Ancelotti expects Bologna battle
31.1 || scharatz
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti fears that Bologna could cause his injury hit side a few problems on Sunday.
"We want to win in order to maintain our League leadership but we know it will be tough," said the tactician.
"A draw wouldn’t be considered as a bad result given the form of our opponents. It is just important that we go into the game looking for a win by playing the way we can."
The tactician does have a few selection problems though and could field an ‘unusual’ side at the Dall’Ara.
"Costacurta and Brocchi are not available after failing to recover from the knocks they picked up on Wednesday against Siena," he said.
"Maldini is also not in the best shape either. Inzaghi is getting better but his return to the side has been pencilled in for the Lazio Cup game next Thursday."
Ancelotti has been boosted with the news that Kaka will be available for selection after his stunning form of late. He was struggling with a slight fitness problem.
Milan are now two points clear at the top of the table but Ancelotti insists second placed Roma will still be a threat.
"I’m convinced that they will do well this term," he added. "They have been going through a tough spell but that happens to all of us.
"I have no doubts that our main rivals for the Scudetto will be both Roma and Juventus until the very end."
Bologna vs. AC Milan - preview
31.1 || scharatz
Perhaps the two most on-form sides in Serie A right now face off at the Stadio Dall’Ara and Milan have their sights set on the top spot.
Their 5-0 drubbing of Ancona placed the Rossoneri within a point of leaders Roma and the added luxury of a game in hand. That tie with Siena will be played on Wednesday evening, the start of a packed February schedule that includes Champions’ League and Coppa Italia commitments.
Alessandro Nesta is suspended for the Siena game, but returns to bolster the solid back line against Bologna. Manuel Rui Costa will be more confident after finally scoring a Serie A goal for the first time since March 2001 and once again lends support to versatile front two of Kaka’ and Andriy Shevchenko.
If Milan are on fine form then Bologna are not far behind. Unbeaten in five games – three of which were victories – Carlo Mazzone’s men have finally kicked into gear following an appalling start to the campaign. They now hold a comfortable mid-table slot even without the injured Beppe Signori, Claudio Bellucci and Sam Dalla Bona.
The midfield is further hit this week by a one-match ban to Leonardo Colucci, so Fabio Pecchia returns to support Igli Tare and Tomas Locatelli. Hidetoshi Nakata was long rumoured to be a Milan transfer target in the summer and will be eager to prove his worth.
Bologna (probable): Pagliuca; Zaccardo, Zanchi, Gamberini, Moretti; Nervo, Nakata, Meghni, Pecchia; Locatelli; Tare
Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Rui Costa; Kaka, Shevchenko
Milan confirm Pozzi deal
30.1 || Seamus
Italian giants Milan have signed the talented teenager Nicola Pozzi from Serie C1 side Cesena.
The 17-year-old is considered as one of Italy’s most promising strikers which had seen him also attract interest from Juve, Inter and Palermo.
The youngster, born in Sant' Arcangelo di Romagna, has put pen to paper on a contract that will tie him to the club until June 2008.
In other transfer news, Ancona have again been busy on Friday. They’ve brought in striker Cristian Bucchi from Cagliari in exchange for Roberto Maltagliati.
Salvatore Bruno has also left Ancona. He was on loan from Chievo but will now end the season in Serie B with Bari.
Brescia have waved goodbye to Mario Salgado. The 22-year-old attacker has joined Salzburg on loan.
Salvatore Vicari has signed for Verona from Reggina, via Ascoli. The 23-year-old is a wide midfielder.
While Sampdoria have approached Napoli in a bid to get striker Antonio Floro Flores for the rest of this season.
Milan receive Inzaghi boost
30.1 || Seamus
There are some wide smiles at new Serie A leaders Milan after Pippo Inzaghi returned from injury.
The Italian international has been sidelined with fitness problems for the past month but he’s been given the green light to resume full training.
That will be a massive boost to boss Carlo Ancelotti even if Milan have coped admirably without him.
Reserve goalkeeper Christian Abbiati also trained with the squad today after his brief spell on the treatment table.
Meanwhile, Milan have officially dismissed speculation that Kakha Kaladze is coming to the end of his Rossoneri stint.
"Kaladze is without doubt a key element for Milan," read a club statement. "That will also be the case next season too."
The Georgian has missed large parts of this campaign with physical problems but Milan are not about to show him the door.
"Kaladze has always demonstrated a consistent level of form and fitness in previous years," continued the note.
"He is a man and an athlete that is well thought of by the club and by his own teammates."
Ancelotti: Kaka is like Platini
29.1 || Seamus
After yet another great performance by the young Brazilian Kaka, Carlo Ancelotti praised the attacking midfielder for his class and tactical awareness.
Kaka was the goal scorer of Milan's first goal against Siena on Wednesday night and Ancelotti declared: "He scores a lot; he resembles Platini. He's a great player, very difficult to mark and always present in the penalty area. He always knows where he has to stay on the pitch."
Redondo talks on hold
29.1 || Seamus
Fernando Redondo is keen to extend his contract at Milan but he wants more first team opportunities in return.
The Argentine, who started in the 2-1 win over Siena last night, is a rumoured target for Lazio given the fact this his present deal expires in the summer.
"I recently met with Vice-President Adriano Galliani where we discussed my future at Milan," he explained.
"The club want me to remain and I’m very happy that they are interested in offering me a new deal as I’m happy here.
"Yet I explained that I really need to be playing football on a regular basis. That is why we will meet up at the end of the season to see what decision to take."
The 34-year-old was signed by the Rossoneri in 2000 from Real Madrid. Yet it took two years for him to make his debut because of a recurring knee problem.
"I’ve returned to a good level," added the former international. "I’m in good shape and I finally feel of use to the side.
"I hope to play more often but that all depends on Coach Carlo Ancelotti. I’m just aiming to be ready when I’m needed."
Redondo was used last night as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo who was rested for the San Siro clash.
Ancelotti: We've won nothing yet
29.1 || scharatz
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti insists that there is still plenty of work to do despite his side taking control of the Scudetto race.
The Rossoneri beat Siena 2-1 last night, in their rearranged Week 13 clash, which has seen them move two points clear of Roma.
"It is important to have got ourselves in this position but things could still change," said the tactician. "We need to be good enough to stay top until the end of the season."
Brazilian Kaka was again one of the main protagonists as he opened the scoring at the San Siro.
"He makes the difference for us when we attack," added Ancelotti. "Even if it is worth noting that Siena are a good side who caused us problems."
Milan returned to the top of Serie A after an absence of 374 days. Something that was achieved also thanks to Dida who saved a penalty with the score at 1-0.
"He is a goalkeeper of the highest standard," noted the former Juve boss. "He’s not normal, he’s formidable."
Siena boss Giuseppe Papadopulo accepted the defeat but did have words of encouragement for his side.
"There is no disgrace in conceding two goals at the San Siro against Milan," he explained.
"I thought we played with a great deal of authority. We offered quantity and quality, as well as creating some decent chances of our own."
Milan 2:1 Siena - match report
28.1 || scharatz
Kaka (M) 38, Tomasson (M) 54, Flo (S) 84
Stadio San Siro
Milan are the new Serie A leaders after goals from Kaka and Tomasson ensured a 2-1 victory over Siena. However, the Italian giants had to thank Nelson Dida for the points after he saved a first-half penalty.
The game was originally scheduled for December but was postponed as the San Siro outfit were in Japan playing for the Intercontinental Cup against Boca Juniors – which they lost on penalties.
Milan went into the tie on a high after the 5-0 win over Ancona at the weekend. But given that was played just three days ago, boss Carlo Ancelotti decided to make a number of changes to his usual starting line-up. Costacurta replaced the suspended Nesta, while Brocchi, Redondo and Tomasson were all drafted in.
The home side started the game at quite a pace as Shevchenko was looking particularly impressive. Yet it was Siena who threatened after eight minutes when Lazetic netted but it was ruled out after he handled the ball prior to shooting.
There was panic in the Siena defence soon after though. Tomasson’s 20th minute cross caused havoc in the box but Seedorf’s shot ended up in the stands. Shev then had a chance after a Seedorf pass but Siena ‘keeper Rossi came to the rescue. He was called into action again on 30 minutes when he was tested by Kaka.
It was a different outcome minutes later though. The attacking midfielder collected a Shev pass on the edge of the box, he skipped past D’Aversa to rifle the ball to the left of Rossi into the corner of the net. Milan had their lead even if they nearly lost it in the 41st minute.
Maldini was judged to have man handled Flo in the box which resulted in a Siena penalty. Menegazzo took on the responsibility of taking the kick but Brazilian ‘keeper Dida pulled off a great save to make sure his side went into the break leading 1-0.
Milan did have their problems in breaking down an organised Siena side in the first half and the second period took the same form. Yet the European Champions extended their lead with their first real chance of the half in the 54th minute. Brocchi unleashed a 30-yard shot that Rossi couldn’t hold on to which left Tomasson with the simple task of tapping home.
Siena brought on both Chiesa and Ventola in a bid to get back into the tie. Chiesa had a good opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet but his 66th minute shot drifted wide of the target. The Tuscans understandably started to offer Milan more space which they revelled in.
Shevchenko, Seedorf and Brocchi all had chances to increase the lead. The latter seeing his decent effort tipped over by Rossi. Pancaro then headed over the bar from a 78th minute corner.
Milan hit the post late on with Shevchenko after Milan were awarded an indirect free-kick for a back pass infringement. Then out of the blue Siena scored in the 86th minute. D’Aversa lined up a shot from distance but he slipped, the ball fell to Flo in the box who knocked it past Dida.
Kaka and then Ventola both went close in the dying minutes before referee Tombolini blew his whistle which confirmed victory for Milan.
Milan: Dida; Cafu, Costacurta (Laursen 46), Maldini, Pancaro; Brocchi, Redondo, Seedorf (Gattuso 77); Kaka; Tomasson, Shevchenko.
Siena: Rossi; Cufre, Argilli, Mignani, Guigou; Taddei (Junior 69), D'Aversa, Vergassola, Lazetic (Chiesa 57); Menegazzo (Ventola 59); Flo.
Missed penalty: Menegazzo (S) 42
Milan vs. Siena - match preview
27.1 || Seamus
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti must be the happiest man in Italian football.
On Sunday, only a few days after his team beat Fabio Capello's Roma for the third time in the space of a month, he watched them destroy Nedo Sonetti's Ancona 5-0 at the San Siro Stadium.
Then Ancelotti received the Golden Bench Award the following day for being the best coach in Italy last season.
With so many good things having happened to him and his side since Christmas, it only seems right that the three points they are likely to take from this Wednesday night's game propel them to the top of the table, two points clear of Roma.
Nervous is how Siena coach Giuseppe Papadopulo will be feeling in the lead-up to this clash at the San Siro Stadium.
Because there will be nothing that he or his players can do to stop their hosts from running away with the game.
Though the visitors might restore some of their lost pride on Sunday afternoon, when they take on Alberto Zaccheroni's Inter Milan at the same ground.
They could gain from that encounter as Inter are such an unpredictable outfit.
But the same things can not be said for their midweek clash with Milan.
Milan: If anyone else should feel chuffed at the San Siro Stadium, it should be Rui Costa.
The talented midfielder finally scored on the weekend after 66 games for the rossoneri.
"I hope I do not have to wait so long for my next goal," he said.
"Perhaps things will now be better for me in the box."
If they are not, though, Rui Costa probably will not be disappointed.
Because he sees his job as helping the side with good performances, which does not necessarily include regular goal-scoring.
Milan are chock-full of players who express such sentiments and back them up with corresponding actions, so they will be able to manage another week without Ambrosini.
The stylish midfielder is expected to miss three games through a muscle strain he picked up in his right leg during his side's recent Coppa Italia clash with Roma.
Siena: Two new Brazilian signings this week should provide the bianconere with the impetus to remain mid-table for the rest of the season.
They are Junior, on loan from Parma; and Roque Junior, on loan from Milan after a less-than-satisfactory stint at Leeds.
Junior is expected to make his debut against Milan, while Roque Junior will join the starting eleven for the clash with Inter.
Probable Team Line-Ups
Milan (4-4-2): Dida, Cafu, Costacurta, Maldini, Pancaro, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Rui Costa, Kaka, Shevchenko
Siena (4-4-2): Rossi, Cirillo, Argilli, Mignani, Cufre, Taddei, Vergassola, D'Aversa, Guigou, Flo, Chiesa.
Players To Watch
The rossoneri created many of these last weekend and, if they are to replicate the form that earned them the 5-0 victory, then chief architect Kaka should once again be magnificent to behold.
Rossi will be subjected to much pressure in goal. And how he stands up to it, in light of Milan's form, should make for fascinating viewing.
Kaka: I want to win everything
27.1 || Seamus
Kaka has won over many fans following his explosion at Milan where he has combined quality performances with a good quantity of goals too.
The young Brazilian ace has set his targets high: "Last year Milan became European champions, but I wasn't here so I won't be satisfied with just winning the Scudetto. Siena's match is an important one, as we are playing for the top position. We must go on the pitch fully concentrated and win."
Nesta to miss Siena
27.1 || Seamus
Alessandro Nesta is out of Milan’s game against Siena on Wednesday because of suspension.
The international was booked in the 5-0 win over Ancona yesterday which makes him unavailable for Wednesday’s re-arranged Serie A clash.
The disciplinary commission have also banned the Perugia pair of Grosso and Ignoffo who will miss Sunday’s game against Parma.
There was more bad news for Grosso as he’s been fined by his club for his dismissal against Siena in the 2-1 loss.
The Italian international picked up two yellow cards much to the frustration of President Luciano Gaucci who has handed him the punishment.
Perugia were all set to win their first League game of the season before they conceded two late goals at Siena on Saturday.
Ancelotti nets boss award
26.1 || scharatz
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has won the ‘Panchina d’Oro’ – the Golden Bench – for his exploits in 2003.
The tactician was handed the prestigious honour, organised by the Italian Coaches Association, in Florence today.
Ancelotti won the Champions’ League and the Coppa Italia last season, as well as finishing third in Serie A.
Elio Gustinetti was rewarded with the ‘Panchina d’Argento’ – the Silver Bench – as the best boss in Serie C. He won promotion with Albinoleffe.
Goal relief for Rui Costa
26.1 || scharatz
Manuel Rui Costa is hoping that his goal drought is over for good after finally scoring for Milan.
The Portuguese ace netted his first League goal for the club in the 5-0 win over Ancona and he was understandably relieved.
"I’m really happy," said the playmaker who hadn’t found the target in Serie A since April 2001 when he was playing for Fiorentina.
"I hope this run of bad luck is finally over now. I’ve gone close on numerous occasions this season but fortunately the ball has now gone in."
Rui Costa’s strike was met with mass approval at the San Siro from fans and boss Carlo Ancelotti who was evidently satisfied on the bench.
"I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart," added the ex-Benfica star. "The supporters and my teammates were great.
"My colleagues have always been close to me and the way they celebrated the goal was perhaps even more satisfying than the strike itself.
"This is one of the best moments of my Milan career. The fans were waiting for this goal and I’m just delighted that I was able to give it to them."
Ambrosini out for three weeks
25.1 || Seamus
A muscle strain to the right leg is the response of the medical exam that Massimo Ambrosini underwent this morning. The midfielder injured himself in the Coppa Italia game with Roma and he will have to stay out for at least three weeks in order to recover.
AC Milan 5:0 Ancona - report
25.1 || scharatz
Shevchenko pen 64 (M), Rui Costa 71 (M), Tomasson pen 78 (M), Kaka' 82, 89 (M)
Stadio San Siro
Milan continue their Scudetto charge and can finally celebrate Manuel Rui Costa's first Serie A goal in three years.
The Rossoneri were confident of getting three points against the bottom club and pushed Kaka' further up the field as a partner to Andriy Shevchenko.
Ancona have changed most of their squad in the January transfer window and here gave new signings Dino Baggio and Mario Jardel their debuts. The Brazilian hitman is already a familiar face to Milan fans, as he scored several goals against them for Porto in the Champions' League.
There was a curious extra interest for this game, as it was the first Serie A match to include a female referee's assistant with Cristina Cini holding the flag.
Gennaro Gattuso and Manuel Rui Costa had early efforts, but Ancona remained dangerous on the counter-attack with Vincenzo Sommese's low drive shaving the woodwork.
Shevchenko is the Serie A top scorer so far this season, but failed to make the most of a good scoring opportunity after 15 minutes when he only scuffed the ball.
Ancona had the most clear-cut chance of the game on 24 minutes when Dida fingertipped Sommese's fierce effort from distance round the upright.
Shevchenko wasted another golden opportunity soon after, when he somehow ballooned a Giuseppe Pancaro cross over the bar from eight yards.
Corrado Grabbi was forced off with a muscular problem just before half-time, but the visitors continued to cause problems to the Milan defence.
Milan were more determined after the break and Clarence Seedorf drilled wide before the Dutchman scooped the ball well over the bar from a good position.
Kaka' was more accurate when his angled drive skimmed the far post, but Ancona found it difficult to emerge from their half.
Manuel Rui Costa's angled drive also shaved the woodwork as the Portuguese international continues his scoring nightmare.
The breakthrough finally came on 62 minutes when Shevchenko's cross was intercepted by Maltagliati's arm. The Ukrainian opted to take the penalty himself and coolly converted with a delicate finish.
Milan doubled their lead with an angled drive on 71 minutes, but the headlines will be taken by the name of the goalscorer: Manuel Cesar Rui Costa. The ex-Fiorentina man had not scored a single Serie A goal since joining Milan three years ago and he finally broke that duck with a splendid angled drive from just inside the box.
Jon Dahl Tomasson stepped on to the field as a substitute and was immediately brought down by Maltagliati. There are doubts over whether this was a foul or even inside the box, but the Dane converted the resulting penalty.
Tomasson also had a hand in Milan's fourth, as he protected the ball and pushed it back for Kaka' to slam in from ten yards.
Kaka' completed his brace by springing the offside trap and placing an accurate finish past Sergio Marcon as the game turned into a humiliating rout.
Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Serginho 75); Rui Costa; Kaka', Shevchenko (Tomasson 75)
Ancona: Marcon; Sartor, Maltagliati, Milanese, Zavagno; Sommese (Pandev 69), Andersson, Baggio, Berretta; Jardel (De Falco 85), Grabbi (Degano 37)
Seedorf Extends With Milan
24.1 || scharatz
AC Milan have renewed the contract to Dutch midfielder, Clarence Seedorf.
The player will stay with the club till 2008 after joining the rossoneri last season from rivals Inter.
Nesta delight at 'derby' goal
23.1 || scharatz
Alessandro Nesta has admitted that his goal against Roma on Thursday was special given his past as a Lazio player.
The Milan stopper scored the opener in the 2-1 Coppa Italia win last night which saw the Giallorossi dumped out of the competition.
"That goal had a particular value for me," he said. "It was very important and it was just great to score at the Stadio Olimpico."
The Azzurri international left the capital in the summer of 2002 due to Lazio’s financial problems – ending his nine-year love affair with the Biancocelesti.
He’ll now be facing them in the semi-finals of Italian Cup after they defeated Parma earlier this week.
"I’m very happy with the way Milan are playing right now," he added. "I really wanted us to go through to the last four."
One man that isn’t content with the semi-final line up is Lazio boss Roberto Mancini. "A Rome derby would have perhaps been more fascinating," he claimed.
"It will be tough to play Milan. They are the European Champions and showed their power against Roma.
"They fielded a second string line-up but it was so strong that those players would secure a top four finish in the League. It’s going to be very hard for us."
Capello: Milan don’t scare us
23.1 || scharatz
Roma boss Fabio Capello has dismissed the notion that his side have an inferiority complex against Milan.
"Let’s not joke," said the tactician after his side lost 2-1 to the Rossoneri last night for the third successive time.
"I really don’t think that this defeat will have psychological repercussions on our Scudetto charge.
"The truth is that we had a few chances to take the lead in the game but we wasted them. We were then distracted on their opening goal."
The capital side are now out of the Coppa Italia after last night’s defeat ensured a 4-2 aggregate loss.
But Capello dismissed any speculation that his side could be about to splash out on the transfer market.
"We have no problems in the squad and therefore we will not be entering the window," he maintained.
Milan, reigning holders of the Cup, will now face Lazio in the semi-finals of the tournament.
"We’re going through a golden moment of form," stated boss Carlo Ancelotti. "The squad is alive and brilliant right now.
"I’m delighted to be in the semi-finals where both ties should be very interesting. The quality of the clubs taking part shows that nobody wants to snub the Coppa."
Inter will face Juventus in the other last four game. Those matches will take place in February.
COPPA ITALIA: AS Roma 1:2 AC Milan - report
22.1 || scharatz
Milan will face Lazio in the last four of the Italian Cup after a 2-1 win at Roma. Goals from Alessandro Nesta - formerly of Lazio - and Jon Dahl Tomasson helped the reigning holders to a convincing aggregate victory on Thursday.
Despite losing the first leg 2-1, Roma boss Fabio Capello decided to leave Francesco Totti on the bench as Marco Delvecchio was fielded up front on his own. Milan also played with just one striker as Tomasson was aided by Serginho and Seedorf.
With the midfield area packed it was no surprise that the first half produced few scoring chances. Tomasson saw his 12th minute effort sail way over the bar despite being in a favourable position.
Roma’s most dangerous player was Mancini who was causing Pancaro and Costacurta all sorts of problems. The Brazilian’s cross found Delvecchio on 15 minutes, yet his 10-yard volley finished just wide of the post.
Ambrosini and Brocchi both threatened to score for the visitors but it was the Giallorossi that had the best chance of the first period. A corner caused panic in the Rossoneri defence and De Rossi’s close range effort was blocked off the line by Brocchi’s leg.
Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti decided to bring on Nesta at half time to make things more comfortable in defence for his side. It was a stroke of genius as within four minutes, the Azzurri star gave his side the lead. He out-jumped Damiano Tommasi to head past Zotti from close range.
The European Champions put the tie beyond any doubt in the 57th minute. Tomasson broke the offside trap, he cut inside of Panucci before sweeping the ball home with his left foot on the turn.
Roma seemed resigned to elimination even if they did get a consolation goal. Mancini was left alone on the right hand side of the box and he blasted past a helpless Dida. The game fizzled out with a few juicy tackles late on but Milan progressed thanks to a 4-2 aggregate victory.
Roma 1-2 Milan (2-4 on agg)
Scorers: Nesta (M) 49, Tomasson (M) 57, Mancini (R) 80
Roma: Zotti; Dellas (Carew 63), Panucci, Samuel, Candela; D’Agostino, Tommasi (Dacourt 63), De Rossi (Wahab 77), Lima; Mancini; Delvecchio
Milan: Dida; Simic, Laursen, Costacurta, Pancaro (Nesta 46); Brocchi, Redondo, Ambrosini (Gattuso 49); Serginho (Borriello 72), Seedorf; Tomasson
COPPA ITALIA: AS Roma vs. AC Milan - preview
22.1 || scharatz
Serie A leaders AS Roma and current European Champions AC Milan face each other yet again, in what will be the final match up between the two teams this month.
Capello's men have been defeated by their Milanese counterparts in both previous matches, with Andriy Shevchenko scoring a double in a 2-1 win in the league, whilst Jon Dahl Tomasson and Massimo Ambrosini chipped in for a win by the same score line in the first leg of this competition just last week. However John Carew gave his Roma team-mates a huge boost by scoring an away goal in the first leg loss, and the match is far from a foregone conclusion.
Both teams are coming off wins in the league, with Roma defeating Sampdoria 3-1 thanks to some individual brilliance from the one and only Francesco Totti, whilst Milan snatched a 1-0 victory away to Brescia, thanks to an 85th minute header from Giuseppe Pancaro.
Roma – WWLWLW
Apart from the two losses to Milan, Roma have generally been in fine form, and it is no shock to see them atop of the crop in the Serie A. The latest victory against Sampdoria was more significant, considering Capello's side was missing almost all of their backline, with Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu and goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli all out. It must have been a huge confidence boost to the Romans to win without the core component of the defence, and this has surely raised spirits to an even higher level.
Milan – WLWWWW
Apart from the loss to Udinese before the Christmas break, Milan have been picking up maximum points in all competitions, which can only be a good thing. Heading into this match, Ancelotti and his side must be relatively happy to know that they currently have the wood on Roma, defeating them twice so far this season. Their confidence will be sky-high.
LATEST TEAM NEWS:
Roma will once again be without striker Antonio Cassano for this match, as he is still serving a four match ban from last seasons final.
In goals, expect Zotti to step in again, after his brilliant display against Sampdoria. The young Roma keeper saved a Flachi penalty with some style, and contributed vastly to the performance with a great overall display. Roma have an uncanny knack of developing great talents and Zotti could well be another one.
In defence, Samuel should play in the middle of a back three, alongside Jonathan Zebina and Christian Panucci. If Zebina is not declared fit for the match then expect Greek international Dellas to step in.
Emerson and Dacourt will both most likely be rested, so expect Damiano Tommasi and Daniele De Rossi to be the central midfielders. On the wings, Mancini should get the nod on the right, and Vincent Candela, who is finally beginning to show some long overdue form, should get a starting place on the left side.
Gaetano D'Agostino will fill the trequartista role, playing behind the two strikers Carew and Delvecchio. Francesco Totti will be rested, whilst Vincenzo Montella is still on the sidelines, after injuring himself at training yesterday.
Milan are also expected to rest some star players, with Paolo Maldini, Shevchenko, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka all unlikely to feature. Dario Simic, Martin Laursen, Alessandro Nesta and Giuseppe Pancaro should make up the back four, with Dida the keeper.
In midfield, Fernando Redondo, who is being linked with a loan move to Perugia, will once again start in midfield. Ambrosini and Serginho should also be given starting places.
Up front, Jon Dahl Tomasson will be given another chance, whilst U21 International Marco Boriello may also be given a chance from the starting whistle. Filippo Inzaghi is still on the sidelines, whilst Ancelotti will have to choose between Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa as the playmaker.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Roma – Gaetano D'Agostino
The U21 International was the best player for Roma in the first leg, and is starting to show the form that forced the Giallorossi to pry him away from Juventus earlier this season. He certainly filled the difficult trequartista position well, and looks a great replacement for Francesco Totti, should he be injured or rested at any time during the season.
Milan – Alessandro Nesta
The Italian international defender, who is widely regarded as the best in the world, has just recently returned from injury and has not played well so far. Expect him to have a very big game, as he rarely stays in poor form for an extended time period.
Zotti; Panucci, Samuel, Zebina; Mancini, Tommasi, De Rossi, Candela; D'Agostino; Delvecchio, Carew
Dida; Simic, Laursen, Nesta, Pancaro; Redondo, Ambrosini, Serginho; Rui Costa; Tomasson, Boriello
Inzaghi Will be back in a month
19.1 || Seamus
AC Milan are getting ready for Thursday's Coppa Italia clash with Roma and as usual Carlo Ancelotti will have to check up the injured players before making his decisions.
The good news is that Redondo and Abbiati will be able to play but the manager will have to wait for Kaladze and Inzaghi till February. The striker is working very hard and he is getting better every day and Milan's medical staff have announced that he will be ready in a month's time.
Ancelotti: Our defence is our strength
19.1 || Seamus
Carlo Ancelotti is a happy man tonight and he has to thank his defence for tonight's victory against Brescia. "We played a good match against a team that can make it hard for anybody but we were up for the fight and got the three points," he said.
"I am very proud of the boys," he added. "We did very well in these six months and if we can keep this pace up we will be very happy at the end of the season".
Milan dismiss Laursen sale
19.1 || Seamus
Milan have moved quickly to dismiss speculation that Martin Laursen is on the verge of joining Sampdoria.
There were rumours that the Dane, only a squad player with the Rossoneri, was set to join Samp on loan for the rest of the season.
However, the European Champions have today released an official media statement denying that the 26-year-old will leave the club.
Milan have also rubbished claims that they are interested in 23-year-old Sampdoria defender Morris Carrozzieri.
The latter, who was sent off against Roma yesterday, is in his first top flight campaign after a summer move from Teramo.
Brescia 0:1 AC Milan - report
18.1 || scharatz
Pancaro 81 (M)
Milan are on track to catch leaders Roma as Giuseppe Pancaro's late header earns their first win at Brescia since 1995.
Milan were under pressure to keep up their winning streak following Roma and Juventus victories this afternoon, but their record at the Stadio Rigamonti is certainly not reassuring.
The Rossoneri have not won here since 1995 and lost here 1-0 last season, but were forced to do without the injured Pippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf. Alessandro Nesta made his Serie A comeback six weeks after knee surgery.
Brescia are on sparkling form and much of the credit must go to their captain Roberto Baggio, here facing his former club. Fabio Petruzzi stepped in for the suspended Gigi Di Biagio in defence.
The initial period of play was relatively even, but Brescia had the first firm scoring opportunity on 15 minutes. Matteo Brighi was left relatively unmarked and saw his angled drive deflected inches wide of the far post.
Andriy Shevchenko was furious when he was judged to have used his arm to chest down a sweeping cross and replays leave an element of doubt.
Andrea Pirlo is a familiar face at the Stadio Rigamonti due to his many years with his hometown club and his delightful floated pass found Kaka only for Martinez to scramble clear.
The game gradually grew in intensity and Marcos Cafu saw his angled drive charged down.
Roby Baggio seemed to be limping slightly, but skipped past two defenders to hang the ball up just past Andrea Caracciolo.
Soon after some desperate defending from Dario Dainelli prevented Shevchenko getting his shot on goal after good build-up play from Manuel Rui Costa.
Rui Costa has still not scored a single Serie A goal since joining Milan, but he certainly went close with a powerful angled drive that shaved the far post.
Milan's influence was growing and Cafu blasted a good chance over the bar following one of his trademark strong runs.
Brescia also found space with counter-attacks, but Antonio Filippini's effort was too central to trouble Dida.
At the dawn of the second half Kaka' tried to net an acrobatic strike, but his volley on Gennaro Gattuso's centre was over the bar.
Milan needed more pace and Serginho was thrown on in place of Gattuso on the hour mark, while young striker Simone Del Nero replaced the injured Baggio.
The Divine Ponytail had been limping throughout and was forced off the field with yet another injury.
Dida was forced into a splendid save on 72 minutes when batting away a close-range shot from substitute Del Nero.
On the resulting corner Stefano Mauri was left completely unmarked at the back post, but somehow turned wide from five yards.
Carlo Ancelotti gave Jon Dahl Tomasson a late look at the game to put Brescia's defence under more pressure.
The deadlock was eventually broken with nine minutes left on the clock. A Pirlo corner kick was swept in to the centre and Giuseppe Pancaro did not even have to jump in order to nod in.
Confidence was boosted and soon after Tomasson struck the side-netting from a tight angle.
Kaka' could have made it two on 86 minutes, but his chip incredibly thumped the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Brescia stayed in the game and proved dangerous from a set-piece when Jonathan Bachini's effort was cleared out for a corner.
Serginho relished the extra space on the counter-attack and his left-foot drive was tipped out of the top corner by Federico Agliardi.
Dainelli lost his head and was red carded in stoppage time for an off the field slap on Tomasson.
Brescia: Agliardi; Mauri (Colucci 88), Dainelli, Petruzzi, Martinez; Bachini, Matuzalem, Brighi (Guana 87), A Filippini; Baggio (Del Nero 63), Caracciolo
Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso (Serginho 63), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Rui Costa (Tomasson 78), Kakà; Shevchenko (Brocchi 89)
Sent off: Dainelli 94 (B)
Ancelotti plans Brescia revenge
18.1 || scharatz
Milan have not win at the Stadio Rigamonti since 1995 and Carlo Ancelotti claims it is time to end that trend.
“Last season we were made to look terrible by Brescia,” he said of their 1-0 defeat, “so we realise a great performance is needed to do better.”
The Rossoneri are aiming to catch Roma at the top of the table, even if they have a game in hand, as we reach the halfway point in the campaign.
“Brescia are going through a very strong period of form and play some good, organised football. We have the right conviction to get this result.”
The newspapers in Italy are preparing for a clash of ‘artists’ as Roberto Baggio faces off with new sensation Kaka’.
“Baggio represents a wonderful example of the Italian football player,” continued Ancelotti. “He is one of the greats, but Kaka is more versatile and can also play as a midfielder.”
The Brazilian has been very impressive since his summer switch from Sao Paolo and is now a first team regular.
“Kaka’ has really shaken up our season with some crucial goals, such as his winning strike in Bruges.”
The 21-year-old also netted a brace in last week’s 3-1 win over Reggina and should start alongside Manuel Rui Costa and lone striker Andriy Shevchenko.
Brescia vs. AC Milan - preview
17.1 || scharatz
The stage is set for a shock result as Roberto Baggio’s giant-killers take on a Milan side with the strongest away record in Serie A.
This will be the Divine Ponytail’s last season due to the fitness problems which continue to plague his career. Baggio was a doubt to feature against Lazio last week with a muscular injury, but was able to start and proved decisive in that 1-0 victory. That was the first time in 35 years that they had conquered the Capital, but goalscorer Gigi Di Biagio will miss this match through suspension, so Martinez steps into that defensive role.
Baggio spent a brief and unsuccessful period of his career with the Milan shirt on his back, one of many difficult experiences with the big clubs. The veteran seems more at ease with provincial sides such as Brescia and is determined to score those final two goals that will take his Serie A tally to 200.
Milan must win this encounter in order to have a chance of catching Roma in the race to be Winter Champions. This is the final round of ties in the opening half of the season, although Carlo Ancelotti’s men still have a game in hand with Siena to be played on January 28.
The Rossoneri had quite a shock when Reggina’s aggressive start saw them go 1-0 behind at the San Siro last week, but a Kaka’ brace and Andrea Pirlo penalty ensured the 3-1 victory. Pippo Inzaghi’s injury has forced Ancelotti into adopting a lone striker system with the Brazilian backing up Andriy Shevchenko and support is provided by Manuel Rui Costa. Alessandro Nesta is recovering from knee surgery and could make his comeback in this encounter.
Anything could happen at the Stadio Rigamonti, as Brescia are unbeaten in five games, while Milan have the best away record in Serie A thanks to six wins and two draws. In that time the European Champions have netted an impressive 14 goals and conceded just three.
Brescia (probable): Agliardi; Martinez, Petruzzi, Dainelli, Mauri; Filippini, Brighi, Matuzalem, Bachini; Baggio, Caracciolo
Milan (probable): Dida; Costacurta, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Kaka’; Shevchenko
Nesta wary of Brescia threat
17.1 || scharatz
Alessandro Nesta reveals how he is dealing with the return from six weeks on the sidelines, but warns his Milan risk a slip at on-form Brescia.
“I was a little tired after the Coppa Italia game midweek,” said the defender after making his comeback in the 2-1 win over Roma.
“Obviously the knee surgery and this long lay-off has affected my overall match fitness, but to be honest I thought it would be worse.”
The Italian international had been out of action since undergoing an operation in early December and missed out on the Intercontinental Cup.
The Rossoneri have managed to maintain one of the strongest defences in Serie A without him, but face a tricky trip to Brescia this Sunday evening.
“We will be playing against a team that is on fine form and we cannot afford any slip-ups,” he explained.
“It will be a tough game, as the Rondinelle have always given us problems in the past. The fact that Gigi Di Biagio is suspended is a bonus for us.”
All eyes will be on Roberto Baggio, as the Divine Ponytail aims for his 200th Serie A goal against his former club.
“Meeting Baggio is always a great pleasure and honour,” insisted Nesta. “Other than being a legendary player, he is also a good man.”
The two will no doubt clash at the Stadio Rigamonti, but the former Lazio man was also called to answer a bizarre transfer rumour linking Christian Vieri to Milan.
“I think that is pure fantasy football,” he smiled. “We have so many great strikers here that I doubt the club is looking for any more.”
Capello contests Tomasson goal
15.1 || scharatz
Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti have given their views on the Jon Dahl Tomasson goal that helped Milan beat Roma in the Coppa Italia.
"Today the result was incorrect," slammed the Roma boss following their 2-1 defeat. "Although I am very happy to have scored an away goal and we will give everything to win at the Olimpico next Thursday."
There are major doubts over the first Milan goal, which was scored by Tomasson despite teammate Marco Borriello’s offside position.
"This tie remains very open and it was a shame we conceded that avoidable goal in the last minute, but these things can happen in football."
This was a replay of last year’s final and despite fielding a below-strength side it proved to be an entertaining and heated encounter.
"Both teams played well and showed we really want to win this trophy," added Capello. "There is no such thing as a second string side as both Roma and Milan are packed with excellent players."
Carlo Ancelotti represented the Milan camp and admitted the first goal could easily have been disallowed.
"We had the better of the first half and Roma were stronger after the break, but this is like a first half of the tie and it is all to play for.
"Borriello was certainly offside," added the Rossoneri Coach, "but the linesman believed that his position was inactive and it is a rule open to interpretation.
"These are two great teams and will continue to battle for every point in Serie A for the rest of the season."
COPPA ITALIA: AC Milan 2:1 AS Roma - report
14.1 || scharatz
John Carew has scored what could prove a crucial away goal despite Roma's 2-1 defeat to Milan.
This tie was already a replay of last year’s Coppa Italia Final, won by Milan 6-3 on aggregate, but is also the second of three meetings in January.
Andriy Shevchenko was the hero earlier this month when his brace helped the Rossoneri to a 2-1 League win in the Capital, but the Ukrainian was rested in favour of Jon Dahl Tomasson and Marco Borriello.
Alessandro Nesta made his comeback six weeks after undergoing knee surgery and took his place in central defence.
Roma were without the suspended Antonio Cassano, while Francesco Totti, Emerson and Cristian Chivu are injured.
Under-21 international Gaetano D’Agostino took the Trequartista role behind John Carew and Marco Delvecchio, while Daniele De Rossi was given a rare start in midfield.
The Giallorossi had a strong start as Delvecchio and Damiano Tommasi went close, but Christian Brocchi’s piledriver gave a warning shot to goalkeeper Carlo Zotti.
Youngster Zotti spilled a Clarence Seedorf free kick, but bravely dived on to the feet of Martin Laursen and Fernando Redondo to smuggle their follow-ups.
It was a very lively and open game and Dida did well to punch away a Traianos Dellas counter-attack.
Borriello wasted a golden scoring opportunity on 19 minutes when he ballooned over the bar from seven yards.
Milan began to increase the pressure and less than a minute later Tomasson out sprinted Walter Samuel and chipped Zotti, but the ball skimmed the far post of an open goal.
The Dane finally broke the deadlock at the third attempt, as he sprung the offside trap and placed an angled drive past Zotti.
It was a goal that will cause a great deal of controversy and the Roma defenders were furious as Borriello was offside, but the ball went straight to his teammate who went on to score.
The referee considered Borriello to be inactive as the ball went to Tomasson, but Borriello continued his run and even got in the way of Jonathan Zebina as he tried to catch up.
Moments later the visitors could have drawn level, but Dida flapped away a Carew shot with a reaction one-handed save.
The Rossoneri started the second half brightly and forced Zotti into a safe with Seedorf’s shot before Laursen nodded inches wide of the far post.
Massimo Ambrosini was wearing the captain’s armband and drilled well wide from an excellent scoring opportunity.
Milan were taking control of the overall play, but Carew was left completely unmarked to score a crucial away goal for Roma.
Laursen’s error allowed the Norwegian to chest down a long ball forward and slam in a volley on the turn.
This was a result that certainly did not suit Carlo Ancelotti’s men, so the Brazilian duo of Serginho and Kaka’ were thrown on.
It proved an inspired substitution, as in stoppage time Serginho charged down the left flank and his dangerous cross was pushed into the path of Ambrosini.
That semi-final berth is all to play for when these two teams cross swords at the Stadio Olimpico next Thursday.
Milan 2 - 1 Roma
Scorers: Tomasson 39 (M), Carew 78 (R), Ambrosini 91 (M)
Milan: Dida; Simic, Laursen, Nesta (Costacurta 65), Pancaro; Brocchi, Redondo, Ambrosini, Seedorf (Serginho 81); Tomasson, Borriello (Kaka 81)
Roma: Zotti; Zebina, Samuel, Dellas; Lima, Tommasi, De Rossi, Candela (Mancini 63); D’Agostino (Dacourt 88); Delvecchio, Carew
COPPA ITALIA: AC Milan vs. AS Roma - preview
14.1 || scharatz
Serie A leaders AS Roma and European Champions AC Milan face each other yet again, in what will be the second out of three meetings between these Italian giants in the short space of one month.
It will be the perfect chance for Fabio Capello's men to exact some revenge on their Milanese counterparts, as Ancelotti's side clearly have the advantage over the Romans, defeating them 2-1 at the Olimpico Stadium last Tuesday, as well as cruising to a 6-3 aggregate win in last years Coppa Italia final.
Both teams are coming off morale boosting wins in the chase for the Scudetto, with Milan defeating Reggina 3-1 thanks to the brilliance of Brazilian wonder-kid Kaka, whilst Roma overcame a resilient Perugia side 1-0, with Mancini's 3rd minute goal enough for the Giallorossi to claim victory.
Roma – WWWWLW
Capello's side are flying high atop of the league, with the defeat to Milan last Tuesday being their first and only loss in all competitions this season. It is also only the second time the Romans have conceded two goals in a match – the first coming at the Delle Alpi against Juventus way back in Round three. Wins over Chievo, Modena, and Empoli in the league matches, as well as a 2-1 win over Palermo in the second round of the Italian cup preceded the loss to Milan last week.
Milan – LLWLWW
Milan were very inconsistent before the Christmas break, usually relying on an Andriy Shevchenko piece of brilliance, before sitting back on a one goal lead. A 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo in the Champions League was followed by the disappointing Intercontinental Cup final, won by Carlos Bianchi's Boca Juniors side, this time on penalties. A win against Sampdoria a week later was followed by another disappointing and lacklustre performance against Udinese, which was the last game of 2003. The break seems to have done Ancelotti's side the world of good though, winning their last two matches against Roma and Reggina respectively.
LATEST TEAM NEWS:
Roma will definitely be without striker Antonio Cassano for this match, as he is still serving a four match ban from last years final. Capello isn't expected to field a full strength squad, as the key league clash with Sampdoria this weekend looms. Therefore, Captain Francesco Totti is expected to be rested. In defence, Walter Samuel should feature, as he is banned for the game against Sampdoria. Panucci, Dellas and Candela should play alongside the Argentinean in a four man backline. Both Cristian Chivu and Jonathan Zebina picked up niggling injuries against Perugia and are expected to be kept fresh for the Sampdoria clash.
In midfield, expect Daniele De Rossi and Damiano Tommasi in the centre, with Mancini and Lima the wingers. Emerson will most likely not be played, after picking up a shoulder injury against Perugia. Gaetano D'Agostino should start in a role behind strikers Marco Delvecchio and John Carew, however don't rule out the possibility of Capello playing two up-front instead of the usual three. Vincenzo Montella should be fit, but will probably not be risked. He may feature as a substitute.
Milan are also expected to rest players, with Paolo Maldini, Shevchenko, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka all unlikely to feature. Dario Simic, Martin Laursen, Alessandro Nesta and Giuseppe Pancaro should make up the back four, with Dida in between the sticks. Expect Brocchi and Redondo to be given a rare start in midfield, alongside Massimo Ambrosini and Serginho. Jon Dahl Tomasson should start just ahead of playmaker Manuel Rui Costa. Filippo Inzaghi is still injured whilst Under 21 International striker Marco Boriello may make an appearance off the bench.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Daniele De Rossi (Roma): The U21 starlet should be given a start in this match, and expect him to make the most of it, after losing out recently to Olivier Dacourt in Roma's midfield. De Rossi has been tagged as the next best thing in Italy after he exploded onto the scene earlier this year with some blistering performances. Has the ability to turn the match with one touch.
Manuel Rui Costa (Milan): The Portuguese star has recently hit a good patch of form and seems to be fitting in well with Kaka, after being overlooked in favour of the Brazilian earlier in the season by Ancelotti. Will be the 'go-to' man in Milan's midfield in this match and should direct most of the Rossoneri's attacks.
Roma (4-4-2): Pelizzoli; Panucci, Samuel, Dellas, Candela; Mancini, Tommasi, De Rossi, Lima; D'Agostino, Delvecchio;
Milan (4-4-1-1): Dida; Simic, Laursen, Nesta, Pancaro; Brocchi, Redondo, Ambrosini, Serginho; Rui Costa; Tomasson;
Roma trio to miss Milan
13.1 || scharatz
Roma are set to be without three of their most influential players in their Coppa Italia game against Milan.
The Giallorossi will face the European Champions at the San Siro tomorrow but Francesco Totti, Cristian Chivu and Emerson are all doubts.
Totti is on a specific training schedule because of his back injury and may not be fielded in the first leg.
Chivu won’t feature after he pulled a muscle in the 1-0 win at Perugia. While Emerson picked up a shoulder problem in the same game.
The capital side will also still be without Antonio Cassano as he is in the middle of a four game Italian Cup suspension.
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have such problems as he is ready to welcome back some of his players.
Alessandro Nesta has recovered from minor knee surgery and should start the game. Jon Dahl Tomasson has also recovered from his fitness nightmare.
Coppa schedule – first legs
Tuesday 13 January: Udinese – Inter
Wednesday 14 January: Lazio – Parma, Milan – Roma
Thursday 15 January: Perugia – Juventus
Kaka pays Reggina respect
12.1 || scharatz
Milan goal hero Kaka admits that his side may have underestimated Reggina in yesterday’s 3-1 win.
The away side had taken a surprise early lead before an inspired Kaka scored twice and won a penalty which was converted by Andrea Pirlo.
"I’m happy with the fact that I scored two and delighted that that we beat Reggina," said the Brazilian.
"Reggina are a side that should be respected and we possibly made a few too many mistakes in the first period.
"However, we fortunately demonstrated our true worth in the second period of the game."
The youngster’s display was also of great satisfaction to Rossoneri Vice-president Adriano Galliani.
"He played really well," said the Milan official. "He illustrated the fact that he is an extraordinary player.
"The side played well today even if things didn’t look so great at the start of the game. Reggina did some good things until we pressured them."
Galliani also praised Pirlo for his cheeky chipped penalty kick after his recent errors against Boca Juniors and Udinese.
"The fact that he took the spot kick in that way after two consecutive misses shows that he has great character," he concluded.
AC Milan 3:1 Reggina - report
11.1 || scharatz
Torrisi 2 (R), Kaka 8, 55 (M), Pirlo pen 70 (M)
A Man of the Match performance from Kaka' ensures that Milan continue their Scudetto challenge, but they had to recover from an early shock.
Milan were on cloud nine following their confident 2-1 win at leaders Roma on Tuesday, a result that closed the gap to three points with a game in hand.
Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson are still out injured, so Andriy Shevchenko is again the lone striker with support from Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa.
It was a very attack-minded line-up with Brazilians Serginho and Marcos Cafu as fullbacks.
Reggina were also flying high with two consecutive giant-killing wins over Parma and Lazio.
The Rossoneri's last home game they conceded an opener to Udinese in the first two minutes and it happened again. After 60 seconds Marcos Cafu accidentally turned a clearance on to his own crossbar, but on the resulting corner Stefano Torrisi was able to nod in for the visitors.
Mere moments later Reggina nearly made it two when Dida performed a desperate save on Emiliano Bonazzoli's angled drive.
It was a siege and on three minutes Mesto nutmegged Paolo Maldini before drilling his shot wide.
It was a fast and furious game and moments later Kaka's drive was deflected on to the crossbar by the head of Clarence Seedorf.
The young Brazilian has made a habit of scoring great goals and tore the Reggina defence apart to equalise after eight minutes. Kaka dribbled past two players before turning past a helpless Emanuele Belardi.
It remained very open and Belardi did well to palm out another fierce Kaka effort from distance, but Reggina were very dangerous on the counter-attack.
Reggina captain Ciccio Cozza scored the winner against Lazio on Tuesday and almost restored their lead when his curling effort skimmed the far post.
At the other end Belardi flew to his left for a fantastic reaction save on Shevchenko's bullet header.
As time went on Milan took control of the match and Pirlo's powerful shot from distance shaved the crossbar.
Within moments of the restart another difficult save prevented Serginho's header giving the home side the lead.
After pouring forward for much of the game, Milan eventually took the lead with a helping hand from Lady Luck. Torrisi attempted to clear a Gennaro Gattuso centre, but the ball ricocheted off Kaka's knee and straight into the net.
Kaka was on sparkling form and his run into the box was ended by a foul from Jiranek. Andrea Pirlo missed Milan's only penalty of the season so far, but he showed there was no lack of confidence by cheekily scooping the ball over the goalkeeper.
AC Milan: Dida; Cafu, Costacurta, Maldini, Serginho; Gattuso (Brocchi 89), Pirlo, Seedorf (Ambrosini 46); Rui Costa, Kaka (Redondo 85); Shevchenko
Reggina: Belardi; Jiranek, Sottil, Torrisi; Mesto, Baiocco, Tedesco, Falsini; Cozza (Martinez 82); Di Michele (Dall'Acqua 75), Bonazzoli (Leon 73)
AC Milan vs. Reggina - preview
10.1 || scharatz
Milan are right back in the thick of the Scudetto chase following their confident victory at Roma, but historically it is against the smaller sides that they tend to falter.
The Rossoneri are once again title favourites thanks to their 2-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico, but are still forced to deal with an injury crisis. Alessandro Nesta, Kakha Kaladze, Massimo Ambrosini, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson remain major doubts for this game. We should see few, if any, changes from the packed midfield that saw off the Giallorossi on Tuesday.
It seems that Carlo Ancelotti’s team is most effective with the lone striker upfront, in particular when that man has scored 14 goals in 13 Serie A games. Andriy Shevchenko is having the best season of his Milan career and hopes to extend that run of results at the San Siro. This will also give Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa the opportunity to improve their on-field rapport after some critics claimed they could not share the pitch. There is another option open to Ancelotti, as he could opt for Serginho on the left of a classic 4-4-2 formation.
However, Milan fans must be wary of the potential banana skin represented by Reggina. The Amaranto have shocked two big clubs by beating both Parma and Lazio in their most recent outings and the arrival of Coach Giancarlo Camolese has boosted team spirit. The players will have bitter memories of this stadium, as earlier this season they were thrashed 6-0 by Inter, so concentration will be key. Shunsuke Nakamura and Mozart remain sidelined with fitness problems, so Francesco Cozza and Giacomo Tedesco start.
Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Costacurta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Serginho; Kaka, Shevchenko
Reggina (probable): Belardi; Jiranek, Torrisi, Sottil; Mesto, Baiocco, Tedesco, Falsini; Cozza; Di Michele, Bonazzoli
Ancelotti: Reggina harder than Roma
10.1 || scharatz
Carlo Ancelotti maintains that tomorrow’s meeting with minnows Reggina is a tougher task than beating the League leaders.
“This will be more difficult an encounter than the one at the Stadio Olimpico,” insisted the Milan boss.
That 2-1 victory against Roma has blown the title chase wide open again and the Rossoneri are just three points adrift with a game in hand.
“Against Roma we ran a few more risks at the back,” he explained, “but there was room for the forwards to manoeuvre. That won’t be the case with Reggina.”
The Amaranto have made a name for themselves as giant-killers, beating both Parma and Lazio in their last two outings.
“The win over the Giallorossi gave us back our enthusiasm and cut short the disappointment of losing to Udinese before Christmas,” continued the Coach, “but we must concentrate only on Reggina.”
Pippo Inzaghi will be out of action for a month due to a calf strain, while Jon Dahl Tomasson and Alessandro Nesta remain sidelined, so we are likely to see Andriy Shevchenko as the lone striker once again.
“It is a shame for Pippo,” noted Ancelotti, “as this time last season he already had 20 goals under his belt in all competitions. Just think of what we could have achieved this year if he had been able to add that form to Shevchenko’s tally.”
The Ukrainian was injured for much of the early period of their Double winning campaign, but is making up for that now by scoring 14 Serie A goals in 13 games.
Milan make Shev pledge
8.1 || Seamus
Milan are ready to keep Andriy Shevchenko for life after his brace in the 2-1 win at Roma on Tuesday.
"As far as I am concerned, he will stay with us forever," chief Adriano Galliani told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
"A player like Shev should never be sold, in fact he should be kept hold of even after his playing career ends.
"He is a player worthy of Milan. If he wants then we are ready to add him to our staff in the future as we have already planned with Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta."
Shev, who has now scored 14 League goals this term, was immense at the Olimpico as the title race was blown wide open.
"Everything has now changed in the Serie A chase," added Galliani. "The Scudetto is up for grabs and will continue to be until the end of the campaign."
Galliani also commented on the transfer market and confirmed that his side are interested in Monaco’s Dado Prso.
"We are looking at him but I don’t think he will arrive until the summer," he noted. "Even if the market is somewhat unpredictable.
"Take for example Kaka. We were not supposed to sign him until the end of this season but Chelsea started to take an interest and we had to wrap it up quickly."
The European champions are also being linked with a move for Roma’s Emerson at the end of this campaign.
The Brazilian is trying to extend his current deal which expires in 2005 but Chelsea and Inter are also desperate for his signature.
Inzaghi out for one month
7.1 || Seamus
Filippo Inzaghi, who missed the important clash between Roma and Milan on Tuesday night, might have to stay on the side lines for around a month.
According to speculation coming from the Milan camp, the Italian striker will be out for 20 to 30 days.
Ancelotti praises Milan control
7.1 || scharatz
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his decision to play with one striker gave his side total control in the 2-1 win at Roma.
The Rossoneri, without the injured Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson, fielded just Andriy Shevchenko up front last night with stunning results.
"I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how we were going to play before the game," said the tactician.
"It was a difficult decision to just play with one forward. But having both Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa in midfield gave us control of the game.
"Those two players were excellent and confirmed my belief that they can co-exist in the same side."
Both players created a host of opportunities last night and it was that man Shev that put away two chances.
"He scored two wonderful goals," continued Ancelotti. "He is in such good shape that I knew he could do well in this formation."
Milan were also without Alessandro Nesta and Massimo Ambrosini for the game but they didn’t really miss them.
"Would Ambrosini have played? Yes he would have but I’m not telling you who he would have started instead of," continued the Coach.
Milan’s win, who still have a game in hand, has put them within three points of Roma and come as a blessing for the other Scudetto chasers.
"I wouldn’t say that the Championship race has opened up again because I insist that it was never closed," he concluded.
"Maybe the winter break benefited us more after our defeat to Udinese than Roma."
Capello: Milan were better
6.1 || scharatz
Fabio Capello has held up his hands and admitted that Roma deserved to lose tonight’s Scudetto showdown.
“I think that tonight Milan were helped by the fact they had so few options upfront,” suggested the Coach, “as that packed midfield inevitably caused problems for us.”
“We had a few good chances, but the Rossoneri deserved the victory and were superior in every area of the field. This was our worst performance of the season.”
The tactician also looked back with regret at Andriy Shevchenko’s winner in the second half.
“There is a reason we lost the second goal, as Olivier Dacourt was limping in the centre and left them all the room in the world to push forward. With all the experience we have in this squad, we should not be conceding goals like that.”
The former Milan boss was seen shouting at his stars throughout the 2-1 defeat, but even two substitutions made little headway.
“Against such a tight team with one striker, we couldn’t afford to leave a man free in midfield and I got very angry with my players, but it didn’t make much difference.”
“I replaced Francisco Lima with Vincent Candela because I thought that his pace could cause Milan problems out wide,” he explained, “but from then on we tended to ignore the left flank.”
“I took off John Carew as I needed a man who could come back and help the midfield, which Francesco Totti and Antonio Cassano do not do.”
The mood in the Milan camp was certainly different, as the title race has now been blown wide open.
“I am very happy, especially for the team,” exclaimed Man of the Match Andriy Shevchenko.
“Even without so many injured star players we still showed great character to go out and win this game.”
The Ukrainian has now bagged 14 goals in 13 Serie A games and could have had a hat-trick tonight.
“I made a mistake because I had too much time to pick an option,” he revealed. “Sometimes that can be a luxury you can do without.”
As the Rossoneri have a game in hand, to be played against Siena on January 28, this result could put them level with Roma at the top of the table.
“The victory shows that this Scudetto chase will go on until the very last kick of the campaign. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”
AS Roma 1:2 AC Milan - report
6.1 || scharatz
Shevchenko 24, 62 (M), Cassano 45 (R)
Andriy Shevchenko's stunning brace has ended Roma's unbeaten run in all competitions as Milan conquer the Capital.
2004 opened up with a top of the table showdown between leaders Roma and their most realistic challengers Milan. Going into this clash there was a six-point gap, but the Rossoneri have a game in hand to be played against Siena on Jan 28.
Milan have not won here since 1995 and the odds did not look good for them. Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Massimo Ambrosini and Kakha Kaladze were all ruled out through injury, so Andriy Shevchenko was the lone striker with support from both Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka.
Roma have a 100 per cent record on home turf this season and have conced just one goal here - Javier Ernesto Chevanton's strike in the 3-1 win over Lecce.
However, the last time these two teams met it was a 4-1 win to the visitors, a result that earned Milan the Coppa Italia back in May 2003. This was a special occasion for Marcos Cafu, who came face to face with the fans that idolised him for six seasons.
Roma were very aggressive right from the start and there was a timid penalty appeal for a push on John Carew within the opening minute.
Francesco Totti has scored for the last six Serie A games on the trot and cheekily tried to curl in a free kick from over 30 metres, but Dida was equal to it.
The visitors fought back and Kaka' saw his effort deflected following some good build-up play.
Emerson perhaps should have done better when he found himself clear on goal, but his shot was central and did not trouble Dida.
Kaka' turned his marker and cut back for his teammates, but the ball went past both forwards and the Roma defence was able to clear.
The Rossoneri were increasing the pressure, but it was a defensive error that allowed them to break the deadlock. Shevchenko chested down a long Clarence Seedorf pass forward and lifted it over Ivan Pelizzoli before Cristian Chivu could close him down.
The Ukrainian is the Serie A top scorer so far this season with his 13th goal of the campaign.
Totti tried to get Roma back into the game when he latched on to a free kick, but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Instead, Milan seemed to control the midfield and Shevchenko's angled drive shaved the far post with Pelizzoli beaten.
Just before the break Walter Samuel nodded a corner kick over the bar under pressure from Paolo Maldini.
There were three minutes of stoppages in the first half and with practically the last kick Antonio Cassano drew Roma level. The youngster was ready to tap in at the back post after a corner kick was nodded back across the face of goal by Amantino Mancini.
Fabio Capello made two changes at half-time, introducing Vincent Candela and Marco Delvecchio.
Totti tried to shoot from over 35 metres within seconds of the restart, but drilled the ambitious effort wide.
Milan continued to have the better of the play in midfield and restored their lead with another Shevchenko strike on the hour mark. It was a quick counter-attack and Rui Costa cut across a slide-rule pass for the former Dynamo Kiev man's angled drive.
This is the first time this season that Roma have conceded more than one goal on home turf in all competitions.
The Giallorissi really should have drawn level moments later, but Cassano nodded a free header over the bar from close range.
Cassano also wasted another golden opportunity when he drilled straight at Dida following some excellent build-up from Emerson.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was more tested by Cassano's sweeping cross from the right, but he got a fingertip to it before a teammate could pounce.
Milan had the best chances and Seedorf's cutback to Shevchenko was intelligently blocked off by Samuel. From the resulting corner kick there were timid penalty appeals for a push on Kaka.
The injury crisis deepened when Cafu limped off with a knee problem to be replaced by Dario Simic.
Roma thought they had drawn level five minutes from time when Dida came out rashly and lost the ball, but Cassano's lob was cleared off the line by Alessandro Costacurta.
At the other end of the field Shevchenko sprung the offside trap, but somehow drilled wide of the open goal with only Pelizzoli to beat.
Roma: Pelizzoli; Panucci, Samuel, Chivu; Mancini, Emerson, Dacourt, Lima (Candela 46); Totti; Cassano, Carew (Delvecchio 46)
Milan: Dida; Cafu (Simic 80), Costacurta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Redondo 87); Rui Costa (Brocchi 90), Kakà; Shevchenko
Ancelotti 'ignores' Totti threat
5.1 || scharatz
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti says he won’t put a man marker on Francesco Totti in Tuesday’s clash at Roma.
The No 10 is undoubtedly the capital outfit’s most dangerous player but Ancelotti is keen to not waste one of his men on the Italian.
"He is a player that moves in a certain area of the field and we will look to attack him there," he said.
"But to actually put a marker on him for the entire game would see us detract from our own quality."
The European champions, six points behind Roma with a game in hand, do have injury problems but the Coach insists nothing will change.
"Our system won’t be revolutionised," he said after it was revealed that Nesta, Inzaghi, Tomasson and Ambrosini would miss the tie.
"Those who are missing will be replaced without any problems. We’re not scared of Roma and we will face them with two strikers looking for the win."
The Giallorossi have been sensational so far this term and have won their last seven League games. Yet Ancelotti insists they can be beaten.
"We must look to be at our best and try to take advantage of their weak points," added the former Roma player.
"It is our intention to win at the Olimpico like we did last year in the first leg of the Coppa Italia Final.
"But I must compliment Coach Fabio Capello because he is the reason why Roma are doing so well.
"He’s managed to assemble a great team with the players that he has available."
Rivaldo nets Cruziero deal
5.1 || scharatz
Milan flop Rivaldo has finally found a new club after he agreed a one-year contract with Cruzeiro.
The Brazilian, who left the Rossoneri in December, had been linked with a number of clubs in Spain, England and Saudi Arabia.
However, he’s decided to stay in his homeland after the Belo Horizonte outfit offered him a 12-month deal.
Reports suggest that the 31-year-old has a clause in the agreement which would allow him to join a European club in the summer for free if he was approached.
Milan's Prso move blocked
5.1 || scharatz
Milan’s hopes of signing Dado Prso over the next month have been dashed by Monaco boss Didier Deschamps.
The Croatian international was being lined up with a San Siro switch but his French club insist that he will remain – despite the fact that he will be a free agent next summer.
"Prso has a deal with us until June and he will respect that despite Milan’s interest," said Deschamps.
"I don’t know what will happen after that but I’m sure that he will continue to be our centre forward for the rest of the season."
Speculation had suggested that the European Champions were preparing a £1m bid for the striker.
Prso hit the headlines by scoring four goals in the recent 8-2 Champions’ League win over Deportivo La Coruna.
He had already been linked to the European Champions before that game, as he was personally recommended by fellow Croat Dario Simic.
The international is also a known target for Sampdoria who could in fact sign him from Milan in return for Fabio Bazzani.
The latter, now an Italian international, is expected to join the Rossoneri in the summer after his performances in Serie A this term.
AS Roma vs. AC Milan - preview
4.1 || scharatz
Games don’t get much bigger than this, as 2004 opens with a top of the table showdown at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma are already six points out in front of the chasing pack – although Milan have a game in hand – and another home victory would dramatically shorten the odds on the Scudetto favourites.
Looking at the recent history of these two sides then a Giallorossi win would seem to be a good bet, as they have notched up seven consecutive victories on home turf this season. Javier Ernesto Chevanton remains the only man to have scored against them here in Lecce’s 3-1 defeat, but Roma have still managed to bag an impressive 18 goals in that time.
The Rossoneri’s record here is not particularly impressive, as they have not conquered the Capital since September 1995, notching up just three draws and five defeats. However, last season the two sides met for the Coppa Italia Final and Milan left the Olimpico with a stunning 4-1 win that helped them lift the trophy. Bizarrely, that tie will be replayed during January for the Quarter-Finals of the 2003-04 edition of the Coppa, so this is the first of three meetings in the space of a month.
Crucially for the visitors, Andriy Shevchenko is back from a bout of the flu and Pippo Inzaghi has had more time to fully recover from a niggling thigh problem. Alessandro Nesta also looks set to be back in action following knee surgery, but Kakha Kaladze is ruled out yet again with ligament trouble. All eyes will be on Marcos Cafu as he returns to the Stadium that hailed him a hero for six years.
Roma have been more than happy with his replacement, as Amantino Mancini has been a revelation on the right wing. Vincenzo Montella is unable to recover from his knee surgery in time to feature, so once again John Carew completes the trident attack with Francesco Totti and Antonio Cassano. The captain has been on scintillating form and scored in each of their last five Serie A games, including a spectacular brace at Empoli. He has a strong record against Milan, having bagged all three goals in their Coppa Italia Final defeat last season.
Roma (probable): Pelizzoli; Zebina, Samuel, Chivu; Mancini, Emerson, Dacourt, Lima; Totti; Cassano, Carew
Milan (probable) : Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka; Shevchenko, Inzaghi
Inzaghi to miss Roma trip?
4.1 || scharatz
Milan’s injury worries increase with the news that Pippo Inzaghi is suffering from a calf problem.
The hitman has struggled throughout the campaign with various thigh and knee troubles, but over the last week he has skipped two training sessions due to this new setback.
“We will wait until Monday before making a decision,” explained Super Pippo. “At that stage we will have a clearer picture of my condition.”
He faces a race against time to be fit, as the top of the table showdown against Roma is on Tuesday evening.
Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze are also out of action with knee injuries, so Coach Carlo Ancelotti may opt for a packed midfield.
Andriy Shevchenko would be the lone striker with support from either Manuel Rui Costa or, more likely, young Brazilian Kaka.
Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso would shore up the middle of the park against Roma’s stronghold of Emerson and Olivier Dacourt.
It is already confirmed that veteran Alessandro Costacurta will replace Nesta in central defence.
This is a tactic that already worked well for Milan in the past, as last May they won the Coppa Italia Final here with a 4-1 scoreline.
Meanwhile, the draw for the referees of Serie A Week 15 matches has been completed and Gianluca Paparesta is in charge of the big game at the Olimpico.
Paparesta is Italy’s youngest international referee and he was also on duty in the last two encounters between Roma and Milan in the Capital.
Nesta to miss Roma
2.1 || scharatz
Milan stopper Alessandro Nesta has revealed that he will miss Tuesday’s League game at Roma.
The stopper was hoping to be fit for the tie after minor knee surgery on December 16 but he won’t be ready for the Olimpico clash.
"My knee is feeling a lot better but I haven’t started running yet," he told ‘Il Giornale’ on Friday.
"Therefore I’m not very close to making my comeback. My rehabilitation plan suggests that I’ll be ready for the Coppa game against Roma on January 14."
The Giallorossi are currently flying high in Serie A. A fact that the former Lazio captain is surprised at.
"They are a side with some great champions, guided by a super Coach," he added. "They’ve changed from the side that won the Scudetto in 2001.
"They have players that have matured and can now be counted on. Just look at Antonio Cassano. I have to admit it – they’ve shocked me."