not seen anything yet," stated the international stopper. "I’m convinced that this side can still offer something extra.

"I won’t compare us to the Gullit and Van Basten side because that was a different era. But this current Milan is one of the greatest."

One of the real positives since the start of the season so far is the form of Brazilian attacking midfielder Kaka.

He joined the club from Sao Paulo in the summer and he is proving an instant hit with the fans and his teammates.

"He is still a very young player but the fact that he is offering so much already signifies that he will be very important for us in the future," added Nesta.

"I don’t know whether we can label him as a superstar already but he certainly has the ability to become one."

Kaka Rejected Massive Chelsea Deal - Galliani
8.10 || Seamus

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has revealed that playmaker Kaka rejected a move to Chelsea.

"He lost out on a huge amount of money in order to join us because Abramovich offered him a mammoth contract," he said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He continued: "One of our scouts in Brazil sent us a video tape of him when he was just 18. We never lost sight of him. He's born to be our number 10 and soon he'll be one of the best players in the world.

"Basically we were forced to sign him immediately after the player revealed that negotiations had taken place.

"I have to thank the Sao Paulo president Marcelo Portugal who stuck to his word and was not influenced by the pounds, but also Kaka, who earns less at Milan than he would have earned in London.

"Everyone wanted Beckham but the English player would not have fitted in Milan's DNA.

"In our DNA there is a great number 10 and it is Kaka."

Galliani also stated that three bids for other Rossoneri players have been made in the last two years: "In 2001 Real Madrid made us an offer for Andriy Shevchenko but we didn't even evaluate it.

"Then last summer Abramovich offered us 50m Euros for Shevchenko and also Alessandro Nesta.

"Years before, (Manchester United manager Sir Alex) Ferguson proposed almost anything on several occasions to take Maldini to Manchester."

Gattuso Defends Zambrotta And Criticises Italian Football Culture
8.10 || Seamus

Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has hit out at Italian football, and defended Gianluca Zambrotta who was criticised for allegedly diving to win a penalty against Bologna on Sunday.

"At the end of the game they make you trot out the same old phrases, 'Great match, we played well, it could have gone better', the usual rubbish. So I applaud Zambrotta for having the courage to say the things he did," Gattuso told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Should he have spoken out in the game? Of course, but it's not easy. Your team mates would look on it very badly. They would have signalled for you to shut up."

He continued: "Here in Italy I see lots of balls kicked out of play to help an opponent who's gone down injured.

"I have the impression that lots of coaches are studying this from a tactical point of view: I've seen too many dangerous attacks stopped all of a sudden because an opponent has gone down on the pitch.

"It only happens in Italy. Let's follow the example set abroad, starting in England, where they don't pretend and they don't cheat.

"Over here everyone complains: (Perugia president) Gaucci says he's owed three penalties, strikers claim they're fouled too often.

"If they're right, they should be protected. But if they're wrong and if they cheat, they should be punished."

Serie A Week 5: Best Eleven Of The Week
7.10 || Seamus

Generoso Rossi (Siena)-Denies Roma the win with two spectacular saves.

Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)-A perfect game for the Rossonero captain against city rivals Inter.

Sinisa Mihajlovic (Lazio)-His goal got Lazio out of a difficult situation and cleared the word 'crisis' from Mancini's interviews, at least for this week.

Walter Samuel (AS Roma)-Solid as a rock once again. Tried to help Roma's off-form offense as well.

Marco Marchionni (Parma)-Gave Sampdoria an extremely hard time down the left wing.

Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan)-Confirmed he plays his best in the matches that mean the most. A warrior.

Omar Milanetto (Modena)-He owned the midfield against Empoli. Deserved to score off the spot, and did.

Kakà (AC Milan)-First Milan derby, one goal. Gets better every week.

Dino Fava (Udinese)-Last year's Serie B top-scorer hit the net twice in his Serie A debut from the starting whistle.

Nicola Amoruso (Modena)-Holds the entire Canarini offense on his shoulders after Balotta's red card.

Andrea Caracciolo (Brescia)-His first Serie A hat-trick downs Lecce and hands the Rondinelle their first win of the season.

Sheva committed to Milan
6.10 || scharatz

Star striker Andriy Shevchenko says that he is ready to end his career with Italian giants Milan.

The Ukrainian international made the admission when asked to comment on Alex Del Piero’s decision to extend his contract with Juventus until 2008.

"If Adriano Galliani offered me the same kind of deal then I would obviously immediately accept to sign," said the forward.

Shevchenko, who scored in the 3-1 win over Inter last night, arrived at the San Siro in 1999 at the age of 23 and has excelled in the peninsula.

"This is the one and only club for me in Italy," added the former Dinamo Kiev ace.

"If I was forced to leave here then I would probably go to another European country or return to Kiev."

Shevchenko has made a stunning start to the season and there are signs that his partnership with Pippo Inzaghi is finally working.

"We are proving to everyone that we can co-exist," said the forward after the victory over Inter on Sunday. "The important thing for us both is that we are 100 per cent fit."

Ancelotti: It was a triumph
5.10 || scharatz

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti can enjoy the fruits of his tactical gamble in the 3-1 victory over Inter.

“Everything went well tonight,” said the Rossoneri boss after taking a tactical gamble. “This was not an easy choice, but Kaka’ is the kind of player who could have taken more advantage of the space left by Inter.”

Shevchenko pushed out wide and took advantage of Hector Cuper’s second half switch to a three-man defence.

“I am very satisfied with the work we are doing here. Obviously I am sorry when leaving out certain players, but a squad with this much quality must rotate.”

Manuel Rui Costa was surprisingly dropped in favour of the young Brazilian, while Rivaldo is still sitting on the bench.

“Up until now we have not had any problems with the squad rotation and I hope that issue won’t be raised. Our strength is the fact that there is so much competition for places.”

Nonetheless, it is by no means certain that the two creative midfielders must force each other out.

“Kaka’ and Rui Costa can certainly play in the same midfield line-up and we used that system against Lecce. Kaka’ is a complete player who can take on several different positions.”

“Above all,” he added, “Milan can use a certain style of attacking play because we have a strong defence.”

The opening goal saw an Andrea Pirlo free kick touched on by Pippo Inzaghi and the goal was eventually credited to the striker.

“I would love to say we practised this in training,” smiled Ancelotti, “but the truth is we were fortunate in that occasion.”

Andriy Shevchenko scored one of the goals and was Man of the Match for some Italian newspapers.

“Thankfully I am always able to play well against Inter,” said the hitman, “and the Derby is a very special and beautiful occasion for all players.”

This is his eleventh goal in meetings with Inter and this season his partnership with Pippo Inzaghi is finally beginning to gel.

“The important thing is that we are both physically fit, then we can go together easily. Enough of this controversy and dissection of our performances.”

Shevchenko is taking a much wider role in order to accommodate the tactical system, but insists it is not a major change for him.

“I played with Dynamo Kiev in the same way and now that I am 100 per cent fit then I can perform this role adequately.”

Brazilian prodigy Kaka’ was a surprise starter in the Derby and got his name on the scoresheet.

“Kaka’ is proving that he is a very talented young man,” concluded Sheva, “and with him on the field the tempo of our game rises.”

Inter 1:3 AC Milan - report
5.10 || scharatz

Inzaghi 39 (M), Kaka' 46 (M), Shevchenko 77 (M), Martins 78 (I)

Inter fans threw objects at Hector Cuper following yet another derby defeat to their old rivals, but perhaps more importantly the Nerazzurri are now five points adrift of the leaders.

There are few derbies in the world more passionate than the 'Derby della Madonnina' and already at this stage of the season it is a crucial showdown for the Scudetto.

Milan opted to field Kaka' in place of Manuel Rui Costa as the support to Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi. Clarence Seedorf and Giuseppe Pancaro returned from injury.

Inter also welcomed Christian Vieri into to the squad after his midweek Champions' League comeback. Luciano, Sabri Lamouchi and Marco Materazzi were all ruled out with thigh strains.

There were records waiting to be beaten here tonight, as Francesco Toldo had not conceded a single goal in Serie A going into the match, while Inter had not won a 'home' derby since 1997.

Before kick-off there were stunning scenes as the lights were turned out and the San Siro was turned into a giant light show with photographs of the players moving their way around the Stadium walls.

It was a lively game right from the start and Christian Vieri had the first real opportunity, firing a very powerful free kick just past the near post.

Soon after Milan went extremely close, as Gennaro Gattuso won the ball back on the edge of the box and Toldo scrambled across to block Kaka's close-range effort.

Inzaghi's mazy run caused problems for the Inter defence and three players eventually crowded him out.

Vieri then charged forward on the counter-attack, only to see his progress blocked by an Alessandro Nesta shoulder charge just outside the box.

It was a very open games with scoring opportunities for both sides and Shevchenko's header was almost squeezed in at the back post by Inzaghi.

The Nerazzurri made a substitution when Andy van der Meyde came off after just 36 minutes to be replaced by Thomas Helveg. The Dutchman did not appear to have an injury, so this may have been a tactical choice.

The deadlock was broken just before half-time. Kaka' was brought down on the edge of the box and Andrea Pirlo's resulting free kick took a deflection off Inzaghi to leave Toldo stranded. It is unclear whether or not the striker intended to redirect the ball with his head, but his header was definitely decisive.

The tension was high and a scuffle broke out between Kily Gonzalez and Kaka' with both men booked.

Soon after Mohamed Kallon wanted a penalty for his contact with Dida, but the goalkeeper appeared to get the ball. Then the Sierra Leone international saw a counter-attack easily saved.

Milan could have doubled their lead in the final minute of the first half, but Toldo fumbled a cross only to perform a stunning reaction save on Shevchenko. The ball bobbled along the line and out beyond the far post.

Cuper made another tactical switch at half-time, introducing the pacey Obafemi Martins for Kallon. The Sierra Leone man had also suffered a knock during the first half.

However, it took less than thirty seconds of the second half to double Milan's lead. Gennaro Gattuso's chipped cross found Kaka' completely unmarked at the far post to nod in.

It was the first Serie A goal for the young Brazilian who has pushed both Manuel Rui Costa and Rivaldo out of the line-up.

Ex-Inter man Clarence Seedorf wasted a great chance on the counter-attack by ballooning over the bar, then Kaka' nodded off target on Shevchenko's centre.

The Nerazzurri were clearly shellshocked by this second goal and Milan settled into their stride.

On the hour mark Toldo needed his wits about him to block two close range Inzaghi attempts, with his head and the follow-up from the ground.

Vieri was the only Inter man who looked as if he could turn the tide and skipped past Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini before his lack of match fitness let him down.

It was a sign to his teammates and soon after Kily Gonzalez tested Dida with a fierce long-range effort and Ivan Cordoba's header clipped the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.

It was more even as the second period wore on, but Inzaghi was left unmarked to volley over from nine yards.

That shot was a warning, as moments later Shevchenko scored Milan's third. Once again the Ukrainian ran down the right flank, combined with Marcos Cafu, and lifted the ball over Toldo. It was Sheva's eleventh goal in Milan derbies.

However, it still wasn't over, as less than a minute later Obafemi Martins scored a wonder goal. The teenage Nigerian turned his marker and slammed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net.

It was not enough to calm the fans, as a group of Inter supporters began to throw objects at Cuper's bench.

It certainly boosted the players, though, as Emre Belozoglu's scorching left-foot shot skimmed the woodwork.

Then Vieri intelligently cut back around Paolo Maldini to Martins, but the youngster saw his effort well saved by Dida.

Vieri's header flew past the near post and Maldini was forced to hobble on during the final minutes with an ankle injury.

Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Adani, Cannavaro, Cordoba; van der Meyde (Helveg 36), C Zanetti, Emre, Kily Gonzalez (Brechet 66); Vieri, Kallon (Martins 46)

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro (Costacurta 66); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Ambrosini 75); Kakà; Shevchenko, Inzaghi (Serginho 83)

Ref: De Santis

Inter vs AC Milan - preview
3.10 || scharatz

It's derby time! The city of Milano is split into the Nerazzurri and Rossonero factions, and both teams play the biggest game of the season so far. If previous derbies are anything to go by, Milan should have a field day, but Hector Cuper's Inter has been anything but predictable (Brilliant display vs. Arsenal, followed by two mediocre Serie A games). The rivalry is at an all time high following Milan's triumph in the CL semi against the 'cugini', who are sure to be looking for payback.

Since that last meeting Milan have gone on to lift three trophies (Champions League, Coppa Italia, and the Super Cup), while the 'Nerazzurri' have remained trophyless (unless you count the TIM trophy). This summer the only notable trade between teams was a promising right back by the name of Salvatore Ferraro.

Milan are sitting pretty tied for 1st place in Serie A, with 10 points from 3 victory's and a draw, Inter are just behind with 8 points (2 wins, 2 draws) and could use this match to leapfrog Milan and put their early scudetto challenge back on track. This is a typical '6 pointer'. However over the last few games, form has not been a guide, and derbies are known to be unpredictable (Milan 6 Inter 0).
The biggest questionmark going into the match is what Cuper will do with Materazzi ruled out. Does he start Adani again at center back and play Cordoba out at left back. Or do Cannavaro and Cordoba get paired as a central duo, despite their lack of height. Milan fans will be glad Marco "the butcher" Materazzi is out, his performances in the last few games against Milan were un-sportsmanlike to say the least, his antics included a dropkick on Shevchenko.
Milan on the other hand have their own dilemma this week, what to do with Rivaldo? The Brazilian left the club and within 72 hours was back, nobody is sure what really happened behind the scenes. But something says that there may be pressure on Ancelotti to play the world cup winner this weekend. Where to fit him is a headache that Ancelotti has had for the last year and has shown this season that he has no idea how to remedy.


Inter: Materazzi is out and no one is sure what Cuper will do, can the slow Adani cope with Shevchenko's pace? How will Inter's team morale be going into another derby considering their last few outings have been poor.

Milan: Rivaldo. That says it all, the man was the reason behind the only goal in the last derby. Yet had a season he would rather forget. He finally made an appearance vs. Celta Vigo for 30 minutes doing nothing notable. Will Ancelotti start him, or will the team that beat Lecce so convincingly be back?


Inter last 6: WWWDDW
Inter started well with a pair of back-to-back wins against Modena and Siena, and played arguably the best game under Cuper's watch against Arsenal. However, this bright start was followed up with a pair of 0-0 draws vs. Sampdoria and Udinese. A last gasp Vieri header saved Inter's blushes at home to Kiev and got them back to winning and scoring ways.

Milan last 6: WWWDWD
Wins against Ancona, Bologna and Ajax were a promising start to the campaign. A minor setback to Perugia was forgotten with an impressive 3-0 demolition of Lecce. However, the midweek CL fixture vs. Celta left a lot to be desired and showed inconsistency.


Vieri (Inter) : The big man is like a hurricane, hard to contain and leaves plenty of damage. He will have his work cut out against Nesta. If Inter are to crack the Maldini-Nesta duo, expect it to be by the brute force that Vieri symbolizes.

Shevchenko (Milan) : The Ukrainian is back. He is on top of the scoring charts, and his favorite prey is in the crossfire. Expect 'Sheva' to be full of confidence and a good game here will be the sign that he is finally back.


Inter (4-4-2) Toldo; J.Zanetti, Cannavaro, Adani, Cordoba; van der Meyde, C.Zanetti, Emre, Kily; Vieri, Martins

Milan (4-3-1-2) Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Pirlo, Gatusso, Seedorf; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

Ancelotti: It wasn't our day
2.10 || Seamus

Carlo Ancelotti claims Milan’s disappointing 0-0 draw at Celta Vigo was simply an off day.

There were precious few chances for either side during the 90 minutes and the Coach maintains playing lone striker Andriy Shevchenko was not the reason.

“We have played with this tactic many times, including the 4-0 destruction of Deportivo La Coruna a year ago, and it has often been successful.”

“It was just an off day as we were lacking an aggressive attitude and a decent tempo,” he added, “but nonetheless it was a good result on a difficult pitch.”

“Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. Once we start a game with this attitude it is difficult to change it and we played badly, never really putting Celta under pressure.”

Ancelotti attempted to turn it around with substitutes Pippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo, but could not break through the Celta defence.

“I tried playing with four in midfield and two strikers, but it just didn’t seem to make any difference,” continued the tactician.

“We thought that Celta would come forward more and give us room to counter-attack, but they kept solid at the back.”

All eyes were on Rivaldo after his contract U-Turn, but the Brazilian failed to make an impact.

“Rivaldo is a member of the squad and has made various decisions over the last few days, but the situation has returned to normality and he gave his contribution today.”

Milan remain top of Group H despite this setback, but Ajax’s 2-0 win over Club Brugge cuts their advantage to just one point.

SA Editorial: Rivaldo- Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
2.10 || Seamus

SA Editorial: 10/01/2003.

Adriano Galliani's pressure finally paid off, as Rivaldo decided to stay with Milan, at least till December. The Brazilian has been unhappy for most of his Milan stay but he only started being vocal about it in the past few weeks.

It's no secret that he wants first team football and obviously in the next few months his situation will not change much. He stated that the love of the fans made him change his mind, but objectively he only stayed so he could keep fit till the transfer market re-opens, otherwise he would have had to train by himself and even lose his national team spot.

His star has been fading in recent years and that's one of the reasons why Barcelona let him off on a free transfer. Milan hoped that a change of air will bring back the best out of Rivaldo, and in the summer of 2002 they offered him a lucrative contract. After a good start the player slowly fell back in the hierarchy of Carlo Ancelotti's troops and the bench became his best friend.

The statistics speak for themselves; Rivaldo managed only 5 goals from 22 league appearances, for a total of 38 matches played (including Champions League and Coppa Italia games) and just 8 goals scored. That's too little from a world champion and especially for what he's netting yearly.

Last Sunday was supposed to be his swan song at San Siro, as he walked around the pitch before the match, applauding the crowd and receiving loud cheers in return. Ironically Rivaldo announced he was leaving Milan when Ancelotti had announced that he would be in the starting line-up for the Lecce match. Because of this, he lost his chance of actually playing his first match!

This whole situation brings many questions with it which maybe in the end only Rivaldo, Ancelotti and those who are close to the team know the real answers.

Why does a player like Rivaldo, who's a first team regular for the world champions, find it so difficult to break into Milan's first team? Obviously the nearly 32 year old forward is not getting any younger and he is not physically the same as he was some years ago. He's also closed down in each role by unmovable starters such as Shevchenko and Rui Costa, and to make matters worse, the purchase of young wonder player Kaka has not helped him; on the contrary he's moved further back in the pecking order.

Who would gain more if Rivaldo does decide to leave Milan in January? The player would on one hand find a team that can offer him playing time, even though few clubs can really equal what Milan are paying him. He obviously is leaving Milan to get first team action, so money should be no object for him when choosing his next team. The Brazilian does not want to join a mid-table team either, because he feels he has 3 more years to offer at top level football, so he will go for a Spanish or English club who will be competing in the Champions League. The problem is if there really is a team willing to invest in a 'mature' player who seems to have lost it and cannot play in European football this season, since he played a few minutes in the European Super Cup against Porto last August.

For Milan, losing Rivaldo would not be a tragedy as he has hardly been influential in helping them win the Champions League last season, let alone in this season when he has not yet featured in any league or Champions League match. Actually it might be removing a burden for them, considering his high salary, with which they can actually purchase another player.

The fans will not be spending sleepless nights either, as they seem to have elected Kaka as their new Brazilian idol, a player who has immense potential and class. Obviously Rivaldo does not enjoy being overshadowed by his younger fellow countryman, but is not given too much chance to shine.

Few teams really have space and money to accommodate Rivaldo, and he would probably end in the same situation, if not worse, at any club he might join. So in the end Rivaldo should think twice before deciding to leave, as probably his best solution would be to stay with a team that can assure him trophies and money. ET, as he's affectionately nicknamed, might be better off with Milan, but the rossoneri may actually be better off without him and his wages, as his loss will probably pass unnoticed….except maybe for his best friend, the warm bench at San Siro.

Celta Vigo 0:0 AC Milan - report
1.10 || scharatz

Rivaldo made his comeback for Milan, but could not help break the deadlock at Celta Vigo.

Carlo Ancelotti was forced to do without Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and the still not 100 per cent fit Pippo Inzaghi, but opted for an all-attack formation with Brazilians Serginho, Marcos Cafu and Kaka'. Rivaldo was on the bench just days after announcing he had torn up his contract with the club.

Andriy Shevchenko sprung the offside trap on 12 minutes and swept in a cross for Serginho, but goalkeeper Pinto bravely took the ball off his head and then parried the Kaka' follow-up.

The Rossoneri had the better of the early play, but Celta held out well under pressure and gradually began to push forward after the first 20 minutes.

There were very few chances for both sides, as Juanfran drilled wide and Dida comfortably got behind a long-range Vagner effort.

Alexander Mostovoi had the first real opportunity of the match during first half stoppages, but his curling effort into the top corner was well covered by Dida.

Milan pushed up for the second half and finally put some real pressure on the Spanish defence, but it was Celta who went close when Alessandro Nesta performed a stunning block on Mostovoi as he squared up for an angled drive.

Celta Vigo threw on former Parma flop Savo Milosevic to spice up their toothless attack on the hour mark, but he handled on the edge of the box to waste a good opportunity.

Shevchenko was simply too isolated on his own upfront and the disappointing Serginho was replaced by Pippo Inzaghi. It was his first appearance since suffering neck and jaw injuries in an accidental clash with Perugia goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac ten days ago.

Rivaldo also made his comeback in place of fellow Brazilian Kaka', but although the game opened up after the break, Celta continued to have the best chances with a Mostovoi effort saved following good build-up from Angel.

Milosevic had a great chance on 70 minutes, just failing to reach a sweeping cross at full stretch.

Ancelotti opted to tighten up the overrun midfield with Christian Brocchi in place of a tired Shevchenko.

Moments later Milan had a good opportunity with Rivaldo's low cross for Inzaghi intercepted by Pinto and Manuel Rui Costa's dipping effort was easily gathered, but overall there were precious few shots on goal from either side.

Rivaldo found himself alone on goal in the final minute, but his first touch on Cafu's cross let him down and the defence closed him down.

Celta Vigo: Pinto; Velasco, Caceres, Contreras (Sergio 45); Angel, Vagner, Giovanella, Juanfran; Jesuli (Jandro 83), G. Lopez (Milosevic 57); Mostovoi

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Ambrosini, Pirlo; Rui Costa, Kakà (Rivaldo 63), Serginho (Inzaghi 61); Shevchenko (Brocchi 73)

Ref: Riley (Eng)

Ancelotti wants Celta points
1.10 || Seamus

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti believes that a win at Celta Vigo this evening would be a major step towards qualification.

The Rossoneri got their Champions’ League campaign off to a winning start against Ajax and are now looking for win number two.

"It would be ideal for us to wrap up qualification with four straight wins like we did in both group stages last season," stated the tactician.

"I’m not saying that a win at Celta would ensure us a place in the last 16 but it would give us a massive push towards that aim."

The former Juventus boss hasn’t announced his starting eleven but he is expected to field a rather cautious 4-4-1-1 system.

Veteran defender Billy Costacurta is set to start on the left of defence in place of Serginho who will be moved into midfield.

Massimo Ambrosini will replace the suspended Gennaro Gattuso, while Manuel Rui Costa will play on the right of midfield.

Andriy Shevchenko will be the lone striker, supported by summer signing Kaka.

Pippo Inzaghi, who has just recovered from injury, will start on the bench alongside Rivaldo.

Celta Vigo vs. AC Milan - preview
1.10 || scharatz

Spain had been a hard country for AC Milan to travel to until recent times. However, if you've been watching them over the past few seasons, it has almost become their preferred place of residence. In the 2000 season, Milan beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Nou Camp. The following season they were to triumph against Deportivo 1-0 at the Riazor. A year out of Europe's top competition and they picked up right where they left off on their return, once again at the Riazor, crushing Deportivo 4-0 this time in a performance worth remembering for a long time to come. They did fall 1-3 in Madrid, but it was in a game of little consequence as Real were the team battling to stay in the competition after Milan had qualified having beaten them at the San Siro.

Wednesday night will bring the European Champions yet another opportunity to put one over a Spanish opponent. Celta Vigo are not going through a particularly healthy period of form. Four points off the bottom of La Liga and yet to maintain a clean sheet, they are certainly not favourites to win this tie, even on their home ground. Having picked up four draws and a loss from their first five games of the season, Celta only picked up a win this weekend, and that too in the most dramatic of circumstances. They were 0-2 down to Valladolid at home and only some desperate tactics and a late winner from Mostovoi prevented them from continuing their winless streak.

Miguel Ángel Lotina has some serious injury worries to contend with. Catanha, Edu and Sylvinho are all ruled out of the game, while star midfielder Aleksandr Mostovoi remains a doubt after the knock he picked up on the weekend. José Ignacio Sáenz has been banned for three matches for lashing out at Brugge's Andrés Mendoza last week while former PSG man Peter Luccin is also suspended. Jesuli finds himself on the bench despite scoring the vital opener on the weekend as Gustavo Lopez is likely to feature playing off Savo Milosevic.

Carlo Ancelotti is without a host of wing-backs as Cafu, Giuseppe Pancaro and Kakha Kaladze are all ruled out due to injury. Dario Simic and Alessandro Costacurta are the men who will be drafted in to replace them. In light of last year's success at Deportivo and Pippo Inzaghi's injury, Milan will likely play with Andriy Shevchenko as the lone forward supported by the creative genius of Rui Costa, Kaká and Serginho. Another creative genius, Rivaldo, who makes a comeback only days after quitting the club may also feature at some point. Gennaro Gattuso is the only player suspended.

Celta last 6: DDLDDW
Celta opened their league campaign with 1-1 draws against Murcia and Real Sociedad. A tough home defeat at the hands of Real Betis followed, but they managed to bounce back to pick up a point in another 1-1 draw in their opening European match. Not a bad result away to Club Brugges, spoiled only by the fact that goal-hero Juanfran scored at the other end as well as his own-goal allowed the Belgians to earn a share of the spoils late on. This weekend's game was no better though as Lotina's men almost committed suicide before scraping together an astounding comeback win over Valladolid.

Milan last 6: WWWWDW
The European Champions have slowly but surely grown in stature as the season has progressed. Victory in the UEFA Super Cup has launched them on the right track. They took maximum points from their opening Champions League game versus Ajax and sit atop the Serie A table with 10 out of a maximum 12 points. If their performance against Lecce on the weekend is anything to go by, the Italians are in mighty fine form once again with their biggest gun, Andriy Shevchenko firing on all cylinders.

Celta (4-3-2-1): Pinto; Berizzo, Cáceres, Juanfran, Contreras; Ángel, Vagner, Giovanella; Mostovoi, Gustavo Lopez; Milosevic

Milan (4-2-3-1): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Ambrosini, Pirlo; Rui Costa, Kakà, Serginho; Shevchenko

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