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The Archive

October 2007

Sampdoria 0:5 AC Milan - match report
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka 47 (M), Gilardino 53, 61 (M), Gourcuff 75 (M), Seedorf 80 (M)

Milan may be incapable of winning at San Siro, but they are having no problems on their travels, as they have scored 10 goals in their last two away games.

The Rossoneri had their worst Serie A start since 1983 with just 10 points in nine games and the 1-0 home defeat to Roma on Sunday all but ended their Scudetto ambitions. Massimo Ambrosini saw red in that tie and was suspended, joining the injured Massimo Oddo, Marek Jankulovski and Ronaldo in the stands. Milan had started the season with a 3-0 win in this stadium against Genoa and hoped it would bring them luck again.

Samp were also struggling after the 2-0 loss at Catania and a new Antonio Cassano thigh injury, while Gennaro Delvecchio, Pietro Accardi and the suspended Hugo Campagnaro missed out.

On 10 minutes from a corner kick Kakha Kaladze's downward header was fingertipped off the line by a very alert Luca Castellazzi in a spectacular and decisive save.

The home side lost Stefano Lucchini to injury after just 15 minutes, but they almost took the lead when Luigi Sala went on a strong run through the centre and his deflected strike was fingertipped over the bar by Nelson Dida.

Although the Rossoneri had a strong start, they became increasingly shaky at the back as the first half wore on. Yet Clarence Seedorf went close to opening the scoring against his former club, a volley wide at the back post.

Milan broke through within 90 seconds of the restart. Andrea Pirlo's chipped pass over the defence found Gilardino and he cut back for Kaka to tap in from seven yards.

Gila turned scorer soon after, as he doubled the Rossoneri's advantage. Seedorf confused the defence with some smart footwork and Serginho's cross found a Gilardino header.

The former Parma striker was on stunning form and made it 3-0. He gathered from Serginho with his back to goal and turned marker Bastrini to place a quick finish past Castellazzi from close range.

Milan were utterly dominant at Marassi and Yoann Gourcuff got his first goal of the campaign with a splendid finish in off the underside of the crossbar from a tight angle.

Seedorf rounded out the 5-0 scoreline with a precise close-range header from a Daniele Bonera cross from the right.

Sampdoria: Castellazzi; Lucchini (Bastrini 15), Sala, Gastaldello; Maggio, Palombo, Volpi, Ziegler (Bonazzoli 75); Sammarco, Bellucci (Caracciolo 66); Montella

Milan: Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho (Simic 76); Gattuso (Gourcuff 67), Pirlo, Brocchi; Seedorf, Kakà (Cafu 81), Gilardino

Ref: Ayroldi

Barca: End Ronaldinho talk
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Barcelona have called for an end to Press reports linking Brazilian star Ronaldinho with a move to Milan.

The Selecao midfield ace is rumoured to be unhappy with the Blaugranas and was jeered by fans during last Sunday’s win over Almeria.

Some sources suggested that the breakdown in relations between the 27-year-old and the club that once adored him could lead to a huge January transfer.

However, the La Liga giants are defiant that the ex-PSG man won’t be leaving even if the Rossoneri come calling.

“Ronaldinho is not for sale, neither in December, nor June,” Barcelona Vice-President Ferran Soriano told La Vanguardia.

“He has had some problems with his game, but that’s inevitable and we have never considered selling him.”

Milan sporting director Ariedo Braida has also poured scorn upon the speculation.

“This news is simply nonsense and we don’t want to waste time on the subject,” he told Ona FM.

Mazzarri expects spirited Sampdoria
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Sampdoria Coach Walter Mazzarri expects a response from his side against Milan after a dismal defeat against Catania.

A sluggish Blucerchiati performance cost them dear at the Stadio Massimino last weekend as they fell to a 2-0 loss that sucked them into the bottom half.

“We made a mistake with our approach to the game, but that’s over and done with now,” Mazzarri admitted. “Against Milan we will have to play at 120 per cent.

“In Catania I don’t know whether we just lacked spirit or they were too good, but in any case we left with nothing.

“We didn’t get the rub of the green and it was a shame because nine times out of 10 we wouldn’t have conceded.”

Milan are desperate to silence the critics and get their season back on track after a defeat against Roma left them in 13th after their worst start in 24 years.

“We are facing venomous and determined opposition who have been playing well in spite of their recent results,” Mazzarri insisted.

“We have no advantage here and we will have to give everything to get something out of the game.”

The Rossoneri’s main threat this term has been Brazilian ace Kaka and Mazzarri is hatching a plan to contain him.

“I’d like to use a cage!” he quipped. “I’ve tried man marking him, but he makes it very difficult

“It will be all hands on deck to stop him getting started, but we will do everything we can.”

Sampdoria (probable): Mirante; Lucchini, Sala, Gastaldello; Zenoni, Palombo, Volpi, Pieri, Sammarco; Bellucci, Montella

Coco’s shock U-turn
31.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Francesco Coco is ready for a sensational return to football and has called for Milan to sign him.

The 30-year-old surprisingly quit football this summer after a frustrating, injury-hit period at Inter.

Despite earning 17 Azzurri caps, Coco’s love of the celebrity lifestyle won through when he decided to appear on the Italian version of “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here” and stated his desire to be a film star.

However, it now appears that the left-back made a rash decision and he has made a stunning U-turn.

“It was a rushed choice when I said that I wanted to quit football,” he told gossip magazine Chi.

“Football is my life and I want to return to a club where I can dedicate myself to the job I love.

“Where? I want to join Milan because that’s the club where I grew up. If it were possible I would go back for free.”

Berlusconi's Rossoneri remedy
30.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has an unorthodox solution for the Rossoneri’s slump and condemns protests against Adriano Galliani.

The Diavolo are going through a miserable period and are languishing in the bottom half of the table.

While critics are falling over themselves to prescribe the cure to the Milan malaise, Berlusconi insists that his men are working too hard.

“The players are too tired, they need a rest,” he told journalists.

“Rather than have the players come to Milanello for training, they should go home and get some sleep.”

The lack of a reliable hitman has blighted Carlo Ancelotti’s side so far this campaign, but Berlusconi believes the solution will come from Brazilian stars Ronaldo and newcomer Alexandre Pato.

“We are still without two of our strongest strikers who have been at the centre of our transfer campaigns over the last two years,” the Milan chief continued.

“The young Brazilian has shown himself to be a great champion. When we played defence v attack in training the other day it finished 8-0 and Pato scored seven.”

Berlusconi concluded by lambasting those sections of the ground that chose to protest against Vice-President Galliani during the Roma game.

“There aren’t words to describe that kind of behaviour,” he roared.

“Milan are European champions and Super Cup winners and we are going to play in the Club World Cup.

"It isn’t right to protest because of a run where we don’t play all that well.”

Boban blasts struggling AC Milan
30.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Former Milan star Zvonimir Boban has criticised the current Rossoneri side and insists that they need more than Alexandre Pato to turn things around.

The European champions are in the doldrums after last weekend’s defeat against Roma left them in 13th place.

The Diavolo have pinned their hopes on Brazilian striking starlet Pato, who arrives in January, but Boban is not convinced.

“I strongly doubt that Pato will be enough to jumpstart the Milan engine,” he told La Stampa.

“If the Rossoneri want to compete on all fronts they need one really big signing.”

Boban believes that the priorities at the club have changed since he won four Scudetti at the San Siro between 1992 and 2001.

“Milan have changed their philosophy and now they put the Champions League first and let everything else follow,” he stressed.

“As Europe seems to matter more than everything else, the side are unwittingly snubbing the League.”

The Croatian ex-midfielder concluded by casting a critical eye over the men at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal.

“It’s a different squad now because you can’t ask the old guard to keep working miracles,” he warned.

“Ancelotti doesn’t have the strikers who can turn a game, let alone a season, like Jon Dahl Tomasson or Daniele Massaro used to.

“Inter have Julio Cruz, Juventus have Vincenzo Iaquinta and Roma Mirko Vucinic, but Milan have nobody.”

Ancelotti: We're not depressed
28.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti insists Milan are “not depressed” after getting off to their worst Serie A start in 24 years and won’t change their system.

“We are not depressed, just disappointed. After the game we evaluated the current form,” he explained following their 1-0 home defeat to Roma, leaving the side with just 10 points from nine games.

“It is a tough time, especially on home turf. Today was a balanced match with chances for both sides. They broke the deadlock, although we played just as well.”

Mirko Vucinic’s strike secured the victory, but it could have been more as Daniele De Rossi chipped a penalty off target and Massimo Ambrosini was sent off.

It was a completely different performance to that seen in the midweek 4-1 demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

“We didn’t do as well as Wednesday,” continued Ancelotti. “We have to think of how to quickly get over this tough moment. We are very inconsistent, a little distracted and as usual conceded a goal with a cross from the byeline. We can do better.

“I did not shout at anyone. We just need to find the cure for what ails us and the only certain thing I can say is that we will not change our tactics. We are all united and can get back up again, just as we did in the past. When we have other players at our disposal, then perhaps we can adjust a few things.”

The Rossoneri went into this match without the injured Ronaldo, Massimo Oddo and Marek Jankulovski, forcing veteran Paolo Maldini to go back to his roots at left-back.

“Paolo is in good shape and I asked him to play as left-back. He had no problems with it and I would never have pushed if he had not wanted that role.”

AC Milan 0:1 AS Roma - match report
28.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Vucinic 72 (R)

Milan cannot shake off their dismal home form, as Mirko Vucinic gave Roma a victory that all but rules the Rossoneri out of the title race. Daniele De Rossi also missed a penalty and Massimo Ambrosini was dismissed.

The Scudetto contenders went head-to-head to see who would get back on track in the hunt for leaders Inter. Both sides have been inconsistent in Serie A this season, but they also had injury worries, as Francesco Totti, Alberto Aquilani, Mauro Esposito and Rodrigo Taddei were ruled out for the visitors, while Marek Jankulovski, Massimo Oddo and Ronaldo forced a reshuffle at Milan. Veterans Paolo Maldini and Marcos Cafu took on their old roles.

Both were coming off confidence-boosting Champions League wins midweek, in which Mirko Vucinic netted his first goal of the campaign. Last term Roma won both trips here against Milan and Inter.

There was a good chance for the visitors when Vucinic pounced on a Kakha Kaladze error, but Nelson Dida was alert and rushed off his line to clear. Amantino Mancini robbed Andrea Pirlo only to shoot off target, while Daniele De Rossi helped crowd out Kaka.

On 16 minutes a Kaka angled drive from the edge of the area shaved a coat of paint off the far post with Alexander Doni beaten. Dida did well to turn a powerful Cicinho strike round the far post, but from the resulting corner the goalkeeper did not clear effectively and made up for it with a fine one-handed save on Cicinho's right-foot volley.

Cicinho almost hit the back of the net at the other end, his deflection anticipating Alberto Gilardino skimming his own goalmouth. But Dida was under a lot of pressure during this period, flying to palm a De Rossi rocket out of the far top corner.

Roma should have taken the lead on 27 minutes with a classic counter-attack, but when Mancini rolled across, Vucinic side-footed wide with only Dida to beat.

There were chances for both sides in an entertaining game, Clarence Seedorf drilling two opportunities past the post and Kaka's was deflected wide. Cafu's crucial tackle halted a dangerous Vucinic counter-attack and Philippe Mexes' toe-poke prevented Gilardino tapping in Seedorf's assist from six yards.

After the restart Gennaro Gattuso chested down the ball and flicked it past Juan before firing straight at Doni. The goalkeeper rushed out to smother Kaka's through pass to Pirlo and Gilardino's looping free header skimmed the woodwork from Maldini's cross.

It was Roma who eventually broke the deadlock. Cicinho went on the counter from Mancini's assist and crossed from the right for a splendid Vucinic diving header at the near post.

Substitute Serginho set up a good chance for Gilardino, but there was another turning point 10 minutes from time. Ambrosini held De Rossi's shirt as the Roma midfielder went for a header, leading to both a penalty and a second booking for the Milan man. De Rossi took the kick himself and attempted to chip it over Dida, but in fact fired over the bar.

That dreadful miss restored the Rossoneri's confidence, even though they were playing with 10 men, as Gilardino's twisting header shaved the base of the far post.

Ludovic Giuly struck the side-netting in stoppages and Dida was surprised by the former Barcelona star's snapshot, able to control it at the second attempt, as Roma cruised to victory.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Maldini (Favalli 78); Gattuso (Serginho 74), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kakà, Gilardino

Roma: Doni; Cicinho (Panucci 84), Mexes, Juan, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro; Mancini (Giuly 76), Perrotta (Brighi 59), Tonetto; Vucinic

Ref: Rosetti

Sent off: Ambrosini 79 (M)

Missed penalty: De Rossi 80 (R)

Totti to miss AC Milan
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roma captain Francesco Totti will miss Sunday’s game against Milan, but may shake off an ankle injury to play in Wednesday’s Rome derby.

Er Pupone picked up a knock after a clash with Liedson in the Giallorossi’s win over Sporting Lisbon in midweek.

Initial fears that the talismanic goal machine may be out for several weeks disappeared as tests showed that the injury wasn’t serious.

However, while there had been suggestions that Totti could be patched up to play against Milan, it has now been confirmed that he won’t feature.

Roma’s medical team are now doing everything in their power to ensure that the 31-year-old is available for the Derby della Capitale against Lazio on Wednesday.

Things look better for midfielder Simone Perrotta who is expected to pass tomorrow’s fitness test and be named in the side to face the Rossoneri.

Brazilian winger Rodrigo Taddei’s frustration grows as he remains out of action, but he hasn’t ruled out a place on the bench for the battle against Lazio.

AC Milan for new Ronaldinho bid?
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

With Ronaldinho reportedly unsettled at Barcelona, Milan are reconsidering a January bid, according to Italian Press reports.

The Rossoneri had been tipped to lure the Brazilian wizard in the New Year after continuous rumours after a summer move proved impossible.

However, Barca chief Joan Laporta has always asserted that the Selecao star is not for sale at any price.

But Ronaldinho is eyeing the exit door at the Nou Camp after a row with the club, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The FIFA World Player of the Year for 2004 and 2005 was late to return to Barca duty after playing for Brazil against Ecuador and was dropped for their clash against Villarreal.

Ronaldinho has failed to live up to his very high standards so far this term and it is believed that Laporta may accept a bid of around £45m in the transfer window.

While Milan have made it clear that they would love to add the 27-year-old to their ranks, they may face some stiff competition.

Chelsea have declared their interest and may prove to have deeper pockets should a bidding war start.

Carletto sees Spalletti exchange
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has sensationally suggested that he may swap jobs with Roma’s Luciano Spalletti at some stage.

Ancelotti spent the majority of his playing career with Roma and has a deep affection for the Giallorossi.

While the ex-Juventus tactician claims that he is happy at the San Siro, he surprisingly admitted that he could picture himself on the Stadio Olimpico bench.

“I’m happy at Milan and Spalletti is doing well at Roma at the moment, but in a few years I could see a swap,” Ancelotti told Sky Sports Italia.

“Given my past experiences with the Magica, I would say that Roma are the only club I could move to.

“I could never go to Inter or Lazio, nor could I return to Juventus,” he continued.

“It wouldn’t be right to destroy my great past at Milan and Roma by joining a direct rival side.

“In theory I could only really go to Roma, a foreign side, or the national team,” Ancelotti concluded.

Ancelotti and Spalletti come face to face as Milan host Roma in the crunch match of the weekend.

Serginho close to recovery
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Brazilian veteran Serginho is preparing to return from a long-term injury, while Marek Jankulovski has gone under the knife.

Serginho is yet to make a League appearance this term due to a serious muscular problem, but Il Concorde is back in training and ready to go.

““I’m finally feeling good,” the versatile left-sided star enthused. “I’m not 100 per cent yet, but I’m slowly getting there.

“Even if I’m not in perfect condition, I can give my all and contribute to the side.

“Match fitness is a way off, but I’m ready to make sacrifices to prove to the boss that I’m ready when I’m needed.”

Czech international Jankulovski who limped off against Empoli has filled Serginho’s place on the treatment table.

The ex-Udinese man will be out for around 40 days after a successful operation on his right knee by specialist Dr Mark Martens.

While his absence is a blow to the Rossoneri, there is relief that he hasn’t damaged ligaments.

Kalac reassures Dida
26.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Zeljko Kalac filled in admirably for the suspended Nelson Dida, but insists he’s not out to steal the first team spot.

“I knew I had to stay prepared, as the critics are always ready to sharpen their knives against you,” smiled Milan’s Australian goalkeeper.

Dida sat out a one-match ban for feigning injury against Celtic and Kalac performed well with some smart saves, including a fingertip touch on Ravzan Rat when it was still goalless that was not seen by the linesman.

“It’s better that way, as we avoided a corner! When you haven’t played for a while, it is very tough to get back on track and the first thing I did was a save that nobody spotted. It gave me the confidence and I improved from there.”

Kalac is a candidate to take over permanently from Dida, but he stood up for his Brazilian colleague.

“When Milan lose, someone has to take the blame and it is easier to put it on the goalkeeper, but we don’t see it that way. We do our work and all three are talented. Situations pass and so do the criticisms.

“I am the reserve and Dida is No 1. There are no problems between us. If they tell me to play, then I play.”

It was a fast-paced game with dozens of scoring opportunities and Shakhtar did not sit back.

“It felt like being back in my Perugia days, when I’d have to make a thousand saves per match,” he joked.

“It went well today and we won a very important match playing good football.”

Ancelotti: We're not cured yet
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti warns this cruise to victory has not solved all Milan’s problems, but admits Europe suits them more.

“Everything has not been resolved and we will probably run into certain problems again in the future,” said the Coach.

The Rossoneri had been in crisis after defeats to Celtic and Empoli, but they crushed Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 at San Siro.

Thanks to Benfica’s 1-0 victory over Celtic, this puts the reigning champions on top of their group with six points, ahead of Shakhtar on goal difference.

“We have difficulties in certain games. In Europe there are more open teams and we can make the most of the characteristics of our players,” continued Ancelotti.

Kaka was rested for the Empoli loss on Sunday and was a doubt until this evening with a knee problem, but he put in a stunning individual performance, hitting the inside of the upright.

“Kaka did everything and more. He made a lot of mistakes in front of goal, but he was devastating when going forward at pace.

“Everything is so much easier with Kaka. The Ballon d’Or? He certainly did not need confirmation tonight for that award, he has already done more than enough to deserve it and will continue to impress.”

Alberto Gilardino was the surprise pick upfront instead of Champions League specialist Filippo Inzaghi, but rewarded Ancelotti with an early brace of headers.

“Today Kaka had great help upfront, as Gilardino aided him in holding up the ball and scored two goals.”

Only this week General Manager Adriano Galliani had complained that Milan did not have any strikers who were good in the air, but Gilardino netted two headers this evening.

“That’s the great thing about football – you are immediately proved wrong at every turn!” grinned Ancelotti.

The pressure to deliver is back on Milan, as this Sunday they welcome Scudetto contenders Roma to San Siro.

Rossoneri court Kanoute'
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

The key to Milan’s woes may be the January arrival of Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute’, but Carlo Ancelotti is heading for a transfer battle with the club.

This week General Manager Adriano Galliani told the media that what the Rossoneri needed was a tall centre-forward in the style of Oliver Bierhoff.

Kanoute’ is strong in the air as well as with his feet and has impressed in recent years with the two-time UEFA Cup winners.

Other options include Palermo’s Brazilian forward Amauri and Rolando Bianchi, who is unhappy at his time on the bench at Manchester City.

However, that theory does not sit well with the Coach, who hit out at the reports during a Press Conference.

“A striker like Bierhoff? No, I don’t want to hear talk of other forwards at the moment, because we have them, even if they are going through a tough time,” said Ancelotti.

“Our forwards are of great quality and, although they are not specialists in the air, we have won so much with them anyway.”

Alberto Gilardino is the only real header of the ball at Milan, but he too is struggling to find form, while Pippo Inzaghi and Ronaldo are more notable for the work done with the ball at their feet.

Galliani also suggested switching to a 4-4-2 system when on home turf against teams who lock up their defences.

“The identity of this Milan side cannot and must not be put in doubt,” added a furious Ancelotti.

“So I have no intention of radically changing anything. We just need to be more organised and efficient when it comes to breaking the deadlock. The rest is fine.”

Totti to miss AC Milan?
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

There are fears that Roma captain Francesco Totti may miss out on the Giallorossi’s crunch match against Milan this weekend.

Er Pupone limped off in the 35th minute of the capital club’s win over Sporting Lisbon last night with an ankle injury.

While these are worrying times for the Magica, the only relief is that it was not the ankle that underwent recent surgery.

The Roman talisman picked up the knock after just six minutes in a collision with Liedson and played on for half an hour before being replaced by Mirko Vucinic.

The Montenegrin proved to be the hero and may be called upon against the Rossoneri, but he claims that he would rather Totti recovered.

“I hope that I don’t play against Milan,” he insisted. “Because that would mean that Francesco didn’t recover and he is too important to us.”

Totti will undergo test later today and these should give a better understanding as to the extent of the injury.

AC Milan 4:1 Shakhtar Donetsk - match report
24.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Gilardino 6, 14 (M), Lucarelli 51 (S), Seedorf 63, 69 (M)

Crisis-hit Milan thumped Cristiano Lucarelli's Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 with braces from Alberto Gilardino and Clarence Seedorf.

The Rossoneri desperately needed a victory after their crisis in Serie A and Europe. Kaka recovered from a knee problem to start, but Zeljko Kalac stood in for the suspended Nelson Dida, who had a one-match ban for feigning injury in the 2-1 defeat at Celtic. Cristiano Lucarelli returned to Italy for the first time as an opponent with Group D leaders Shakhtar Donetsk.

It was the Ukrainians who had the first effort as Ravzan Rat unleashed a sudden powerful snapshot that Kalac fingertipped round the far post.

However, Milan took the lead moments later. A corner kick from Andrea Pirlo was turned into the far bottom corner by a glancing Alberto Gilardino header from five yards. He had been fiercely criticised by the media and fans, but showed Carlo Ancelotti it was a good choice to pick him from the start.

Kalac impressed again by plucking Lucarelli's header out of the air, but Clarence Seedorf's counter for Kaka was deflected. Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov fumbled the ball and the Brazilian went for goal, another touch taking it out for a corner.

Kaka launched himself on the counter from the centre circle exchanging passes with Gilardino, but when one-on-one with the goalkeeper he hesitated and Pyatov managed to get a touch round the post. However, from the resulting corner kick Gilardino again got to the ball for a header this time at the near post from Seedorf's cross. The former Parma hitman was being held down by Olexandr Kucher, but still got the decisive touch.

Kucher had allowed Gila two goals in similar circumstances, so Coach Mircea Lucescu opted for drastic action, replacing him with Tomas Hubschmann.

Kalac blocked a Lucarelli free kick, while Gennaro Gattuso - sporting a new haircut and freshly-shaven - went into the book along with Brandao for an ill-tempered scuffle.

Kaka rode two tackles to provide a cross for Massimo Oddo, anticipated by Fernandinho as he was pulling the trigger. The move continued and Pyatov parried Kaka's strike from the edge of the area.

Seedorf wasted a promising counter with his misplaced pass to the unmarked Kaka, while Kalac tipped a Mariusz Lewandowski piledriver out from under the bar. Brandao pounced on a defensive error from Alessandro Nesta and stung Kalac's palms.

Milan were sitting back more and Shakhtar pushed forward to take advantage, Ilsinho drilling just wide of the near post. However, on the counter-attack Gattuso send Seedorf clear and he rolled across for Oddo, but the former Lazio man thumped his rising strike against the supports holding up the net.

Kaka slipped at the crucial moment when clear on goal in another great move, but Lucarelli also lost his footing on the rain-soaked San Siro pitch and Kalac managed to readjust his position at full stretch to control the ball.

On the stroke of half-time there was controversy as substitite Hubschmann shoulder-charged Kaka clear on goal outside the area, but the referee did not even award a free kick. The Shakhtar player seemed to go straight for the man and ignore the ball, infuriating Carlo Ancelotti.

Within seconds of the restart Kaka sparked a Seedorf chance closed down by a desperate Hubschmann tackle. There was an even clearer opportunity moments later with Kaka clear, but instead of shooting he rolled the ball across for Gattuso, who was not expecting it and the opportunity went begging.

Just as Shakhtar seemed to be under control, Oddo gifted them a goal. His clearance was straight at Brandao and Lucarelli came sliding in to volley home from just inside the area.

Kaka sprinted almost the whole length of the field and skipped past a stunned defender with some sensational football - sending the ball one way and going round him the other side - but Gattuso's shot was charged down.

It was a more open game now and Kalac parried a Fernandinho rocket and an even more dangerous strike from Ilsinho, but Kaka once again had a great chance to seal the result by waltzing past the defence only to fire straight at Pyatov.

Daniele Bonera replaced Giuseppe Favalli at left-back, but Kaka really could not have gone any closer to a goal. He went flying past a defender, shrugging off a foul, to get to the byline and his angled drive rolled along the goalline to clip the inside of the upright and go out!

It didn't matter, as from the resulting Pirlo corner Seedorf was able to thump the ball on to the post from the edge of the area and this time it ricocheted inwards to make it Milan 3 - Shakhtar 1.

Kaka was unstoppable and chested down a Seedorf chipped pass to be closed down at the last second, then Nesta's glancing header from six yards also took a decisive deflection.

Seedorf made it 4-1 with a stunning effort from almost 20 metres. Pirlo's corner was punched out to the D where the Dutchman hammered a spectacular volley with the inside of his right foot that soared under the bar.

Kalac got down well to tip Lewandowski's piledriver out and Gilardino was granted a standing ovation by the crowd as he made way for Serginho. Milan moved to a 4-4-2 with Seedorf supporting Kaka.

Kalac palmed a Lucarelli strike on to the side-netting and Lewandowski's free header went wide. Kaka deserved a goal for a glorious individual performance and struck the side-netting, but Seedorf also made it a hat-trick when he tried to walk the ball into the net and then attempted to lob Pyatov.

Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Nesta, Kaladze, Favalli (Bonera 60); Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini (Emerson 82); Seedorf, Kakà; Gilardino (Serginho 75)

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov; Srna, Kucher (Hubschmann 17), Chygrynskiy, Rat; Ilsinho, Lewandowski, Fernandinho; Jadson (Castillo 63); Brandao (Gladkiy 74), Lucarelli

Ref: Medina Cantalejo (Spa)

Carletto admits Kaka doubt
23.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti is ready for a tough test against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday and reveals that Kaka's chances of playing are 50-50.

The Rossoneri have a lot to prove after last weekend’s defeat against Empoli intensified their dismal start to the Serie A campaign.

Having lost to Celtic in their last Champions League outing, Ancelotti knows that Milan must see off Shakhtar at the San Siro, but expects fierce opposition.

“Shakhtar have changed a lot from last season,” he stressed.

“They have added quality in the midfield and they play varied football based on Brazilian-style possession play.

“It won’t be our usual home game as they have no weak links and we will just have to outplay them.”

The visitors will have two familiar faces in ex-Livorno hitman Cristiano Lucarelli and former Inter boss Mircea Lucescu.

“It will be a tight game and Lucescu will make it hard for us as he has a knowledge of Italian football and Milan,” Ancelotti continued.

The biggest fear for the European champions is a lack of firepower as Brazilian ace Kaka is still struggling with an injury.

“There is a big question mark over Kaka,” the ex-Juventus boss grimaced.

“He has had a pain in his knee since he returned from Brazil’s qualifier. We have one day and we will have to see if that is enough time to recover.

“We are on the eve of a big game and our two strikers are going through tough times like the rest of the team, but I trust them.

“Over the last few years we have never had a target man as such and we got the results anyway. You can win games without one.”

Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac steps in for the suspended Nelson Dida and Ancelotti has every faith in the understudy.

“He is a worker who knows his role and won’t have a problem dealing with the situation,” he concluded.

Fears over injured Jankulovski
23.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Czech international Marek Jankulovski could be facing a long spell on the sidelines after sustaining possible ligament damage against Empoli.

The versatile 30-year-old limped off last weekend and it now appears that his injury is more serious than first suspected.

Tests early on Monday afternoon revealed that the damage to his left knee is extensive and he will be out for at least three weeks.

If the cruciate ligament was damaged, it could lead to a much longer spell on the treatment table.

There are also fears for Kaka ahead of Wednesday’s tie against Shakhtar Donetsk as he is yet to recover from a blow to the knee during Brazil’s game against Ecuador.

Massimo Oddo looks likely to play despite picking up a knock during Sunday’s clash.

Galliani promises AC Milan comeback
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani is satisfied with the reduction of Nelson Dida’s ban and insists that the Diavolo will fight back.

Brazilian goalkeeper Dida saw his two-game suspension reduced to one after he reacted theatrically to a slap from a Celtic fan during their Champions League clash.

“I think fair all things considered,” Galiani told the Press. “I stood up against a two-match ban, but one seems okay.

“Dida made a mistake, but it didn’t hurt anyone. Neither Celtic nor any other player suffered and it wasn’t an act of violence.

“He showed his sorrow when he apologised to the fans before the Empoli game. That was entirely his own decision and I think relations will be repaired.”

These are troubled times for Milan who are floundering far behind the leading pack after crashing to a shock defeat against Empoli last weekend.

“Talk of chaos at the club is incorrect,” Galliani insisted. “This is a very strange time, but we don’t want to over-dramatise things.

“We will get over this with this Coach, these players and these men behind the scenes, just like we always have.

“We have been playing defensive teams who make it hard for us to attack and that’s why all our wins have come away from home,” he continued.

“We are disappointed and not bitter, but refereeing errors have cost us six points.

"If we had been given the early penalty we deserved against Empoli, things could have finished differently.”

Dida UEFA ban reduced
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has seen his Champions League ban reduced to one game after a successful appeal.

The Brazilian custodian received a two-match suspension after he was adjudged to have overreacted to a blow struck by a Celtic fan who had invaded the pitch in Glasgow.

The Rossoneri appealed against the punishment that they saw as disproportionate and they have seen the verdict reduced.

“The decision was reached after discussions between the two sides. I have no other comment,” Diavolo lawyer Leandro Cantamessa stated on the club’s official website.

Dida will still miss this Wednesday’s clash against Shakhtar Donetsk at the San Siro, but he will now be ready for the return game on November 6.

Maldini: There’s no crisis
22.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Veteran Milan defender Paolo Maldini insists that the Rossoneri aren’t in crisis, despite a disastrous home defeat against Empoli.

The Diavolo have made a miserable start to the campaign and the pressure is building on Coach Carlo Ancelotti after a shock 1-0 reverse against the Tuscan minnows.

Milan are yet to win at home this term and are now 10 points adrift of city rivals Inter, but Maldini is staying calm.

“It hurts that we have fallen behind the leaders, but that doesn’t mean that we are a side in crisis,” the 39-year-old insisted.

Maldini returned to action for the first time since picking up a knee injury at the end of last season, but he was unable to arrest the European champions’ slide.

“We just have to stay calm,” he continued. “When we returned to the dressing room there was a strange silence until Vice-President Adriano Galliani comforted us.

“You have to remember that we were missing three strikers and that hurt us more than we expected.”

Milan must now pick themselves up for the visit of Cristiano Lucarelli’s Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

AC Milan 0:1 Empoli - match report
21.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Saudati 55 (E)

Luca Saudati has sent Milan to a shock home defeat as the Rossoneri are undoubtedly in crisis. This result means Empoli are level on points with the giants and the San Siro crowd booed Carlo Ancelotti's men off the field.

The Rossoneri were buoyed by their stunning 5-1 win at Lazio in Week 7, but going into this game were still without a home victory in Serie A. Paolo Maldini returned to the fray for his seasonal debut after injury problems, but Ronaldo remained sidelined and Kaka was rested. Empoli needed a boost after their shock 3-0 defeat to Siena, but Daniele Adani was suspended. The Tuscans' record here was abysmal with just one win and seven defeats in Serie A, during which they scored three goals and conceded 16.

There was a curious moment before kick-off, as Nelson Dida went all around the pitch bowing to the San Siro crowd as an apology for the farce at Celtic that saw him suspended for two Champions League games for feigning injury.

Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi had two early chances, but Empoli should have taken the lead when Moro was left unmarked for a volley over from seven yards with the inside of his right foot.

Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo exchanged passes in the area and had timid penalty appeals waved away. Antonio Busce' exchanged passes with Luca Saudati, but fired wide of the target.

Felice Piccolo did well to close down Inzaghi inside the box after he had chested down Seedorf's cross on the counter-attack. Soon after, Inzaghi sprung the offside trap on Pirlo's pass over the defence, but this time Andrea Raggi stuck close to him to prevent the strike, also thanks to a poor first touch.

Empoli wasted another golden opportunity on the counter with Moro blasting well over. The second half began in similar circumstances with chaotic defending. Saudati sprung the offside trap thanks to Marek Jankulovski and was totally clear on goal, but perhaps thinking he might've been flagged, he incredibly turned the header wide of the target!

The Rossoneri also went close moments later when Daniele Balli cut short Seedorf's inspired solo effort.

The endless defensive errors cost Milan in the end, though, as Saudati jumped between two defenders to nod in Marianini's cross from the right and give Empoli a shock lead at San Siro.

Carlo Ancelotti's men pushed forward even more, giving extra space for the counter-attack and Dida smothered a Saudati volley, while Alberto Gilardino's cross-shot struck the side-netting.

Ancelotti had to do something, introducing Cristian Brocchi, Yoann Gourcuff and Kakha Kaladze. Balli was at full stretch to block Massimo Ambrosini's sliding finish with his fingertips, but the San Siro crowd had run out of patience and jeered their every move.

Pirlo's central free kick was easily gathered, as Empoli clammed up in their own half to deny any spaces. Brocchi had two consecutive efforts charged down and Gilardino's header from a Massimo Oddo corner kick was well held.

A goalline clearance kept out Gilardino, although he had been flagged offside.

Milan: Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Maldini (Kaladze 67), Jankulovski; Gattuso (Brocchi 64), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi (Gourcuff 64)

Empoli: Balli; Raggi, Vanigli, Piccolo, Marianini; Buscè, Marchisio, Moro, Antonini (Tosto 64); Pozzi (Giacomazzi 56), Saudati (Giovinco 79)

Ref: Giannoccaro

Ancelotti: It's crunch time
21.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims Milan’s next three games will decide their season, starting from what could be their first home win against Empoli.

“This has been a very important week for us, because we have not done our best work on home turf, performing better away,” conceded the Coach.

“We need to play to our standards at San Siro as well and get back to winning ways. The next three games will be very indicative of our future. The one with Empoli is the most crucial, because it is the opportunity to break through our impasse.”

The Rossoneri had a dreadful run of results leading up to the break for international duty, but finally ended their winless streak in style with a 5-1 demolition of Lazio in Rome.

To maintain that confidence, they must beat Empoli ahead of their clashes with Roma and Sampdoria.

“Empoli have introduced a lot of talented youngsters this season, above all Sebastian Giovinco, even if it is not easy to bring in so many new faces at once to Serie A,” noted Ancelotti.

“In any case, they beat Palermo and are improving. I spoke to Gigi Cagni and he told me we’ll have it tough, but I knew that already!”

Ahead of a crucial Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk, the Coach could be tempted to rest several players.

“Ronaldo will be back in the squad soon, as he has almost completed his rehabilitation work. I think that next week he can be in the side.

“Alberto Gilardino has changed, as he is more relaxed and decisive. The air around him changed and you could see how hungry he was going into the Italy game with South Africa.”

Paolo Maldini has also recovered, although controversy continues to surround Nelson Dida following his two-match Champions League ban for feigning injury when attacked by a Celtic fan.

“We have appealed against Dida’s ban and expect something. In any case, Dida has trained hard and will play on Sunday. It is important for the squad to be able to count on Maldini, especially as he is the captain, and before Christmas everyone will get their chance to make a contribution.”

Cafu crowns King Kaka
21.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcos Cafu reveals he has no intention of retiring and hailed Milan teammate Kaka as “without a shadow of doubt the best player in the world.”

Ricky Kaka is the hot favourite to win both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, succeeding Italy’s World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro.

“In this moment, without a shadow of a doubt Kaka is the best player in the world,” commented Brazil legend Cafu.

“He has matured a great deal, has proved and continues to prove that he is a champion. I consider him the Number One and really believe he deserves the Ballon d’Or.”

Another top player has been linked with the Rossoneri this week, as Chelsea’s Didier Drogba told a French newspaper he was considering a switch to San Siro.

“Drogba is very talented and any player or Coach would love to have him in their team. We know he’s great, as he has always shown that on the field.”

Former Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo is already at Milan, but is yet to make his Serie A debut this season due to recurring injury worries.

“Until he steps on the pitch, I think a bit of uncertainty and lack of confidence is normal. The important thing is that he relaxes,” said Cafu.

“I am always ready, as at this club we must constantly be prepared under any circumstances. It is normal that when you don’t play regularly, it takes a little longer to get match fit.”

The right-back could start this Sunday afternoon against Empoli, where the Diavolo will try to celebrate their first home Serie A win of the campaign.

“We all have great expectations for Sunday and really hope to get our first three points on home turf against Empoli in front of the wonderful San Siro crowd.”

As he will turn 38 at the end of this season, it is widely believed this will be Cafu’s final campaign.

“This season has just started and there are many things to look at,” assured the veteran who has been in Serie A since 1997-98.

“Milan have many experienced players and I don’t know what I will do in the future. I’ll make my decision at the end of the term.

"If I decide not to remain at Milan, I’ll evaluate Japan or another country, perhaps a different club in Italy. I don’t know, but in any case I don’t think I’ll retire yet.”

AC Milan watch Ronaldinho row
19.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho has been dropped by Barcelona for this weekend’s game with Villarreal, fuelling rumours he is set to join Milan.

The former FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner returned late from international duty in Brazil.

Coach Frank Rijkaard has left him out of the squad for this weekend’s Liga encounter against Villarreal, increasing existing tensions within the club.

There are even suggestions in the Brazilian media that he arrived late because of a night spent partying with Real Madrid’s Robinho in Rio de Janeiro.

Ronaldinho has been increasingly distant from his teammates and the Nou Camp staff according to reports in Spain and Italy.

Milan had a bid for his services rejected in the summer, but it is believed President Silvio Berlusconi is planning another attempt.

The explosion of Argentine youngster Leo Messi and the arrival of Thierry Henry have pushed Ronaldinho further away from centre stage.

Chelsea are also interested in approaching the buck-toothed hero, but Milan have the presence of Kaka, Ronaldo and Alexandre Pato to tempt him towards San Siro.

Kaka could miss Empoli
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan look likely to do without star man Kaka for their San Siro encounter against Empoli on Sunday.

The Brazilian wizard was the key figure for Brazil as he hit a brace in their 5-0 demolition of Ecuador in last night’s World Cup 2010 qualifier.

It seems that the exertion at the Maracana has taken its toll on the 25-year-old as he didn’t take part in the afternoon training session at Milanello.

With a crucial Champions League clash against Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk looming next Wednesday, Coach Carlo Ancelotti may opt to give Kaka a rest.

Cristian Brocchi may be handed the start alongside Clarence Seedorf with Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini making up the five-man midfield.

Drogba moves towards AC Milan
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

There is increasing speculation that Chelsea ace Didier Drogba will join Milan after the Ivorian hitman spelled out his desire to leave London.

Since the departure of popular manager Jose Mourinho a number of Chelsea stars have been linked with moves, but it seems Drogba could be the first to reach the exit.

“I want to leave Chelsea and nothing can stop me now,” he told France Football.

“The damage in the dressing room is serious because we now know what happened and who caused Mourinho’s departure.

“I know that Ronaldinho and Kaka have been tipped to come here next season, but even that won’t change my mind.”

Drogba has recently confessed that he would happily move to Italy and stressed his great respect for Milan.

The Rossoneri are reportedly searching for an alternative to Brazilian striker Ronaldo, as El Fenomeno is notoriously injury-plagued.

It is suspected that Didier’s latest comments will lead to the first official meeting between representatives of the two clubs.

Bronzetti stresses Dida faith
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s transfer consultant Ernesto Bronzetti insists that the Rossoneri won’t be replacing troubled goalkeeper Nelson Dida in January.

The Brazilian shot-stopper’s place at the club has been called into question after his disastrous night in Glasgow during the Diavolo’s Champions League defeat.

As Milan await the result of an appeal against his two-match ban, Bronzetti has rubbished speculation that the European champions are eyeing a replacement.

“There will be very few moves in January,” the FIFA agent stressed on Centro Suono Sport.

“I know, for example, that Milan won’t be signing a goalkeeper as they believe in Dida.

“The same goes for Lazio. They have a great ‘keeper in Fernando Muslera and they believe in him – he just needs some time.”

Bronzetti finished his interview by ruling out any approach for Ronaldinho, but didn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be a future swoop.

“Barcelona have never thought about selling Ronaldinho,” he revealed. “But if they were to, Milan would be in pole position.”

Ronaldo expects Sampdoria return
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Brazilian striking star Ronaldo has set October 31’s trip to Sampdoria as his new return date.

El Fenomeno has been sidelined with a thigh injury since the end of July and has delayed his comeback on several occasions.

The Selecao hitman had been expected to play against Empoli this weekend, but that now looks out of the question.

While Ronaldo is training with the rest of the squad, he is yet to restart work with a football and is scheduled to do so at the start of next week.

The Rossoneri must do without Ronnie for the crunch Week 9 tie against Roma at the San Siro, but he is likely to line up opposite former Real Madrid teammate Antonio Cassano.

Kaka inspires Selecao rampage
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka was the star of the show as Brazil trounced Ecuador 5-0 in a World Cup 2010 qualifier at the Maracana.

Alleged Fiorentina target Vagner Love opened the scoring after 19 minutes, but the visitors dug their heels in until deep into the second period.

Ronaldinho deflected Kaka’s long-range effort in for 2-0 in the 72nd minute and it signalled the start of a Brazilian rampage.

Kaka fired home in style five minutes later with a swerving strike that dipped just under the bar.

Manchester City’s Elano finished for 4-0 after a superb individual run by Robinho and Kaka completed his brace when some poor goalkeeping allowed his weak strike to find the net.

The Selecao have made amends for last weekend’s drab 0-0 draw with Colombia and have picked up a confidence-boosting win ahead of November’s trip to Peru.

AC Milan present Dida appeal
18.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are presenting their appeal against goalkeeper Nelson Dida’s UEFA ban today and lawyer Leandro Cantamessa has explained their case.

The Brazilian shot-stopper was handed a two-game Champions League suspension after overreacting to a blow struck by a fan during the Rossoneri’s clash with Celtic.

“My point of view is the same as the club’s and I believe that there will be a reduction of the sentence,” Cantamessa told “If there isn’t then I have failed.

“I have read that I am infuriated, but I don’t think that adjective applies as I am totally calm. If you can’t control your temper you can’t do this job.”

Dida’s punishment was so harsh because he was adjudged to have tried to influence the result of the game by feigning injury.

UEFA insisted that his reaction to events brought the game into disrepute, but Cantamessa is adamant that Dida is the victim rather than guilty party.

“I have written that the verdict was based on an inversion of the events. The root cause has become secondary and vice versa,” he explained.

Dida chose not to present his case to UEFA’s Disciplinary Commission and it had been suggested that he damaged his case, but Milan’s lawyer disagrees.

“Will I ask Dida to testify? What to? His thoughts?” Cantamessa laughed. “There is no point in bringing him in front of judges as I can’t see how it would help."

The appeal will be considered within the next few days, but a decision is not expected until Monday or Tuesday.

Berlusconi's Ibrahimovic regrets
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

President Silvio Berlusconi is confident Milan can turn their season around, spoke of his transfer regrets and tipped Andrea Pirlo for the future Ballon d’Or.

“After August 31 we had a few incidents, negative conditions and bad luck, but the team has certainly not played badly,” assured the patron after a shaky start to the campaign.

“We are not worried, as our attention is already focused towards Tokyo. The Club World Cup is one of our great objectives.”

As reigning European champions, the Rossoneri will travel to Japan in December for what was once called the Intercontinental Cup.

“Our plan is to have Ronaldo in top shape for Tokyo. I spoke to him and Carlo Ancelotti, expressly asking to stay calm and prudent. Then from January onwards he can form a Brazilian super trio with Kaka and Alexandre Pato.”

Kaka is on target to win both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, but the President reserves praise for one of his Milan teammates.

“Pirlo deserves the Ballon d’Or. He has an introverted character that means he doesn’t hit the headlines the way some others do, but on the field he dominates the side and always organises the play with inspired trajectories.”

Someone causing problems at San Siro is Nelson Dida, who received a two-match Champions League ban for feigning injury in a fan attack at Celtic Park.

“Dida is a quiet lad and cannot be condemned for one mistake,” Berlusconi told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ in a live webchat this evening.

“I have no regrets, because Dida is a great goalkeeper and plays on despite a shoulder injury. I think it might have been better not to field him at all in Glasgow, as he was not 100 per cent fit.”

Milan have made some excellent transfer signings in recent years, but the businessman admits he has regrets over some deals.

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a real champion and we would have signed him had it not been for the injustice of the Calciopoli penalties and trial. It had all been decided, then the delays meant it went the way we all saw,” he said of the Inter star.

“Am I angry? No, just disappointed to see him play with an Inter jersey. The only mistake I can say our transfer guru Ariedo Braida made was not pointing out Zinedine Zidane. He brought us Christophe Dugarry without realising there was this incredible talent in the same side.”

This week Milan denied that Chelsea had made a £100m offer for Kaka and Berlusconi explained why this could not become another Andriy Shevchenko case.

“Kaka is happy with us, has never expressed any desire to leave and will remain as long as he wears the Rossoneri jersey with pride. Any sum of money will certainly not change my mind.

“Shevchenko was not sold by the club, it was he who asked us for a transfer due to family issues. I had a paternal rapport with him and even stepped in to help when his father needed heart surgery in Italy. His wife’s attitude proved to be insurmountable.”

Carletto doubts Ronaldo return
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has cast further doubt on Ronaldo’s chances of playing against Empoli this weekend.

The Brazilian ace is yet to start a game this term after sustaining a thigh injury on July 31, but had been expected to return to action against the Tuscan minnows.

“There’s no hurry,” Ancelotti insisted. “There’s no certainty that Ronaldo will play on Sunday.

"We’re working hard, but we cannot be sure at this stage.

“We will look at our options together. It will be easier to tell when he gets back into training with the rest of the team and kicks a ball again.”

Daniele Bonera, Alberto Gilardino, Clarence Seedorf, Dario Simic and Kaka are all still away on international duty, but the rest of the squad trained at Milanello today.

AC Milan eye Riquelme conquest
16.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are being linked with a swoop for Argentine midfield star Juan Roman Riquelme.

After signing Brazilian ace Emerson just before the close of the summer transfer window, the Rossoneri revealed that they wouldn’t be making any January purchases.

However, the Diavolo are expected to ring the changes next summer and may be willing to table an offer in advance.

It is believed that Riquelme’s club Villarreal are keen to cash in on the unsettled ex-Barcelona man before his contract expires in 2009.

It had appeared that the 29-year-old would leave for Atletico Madrid this summer and a fee of £5m had already been proposed, but the deal fell through.

While midfield isn’t seen as one of Milan’s weaker areas, the European champions may find it hard to resist the Albicelestes man as his new estimated price tag is just £3m.

Galliani denies Chelsea's Kaka bid
15.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has rubbished rumours that Chelsea have tabled a mega bid for Brazilian ace Kaka.

There were reports last week that the FIFA World Player of the Year nominee was the subject of a £100m offer from the Stamford Bridge outfit.

However, the Diavolo are keen to refute any such speculation, which they fear may unsettle one of their key men.

“No team has asked us about Kaka, except for Real Madrid and we responded that he isn’t for sale,” Galliani stressed.

“Chelsea’s mega offer is a hoax and he will respect his contract until June 2011.”

The Rossoneri official also commented once again on FIFA’s decision to ban goalkeeper Nelson Dida for two games following his actions in Glasgow.

“The fact that has almost been overlooked is that somebody invaded the pitch and hit our goalkeeper and that has been almost unpunished,” he raged.

Milan are appealing against the Selecao ‘keeper’s ban and they will hear the result within the next few days.

AC Milan join Amauri chase
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Palermo striker Amauri is wanted by three of Europe’s top clubs, his representative has claimed on Sunday.

The Brazilian-born ace is one of Serie A’s most respected attackers and he’s recently been associated with a switch to Milan at the end of the season.

His agent has confirmed that numerous sides are monitoring him even though the attacker, who is still trying to rediscover his best form after he ruptured knee ligaments in December, is committed to the Rosanero cause.

“Milan are not the only side who are chasing him as there are also two other important European clubs who are interested,” Mariano Grimaldi noted.

“It is also true that I will be in Milan over the next few days, but let me be clear about this – Palermo come first for the player right now.

“We have a good relationship with President Maurizio Zamparini and if the club find themselves in the Champions League next season then there will be no problem in continuing the rapport.”

Amauri, who could soon be eligible to play for the Italian national side, joined the outfit from Chievo Verona in 2006 after agreeing a five-year deal.

However, Zamparini himself has recently admitted that he may find it tough to keep hold of the player at the end of the season.

Spanish giants Barcelona, who were already keen on him while he was with the Flying Donkeys, are still believed to be after his capture.

Dida won't face UEFA judges
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s attempt to get Nelson Dida’s two-match European ban scrapped – or at least reduced – may be complicated by the goalkeeper himself.

The Rossoneri have already appealed against UEFA’s punishment for the shot-stopper who was widely condemned for seeming to feign injury after he was lightly touched by a pitch invader at Celtic.

The Italian giants were expecting the Brazilian to travel to Nyon and make a case for his actions, but reports in Italy on Saturday are claiming that won’t happen.

Dida, who is currently refusing to speak to the media, will allegedly simply wait for the outcome of the appeal decision and accept his fate.

That stance may cause some friction between the player and club, especially after the Rossoneri handed the No 1 a new deal last season worth a massive £2.8m a year until 2010.

Rumours of a summer split have already been heard and they will inevitably gather pace should the club not convince Dida to go and face UEFA’s disciplinary commission.

Dida was handed a two-match ban on Thursday, a verdict that the European champions felt was over the top.

”The impact of the sentence is disproportionate and illogical,” insisted Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa.

“I have no issue with Celtic but I am only trying to establish a sense of proportion – one is the event, the other is only the effect of the event.

“In this decision, logic and balance are lacking. There is the technical possibility of a second level of justice – we can get witnesses, develop arguments. We will see.”

Celtic were fined £12,500 for a lack of organisation and the improper conduct of their supporters. The 27-year-old fan who ‘attacked’ Dida with little more than a finger has been banned for life from attending Celtic games.

As it stands, Dida will miss both of Milan’s Champions League ties against Cristiano Lucarelli’s Shakhtar Donetsk.

Maldini back for AC Milan
14.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini is on the verge of making his seasonal debut in Serie A after coming through a friendly against Athletic Bilbao unscathed.

The Milan legend hasn’t played a competitive match for the Rossoneri since last season due to a knee problem, but impressed in last night’s 0-0 draw in Spain.

The 39-year-old was given 45 minutes of action and responded with a performance that would have left under-pressure boss Carlo Ancelotti delighted.

Milan have had an uncomfortable start to the season and having their veteran stopper available again will calm the nerves around Milanello.

Friday evening’s tie also gave Ancelotti the chance to test out Brazilian teenager Alexandre Pato in a ‘competitive’ environment.

However, the 18-year-old sensation only lasted a half before he had to succumb to a slight muscle problem.

Pato, who won’t be eligible for real action until January 2, was used as a second striker and did show glimpses of his ability.

The game may have ended as it started, but there were more positives for the Rossoneri faithful in the performances of two other players.

While young defender Matteo Darmian caught the eye, Yoann Gourcuff will have silenced a few of his critics.

The French midfielder hasn’t had a great start to 2007-08, but he will be hoping to take his Bilbao form into Milan’s next few games at home and abroad.

Kaladze: We’re no pushovers
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze is injured for the game against Italy tomorrow but warns that his colleagues are no pushovers.

Italy are expected to take all three points against the Crusaders at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and know that nothing else is acceptable in Group B’s tight battle.

The Azzurri eased to a 3-1 win in Tblisi, but Kaladze insists that Roberto Donadoni’s side shouldn’t take three points for granted.

“We can cause Scotland problems and also pose a threat to Italy,” the Rossoneri stopper told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Our youngsters have the right attitude and are determined to show their talents, especially in Italy as it is the best shop window."

The main threat from the visitors is likely to be Georgi Demetradze, a dangerous hitman from Ukraine’s Arsenal Kiev.

“He is fast and technically good,” Kaladze agreed. “Demetradze is the kind of player that can worry any side.”

Kick-off is 7.50pm at Marassi tomorrow and Spanish referee Carlos Megia Davila will preside over events.

Gilardino strives for Azzurri return
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan hitman Alberto Gilardino has stressed his desire to claw his way back into the Azzurri side after a troubled start to the season.

The ex-Parma striker had to wait until last weekend’s brace against Lazio to open his account for the campaign, but he believes he belongs in the Italy side.

“The national team is something amazing,” he told Sky Sports Italia.

“I’ve had the experience of the World Cup, I won the European Under-21 championships and I’ve won a bronze medal at the Olympics and it’s a great thing to wear the Italy shirt.

“I’ll do everything I can to give Roberto Donadoni a selection headache by doing well for Milan and hopefully I’ll get the call somewhere down the line.”

Gila will have to content himself with a friendly against Spanish side Athletic Bilbao this evening and may play alongside Brazilian new boy Alexandre Pato.

Carlo Ancelotti’s son Davide is also in the squad and the young midfielder may appear as a substitute.

Paolo Maldini is expecting to make his long-awaited return to action after a serious knee injury.

Milan squad: Fiori, Kalac; Bruscagin, Cafu, Cosner, Darmian, Favalli, Maldini, Nesta, Serginho; Ancelotti, Brocchi, Caraglia, Emerson, Gourcuff; Aubameyang, Gilardino, Pato

AC Milan dispute Dida ban
12.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan will launch an appeal against UEFA’s decision to hand goalkeeper Nelson Dida a two-match ban.

The Disciplinary Committee took a hard line on Dida’s overreaction to being lightly struck by a fan during the Champions League clash with Celtic.

The Brazilian shot-stopper is set to miss the Rossoneri’s two matches against Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk.

“It’s an absurdly exaggerated ban so we will be making an appeal,” confirmed the Diavolo’s lawyer Leandro Cantamessa.

“It seems a very disproportionate sentence which puts Dida as the main offender and that goes against logic.”

The appeal will have to be heard quickly as the European champions host Donetsk in just under a fortnight.

Meanwhile, Milan’s custodian will have to foot a heavy fine while the spectre of a very costly ban looms large.

Dida gets two-match ban
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has been banned for two games for his actions during the Rossoneri’s Champions League tie against Celtic.

Dida reacted dramatically to being lightly struck by a fan, who had invaded the pitch to celebrate Celtic’s winner in the Rossoneri’s Champions League tie at Parkhead.

UEFA’s Disciplinary Committee have come down hard on the Brazilian shot-stopper for contravention of Article 5 of their code of behaviour.

This rule states: “member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members, shall conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship.”

Now Milan must hope that Zeljko Kalac can fill the gap left by Dida for the Diavolo’s two games against Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk.

Celtic have been fined around £25,000 for “poor organisation and the improper behaviour of one of their fans” and the Bhoys will be under supervision for two years.

Maldini back for Bilbao
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Veteran stopper Paolo Maldini is ready to return to the pitch for Milan’s friendly against Athletic Bilbao this weekend.

Maldini is yet to start a game this season due to a long-term knee injury, but it seems that his recovery is ahead of schedule.

“The Bilbao match will give me a chance to play a half or maybe even an hour,” the 39-year-old told the Milan Channel.

“I’ve worked really hard and been training on my own as well as taking part in nearly every session with the rest of the squad over the last few weeks.”

Finally, Maldini added his voice to the debate over goalkeeper Nelson Dida’s actions in Glasgow.

“I think that he made a mistake and he knows it,” the Rossoneri hero stated.

“Our trust in him hasn’t changed at all. He is still a great ‘keeper and our first choice until the end of his contract.”

Dida’s fate will be revealed before the end of the day.

Oddo's plea for Dida mercy
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Massimo Oddo has begged UEFA to treat teammate Nelson Dida leniently when they deliver their verdict later this afternoon.

Dida is awaiting punishment for overreacting to a blow thrown by a fan during the Rossoneri’s Champions League humiliation against Celtic.

It seems that the Brazilian custodian could face as many as three games on the sidelines, but ex-Lazio stopper Oddo believes he made an honest mistake.

“Dida knows that he committed an error,” the 31-year-old stated. “He didn’t behave correctly, but in certain situations it is easy to make a scene.

“He is an excellent goalkeeper and we can only hope that UEFA understand that it was a one-off.”

The decision is expected at 4pm and nerves are jangling in Milan.

Ronaldinho fights Kaka corner
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Kaka believes that he deserves to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award and Barcelona’s Ronaldinho agrees.

The 30-name shortlist was submitted yesterday for Coaches and captains of national sides to vote on and Kaka is amongst the favourites.

Already tipped to clinch the European Player of the Year award, the Brazilian isn’t modest about his chances of winning the double.

“I think I am a favourite,” he stated. “I had a good Champions League and scored lots of goals to help us win it.

“I believe it would be a recognition of my achievements, but it will be the votes that decide in any case.”

Fellow Selecao star Ronaldinho also made the list of nominees, but agrees that his teammate should scoop the award.

“I really hope that Kaka wins it,” he claimed. “I’m just happy to keep playing at a level that allows me to make this list.”

The two men will play alongside each other as Brazil take on Colombia in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

TV deal reunites Lega
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Lega Calcio meeting in Milan today has resulted in Serie A and B clubs reuniting due to the possibility of TV rights profits increasing to £500m.

It’s been less than a month since Second Division clubs threatened to go on strike if the pay-per-view television contract was not finalised, but they now look set to work together with their top-flight counterparts.

“The Lega family is reunited and we are now working together,” said Lega President Antonio Matarrese. “Our main target is to get the most out of the product that we are selling.

“We will have to solve several problems concerning the stadiums, while we are also planning to hire an international advisor.”

Torino President Urbano Cairo believes that all the clubs should be sharing the TV profits equally.

“We need to protect Serie B and to transform Serie A into a more competitive League with at least seven or eight teams able to win the title,” he said.

“That is why the budget coming from the television deal must be equally divided.”

Parma owner Tommaso Ghirardi also hopes that his fellow top-flight clubs will help out the Cadetti. “Today we discussed several important issues,” he revealed.

“We have to try and get as much as possible from the TV rights, so that we can all share a bit more. Serie B is in crisis and we should make an effort to help it out.”

Dida facing AC Milan axe?
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in the Italian Press suggest that Milan are ready to replace under-fire goalkeeper Nelson Dida with Brescia’s Emiliano Viviano.

Despite publicly stating that the Brazilian shot-stopper’s place in the side is not under threat, the Rossoneri have been looking for a valid alternative and the Azzurrini ace seems to be their first choice.

Dida’s San Siro future has been questioned since his behaviour against Celtic in the Champions League last week, when the 34-year-old was stretchered off after minimal contact following a confrontation with a pitch invader.

It is rumoured that the Rossoneri have offered £5m for the Rondinelle youngster, who has just extended his contract until 2012.

But Brescia President Luigi Corioni will not settle for less than £7m, as Viviano is a man in demand, with Inter also reportedly lining up a bid.

The Milanesi are also considering other options, including Livorno No 1 Marco Amelia, while Christian Abbiati could end his loan spell with Atletico Madrid in order to return to his beloved former club.

However, Vice-President Adriano Galliani has moved to rubbish the rumours, insisting that Dida still has their full backing.

"We don't need another goalkeeper because we already have three, not to mention Marco Storari, Abbiati and Ferdinando Coppola who are on loan."

Meanwhile, the Rossoneri are not the only side looking for a new No 1. Lazio are still trying to sign Juan Pablo Carrizo, with the transfer finally set to go through in the January transfer window.

Palermo have put Federico Agliardi on the transfer list and would reportedly be keen to replace him with former Udinese veteran Morgan De Sanctis, currently a bench-warmer at Spanish side Sevilla.

Bonera sees Milanese renaissance
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Daniele Bonera believes that his Milan teammates are on their way back to the top after last weekend’s thumping win over Lazio.

The Rossoneri had been winless since the opening day and were smarting from a humiliating defeat at Celtic, but a 5-1 rout of a strong Lazio side could prove a turning point.

“If we hadn’t won in Rome our League position would have been very different,” the ex-Parma defender admitted.

“But now we are catching up with the leading group. Until now our position has been distorted by bad luck.

“Inter seem to be favourites, but last year nobody would have bet a penny on us to win the Champions League and there is a long time left in the season.

“After some tough times we have shaken off some of the unfair criticism that we have received.”

Milan’s first test after the international break is a San Siro encounter against struggling Empoli.

Lucarelli considers AC Milan move
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Azzurri striker Cristiano Lucarelli has discussed a possible move to Milan and believes that his future lies either in Italy or England.

The No 99 moved to Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer after four years as the talisman of hometown club Livorno.

While the prolific hitman has insisted that he is enjoying a new challenge in Ukraine, he is likely to move in the summer.

“I think that there is only a faint chance of me signing for Milan,” Lucarelli stressed.

“I’m 32 and the Rossoneri like to go for younger players, but when it comes to football you can never say never.

“I’ll stay in Ukraine until the end of the season and then I will weigh up my options. I have always liked English football and I would also like to return to Italy.”

Galliani reveals Ronaldo boost
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Brazilian hitman Ronaldo is back to fitness after his long spell on the sidelines, according to Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

El Fenomeno’s injury was one of the summer’s main talking points as he opted to seek treatment in Brazil due to frustration at a misdiagnosis from the Rossoneri medical staff.

Having initially been expected to return for the start of the season, the ex-Real Madrid man is finally set to feature against Empoli after the international break.

“The doctors have given me good news about Ronaldo,” Galliani enthused.

“They have told me that he is getting back to full strength like Paolo Maldini, Serginho, Digao and Kakha Kaladze.

“It has been a tough time with so many players on the treatment table, but they will be back shortly.”

After a testing time, there have been suggestions that the European champions may be active in the January transfer window, but Galliani stringently denies such talk.

“The market is closed and we have made our January transfer in Alexandre Pato,” he insisted.

“I keep telling everyone that he will do amazing things, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on an 18-year-old.”

After Nelson Dida’s recent high-profile humiliation at Celtic there had been whispers that the Diavolo would search for a new shot-stopper, but Galliani is happy with the men they already own.

“We won’t be signing a goalkeeper as we have so many already,” he laughed.

“In addition to Dida, Zeljko Kalac and Valerio Fiori we have Marco Storari on loan to Levante, Fernando Coppola at Atalanta and Christian Abbiati with Atletico Madrid.”

Kaka thinks of England
11.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka surprisingly reveals that he would welcome a move to one of the Premier League’s giants, but insists he is happy at the San Siro.

With the Rossoneri enduring some tough times at the start of the campaign, there has been increasing speculation that their Brazilian wizard may seek a fresh challenge.

While Kaka denies that he is eyeing the exit, he is willing to talk about potential future destinations.

“I’m very happy at Milan and I don’t expect that situation to change,” he told Esquire magazine.

“But if you want to talk hypothetically, if I were to leave it would have to be for a club of equal stature and I think I would only find that in England or Spain.”

It comes as little surprise that Kaka would consider a move to La Liga as he recently told the Spanish Press that he would love to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, but his English ambitions are a shock.

“Manchester United are a wonderful side and I like Arsenal too. As for Chelsea and Liverpool, they are more tactically oriented and base themselves on solidarity and organisation.

“They are less creative, but they have good managers and I especially admire Rafael Benitez,” he concluded.

Galliani rules out Del Piero swoop
9.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has definitively ruled out a move for unsettled Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero.

Del Piero’s contract talks with the Old Lady are progressing slowly and sporting director Alessio Secco admitted that there are fears in Turin that he could leave.

While Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that he would be delighted to welcome Pinturricchio to the San Siro, Galliani has laughed off the suggestion.

“Regarding Del Piero, I would say that he isn’t in Milan’s plans,” he told La7.

“A while ago, Ancelotti said that we could sign him, but it was just a joke and I told him to be careful with that kind of comment.

“We could have signed Del Piero when he was playing for Padova, but he was expensive and Juve got him instead.”

Galliani also took time to clarify the reasons why the Diavolo’s bid to sign Gigi Buffon broke down and exploded the myth that President Silvio Berlusconi had vetoed the move.

“We asked Juve for Buffon, but the Bianconeri President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli said that he wasn’t for sale at any price,” he explained. “It wasn’t that Berlusconi intervened.”

Buffon: Go easy on Dida
9.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has spoken in defence of under-fire Milan counterpart Nelson Dida and backs Alessandro Del Piero.

Dida is facing a UEFA probe after his dramatic reaction to a blow from a fan who invaded the pitch during the Rossoneri’s humiliating Champions League defeat at Celtic.

While many voices in the peninsula and beyond have been raised in condemnation of the Brazilian’s actions, Buffon believes UEFA should show leniency.

“In my opinion it all came down to one minute of confusion and then Dida already regretted what had happened,” the Azzurri custodian stated.

“I don’t know how FIFA or UEFA’s justice system operates and I don’t have any idea what action will be taken, but there is no need to crucify him.”

Buffon also gave his support to beleaguered teammate Alessandro Del Piero, who was let out of the Italy squad for the upcoming Euro 2008 qualifier against Georgia.

“We have spoken and he isn’t on top of the world,” the ex-Parma man confirmed. “But we just have to remember all that he has given.”

Oddo blasts Lazio policy
8.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan stopper Massimo Oddo has criticised Lazio’s transfer policy and warned the Biancocelesti not to become a feeder club.

The Rossoneri thrashed Lazio 5-1 yesterday compounding a worrying start to the season for Oddo’s former side, except for a heroic 2-2 Champions League draw with Real Madrid.

“Things need to change if Lazio don’t want to become a feeder club where players get to a level and then go elsewhere,” the 31-year-old insisted on Nuova Spazio Radio.

“The Aquile have kept last season’s squad except they have lost two players, including Angelo Peruzzi – one of the best goalkeepers in the world in my opinion.”

Lazio’s summer transfer campaign was highly disappointing as their main target talented Argentine goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo slipped the net after bureaucratic complications.

“President Claudio Lotito chose to base the future on youngsters which is a good policy, but you need experience, especially in the Champions League,” Oddo pointed out.

“I believe that Lazio can repeat what they have done in recent times, but they need to improve.

“They are a big club with a strong following and a great history and they deserve a squad to match. You have to spend the money to match your ambitions.”

AC Milan and Dida on trial
8.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

UEFA are pursuing disciplinary proceedings against Milan and goalkeeper Nelson Dida after events in the Champions League clash against Celtic.

The Rossoneri’s misery at a 2-1 reverse was intensified as Dida reacted dramatically to a blow from a fan who had invaded the pitch.

The interloper appeared to tap the giant Brazilian lightly with the palm of his hand, but Dida required a stretcher to leave the pitch prompting outrage from fans and the Press.

Celtic face action for allowing a fan to invade the playing surface, but it is now official that Milan will be charged for infringing on Article Five of the UEFA code.

This rule states “member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members, shall conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship.”

The possible ramifications for Milan and Dida have not yet been made public, but it is widely believed that the European champions will face a substantial fine.

Dida is also likely to pick up a costly bill from UEFA, but he may also receive a suspension that could rule him out of crucial Champions League games.

Galliani: We're back on track
8.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has hailed the Diavolo’s 5-1 crushing of Lazio as a turning point after a bleak period.

The European champions were without a win in five League games prior to their Stadio Olimpico triumph and were still smarting from a midweek humbling at Celtic.

“We had been playing well and losing,” Galliani stated at the presentation of the Fair Play Team.

“For example, at Palermo we played better than we did against Lazio and we were good at Celtic, but we have suffered some incredible defeats.”

Alberto Gilardino also turned a corner with a brace against Lazio, which opened his account for the season and silenced the boo-boys.

“We are so happy for him because he scored two great goals and it was very important to break his duck,” Galliani grinned.

“When the lads got back into the dressing room everyone gave him a big round of applause.”

While Gilardino has started to fire again, Brazilian star striker Ronaldo is still sidelined with an injury he picked up in pre-season.

“We are hoping to end this saga after the international break,” the Milan official explained.

“We could see him out on the pitch for October 21."

Gilardino's sigh of relief
8.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan hitman Alberto Gilardino was clearly relieved after opening his account for the season with a brace against Lazio.

The ex-Parma marksman had been the victim of jeering from the Diavolo fans after failing to find the target in the first six weeks of the season, but he silenced the critics in style in the 5-1 win over Lazio.

“I couldn’t score during the summer break, so it isn’t such a long time that I didn’t score for,” he told Sky Sports Italia.

“We showed everyone that we aren’t the side people are talking about in the Press and we want to turn things around in the Champions League and in Serie A.

“It was largely a mental transformation. We were convinced that we would play well against Lazio and we really did.”

Gila has slipped out of contention for the Azzurri and doesn’t feature in Roberto Donadoni’s latest squad, but he believes that if he keeps finding the target that will take care of itself.

“I’m just thinking of Milan at the moment,” he stressed.

“Donadoni has made his decision and all I can do is make it tough for him by continuing like this.”

Ancelotti: We needed that!
8.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits this is a crucial victory for Milan and Alberto Gilardino, changing the atmosphere around the club.

They had been in what President Silvio Berlusconi called “a pitch black crisis” without a Serie A win since Week 1, but the 5-1 demolition of Lazio revived their fortunes.

“I’d say that we had a bit of a nervous start, but after taking the lead we built up this win. It was a delicate and difficult game, but certainly changes the atmosphere surrounding the club,” confirmed the Coach.

“Our second half was of a very high level, alternating possession with quick moves into space. The two strikers played brilliantly.”

Gilardino had been jeered by the Rossoneri fans after failing to score a single goal all season, but broke his duck with a spectacular brace.

Another player under the spotlight was Nelson Dida following his theatrical reaction to a pitch invasion at Celtic Park.

“I never considered dropping Dida. I think he remains a great goalkeeper who, like everyone, makes mistakes, but we never thought of replacing him,” assured Ancelotti.

“The break for international duty comes at the right time, as it allows us to recover some players we had out injured. We accept criticism, but some went over the line. In any case, it has been a complicated week.”

This emphatic 5-1 win over Lazio was particularly needed after Wednesday’s shock 2-1 Champions League loss to Celtic.

Lazio 1:5 AC Milan - match report
7.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Ambrosini 16 (M), Mauri 23 (L), Kaka pen 33, 52 (M), Gilardino 70, 78 (M)

Alberto Gilardino and Milan broke their droughts in spectacular fashion, demolishing Lazio 5-1 at the Olimpico.

These sides finished in the top four last term, but bad starts meant they were battling in mid-table. The pressure was poured on to the Rossoneri after four points from their previous five games in Serie A and the midweek Champions League loss at Celtic. Lazio at least took comfort from their spectacular 2-2 draw with Real Madrid.

Injuries have been key for both teams this season as the absentee list included Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze, Serginho, Marek Jankulovski, Sebastiano Siviglia, Mobido Diakhite' and Fabio Firmani.

Tommaso Rocchi was able to start despite a sprained ankle and had the first shot on goal after 90 seconds. Goran Pandev turned between two midfielders and sprinted forward for Rocchi, but his pass was somewhere between Pandev and Stefano Mauri, so Nelson Dida grabbed hold of the ball.

Milan should have taken the lead on eight minutes as Massimo Ambrosini redirected a corner kick, but Daniele Bonera incredibly turned wide from a yard. Alberto Gilardino hit the back of the net while offside.

On 13 minutes Muslera rushed out to close down Gilardino, but got the player's leg rather than the ball and the referee pointed to the spot. However, after consulting with the linesman he changed his mind and gave a corner kick, but there are strong doubts over this incident.

The goal was only postponed by a couple of minutes, as Ambrosini unleashed an extraordinary strike from 30 metres that slotted into the far top corner past Muslera's hand. The midfielder looked as if he was making a cross, but Mulsera was off his line and it swept straight past the stunned shot-stopper.

Clarence Seedorf went on a marauding run to smash his shot against the side-netting, then Kaka went on a run from his own half to blast over.

But it was Lazio who equalised with a fast-paced move. De Silvestri ran down the right flank and cut back low for Mauri to turn into the far bottom corner with the inside of his left foot, leaving Dida stranded. That was the first goal the Biancocelesti have scored in the first half this season.

De Silvestri had another great assist for Rocchi's header that Dida plucked out from under the bar and then Seedorf blasted a free kick over from a promising position.

Muslera tackled Gilardino again and this time the referee pointed to the spot for the penalty. Mauri slipped and Gila pounced on the loose ball as the goalkeeper came sliding into the back of his ankle. Kaka drilled to Muslera's left to restore Milan's advantage.

After the break Muslera parried a Gilardino shot from Andrea Pirlo's inspired pass, but the former Parma man handled the ball.

The Rossoneri went 3-1 up with Kaka's classy finish. Seedorf's cross from the left was put back in by Pirlo for Kaka to shake off Guglielmo Stendardo and nutmeg the goalkeeper at the near post.

Gilardino ran on to a Pirlo through ball and Cribari came sliding in on the edge of the area, but the referee perhaps harshly booked the Milan striker for simulation.

Mauri curled a free kick over and Kaka went on a slalom in the area, but Cribari blocked the ball with his hip and elbow in a sliding tackle.

Gilardino finally scored his first goal of the season in all competition, ending a drought that had weighed heavy on his shoulders. Kaka picked up the ball in midfield and went towards the centre, but placed a slide-rule pass in for Gilardino's angled drive. The entire squad went to hug Gila and celebrate this important goal for the striker - his first since April in Serie A.

It was almost five moments later, as Seedorf sprung the offside trap by combining with Kaka and Muslera got a hand to it, enough to allow Luciano Zauri to clear off the line.

Gilardino nearly got his second as well with a similar move created by Ambrosini's cross-field pass, but the lob took a deflection off Muslera's arm to whistle wide.

Soon after, Gilardino proved his confidence is most definitely back with a cracking goal. Seedorf chipped the ball over the defence for Ambrosini's headed assist and Gila's powerful right-foot volley under the bar silenced the Olimpico.

Lazio tried to make the scoreline a little more dignified, but Dida controlled Igli Tare and Pandev headers, while De Silvestri struck the side-netting.

Lazio: Muslera; De Silvestri, Stendardo (Scaloni 57), Cribari, Zauri; Behrami (Baronio 69), Mudingayi, Mutarelli, Mauri; Rocchi (Tare 76), Pandev

Milan: Dida; Oddo (Simic 81), Nesta, Bonera, Favalli; Gattuso (Brocchi 82), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf (Gourcuff 83); Gilardino

Ref: Morganti

Berlusconi's darkest day
6.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan patron Silvio Berlusconi has called this “the darkest crisis since I became President” after disastrous results in Serie A and Europe.

The Champions League holders have picked up just four points from their last five domestic matches and crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at Celtic on Wednesday.

“The situation is pitch black. This is the first real crisis since I took over and, in fact, it’s the worst since I became President of this club,” stated Berlusconi, who has been at the helm for 20 years.

Carlo Ancelotti can feel slightly nervous, as the patron has never been fond of his tactical ideals, but Berlusconi did try to reassure the fans.

“I think some of the causes are refereeing errors and a certain amount of bad luck. I confidently await the return to fitness of Ronaldo and Alexandre Pato’s debut. His teammates have spoken very highly of him.”

Pato was signed during the summer for £10m, but as he was only 17 he cannot be legally registered for competition until the next transfer window in January.

Ronaldo has not played at all in official tournaments this season due to a long-running injury saga.

Milan’s campaign had started very brightly with a 3-0 victory away to Genoa – to date their only win in Serie A – the European Super Cup win against Sevilla and a 2-1 Champions League result with Benfica.

FifPro pick Kaka condemns Dida
6.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has won the FifPro award for World Player of the Year, but condemned Milan teammate Nelson Dida’s Celtic Park theatrics.

The Brazilian creative midfielder was the top scorer in the Champions League and now the hot favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

He was voted best player in the world 2006-07 by the 57,500 members of FifPro, succeeding Ronaldinho, who had won for the last two years running.

Other Italian representatives in the FifPro World XI were Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Milan’s Alessandro Nesta and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.

“I am humbled to receive such an honour. To follow my good friend and such a great player as Ronaldinho makes this a very special award for me,” said Kaka.

“To be recognized by my fellow professional players worldwide coming from over 50,000 players is amazing. I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and everyone involved at Milan and the national team, as well as my family and friends for their support.

“My aim is to keep on listening and learning from others and to keep improving as a player and as a person, it is a privilege to be a professional footballer and it is our duty to work hard to be the best we can be for our team mates, supporters, club and country and to earn the respect of fellow men.”

Someone who has lost a lot of respect around the world is Milan teammate Dida after his theatrical response to a light slap from a Celtic supporter.

The Italian media has been as vitriolic as the rest of Europe and even Kaka distanced himself from the shot-stopper.

“Certainly in Glasgow Dida did not make a good impression,” confessed the Brazilian. “It was a difficult moment for him.

“He had just conceded a goal, then was slapped by a fan. Nelson made his choice and we are close to him, even if he made a mistake. The whole squad is with him. In the past he has given us some great moments and it is only right that we help him.”

Dida had already been the subject of insults and constant jeering from the San Siro crowd all season, while one fan considered the Glasgow ‘show’ to be the final straw and jokingly put the goalkeeper up for sale on Ebay.

FifPro World XI:

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/Juventus)

Defenders: Alessandro Nesta (Italy/AC Milan), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy/Real Madrid), John Terry (England/Chelsea) and Carles Puyol (Spain/Barcelona)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (England/Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (England/Manchester United) and Ricardo Kaká (Brazil/AC Milan).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast/Chelsea), and Ronaldhino (Brazil/Barcelona)

Del Piero to join AC Milan?
6.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus talisman Alessandro Del Piero is linked with a sensational switch to Milan as contract negotiations with the Old Lady continue to stall.

The 32-year-old had been expected to commit the rest of his career to the Bianconeri, but he has been frustrated by the offer tabled and sporting director Alessio Secco has admitted he could leave.

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has even admitted that he is eyeing the unsettled star.

“There’s nothing to say that Del Piero couldn’t come to Milan on a free transfer,” he told the Press after the Rossoneri’s disastrous night in Glasgow.

While it seems unlikely that one of Juventus’ great servants would turn his back on the club, the marriage has been strained of late.

Del Piero was said to be hurt when fans jeered him during his slow start to the campaign and he raged that the club had treated him with a “lack of respect” during contract talks.

Secco's declaration last week that Juve were at risk of losing Alex seems to have been something of an own goal.

Del Piero's camp reacted angrily to the comment as it seemed to suggest a lack of flexibility on the club's side.

Pinturricchio’s brother and agent Stefano is currently locked in negotiations with officials in Turin, but the longer the discussions go on without a handshake the more rumours will spread.

Kaka admits Spanish desire
6.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka has cast doubts over his future by telling the Spanish Press that he would like to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.

In recent times there has been constant speculation from Spanish newspapers Marca and AS that the Brazilian ace will succumb to the lure of La Liga.

While most stories have been based on hearsay, it seems that there is some truth in them as the midfield ace has unexpectedly revealed his desire to play in Spain.

“Milan are a great team, but one day I would like to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona,” the Brasilia native admitted.

“I’d rather play in La Liga than the Premier League because I think the Spanish sides pass the ball around more.”

It was revealed last week that Kaka had argued with boss Carlo Ancelotti after the 1-1 draw with Catania last weekend and the 25-year-old admitted that interest from other clubs was flattering.

“It’s always a source of satisfaction when other clubs want to sign you, but the Press are constantly saying things like that,” he stated.

Despite securing just one win from six in Serie A, Kaka still believes that the biggest worry is the defeat against Celtic last Wednesday.

“Our main objective remains the Champions League because nobody has ever retained it,” he stressed. “For Milan it is always better to win in Europe than to win the League."

Kaka is strong favourite to win this year’s Ballon d’Or award for European Player of the Year, but he finished by playing down the significance of the prize.

“It’s not an obsession,” he grinned. “I think I’m most likely to win it after all I did in 2007 with Milan in the Champions League where I was top scorer, but the 2002 World Cup was an equally important triumph.”

Man admits to Dida attack
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

The fan who ran on to the pitch and attacked Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida during last night’s Champions League match has come forward.

The assailant invaded the pitch after Scott McDonald’s late strike handed Celtic a 2-1 win over the Rossoneri at Celtic Park last night.

Dida was largely at fault for both of the Bhoys’ goals and his miserable night was rounded off when the interloper slapped him in the face.

The 27-year-old evaded capture, but has now handed himself in and has been interviewed by Strathclyde Police.

“It is satisfying that he has been found so quickly and the individual in question has been banned for life from attending Celtic matches,” Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell explained.

“Without this incident, our support was phenomenal last night and I would like to thank our fans for their tremendous support.

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has reiterated that he will not be launching an appeal against the result and wishes for no further action to be taken.

“We aren’t waiting on UEFA,” he stated upon arriving at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. “Our goalkeeper was hit and that isn’t right, but we have no appeal to make.”

Dida is set to play against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend, but could face charges himself when UEFA investigate.

Berlusconi stopped Buffon swoop
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan were days away from signing Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon in pre-season, but they chose to stick with Nelson Dida, reports have revealed.

Dida was the villain in the Rossoneri’s 2-1 defeat at Celtic last night and the Brazilian custodian made matters worse with his reaction to a pitch invasion.

During his time at Milan, the towering 33-year-old has been blighted by high-profile errors and injury problems, yet he has remained the Diavolo’s first choice.

When Juventus were relegated to Serie B, Buffon was widely expected to quit the club and it has emerged that he had reached a provisional agreement with Milan in early 2007.

This deal reportedly amounted to a four-year contract at around £4m per year, but President Silvio Berlusconi pulled the plug on the deal as he felt it was too large sum.

Dida extended his stay in Milan to 2010 just days later and the money set aside for Buffon was used to buy Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato and Real Madrid’s Emerson.

Donati gets Rossoneri revenge
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Celtic’s Massimo Donati is revelling in victory over his former side, while Rossoneri midfielder Yoann Gourcuff takes the blame for the crucial goal.

It was a disastrous night for the European champions who were beaten 2-1 after a horror show from goalkeeper Nelson Dida.

While there were scenes of jubilation all around Celtic Park, one man who took particular satisfaction was Donati, who had been ditched by the Diavolo in the summer after five loan spells.

“I feel sorry for Milan, but I remembered them as being better than that. I didn’t expect to see them play like that,” the 26-year-old midfielder gloated.

“But this is a very important win for us which we wanted so much and really fought for.”

Celtic’s last-gasp winner was sadly overshadowed by one fan who ran on to the pitch and slapped Dida in the face, prompting a UEFA investigation.

“It isn’t a nice thing to see,” admitted Donati. “But I don’t think that it would be right to punish such a great set of fans for one man’s stupid gesture.”

Few of the Milan players were willing to talk after the game, but French starlet Gourcuff was willing to accept his share of the blame.

“The second goal was my fault,” he insisted. “We shouldn’t have allowed them to catch us like that after they had played so defensively.

“We knew this would be a tough game and once they scored it made things harder still. But the pitch helped them, while we missed so many chances.”

UEFA may fine Dida
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

UEFA's investigation into last night's events at Celtic Park may result in a fine for Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida as Celtic's chairman criticises him.

The Brazilian shot-stopper had the worst possible night. At fault for both the Bhoys’ goals, he was then confronted by a fan who had invaded the pitch.

The supporter lightly tapped Dida on the cheek, but the towering custodian collapsed to the floor and was taken off on a stretcher.

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn has asked UEFA to investigate the Milan ‘keeper’s reaction to the attack and has condemned his play-acting.

“I’m making no excuses for the behaviour, and the fan behaved disgracefully, but the contact made with the goalkeeper was minimal,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.

“The antics of Dida have to be taken into account as well as he took a couple of steps after the fan and then obviously made the decision he should go to ground.

“Unless I missed something he was carried off on a stretcher for what seemed to be the lightest tap you can imagine.”

UEFA communications director William Gaillard has revealed that there could be action taken shortly.

“One of our prosecutors will look at the evidence and decide whether to open an investigation,” he told Sky Sports News.

“I don’t want to presume anything. There is a whole range of possible punishments, but of course there are precedents for the same kind of incidents.”

Dida was the centre of a controversial situation two seasons ago when a flare hit him during a clash with Inter in the Champions League.

On that occasion the Nerazzurri were forced to play four games behind closed doors, but this time there is more ambiguity.

It is possible that a fine could even be levelled at Dida after he chased the fan and then over-reacted to the contact.

Whatever the decision, a humiliating night of indignity at Celtic Park is likely to follow the under-fire ‘keeper for the foreseeable future.

Ancelotti analyses AC Milan crisis
4.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti condemned the “serious” pitch invasion at Parkhead, but was more concerned with the state of the field itself.

The big headlines came from a fan who struck Nelson Dida as he ran on to celebrate the winning goal and the ‘keeper was stretchered off.

“I haven’t spoken to Dida and did not see what happened. We’ll have to ask Dida how he is, but it is serious for a fan to come on to the pitch,” noted Ancelotti.

“This really should not happen. I don’t even want to think about legal ramifications, that has nothing to do with me.”

The club has now confirmed it will not lodge an appeal against Celtic, nor will Dida press charges against the unidentified fan, who escaped the clutches of the authorities.

Ancelotti had other concerns on his mind after yet another dismal result for his team, losing 2-1 away to Celtic.

“We played well enough on a very wet pitch that made it difficult for our style of play. Things went alright in terms of the team performance and we allowed Celtic only two shots, one of which was from a corner kick. They are better at the physical side of things and it worked for them.

“I do not think we were inefficient upfront, because we could not play our usual way. It was simply impossible, so we had to try to be more physical and not play the ball quite so much to feet.”

The driving rain throughout the match made conditions tricky in Glasgow and that inevitably affected the standard of football from both teams.

“Celtic are certainly very different at home than they are away. They had the advantage of playing on a pitch we just weren’t used to, as it was extremely difficult to control the ball on such a slippery surface and there were many errors caused by that,” continued Ancelotti.

“Scottish football has improved a great deal, just look at Rangers’ 3-0 win at Lyon last night. It would have been unthinkable a few years ago.”

Without a Serie A win since Week 1 and suffering a rare Champions League defeat after their opening 2-1 over Benfica, it is crisis time for the Rossoneri.

“We must slowly improve. We played in an organised and fairly focused way for most of this match and that is what we have to stick with. That is the path to improvement.”

Celtic 2:1 AC Milan - match report
3.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: McManus 62 (C), Kaka pen 69 (M), McDonald 90 (C)

Nelson Dida was the centre of Milan's shock 2-1 defeat at Celtic, as he was shaky on both goals and stretchered off after he was attacked by a fan.

These teams met for the third time in four years in the Champions League at Parkhead and in total Milan had never lost, conceding only one goal. Kakha Kaladze and Paolo Maldini were injured, so Daniele Bonera played in central defence with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf supporting Pippo Inzaghi. Celtic had Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and former Reggina midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura sidelined, but former Rossoneri player Massimo Donati was eager to prove a point.

Nelson Dida returned from a shoulder injury and smothered an early Donati attempt from distance. The Scots were pushing in the early stages, but not making much of a dent in the Milan defence. Andrea Pirlo was brought down by Jiri Jarosik and landed awkwardly on the soaking wet pitch, but he was able to continue after treatment.

Kaka unleashed one of his trademark long-range efforts that Artur Boruc smothered, but another injury to Alessandro Nesta caused a row when Gennaro Gattuso complained Donati had not stopped play.

Seedorf ran in from the left, but his finish was wide of the near post, but the heavy rain over Glasgow made it increasingly difficult for Milan's usual passing game. Marek Jankulovski's through ball for Inzaghi was smartly intercepted by Boruc, while a Pirlo free kick took a deflection and the goalkeeper was again alert to the danger.

Dida comfortably controlled a long-range Brown attempt, but there were precious few scoring opportunities in difficult conditions during this first half.

Straight after the restart Pirlo spread the play for Massimo Oddo's cross and Inzaghi volleyed over from seven yards. Jarosik and Jankulovski both fired well wide from the edge. Seedorf made way for young French starlet Yoann Gourcuff and Kaka set up Inzaghi with Hartley turning out for a corner.

Celtic broke the deadlock on 62 minutes when some chaotic defending from Carlo Ancelotti's men allowed Stephen McManus to tap in from a couple of yards, above all Dida missing Hartley's corner kick, but there were suspicions of handball.

Pirlo nearly scored an equaliser moments later with a deflected free kick, but Boruc somehow managed to readjust his position and flap it off the line.

The referee pointed to the spot soon after, as Ambrosini was held down by Lee Naylor as he went to head the ball. Kaka stepped up and fired low past Boruc, sending him the wrong way to draw Milan level.

Dida parried a McGeady strike and Alberto Gilardino replaced Inzaghi. Celtic defender Doumbe' collapsed clutching his leg without contact, so he may have suffered a sprain or a muscular injury. Gordon Strachan made two tactical changes in the final minutes and Gourcuff tried to batter his way through the Celtic defence as Milan poured forward looking for the win.

Pirlo's strike was off target, but against the run of play Celtic took the lead in the final minute. The Rossoneri failed to clear a corner kick and Dida parried Caldwell's low drive into the path of McDonald for the easiest of tap-ins.

To make matters worse, a fan ran on to the pitch and slapped Dida as he ran past! The Brazilian goalkeeper went down clutching his face and was stretchered off, although the contact did not seem to be particularly hard, unless he hit him on the eye. Dida was replaced by Zeljko Kalac.

Celtic: Boruc; Doumbe’ (Kennedy 80), G Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Donati, Hartley, Jarosik (Killen 84), McGeady (Nakamura 84); S Brown; McDonald
Milan: Dida (Kalac 93); Oddo, Bonera, Nesta, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf (Gourcuff 55); Inzaghi (Gilardino 77)
Ref: Merk (Ger)

AC Milan: No legal action against Celtic
3.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confirmed they will not appeal to UEFA after a Celtic fan struck Nelson Dida.

Straight after the winning goal, a supporter invaded the pitch at Celtic Park and struck the goalkeeper. Dida was stretchered off, but the contact did not seem particularly hard.

“We are the champions of Europe and will represent this continent in the World Club Cup, so we will not make any appeal. It isn’t ideal to see a fan come on and attack a player, but we will not appeal,” explained Galliani.

“The fan certainly strikes Dida’s cheekbone, but understanding the entity of the contact is difficult from that angle. It is not something we are accustomed to analysing! What we do know is that man should have stayed in his seat and everyone would have been happier!”

Galliani also conceded that the decisive goal should have stood after viewing the footage.

“In the stadium I was convinced the goal was offside, but seeing the replays I can see Yoann Gourcuff was keeping them all on.”

The 2-1 defeat added to a series of disastrous results for the Rossoneri this season, who have not won in Serie A since Week 1.

“As for the match, it is a great shame to lose against a team that never really had a shot on target. This is a really bad time for us. The game looked like it was heading for a draw and Milan had plenty of possession, so I really did not expect to lose.

“It is true that we aren’t creating enough chances, but at the same time we seem to be conceding on every single attempt our opposition have. Maybe we are paying for good luck we have had in the past!”

Nonetheless, the Vice-President is confident Milan can turn the situation around, especially with the Intercontinental competition coming up in December.

“We remain calm and I think we have the potential to do really well, especially if Ronaldo returns from injury and can give Inzaghi a breather. We also have Alexandre Pato ready to come in after Christmas.”

Kaka odds-on for Balon d'Or
3.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka is the overwhelming bookmakers’ favourite to clinch the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

The prize for European Footballer of the Year is widely recognised as the most coveted in the game and was won by Azzurri hero Fabio Cannavaro last year.

The battle this year appears to be taking place within Serie A as the Rossoneri’s Kaka’s nearest challenger is Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The giant Swedish striker’s superb start to the campaign has seen him net seven League goals and a crucial brace in the Champions League against PSV last night.

However, according to, the award should prove a formality for Kaka.

The last Milan player to clinch the honour was Andriy Shevchenko in 2004 when he beat Portuguese midfield ace Deco into second place.

The odds in full:

Kaka (Milan) 1/3
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter) 11/2
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 11/2
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) 9/1
Francesco Totti (Roma) 9/1
Ronaldinho (Barcelona) 18/1
Thierry Henry (Barcelona) 30/1
Didier Drogba (Chelsea) 50/1
Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) 50/1
Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 50/1
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) 50/1
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) 50/1
Luca Toni (Bayern Munich) 50/1

Carletto rubbishes Kaka rift
3.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has denied rumours of a rift with Brazilian star Kaka ahead of the Diavolo’s Champions League clash against Celtic.

Whispers circulated that Carletto had argued with Kaka after last weekend’s shock draw with Catania and Vice-President Adriano Galliani had confirmed that “they exchanged opinions.”

With a crucial European tie against Celtic looming this evening, Ancelotti has decided to clear the air and explain what happened in the San Siro dressing room.

“Are you all mad? Do you think that I would argue with the next Ballon d’Or winner?” the ex-Juventus tactician roared.

“It’s pure fabrication. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. We simply had words about the position he needed to adopt for the second half against Catania.

“These things happen between a Coach and a player. If we didn’t talk about that, what would we discuss? Philosophy perhaps,” he joked.

Nelson Dida looks likely to start after a positive training session following a recent shoulder injury.

Oddo believes in Bhoys
3.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Massimo Oddo has praised tonight’s opponents Celtic and believes the Bhoys can join the Rossoneri in the knockout stages.

The Rossoneri take on the SPL champions at Parkhead and the Scottish side will be desperate for a win after their humbling at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Gordon Strachan’s side have it all to do if they are to beat Benfica and Shakhtar into second place or overhaul Milan, but Oddo isn’t taking the Bhoys lightly.

“Celtic are a very good side and that’s why they are playing in the Champions League,” the Azzurri stopper insisted.

“I’m really just concentrating on our progress, but Celtic are particularly good at home and have as good a chance as any of the other teams in the group.

“They also have great fans and in some cases that can push a team on to greater things. It really gives them a home advantage.”

Milan are also in dire need of a win after recent criticism following a stuttering start in Serie A, but Oddo has denied that there is any panic within the club.

“When we are conceding goals the defence will obviously be criticised, but we need to learn from that,” he admitted.

“The boss speaks to the team no matter what the result is, so there is nothing unusual about that.

"We are just looking forward to the game and to the atmosphere, so hopefully we can put in the right performance.”

Carletto wants Athens spirit
2.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has called on his side to replicate last season’s Champions League Final spirit when they face Celtic on Wednesday.

The Rossoneri have only won once in Serie A this term and alarm bells are ringing after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Catania, but the task at hand is a tough trip to Glasgow.

“The Athens spirit and more generally the right attitude is the best way out of this difficult situation,” Ancelotti insisted.

“Our next two matches are away to Celtic and Lazio and they will be difficult, but there is a justifiable pressure to get results. We just need to rediscover our potency and determination.”

The European champions squeezed past the Bhoys on route to glory in Athens last term and Ancelotti understands the threat the SPL giants pose.

“Celtic are still a strong side even if they have changed a bit from the team we met last year,” he asserted.

“But I think that they will lack Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink as he provides such an aerial threat.”

In closing his Press conference, Ancelotti chose to focus on his own side and also commented on Vice-President Adriano Galliani’s description of the Diavolo as a “Phoenix rising from the ashes”.

“A Phoenix from the ashes? I don’t think that we are at that stage yet, but our League form has disappointed me,” he admitted.

Milan are still waiting on a fitness test tomorrow morning to decide whether goalkeeper Nelson Dida is fit enough to replace understudy Zeljko Kalac.

Simic ready to quit AC Milan
2.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Dario Simic is ready to bid farewell to the Rossoneri and may accept a January move.

The 31-year-old has made 73 appearances for the Diavolo since joining from city rivals Inter in 2002, but has become a fringe player this term and is ready to seek a fresh challenge.

“Last season I played around 30 games, but I haven’t even been given a minute yet this time around,” he told the Press.

“This is my seventh year with Milan, but if there isn’t space for me here I would rather go, possibly in January.

“I don’t know where I would go yet, but this situation is intolerable as I’m still a player with nearly 100 caps for Croatia.”

Galliani sees AC Milan renaissance
2.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani insists the Rossoneri will bounce back from recent troubles against Celtic, but denies there has been any panic.

The alarm bells have started ringing as the Diavolo haven’t chalked up a Serie A win since their opening-day triumph over Genoa.

Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Catania at the San Siro has left boss Carlo Ancelotti under pressure, but Galliani sees Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Celtic as a chance to reaasert their credentials.

“I want to remind people with short memories that we fought to the end in this competition in 2004, 2005 and 2006,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We are a side that won the European Super Cup just a month ago and while we do need to improve in the League I don’t understand why people are so worried about us.

“It’s not true that we don’t consider the Scudetto a target as we have been close for three of the last four years. As well as Champions League success, we must finish in the top four at least.”

Milan had to fight hard to see off Celtic at the last 16 stage last term. The Bhoys held them 0-0 at Parkhead and it took an extra-time goal from Kaka at the San Siro to win the tie.

“Celtic are a physically strong side with great fans and a beautiful stadium,” Galliani continued. “We can only wait and see what happens, but we are like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.”

Galliani concluded by dismissing rumours that there is a dressing room rift between Ancelotti, Clarence Seedorf and Kaka.

“In the past there have been things said in the dressing room and there was an exchange of opinions after the Catania game, but there is no big problem,” he stressed.

Anceotti is waiting on a late fitness test to see whether goalkeeper Nelson Dida will return for Zeljko Kalac.

Ronaldo's return draws closer
2.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan could welcome back Brazilian star Ronaldo in the near future, but they will have to do without Kakha Kaladze for at least a month.

Ronaldo’s injury was one of the stories of the summer after his recovery descended into an embarrassing farce for Milan’s medical team.

Having reported discomfort in his thigh on July 22 after the presentation of the Rossoneri side at the San Siro, reports indicated that he would be back in action for the start of the season.

However, it emerged that the diagnosis had been flawed and the problem was more serious, so a disillusioned Ronado went to Brazil to be treated by Selecao doctor Jose Luis Runco.

Rumours then started that Runco was using an experimental treatment that involved injecting live cells into the damaged tissue and allegations that the process was a form of doping emerged.

Finally, after Runco clarified that he wasn’t using this process, Il Fenomeno returned to the peninsula and is nearing a long-awaited return to the pitch.

“It’s not my job to discuss our injured players and I’m certainly not trying to stir controversy, but he seems fine to me,” Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani told reporters.

“Over the last week he has successfully completed all the rehabilitation exercises and I expect him to return soon.”

Georgian stopper Kaladze is set to take Ronaldo’s place on the treatment table after limping off in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Catania.

The 29-year-old’s groin injury is sufficiently serious to keep him out of action for at least a month and he may not pull on the shirt until the Diavolo’s Week 11 fixture against Torino.

Seedorf: Actions not words
2.10 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfield wizard Clarence Seedorf expects a struggle against Celtic on Wednesday and has called upon his teammates to ignore their doubters.

The Rossoneri made a positive start to their Champions League defence when they beat Benfica 2-1 in their first game of the campaign.

However, the Diavolo’s Serie A form has been dismal and four draws and a defeat in their last five League outings have left them facing a crisis.

The Press slated the stuttering giants after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Catania, but Seedorf still believes in his side.

“We mustn’t listen to voices from outside,” he told the club’s website. “We know exactly what we have to improve and we need to pick holes in our own performances because we have always been able to bounce back.

“It’s not a time for words, we just need to go out there as a united group. Just a matter of days ago against Palermo we played brilliantly, but we still lost because the big incidents went against us.

“Because we are European champions everyone plays harder against us. A lot of the time, the results don’t tell the true story.”

Celtic made Milan sweat in their last 16 clash last term and held them to a 0-0 draw at Parkhead before a late extra-time goal made the dfifference at the San Siro.

Having won the Champions League four times, Seedorf is one of most successful players in tournament’s history, but knows that he will be fully tested in Scotland.

“On Wednesday in Glasgow I am expecting a similar game to last year,” he continued.

“Celtic are a tough side who chase everything, they may have problems with absences up front, but generally they are in good shape.”

Goalkeeper Nelson Dida will travel with the squad and may take over from Zeljko Kalac after sitting out recent games with a shoulder injury.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Offredi, Bonera, Cafu, Favalli, Jankulovski, Nesta, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Emerson, Gourcuff, Kaka, Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi

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