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The Archive

October 2006

Cassano has AC Milan option
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are ready to rescue Antonio Cassano from his Real Madrid nightmare after the enigma was frozen out of the Spanish club’s squad.

The Bari-born ace was punished by the Merengues after hitting out at Coach Fabio Capello during the 3-1 win over Gimnastic on Saturday, when the disappointed unused substitute accused his ex-Roma boss of being ungrateful.

“The club’s sporting directors have decided to fine and temporarily suspend Antonio Cassano from team training for disciplinary reasons – disrespecting Coach Fabio Capello – stemming from incidents that took place on Saturday October 28,” read an official statement on the club’s website.

Sporting director Predrag Mijatovic, who had a meeting with senior players Raul, Guti and Roberto Carlos to inform them that the former Romanista would be punished, confirmed that the club has no intention of accepting Cassano’s intemperate outbursts.

“I cannot guarantee that Cassano will return to play for Real Madrid,” stated the ex-Fiorentina man, fuelling speculation that the player could leave the Santiago Bernabeu in January.

Milan are reportedly a possible destination for the Gioiello di Bari Vecchia, as the Rossoneri look to strengthen their attacking options.

The Italian giants sold Andriy Shevchenko in the summer, Pippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino have been struggling for form while new boy Ricardo Oliveira hasn’t yet settled.

Cassano moved to Real Madrid from Roma in January in a £3.5m deal and it seems likely that the Merengues will let the 24-year-old leave for a similar amount of money.

Napoli were also linked with the starlet recently, but a move to the San Paolo would only be possible once they make their expected return to the top flight.

AC Milan suffer Ambrosini blow
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini is set to be sidelined for three weeks after picking up an injury in the derby with Inter on Saturday.

The 29-year-old, who has faced several minor physical problems in the first part of the season, was replaced by Ricardo Oliveira in the second half of the game and medical tests confirmed on Monday that the player suffered a muscle strain to his leg.

In the meantime, the Rossoneri are finalising their preparation in view of Wednesday’s Champions League Group H tie with Anderlecht at the San Siro.

Carlo Ancelotti split the team in two groups for Monday’s training session and each of these was then divided up into smaller two or three-player groups, with the players mainly working on ball possession.

The goalkeepers worked away from the squad, as well as Giuseppe Favalli and Marek Jankulovski, who trained in the sandpit.

Yoann Gourcuff is instead at the Coach’s disposal, having recovered from the injury which has kept him out since September 20.

“I am ready to play. I have made major improvements in the last few days and I could have maybe played against Inter,” said the youngster to the club’s website.

“I think I am in the condition to play against Anderlecht. I’m disappointed about how the derby turned out, but altogether Milan played well and proved their character even in the most difficult moments of the game.

“Considering how we dominated Inter at the end, we would have deserved a draw.

“We are very motivated for the Champions League. The game on Wednesday evening is a key match for our qualification.

“We must give everything we have, it will be important to score and to do it as soon as possible,” concluded the former Rennes man.

A 10-man Milan managed to take three points from Brussels in the first leg two weeks ago thanks to Kaka’s goal and the Rossoneri hope to repeat the exploit.

Anderlecht have never returned home celebrating a victory in 13 visits to Italy, the records showing they have gained five draws and suffered eight defeats.

There is only one previous Italian meeting between the two sides – a goalless draw at the San Siro in the 1993-94 Champions League when Milan went on to win the competition.

Cragnotti predicts Nesta move
30.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan stopper Alessandro Nesta will return to hometown club Lazio, says former capital chief Sergio Cragnotti.

The Italian defender was associated with a future move last week and Cragnotti, the man who sold him to Milan in August 2002, believes it will happen.

“I’m convinced that Nesta would want to end his career with the Biancocelesti,” the former Lazio President stated.

“It would be something marvellous if that did indeed occur because Rome is his city and his reality.

“He’s never been able to give his best in Milan because he is outside of his natural habitat in that city.”

The World Cup winner was considered as a Lazio symbol after progressing from the Biancocelesti youth sector.

Nesta’s current contract at the San Siro expires in 2008 and whispers suggest he would be willing to accept a Lazio transfer.

However, the one main stumbling block would be Nesta’s wages given that they are currently well above what the capital club can afford.

Seedorf accuses Farina
30.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan's Clarence Seedorf has accused referee Stefano Farina of raising his hands against him during Saturday evening’s derby at the San Siro.

The Dutchman was booked during the first half of the match, which ended with the Nerazzurri winning 4-3 in a gripping encounter.

He decided to ask Farina for an explanation to his decision after the game, allegedly causing the man in black’s angry reaction in the tunnel leading to the dressing rooms.

“I had avoided speaking to him during the match, I didn’t want to waste any time talking in front of everyone else,” said Seedorf to television program Controcampo on Sunday evening.

“I went close to him in the tunnel, but he was very nervous and he raised his hands against me.

“I cannot accept this, if I had acted that way I would have been sent off the pitch,” added the Rossoneri midfielder.

“The players want to help the referees and my question on the reason I was booked was meant to be a clarification – instead we can’t even try to communicate with them.”

Farina, who was officiating his first Milan derby, showed several signs of nervousness, handing out a total of 11 yellow cards and sending off Marco Materazzi in the second half.

Seedorf also insisted that the Rossoneri have not given up hopes of landing the Scudetto, despite CONI’s decision to reject the club’s appeal to see their Calciopoli punishment reduced.

“We still believe in the Scudetto and we will not give up. The season is still long and on Wednesday we have the possibility of qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase.

“We are improving and we must remember we are just in November. Inter were not superior to us, I am sure we can aspire to something important,” concluded Seedorf.

Rijkaard blocks Ronaldinho
30.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Frank Rijkaard believes Ronaldinho will not be leaving Barcelona, despite Milan’s attempts to sign him. “I am not worried by the Rossoneri’s interest,” stated the Coach.

The Brazilian was associated with a switch to the San Siro last summer and recent rumours suggested that they may make a firm offer at the end of this season, seeing as the player has not yet extended his Barca contract.

“I know champions and their priorities – if they feel at ease in a certain environment it is very difficult that they will change,” said Rijkaard.

“The relationship between Ronaldinho and the club – not to mention between the player and the city – is perfect, therefore I do not see any problems.

“Of course you can never be sure in football, but at the time being Milan’s interest does not worry me at all.”

The Rossoneri, however, have not given up on the dream of signing Ronaldinho and still believe that a transfer is possible.

This is mainly due to the excellent relationship between the Via Turati club and Roberto Assis – the player’s brother and agent, as well as the agent of summer signing Ricardo Oliveira.

Many believe that the £14m paid for the 26-year-old Brazilian hitman, who spent much of last season on loan at Sao Paolo while he recovered from November’s knee ligament injury, was to be considered a sort of down payment guaranteeing the arrival of Ronaldinho in the near future.

However, technical sponsors are now also involved after the Blaugrana received an additional £10m from Nike, as the American company hopes this will help to prevent Ronaldinho from signing for an Adidas team such as Milan.

Seedorf: We're still standing
29.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf and Ricardo Oliveira claim Milan are still in the hunt for the Scudetto even after falling 14 points behind.

“It was difficult before, it’s difficult now. We’ve never hidden that fact or pretended it would be easy,” said the Dutchman.

The 4-3 derby defeat to Inter – and the CONI Arbitration’s confirmation of the eight-point Calciopoli penalty – has left the Rossoneri 14 points adrift of the leaders after nine games.

“We just have to keep going, as Milan are alive and kicking. We don’t want to seek excuses for this defeat. We conceded two goals and struggled, but then came back and created plenty of opportunities by playing well.”

They were trailing 4-1 at one stage before a late comeback almost snatched a point against their city rivals.

“We have to take it one game at a time and pour all our anger into those performances,” continued Seedorf, who scored Milan’s opener.

“President Silvio Berlusconi came into the locker room afterwards to compliment the team. He said he was standing by our side and that we shouldn’t feel knocked down by this result.”

With seven goals and countless chances, it was quite an introduction to the Milan derby for summer signing Ricardo Oliveira.

“The team reacted really well in the second half, once we changed some things around,” said the Brazilian.

“It was a very entertaining game and I’m sure the fans enjoyed themselves. As for the title race, last season Milan were a long way off Juventus, but managed to almost catch them by the end. It’s not over yet.”

Kaka rues AC Milan errors
29.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan almost completed an incredible comeback from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 with Inter and Kaka is ruing those missed chances.

“I am very bitter at this defeat and the CONI Arbitrato’s decision,” said the Brazilian after last night’s sensational 4-3 result.

It came less than 24 hours after their appeal against the eight-point Calciopoli handicap was rejected.

“We were hoping that they’d take off at least some of our penalty, but I have to point out this affair did not affect our performance.”

The Rossoneri were trailing 4-1 when Marco Materazzi was sent off, but nearly managed to snatch a point in the Derby della Madonnina.

“In the first half we were under pressure from Inter and allowed them forward too much, but after the break we were a completely different team and you all saw the results.

"It’s a shame about the final minutes, as we had several chances and would’ve deserved a draw.”

Kaka struck at the 91st to set up a thrilling finale, but seven goals proved enough at the San Siro for the Nerazzurri party.

Ancelotti looks on the bright side
29.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti tried to look at the positives from tonight’s derby defeat and hasn't ruled Milan out of the Scudetto race.

“We weren’t too bad in the first half, but paid the price for Inter’s superior height in set-pieces, which eventually proved decisive,” he said after the 4-3 loss.

The Rossoneri were 4-1 down when Marco Materazzi was sent off for a second bookable offence – taking his shirt off during the goal celebration.

“After the break we attacked with every man on the field, which was unthinkable at the start when it was a balanced match. Perhaps the referee was a little too quick with the cards in an essentially fair game, but we have to adapt to the new regulations.”

Ancelotti realised the situation was desperate and made all three substitutions at half-time, introducing Alberto Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira and Paolo Maldini for Pippo Inzaghi, Massimo Ambrosini and Marek Jankulovski.

“I put on an extra striker and the Gilardino-Inzaghi switch was always planned to give us more power upfront and help the midfielders by holding up the ball.”

Milan may have broken through their scoring drought, but the defensive record has been dismal with six goals conceded in two home games against Palermo and Inter.

“We made a mistake on the third goal scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but that was the only strike we could’ve avoided. Two were from set-pieces and Dejan Stankovic pulled out a fantastic shot.”

The Scudetto race is all but over now as far as Milan are concerned, as with the eight-point Calciopoli penalty confirmed, they are 14 points adrift of the leaders.

“We have to take it one day at a time,” sighed Ancelotti. “It’s still a long season with many games to be played. I don’t think this defeat was down to a psychological blow with the CONI Arbitration verdicts.”

AC Milan 3:4 Internazionale Milano - match report
28.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Crespo 17 (I), Stankovic 22 (I), Ibrahimovic 47 (I), Seedorf 50 (M), Materazzi 69 (I), Gilardino 76 (M), Kaka 91 (M)

Possibly the best Milan derby of all time saw Inter run out 4-3 winners despite Marco Materazzi's red card and a late siege!

The Rossoneri were livid after their CONI Arbitration appeal was rejected, so the eight-point Calciopoli penalty will stand. Fresh from a shock 2-0 home defeat to Palermo, they absolutely needed to win or say goodbye to any hope of winning the Scudetto. With Alberto Gilardino yet to score, he was benched in favour of a Christmas Tree formation. Inter were top of the table, but missing Adriano, Alvaro Recoba and Esteban Cambiasso.

Milan got off to a great start, as after 39 seconds Andrea Pirlo's free kick found Kakha Kaladze only for the defender to fire over from six yards. Patrick Vieira was booked for intentional handball on three minutes and soon after the ex-Arsenal man's shot was charged down by Massimo Ambrosini, but he was protecting his face and it was considered involuntary.

Kaladze's defensive intervention acrobatically prevented Hernan Crespo getting clear on Dida. Fabio Grosso was disposessed on the edge of the area and Clarence Seedorf turned Marcos Cafu's low cross wide.

It was Inter who took the lead after 17 minutes, as ex-Rossoneri man Crespo rose to get a precise glancing header on Dejan Stankovic's free kick to turn it into the far corner past Dida's outstretched hand. He has played on both sides of the divide, but this was his first goal in the Derby della Madonnina.

There was controversy moments later when Inzaghi and Marco Materazzi clashed, but the referee awarded a free kick against the Milan striker for starting the mutual shirt-tugging.

Marek Jankulovski had to save Dida when he missed Javier Zanetti's low cross after skipping through the defence. Inter's confidence was up and they made it 2-0 with a spectacular strike from Stankovic. He gathered from Maicon just outside the area and swung a left-foot finish into the top corner with Dida unable to get near it.

It was a fast and furious derby with Julio Cesar getting a fingertip to Kaka's deflected missile from distance and Cafu's fierce strike was charged down. Stankovic intercepted a misplaced Gattuso pass and his long-range attempt was smothered by Dida.

Kaka's shot on the bounce was controlled by fellow Brazilian Julio Cesar, but Inter were in control and Dida had his palms stung by a touched on Zlatan Ibrahimovic free kick.

Carlo Ancelotti needed to make changes and threw on Alberto Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira and Paolo Maldini at the break for Inzaghi, Massimo Ambrosini and Jankulovski.

However, within 90 seconds of the restart Inter had made it 3-0. Again Stankovic was involved by winning back the ball and sparking the counter-attack, but Ibrahimovic took advantage of a lucky ricochet from Nesta's challenge and drilled a right-foot effort in at the near post. Dida could perhaps have done better, though.

Milan got back into the game moments later with a bit of luck, as ex-Inter flop Seedorf's shot from the edge of the area took a massive deflection off two players and looped over Julio Cesar into the empty net.

Maldini's right-foot strike as plucked out of the air by the goalkeeperand soon after Julio Cesar performed a desperate save on Pirlo's powerful free kick from 20 metres that may have had a touch off Ricardo Oliveira.

The Rossoneri thought it was 3-2 when Julio Cesar couldn't stop Gilardino's header, but it was correctly disallowed for an offside position.

Marco Materazzi cleared a taut Kaka cross and Julio Cesar grabbed Oliveira's glancing header. Inter were now pressed into their own half, so Nicolas Burdisso and Luis Figo replaced Grosso and Olivier Dacourt.

They weathered the storm and extended their lead from another set-piece. Materazzi was left totally unmarked for a free header at the back post on Stankovic's free kick. However, it was a bittersweet moment for Matrix, as he'd already been booked and was red-carded for lifting up his shirt, leaving the Nerazzurri in 10 men.

Julio Cesar nearly handed Milan a second goal, as Oliveira's hopeful piledriver squirmed out of his grasp and fell behind him, but he was able to scoop the ball off the line before it became too embarrassing.

Gilardino finally broke his goal drought that has lasted since April at club level with a looping header from Cafu's cross that slotted into the top corner.

Another Cafu centre was deflected out for a corner by Ivan Cordoba's sliding tackle, then the ex-Roma man's shot was charged down and Kaka couldn't get enough power on his header.

Julio Cesar performed two miraculous saves on Cafu and Seedorf's follow-up in quick succession, the second with one strong hand as he was falling the other way.

Walter Samuel replaced an exhausted Ibrahimovic and immediately charged down Oliveira's strike, but there was a fantastic chance to re-open the game when Maldini floated in from a corner kick for Seedorf to turn his free header wide.

Julio Cesar beat away a missile of a Seedorf free kick from 20 metres as the siege continued and the clock ticked down at the packed-out Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Cordoba charged down Kaka's solo effort, but Milan made it 4-3 in stoppages when Julio Cesar flapped at a cross and Kaka chipped into an empty net.

The tension in San Siro was palpable and the final five minutes of injury time were a siege on the Nerazzurri net. Kaka's piledriver was deflected over the bar by a defensive header and Oliveira nodded across the face of goal agonisingly close to the far post.

Dida also went up for the final corner kick and Pirlo's set-piece, but the final whistle was blown before another corner could be taken. Inter win the Derby della Madonnina 4-3!

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Maldini 46); Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini (Oliveira 46); Seedorf, Kakà; Inzaghi (Gilardino 46)
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba, Materazzi, Grosso (Burdisso 60); Vieira, Dacourt (Figo 60), Zanetti, Stankovic; Ibrahimovic (Samuel 82), Crespo
Ref: Farina
Sent off: Materazzi 69 (I)

Donadoni gives derby prediction
28.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Franco Baresi, Beppe Bergomi and Italy boss Roberto Donadoni give their views on tonight’s Milan derby.

“Inter have the advantage, even if Milan have the chance to close up on the leaders and it’s an opportunity they can’t let slip by,” said the Azzurri Coach and former Rossoneri legend.

“The important thing is that both teams ignore the pressure on their shoulders coming from the outside and all the non-football issues discussed this week.”

Donadoni’s ex-Milan teammate Franco Baresi agreed that this would be a crucial encounter in the title race.

“Milan certainly have to run a few more risks,” said the retired defender who now Coaches their youth sector.

“This will be a very interesting and balanced derby. Inter are more relaxed and in good shape. The Rossoneri are playing better, but still have problems scoring goals.”

Nerazzurri hero Bergomi is now a commentator for Sky Italia television and looked ahead to Saturday night’s big game.

“Milan are to be feared for the Scudetto race, not just for this match,” said the 1982 World Cup winner.

“For the first time Inter have the leadership and not the pressure on their heads of the team that is chasing.”

CONI cuts Calciopoli penalties
28.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina have had their Calciopoli penalties reduced, but Milan remain with an eight-point handicap.

The Biancocelesti and Bianconeri had the biggest discount, as both have had eight points handed back to them after tonight’s verdict from the CONI Arbitration.

Fiorentina were hoping for a substantial discount on their original 19-point penalty, but it has merely been cut to –15.

Milan’s appeal failed, as their eight-point handicap will stand for the 2006-07 campaign.

This means that the current Serie A table now has Lazio level with Milan on seven points and Fiorentina on 0.

In Serie B, Juventus leapfrog up to 10 points and 12th place.

The clubs lodged their appeals in front of the commission on October 11 and 12, but a decision was only formally announced this evening.

The original Calciopoli trial had inflicted more severe handicaps on the sides, as Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio were demoted to Serie B with penalties of 30, 12 and seven points respectively. Milan stayed in the top flight with a 15-point penalty.

These verdicts were cut on appeal so that only Juve remained in the Second Division with a 17-point penalty. Fiorentina and Lazio returned to Serie A, starting from –19 and –11, while Milan went back into the Champions League through the preliminary round and began the campaign from –8 points.

This could well be the final act in the Calciopoli trial that has dragged on since the summer, amid wiretapping scandals, match-fixing allegations and claims of pressure put on referees to favour certain sides.

Yet there may be more on the horizon, as clubs still unhappy with their lot could in theory appeal to the TAR tribunal. As it is outside the jurisdiction of the sporting courts, this civil action would infuriate the Federation and might earn new penalties for the sides involved.

The CONI also decided to annull the planned bans on playing home games, translating that into a cash sum.

The proceeds from the first Milan and Juventus matches of the current campaign must be handed over to the Federation.

Lazio will do the same with their first two games, while for Fiorentina the penalty is three home gates.

Carletto issues derby warning
27.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has warned his players that they cannot afford to slip up against Inter in the derby on Saturday.

The Rossoneri are currently 12th in the table, having started the season with an eight-point deduction.

None of their strikers have scored in the League since Week 1 and they had been on a poor run of form until the midweek win over Chievo.

Inter, meanwhile, currently sit joint top of the standings along with Palermo on 18 points.

“The derby is always the derby, but this time it’s different – we need to win to start closing the 11-point gap which separates us from Inter,” said Ancelotti.

“I think it’s a balanced game when compared to the recent matches we have played.

“Inter are a very strong side, but they play an aggressive type of football which might favour us, leaving us spaces which would allow us to create chances.

“Inter are now playing excellent football after their initial problems, as they proved in the game against Livorno.

“We will try to take advantage of their weak points, although it won’t be easy. This is a great opportunity for us and we hope to do well.”

Ancelotti has not yet finalised the starting line-up he will field in the Derby della Madonnina, but believes Andrea Pirlo could be decisive.

'It will be difficult for Massimo Ambrosini to make it, he just started training with the team yesterday after recovering from his injury, and the same goes for Yoann Gourcuff.

“I think Pirlo could be the key man for us, but in any case I can guarantee we will go on the pitch to beat Inter, as we always do,” concluded the former midfielder.

AC Milan derby for Ronaldo
27.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Both Milan clubs are keen on signing out of sorts Real Madrid striker Ronaldo in January, according to the latest reports in Spain.

The two San Siro outfits meet on the pitch this Saturday, and are ready to do battle off the pitch in a repeat of the summer battle to bring the Brazilian ace back to the peninsula.

Fabio Capello’s club might let the player leave as early as January, since the Coach does not believe that he will recover his best form.

Don Fabio has granted him only 53 minutes worth of action so far this term, preferring to start with Raul and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Ronaldo has also received an impressive offer from Qatar, continue the reports, but has no intention of leaving La Liga to move to a minor championship.

Instead, the former Inter ace would favour a transfer to Serie A, where he was ready to land in the summer before the negotiations with his old club broke down at the last minute.

The Nerazzurri seem slightly favoured in the race for Ronaldo, as Adriano’s recent absence has fuelled speculation that the striker could be included in a swap deal with the Fenomeno.

Rumours suggest there have already been contacts between the two clubs, with Capello in need of a player with Adriano’s technical characteristics, while Ronaldo is seen as the perfect foil for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Milan however are not willing to give up the fight easily and are also keen on signing Ronaldo, seeing as the Rossoneri strikers’ crisis shows no sign of easing up.

AC Milan duo eye Huntelaar
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy are suggesting that Milan and Inter are set to do battle for the services of Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

The Dutch international was signed by Ajax from Heerenveen for £6.4m, but is now valued at around £8m having scored an impressive 20 goals in 22 matches for the Amsterdam outfit.

The 23-year-old was the top scorer in the side which won last summer’s U-21 European Championship.

He was also awarded the European Golden Boot for the 2005-06 season as the highest scorer in all the top European Divisions, having netted 33 times.

Milan are currently facing an emergency in their striking department just eight games in to the season,

Alberto Gilardino is yet to score his first goal of the season, while Ricardo Oliveira and Pippo Inzaghi have not scored since the opening game of the season.

Rivals Inter have plenty of options in attack, including summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo.

However, they are now one man short after the Via Durini club allowed Adriano to return to Brazil to recuperate.

The Emperor’s agent reiterated that the striker will shortly return to train with Inter after taking care of some personal issues back home.

But Adriano himself stated on Wednesday that he didn’t know when he would return, fuelling speculation that he may leave the club during the winter transfer window in January.

Kaka: Derby worth six points
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has talked up the importance of this weekend’s Milan derby. “This game is worth six points,” declared the Brazilian.

The Rossoneri returned to winning ways in the midweek round, earning a 1-0 win away at Chievo after a series of draws and the shocking defeat to Palermo over the weekend.

“This is a very important match – we are motivated to do well,” said Kaka on Thursday, chatting with his supporters on the club’s website.

“I think this derby is worth six points, seeing as if we win we earn three points and they lose three points as well. We want to do all we can to stop our main rivals.

“We still believe that we can do well in the Serie A and we are also concentrating on the Champions League, because it remains a special title for a football player.

“However, the championship also has its special charm this year,” continued the 24-year-old.

“I must admit that we are not enjoying much luck at the moment – we have created many opportunities in the past few matches and were not able to score.

“I don’t believe that the World Cup influenced our performances, but the fact that we have a match scheduled every three days would cause problems to any team.

“Milan are a winning side, they proved this in the past and I am sure they will prove it again in the future – I have no doubts about this,” concluded Kaka.

The Rossoneri are currently in the bottom half of the Serie A standings due to their eight-point Calciopoli deduction, and 11 points adrift of their neighbours.

Inter are currently sitting on top of the table along with surprise package Palermo, after they both won last night.

Ancelotti admits striker crisis
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti concedes Milan’s strikers are having a crisis at the moment, as a defender had to earn their win at Chievo.

“Sooner or later, this wasteful period will come to an end,” said the Coach. “Alberto Gilardino and Ricardo Oliveira moved well in the first half and we created chances, but couldn’t convert them.”

Gilardino is yet to score a single goal in any competition this season and missed an open net during tonight’s 1-0 victory at the Stadio Bentegodi.

The Rossoneri still got back to winning ways thanks to defender Marek Jankulovski’s strike from distance.

“This is an important win. Jankulovski is working well and always gaining in character. These are crucial goals for both his and our confidence. Our forwards will join in and contribute eventually. Now we can look forward to the Milan derby with the right spirit.”

They face arch rivals – and Serie A leaders – Inter on Saturday night in the Derby della Madonnina.

Chievo Verona 0:1 AC Milan - match report
25.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Jankulovski 31 (M)

Marek Jankulovski's screamer managed to get Milan back on track and subject Gigi Del Neri to his first Chievo defeat.

Del Neri hoped to continue his positive return on the Chievo bench, having held old club Roma to a 1-1 draw on his debut last week. There was a good chance of taking advantage following Milan's first defeat of the season, a shock 2-0 home loss to Palermo. Carlo Ancelotti was now under serious pressure and reshuffled his squad with Yoann Gourcuff, Serginho and Giuseppe Favalli still injured.

Milan came out fighting and within the first 120 seconds Kaka had brought a good save out of Vincenzo Sicignano with a right-foot finish. Alberto Gilardino drilled over the bar.

Clarence Seedorf thought he'd scored with a stunning free kick from 30 metres, but his celebrations were cut short by the upright. Salvatore D'Anna required a desperate late intervention to stop Kaka netting after the Brazilian had left Sicignano for dead.

Kaka had a good opportunity on 27 minutes, as Kaka got the ball and ran into the area, but the goalkeeper and a defender managed to close him down for a corner at the last second.

The Rossoneri eventually broke through on the half-hour, as Marek Jankulovski unleashed a left-foot screamer from 20 metres that slotted into the near corner, Davide Mandelli blocking Squizzi's view.

Ricardo Oliveira ran forward on the counter-attack and his right-foot strike curled inches past the far post on the stroke of half-time.

Del Neri knew they needed more attacking intent, so he threw on Semioli and Simone Tiribocchi. Chievo's first chance of the game was after the break, when Kakha Kaladze charged down a Franco Semioli strike.

Chievo had an incredible opportunity to equalise on 63 minutes when Dida parried Tiribocchi's effort at the near post and just managed to scramble Pellissier's follow-up off the line.

As the move continued on the counter-attack, Oliveira rolled back for the totally unmarked Gilardino from eight yards, who astonishingly fired over an open goal!

In the closing stages Marco Borriello horribly wasted a good chance to make the points safe, while several Kaka counter-attacks were charged down.

Chievo: Squizzi; Moro, D'Anna, Mandelli, Lanna; Giunti (Tiribocchi 46); Luciano, Brighi (Zanchetta 69), Marcolini, Kosowski (Semioli 46); Pellissier

Milan: Dida; Bonera (Nesta 61), Simic, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Gilardino (Borriello 78), Ricardo Oliveira (Gattuso 68)

Ref: Rizzoli

AC Milan plan Iaquinta swoop
25.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are planning a move to bring Vincenzo Iaquinta to the San Siro in January, according to reports in the Corriere dello Sport on Wednesday.

The Rossoneri strikers are struggling upfront and the Via Turati club has allegedly targeted the Udinese man, who could be snatched from the Friuli-based outfit for around £10.7m, according to the sports newspaper.

It is not clear if Milan intend to sell-off one of their other strikers in order to bring in the World Champion, although it seems unlikely that the Rossoneri will let one of Alberto Gilardino, Marco Borriello or Ricardo Oliveira leave.

Iaquinta was already paired with a move to the San Siro during the summer, when Milan were searching for Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement after his departure to Chelsea in May.

However, Coach Carlo Ancelotti however stated on Tuesday that he did not believe the team needed strengthening and that he was confident that the Rossoneri would soon solve their crisis to get their season back on track. “In January we will not make any purchases,” declared the tactician.

Milan visit Chievo at the Stadio Bentegodi on Wednesday night and are determined to make up for their shocking defeat at the hands of Palermo over the weekend.

Nesta set for Lazio return?
25.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta is yet to extend his deal with Milan and could return to Lazio, according to the latest reports in Italy.

The defender is currently contracted to the Via Turati outfit until 2008, but has not yet started any discussions with the club to extend the deal.

This has fuelled speculation that he would favour a return to the capital city, where he played with the Biancocelesti from 1993 to 2002.

Rumours suggest Lazio President Claudio Lotito would be ready to make an immediate offer to bring the 2006 FIFA World Player nominee back home as early as January, although the defender is currently paid over £2.8m per season.

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani was eager to deny that there are no problems with Nesta, who allegedly would like his newborn daughter Sofia to grow up in Rome.

“Nesta still has two years before his contract with us comes to an end, there is no rush to discuss an extension,” said the Rossoneri official.

Nesta could therefore decide to honour his agreement with the San Siro outfit and then return to Lazio on a free transfer deal.

Carletto keeps the faith
25.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is confident that Milan will soon solve their crisis to get their season back on track.

The Rossoneri were defeated 2-0 by Palermo on Sunday and are currently 14th in the table.

“This is not a decisive week, but it is certainly important,” said Ancelotti in the Press conference preceding Wednesday’s midweek match with Chievo.

“After the loss to Palermo we have the opportunity to immediately get back on track. I

“t is very complicated, but we can do it. I don’t think that what we are going through right now is because of the point penalty, as what happened this summer is in the past.

“I think the game against Chievo will be useful because in our situation the best thing is to play.

“We must focus on the game and try to win. I am convinced that we will overcome all our difficulties soon.”

Giuseppe Favalli, Massimo Ambrosini, Serginho and Yohann Gourcuff will not be available for the trip to Verona, but the first two players may recover in time for Saturday’s match with Inter.

“I will evaluate the situation tomorrow and I will see how those who played the last game are doing physically. There will be some rotation, that is inevitable,” explained Ancelotti.

“I think this year’s League is more balanced than expected. Teams like Atalanta and Livorno have done well, while Siena have shown their worth and have been difficult to beat.

“However, the season has just started and we cannot pick between the championship and the Champions League.

“We must focus on both tournaments with the same concentration – at least for the time being,” concluded the Rossoneri Coach.

Berlusconi retains Ronaldinho hope
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has not given up on his dream of signing Barcelona star Ronaldinho, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Rossoneri chief discussed his plans to bring the Brazilian ace to the San Siro with Vice-President Adriano Galliani and transfer guru Ariedo Braida over dinner, reported La Rosa, and allegedly asked Galliani what he thought it would take to sign Ronaldinho.

Apparently both club officials preferred not to give an answer to the former Prime Minister’s question, as they are aware that the operation is not an easy one, despite the frequent rumours suggesting a rift between the 2005 Golden Ball winner and the Blaugrana club.

Ronaldinho's brother and agent Roberto Assis is expected in Milan this week, as he is scheduled to meet with Milan officials to wrap up the final details of Ricardo Oliveira's contract, and will stay in town to watch the derby over the weekend.

The next meetings could represent the right occasion to discuss Ronaldinho’s position, as he has not yet extended his contract with Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Galliani has confirmed that the World Player of the Year’s international colleague Kaka is not on sale and will not be included in any transfer operation.

“I will never sell Kaka. I have told my sons that they are authorised to do anything they want to me if I ever agree to sell the player,” stated the former Lega Calcio chief.

CONI verdicts postponed
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

The CONI Court of Arbitration is expected to hand out its verdicts early next week, according to the latest reports in Italy.

Juventus, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina presented their appeal to the highest grade of justice in Italian sports in the hope of seeing the punishments for their part in the Calciopoli scandal reduced or even cancelled, agreeing to keep the dispute within the realm of sporting justice.

The clubs involved were heard on October 11 and the fresh verdicts were expected to be revealed after 15 days, but it now seems that every decision will be postponed to next week, possibly late on Tuesday evening, after the Italian stock market closes.

The FIGC relegated Juventus to Serie B, stripping them of the 2005 and 2006 titles, and gave them a 17-point penalty, while Fiorentina, Lazio and Milan were given deductions of 19, 11 and eight points respectively.

Despite CONI having insisted that nothing has been decided in advance, speculation from various sources in the Italian media stated that all the clubs will see a reduction in their penalties.

In the meantime the President of the Federal Court Piero Sandulli declared that no club should have been awarded the 2005-06 Scudetto, after the Bianconeri were stripped of the title.

“We only worried about awarding the Scudetto, but I believe that the best decision would have been to leave it unassigned,” said Sandulli.

Gilardino admits Pippo struggle
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino has revealed that he is having problems playing next to Filippo Inzaghi, as the two strikers are too similar.

The Rossoneri hitman has not scored for his club for some six months and he is receiving major criticism from the Italian media, despite having the backing of both Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Donadoni.

“It isn’t easy for me to play next to Inzaghi, we are two lone strikers and we often move in a similar way, ending up in the same position,” said Gilardino.

“We have to adapt to playing together and the only way we can do that is working hard during our training sessions.

“We are not going through a good period as a team. As to myself, I am playing in a very different system from the one I was used to in Parma, I have to play more for group.

“I know I must concentrate on the team and I shouldn’t worry about scoring, if I only focus on my goal drought it will be even harder to find the net,” concluded the 24-year-old.

Milan will travel to Chievo for the midweek Serie A round, before the weekend’s big match against Inter.

No panic, says Gattuso
23.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Despite Milan’s disappointing start to the season, Gennaro Gattuso has denied that there is any panic in the Rossoneri camp.

The Diavoli slipped to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Palermo last night and now trail their city rivals Inter by 11 points, but Ringhio insists that they are still ready to fight for the title.

“We’re not playing brilliantly, but it’s not a crisis,” the ex-Rangers star insisted at the launch of his book ‘Italy 2-0 Germany: The Diary of a World Cup Month’.

“We can’t be accused of a lack of motivation. I’m 28 and I’ve won everything, but I don’t like it when people say that I’m not giving my all. It’s not true because I’ve still got ambitions.”

Milan’s stars have looked a little sluggish at the start of the campaign, prompting suggestions that several of Carlo Ancelotti’s men are suffering from a World Cup hangover – a point that Gattuso accepts.

“You need to remember that Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and I have only had 10 days holiday and have been playing constantly since,” he stressed.

“However, without the Calciopoli handicap we’d have 12 points and be at least amongst the leaders and on track for the Scudetto.”

For now the priority for Gattuso and his colleagues will be ensuring maximum points this Wednesday when they travel to the Stadio Bentegodi to face Chievo ahead of the weekend’s all-important Milan derby.

Ancelotti rues AC Milan errors
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t disguise his disappointment with Milan’s defeat to Palermo and urged his side to focus.

“It was a decent performance until the second goal. President Silvio Berlusconi complimented the squad on the overall play and so did I, but we were punished by two distractions,” he said.

The 2-0 home loss was their first defeat in all competitions this season and now they have scored just one goal in the last four Serie A games.

“We did very well in the first half, but lost our heads after Mark Bresciano’s opener, even if there was that double chance to get back into the game.”

When it was still 1-0 to Palermo, Milan incredibly hit the frame of the goal twice in five seconds with Kaka and Andrea Pirlo rockets.

“We weren’t sharp enough,” continued Ancelotti. “We have to be more attentive in some circumstances and more determined in others. At least our overall play improved.”

Nonetheless, the side wasn’t booed off the San Siro pitch, even though they remain in 14th place – albeit with an eight-point Calciopoli penalty.

“The reaction of the fans at the final whistle was very important for us and the only thing that is comforting about this evening.”

AC Milan 0:2 Palermo - match report
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Bresciano 48 (P), Amauri 74 (P)

Milan hit the woodwork twice, but Palermo join Inter on top of the table after an historic 2-0 victory at San Siro, their first ever Serie A win here.

The Rossoneri ended their run of four straight draws in all competitions with a 1-0 Champions League victory away to Anderlecht midweek, but now needed to get back on track in Serie A by facing high-flying Palermo. The Sicilians were also successful in Europe with Thursday's 2-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt, but suffered a 3-2 home loss to Atalanta last Sunday.

Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi had early shots charged down, then a great move with first-touch football from Gennaro Gattuso, Marcos Cafu and a Kaka nutmeg set up Alberto Gilardino, the ex-Parma man cut off by defenders.

Palermo also threatened with David Di Michele's snapshot over the bar and a couple of Mark Bresciano efforts caught by Dida.

Inzaghi could not have gone closer when his angled drive flashed across the face of goal and shaved the far post by inches.

Super Pippo then nodded Andrea Pirlo's pass over with a glancing header, while Marek Jankulovski's tackle halted a rampaging Di Michele counter-attack.

Di Michele was a constant danger and won back the ball in midfield to power forward, his angled drive smashed just wide of the upright.

Pirlo's corner was nodded just wide of the near post by Inzaghi with an Amauri deflection and Cristian Zaccardo sliced a clearance to almost score an own goal, bringing back memories of his World Cup blushes against USA.

Andrea Barzagli flung himself at Inzaghi's shot from a Cafu assist, then as the move continued Gilardino held up the ball for an Inzaghi volley into the ground well gathered by Alberto 'Jimmy' Fontana.

Barzagli was decisive once more to parry Kaka's snapshot, as Milan turned up the pressure towards half-time.

There was a great chance in stoppages, as Kaka skipped past three defenders down the left flank and rolled in for Gilardino, who couldn't get a strong enough touch to direct it towards goal.

Inzaghi wanted a penalty straight after the restart, but he was flagged for a very tight offside position instead.

It was Palermo who took the lead thanks to a defensive howler from Alessandro Nesta. The ex-Lazio man tried to cut out an Aimo Diana through ball, but didn't notice Bresciano right behind him and the Australian stole in front to fire a low drive into the far corner.

It could easily have been 2-0 less than two minutes later, as Fabio Simplicio unleashed a fearsome right-foot strike from 20 metres that cannoned off the upright to Dida's right.

Pirlo's piledriver was deflected wide off Barzagli and Nesta nodded the resulting corner off target, but another dreadful error from Jankulovski gave Palermo another great chance with Diana and the cross was too long.

A Pirlo free kick bounced past everyone to skim the far post undisturbed, then Seedorf sprinted down the by-line to place a low ball across the face of goal where Gilardino and Inzaghi just failed to tap in.

Paolo Maldini replaced Jankulovski at left-back, a role he hasn't played in for a while, leaving Kaladze in central defence. Kaka's brilliant run down the left crossed in for Inzaghi, whose shot flashed over the bar from seven yards.

Milan were incredibly unlucky on 67 minutes! First a spectacular Kaka right-foot strike from a tight angle smashed against the near post, the ball ricocheted out to the edge of the area where Pirlo rattled the other upright! Fontana was static in both occasions, barely able to move from the spot and very thankful to the woodwork.

Gilardino couldn't quite get on the end of Pirlo's chipped pass over the defence as it turned into a siege on the Rosanero goalmouth. Palermo resorted to using themselves as human shields on a trio of shots from Gilardino, Kaka and Maldini in the space of 10 seconds.

Gattuso combined with Kaka inside the area, but his pass in for Inzaghi was cleared at the last moment by a brave Giuseppe Biava. Cristian Brocchi came on for Gattuso in the final 17 minutes.

However, the Sicilians clung on for dear life only to hit Milan on the break and go 2-0 up against the run of play. Bresciano's missile stung Dida's palms and Amauri knocked in the loose ball from six yards off the inside of the upright.

Milan's desperation to get the game moving was evident when Inzaghi and Kaladze became stretcher-bearers to carry Biava off the field when he was suffering from cramp.

Another Gilardino header skimmed the woodwork, as did Roberto Guana's strike, while a Bresciano volley dipped just over the bar.

Milan threw on Ricardo Oliveira, a fourth striker, but Palermo were too organised and controlled the midfield in this situation. Gilardino thought he'd ended his goal drought in stoppages, but the header was disallowed for a push on Zaccardo.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Maldini 64); Gattuso (Brocchi 73), Pirlo, Seedorf (Oliveira 77); Kakà; Gilardino, Inzaghi

Palermo: Fontana; Biava (Capuano 77), Barzagli, Zaccardo; Diana (Tedesco 82), Guana, Corini, Simplicio, Bresciano; Di Michele (Cassani 67); Amauri

Ref: Rocchi

Ancelotti wants home advantage
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has urged Milan to make the most of three crunch home ties, including tonight’s showdown with Palermo and the local derby.

“This is an important moment of the season and we must make the most of it,” said the Coach. “The only reason we aren’t playing as well as we should is because we had such a complicated summer.”

The Rossoneri were embroiled in the Calciopoli scandal and originally excluded from Europe, but an appeal put them back in the Champions League preliminary round at short notice and reduced their Serie A penalty to eight points.

“We have to take advantage of this calendar to close up on the leading squads. The recent draws have damaged our position in the table, but if we show the same enthusiasm and desire as in the second half against Anderlecht, then we can certainly get back on track.”

They'll welcome Palermo, Anderlecht and Inter to San Siro over the next 10 days, travelling to Chievo midweek.

Milan had drawn four consecutive games in all competitions before the midweek 1-0 victory in Brussels, sealed by a Kaka screamer.

“This team can do well in the Champions League and Serie A. Paradoxically, people expected our defence to struggle the most, but they’ve been solid and the problems have been in attack.”

They’ve conceded only two domestic goals this term, but Andriy Shevchenko’s departure is beginning to tell, with Alberto Gilardino yet to score in any competition.

“We are dealing with the Gilardino situation. He’s physically fine, so it’s time for him to end this blasted drought and get a goal that will clear the air. Marcos Cafu will start, while I confirm Marek Jankulovski at left-back and the entire midfield. My only doubts are tied to the central defenders and forwards.”

They are without the injured Massimo Ambrosini, Yoann Gourcuff and Serginho, while Dario Simic and Giuseppe Favalli are fighting back from niggling fitness worries.

Ancelotti was one of the first Coaches to accept the end of the ritiro system – where players spend the night before a game at the club training camp to remain focused. This weekend, for the first time in Serie A, the Rossoneri will have the choice whether to stay home or not.

“I’ll stay at Milanello, as usual, and I think a few players will too. There’s nothing remarkable about it. I understand this is a novelty for Italian football, but in particularly intense periods of the season, it can be useful to spend some time with your family. Players are much more professional now, although we’ll only use this alternative for late kick-offs, not 3pm games.”

Guidolin enjoys AC Milan challenge
21.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Francesco Guidolin is looking forward to the battle with Milan and hopes it’s the right test to get Palermo focused again.

“We’ll see if it’s going to be a spectacular game or not, but what I am certain of is that we need the result rather than to get swept up in the excitement of San Siro,” warned the tactician.

“I know full well the difficulties that await us, because Milan are an excellent squad, but we’ll still try to put in a good performance and come away with some points. I hope the side can play with character and solidity.”

The Rosanero topped the table on their own for the first time in their history, but lost that status with last week’s surprising 3-2 home defeat to Atalanta.

“We’ve certainly conceded a lot of goals this season and we have to work on that aspect of our play,” continued Guidolin.

The Sicilians have both the most prolific attack with 14 goals and the second-worst defence having conceded 12. Only Parma have leaked more, letting in 14 strikes in six games.

“We need to find our balance, otherwise it’ll all become more complicated. We hope that tomorrow our desire to make up for that loss against Atalanta can be our guiding light. I think that game was our only truly awful day so far this season.”

Fresh from Thursday’s 2-1 UEFA Cup victory away to Eintracht Frankfurt, Palermo are a side to be reckoned with, even if they’ve never beaten Milan at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Serie A.

AC Milan to play happy families
20.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are set to allow their players to spend the night before the Palermo tie at home rather than be forced to sleep at Milanello.

The Rossoneri, like all Italian clubs, usually insist that their squad stay in ‘ritiro’ the evening preceding matches, yet Carlo Ancelotti is set to give his men the option of spending the night at their training base or with their families.

Sunday’s home match with the Rosanero seems an excellent opportunity to test the new system seeing as the game kicks off at 20.30 local time, therefore giving the squad all day to prepare.

Captain Paolo Maldini had spoken about the issue last week and had been pleased about the fact that Ancelotti was considering the idea.

“We talked about it and are aware it could be a very important chance for us,” said the Milan captain.

“The team is ready and the club is ready. The only doubts are to do with the media and fans around us, as the first defeat would immediately be blamed on the lack of a ritiro.”

The pre-match hotel stays are very common in the peninsula to help the teams focus, but have been recently criticised by many home-sick players.

Kaka reiterates AC Milan desire
19.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Kaka has reiterated that he hopes to finish his playing career at the San Siro.

Rumours linking Kaka with Real Madrid started prior to the World Cup, leading to Vice-President Adriano Galliani launching a furious attack on the Madrid club during the summer.

“I would like to end my footballing career at Milan – I love Italy and I feel I have everything I could possibly need here,” stated Kaka to the Czech newspaper MF Dnes.

“This country has turned me into a better player, I want to stay here, there are very few clubs in the world that can be compared to the Rossoneri.

“Real Madrid are still interested in me? I only know that the club I play for has trust in me and has proved this by refusing all offers that have been made to sign me.”

Galliani was thrilled after the Champions League win at Anderlecht, when Kaka’s goal proved to be decisive.

“He is a great player, maybe the greatest one,” said the club official. “He is a champion and he always finds the net if he is given the opportunity.

“But let’s not talk about him being Milan’s leader, we don’t like to label our players.

“In order to win and remain at the highest levels in Europe you need a strong group and we have many good players in our squad.”

AC Milan talk silences Ronaldinho
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho has refused to comment on the latest rumours suggesting he may move to Milan. “I don’t want to talk about it,” said the Barcelona man.

The Brazilian ace was strongly linked during the summer and reports in Italy are gathering pace that Milan are planning a new bid, despite the club claiming there were no talks underway to sign him.

“Milan? I’m not going to say anything because it isn’t up to me to do so,” said the 2005 Golden Ball winner.

“I prefer not to listen to all the transfer market speculation. I know that my brother [and agent] has spoken with the Barcelona officials about it.

“I don't want to talk about something that I absolutely know nothing about,” added the South American.

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani, who had recently rubbished the possibility of the star leaving the Camp Nou, is now seemingly not as pessimistic.

“Ronaldinho to Milan? Goodness knows,” said the official after the Rossoneri’s Champions League win at Anderlecht on Tuesday.

“However, if he does arrive here then there will be no problem as we will adapt the playing system of the team to include the Brazilian player.”

Galliani enjoys Belgian win
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani was thrilled after Milan returned to winning ways away to Anderlecht. “It reminded me of Bruges three years ago,” said the club official.

The Rossoneri earned a 1-0 victory thanks to a magnificent strike from Kaka over their Group H rivals in the Champions League, despite being reduced to 10-men after Daniele Bonera’s dismissal shortly after half-time.

“We went through a difficult moment, but we managed to get back on track,” said the Vice-President after the match at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels.

“It felt like Bruges three years ago, I guess Belgium first causes one of our men to be dismissed and then allows Kaka to break the deadlock,” continued Galliani, referring to the 1-0 away win in the 2003-04 Champions League group stage.

“The team proved that it has a strong personality. After the red card we could have suffered more, but the dismissal instead helped us to wake up and play better.

“Dida played an excellent match too after performing some spectacular saves.

“As for Kaka, we don’t like to use the word leader here at Milan – not even Marco Van Basten was given that title. I can only say that this squad includes great champions.”

Milan came from four straight draws and only one goal scored in those ties, but Galliani insists there was no need to speak of a crisis.

“We were unable to find the goal but we always created several scoring opportunities and that is the main thing.

“As for our summer market, we decided our moves on August 22, when we learned what our destiny would be.

“I do not regret any of our choices as this is a good team, but we are studying the situation carefully and will see what changes can be done.

“In any case we are not planning any operations in January, everything is postponed until next year,” concluded the former Lega Calcio chief.

Kaka shakes off leader tag
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Match-winner Ricky Kaka maintains he’s not a leader for Milan and is, if anything, still learning from his teammates.

“There is a great rapport between Carlo Ancelotti and myself. I really wanted to hug him after that goal,” smiled the Brazilian following the 1-0 victory at Anderlecht.

“The important thing tonight was the three points, but we mustn’t forget that we have to improve in many areas and always have to work hard.”

Ancelotti told journalists that Kaka is “not ready to be a leader” at San Siro and the player agreed with this analysis.

“I am not a leader and am still trying to learn from Paolo Maldini, Billy Costacurta, Gennaro Gattuso and the others who have more experience. Hopefully, one day players will look to me for the same thing, but I am young and am always learning.

“I try to listen to those within football who know what I can do to resolve problems in my game and continue to improve.”

The screamer in Brussels this evening was a familiar sight, as Kaka also scored the winner away to Club Brugge last season after an early dismissal.

“I prefer to look forward, but it did remind me of Bruges. It was a similar situation with the team in 10 men and this goal, so all our minds went back to that day. I hit it well, but the slight deflection changed the trajectory a little to put the goalkeeper off.”

The Brazilian scored Milan’s 500th European Cup goal, but he remained analytical and highlighted the faults shown by the Rossoneri in Belgium.

“We weren’t very sharp in the first half and were too static, but we reacted after the break and deservedly won the match.”

Clarence Seedorf hailed Kaka’s strike that ended a run of four consecutive draws in all competitions.

“This result takes some of the pressure off our shoulders and we haven’t reaped what we sowed over the last few weeks. Simple goals aren’t going in at the moment, so we got the win with a spectacular one,” smiled the Dutchman.

Ancelotti analyses AC Milan revival
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits Milan’s problems have been psychological, as Daniele Bonera’s red card was the wake-up call they needed.

“We wanted to win this match and get back on track after so many draws, but we picked the toughest manner to achieve that,” commented the Coach.

The Rossoneri were heading for their fifth consecutive draw in all competitions before Bonera’s dismissal seemed to spark them into life, going on to win 1-0 away to Anderlecht.

“It wasn’t a good first half from us and we were a little timid, giving the ball away too much. The moment we thought it was getting really tough, that’s when the team woke up and we did well to win.

“The team spirit has always been present and that has been consistent over the past few years. There will be other tests and we really must improve upfront, but it was good to see the side react to setbacks with such confidence.”

The recent poor form can be attributed to a slow tempo and Ancelotti again urged his players to shake themselves up.

“We struggle in midfield and tend to go too slowly, as everyone wants the ball to feet and don’t attack the space as well as they should. Today we had a few players not 100 per cent fit and will work on pace and precision during training.

“It’s tough to say where confidence comes from, but at times simple things don’t work and you get irritated. I believe we’re troubled by this frenzy to score and that makes it more difficult for us, as it seems to affect the players negatively.”

Milan might’ve struggled more after the red card, but instead they took control and created many more chances after going down to 10 men.

“Undoubtedly Bonera’s dismissal was an important wake-up call forcing everyone to focus and step up their game. It also opened up Anderlecht, who felt safer and therefore left us more room for manoeuvre.”

This was similar to the 1-0 victory at Club Brugge last season, also in Belgium, where a Kaka screamer rescued the result despite an early red card.

“It’s true that it’s always tough to play in 10 men, but at the same time when Anderlecht thought they had more of a chance to win, they pushed forward and gave Kaka more space in midfield. I don’t want to limit him to any particular position, as he must be left free to follow his inspiration.”

Some are calling Kaka a leader for the San Siro giants, especially now that Andriy Shevchenko has moved on, but Ancelotti insisted these labels don’t exist in his team.

“He still has a long way to go before becoming a leader, but I am fortunate to have many great champions in this side. It’s a bit premature as he’s been here for three years, but he is young and will become a Rossoneri legend. We’ll hang on to him for the rest of his career, as he is a professional and has great quality.”

With Serginho injured, the Coach opted for Marek Jankulovski at left-back and Bonera on the right, but the crosses from that flank only came in after Marcos Cafu’s introduction.

“Jankulovski was fantastic tonight. He pushed forward a lot and I had told Bonera to be a bit more defensive because of Moussoufa, who was their most dangerous player.”

Milan now lead Group H on seven points and are yet to concede a goal, while Lille follow on five after their 3-1 victory over AEK Athens.

Anderlecht 0:1 AC Milan - match report
17.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Kaka 58 (M)

Kaka's screamer got Milan back to winning ways away to Anderlecht despite Daniele Bonera's dismissal, but they were saved by the woodwork.

The Rossoneri fielded Ricardo Oliveira for the first time since his sister was kidnapped in Brazil, while Daniele Bonera stepped in to defence for Marcos Cafu with Serginho and Yoann Gourcuff injured. Gennaro Gattuso wore the captain's armband. Anderlecht were still looking for their first win after two draws, but were without goalkeeper Silvio Proto and Nicolas Pareja.

Anderlecht had the first chance on the counter-attack, but Mohamed Tchite was caught offside after a powerful Mbark Boussoufa run. Soon after, Kakha Kaladze did well to nod a free kick off the head of Nicolas Frutos.

Milan had a fantastic opportunity on eight minutes, as Pippo Inzaghi got in front of his marker for an audacious flick on Marek Jankulovski's cross from the left, but goalkeeper Daniel Zitka was equal to it.

A weak Oliveira finish was comfortably held and an Andrea Pirlo free kick was off target before Inzaghi fired Kaka's assist wide. Bart Goor flashed a snapshot across the face of goal for Anderlecht, but Inzaghi just failed to get a decisive touch on Kaka's deflected strike. Gattuso was falling backwards as he fired over the bar.

Kaladze was booked for a crunching tackle on Tchite to stop another dangerous counter, but Zitka required a fine save on Oliveira's header from a Jankulovski cross.

Inzaghi was at full stretch on 37 minutes to get a toe on to Clarence Seedorf's long pass, but couldn't direct it on target, and Zitka held a Kaka strike.

SuperPippo was Milan's most dangerous player and flung his head at a Jankulovski centre, but the glancing contact turned it just wide of the far post. In first half stoppages there was another Inzaghi diving header, but it was all intent and no accuracy with only the goalkeeper to beat.

The second half started terribly for the Rossoneri, as Daniele Bonera was booked for kicking the ball away. It was his second yellow card - a thoroughly avoidable one - and the ex-Parma defender left his team in 10 men for the entire second period. Marcos Cafu replaced Oliveira to re-balance the side with Kaka on the right side of midfield in a 4-4-1 system.

Kaka and Seedorf combined on the counter-attack,but the Anderlecht defence scrambled clear.

Milan were more aggressive and sprightly in 10 men than 11 and took the lead just before the hour mark. Seedorf ran forward on the counter-attack and rolled across to Kaka, who unleashed an absolute right-foot missile from 30 metres into the top corner.

It was nearly 2-0 moments later, as Cafu stung Zitka's palms from just inside the area, while Frutos turned a header wide of the near post. Alberto Gilardino, yet to score this season, came on for Inzaghi. The former Parma hitman had a great chance immediately, but got ahead of Seedorf's cross and couldn't direct the header from six yards.

On the counter-attack during the same move, Dida performed a spectacular low one-handed save on Tchite springing the offside trap. Substitute Ahmed Hassan and Deschacht then fired over from distance.

Cristian Brocchi took over from Seedorf in the final nine minutes, but Goor wasted a good opportunity to equalise when he drilled over from 12 yards with acres of space.

There was panic in the area with Dida spilling a Hassan effort from 20 metres and Kaladze clearing under pressure. It turned into a siege and Juhasz odded the ball on to the crossbar with Dida batting away the follow-up with one hand.

Anderlecht: Zitka; Vanden Borre (Legear 84), Juhasz, De Man, Deschacht, Goor; Biglia, Vanderhaeghe (Hassan 70), Boussoufa (Akin 84); Tchite, Frutos
Milan: Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Brocchi 81); Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Cafu 50), Inzaghi (Gilardino 72)
Ref: Lopez Nieto (Spa)
Sent off: Bonera 47 (M)

AC Milan eye Anderlecht win
17.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is confident that Milan can secure a positive result in Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Anderlecht. “We want to win,” stated the Coach.

The Rossoneri are going through a scoring crisis and have only netted once in the last four matches, but Ancelotti is refusing to lay blame for the drought.

“The main problem is that we're not playing quickly enough,” said the boss, who also commented on the fact that Alberto Gilardino hasn’t scored for Milan since April.

“He is fine. Strikers are only truly happy when they're scoring, but we are sure that Gilardino still has plenty of confidence.

“The problem is relative because he is not important only for the goals he scores, but also for how he helps the rest of the team with his movement on the field.”

The tactician is expected to rest Marcos Cafu and Paolo Maldini - to be replaced by Daniele Bonera and Marek Jankulovski - and will also have to give up on Massimo Ambrosini, Serginho and Yoann Gourcuff, but is optimistic that his side can do well.

“After the draw with Lille in the last game, we want to win and move closer to securing qualification,” said Ancelotti.

“I don't know Anderlecht well but I've seen them in the Champions League and have a lot of respect for them.

“They pass the ball well and construct play carefully. We will need to do our best because it's important for us to achieve a good result.”

Anderlecht Coach Franky Vercauteren is aware that Milan are big favourites, but knows that his men can’t afford any mistakes after surrendering leads in the two opening games against Lille and AEK Athens.

“My players are ready to give everything. We are younger and perhaps hungrier than them, even if they have more experience,” said the Coach.

“This is a young team and many players are finding their feet at this level, but I always felt we would improve on last season,” added Vercauteren, referring to the fact that the Brussels club’s victory in their final European match last season ended a run of 12 straight defeats.

Tuesday’s match will be the third encounter between Anderlecht and Milan, with the two previous matches in the 1993-94 group stage ending goalless.

Kick-off is scheduled for 20.45 local time at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels and the match will be officiated by Luis Medina Cantalejo of Spain.

The man in black was the referee of the second round match between Italy and Australia at the 2006 World Cup and was also appointed as fourth official in the Berlin Final.

Anderlecht (probable): Zítka; Juhász, De Man, Deschacht; Vanden Borre, Vanderhaeghe, Biglia, Goor; Boussoufa; Frutos, Tchite

Milan (probable): Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Oliveira, Inzaghi

Gattuso: I’m not joining Rangers
17.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso has reassured Rossoneri fans that he doesn’t want a Rangers return. “I will end my career at Milan,” declared Ringhio.

The world champion was strongly linked with a sensational return to his former Scottish club over the weekend.

But the former Perugia and Salernitana man has insisted he won’t play for the Ibrox club again following his brief stint there in the late 1990s.

“This is all my fault, I should learn to keep my mouth shut and not release any statements,” the midfielder told the Milan website.

“The journalists wrote the exact opposite of what I had said, that is the problem,” added the 28-year-old.

“I only declared that Rangers gave me the opportunity to play as a professional on their side, but my will is to end my career at Milan – as everyone knows.

“If this will not happen it will only be because I am no longer able to offer 100 per cent in my performances.

“As long as the club will continue to treat me as they do and the supporters show their affection to me as they have done until now, there is no reason for me to leave the strongest side in the world.

“You all know that I like Scottish football, but after eight years at Milan I don’t really see any other possibilities than ending my career here,” continued the World Cup hero.

“I want to reassure all the Milan fans that there will not be another Andriy Shevchenko case.

“I told Adriano Galliani that I would have stayed even in a lower Division that I cannot even manage to pronounce, I want to keep on fighting for this jersey.

“This is a club where you win every other year, I cannot forget what Milan have given me in all these years,” concluded Gattuso.

The ball-winner made his 300th appearance with Milan in the Champions League 0-0 draw against Lille in September.

AC Milan back in for Ronaldo?
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are considering a new bid for Ronaldo to solve their scoring crisis, according to reports in Italy on Monday.

The Rossoneri strikers are going through a difficult time, as Alberto Gilardino is yet to score his first goal of the season and Ricardo Oliveira has not hit top form either.

According to Il Corriere dello Sport, Vice-President Adriano Galliani and transfer guru Ariedo Braida are putting together an attractive package for Real Madrid.

The former Inter man was paired with a return to Italy during the summer and was very close to signing for his ex-team, but the negotiations fell through on the last day of the transfer window.

The player, however, admitted that both Milan clubs were showing interest in his services and he expressed a desire to join either one of the two.

As to Gilardino’s recent crisis, Galliani believes that bad luck is one of the main factors in the striker’s failure to find the back of the net.

“I believe that we are not scoring many goals because there are less crosses and this certainly doesn’t favour our forwards. As to Gilardino, he has repeatedly come within inches of scoring.

“He has been a bit unlucky, but I am sure the day will come when this will change and the goals will finally arrive,” concluded the club official.

AC Milan eye Ajax youngster
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are set to make a move for Ajax sensation Ryan Babel when the transfer window reopens in January, according to reports.

The 19-year-old forward, who has Surinam origins, is rated highly by former Milan star Marco Van Basten (pictured), who included him in the Netherlands’ squad for the World Cup in Germany.

“Babel has the potential to become the new Thierry Henry,” said the Dutch Coach recently.

Babel is a natural born winger, who could support Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi or be fielded by Coach Carlo Ancelotti as a second striker.

Milan transfer guru Ariedo Braida has long since eyed the youngster and the club seems set to make an offer to Ajax in the attempt to bring Babel to Italy during the January transfer window, although his move may be postponed until the end of the season.

Ajax would be looking to net at least £5m for the player due to his importance to their Eredivisie hopes.

If Babel did make the switch to the peninsula he certainly wouldn’t be the first Ajax star to make the move.

The likes of Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Dennis Bergkamp and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all previously traded life in Holland for a move to Italy.

Gattuso pledges Rangers return
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has opened the door on a sensational return to former club Rangers.

The world champion started his career at Perugia, but transferred to the Scottish team in 1997 at the age of 19.

“I don't know when it will happen, but it will happen,” said the World Cup hero, who is contracted to Milan until 2011.

“I just have to go back and it's a promise I have made to both myself and chairman David Murray.

“I spoke to him in August in Edinburgh and he told me the door will always be open for me.

“There won't be any problems with money. I know they're going through a bad time from a financial point of view and I won't go there to take a pension either."

Gattuso was sold by Rangers in October 1998 to Salernitana for £3m, before moving to Milan in 1999 in an £8m deal.

“When I left Glasgow I was forced to flee almost like some sort of thief, at four in the morning. That's stuck in my throat since then.

“I'm a player who wants people to see how much I put into things, not someone who just runs away in the night.

“I have a debt towards the Rangers’ fans because of the way I left, they helped me get where I am and I just have to go back,” said Ringhio, who is married to a Scot.

“I don’t want to go at 35 or 36, I’ll go when I still have something to offer to the team, both at a European level and in the Scottish League.”

Gattuso, who is 28-years-old, made appearance No 300 with the Rossoneri in the Champions League 0-0 draw against Lille in September.

Kaladze comes clean
15.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze admits his decisive equaliser against Sampdoria should’ve been disallowed for a handling offence.

“I do remember the ball touched my hand, but I didn’t do it on purpose,” assured the Milan defender.

He snatched the sphere off the chest of Gennaro Del Vecchio for a late goal in the final minutes of last night’s 1-1 draw at Marassi.

Television footage seems to suggest the Georgian helped the ball along with his hand and he admitted as much immediately afterwards on Sky Italia.

“It was an involuntary gesture. The important thing is the squad and this is a group of great players and people. There is understanding and harmony in the Milan locker room.”

This is the Rossoneri’s fourth consecutive draw, but Kaladze isn’t letting the disappointing run of results get to him.

“It’s just one of those periods where things seem to be going wrong, plus we felt the tiredness of the international matches. We mustn’t make a crisis out of it, as there’s a long way to go yet and many games left. The only way to recover is to stay calm.”

Coach Carlo Ancelotti also conceded that Sampdoria had reason to complain about the equaliser, but pointed out it was a two-way street.

“Kaladze’s goal should’ve been disallowed, but there was also a penalty on Pippo Inzaghi in the first half that we weren’t given,” said the tactician.

“There were refereeing errors on both sides, so they even themselves out. It finished 1-1 and that’s the correct result.”

Milan are now preparing for Tuesday's Champions League visit to Anderlecht, which will be officiated by Spaniard Luis Medina Cantalejo.

Ancelotti admits to pace problems
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has blamed tiredness and a slow tempo for Milan’s scraped draw away to Sampdoria.

“There was a great deal of tiredness due to the number of internationals in the squad,” commented the Coach after the 1-1 result. “We did better than in our recent outings, so all told it was a decent performance.”

The Rossoneri have drawn their last four consecutive games between Serie A and the Champions League, Kakha Kaladze’s goal ending a run of three straight 0-0 results.

“Our problem is the slow tempo. The strikers moved well, but they have to get the service at the right time. It’s definitely an issue at the moment. This team can grow, though, and it’s an improvement if we consider the fact we lost at Marassi last season.”

Milan have struggled against less than world class opposition of late and Ancelotti warns that is precisely why they’ve been having problems.

“We wanted to win, but we struggle against teams that clam up and remain compact. They leave no space to play in and can hurt you on the counter-attack.”

Alberto Gilardino hasn’t scored a single goal this term and was once again disappointing. Andriy Shevchenko’s absence is beginning to tell, especially as Milan’s last two goals have been scored by defenders – Marek Jankulovski and Kaladze.

“Sooner or later the strikers will break through and hit the back of the net. Besides, I though Pippo Inzaghi deserved a penalty for that trip in the first half.”

Sampdoria 1:1 AC Milan - match report
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Bonazzoli 69 (S), Kaladze 84 (M)

Milan broke their goal drought with Kakha Kaladze's controversial strike, but were still held 1-1 at Sampdoria.

The Blucerchiati's confidence was boosted by the end of their 17-match winless streak in Serie A, although Francesco Flachi was still sidelined by a ban for betting irregularities. The Rossoneri were coming off three consecutive 0-0 draws in all competitions and fielded a front two of Alberto Gilardino and Pippo Inzaghi, resting Andrea Pirlo.

Sampdoria had the first scoring opportunity after eight miutes when Dida parried a Cristiao Zenoni snapshot from distance as it was aiming for the near corner.

Kaka's good work down the left flank created a chance for Gilardino, whose diving header skimmed the far post. Soon after Luca Castellazzi rushed out to close down Inzaghi's shot with his stomach.

Ex-Sampdoria man Clarence Seedorf had a couple of early efforts blocked and Sergio Volpi drilled over the bar, then the Blucerchiati midfielder's free kick was nodded towards goal by Emiliano Bonazzoli, but Dida was ready.

Kaka gathered the ball in midfield and unleashed a powerful strike that could only shake the side-netting.

There was controversy on 37 minutes when Inzaghi spun round between two defenders and was rounding the goalkeeper before he tripped over Castellazzi's arm. However, the referee waved play on, suggesting the striker had looked for the contact.

The home side also threatened on the stroke of half-time with Dida grabbing a Fabio Quagliarella header off the line.

After the break former Ascoli forward Quagliarella's overhead kick was off target. Dida proved impressive with a one-handed save to palm Gennaro Del Vecchio's header off the line, even if he had been flagged offside.

Gennaro Gattuso showed good skill to dribble past defenders down the right flank and floated in a cross for Gilardino, which Sampdoria cleared with some difficulty. Castellazzi held firm a powerful but central Inzaghi header.

SuperPippo also attempted an overhead kick, which was on target but not strong enough to beat Castellazzi. Instead Samp went very close with Zenoni skipping past two players down the right flank and Franceschini ballooned over the bar from eight yards.

It was a warning and moments later Sampdoria took the lead. Pieri ran down the left and crossed in for Bonazzoli's glancing header at the near post. It was a totally free header, as the Rossoneri defence left him unmarked from seven yards.

Castellazzi performed a fantastic save to fingertip Inzaghi's looping header out of the very top corner and Kakha Kaladze replaced a disappointing Marek Jankulovski.

The home side battened down the hatches in the final stages, chaotically defending against Ricardo Oliveira, Inzaghi and Kaka.

The siege bore fruit eventually when a corner was cleared to the edge of the area for a Cristian Brocchi strike and substitute Kaladze got in front of Zenoni to turn in at the near post from six yards. Sampdoria were furious, as they maintain the Georgian pushed the ball forward with his left arm.

The situation was reversed in the final minute, as Kaladze was angry that Bonazzoli handled a Seedorf free kick, but again the referee and linesman waved play on.

Gattuso came flying in with a tackle to intercept and set up Inzaghi with an overhead kick, though the ball was turned out for a corner at the last second.

Sampdoria: Castellazzi; Zenoni, Sala, Falcone, Pieri; Del Vecchio, Volpi, Palombo, Franceschini (Parola 85); Quagliarella, Bonazzoli

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Bonera 80), Nesta, Maldini, Jankulovski (Kaladze 77); Gattuso, Brocchi, Seedorf; Kaka; Inzaghi, Gilardino (Oliveira 65)

Ref: Rosetti

Maldini aiming for 'grand' finale
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini insists he wants to play his 1,000th game before retiring and urged Milan to scrap the traditional Italian pre-match ritiro.

“If I feel good, then I’ll keep on going,” the 38-year-old told the 'Gazzetta dello Sport'. This is his record 23rd Serie A season, all with the Rossoneri, and his contract expires in June, 2007.

“The last problem between Milan and myself is the signature on a bit of paper. Now I am not remotely convinced I’ll retire at the end of the term. My only concern is whether I can play consistently and, if I can, then I will continue.”

Few deserve the title of ‘living legend’ more than Maldini, who first pulled on this club’s jersey in Serie A on January 20, 1985.

He managed only 14 League appearances last season due to a recurring right knee problem, but finally seems to be back on track.

“I am physically fine and the recovery plan we set out after the operation in April has been respected. I won’t set a date for a decision over my retirement, as I’ve no rush. I love Milan and my work, while the club has faith in me. When I got injured I never thought about retiring early, I just focused on recovery and that’s what I’m doing now.”

The captain has already made history with a record 126 Italy caps and 585 Serie A appearances, but has a new target.

“I have played 962 official games in my career and I’m aiming for the 1,000. It won’t be easy to reach it before the end of May, but I’d really like to hit that milestone without having to wait for next season.”

Maldini is the ‘senator’ of the Milan locker room and revealed a request that could change Italian football.

The defender was pleased with Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s proposal to scrap the pre-match hotel stays that are common in the peninsula to help players focus on the game without outside distractions.

“We talked about it and are aware it could be a very important chance for us. The team is ready, the club is ready. The only doubts are to do with the media and fans around us, as the first defeat would immediately be blamed on the lack of a ritiro.

“We’ve nothing to prove, as in 2003 we won the Coppa Italia without a single ritiro. Our idea is to make it voluntary – those who want somewhere quiet to sleep the night before can stay at the Milanello camp, those who prefer to spend it with their families can do that.”

Ancelotti: Goals will come
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti isn’t concerned at Milan’s three consecutive 0-0 draws, assuring they’ll score at Sampdoria this evening.

“I’m not worried about our forwards,” insisted the Coach. “We will be able to get goals again. It’s inevitable with four excellent strikers at our disposal.”

The Rossoneri have been consistently prolific under Ancelotti’s reign, but the disappointing form of Alberto Gilardino, Pippo Inzaghi’s fitness problems and the difficulties in adapting of new signing Ricardo Oliveira have seen them fire blanks.

“It’s true that we haven’t scored in our last three official outings, but we have created plenty of chances. In these two weeks we have worked a great deal on forward moves and will see what the results are on the field.”

Gilardino was dropped from Italy’s Euro 2008 qualifiers against Ukraine and Georgia, so there are fears this could also hit his confidence at club level.

“Alberto has a back problem and we’ll try him out in training, but he could be out of the game. Andrea Pirlo is still recovering from a throat infection, so he’ll rest to recuperate fully.”

Yoann Gourcuff, Serginho and Giuseppe Favalli are also injured for today’s visit to Sampdoria at Marassi.

“It won’t be easy, as Sampdoria are the side that gave us the most problems last season,” warned Ancelotti.

“They are a classic Walter Novellino team – organised and disciplined. Let’s not say this is our last chance saloon for the Scudetto race, though. There are a lot of rounds left and anyone can be caught at this stage.”

Milan started the campaign with an eight-point deduction due to the Calciopoli scandal and are now on three.

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Costacurta, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Kaka', Seedorf; Borriello, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira

Novellino confident about AC Milan
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Walter Novellino is confident that Sampdoria can stun Milan on Saturday to continue their revival.

“I am relaxed about this match, even if at times a perfect performance isn’t enough,” said the Coach.

“I know that my team has worked well over the past fortnight and are going through a good period of form. We’ll need a great game in terms of character and concentration for the entire 90 minutes.”

The Blucerchiati were in crisis after going for a club record 17-match winless streak in Serie A, but the 3-2 victory over Parma before the break for international duty restored their confidence.

“We hope to continue our positive streak. We’ll try to close down Milan and focus on our pace, dictating the tempo to suit our play,” he added ahead of tomorrow’s Marassi encounter.

“Of course we respect Milan, but we aren’t lacking in self-belief. We have the right motivation to hurt them and always go for the win, no matter who we’re facing. We’ve created plenty of chances recently and are improving at the back.”

Sampdoria will also be boosted by the return of Fabio Bazzani, who has recovered after two knee operations in the last year.

“Bazzani will certainly be on the bench. He’s an important player who can help us and we’ll see how things go, as he’s still lacking match fitness.”

Fabio Quagliarella and Emiliano Bonazzoli start upfront, while Parola also comes back with a special mask after recovering from a fractured jaw.

AC Milan dismiss Ronaldinho move
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani claims there are no talks underway to sign Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

Reports in Italy and Spain have been suggesting that Milan were ready to make a bid for the Brazilian ace and his agent-brother Roberto Assis stated on Friday that the European Footballer of the Year could sign for the Rossoneri in 2008.

“We do to others what we would want them to do to us,” said Galliani to Milan Channel. “Ronaldinho is under all aspects a Barcelona player and that is what he will remain.

“We do not intend to cause any sort of trouble,” added the official who was perhaps making reference to Real Madrid’s public attempts to sign Kaka.

“Barcelona have shown no interest in selling the player and no talks have taken place.”

Turning to this season, Galliani insists he is unconcerned by his club’s run of three consecutive 0-0 draws.

“I understand the criticism after the last few matches, but I also want to highlight the fact that we scored two goals that were disallowed unjustly,” he added.

“Furthermore, in the match with Siena their goalkeeper was the best player on the pitch – that means that we created several scoring occasions and that is an important fact.

“There are moments in football when you just can’t seem to score, this is one of those moments.”

Galliani was pleased with the fact that four Milan players were included in the shortlist of candidates for the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year title.

“I really think there are five,” said Galliani smiling. “Andriy Shevchenko was a Milan player until June 30, so he could be considered a Rossonero in every respect.

“I have noticed that most of the nominees play in the Spanish, Italian and English Leagues and I don’t think this is a coincidence,” concluded the club official.

Cafu urges Oddo capture
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu believes Massimo Oddo of Lazio could be his successor at Milan once he ends his San Siro stint.

The 36-year-old Brazilian has not yet decided on what his future will be, but is convinced that the capital man is the only player who could replace him in his role.

“My future? It's too early to talk about it as we have only just started the season,” said the World Cup winner.

“But I have to admit that I think Oddo could do well in my place as he is a player who is definitely suitable for Milan.”

Oddo has been paired with a move to the Rossoneri for the last two years, but no transfer fee has ever been agreed for the attacking full-back after Biancocelesti chief Claudio Lotito slapped an £8m price tag on him.

The former Verona star, who actually started his career at Milan, has admitted that he would welcome a return to northern Italy.

Ronaldinho to join Milan – agent
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are in pole position to sign Ronaldinho in the summer of 2008, his brother and agent Roberto Assis stated on Friday.

"Last summer Milan decided to sign Ricardo Oliveira, who is one of my clients, instead of [Real Madrid’s] Ronaldo,” Assis told Spanish newspaper AS.

“And I now think that I could take Ronaldinho to the San Siro in two seasons’ time.”

Reports in Italy and Spain are suggesting that Milan are ready to offer £64m to Barcelona for the European Footballer of the Year.

It is also understood that the Rossoneri have prepared a contract worth £8.5m a season for the Brazilian international.

Rossoneri President Silvio Berlusconi has made no secret of his wish to see ‘Dinho wear Milan’s jersey and has reiterated that his club will be ready to make an offer if Barca decide that the ace is available for transfer.

However, cynics are insisting that Assis may be trying to force the Spanish club to extend his brother’s contract until 2014.

Kaka cools Scudetto talk
13.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has conceded that Milan face an uphill struggle if they want to win the Scudetto. “It would be quite an achievement,” he said.

The Rossoneri started the campaign with an eight-point deduction for their part in Calciopoli and despite an encouraging start, they’ve now drawn their last two League games.

“Considering the point deduction we were handed out in the summer, it will be very difficult for us to win this season’s title,” explained the 24-year-old.

“Furthermore, this is a very delicate moment for us and we have to win some matches if we want to reduce the gap separating us from the leaders.

“The next match with Sampdoria on Saturday will be a hard one – especially for the players who were away on international duty,” he added. “But we know we need to win.”

Kaka, whose name is included in the shortlist of the 30 candidates for the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, also commented on the Ronaldinho to Milan rumours.

“I can only say we are friends and I am happy that I play with him in the Seleçao, it is always fun to appear alongside champions,” he noted.

“There are already many great players at Milan, but if Ronaldinho were to arrive it would be even better.”

The Rossoneri returned to full training on Thursday afternoon as they prepare for the visit of Doria this weekend.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti may have to review his formation plans seeing as world champions Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino are suffering with a throat infection and a back problem respectively.

AC Milan want Inter's Scudetto
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s lawyer Leandro Cantamessa believes that the Rossoneri deserve a reduction in their points penalty – and the 2005-06 Scudetto.

Juventus, Milan and Lazio all presented their cases to the CONI Arbitration Court on Wednesday in an attempt to get their Calciopoli penalties reduced, with Fiorentina scheduled to appear on Thursday.

“One of the main lines in our defence is the fact that we don’t understand Adriano Galliani’s (pictured) ban,” said Cantamessa after the hearing.

“The only certainty I have is that Milan are innocent and that is why I have asked for our eight-point deduction to be cancelled.

“I believe we deserve a reduction, but I can confirm that we are not considering an appeal to the TAR civil justice. We respect the rules and we knew what we were going to face.

“In any case, who told you that we have not asked for the last Scudetto to be reassigned to us?

“We will accept any decision. I have been dealing with sporting justice for 22 years, the only difference in this case is the very unpleasant atmosphere that was created by the media,” concluded the newly-elected Lega Calcio Counsellor.

In the meantime, Christian Vieri is planning to file a complaint against his former club Inter and is set to ask for the Nerazzurri to be stripped of the last Scudetto for ethical reasons.

The striker was disappointed after discovering he was spied on by the Via Durini club and is willing to get revenge on them by asking the FIGC to reassign the 2005-06 title.

Drogba set for Rossoneri switch?
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in England suggest that Milan are interested in Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, as their search for Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement continues.

The Rossoneri may exploit a FIFA loophole which could allow them to sign the Ivory Coast captain for as little as £4m, as players can buy their way out of their contracts three years after signing them.

Drogba would therefore only have to match the wages earned in the remaining time, which are believed to be approximately £4m over two seasons.

The Mirror newspaper claims that Milan would have no problem in bringing it into effect, despite few clubs exploiting it thus far.

However the Ivorian striker, who has netted eight goals for Chelsea – outclassing Shevchenko in the process – does not seem keen on moving to Italy.

"Great strikers have joined the club but I am still here to serve the team," said the 28-year-old, referring to Sheva’s £30m summer move.

Drogba was already linked with Milan in August, when it seemed that the swoop for Ricardo Oliveira was destined to fail, but in the end remained at the Stamford Bridge side.

The Ivory Coast captain moved to Chelsea from Marseille for £24m in the summer of 2004 and many thought he would be relegated to the sidelines after the arrival of the Ukrainian star.

Kaka backs AC Milan revival
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka believes that Milan will soon return to top form after they stuttered into the international break.

The Rossoneri were held to three consecutive goalless draws in the week leading up to the stop, despite dominating all of the games.

Kaka, who put in two fine performances for Brazil and scored a goal in each match, now wants to transfer that form in front of goal to his club side.

“We have been a bit unlucky in the League and the Champions League, and we must give our all in the next matches,” the No 22 told the club’s website.

“We have a hard and difficult period ahead of us, but I feel fine and I am back to do well with Milan. I am pleased to have this responsibility with the club.

“As to my experience with the Brazilian squad, I think things are going well.

“Dunga is coaching for the first time in his life and has a new team with many young players.

“This is the beginning of a new important cycle for Brazil. Despite the disappointment at the World Cup, the fans are supporting us because they can see what Dunga is doing.

“The team is playing well, we all feel we can play our part,” concluded the 24-year-old.

Kaka went through a loosening session in Milanello on Wednesday, while Ricardo Oliveira, Giuseppe Favalli and Christian Brocchi went through individual drills.

Paolo Maldini was also back training with the rest of the Rossoneri squad after his recent injury absence.

Kaladze proud of Georgia
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kakhaber Kaladze says he was proud of the way Georgia played in the 3-1 defeat to Italy.

“We played pretty well while we were still 11 against 11. I said this week that we were missing four key players, although the youngsters who were on today impressed and are to be applauded,” said the Milan defender.

He was facing several of his club teammates on Wednesday in Tbilisi, including Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta.

“Italy used to be a counter-attacking side that only tried to win 1-0, but they have definitely changed their style,” continued Kaladze.

Georgia were holding on to a 1-1 draw and had hit the woodwork before Kankava was sent off on the hour mark.

“Even then, we put them under pressure. It’s tough to play a team like that anyway, let alone when you have someone sent off!”

Trio in Di Natale chase
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus, Milan and Roma are all reportedly interested in signing in-form Udinese attacker Antonio Di Natale.

The Italian international, who may start in tonight’s European Championship qualifier against Georgia, is likely to be a wanted man in January.

Although Udinese don’t intend on losing the player until the end of the season, a tempting offer could change their minds.

Considering that Udinese spent £3m on signing the 29-year-old striker from Empoli a few years ago, the Pozzo family who own the club may sacrifice him for £6m.

Juventus are thinking about an alternative to Alex Del Piero and could decide to offer £5m plus Under-21 international Raffaele Palladino.

Milan, who are having a striker crisis despite the arrival of Ricardo Oliveira, may look to refresh their options in the New Year. A cash plus Marco Borriello bid has been suggested.

However, it is understood that Roma may in fact be in pole position to land the second striker who can also play on the flanks.

Giallorossi boss Luciano Spalletti knows him well after their time together in Udine and he could play a key role in the player’s future.

Amelia makes AC Milan call
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian International goalkeeper Marco Amelia has admitted he is dreaming of leaving Livorno for Milan.

“I would be ready to take this big step in my career,” said the Roma youth team product on Tuesday morning.

“It could be an incredible opportunity for me and I know I wouldn’t let such a chance slip through my fingers.”

Milan should find out in the next few days if Nelson Dida, their current No 1, is interested in renewing his contract which is due to expire next June.

If the Brazilian goalkeeper decides to leave at the end of the season on a free transfer, then the Rossoneri could sign the 24-year-old as soon as the January transfer window.

Seedorf opens Ronaldinho door
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf says he would welcome Milan’s proposed capture of Ronaldinho. “I’d give him my shirt,” he stated.

The Barcelona player is again being heavily linked with the San Siro outfit and the Dutchman is ready to present him with a gift.

“If he joins Milan I don’t think there would be any problems about who is going to take the No 10 shirt,” said the former Inter man. “We will just see what will happen next year.”

Seedorf currently wears the number which has also graced the backs of players such as Dejan Savicevic, Roberto Baggio and Manuel Rui Costa at the club.

Ronaldinho would almost certainly request the jersey should he sign as he has recently designed a personal clothing collection called R10.

“We would be happy about such a move,“ added the man who has won the European Cup with Milan, Real Madrid and Ajax.

“But it depends on if our President reaches an agreement with the Barcelona President and if he [Ronaldinho] would like to come.”

Turning to the club’s recent struggles which have seen them draw their last three games 0-0, the veteran was remaining calm.

“I am not worried as I think we had a good start to the campaign,” continued Seedorf.

“As for Alberto Gilardino’s current form, that’s not a problem. He hasn’t scored during this period but his great talent is not lost.”

Kaladze warns AC Milan teammates
10.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze faces many of his Milan teammates tomorrow, but the Georgian is putting friendship aside for 90 minutes.

“There are no friends on the field of play,” pointed out the defender. “We’ll try to beat the World Cup holders.”

Kaladze has been in Italy since 2000-01, when he completed the move to the Rossoneri from Dynamo Kiev.

He’ll be one of the key figures Georgia will look to in Tbilisi tomorrow evening in the Euro 2008 qualifier with the Azzurri.

“It’ll be a very difficult clash for us, especially as we have a lot of players out injured. When you’re taking on a team like Italy, you need your best men available.”

The defender also concedes that more of his countrymen will be eager to follow his career path towards Serie A.

“For many of my teammates, it’ll be a valuable opportunity to prove their worth on the top international stage.”

There is a darker side to the game, which coincides with a tense political climate between Georgia and their neighbours.

“We have an extra motivation to win this week, as we’ll play for all the Georgians deported from Russia. In recent days people living in Russia were flown back in cargo planes, among them many athletes. It’s an ugly situation.”

Kaladze’s Milan teammate Andrea Pirlo was a major doubt with a cut to his eyebrow, but looks set to start anyway.

Gennaro Gattuso is suspended and Simone Perrotta returns from his one-match ban, which ruled him out of the 2-0 victory over the Ukraine.

AC Milan line up Ronaldinho
10.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy are gathering pace that Milan will make a summer bid for Barcelona ace Ronaldinho.

The Brazilian was cautiously associated with a switch last summer, but no move took place for the South American.

However, the Rossoneri may make a firm offer at the end of this season even if whispers in Spain claim that ‘Dinho is ready to extend his Barca contract until 2014.

Nevertheless, unconfirmed stories have claimed that Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has recently met with Roberto Assis – Ronaldinho’s brother and agent.

The former Italian Prime Minister is a massive fan of the Samba star and its conceivable that the two men discussed a possible future switch.

Berlusconi’s son, Piersilvio, has also publicly admitted his admiration for the former Paris Saint-Germain forward.

“Ronaldinho is a great, but we need to see what happens with Milan this season first,” he stated on Monday.

“Only after that will the club decide whether to hit the transfer market before the start of the 2007-08 campaign.”

Milan playmaker Kaka has also invited his international colleague to join him at the San Siro.

“We have played together for Brazil for many years and that will continue,” said the former Sao Paulo sensation.

“If he came to Milan? I would be delighted and not in the slightest bit envious. Milan already have great champions, but it would be even better with him here.”

AC Milan interested in Ajax goalkeeper
10.10 || webmaster

Sport Network

Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is subject of interest from Italian giants AC Milan. Ancelotti's team indentified Stekelenburg as ideal Dida replacement, who is rumoured to be leaving for Brazilian side Corinthians.

Dida is since 2002 AC Milan's first choice goalkeeper and the Brazilian is handed a new contract. Dida, who retired from international football last week, is in doubt whether he wants to renew his contract with Milan.

Corinthians are interested in the 33-year old and would love to bring Dida back to Brazil.

AC Milan are already looking for a suitable replacement might Dida leave. According to the Italian paper Tuttosport Milan have Maarten Stekelenburg high on their short list.

The third choice Holland keeper has a contract with Ajax until the summer of 2008.

Italy have Pirlo doubt
9.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy may face Georgia in their Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday without playmaker Andrea Pirlo in the side.

The Milan man is a doubt for the tie after he missed training this evening following the squad’s arrival in Tbilisi earlier today.

The former Inter player is suffering with a swollen trachea and has symptoms of a cold, even if he is not yet struggling with a high temperature.

The Italian medical team insist tonight’s absence was a precautionary measure, but boss Roberto Donadoni may be forced to make changes to the midfield which beat Ukraine 2-0 at the weekend.

The rest of the squad completed training without any problems even if the tactician is keeping journalists guessing over his starting line-up.

He tested numerous formations even if it seems that he has decided which back four to field later this week.

The ex-Milan winger tested a defence including Cristian Zaccardo, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta and Gianluca Zambrotta with insistence.

Should that quartet be confirmed then Donadoni will make two changes from the weekend with Zaccardo replacing Massimo Oddo on the right, while Marco Materazzi would be dropped from the centre with Nesta coming in.

Roma midfielder Simone Perrotta is also available to feature after he was forced out of the Ukraine victory with suspension.

Whispers suggest that Italy may switch from a 4-3-3 to a more conservative 4-4-1-1 with Perrotta and Mauro Camoranesi coming into the side. Antonio Di Natale may play behind lone striker Luca Toni.

AC Milan eye Di Natale swoop
9.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are ready to buy themselves something nice for Christmas in the shape of Antonio Di Natale.

The Rossoneri are considering boosting their attacking options for 2007 and the Udinese man is a possibility.

After losing Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea in the summer, Milan brought in Ricardo Oliveira from Real Betis.

However, the Brazilian is taking his time to settle while there are also concerns over the form of Pippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino.

As a result, boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen on adding a new dimension to his offensive options and Di Natale – the Italian word for Christmas – is the perfect addition in theory.

The former Empoli hitman would add pace to the Rossoneri attack and his ability to play on the flanks may be of use to vary tactics during games.

The Italian international, who delightfully assisted Luca Toni’s goal against the Ukraine on Saturday, also comes with an added bonus.

With Udinese not taking part in European competition this season, Di Natale would be immediately available for Champions League football should he complete a January move.

The 29-year-old would be a difficult man to sign though given that the Stadio Friuli outfit value him at around £5m.

Nevertheless, there is also a player plus cash option that could see former Under-21 international striker Marco Borriello head to Udine.

The latter was already requested by the Bianconeri in the summer, but remained at the San Siro after no deal could be agreed.

AC Milan targeting Rinaudo
9.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are planning to rejuvenate their ageing defence after taking an interest in Leandro Rinaudo.

Reports in Italy on Monday morning suggest that the Siena player has caught the attention of the club’s hierarchy.

Rinaudo, just 23-years-old, is actually owned by Palermo and joined the Bianconeri on a loan deal in the summer.

Whispers in the peninsula claim that Rinaudo wouldn’t arrive at the San Siro until next summer, but talks over his transfer could be wrapped up as soon as January.

Rinaudo was born in Palermo in 1983 and started his career with the Rosanero in Serie B during 2001-02.

He subsequently spent spells at Varese, Salernitana and Cesena before returning to the Barbera last summer.

Milan’s rearguard still includes some real veterans with Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and Billy Costacurta having a combined age of 114.

Chievo’s Davide Mandelli, 29, is another stopper understood to be on the Via Turati transfer sheet.

Gattuso: I want to throttle Don!
7.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso has used his customary humour to dissect the Inter wiretapping scandal, Francesco Totti’s hiatus and why he hopes to slap Roberto Donadoni’s face!

“What do I say to Donadoni? I hope he ends up the same way as Marcello Lippi, when I grabbed him by the neck and shouted right in his face. That’ll mean we’ve had a great game and scored plenty of goals!”

The fiery Milan midfielder became a hero during the World Cup for his performances on the field, which included a rather hands-on approach with Coach Lippi, and for his amusing sound bites during Press Conferences.

Now that the Azzurri are struggling to qualify for Euro 2008 and need a victory tonight against the Ukraine, Gattuso is again taking centre stage.

“It wouldn’t be a good look to win the World Cup and then miss out on the European Championships. We do really miss a champion like Totti, who’ll allow us to step up in terms of quality when he returns, but Francesco is very upset at staying out of all this. He hasn’t been able to train regularly and can’t be his old self until he does.”

Totti’s absence and the fact Antonio Cassano has been dropped from the squad again has raised questions over who will wear the Number 10 jersey, which has gone to Roma’s Daniele De Rossi.

“I understand it’s a very important number, the shirt worn by champions, but that’s why I have no interest in it!” smiled the former Glasgow Rangers star. “I did wear it once in the Scottish League, but I think the manager had a few too many beers that day.”

Gattuso also turned his attention to the Inter scandal that has seen players and referees – including Christian Vieri – followed and their telephone conversations intercepted.

“Telephone interceptions? All I do is intercept the ball in midfield, I’ve been doing it all my life. We’ve had four months of this talk and it’s time to move on so the team can focus on this important match. I believe Vieri to be a relaxed and professional person, so I saw no good reason to have him followed.”

Pirlo favourite for Ballon d'Or?
7.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

According to reports, Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Andrea Pirlo are the front-runners for the Ballon d’Or.

The European Player of the Year award is handed out every December by France Football magazine after votes are cast from journalists around the continent.

Ronaldinho is the current holder, although recent winners from Serie A have been Pavel Nedved of Juventus in 2003 and Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko in 2004.

Following Italy’s World Cup triumph in Germany this summer, several Azzurri are expected to have their candidacy put forward.

According to rumours emerging from the France Football offices, Buffon, Pirlo and Italy captain Cannavaro will all be in at least the top 10.

“It’s always good to receive recognition for the hard work you do and gives you a great feeling, but it must above all provide extra motivation to always improve,” said Milan midfielder Pirlo when told of this possibility.

Italian newspaper Tuttosport suggests that Pirlo is Italy’s best chance of victory, as the Ballon d’Or traditionally favours creative midfielders and forwards.

The only goalkeeper to have won this trophy was legendary Russian Lev Yashin in 1963, while Mathias Sammer was the last defender to be voted European Player of the Year in 1996.

Cannavaro’s difficulties in adapting to life with Real Madrid in La Liga and the fact Buffon is now playing in Serie B with Juventus could also favour Pirlo.

Cafu unworried by AC Milan form
6.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu has cooled concern at Milan after their last three games ended 0-0. “We have just been unlucky,” declared the defender.

The Rossoneri have been held by Livorno and Siena in Serie A and at Lille in the Champions League, but the Brazilian international has rejected talk of a crisis.

“The enthusiasm at Milan is always high and there is no reason for things to be different,” said the South American. “We haven't lost a match.

“Milan are fine and everyone is happy. We have not been lucky lately, but we have always created scoring opportunities with Alberto Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira and even some of the midfielders. Now we only have to score.

“We are not nervous, despite what has been said in the past few days,” he added.

“Clarence [Seedorf] and Coach [Carlo] Ancelotti had a work discussion, it was nothing more than that and it's a pity it was presented in a different way,” said the stopper, referring to the heated discussion between the two during the match at Livorno.

The 36-year-old also believes it is time to forget about the departure of Andriy Shevchenko and focus on the present.

“It's useless to talk about Shevchenko as he isn't here anymore,” underlined the former Roma Scudetto winner.

“We will always thank him for what he has done, but what is important are those who are here now. We are a great team and we must just think about playing.”

Cafu’s contract with Milan is close to expiring but he doesn’t believe his career is destined to end soon.

“I have heard people saying I was finished for the past seven years, but here I am still playing. The next eight months will be crucial, Milan have always acted correctly and have been available for every player.

“As to Oliveira's situation and his sister’s kidnapping, we are waiting for news from Brazil and he will then decide what to do.

“Obviously, we hope this dramatic event finishes in a positive way,” concluded Cafu.

Gattuso rallying cry
5.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso knows that Italy’s next two matches are crucial, but he has called on his teammates to prove who the world champions are.

“We are faced with two difficult matches and we know it won’t be easy, but I am sure we can win against both Ukraine and Georgia,” said the World Cup hero.

“Our position in the group worries us, but we are eager to prove that we are the world champions and deserved the title in July.

“We have the chance to make up for the previous matches and we know we can do well.

“Roberto Donadoni is training us to fight for 90 minutes and that is what we will do.

“Ukraine are a strong side but we have already defeated them in the World Cup,” continued Gattuso, referring to the victory over Andriy Shevchenko’s side in the quarter-final match in Germany.

“What impressed me is that the Berlin victory was so quickly forgotten – the only thing that matters in football are the three points.

“After the draw with Lithuania we were criticised for our performance, but I think we played well.

“We all have faith in our new Coach and want to do well,” concluded Ringhio.

Meanwhile, Barcelona defender Gianluca Zambrotta believes that an increase in fitness will prove to be the key to success.

“The team has improved from a physical and athletic point of view in the past two weeks and we do not want to fail,” said Zambrotta.

“We are worried, but are sure we can make up for our poor start. We need to win the next two matches as the six points are fundamental for us to get back on track.”

More than 35,000 tickets have been sold for the Stadio Olimpico clash with the Ukraine and the FIGC has granted free entrance to 6,000 children.

The special fans will be seated in two specific sectors of the stadium and will wear blue and golden jerseys in order to form four stars, representing La Nazionale’s World Cup triumphs.

Rome and Milan derby dates set
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Lega Calcio has unveiled the changes to the Serie A and B calendar, including the Milan and Rome derbies.

Many of these adjustments have been made in the light of the Champions League and UEFA Cup fixtures.

All times listed below are in the UK. Please add an hour when calculating the local kick-off time.

Serie A
Week 6
Sat Oct 14
Sampdoria-Milan (17.00 UK)
Siena-Messina (19.30)
Sunday Oct 15
Lazio-Cagliari (19.30)

Week 7
Sat Oct 21
Messina-Empoli (17.00)
Cagliari-Torino (19.30)
Sun Oct 22
Milan-Palermo (19.30)

Week 8
All matches at 19.30, Wednesday Oct 25

Week 9
Sat Oct 28
Udinese-Roma (17.00)
Milan-Inter (19.30)
Sunday Oct 29
Livorno-Empoli (19.30)

Week 10
Sat Nov 4
Siena-Parma (17.00)
Reggina-Catania (19.30)
Sun Nov 5

Week 11
Sat Nov 11
Fiorentina-Atalanta (17.00)
Milan-Roma (19.30)
Sun Nov 12
Parma-Inter (19.30)

Week 12
Sat Nov 18
Empoli-Milan (17.00)
Cagliari-Palermo (19.30)
Sun Nov 19
Torino-Sampdoria (19.30)

Week 13
Sat Nov 25
Chievo-Udinese (17.00)
Milan-Messina (19.30)
Sun Nov 26
Palermo-Inter (19.30)

Week 14
Sat Dec 2
Inter-Siena (17.00)
Roma-Atalanta (19.30)
Sun Dec 3
Ascoli-Catania (19.30)

Week 15
Sat Dec 9
Reggina-Ascoli (17.00)
Palermo-Livorno (19.30)
Sun Dec 10
Lazio-Roma (19.30)

Week 16
Sat Dec 16
Udinese-Cagliari (17.00)
Fiorentina-Milan (19.30)
Sun Dec 17
Roma-Palermo (19.30)

Week 17
All games at 19.30, Wednesday December 20

Week 18
All games at 14.00, Saturday December 23

Week 19
Sat Jan 13
Empoli-Parma (17.00)
Torino-Inter (19.30)
Sun Jan 14
Lazio-Siena (19.30)

Serie B

Week 7
Fri Oct 13
Vicenza-Napoli (19.45)
Mon Oct 16
Treviso-Juventus (19.45)

Week 8
Fri Oct 20
Rimini-Brescia (19.45)
Mon Oct 23
Verona-Albinoleffe (19.45)

Week 9
Fri Oct 27
Brescia-Modena (19.45)
Mon Oct 30
Verona-Genoa (19.45)

Ricardo Oliveira kidnap drama
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Ricardo Oliveira’s sister has been kidnapped in Brazil – the second case of this kind to strike the club after Kakha Kaladze.

News agencies ANSA and ‘O Globo’ report that two masked men broke into the Sao Paolo house of Maria de Lourdes Silva de Oliveira, tied up her husband and eight-year-old son before leaving with the 35-year-old woman.

No ransom request has yet been received, but according to local police, the main suspect is the couple’s 14-year-old son.

He has been repeatedly sentenced to a correctional facility for links to drug trafficking and the husband pointed out he had already threatened her.

This is the eighth kidnap in Brazil that has involved the family member of a famous football player. The others in recent months have been Michael Anderson Pereira da Silva, Robinho, Kleber, Rogerio, Luis Fabiano, Marinho and Grafite. All the kidnap victims were released.

Ricardo Oliveira joined Milan from Betis Seville in the summer and scored on his Serie A debut against Lazio.

This is the second time that a Rossoneri player has been forced to confront the kidnap of a close relative.

Kakha Kaladze’s younger brother was abducted in Georgia on May 23 2001. 21-year-old Levan’s body was found in February.

AC Milan snub Sheva return
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have categorically denied that Andriy Shevchenko could return to the club. “He’ll end his career at Chelsea,” said Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

The Ukrainian has been linked with a switch back to Milan given his difficulties in London, yet Galliani doesn’t expect to sign the former European Footballer of the Year for a second time.

“I don’t want to nourish any false hopes,” said the club official. “Shevchenko is a Chelsea player and he will end his career in London.

“We will always have fond memories of the seven seasons he spent with us and the 175 goals he scored.

“I say 175 because I am also counting the one in last year’s Champions League semi-final in Barcelona which was unfairly disallowed.”

After losing Sheva to the Stamford Bridge outfit for £31m, Galliani has also conceded that Nelson Dida could be the next high profile player out of the door.

The goalkeeper’s contract expires in June 2007 and talks regarding an extension have so far proved problematic.

“The club is willing to discuss an extension and Dida will remain our first choice until the last day of the season,” added the former Lega Calcio chief.

“If the player decides that he doesn’t want to stay then we will look for another goalkeeper,” he noted.

“I have learned one lesson in 20 years at Milan and that is that everyone is important, but no one is irreplaceable.

“The only person who is indispensable is President Silvio Berlusconi. Milan will keep on winning as long as he remains at the head of the club.”

Livorno and Italy youngster Marco Amelia has been linked with a switch should Dida join another club next summer.

Sheva: Kaka is my heir
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko believes that Brazilian starlet Kaka will become his successor at Milan. “He is an extraordinary player,” stated the Ukrainian.

The Rossoneri have failed to find a replacement for the striker after his summer move to Chelsea and are suffering a goal drought, resulting in three straight goalless draws, but Sheva is confident that things will change.

“There is a man who can become my heir and that is Kaka, he is an exceptional player who still has an enormous potential,” said the player to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“You haven’t yet seen what he can really do, I am sure he will write an important page in the history of Milan.

“I have heard of a small disagreement between him and Coach Carlo Ancelotti, but there are always discussions in football teams. I don’t think that represents a problem just as long as there is mutual respect.

“Milan’s form? We all go through bad periods as I am not scoring either, but these things can happen. You just need to be patient and wait for things to improve.

“Ricardo Oliveira? He mustn’t feel he is constantly compared with me, when I started everyone reminded me of Marco Van Basten’s performances,” continued Shevchenko, who has just turned 30.

Sheva joined the Stamford Bridge outfit in a £31m move this summer, but so far has been overshadowed by Didier Drogba.

As a result there have been rumours suggesting he may consider a return to Italy, whispers that he immediately dismissed.

“I am glad about the choice I made, this is the life I chose for myself and my family, life goes beyond football,” he added.

“My move had nothing to do with the money and life for a football player is easier in London.

“It’s much more simple and there is not all the pressure there is in Italy, football is a show that finishes once the game is over.

“This is the truth behind my move. If someone doesn’t believe me it’s maybe because they are not used to saying the truth,” concluded Sheva.

AC Milan landmark pleases Seedorf
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf says he’s delighted to be part of such a united squad after playing in his 200th game for Milan.

The 30-year-old reached the important landmark on Saturday at the San Siro when the Rossoneri obtained their third consecutive goalless draw against Siena.

“It is beautiful to be part of a group that has done so much over the years,” the Dutchman told Milan Channel. “This club believes in the team and in what Milan have built in the past few seasons.”

The midfielder signed for the Rossoneri in 2002 after spending two terms with city rivals Internazionale.

“It isn’t easy to explain what it feels like to be part of this family,” noted the Suriname-born ace. “I decided to come to Milan for many reasons, including the importance that is given to the small things – even off the pitch.

“I enjoy the everyday life at Milanello [their training base]. Even if you go into the kitchen you see people smiling while they prepare lunch and these small things are important.”

Milan have been struggling for form of late, but Seedorf is optimistic that the side will soon get back to winning ways.

“As to our difficult moment, I think our opponents fear us and play very defensive matches when they face us,” he noted.

“This limits the space and it’s difficult for us to attack, but we have always created scoring opportunities so I’m not worried.

“The team has changed after Andriy Shevchenko’s departure and we must all attack and try to score, even the midfielders.

“In the end, it isn’t important who the scorer is as long as we find the net.”

I'm not joining AC Milan, says Sheva
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Football Italia

Struggling Chelsea forward Andriy Shevchenko has dismissed rumours suggesting he may return to Milan as early as January.

The Ukrainian joined the Stamford Bridge outfit in a £31m move this summer, but has not yet adjusted to his new reality – scoring only once in eight games for the Blues – and has been overshadowed by Didier Drogba so far.

Reports in Italy on Sunday suggested that Sheva may be considering a return to the peninsula and could take advantage of Ukraine’s Azzurri Rome clash to discuss details with Milan officials.

“I do not regret my move to England and I am glad I chose London, I am very happy here,” said the player to the Controcampo publication.

“Drogba is living a fortunate moment, but I am sure that things will change and my time will come. There is no chance that I will return to Milan,” added Shevchenko.

Chelsea’s record buy attracted criticism once again after his performance on Saturday in the 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa, but Coach Jose Mourinho and captain John Terry both confirmed their trust in Sheva.

“He is just lacking goals,” said the Portuguese tactician. “When he finally scores that will give him more confidence.

“He is improving physically and I appreciated the work he put in for the team when he was without the ball.”

Teammate Terry agrees with Mourinho and is willing to wait for the Ukrainian to settle in. “Sheva's goals will come, but his work and input are there,” said the England captain.

Shevchenko had already been paired with a Milan return in the past few weeks and Coach Carlo Ancelotti said he would be glad to have him back – but at a reduced price.

His comments however were not as warm on Sunday, after their third consecutive 0-0 draw, when he said there was no possibility of seeing Sheva return to the Rossoneri outfit.

Kaladze on the defensive
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Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze has admitted that Milan are disappointed after their third goalless draw in a week, but there is still cause for optimism.

The Rossoneri were kept out by Siena at the San Siro, as the goal drought continued after the stalemates with Livorno and Lille.

“The defence did well and didn’t concede any goals – which is important,” said Kaladze.

“We came close to scoring and had many chances, but we were unlucky. Alex Manninger also did very well in goal.”

Milan hit the crossbar with a header from Alberto Gilardino and then had an Andrea Pirlo goal disallowed because Filippo Inzaghi was offside.

“Referees can make mistakes, but it seems impossible to disallow a goal like that,” said Kaladze.

“We are disappointed it finished goalless, as we wanted to give President Silvio Berlusconi a gift,” added the Georgian player, referring to Berlusconi’s 70th birthday.

“He deserves a trophy, either the Champions League or the championship.”

Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira was also hoping for a better outcome, but is confident that the international break will now allow the team to recover.

“Siena were more worried with defending than scoring, while we didn't play badly and created several occasions,” said Oliveira, who has been unable to find the net after his debut goal against Lazio.

“We played well and deserved three points. Berlusconi said we were unlucky and that we worked hard – now we can rest a bit before the championship starts again,” concluded the former Betis star.

Donadoni drops Cassano and Gilardino
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Football Italia

Roberto Donadoni has dropped Alberto Gilardino and Antonio Cassano, but recalled Luca Toni and Alex Del Piero against Ukraine and Georgia.

The return of the two World Cup winners – along with Vincenzo Iaquinta and the previously suspended Marco Materazzi – was expected, but Real Madrid starlet Cassano had impressed in the 1-1 draw with Lithuania.

Gilardino is yet to hit the back of the net for Milan this season, although his header hit the woodwork today, but it was still a surprise to see him dropped completely.

The new face is that of Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri, while David Di Michele, Antonio Di Natale and Sampdoria’s Gennaro Del Vecchio retain their spots.

The Coach was originally set to unveil the list this afternoon, but delayed the announcement until he could receive news on Fabio Grosso’s muscular injury suffered during Inter’s 1-1 draw at Cagliari. It is not a serious problem and he is in the side.

The Azzurri desperately need points after a 1-1 draw with Lithuania and 3-1 defeat in France, so their chances of reaching the tournament depend on these next two games.

Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine – who were defeated 3-0 by Marcello Lippi’s men on their way to the World Cup triumph this summer – play at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on October 7.

The trip to Tbilisi to take on Georgia will take place on October 11. The Italy team will unite at the Coverciano training ground on Monday.

Goalkeepers: Abbiati (Torino), Amelia (Livorno), Buffon (Juventus)

Defenders: Barzagli (Palermo), Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Grosso (Inter), Materazzi (Inter), Nesta (Milan), Oddo (Lazio), Pasqual (Fiorentina), Zaccardo (Palermo), Zambrotta (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Camoranesi (Juventus), Del Vecchio (Sampdoria), De Rossi (Roma), Gattuso (Milan), Mauri (Lazio), Perrotta (Roma), Pirlo (Milan)

Forwards: Del Piero (Juventus), Di Michele (Palermo), Di Natale (Udinese), Iaquinta (Udinese), Inzaghi (Milan), Toni (Fiorentina)

AC Milan 'release' Dida
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Football Italia

Adriano Galliani has said Dida is “not irreplaceable” if he doesn’t sign a new contract, but the goalkeeper has ended his Selecao career.

“It’s a simple situation. His contract expires at the end of 2007. He hasn’t signed an extension, but I think it’s legitimate that a club and player can reach a decision to continue or not. If he doesn’t put pen to paper, Dida would remain our first choice until the last day of the season,” the Milan transfer guru told Sky Italia.

“If he does leave us, then we’d thank him for everything he has done and find a new goalkeeper. I hope he does extend, and he’s never said that he won’t, but he’s not irreplaceable.”

Dida had a rocky start to his Rossoneri career, most famously dropping a clanger in a Champions League defeat at Leeds United, but came back stronger than ever helping them to the 2003 trophy.

It seems the shot-stopper is considering his future carefully, as he has also retired from the international scene.

“Dida told me that the Selecao is no longer a priority in his career,” revealed Brazil boss Carlos Dunga on ‘Rete Globo’ television.

Sheva gets Rossoneri visit
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Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko’s crisis at Chelsea has raised reports he’s considering a return to Milan, especially with his old teammates coming to visit.

“We’ll go to see Sheva after the match as friends to celebrate his birthday,” revealed Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

Shevchenko has been named in Oleg Blokhin’s squad to face Italy in a Euro 2008 qualifier at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on October 7, so he’ll fly back to Italy this week.

“It’s me, Carlo Ancelotti, director Ariedo Braida and a few of the players. If he ever gets lonely in London, our door is always open.”

The Ukrainian made the move to Stamford Bridge for £30m this summer, but hasn’t hit the back of the net since the second game and is attracting criticism from the British Press.

Milan tried to convince him to stay at San Siro until the last minute, but there are suggestions life in the Premiership is not what he expected.

However, while Galliani would welcome Sheva back with open arms, Ancelotti was not so warm in his comments this weekend.

“There is absolutely no chance of his return,” said the Coach. “I don’t see how that would happen. If it were up to me, I’d happily bring back all the players who did well at Milan, like Sheva, Manuel Rui Costa, Jaap Stam and even Rivaldo.”

The tactician also tried to reassure that Shevchenko just needs time to make his mark at Chelsea this season.

“This is natural, as someone who changes environment after many years has to adjust. It’s up to him to do everything he can in order to enter into their movement and system.”

AC Milan 0:0 Siena - match report
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Football Italia

Alex Manninger was Man of the Match with a series of incredible saves, as Milan are muzzled for the second week running.

The Rossoneri have always been prolific, but with two consecutive 0-0 draws this week against Livorno and Lille, the pressure was on. Carlo Ancelotti shelved the unpopular Christmas Tree formation - criticised by Kaka - and was without the injured Paolo Maldini, Serginho and Yoann Gourcuff. Siena were coming off a surprising two straight away victories, but Daniele Portanova was suspended.

It was one-way traffic in the early stages, as Gennaro Gattuso drilled wide from the edge of the box, while Dida held an ambitious Roberto D'Aversa effort.

Alberto Gilardino is yet to score this season and really couldn't have gone closer than on 20 minutes, when his header from a corner kick cannoned off the crossbar.

Siena fought back with Tomas Locatelli's shot smothered and Konko went on the counter-attack, but a weak finish was just wide.

Andrea Pirlo created a chance out of nothing with a screamer from 25 metres that Alex Manninger tipped over the bar.

The Bianconeri failed to deal with a corner kick effectively and Kakha Kaladze fired on to the side-netting from point-blank range. Siena were pinned back into their own half with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf efforts.

Marek Jankulovski replaced the injured Giuseppe Favalli and Milan continued to dominate. Straight after the restart, Kaka's header from a Seedorf corner was flapped off the line by an impressive Manninger, who recaptured the ball before Gilardino could pounce.

Gilardino was at full stretch as he just failed to get on the end of a delightful Kaka assist.

The Rossoneri nearly paid the price for their wasteful finishing, as Mario Frick found himself clear on goal to test Dida from close range, inspired by a Locatelli pass.

Gilardino intercepted a wayward Pirlo shot and spun it just past the base of the upright. Both Seedorf and Pirlo couldn't keep their free kicks on target.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Manninger was Man of the Match with a fantastic save to deny Pippo Inzaghi's header from a Pirlo free kick.

Locatelli dribbled past a couple of defenders and brought a save out of Dida with his low finish.

Milan hit the back of the net on 72 minutes with Pirlo getting a touch to Kaka's shot, but Inzaghi was offside and the referee disallowed it.

Ricardo Oliveira replaced Seedorf for a trident attack in the final push and within minutes he had nodded Pirlo's cross off target after some great work from the former Inter midfielder.

D'Aversa's free kick was just over the bar, while Dida beat away a Molinaro effort and on the counter-attack Oliveira was closed down.

Manninger was extraordinary in stoppages, somehow pushing Ambrosini's diving header over the bar from point-blank range.

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Ambrosini 74), Nesta, Kaladze, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Oliveira 74); Kakà; Gilardino, Inzaghi

Siena: Manninger; Bertotto, Gastaldello, Rinaudo, Molinaro; Konko, D'Aversa (Brevi 89), Vergassola, Candela (Antonini 80); Locatelli (Bogdani 73), Frick

Ref: Stefanini

Ancelotti going for goals
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Football Italia

Milan have had two consecutive 0-0 draws and Carlo Ancelotti has appealed to his strikers – and to superstition – to end this run.

“President Silvio Berlusconi will be in the stands against Siena and there’s always a goal when he’s in attendance,” smiled the tactician.

“Last season we conceded too many goals and worked on that. This year we have to improve on our shorts from distance and the movement of the forwards to score more regularly. In any case, we have created chances and it’s not just about the strikers, but the midfielders too.”

There were fears that Andriy Shevchenko’s £30m move to Chelsea would rob the Rossoneri of valuable goals, especially as Alberto Gilardino is yet to find the net in all competitions this term.

“He is worried about the fact he can’t seem to score, but this happens to all strikers sooner or later. They can’t always maintain that level of consistency. Besides, Gilardino has always taken his time to get into form and he played a great game against Lille.”

Ancelotti was eager to point out that Milan are not hitting a rough patch after their splendid start to the campaign in Serie A and the Champions League.

“We would’ve preferred to have a 100 per cent record at this stage, but a draw away to Livorno is acceptable. Up until now, we’ve picked up the same points as Inter.”

The eight-point Calciopoli penalty makes the Scudetto a difficult proposition, but the Coach is eager to continue climbing the standings against Siena.

“They have an excellent tactician who really prepares his teams for every game. He did it last year at Parma and is maintaining that good record at Siena. We have many objectives for this match, from ending on a high before the break for international duty to giving our President a gift for his birthday.”

However, the San Siro giants are without Paolo Maldini, Serginho and Yoann Gourcuff, while Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Nesta and Pippo Inzaghi are doubts.

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