Moreno focused on derby clash
28.2 || webmaster
Javi Moreno says AC are more concerned with Sunday's derby with Inter than they are with Thursday's UEFA Cup clash against Dutch side Roda.
AC beat Roda 1-0 away in the first leg of their fourth-round clash last week and they will entertain the Dutch side at the San Siro tomorrow.
However, the former Deportivo striker insists he and his AC team-mates are more interested in Sunday's Serie A clash against their the league leaders and their city rivals Inter, who they currently trail by 11 points.
He said: "The game against Roda will be important but honestly I'm already thinking about Sunday night's derby against Inter Milan. That's a game that both my team-mates and I really
And the 27-year-old admits he would love to score the all-important goal against Inter but insists he has no idea how he would celebrate the goal.
"I honestly don't know," he admitted. "What you do after scoring a goal, an important goal at that, is pure instinct and I really don't know how I would react if I did score a goal in a crucial match like the derby."
Meanwhile, AC's Brazilian midfielder Serginho says he is hoping to fit in time to face Inter after missing his side's last few games due to injury, but has warned his team-mates to expect a backlash after beating them 4-2 in October.
He said: "In the last few days I did part of the work with our trainer and then started working with the rest of the team. I'm confident that I'll be ready to play at least part of the match with Roda."
"I expect Inter Milan players to be very angry and very determined to win the game (on Sunday). Since we won the last two derby games with a large result (6-0 last season and 4-2 this season) our cousins will no doubt be looking for revenge.
"Last Sunday in Venezia we secured a very good victory by playing well but we've still got a long way to go."
AC Milan - Inter - match preview
27.2 || webmaster
There are few derbies more fiery than the San Siro showdown and the timing for this clash is perfect for the viewer. The Rossoneri are finally improving with their first win since December arriving last week, while on the other side of the city Inter showed real difficulty in beating Udinese on Sunday.
Unlike many derbies, this encounter will be decisive in the panning out of their respective campaigns. Milan have the opportunity to burst into the Champions’ League spots if Bologna and Chievo slip up in their tough away ties, while Inter can maintain their place on top of the table.
Traditionally the team that is in general lower in the table does better in the derby, as shown by Milan’s 4-2 demolition of Hector Cuper’s men earlier this season. That was one of Fatih Terim’s last actions as Coach. It remains to be seen whether or not Carlo Ancelotti can stage as much of an attack-minded approach to this tie.
He is further hampered by a string of injuries that have hit the team. Paolo Maldini, Filippo Inzaghi and Massimo Ambrosini are not yet recovered from their serious setbacks while Martin Laursen, Thomas Helveg, Christian Brocchi and perhaps even Serginho will be sidelined.
The good news for Milan is that Manuel Rui Costa is able to start following his troubled campaign. Javi Moreno – who netted his first two Serie A goals of the season at Venezia last week – will be rewarded with a spot alongside Andriy Shevchenko, relegating Jose Mari to midfield duties.
Former Inter benchwarmer Andrea Pirlo has been given more room of late and could be brought in as a late secret weapon against his ex-club. Defensive errors have characterised the Rossoneri’s recent performances and they cannot afford to do the same when faced with Christian Vieri and Alvaro Recoba.
Vieri has been suffering with fitness problems this week and did not make the trip to Athens for the UEFA Cup. However he should be ready to start this match alongside the rediscovered Nicola Ventola. Cristiano Zanetti returns in midfield but the season could be over for Nelson Vivas after suffering a serious knee injury.
Milan: Abbiati; Contra, Costacurta, Chamot, Kaladze; Jose Mari, Gattuso, Albertini; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Javi Moreno
Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Materazzi, Simic; Seedorf, Di Biagio, C Zanetti, Recoba; Ventola, Vieri
AC Milan - Roda - match preview
27.2 || webmaster
AC Milan have had a very smooth, but subdued ride in the UEFA Cup so far. The Italians have conceded just one goal in their previous seven UEFA Cup games and have won six of those games with results of 2-0, 4-0, 2-0, 1-0, 2-0 and 1-0, the latter being the victory over Roda at Parkstad Limburg last week. Still among the favorites to win the tournament, they will come out firing on all cylinders in the hope of killing the game off early so that they can concentrate on the more important fixture versus city rivals Internazionale this weekend.
Roda JC have been one of the surprise packages of the season in the UEFA Cup and although they have been pathetic in the league, they will come to the San Siro looking to extend their European adventure. Moreover, they will know in the back of their heads that Milan have been extremely poor at home of late and will look to exploit this so-called weakness of the Italians. Should they manage to score a goal early on, the contest may well go down to the wire.
AC Milan (last 6 all comps): DDDDWW
AC Milan have put their dismal season back on track by thrashing bottom side Venezia 4-1 to move within touching distance of a Champions League berth. A victory over city rivals Inter coupled with a Bologna loss at the hands of mighty Juventus could move them into that coveted fourth spot. But, there immediate concern will be to progress to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup. Although Milan have stuttered at home of late, it is a fact that they concede well under a goal per game at home (none in the competition thus far). Hence, George Leekens' men will have to do something special to qualify for the next round.
Roda JC (last 6 all comps): WLWLLW
Roda have picked up some valuable wins in the league in recent weeks against Twente, Utrecht and Willem II. This string of positive results has seen the side creep away from relegation zone, albeit temporarily. However, nothing would be more morale boosting for this struggling side than to take one of the hot favorites of the tournament out of the winning equation. Defender Mark Luypers has hailed his teammates' fighting instincts after they pulled off a weekend win despite playing a man down for the last hour of the game, and Leekens will hope that this very same spirit carry his team forward.
TEAM NEWS & PROBABLE LINEUPS
Carlo Ancelotti is without defenders Maldini, Helveg and Laursen while Serginho and Rui Costa are still recovering from injury and will most likely take their places on the bench. The in-form Javi Moreno will take Jose Mari's place on the pitch alongside Shevchenko and Pirlo.
AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Roque Jr., Chamot, Costacurta, Kaladze; Umit, Donati, Brocchi; Pirlo; Shevchenko, Javi Moreno
Leekens will be counting on his Greek-Cameroonian couple to provide the firepower supported by Dane Nygaard. Roda are expected to come out with a full strength lineup despite claims from the coach earlier this week that they did not expect to qualify for the next round.
Roda JC (4-3-3): Kalac; Rudge, Vrede, Luypers, Sonkaya; Vandenbroeck, Lawal, Van Dessel: Nygaard, Tchoutang, Anastasiou
Gattuso admits home form concern
27.2 || webmaster
Gennaro Gattuso has admitted his concern at the prospect of facing Roda in the UEFA Cup second leg because of Milan's recent poor home form.
The midfielder feels his team have found it much easier to play away from the San Siro this season, and said: "AC Milan's problem is certainly not playing away. It's on our own field that we're unable to prove our worth.
"On Thursday, relying on the goal we scored in the Netherlands will not be enough - we'll have to fight until the very end of the game."
In Milan, however, the focus this week is primarily on the upcoming derby game - a fixture that will be the game of the season for the northern Italian city.
Both sides are determined to win - Inter Milan want to keep their place at the top of the table while AC Milan are still hoping to climb back in fourth spot.
Gattuso said of the forthcoming clash: "We know that we'll be facing a team that bear a grudge against us (Inter lost 4-1 to Milan in the last derby) but we simply have to win this game. There's no other choice."
Talking about his own future, Gattuso once again denied the rumours that he is ready to leave the Rossoneri at the end of the season to move to another team, with Juventus reportedly in the frame: "Lately, I've heard a lot of rumours about me going to another club, but I do have a contract with AC Milan until 2005, and I really like being here."
Berlusconi ready to quit Milan
27.2 || webmaster
Milan supremo Silvio Berlusconi is set to quit the club to concentrate on his political duties, but will keep his majority shareholding.
Berlusconi, the media mogul and Italian prime minister, has spent 16 years at the San Siro, presiding over a string of trophies, but could have to give up his current role and stay on as an advisor or honorary president because of a legal conflict of interests.
Vice president Adriano Galliani has confirmed that he has no intention of selling Milan, but has admitted that he does have other things to think about.
Galliani, who carries out the day-to-day running of the club with Berlusconi having much less of a hands-on role, told the Italian press: "Silvio wants to remain president as long as it is possible, as long as he is permitted to by the laws on conflict of interests.
"If it no longer becomes possible, he will be forced to become honorary president."
Fininvest, the business that controls Berlusconi's empire, have no interest in relinquishing their hold on the team.
Chamot puts UEFA glory first
26.2 || webmaster
Milan's Josè Antonio Chamot believes that his team cannot make the mistake of thinking about the Inter game before playing Roda in the UEFA Cup.
After their 1-0 win over the Dutch club last week, the rossoneri do have an advantage over the their opponents but one single goal may not be enough for them to go through to the quarter-finals.
"Right now, we must concentrate on the game with Roda," he said. "We don't have to get distracted by thinking about the derby next weekend.
"We don't have to think that just because we've won the first game we're already in the quarter-finals. We have to play as if we'd still be in a draw because we really must go ahead in this competition but we also have to do it by playing well.
"Then from Friday onwards we can think about the derby."
Chamot however believes that the 1-0 win over Roda and the 4-1 victory over Venezia in Serie A, will do wonders for a team that had not won a match in over a month and a half.
"Winning two games in five days is important. It's a sign that the team is definitely improving," he added.
"In the game with Venezia, we played well for the entire second half."
Helveg misses UEFA tie
26.2 || webmaster
Danish international Thomas Helveg will not recover in time to take part in Milan's UEFA Cup tie against Dutch outfit Roda JC on Thursday.
The 30-year-old defender had been hoping to be back from his recent ankle injury, but things have not moved as swiftly as he had first thought.
Helveg picked up the injury two weeks ago and despite intensive treatment he will miss out on the Roda clash, and perhaps more importantly, he is also a major doubt ahead of next weekend's derby against arch rivals Inter at the San Siro.
The Dane is worried that he may try to make his comeback too soon, thereby increasing the chances of his ankle suffering a relapse.
Despite Helveg's absence, Milan should not have too much trouble progressing through to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, after beating the Dutch 1-0 in the away leg last week.
Gattuso dismisses move rumors
26.2 || webmaster
Although there maybe many players heading towards the Milan exit door this summer Gennaro Gattuso insists he won't be one of them.
The Italian international has been linked with a move away of late but has now stated that he intends to see out his contract which runs until 2005.
"Lately I have heard many voices suggesting that I may be joining other teams," said the 24-year-old. "But I have a contract with Milan until 2005. I'm very happy here and I wish to respect it."
AC Milan youngster seeks Djurgarden deal
26.2 || webmaster
Djurgarden are considering handing young AC Milan player Matteo Placida, currently on loan at Monza, a trial ahead of the new season, which starts in April.
Djurgarden surprised everyone by finishing second in Allsvenskan last year after being promoted the previous season.
And their success has now meant that several players and agents are contacting the club with the view to earn a move to the Stockholm club.
Djurgarden football director Ingvar "Putte" Carlsson told Dagens Nyheter: “We have taken the decision that we will give a few players the chance to show us what they can do up until March 15. But after that it is too late.
“It is an enormous difference compared to a few years ago when nobody contacted us. That so many do know is positive and proof that we are working along the right lines,” he added.
New law could force Berlusconi to step down
26.2 || webmaster
Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi could be forced to step down as president of AC Milan football club if a bill going through the Italian parliament becomes law.
A bill on the alleged conflict of interests of Berlusconi, who as well as heading the government has a myriad of business interests, would effectively require him to step aside from the job title of president although he could remain owner of the club and his other interests.
That would mean he would remain AC Milan owner but would have to lose the title of president although the club's vice-president Adriano Galliani has already said Berlusconi could be named honorary president instead.
On Monday evening Galliani successfully persuaded his long-time friend to stay on as president although he admitted the legislative process could yet intervene.
"Berlusconi will stay in charge of Milan," said Galliani after a three-hour meeting at Berlusconi's villa at Arcore near Milan.
"He will only step down as president if he is imposed upon to do so by the law on the conflicts of interest currently passing through parliament."
But reports on Tuesday said that with the law set to pass through the lower house of parliament on Thursday that Berlusconi might announce he is to step aside after Sunday's Milan derby with Inter Milan at the San Siro.
It has been reported that Berlusconi may install his son Piersilvio as the new president in the event that he decides to quit.
Berlusconi took over AC Milan in 1986 and has won 18 trophies including six Italian league titles, three European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups.
However, since he has prioritised his political career the club's fortunes have declined somewhat with their last trophy the 1998-9 league title with Galliani left as the president in all but name.
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said Tuesday he was unperturbed by the reports, saying: "No law can take someone's passion away but against such bureaucracy there is little I can say."
Rui Costa ready to deliver
25.2 || webmaster
Manuel Rui Costa believes that he will soon be playing at the highest levels for Milan after his decisive substitute appearance in the 4-1 win at Venezia.
The Portuguese star replaced Andrea Pirlo in the second half at the Penzo Stadium on Sunday and turned the game in their favour, which re-launched their assault on fourth place and Champions’ League qualification.
"I’m very happy with the win because it gives myself and the team belief that we can finally start playing as we can," he said.
"Fortunately I’m feeling a lot better physically and I will soon be in top condition to give my very best for this club."
The former Benfica starlet has had a difficult start to his Milan career since his £27m move from Fiorentina last summer.
He picked up an injury on his debut against Brescia and has suffered two more slight setbacks in recent months which has halted his progress.
There has also been talk that he may have regretted leaving Tuscany for the Rossoneri. A claim he fully denies though.
"I’m not unhappy at being here. I’m a Milan player and I’m very content and honoured to be wearing such a shirt," he added.
"I’m just saddened that I haven’t yet expressed myself at my very best. But I know what I can potentially do and I’m confident that I will soon start playing as I can very soon."
Milan desperate to prolong Berlusconi reign
25.2 || webmaster
AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said on Sunday that he hopes to convince Silvio Berlusconi to remain as president of the club after the Italian Prime Minister revealed that he was considering severing his ties with the Rossoneri.
Berlusconi hinted last week that he may step down to concentrate fully on his political career, but Galliani hopes to convince him otherwise in showdown talks on Monday.
"I will do all I can to keep him with us," Galliani said. "I will meet him on Monday, a meeting we planned one week ago when the team was in a big trouble."
Since then Milan have beaten Roda JC in the Uefa Cup and rekindled their Champions' League hopes with a 4-1 thrashing of bottom club Venezia on Sunday.
"I am lucky because now I can talk with him after two important victories," Galliani said. "I am sure he will not leave us."
Coach Carlo Ancelotti is of the same mind. "I don't think Berlusconi wants to leave us and I am sure we pleased him with our emphatic victory over Venezia," he said.
Berlusconi took charge of the San Siro club in 1986 but his involvement at the San Siro has declined dramatically in recent years as he concentrates on his political career.
Berlusconi added to speculation that he was ready to step down when speaking at a meeting of his Forza Italia party in Rome on Saturday.
"I am still president of AC Milan although I don't know for how long," he said.
It is though that either Galliani or Berlusconi's son Piersilvio could take charge at the San Siro.
During Berlusconi's presidency Milan have won the European Cup three times as well as the Serie A title six times, but the club has been in decline since their last scudetto triumph in 1999.
Venezia 1 - 4 AC Milan - post-match comments
24.2 || webmaster
Alfredo Magni: For an hour I saw an excellent Venezia side with a clear penalty on De Franceschi. We had numerous goal scoring opportunities but were a little imprecise in front of the net. Our main fault is not reacting to Milan's second goal. At that point we fell apart and let go of the match altogether.
Carlo Ancelotti: Milan were very clear-headed in the second half, although a lack of concentration at the back caused us quite a few problems early on. After the break we were more decisive in closing down the match. Manuel Rui Costa has all our respect and faith. Andriy Shevchenko just needs to relax when he searches for the goal as sooner or later it will come. I thought that to win we had to risk it, coupled with Demetrio Albertini's muscular injury. This time the risk paid off.
Venezia 1 - 4 AC Milan - match report
24.2 || webmaster
Scorers: Kaladze 13 (M), Maniero 17 (V), Javi Moreno 66, 80 (M), Contra 75 (M)
Milan are back on track with their first win since December, but it was tough going for the Rossoneri.
Venezia could be excused for being low on morale following Sunday's 5-0 defeat at Piacenza, but instead it was the Lagunari who had the brightest start as Federico Magallanes fired wide of an open goal.
The home side dominated for the opening ten minutes, but a defensive error left Kakha Kaladze completely unmarked to turn in on Andriy Shevchenko's intelligent cutback.
The lead did not last long as Roque Junior's disastrous clearance ricocheted off Pippo Maniero and gave the Venezia hitman free reign to beat Christian Abbiati.
While Andrea Pirlo - replacing Manuel Rui Costa - was occasionally inspired in midfield the Rossoneri still failed to create many chances upfront aside from Jose Mari's low drive.
Carlo Ancelotti opted to go for a trident attack in the second half with the introduction of Javi Moreno. The substitution proved influential as after Jose Mari struck the crossbar, the Spaniard restored Milan's lead by meeting a cross whipped in by his former Alaves teammate Cosmin Contra.
Soon after the Romanian turned goalscorer with a fine run down the right flank. Javi Moreno concluded the drubbing with another goal from the same area of the pitch.
Venezia: Rossi; Conteh, Pavan, Viali, Bettarini; Bressan (Valtolina 67), Garcia, Marasco, De Franceschi (Vannucchi 59); Magallanes, Maniero
Milan: Abbiati; Roque Junior, Costacurta, Chamot, Kaladze; Contra, Gattuso, Albertini (Javi Moreno 46); Pirlo (Rui Costa 65); Josè Mari (Ba 84), Shevchenko
Davids row hits Capello
23.2 || webmaster
An extraordinary row has erupted between Fabio Capello and his former club Milan.
This week the Roma Coach claimed that the Rossoneri went against his orders in selling Edgar Davids to Juventus in 1997.
"The club asked me to get rid of Davids because they considered him to be hot-headed," explained Capello.
"The Dutchman had just come back from a long injury lay-off and immediately got sent off."
"I agreed only if he could be sold to a foreign club. We all saw how that ended up."
Davids moved to Juventus for a fraction of his current asking price in October 1997 after a short and troubled stint at the San Siro mainly characterised by injuries.
However, these statements have angered Milan and a response was promptly placed on the official website this morning.
The Rossoneri claim that Davids had been sold to Barcelona on Oct 9 1997. The deal collapsed at the last minute when the player and Spanish side failed to agree personal terms.
"Here is the proof," states the website next to a copy of that contract. "Davids had been sold abroad and was placed on the transfer list on the orders of Capello."
"It is therefore a shame that such sarcastic comments, which were frankly unnecessary, should come out now."
Buryak's eastern Shev hopes
23.2 || webmaster
Ukraine's new coach Leonid Buryak says he will do all he can to make sure Andrei Shevchenko travels to Japan for next month's friendly.
Buryak took over as National team boss in December following former coach Valeriy Lobanovsky's decision to step down after failing to take his side to this summer's World Cup finals in Korea and Japan.
The former assistant to Lobanovsky has named a 28-man squad to face World Cup co-hosts Japan in is first game in charge but he may have to do it without one of his star strikers.
Talks are currently underway between Shevchenko's club AC Milan and the Ukrainian football federation (FFU) about whether the player can travel, and following the news that Tottenham Hotspur will be keeping Sergei Rebrov, Buryak is hoping Shevchenko will still be part of his plans.
He said: "The question of his trip to Japan is still being discussed by the FFU president and Milan management. The player wants to play with us, but everything does not depend on him.
"However, we will complete all the necessary document procedures for his trip to Tokyo. It will become clear soon whether he will get the chance."
Berlusconi hints he may hand over reins at AC Milan
23.2 || webmaster
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has given his biggest hint yet that he is set to hand over the reins as president and owner of First Division club AC Milan, media reported here Saturday.
Berlusconi indicated he was considering stepping down as club president at a meeting of his Forza Italia party in Rome.
"You all know that I am still president of AC Milan although I don't know for how long," Berlusconi told supporters.
Berlusconi, who took over the club in 1986 and over the next seven years transformed it into the best in Europe and arguably the world, has left the day-to-day running of the team to vice-president Adriano Galliani, a long-time ally.
But with the club in steep decline the latest reports indicate that Berlusconi could appoint his son Piersilvio as the new president.
Maldini stands up for Milan 'old guard'
23.2 || webmaster
Veteran AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini has called for supporters and commentators to stop blaming the club's poor run of form on the 'old guard'.
"I am annoyed when I hear our own fans complaining when Demetrio Albertini does not make a perfect pass," said Maldini, who has had to suffer in silence in the stands since picking up a knee injury just before Christmas at Atalanta.
"I've been extremely troubled by what I've been reading about the the experienced players of the side. People can't claim that the older players of the club are not putting enough work in as they should be doing."
Maldini, who is third in the all-time appearance list behind defender Franco Baresi and midfielder Gianni Rivera, is not known for making controversial remarks or for that matter, suffering long-term injuries.
However, the 33-year-old had hoped to return to action within two months after tests revealed he had not damaged cruciate ligaments, but admitted that he was still feeling some discomfort.
"Since I took the brace off my knee there has been no decrease in the amount of pain that I am feeling. Even if my knee is getting stronger everyday," he said.
"We're just looking to continue with the programme we set in place. I had hoped to have been fit after two months but that time has now passed. I thought that I would be in better condition than I currently am."
Italy's most-capped player is keen to return to full fitness in order to help the side he joined as a youth and find some sort of form with the World Cup finals just over three months away.
"I need to try to heel as soon as I possibly can. For myself and for my team. Returning to the Rossoneri side would obviously help me to prepare for Japan and Korea," he added.
"Even if a month of action is sufficient enough to get you playing consistently again – no matter how long you've been out of action for."
Along with Maldini and Albertini, only Alessandro Costacurta remains as a regular from the all-conquering side from the mid-nineties.
Ba looks to ressurect Milan career
23.2 || webmaster
France defender Ibrahim Ba is hoping to prove his worth at AC Milan after being recalled from his loan spell at Marseille at the end of January.
"If I could choose I'd stay here forever, but I need to show the directors that I deserve to be at this club," he said.
Ba has failed to hold down a regular place at the San Siro since signing from Bordeaux in 1997 and was loaned out to Perugia two seasons ago before spending the first six months of the current campaign on loan to Marseille.
Ba's contract with the club expires in June 2003, and he is keen to put his previous difficulties behind him and find success with the Rossoneri.
"I'm very happy to be here again. We all need to come together at this difficult time," he said.
Milan have proved a disappointment this season, but remain in the hunt for a Champions' League spot and could go fourth with victory over bottom club Venezia on Sunday.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti, however, is likely to be without Serginho and Martin Laursen as well as Umit, so Kakha Kaladze and Christian Brocchi stand by.
Ancelotti is certainly not taking Venezia lightly.
"Venezia have created problems for all the big teams," he said. "Inter could only draw, Juventus won with difficulty and Roma were only able to win with a last minute goal.
"They are very good with the ball in the air with Filippo Maniero and Federico Magallanes particularly strong, but we're going into the game with confidence after our win Kerkrade where Roda may have been better than us.
"We're not playing very well, but we're slowly recovering our form and we are always good away from home. From now until the end of the season I want to see my players giving their best."
Ancelotti added that he hopes to have both Filippo Inzaghi and Paolo Maldini back in the near furture.
"Inzaghi will be ready in seven to ten days while Maldini has had some problems but should be back in 15-20 days," he said.
Venezia - AC Milan - match preview
22.2 || webmaster
AC Milan travel to the Pierluigi Penzo looking for only their second win of the year 2002. Eliminated from the title race and 8 points adrift of third place, their only hope of qualifying for the Champions League lies in leapfrogging Chievo and Bologna, who are both 3 points ahead of the rossoneri. Hence, only a win will suffice versus a side that lie at the very foot of the Serie A standings.
Venezia, on the other hand, will look to augment Milan's misery by holding them to a draw for the second time this season. Venezia had zero points from five games when they traveled to the San Siro earlier this year, and ended up earning a very credible draw. They will be well aware that Milan are in a crisis and should they manage to beat the red and blacks, they may be able to ease past Fiorentina in the standings.
Venezia last 6 (all comps): LLDDWL
Lead by the evergreen Maniero, Venezia have put in some very convincing performances of late. They went down battling to Juventus and Verona before earning ties at home to Inter and away to Bologna. They followed this up by beating Fiorentina. However, much to Magni's disappointment, his side absolutely collapsed last week as they were thrashed 5-0 by Hubner's Piacenza.
AC Milan last 6 (all comps): LDDDDW
AC Milan have been anything but impressive in their league campaign this season. Five draws and one shocking home loss to Udinese after leading 2-0 sums up their horrible form. However, they have gradually (albeit marginally) improved week after week and were finally able to get a morale-boosting win under their belt by beating UEFA Cup rivals Roda JC midweek.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Filippo Maniero: The former AC Milan striker is tied with Andriy Shevchenko in the top scorer chart with thirteen strikes including three from the spot. He always scores against his former team, and it would be safe to place your money on him to break the deadlock early on.
José Mari: The Spaniard is finally showing why AC Milan paid $12 million for his services. Still only 22, this year has been a fruitful one for Mari. He has netted five times in various competitions whilst Shevchenko has failed and has been responsible for decisive strikes versus Lecce and Roda. However, what makes his feat unique is that he has scored all his goals in away games and William Viali and Co. will have their eyes on him when he takes the field on Sunday.
TEAM NEWS & PROBABLE LINEUPS
Venezia (4-4-2): G. Rossi; Conteh, Pavan, Viali, Bettarini; Valtolina, Marasco, Andersson, Di Franceschi; Maniero, Magallanes
Bench: Brivio, Balleello, Donnet, Bressan, Garcia, Vannucchi, Di Napoli
Croat Midfielder Tomislav Rukavina is still unavailable due to injury but a bigger blow comes in the form of the one-match suspension to defender Fabio Bilica. Contrary to popular belief, Magni is likely to stick with his 4-4-2 formation with the deadly Maniero paired up with talented Uruguayan Magallanes.
AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Roque Jr., Laursen, Costacurta, Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Serginho; Rui Costa; José Mari, Shevchenko
Bench: S. Rossi, Contra, Chamot, Brocchi, Donati, Pirlo, Moreno
Paolo Maldini, Massimo Ambrosini and Filippo Inzaghi remain the big names on Ancelotti's inexhaustible injury list. However, he will be happy to note that none of his players are suspended and that Rui Costa is finally showing signs of recovery. Striker José Mari is in scintillating form and Shevchenko's dry spell is bound to end sooner or later.
Inzaghi ready to return
22.2 || webmaster
AC Milan forward Filippo Inzaghi has recovered from the knee injury received a few weeks ago. He trained with his teammates and showed satisfactory physical shape.
"I feel better than yesterday, but after an injury like mine it's necessary to recover slowly to avoid problems," Inzaghi said.
The forward is likely to play a few minutes in the UEFA Cup second leg match against Roda Kerkrade (Holland) next Thursday.
If there are no other problems he may be involved in the starting line-up of the derby against Inter FC scheduled on March 3.
Jose Mari tribute to Ancelotti
22.2 || webmaster
AC Milan striker Jose Mari believes coach Carlo Ancelotti should be given much of the credit for his recent upturn in form.
The Spanish forward netted the vital away goal in Milan's Uefa Cup victory over Dutch side Roda JC on Tuesday, and he admitted that he is feeling more confident than at any other time during his spell at the San Siro club.
"Carlo Ancelotti is the person I want to thank," he said. "He has given me so much confidence simply by picking me consistently ever since I recovered from injury."
The former Atletico Madrid star may not have much longer in the team, though, as first-choice striker Filippo Inzaghi has recommenced training after recovering from a knee injury, but he intends to make the most of his opportunity.
"It's strange, because I've netted five goals and they've all been scored away from home," continued the 23-year-old. "I think I am better when I play away because I tend to get more space and I can worry the opponents more with my pace.
"Hopefully I can score again at Venezia at the weekend. They are bottom of the league, but we have to be careful because they seem to save their best football for the big teams.
"Anyway, I'm not going to get carried away. I'm not a magician or a hero all of a sudden just because I've scored a few goals. I had qualities before then, although people may have not given me much recognition.
"I am still young and I know I am maturing and developing as a player. I hope there is plenty more to come from Jose Mari in the future," he added.
Pirlo backs Milan for CL spot
22.2 || webmaster
AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo believes the team are still in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, despite lying sixth in Serie A.
For the Rossoneri, who gave up their Scudetto hopes long ago, reaching fourth in the table is considered the number one goal at the moment as this would guarantee them the chance of playing in the Champions League, albeit via the preliminary stages, next season.
However, in order to grab the fourth spot, the Rossoneri must first jump ahead of Chievo Verona and Bologna, the two surprise teams of the current season who have been going strong so far.
Yet Pirlo believes that nothing is lost yet, saying: "I believe both teams are giving their best but I don't think they are in any way superior to us.
"Of course, they're doing great and they're all very excited for what they've achieved so far.
"However, I wouldn't worry that much. They are only three points ahead of us which mean that it is enough for us to win one and for them to lose once and we're even."
He added: "For us it will be enough to take advantage of even a small slip-up and we'll be able to catch up with them."
Pirlo emerges as Milan leading light
21.2 || webmaster
AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo insisted on Wednesday that he is ready to for a regular place in the side after shining in I Rossoneri's 1-0 Uefa Cup win over Roda.
Pirlo was only in the side because Manuel Rui Costa was not risked for the full 90 minutes because of injury, but he seized his chance with a cultured display.
The young midfielder has been restricted to just 16 league and cup appearances – mostly from the bench – since his summer move from Internazionale, but believes his chance must surely come soon.
"I always feel as if I am under examination, but I suppose that is natural when you play for an important club," he said.
"At AC Milan it is our duty to win, so the players in the best form play. But I am not frightened by responsibility, I am ready to be a leader."
Pirlo, a member of the Italy side that won the 2000 Under-21 European Championship, has played second fiddle to Rui Costa all season, but Pirlo denies that there is any ill-feeling between himself and the Portugal international.
"Rui Costa and I can play for the same club without any problems," he said. "I have grown up and I feel stronger mentally.
"On top of that I feel that my team-mates have more confidence in me and I feel good about that."
Pirlo has not been helped by Milan's poor form this season which has seen him cast as a luxury Carlo Ancelotti's struggling side can ill afford.
Pirlo, however, has not given up on a Champions' League place yet.
"We face Venezia away in our next game," he said. "They may be last but it will not be easy as they have given all the top sides a tough time. But we have to get three points to make up ground on Chievo and Bologna in the standings."
Despite being considered one of the best young creative midfielders in Italian football, Pirlo has been jumping between clubs since leaving Brescia in 1998.
He had spells at Inter, Reggina, Inter again and Brescia before finally joining Milan, but only in the Italy Under-21 side has he truly been given the time and space to showcase his exceptional talent.
Pirlo, who represented Italy in the Sydney Olympics, failed in his first spell at the San Siro, but it was not through any fault of his own.
There were simply too many high-quality players - Roberto Baggio, Youri Djorkaeff, Alvaro Recoba - and too much pressure on the Nerazzurri to allow a player as talented but shy as Pirlo a regular spot.
In Reggio, Pirlo began to show his extraordinary talent, and still improving, he represents the future of the full Italy squad.
The talented midfielder admitted, however, that he wanted to quit Inter after losing patience with his lack of opportunities at the San Siro.
Pirlo was largely ignored by then Inter coach Marco Tardelli and the final straw came when Tardelli suggested he would be better leaving Inter to further his career.
Inzaghi would love to finish career at Milan
20.2 || webmaster
Injured Italy forward Filippo Inzaghi has vowed to see out his career with AC Milan, the club he joined in the summer from rivals Juventus.
"I have never felt as loved as I am here. I'll end my career in Milan," said the £16 million striker.
Inzaghi failed to win over Juve fans despite a constant supply of goals, but he immediately hit it off with the Milan faithful after starting the 2001-02 season in imperious fashion.
He formed a lethal partnership with Andriy Shevchanko until disaster struck when he injured his knee during the game against Chievo at the beginning of December.
It was even feared that he would miss the rest of the season, although he is now aiming for a March return.
And after seeing his team-mates leave for the Netherlands to play Roda JC in the fourth round of the Uefa Cup, Inzaghi said his desire for a quick comeback was fuelled by the reception he has received at the San Siro.
"I had a fantastic 2001 and it was only ruined by the injury. Here at Milan I feel like I am at the top," explained the 28-year-old.
Meanwhile, the former Atalanta striker is still hopeful of making Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup squad, although he is aware of the risks of returning too early.
He said: "I'm doing well at the moment. I am following my rehabilitation programme and I still have a little while to go before I can start training again.
"I want to start tomorrow but it is better to wait until I am completely ready," he told the AC Milan television channel.
A goal-poacher par excellence, 'Pippogol' signed for Juventus from Atalanta in the summer of 1997 after a prolific season and soon became the preferred attacking partner of Alessandro Del Piero.
Inzaghi followed the lead set by Zinedine Zidane when he pledged his future to Juventus in January 2001 but the arrival of David Trezeguet, the French Euro 2000 hero, meant his days at the Stadio Delle Alpi were numbered.
Ancelotti breaths sigh of relief
20.2 || webmaster
Carlo Ancelotti admitted he was relieved after AC Milan won for the first time in eight games with a 1-0 victory over Roda JC in the Uefa Cup on Tuesday.
"We finally won," he said. "Perhaps this signifies that we're coming out of a crisis."
Milan's last triumph came against Lazio in the Coppa Italia in January and Jose Mari's decisive strike is a massive boost.
"Roda played a physical game and it's an important result," said the coach.
The manager singled out Portugal playmaker Rui Costa for praise. "He played a great first half, although just before the interval we were conceding too much space. He wasn't in top physical condition but still managed to satisfy me completely."
"It was an important goal and we needed it for our morale," said Jose Mari. "It doesn't matter how we played as tonight
we needed the result and we took it. 2002 has started in the best way for me but it is more important that Milan win than I score goals."
Midfielder Gennaro Gattuso added: "We have won six or seven matches in Europe. Roda fought hard and are full of big players."
Roda 0 - 1 AC Milan - match report
19.2 || webmaster
Scorer: Jose Mari 28
A string of second half saves by Christian Abbiati could have ensured Milan’s passage to the next round of the UEFA Cup after a 1-0 win over Roda.
The Rossoneri collected a victory for the first time in six games thanks to a first half goal from Jose Mari.
Roda did start the game brightly. After two minutes they caught the Milan defence asleep but fortunately for the Italian side Abbiati proved to be in control of the situation.
As the first half wore on the Rossoneri took a grip of the game. After eight minutes Andriy Shevchenko saw his low shot tipped around the post by Kalac. Before Jose Mari’s fierce cross shot was again well dealt with by the Australian ‘keeper.
In the end the pressure became too much to bare for the home side. Good work from Andrea Pirlo resulted in an inch perfect 30-yard ball for Shevchenko who laid back the ball for Jose Mari who blasted in from the edge of the box.
Roda picked up the pace in the second half and constantly had Milan on the back foot. Tchoutang wasted a good opportunity to score as Abbiati punched the ball away.
Then Anastasiou was left cursing his luck after the Italian ‘keeper made a stunning save from a 30-yard free-kick.
Milan could have just about wrapped up qualification in the 64th minute had Andrea Pirlo’s header dipped in instead of hitting the bar.
That set up a frantic finale as the home side poured forward in search of the equaliser that never came.
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with the result even if he acknowledged it was tough.
"We really suffered towards the end because they were just playing long ball stuff which we found hard to deal with," he said. "But let’s hope that this win signals something important for us from now on."
Roda: Kalac; Vrede, Lujpers, Senden, Sonkata, Vandenbroeck (Sonko 56), Nygaard, Lawal, Van Dessel, Tchoutang (Soetaers 70), Anastasiou
Milan: Abbiati; Contra (Costacurta 82), Laursen (Kaladze 64), Roque Junior, Chamot; Jose Mari, Gattuso, Albertini, Pirlo (Rui Costa 70), Serginho; Shevchenko
Ref: Barber (Eng)
Kaladze: "Milan are in crisis"
18.2 || webmaster
AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze has admitted that the club, who have not won for six games, is in crisis but insisted that the spirit in the camp is still good. "There is a crisis in Milan but people who talk about discord in the team don't know anything about it," the Georgian told onefootball.com.
"Although the team isn't having a good time at the moment, and we have dropped many points, it simply isn't true to talk about discord," he went on.
And he denied any suggestion that the team is riven by factions. "I have good relations with all the players," he explained. "I have been friends with Andriy Shevchenko for a long time and I consider Martin Laursen, Demetrio Albertini, Gennaro Gattuso, Thomas Helveg and Sebastiano Rossi to be my friends.
"There is a crisis in Milan today, and everybody is looking for the reason – there has been a loss of form, and injuries to key players."
Towards the end of January, things had got so bad for the Rossoneri that vice-president Adriano Galliani was forced to call on fans to rally behind the side, while giving coach Carlo Ancelotti a vote of confidence.
"Ancelotti will be Milan coach next season, though if we don't make the Champions' League, a lot of the players will leave," he said.
Even Shevchenko was hit by the malaise, missing two penalties in January. He was also caught on TV quarrelling bitterly during an on-field row with senior player Alessandro Costacurta after a goalless draw with Brescia.
But Kaladze believes that it is only a matter of time before his former Dynamo Kyiv team-mate rediscovers his goalscoring form.
"The Milan players respect him as his fans do," he said. "Shevchenko is a super forward. I don't say this only because he is my friend – it is a fact."
But Sheva failed to shine as Milan stuttered to a goalless draw at home to Atalanta on Saturday night. It was the club's sixth successive game without a win.
Kaladze's own future at the San Siro has come under the spotlight this season. In December, AC Milan official Revaz Chokhonelidze confirmed that Barcelona wanted to sign Kaladze, but said the Serie A side would not let him go.
And Barcelona were not the first club to show an interest in the versatile 24-year-old this season. In October, Kaladze told onefootball.com that he was being tracked by Internazionale, Lazio and Juventus.
"I know those teams want me, but playing for Milan is a childhood dream come true and I am not even contemplating leaving," he said.
Kaladze, who joined the Rossoneri for £10 million in January 2001 after impressing for Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions' League, has made 40 Serie A appearances for Milan to date, scoring four goals. He was voted Georgian player of the year in 2000-01 and has played 31 times for his country.
He started his career at FC Samtredia, before moving on to Dynamo Tbilisi, then Kyiv.
Ancelotti rues poor finishing
18.2 || webmaster
Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti defended star striker Andriy Shevchenko after his Milan side again failed to take their chances against Atalanta.
The Ukrainian star was not at his best during the game and was replaced midway through the second half in favour of Spanish hitman Javi Moreno.
"Scheva did what he had to do," admitted Ancelotti. "He played, fought and tried to help the team.
"But I do have Tuesday's UEFA Cup match to think about and that's why I decided to replace him."
However, Moreno also failed to find the net, and Ancelotti was left to rue his side's fifth scoreless performance in six games.
"We are having a bad time. I believe, however, that we wanted to win this game and we had some great chances to score but failed to put the ball in the back of the net."
Liverpool eye Contra
18.2 || webmaster
Reports from Bucharest suggest Liverpool are ready to make a bid of £6,700,000 for AC Milan's Romanian international full-back Cosmin Contra.
Links between Liverpool and the 26-year-old star re-emerged during the week when it was revealed that Contra was keen to move away from the San Siro after struggling to hold down a regular place.
Contra came to the attention of Reds officials when he starred for Alaves in the UEFA Cup final, tormenting Jamie Carragher with his surging runs down the right-flank, but he has thus far failed to impress in Italy, where he has been told he will be part of the summer clear-out.
Liverpool and Manchester United were linked with a summer move for the player during the week, but weekend reports from Bucharest are suggesting that Liverpool are ready to make a bid of 11million Euros (£6.7m) to land their man.
However, there is no evidence from Anfield to suggest Liverpool will be making a bid for another right-back to add to the likes of Markus Babbel, Abel Xavier, Jamie Carragher and Stephen Wright.
No-one at Anfield was available for comment.
Milan are strangers to home win
17.2 || webmaster
With tonight's 0-0 draw against Atalanta, Milan extend their dry run on home turf. In fact, the Rossoneri are yet to win at the San Siro in 2002 after three draws and one defeat.
"This is certainly a difficult time for us," admits Carlo Ancelotti. "Right now we can't seem to keep clear heads in front of goal, but we still dominated the match."
"Atalanta closed themselves up and all we could do was shoot from distance. Nonetheless, the team fought hard and I saw the willingness to emerge from this rut."
Atalanta take a point from the San Siro, but Giovanni Vavassori remains unsatisfied. "Tonight confirmed my fears that we lack experience. I just hope these lads mature fast."
"We have a lot of work to do," added the Coach, "as this is the only way to improve our performance. If we recover the many injured players then I can perhaps grant some of my team time to rest."
Milan slump continues, Juventus go provisionally top
16.2 || Tom
ROME, Feb 16 (AFP)
AC Milan were held to a 0-0 draw by Atalanta at the San Siro Saturday, a result that will continue to keep their beleaguered coach Carlo Ancelotti in the firing line.
In Saturday's other game Juventus defeated Fiorentina 2-1 to move provisionally top of the Italian first division although champions AS Roma will return to the summit if they beat Brescia on Sunday.
AC Milan had most of the play but could not find the goal at the San Siro and remain winless since the 1-0 triumph over Lecce on January 5.
Their best first-half moment came when their Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko beat two men but fired an angled shot across the face of the goal.
Shevchenko continued to threaten in the second period first heading wide and then failing to score from six yards out when he fired straight at Davide Pinato, picked in preference to Atalanta's first-choice 'keeper Massimo Taibi who is living up the reputation for bungling he acquired at Manchester United.
Ancelotti withdrew Shevchenko, bringing on Spanish forward Javi Moreno - a decision that did not go down well with the San Siro faithful.
Minutes later a freekick from Atalanta's Italian international Cristiano Doni slipped through the fingers of Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati who only just managed to prevent the loose ball slipping over the line.
Ancelotti made another bold move, bringing on Andrea Pirlo for Portuguese playmaker Manuel Rui Costa but the goal would not come.
Earlier Saturday Juventus also had to battle for the 2-1 win over Fiorentina in Turin that lifted them to the top.
French international striker David Trezeguet gave Juve the lead after just 11 minutes, his 15th of the season making him the division's joint top scorer with Marco Di Vaio of Parma and Piacenza's Dario Hubner.
Brazilian Adriano hit back for second-from bottom Fiorentina just three minutes later with his fourth goal in six games since joining from Inter Milan on loan.
It was left to Italian international Alessandro Del Piero to calm Juventus' nerves by striking the winner after 29 minutes to add to the goal he scored in Italy's 1-0 midweek win over the United States.
Juve now have 47 points from 23 games with Roma, who have only been beaten once in the league all season, two points behind from 22 matches.
Milan 0 - 0 Atalanta - match report
16.2 || webmaster
Milan are in a deep crisis and instead of launching an attack on Chievo in the fourth and final Champions' League spot, they must now look over their shoulders to hold onto a UEFA Cup place.
The Rossoneri started out brightly with a long-range Demetrio Albertini effort and Andriy Shevchenko's scuffed header, while the home side appealed for a penalty for a challenge on the Ukrainian.
Atalanta fielded former Milan star Gianni Comandini, but it was teenagers Inacio Pia' and Jose Espinal who caused the most problems for Christian Abbiati.
The Brazilian in particular was a constant danger with his pace and Espinal wasted a golden opportunity created by his backheel.
Milan's main problems are in front of goal as there is very little movement among the strikers and a distinct lack of ideas. Manuel Rui Costa was relatively impressive behind the front two and went close with a couple of long range efforts.
Surprisingly, Shevchenko was substituted for Javi Moreno and the more creative duties given to Serginho.
However, Abbiati had quite a scare on Cristiano Doni's free kick. The ball slipped through his arms and came to a halt under his stomach.
The home side staged a late siege on Davide Pinato's goal but headers from Jose Mari, Roque Junior and Javi Moreno went just wide in an uninspired display.
Milan: Abbiati; Contra, Roque Junior, Costacurta, Kaladze; Gattuso (Serginho 57), Albertini, Umit; Rui Costa (Pirlo 78); Jose Mari, Shevchenko (Javi Moreno 66)
Atalanta: Pinato; Foglio, Sala, Carrera, Falsini; Zauri, Berretta, Doni, Espinal (Bellini 38); Inacio Pià (Colombo 78), Comandini (Bianchi 60)
Ancelotti hopes and believes in Milan fortune
16.2 || webmaster
Today AC Milan will meet Atalanta BC at San Siro stadium.
Milan head coach Carlo Ancelotti announced: "We are in a difficult situation now and the forthcoming match is very important for us. We have been close to win a few times, but we haven't managed. But my side believe that they will be lucky. This will not be an easy match. We need to be calm now."
"Although the team are living difficult period, they are not depressed. Of course, it is difficult to change the character of players. But it is possible to change the thought and spirit of the team. Sacchi managed to achieve successes in Milan during 6-7 months.
The fans? Of course, I understand what they feel now. Nobody can be satisfied with the performance of the team now. I also understand that there is goodwill and friendliness towards me. If I weren't Ancelotti then the fans would whistle against me," he added.
In his turn, Atalanta head coach Giovanni Vavassori stated: "Are Milan in crisis? What do you say? This team have such potential that they can beat everyone."
Contra likely to join Manchester United
16.2 || webmaster
AC Milan midfielder Cosmin Contra is likely to leave his club soon and the former Alaves player might move to Manchester United FC at the end of the season, Romanian massmedia stated. Two Premier League clubs - Manchester United and Liverpool FC - chased after Contra, but Liverpool preferred Portuguese player Abel Xavier.
Recently Contra had reiterated a few times that he is not going to leave Milan, but his rare appearance on the field probably played its role.
Ancelotti warns against complacency
16.2 || webmaster
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti says the rossoneri should not underestimate tomorrow's opponents Atalanta, who he believes are an excellent team.
The former Juve coach says he has a pretty good idea of what kind of opponents Milan will face.
Ancelotti said: "I believe it will be the same team we played against back in December.
"Their performances this season have been very different from last year.
"Maybe they've not been as brilliant compared to the way they started the 2000-01 season, but they have also had quite a few changes inside their squad.
"However I believe that they are an excellent team. They have a player like Cristiano Doni, who to me is the true revelation of this year's championship."
Vasco Look To Take Serginho Home
15.2 || Tom
02/15/2002. Brazilian giants Vasco De Gama are being linked with a move to take AC Milan midfielder Serginho back to his homeland.
The club have reportedly approached the 30-year-old and are now expected to contact the Rossoneri with a view to agreeing a fee.
The former Sao Paulo and Flamengo star may be just the first of a long line of players to be heading out of the San Siro this summer.
Javi Moreno and Cosmin Contra are likely return to Spain, Massimo Ambrosini has been linked with a move Chelsea while midfielder Fernando Redondo may never play again and could retire if his latest operation doesn't prove a success.
Win is vital says Ancelotti
15.2 || webmaster
A win against Atalanta on Saturday could prove to be the turning point in Milan’s season according to boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The Coach and his side have been heavily criticised in recent weeks after they fell away from the Scudetto race. Leaving them with just a fourth placed finish as their only objective.
"The Atalanta game arrives at a very delicate part of the season for us. This is why it becomes so important," he said.
"Nevertheless, we are confident that we can do well and continue our season without any more major problems.
"As usual it won’t be easy but we need to look ahead to our next few games in a more relaxed atmosphere in the hope that we can express ourselves better."
However, the former Juve tactician knows that Atalanta won’t make it easy despite their own form crisis of late.
"Atalanta are pretty much the same side that we played in December. They are having a different kind of season to what they lived through last term and have been struggling with injuries.
"Nevertheless they have some excellent players even if we are looking to attack them in order to get the three points."
Ancelotti also justified the behaviour of Milan fans over the past six weeks in which they haven’t hidden their disappointment.
"I’m aware of what the fans are going through and it is obvious that the Rossoneri public shouldn’t be satisfied with how the side has been playing.
"I understand that the crowd have been patient towards me because I was an important player for this club throughout the 1980s. Had I not then the tifosi would have shown their discontent earlier."
The Rossoneri’s prospects of a win on Saturday have been improved with the news that Manuel Rui Costa could be fit for the tie.
Ancelotti concluded: "He didn’t train on Wednesday but was fine yesterday. It he doesn’t suffer any further problems then he will be selected."
Former Milan skipper Baresi calls for fans' support
15.2 || webmaster
Former Milan AS skipper Franco Baresi, who is involved with the Milan youth project, is still believed to be one of Milan's best players of all times. The fans chanted the consummate defender's name all through Milan's Sunday tie: "We want Baresi 11, may Baresi 11 enter the pitch."
Baresi commented on the fan's reaction on Milan's official web site: "I'm really pleased that fans still remember me. But I believe they must back the present-day Milan. Milan have experienced tough periods all through their history, I don't think they have any major problem at the moment. I think the side haven't performed at their best as they were deprived of a number of their key-players," said the former captain.
"I don't know what hinders Milan players to perform at their best as I'm not on personal terms with them. Meanwhile I believe that the only way out of this situation is to work hard and be confident of what you're doing. Even at the toughest times you can't suggest dismissing the coach right away as you may regret your decision. They should try to keep their cool."
Baresi has similarly commented on Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti: "I know him rather well, I think he is a great footballer. I can't say anything of his skills as a manager. Maybe he hasn't revealed what he's capable of yet."
Pirlo: "Give me a chance"
15.2 || webmaster
Andrea Pirlo has sent a plea out to Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti that he wants to see more regular first team action.
The talented youngster consistently excels while on Under-21 duty but has yet to show his capabilities at the highest levels in Serie A.
"I’ll keep working hard and when I’m called into action I just aim to be as best prepared as possible. I think I’ve shown well at times this season but I do admit that I would like to play a bit more regularly," he said.
"But I know that I have to keep working hard in order to convince Ancelotti that I’m worthy of a first team place. I think I require about three of four consecutive games in order to find a certain level of consistency.
"There are a lot of foreign players around these days but there are some very interesting Italian youngsters coming through. All that is needed is a bit of courage from clubs to play them on a regular basis."
Pirlo may get his chance on Saturday against Atalanta after Manuel Rui Costa was almost certainly ruled out with injury. However, the £10m summer signing from Inter believes that he and the Portuguese star could co-exist.
"We’re hoping to get Manuel back to full fitness as soon as we can because he can give us that little bit extra. And I think the two of us could play in the same side. Against Verona we were both fielded and we did quite well. I can play in other positions rather than as a ‘trequartista’."
The Brescia youth team product also revealed why he thinks the Rossoneri have been struggling of late in the championship.
He concluded: "Our main problem is not the squad because we have some excellent international players here. Our weakness at the minute is a mental defect. We don’t have enough belief in our capabilities at this moment in time."
Coaches walk the tightrope in Italy
15.2 || webmaster
The three-way race for the Italian first division title between AS Roma, Juventus and Inter Milan briefly takes a back seat this weekend as attention switches to the fate of the two most beleaguered coaches in Serie A.
On Saturday night AC Milan host Atalanta at the San Siro in a match where anything other than victory will heighten speculation over the future of coach Carlo Ancelotti to fever pitch.
And 24 hours later at the Olympic Stadium it is Lazio coach Alberto Zaccheroni who runs the gauntlet when his side hosts Chievo at the Olympic Stadium.
Both men inherited control of their respective clubs during this season but instead of turning sinking ships around have watched them continue to list alarmingly.
AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, who has day-to-day control of the club owned by Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has said no changes will be made until the summer.
However that was before the latest dismal Milan performance, a 1-1 home draw with Perugia who had been reduced to nine men by two harsh sendings off.
And Galliani had given Turkish coach Fatih Terim two votes of confidence in the six weeks preceding his sacking in November and the appointment of Ancelotti, whom they stole from under rivals Parma's noses.
Terim's record compares very favourably to that of Ancelotti.
Valdano Tells Galliani Raul Is ''Priceless''
15.2 || Tom
02/13/2002. Real Madrid director Jorge Valdano warned his AC Milan counter-part Adriano Galliani that Raul « is priceless », in response to Galliani's declaration on Tuesday that Raul was his « forbidden dream ».
Valdano also pointed out that Real Madrid are not interested in Andriy Shevchenko. "Real do not have either a reason or a need to sign the Ukrainian" he said. Unsettled Shevchenko has been linked with a move to Madrid for months.
Del Neri open to offers
15.2 || Tom
Thursday 14th February 2002
Chievo coach Luigi del Neri has been given permission by club supremo Luca Campedelli to start talks with other Serie A sides.
"I have had a great time at Chievo, but the president has told me I am free to go if a big club comes in. This is a turning-point in my career," he revealed to onefootball.com.
"We had a verbal agreement that I would decide my future by this point in the season.
"I will go on with Chievo for now out of friendship to Campedelli, but we both know my success this year has changed everything," he added.
AC Milan and Lazio are expected to lead the chase for Del Neri, whose side have taken the Italian top flight by storm after their promotion from Serie B.
The 51-year-old is desperate to try his hand at a club with greater resources than the Flying Donkeys, who play in a tiny suburb of Verona.
And Milan and Lazio fit the bill. Both are expected to fire their respective coaches, Carlo Ancelotti and Alberto Zaccheroni, if they don't qualify for the Champions' League.
Roma is another possible destination as coach Fabio Capello continues to be strongly linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer.
The Italian press reason that striker Vincenzo Montella would never have signed a new four-year deal if he thought his old foe was staying at the Olimpico.
Del Neri's departure will have a huge impact at Chievo, currently fourth in Serie A, eight points behind leaders Roma, and Campedelli is likely to want Gianni de Biasi from Modena as his replacement.
De Biasi has enjoyed a hugely successful campaign in Serie B this season and shares a similar style with Del Neri. The relationship between the clubs is also good.
Another alternative is Cesare Prandelli – also sought by Parma – who was sacked by Venezia earlier in the season, but is nevertheless regarded as one of the most exciting coaches in Italy.
Baresi in the dark over supposed Milan coup
15.2 || Tom
Thursday 14th February 2002
AC Milan legend Franco Baresi has denied that he is being lined up for a greater role with the Serie A underachievers. "I do not know anything about the supposed problems at the club, all I know is that the team have to work hard to achieve their goals," he said.
Speculation has suggested that owner Silvio Berlusconi's son Pier Silvio is set to replace vice-president Adriano Galliani, while coach Carlo Ancelotti also faces the sack.
It is unclear where Baresi, who runs the youth team, comes into the equation and the former Italy defender refused to be drawn on whether major changes were afoot.
"Galliani is an essential element in the running of Milan," said Baresi. "And, just like last year, Milan have been decimated by injuries, so Ancelotti has never had the opportunity to field his best XI. If he did, we would be in the running for the Scudetto."
Italian prime minister Berlusconi has recently taken a back-seat in the running of the club, leaving day-to-day affairs to Galliani, who has come in for particular criticism.
The coming weeks, which see a resumption of the side's Uefa Cup campaign and a derby against Internazionale, are seen as crucial.
Berlusconi turned Milan into the world's most successful club in the late 1980s and early 1990s and his on-field leader was Baresi, known simply as 'il capitano'.
The centre-back enjoyed an immensely successful career at the San Siro, where he played for 23 years, winning six Italian titles, three European clubs, two Intercontinental Cups, three European Cups and four Italian Super Cups.
Pirlo pleads for cohesion in Milan
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Andrea Pirlo believes that Milan will improve their performances if coach Carlo Ancelotti can get his charges to work cohesively.
Pirlo said: "We can't possibly get any worse than this and from now on we simply cannot allow ourselves the luxury to make more mistakes. In the last few games we simply split apart at the first sign of trouble even when we were leading the match and this must not happen ever again.
"On a personal level, I, of course, do hope to get the chance to play more often. I believe that I have always been ready whenever I was called to play for this team and I think that I always did pretty well."
Pirlo also says he believes that he should not be considered only as Manuel Rui Costa's replacement. He added: "With Rui Costa we could truly do much better and that's why we do hope he'll be fully recovered soon. I don't belive him and I to be incompatible. We played quite well together in the game against Verona. I don't necessarily have to play in his role.
"Last season in Brescia, Roberto Baggio was playing just behind the strikers while I was playing ahead of the defence and I believe that I can play in a variety of roles."
The Under-21 European champion, however, believes that many Italian clubs are making a mistake in hiring so many foreign players, thereby neglecting the potential offered in their own nation.
Pirlo finished: "Italian clubs tend to sign so many foreign players but the truth is that we do have quite a lot of talented youngsters here in Italy as well.
"If only these boys could feel that they have the trust of a big team, I'm sure they'd be able to do much much better."
Trio chase Javi Moreno
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AC Milan striker Javi Moreno has admitted receiving offers from Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona but wants to see out his San Siro deal.
The 27-year-old goal ace left Spanish Primera Liga side Alavés at the end of last season, rejecting a tempting offer from Valencia and instead trying his hand in Italy's Serie A with Milan.
He told Don Balon magazine yesterday: "Atletico, Barca and Valencia have been interested in me on a number of occasions but I'm focused on staying put at Milan.
"I want to triumph here and I've settled into the side now, but maybe one day I'll change my mind."
Since Carlo Ancelotti replaced Fatih Terim in the Milan hotseat, Javi Moreno has been getting more first-team opportunities and has recovered much of the deadly finishing form that was his trademark in La Liga.
"Now I'm a regular in the side, I've scored several decisive goals," he concluded.
AC Milan - Atalanta - match preview
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Milan are in a deep crisis and instead of taking advantage of Chievo’s shock defeat last week, the Rossoneri slipped down from fifth to sixth. The pattern repeated itself as a strong first half made way for a dismal second period in which nine-man Perugia were able to take a point from the San Siro.
The lack of goals appears to be their main problem and the blame has been laid squarely at the feet of Andriy Shevchenko. However, injury problems have decimated the squad in recent weeks.
Massimo Ambrosini’s comeback was marred by a relapse of his knee problem, requiring surgery and another month-long lay-off while Thomas Helveg is also out for this Saturday evening game.
Manuel Rui Costa again starts but the Portuguese international was clearly not match fit following almost two months on the sidelines.
Atalanta have been struggling through their own injury crisis but it appears to be easing with the return this week of Giampaolo Bellini and former Milan midfielder Pierluigi Orlandini. Ousmane Dabo is also back in training but will not be fit for this tie.
Milan: Abbiati; Roque Junior, Costacurta, Laursen, Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Serginho; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Jose Mari
Atalanta: Taibi; Foglio, Carrera, Sala, Falsini; Espinal, Zauri, Berretta, Doni; Inacio Pia;, Comandini
Kaladze backs goal shy Shev
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Kakha Kaladze believes that Andriy Shevchenko is the world’s best player despite his recent goal famine.
The Ukraine forward has been heavily criticised recently following his first real slump in form since Milan signed him from Dynamo Kiev in 1999.
"He’s not changed as a person and has always kept his feet on the ground. To be honest he has improved as a player. I really do believe that he is the best on the planet," Kaladze said.
"He may not be scoring too regularly at the minute but that is not necessarily all down to him. It is a case that the whole side is not doing well. We need to start working a little bit harder for our strikers."
Kaladze, who missed last week’s 1-1 draw with Perugia with injury, also commented on the reasons he believes Shev and Milan in general have been playing poorly in recent times.
"The biggest problems have centred around the club’s injury problems. We’ve played for large chunks of the season without men like Maldini, Rui Costa, Inzaghi, Serginho, Ambrosini. We’ve also struggled to maintain leads," he added.
"But the fact that we often concede after going in front is not down to tactics or injuries but is simply a matter of concentration. Therefore we do have psychological problems on the field."
The Georgian international is expected to be back in the first team for the game against Atalanta on Saturday and has asked for the fans to show their support.
He concluded: "It is an important game because we are not playing well and the fans haven’t been happy.
"I understand their frustration but they must understand that getting on our backs will not help us. We, the players, are well aware that we need to start winning again."
Milan are currently sixth in the table, desperately searching for points to finish in the top four and therefore ensure Champions’ League qualification.
Rui Costa out again as ankle injury flares up
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Manuel Rui Costa is expected to miss Saturday's clash with Atalanta after aggravating his ankle injury.
The Portugal star returned to the side last Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Perugia after six weeks out, but the 29-year-old has broken down again after a problem with the same ankle.
It is yet another setback for Rui Costa, who has been beset with injuries since his move to the San Siro from Fiorentina last summer.
"I can't believe that I have had more injuries in these few months at Milan than I had in seven seasons with Fiorentina," said a depressed Rui Costa, who broke his hand and arm in Milan's first match of the season at Brescia.
The former Benfica player is now a doubt for next week's Uefa Cup tie with Roda JC and is believed to be considering surgery after the World Cup to find a long-term solution to his problem.
Moreno brushes off Valencia talk
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Javi Moreno insists he has no interest in quitting AC Milan despite renewed interest from clubs in Spain. "I know that Valencia and Atletico Madrid have asked about me on several occasions, but I am happy in Milan and really want to stay here," he said.
Milan beat off interest from several clubs to take the free-scoring forward to Italy from Alaves in the summer, but Moreno had a difficult start at the San Siro after picking up an injury, then being excluded from then-coach Fatih Terim's plans.
But new Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has given him a chance following an injury to Filippo Inzaghi and Moreni has repaid that faith by starting to score again.
"Perhaps some day I will change my opinion and want to leave, but now I am playing I am very happy here," he said. "I am in the team regularly and have scored several decisive goals. I have to thank Ancelotti for that."
Moreno refused, however, to rule out a return to Spain one day and admitted that his preferred destination would be Barcelona, a club he revealed he had turned down once before.
"Last season I almost accepted an offer from Barcelona, but my wife preferred to try living outside of Spain and that persuaded me to say yes to Milan.
"But Barcelona will always be close to my heart. I have always supported them and would one day love to join them.
"All I want to concetrate on now is scoring goals here and attracting the attention of Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho, but I know it will very difficult for me to earn a World Cup place now."
Moreno scored twice for Alaves as the Basque side mounted a heroic comeback against Liverpool in the 2001 Uefa Cup final, only to lose to a golden goal in extra-time.
Laursen sacrifices Denmark hopes for Milan
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Denmark defender Martin Laursen has insisted he will not quit AC Milan to boost his World Cup hopes, despite struggling to hold down a first-team place at the San Siro.
Laursen has seen his spot in the side come under threat since the arrival of coach Carlo Ancelotti, despite an excellent start to his Milan career under Fatih Terim.
The former Silkeborg defender has now begun to question his chances of maintaining a place in Martin Olsen's Denmark squad for the World Cup.
But he concedes that he did not expect an easy ride when he joined Milan in the summer. "I was gambling a little with my football future, but even though I have not been playing much lately, I still feel I have developed a lot," he told Ekstra Bladet.
"There are four of us competing for the same two positions, which means if you play badly in one game, you are likely to sit out the next.
"I have given a lot of thought to whether I should stay at the club or not, but the manager and the club keep reassuring me that they believe in me. So I will stay in Milan. Finding success here is just about the greatest thing a player can achieve."
Laursen got of to a superb start at the San Siro, scoring twice in his first three matches for the club.
The 24-year-old started the season on the bench, but forced his way into the side at the expense of Jose Antonio Chamot and admitted his surprise at his instant success.
"It's incredible," he enthused in September. "Both goals were scored in the San Siro and it was a marvellous feeling in front of so many people. I am living a dream."
Shevchenko drops off Real shopping list
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Big-spending Real Madrid claimed on Wednesday that they have lost interest in AC Milan star Andriy Shevchenko and are now in no hurry to sign a striker.
The Spanish champions are short of cover for Fernando Morientes and Ukraine forward Shevchenko is a known target, but sports director Jorge Valdano said: "Real haven't moved a finger to sign Shevchenko.
"The perfect thing would be to buy nobody – that's the best way to show we have faith in our young players.
"Signing a new No 9 would close doors to a lot of young people we're bringing up. We will try to avoid the pressure to sign strikers and preserve our youth policy, as president Florentino Perez wants us to do."
Valdano suggested the key club strategy was dovetailing expensive acquisitions with youth products.
"Florentino signs the best players in the world, like Zinedine Zidane, to maintain the club's reputation," he said. "We complete the squad with young players like Francisco Pavon to maintain our identity and save money."
The Argentinian added that Milan have no chance of luring away Raul after their vice-president Adriano Galliani stated his admiration for the Spain striker. "Raul is priceless," said Valdano.
G-14 desperate to halt spiralling wages
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The G-14 group, which comprises Europe's elite clubs, has announced a commitment to reign in the dramatic rise in player wages.
"Football cannot continue like this. Fans cannot afford the costs imposed upon them," said group spokesman and Barcelona president Joan Gaspart.
"I firmly believe that we must look at the option of a club paying a player in part through a fixed salary, that will be topped up with increased result-based payments."
"There should also be a salary cap agreed by all clubs," added Gaspart, after the group met in Barcelona.
"The players would be most affected by any economical problems at clubs, as happens in any other business. We must look into the situation and find a solution for both the clubs and the players. It won't be easy but we have enough time to do so."
Another member of the group, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani concurred.
"Clubs can't keep on paying such high salaries, with costs exceeding incomes that haven't improved in the past few years. I am convinced that if we reduce salaries and transfer fees, we can turn this situation around."
Manchester United general director Peter Kenyon talked about another way of raising income, through increased revenue from televised coverage of the Champions' League.
"G-14, Uefa and the EU are working on a strategy to generate more revenue through TV rights," he said.
An external agency will advise the clubs on a long-term strategy, and have delivered a report about the top salaries paid in American sport.
The agency will prepare a plan of action for the next G-14 meeting, which is to take place on the day before the Champions' League final in Glasgow.
Defender's plea to fans
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Milan's defender Kakha Kaladze believes that the fans have to get behind the team on Saturday night for the vital league clash with Atalanta.
The Georgian Player says he understands that the fans are disappointed for his and The Rossoneri's performances but he also said that he believes criticizing the team won't do any good.
He said: "It's a truly important match for us because we haven't been playing well lately and the fans are of course, mad at us."
"I can understand how they feel. But they have to realize that by hissing and booing against us at the first mistake, they only do us harm."
"What we've got to do from now on is to concentrate on every new game and think only about winning. We don't have time to think about the past anymore."
Kaladze has also believes that his team mate Andrji Schevhcnko's goal drought is not only his fault.
He added: "I don't think he has changed as a person nor does he think he's the best striker worldwide, even though I think he is."
"If he can't score, it isn't just his problem, it's the whole team's fault. We've got to help him and the other strikers to score much more."
Signing Raul is impossible dream for Galliani
12.2 || Tom
Tuesday 12th February 2002
AC Milan vice-president said on Tuesday that he would love to sign Raul and refused to rule out the possibility of Andriy Shevchenko joining Real Madrid.
But Adriano Galliani knows that capturing the Spain international was an ambition that will never be fulfilled.
"It is my dream to take Raul to Milan," he explained. "But I know that it is impossible."
Real have made no secret of their desire to see Shevchenko at the Bernabeu next season, but on Tuesday Galliani refused to comment on the likelihood of that occurring.
Galliani was attending a G-14 meeting at the Planet Futbol expo in Barcelona and threw praise on Raul and his team-mates in front of Barcelona's Joan Gaspart and Bayern Munich's Karl Heinz Rummenigge.
"He is one of the best strikers in the world and he is playing in the on the best teams in the world," he said. "They are my favourites to win the European Cup this year."
The Milan chief also said how disappointed that the Italian's last purchase from Madrid, Fernando Redondo, had picked up another injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
"It is terrible that he has again fallen victim to injury," he continued.
"He was on his way back to action after many months out. It is bad news for him and for Milan because he is one of the best players in the world in his position."
I could quit United, admits Beckham
12.2 || Tom
Monday 11th February 2002
David Beckham has warned Manchester United he could quit the club after more than 20 meetings failed to produce a suitable contract offer.
"United are a massive club and people think you should stay whatever, but it's got to be right on my side," he said.
The England captain has attended just one of the contract meetings between the United board and his agents, but is plainly feeling the frustration after months of deadlock.
"I'm a Manchester United supporter and I've always wanted to play for the club, but I think they know if it wasn't right, then things would happen," he declared.
"I wouldn't like to think about playing for another club and I haven't thought about it. I do love playing for Manchester United. But it's still got to be right on my side of the talks. It's just not close enough yet."
Asked whether he was inferring that there would come a stage, as talks dragged on, when the club could not continue to play on his loyalty, Beckham responded: "Maybe, yes.
"I am closer than I was six months ago, but whatever anyone says, it plays on your mind. I'm just getting on with my football and not thinking about anything else."
A new salary package of around £70,000 a week was agreed in September, but Beckham wants greater control of his image rights than the club are prepared to offer.
A similar situation held up contract talks between Francesco Totti and Roma last season, but the Italian eventually reached agreement on a new long-term deal.
Morientes makes Real to forget Shevchenko bid
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According to the recent reports, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was hunting AC Milan Ukrainian striker Andrei Shevchenko. The Royal Club president was keen to initiate Raul-Shevchenko super duo and was ready to suggest a good sum to sign the striker. However, the recent excellent performance of Fernando Morientes made the club board to forget about the initiation. The Royal Club officials also count on another club player Javier Portillo who is believed to do his best next year.
Ambrosini undergoes new op
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Massimo Ambrosini’s season took another turn for the worst after Milan confirmed he had undergone knee surgery on Monday.
The Italian international, who only returned to first team action at Christmas after eight months out, sustained knee meniscus damage during the 1-1 draw with Perugia.
He’s now expected to be out for at least the next month.
A Milan statement read: "Massimo Ambrosini, accompanied by club medic Rodolfo Tavana, has undergone surgery this afternoon by Professor Marc Martens at Antwerp’s Eeuwfeest Clinic.
"He’s expected to start playing first team football in the next 4-5 weeks should he encounter no complications."
Ambrosini had recently been linked with a move to Chelsea. He will now only have approximately two months to prove his fitness for the 2002 World Cup Finals.
Ambrosini's Japan dream dashed
11.2 || webmaster
Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini has undergone an arthroscopy in Antwerp after suffering a new injury during yesterday's match with Perugia.
Ambrosini, who has already been forced to stay out for 10 months last year due to a knee injury, has suffered a tear in the meniscus of his right knee yesterday and was operated by Professor Mark Marteens, a doctor famous for curing many Serie A players in the last decade.
Ambrosini will probably have to stay out for about four or five weeks, meaning his slim chances of playing in the World Cup are over.
For the former Under-21 European champion, this new injury may mean the end of his international dreams for a long time.
Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni said: "Ambrosini was obviously left out of the squad (to face the US on Wednesday) because he's been injured for a long time.
"I saw him play twice but he's obviously far from being in top shape and will really have to work hard to get back to his old self.
"And now this new injury complicates matters even more."
Perugia chief calls for referee suspension
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Perugia general manager Alessandro Gaucci has said he is ready to report official Salvatore Racalbuto to the Italian refereeing federation after having two players sent off in Sunday's 1-1 Serie A draw at Milan.
"I hope the federation will look closely at the replays of the incidents and they will take the appropriate action against Racalbuto – he should be suspended," said Gaucci [son of president Luciano] who accused the referee of using a condescending tone whenever he spoke to one of his players.
"It's just not his mistakes that annoyed me, but his general attitude towards our players."
The Umbria side's captain Sean Sogliano, who was sent-off along with Davide Baiocco for a second yellow card, complained that when he asked Racalbuto to explain his decisions, including a contentious penalty that handed Milan the lead, he was informed that "yellow cards would do the talking today".
Coach Serse Cosmi, who has in the past accused the top clubs in Italy of receiving 'special' treatment from match officials, fumed: "Even in my days in the amateur leagues I have never seen just a bad referee."
The comments from the Perugia camp come after another weekend where the men-in-the-middle have found themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Roma team manager Tonino Tempestilli claimed he witnessed Juventus officials in conversation with referee Graziano Cesari during the half-time interval of the top-of-the-table clash on Sunday evening – an infringement of league rules, which state that only coaching staff and players can address the referee.
AC Milan - Perugia - post-match comments
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Carlo Ancelotti: "Unfortunately we really struggle on home soil. We tend to express ourselves better on our travels, as with the last two trips to Lazio and Juventus. We are able to break the deadlock at the San Siro but cannot conserve continuity or pace. The injuries also forced us to change tactics at the last minute."
Serse Cosmi: "The refereeing decisions did not damage us. If anything they helped as the two red cards gave us the courage and determination to fight back. So for us this can be considered a positive refereeing experience. It may be a draw, but to Perugia it is worth as much as a win. The team wanted to get a result here and they did it."
AC Milan's Helveg out of Denmark's freindly
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Three players, including AC Milan defender Thomas Helveg, will miss Denmark's World Cup warm-up friendly against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Danish football federation said on Monday.
Helveg, suffering from a sprained ankle, is to be replaced by Steven Lustu, who plays for Norwegian first division side Lyn.
Jan Hoffman has been called up to stand in for Scottish Premier League Aberdeen's Peter Kjaer, the reserve goalkeeper in the squad picked by coach Morten Olsen last week, with Daniel Jensen coming in for the injured midfielder Martin Joergensen.
Injuries piling up for AC Milan
10.2 || Tom
MILAN, Italy (February 10, 2002 10:35 AM EST) - AC Milan's injury jinx continued to haunt it on Sunday, with two more injuries to important first-team players for the out-of-sorts Italian first-division side.
Danish defender Thomas Helveg injured his left ankle while warming up for the match with Perugia, and then Italian international midfielder Massimo Ambrosini had to leave the field after 29 minutes.
Ambrosini, replaced by Cristian Brocchi, had only recently returned from an eight-month lay-off, and this injury will further compromise his hopes of making Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup squad.
It also emerged that Milan's Georgian midfielder Kakha Kaladze had injured himself during training Saturday.
One rare bit of good news for Milan, which already has defender Paolo Maldini and striker Filippo Inzaghi out of action, was the presence of Portuguese midfielder Manuel Rui Costa for the first time in six weeks.
Copyright © 2002 SportServer
World Cup fears for Ambrosini
10.2 || Tom
Sunday 10th February 2002
AC Milan's injury crisis deepened on Sunday when Denmark international Thomas Helveg and Italy star Massimo Ambrosini limped out of the 1-1 draw with Perugia at the San Siro. Ambrosini could now be a World Cup doubt.
Helveg twisted his ankle in the pre-match warm-up before Massimo Ambrosini, who is a key part of Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup plans, was forced to leave the field clutching his right knee after 29 minutes.
There has been no official diagnosis on Ambrosini's condition yet but early fears are that he could struggle to be fit for next summer's World Cup finals in Japan and Korea.
The 24-year-old has been unlucky with injuries and last season was decimated for him when he ruptured his knee ligaments one year ago. It is believed the latest injury could be a recurrence of the old one, but medical tests have yet to confirm that.
Meanwhile, the double injury blow came just 24 hours after Georgia international midfielder Kakha Kaladze broke down in training, ruling him out of the Perugia clash. Italy internationals Paolo Maldini and Filippo Inzaghi also missed the game with long-term injuries.
There was one piece of good news for Milan as Portugal international playmaker Rui Costa returned to first-team action for the first time in six weeks.
AC Milan 1 - 1 Perugia - match report
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Scorers: Serginho pen 18 (M), Bazzani 47 (P)
Milan suffer another disastrous setback as not only were the Rossoneri unable to beat nine-man Perugia at the San Siro, but Massimo Ambrosini was stretchered off with another injury.
Ambrosini and Manuel Rui Costa returned from long injury lay-offs just in time to replace the suspended Demetrio Albertini and Cosmin Contra. Thomas Helveg picked up an injury in the warm-up.
The Rossoneri started our brightly and saw two headers from Martin Laursen and Ambrosini headers drift wide before Rahman Rezaei brought down the Italian international in the box.
The referee pointed to the spot and this time it was Serginho who stepped up to convert. Shevchenko missed two of the last three penalties and evidently did not feel up to risking another error.
The injury problems at the San Siro grew further when Ambrosini was stretchered off in tears with what looked to be a sprained ankle. It was the same right leg that suffered a serious knee injury last season.
As so often happens this season, Milan's dominance was not translated into goals and just before the break Perugia had two chances to draw level through Zizis Vryzas and Fabio Bazzani.
It was almost inevitable that the equaliser would arrive and at the dawn of the second half Bazzani was left unmarked to nod in from close range. However, matters took a turn for the worse when Davide Baiocco saw red for a second bookable offence.
Carlo Ancelotti's men increased the pressure on the ten-man squad as Oscar Cordoba prevented Jose Mari and Christian Brocchi from grabbing a goal, while Andrea Pirlo's free kick clipped the crossbar.
Sean Sogliano left Perugia in nine men for the final minutes and it was a siege on Cordoba's goalmouth. Only a goalline clearance prevented Laursen from snatching a stoppage-time winner.
Milan: Abbiati; Roque Junior, Laursen, Costacurta, Serginho; Gattuso, Donati (Umit 61), Ambrosini (Brocchi 29); Rui Costa (Pirlo 53); Josè Mari, Shevchenko
Perugia: Cordoba; Sogliano, Di Loreto, Rezaei; Zè Maria, Blasi, Gatti (Fusani 69), Baiocco, Grosso; Bazzani (Milanese 88), Vryzas
Sent off: Baiocco 59 (P), Sogliano 88 (P)
Milan appeal to fans
10.2 || webmaster
Milan are still in the running for the fourth and final spot valid for the Champions’ League, but the fans have turned their backs on the flailing squad.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti has lodged an appeal to the Tifosi ahead of today’s crunch tie with Perugia. “We need the support and cheers of our crowd,” said the former Rossoneri hero.
“We all have to feel the fans have faith in us. Believe me, the team will try to repay them for this trust.”
The multi-million pound squad has notched up just four points in their last four games and was eliminated by Juventus in the Coppa Italia Semi-Finals. Nonetheless, Ancelotti believes that there are positive aspects to these results.
“The team has played better in the last few matches,” assures the ex-Juve boss, “even in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Juventus. Plus we now have Massimo Ambrosini back from injury and Manuel Rui Costa is also returning from a long lay-off.”
Not counting the Coppa, Perugia have won all three of their recent encounters with Milan. “I expect the usual performance from them. The Grifoni are a dynamic team that can really hurt you on the counter attack.”
Ancelotti’s men knocked Perugia out of the Coppa Italia in the Third Round. “We played well against them in the Cup and hope to repeat that trend in the League.”
Meanwhile, increasingly strong rumours are linking Andriy Shevchenko with a summer move to Real Madrid. Ancelotti tellingly refused to rule out the £62m swoop.
“Shevchenko’s future is not only linked to the player, but also involves the club’s desire to keep him. He is an important part of Milan.”
“A player can have worries,” admitted the Coach, “but everything revolves around the club. For a big star, to have a competitive team around him is crucial. Any world class striker wants to be an important figure on the world stage – a far more important desire than to merely have more money.”
Javi Moreno heading for Middlesbrough
9.2 || webmaster
Javi Moreno’s Serie A experience is coming to a premature end according to recent reports.
The Spaniard has not settled at Milan and following harsh criticism of the striker he is set to be sold to Middlesbrough.
Moreno joined the Rossoneri in the summer from UEFA Cup Finalists Alaves, but has been unimpressive alongside Andriy Shevchenko so far this season.
His late midweek miss in the Coppa Italia brought particularly scathing comments from Vice-President Adriano Galliani. “In the first leg Alessandro Del Piero was on the end of a fantastic cross and scored. In this match Javi Moreno was on the end of that cross. That is why we lost.”
The forward would welcome a move abroad as his lack of space at Milan risks losing him a spot in Spain’s World Cup squad. While a return to his homeland would be the ideal option, the Premiership seems the most likely destination.
Middlesbrough are seeking a new striker after their attempts to sign Manchester United hitman Dwight Yorke failed.
Savicevic blasts the current Milan
9.2 || webmaster
Former Milan raider Dejan Savicevic does not believe that the current Milan squad has what it takes to compete at the highest European level. The Yugoslav who helped power Milan to 3 Scudettos and the European Cup said the squad is a pale shadow of its past. "The Milan that I was in won everything and had 16 to 18 great players but now the situation is a bit different,' Savicevic said.
"There are still great players there but not enough of them to compete for the championship. The absence of players such as Maldini, Rui Costa and Inzaghi has weakened the squad. If you lose those players and Shevchenko doesn't score for a couple of games, the team loses ground in the championship. I want to see a more offensive Milan."
Savicevic added that coach Carlo Ancelotti was making a mistake in dropping the creative Andrea Pirlo. "I think it is an error to exclude a player such as Pirlo, a fantastic player with such great technical ability," he said. "He is a natural substitute for Rui Costa, so why isn't he put on the field?
"For a decade we were ahead of Inter, but they spent 75 per cent more than AC Milan and from an economic point of view, things change," he continued. "Milan used to pay more than all the others but now other teams like Inter, Roma and Lazio spend a lot too. Milan are not as rich now."
Fifth-placed Milan are 4 points behind Chievo and must battle with Perugia on Sunday. Milan were knocked out of the Italian Cup in the week and have a significant task to qualify for next season's Champions League in their current form.
Milan reassure fans over Berlusconi
9.2 || webmaster
AC Milan have moved to reassure supporters that the club's owner and president Silvio Berlusconi, also Italy's prime minister, remains committed to the Italian first division club, the Italian sports press reported Saturday.
With Milan enjoying their least successful spell since Berlusconi took over the club in 1986 there has been speculation that the media mogul and statesman is no longer interested in the club.
But Claudio Sposito, managing director of Berlusconi's Fininvest company, and Adriano Galliani, vice-president of AC Milan, have both assured supporters that Berlusconi remains the number one fan of the 'Rossoneri' (red and blacks).
"As far as our company is concerned the supporters must remain calm because president Berlusconi has always said that Milan is a love affair not a business interest," said Galliani who has day-to-day control of the club although he still consults the prime minister on major decisions.
Recently it was reported that Berlusconi's son Pier Silvio might replace Galliani but that report was quickly denied.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Berlusconi turned Milan into the strongest club side in the world but they have not triumphed at European level since 1995 and at domestic level since 1999.
Berlusconi's visits to the San Siro are rare these days although last March, just after the start of the election campaign that would see him return to power, he intervened to sack coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
When Turkish coach Fatih Terim was sacked in November and replaced by Carlo Ancelotti Galliani revealed he had rung Berlusconi who had just attended a war summit of European leaders called by British prime minister Tony Blair.
Shevchenko targets Champions' League
9.2 || Tom
Friday 8th February 2002
AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko has chosen to focus on the positives despite the fact that his team are out of the Coppa Italia and currently lie 11 points adrift of the Serie A leaders.
Defeat to Juventus in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia in midweek leaves the Uefa Cup as Milan's only chance of silverware this season but Shevchenko has not given up hope of finishing in the last qualification place for the Champions' League.
"I prefer not to look only at bad things," he said. "We have to think to the future in a positive way. We have to pay attention to every moment.
"If we go on in playing in such a way we can hope for fourth position. And I want to be a realist, this is our target."
The Ukraine international, who has scored 48 goals in the last two seasons, refused to criticise his team-mates for their inability to provide him with decent service in recent weeks.
He added: "I receive few balls in attack to be dangerous. This happens because AC Milan are in a difficult period.
"But I don't consider my team-mates guilty. We are one family. We win and we lose all together. But this is the moment only to think of the opportunity to take part in the next Champions' League."
Costacurta blasts fans
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AC Milan's veteran defender Alessandro Costacurta has slammed the team's fans for not backing their club when times are tough.
Costacurta has openly criticised the fans of his club for being far too harsh with the team during their home games, even admitting that playing in the San Siro has become more of a handicap than a help.
He said: "We've got to win the next two games against Atalanta and Brescia and it won't be an easy task. Let me remind you all that, just like for Inter Milan, playing in the San Siro has become very difficult for us.
"Maybe it's because the audience starts hissing at the first mistake or because the teams that come here play only defence, but it is true that it's tough for us to play there."
He added: "We can't deny that there's a psychological factor concerning this stadium.
"And it really makes me mad to see some of my team-mates losing faith in themselves because of this criticism. We must be stronger than all this.
"Take Schevchenko for example. He's not been scoring much lately but it is also true that after two mistakes the fans start hissing against him."
For Costacurta, it is not a matter of being unable to take the abuse, but of respect for the work he and his team-mates have always done for the team. He went on: "I can accept criticism but not when they tell me that that I don't have the stomach for this job, because I believe that I've always given my best to this club."
Milan linked with fresh bid for Dalla Bona
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AC Milan are apparently unwilling to sell Massimo Ambrosini to Chelsea but may offer the Blues Christian Brocchi and Andrea Pirlo in exchange for Sam Dalla Bona.
Yesterday Ambrosini was linked with a £12.25 million move to Stamford Bridge with Dalla Bona going in the opposite direction but Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti is not thought to favor this move.
Ambrosini impressed in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus and the former Juve coach is keen to hold on to his Italian international.
Whether the latest suggestion that he is willing to allow Brocchi and Pirlo to leave has any substance to it, remains to be seen.
While Brocchi is seen essentially as a utility player and may be allowed a move, Pirlo is one of the brightest prospects in the Italian game who Milan, having paid £10 million for him in the summer, would surely be keen to keep hold of.
Duo close to a recovery
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Manuel Rui Costa and Flippo Inzaghi are both close to a first-team comeback, while Paolo Maldini has yet to return to full training.
The former Juventus striker Inzaghi, who had injured himself early in December, played part of today's training match with his team mates after a light work-out in the gym.
The team's coach Carlo Ancelotti will also soon have Rui Costa back after the Portuguese star injured himself before Christmas. The midfielder has been training regularly with the rest of the team and may also be in the squad for Sunday's match against Perugia.
In the meantime captain and veteran player Maldini is still yet to return to full training.
Spanish star rues missed chances
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Milan's Spanish striker Javi Moreno was left to rue his last minute chances in the TIM Cup semi-final defeat by Juventus last night.
Moreno apologised to his team mates and the fans for failing to send the tie into extra time. The former Deportivo star had two chances to equalise, but to his disappointment and that of the clubs, he failed to convert both of them.
He admitted: "Last night I was terribly mad with myself."
"I've had two very good opportunities to score but I haven't been able to take advantage of them.
"And it's too bad because scoring the second goal would have at least allowed us to play the extra-time."
Moreno however is convinced that his team will immediately bounce back from this disappointment in Sunday's Serie A match against Perugia.
He added: "Now all that we have to think about is the game against Perugia."
"I don't for one minute doubt that it’s going to be a tough match because they're a good team and they'll come in San Siro to earn at least a point.
"However it is our duty to give our best and try achieve a victory because three point would be crucial for our standing on the table."
Galliani upset with Milan defeat in Italian Cup semis
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AC Milan deputy chairman Adriano Galliani is upset with his side's failure in the Italian Cup semifinals.
"We performed well against Juventus, but we failed to claim the victory in this crucial clash. What can I say about Javi Moreno's mistake? When the box is empty and the keeper is lying on the ground the scorer is obliged to score," claimed Galliani.
"It's a shame we missed the chance to score at the end of the tie. We came here hoping to claim the victory, but we were well aware of the fact that the tie would be a tough one. As for Zambrotta's goal, we couldn't have done anything about it," claimed Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Juventus manager Marcello Lippi is delighted with his side's qualification for the Italian Cup final: "It was a vital tie and I'm satisfied with the result. The semifinals' result proves Juventus can count on all their players. Now that we've made it through to the Italian Cup final, we can consider our forthcoming Roma tie," said the manager.
Juventus executive chairman Luciano Moggi added: "We were lucky to avoid playing the extra-time. Now that we've attained our objective we may focus on the Roma clash."
Brazilian's cup disappointment
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Milan's Brazilian star Roque Junior admitted that being knocked out of the Tim Cup last night by Juventus was a big disappointment for the club.
The 25-year-old revealed his personal disappointment in the defeat to their rivals Juve, but the former Palmeiras star was pleased with his own performance.
He said: "I'm quite pleased for my performance but I know that my task is to be ready whenever the coach calls me."
"I'm truly sorry for how things ended last night because I was convinced that we could have been able to turn the tables around."
"We played better in the first half but I don't know if this was because of the game plan or because of who were playing.
"After all it is up to the coach to decide all this."
AC Milan - Perugia - match preview
7.2 || webmaster
The match against Perugia looks like another do-or-die one for Milan. The hosts have no alternatives to the three points in order to keep on fighting for the fourth place, otherwise the Uefa Cup could remain the only goal of their difficult season.
The Rossoneri are winless in the last four rounds and will join this match a few days after suffering the umpteenth disappointment, namely the elimination in the Coppa Italia semifinal against Juventus.
Perugia are expected to be the usual tough opponent, although the Grifoni keep on looking much stronger at home than on the road, where they collected seven defeats in eleven matches.
Despite this negative figure, Cosmi's men are definitely playing a very good championship, and will look for a positive result, which would allow them to keep the distance from the relegation zone.
-Milan: in addition to long-term injured Inzaghi and Maldini, coach Carlo Ancelotti will miss two suspended players, Albertini and Contra. But the hosts will be boosted by the comeback of Portuguese playmaker Manuel Rui Costa, who is finally fit and will likely be in the starting eleven. Josè Mari should pair up Shevchenko on the offensive line.
Starting line-up (4-4-2): Abbiati; Helveg, Costacurta, Laursen, Kaladze; Gattuso, Rui Costa, Ambrosini, Serginho; Josè Mari, Shevchenko
Bench: Rossi, Roque Junior, Umit, Donati, Brocchi, Pirlo, Javi Moreno.
Injured: Aliyu, Redondo, Inzaghi, Maldini
Suspended: Albertini, Contra
-Perugia: the Grifoni will miss one of their most influential players, injured skipper Tedesco, while newly-added Uruguayan playmaker O'Neill will undergo a late fitness test before the match. No further changes in the rest of the starting eleven, which will be the same of last week's draw in Udine.
Starting line-up (3-5-2): Cordoba; Sogliano, Di Loreto, Rezaei; Zè Maria, Blasi, Gatti, Baiocoo, Grosso; Bazzani, Vryzas
Bench: Tardioli, Milanese, Samuel, Fusani, Berrettoni, Ahn, Samereh
Injured: O'Neill, Tedesco
Warned: Vryzas, Di Loreto, Blasi, Gatti, Sogliano
Milan last 6 matches: WDLLDD. Milan's lone positive result of the last weeks, the qualification to the Coppa Italia semifinals, proved to be a pointless one, as on Wednesday the Rossoneri were kicked out by Juventus. In the Serie A, Ancelotti's men are winless in the last four contests, in which they grabbed three difficult draws against Brescia, Fiorentina and Lazio, as well as a bad home defeat against Udinese.
Perugia last 6 matches: WWLLWD. The Grifoni have been looking quite healthy of late. The wins over Atalanta, Fiorentina and Verona allowed them to reach a very positive 10th place, a result that was somehow unexpected in the preseason forecasts. Cosmi's men were defeated twice in the last seven contests, including a 0-5 thrashing by Lazio.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
-Milan: Josè Mari. The Spaniard is by far Milan's most convincing player at the moment. The former Atletico Madrid player is in a very good shape, and despite not being a real striker he's providing the goals Milan are missing from Shevchenko.
-Perugia: Rahman Rezaei. The Iranian defender is undoubtedly one of the most surprising players of the league. If the impact with San Siro won't be too shocking, I expect him to show once again all of his effectiveness.
Juve thank Javi Moreno
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Juventus are through to the Coppa Italia Final with the minimum of effort ahead of Sunday’s Scudetto showdown with Roma. However, if Javi Moreno had converted just one of his two scoring opportunities then the match would have gone to extra time.
“Thankfully that wasn’t the case,” admitted General Director Luciano Moggi. “Extra time would have been a disaster, especially on such a heavy pitch. Maybe we were missing something in the first half, but it all evened out after the break.”
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani seemed particularly disappointed with the Spaniards’ performance following the 1-1 draw.
“The match was decided in the first leg with that defeat at the San Siro. In any case we still had two chances to extend the tie, one of them an incredible miss, but did not take advantage of them.”
When reminded that substitute Alessandro Del Piero had netted in the final minutes of the first leg from a similar position, Galliani’s comment spoke volumes. “Del Piero was on the end of that cross, Javi Moreno was on the end of this one.”
“Nonetheless,” added the Rossoneri Vice-President, “we still have two things to aim for: fourth place and the UEFA Cup. The team is improving and many players will return from injury soon.”
Coach Marcello Lippi knocks former Juve boss Carlo Ancelotti out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate. “Reaching the Final is an important achievement and we got here thanks to a team that has many valid players to count on.”
Chelsea To Bid For Ambrosini?
6.2 || Tom
02/06/2002. According to reports, Chelsea are considering making a bid for AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini and may use Sam Dalla Bona as a make-weight in the deal.
Ambrosini has been plagued by injury in the past two seasons but when fit, is thought of as one of the finest central-midfielders in the league and has won eight caps for the Italian national side.
Dalla Bona, 21, has been linked with Milan on a number of occasions and may be in favour of a move back to his homeland.
The fee being mentioned for Ambrosini is around £12.25 million although inserting Dalla Bona into the deal is likely to mean the Londoners paying around half of this sum.
Due to injury Ambrosini has played just 45 minutes of football against Verona- a game he scored in.
Coco Happy To Return To Milan
6.2 || Tom
02/06/2002. Francesco Coco, the Barcelona full-back on loan from Milan, says he would be quite happy to return to the Rossoneri.
The Italian international has been unsettled at the Catalan club for the last few weeks and has had a number of disagreements with coach Charly Rexach and even threatened last month to leave if he wasn't played more often.
"It depends on Barcelona's plans but I would be happy to return to Milan," said Coco.
Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani then went on to state that Barca have an option to sign the 24-year-old at the end of the season but if they fail to take it up, the Rossoneri would be happy to have him back.
In the Italian press this morning the club are also being linked with moves for Piacenza's Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem as well as Fabricio Coloccini at Alaves.
Coloccini is currently on loan from the San Siro but has greatly impressed since his move to Spain and Milan are keen to recapture the young Argentine centre-back.
Juventus 1 - 1 AC Milan - match report
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Milan went to a rain soaked Stadio Delle Alpi hoping to overturn the 2-1 first leg defeat and enter the Coppa Italia Final, but a splendid Gianluca Zambrotta solo effort ended their slim hopes.
Despite suffering from flu midweek Andriy Shevchenko was part of the starting line-up, as was the returning Massimo Ambrosini. Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni was in the stands to watch Gianluca Pessotto’s performance.
Juventus had scored in the first leg with a deflected Alessandro Birindelli free kick and almost repeated the incident on 10 minutes.
At the other end of the field young ‘keeper Fabian Carini did extremely well to intervene on Jose Mari’s dangerous run and tipped a curling Andrea Pirlo free kick over the bar. However, the Uruguayan could do nothing on Jose Mari’s looping header on an inch-perfect assist from Pirlo.
The Bianconeri decided to fight back with top scorer David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero for the second half. Carlo Ancelotti’s men again appeared to ease the pressure once in the lead.
It was Gianluca Zambrotta who drew Juventus level with a fantastic solo effort. The winger dribbled past four players before rifling a powerful shot into the roof of the net.
Substitute Javi Moreno had the best opportunity to take it to extra time, but the Spaniard incredibly turned wide of an open goal twice.
Juventus will face either Brescia or Parma in the two-leg Final on March 6 and May 11.
Juventus qualify 3-2 on aggregate
Scorers: Jose Mari 27 (M), Zambrotta 62 (J)
Juventus: Carini; Thuram (Trezeguet 46), Birindelli, Iuliano, Montero; Zambrotta, Tacchinardi, Davids, Pessotto; Nedved (Del Piero 60); Zalayeta (Paramatti 77)
Milan: Rossi; Contra, Roque Junior, Chamot (Laursen 46), Kaladze; Gattuso, Albertini, Ambrosini (Serginho 60), Pirlo; Javi Moreno, Shevchenko (Javi Moreno 70)
Viareggio: Milan knocked-out by Lazio
6.2 || webmaster
Milan lost today 4-2 in the first knock-out phase in front of Lazio. City rivals Internazionale, as well as Juventus Torino had qualified for the next round.
Milan derby for in-form Asta
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Milan and Inter are set to make a bid for Antonino Asta after his contract negotiations with Torino stalled.
The right-winger is one of the most in-form players of the Serie A season and he’s been hotly tipped to be selected for the international squad that will face the United States of America in a friendly next week.
Asta, now 31, is set to be sold by the Granata in the summer after both parties have failed to reach an agreement to date over a new deal which would see him end his career at the Delle Alpi.
Reports from Turin suggest that Asta’s wage demands seem unlikely to be matched by the club who only won back promotion to the top flight last season.
The former Napoli player is believed to have asked for a three-year deal which would see his salary significantly increased.
Inter boss Hector Cuper publicly praised Asta last week on the eve of the Inter – Torino clash and the midfielder lived up to expectations with another fine performance.
Meanwhile, San Siro rivals Milan are showing an interest as they are likely to release Cristian Brocchi in the summer who has failed to cement himself a regular starting shirt.
Juve laugh off Gattuso swap talk
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Juventus have denied that they are working on a deal with Milan to swap Gianluca Zambrotta and Gianluca Pessotto for Gennaro Gattuso.
Juve’s vice-president Vittorio Chiusano is a huge fan of the tenacious Gattuso but says that the report of the three-player deal is nothing but speculation.
He says: "I like Gattuso. He’s a good player but we already have quite a few players with great character in our team.
"And in any case, we value Zambrotta and Pessotto very highly and we have complete faith in them. That's why we are looking forward to keeping them in this team in the future."
Chiusano has also expressed his sympathy for his former player Roberto Baggio, who suffered a serious ligament injury that according to some may even bring him to retire.
"I sincerely hope he won’t do that. It would be a sad day for all of us," he said about the former skipper of the club.
Nesta unsure of Lazio future
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Italy defender Alessandro Nesta has put top European clubs on alert by admitting for the first time that his future may lie away from Lazio. "It would be wrong for me to say that I will never leave, because if I do I will look like a hypocrite," he explained.
"I'd like to stay, but nobody knows what the future has in store. Every year I listen to the rumours. Every year I hear that I'm definitely going to join AC Milan or that I've agreed terms with Real Madrid, but in the end I always stay at Lazio.
"I've been at this club since I was 18 and I would like to stay for as long as I can. But at the same time I am a professional and, if we got relegated, then I would probably leave," he admitted.
Nesta was strongly linked with a move to Real earlier in the season, but insisted then that he was determined to stay in Rome and help Lazio mount a serious title challenge.
However, it has not gone according to plan for Lazio or Nesta this season. The elegant centre-half has recently picked up a knee injury and Lazio find themselves eighth in the table, 15 points behind leaders Roma.
Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti has warned that he will make wholesale changes in the summer if his team fail to qualify for the Champions' League, but Nesta does not believe that is necessary.
"I don't think Cragnotti needs to make all of the changes he's talking about. I honestly believe that we have a group of players that can do well," insisted Nesta.
"Anyway, we only have to string a few results together and we'll be back in the European places. You've also got to realise that we've had some bad luck with injuries and suspensions – not to mention the ban to Jaap Stam."
Nesta is expected to back in action later this month. It was first feared that he might be in danger of missing the World Cup, but Lazio doctor Andrea Campi told onefootball.com last month: "Alessandro will be back in action for Lazio this season.
"He is suffering from a meniscus lesion on his right knee. The meniscus is not broken, but this problem prevents him from running properly. He needs surgery, but he won't need to rest for more than four or five weeks."
Cragnotti is reported to be considering using Nesta as a bargaining tool to bring Biancoceleste favourite Juan Sebastien Veron back to the Stadio Olimpico from Manchester United.
Ancelotti hopes for cup comeback
5.2 || Tom
05 February 2002 (Teamtalk) -- Despite the 2-1 loss suffered in Milan two weeks ago, AC coach Carlo Ancelotti says his team can overturn the score at Juventus tomorrow night.
A late goal sealed Milan’s fate at the San Siro in the first leg but Ancelotti believes that his team will be in the final of the Copa Italia.
"Juve are really doing well, in Serie A, they have achieved six victories in a row," he said.
"Marcello Lippi was able to build a well-balanced team also thanks to the enthusiasm all of his players seem to have.
"However the Bianconeri know very well that the team they’ll face tomorrow will be very different from the one they played against two weeks ago.
"The draw with Lazio has given us new determination but we all know we’ll have to stay focused on the match in order to be able to beat Juve.
"This team has character and we will try to turn the tables around anyway we can.
"However I don’t expect Juve to take this match less seriously just because they’ve won the first leg."
For Ancelotti, this will also be the first time in Turin, against his former team and he says it will be an emotional event.
"This is the first time I go back to Turin as an opponent and I sincerely hope that the fans will welcome me nicely," he says.
"However I'm not particularly nervous because I have already come up against Juve twice this season."
Europe's richest clubs back current CL: AC Milan
5.2 || webmaster
NYON, Switzerland, Feb 5 (AFP)
The general manager of Italian club AC Milan, Umberto Gandini, on Tuesday denied that Europe's richest clubs were planning an overhaul of the Champions League that would ditch their weaker counterparts.
Gandini, a member of the G14 which groups Europe's top clubs, backed the current Champions League format after the annual workshop of European clubs organised by UEFA.
Seventy-three clubs took part in the two-day meeting at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.p
"We have nothing against the existing format, we have worked very hard to get this format re-confirmed," Gandini said.
Responding to an interview with G14 general manager Thomas Kurth in a British newspaper on Sunday, Gandini said: "We're 100 percent sure that Thomas has been misunderstood, the way the article was written is a clear opposition to what we think".
"This is a wrong image of the G14," he said.
The article had indicated that plans to cut down the Champions League were being revived, a move which UEFA formally ruled out in December.
UEFA said it would maintain the current format with 32 teams and two phases, at least for another three years.
"We would like to take time from now up to 2006 to think how we can shape up the future," Gandini told journalists.
The clubs meeting at UEFA headquarters did back proposals to change the format of the UEFA Cup to bring in a group stage, team officials said.
The G14 is made of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Bosrussia Dortmund, Marseille, Paris Saint Germain, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, and Porto.
Milan's returning Ba attacks Marseille's Tapie
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French midfielder Ibrahim Ba has blasted OM's sporting director Bernard Tapie after he terminated his loan arrangement at the Stade Velodrome. Rossoneri Ba moved to Marseille in the summer on a year's loan but his relationship with Tapie soured his stay in France and forced him to return to Ancelotti's Milan.
The wideman told France Football: "Tapie is convinced he is a God. He thinks he is football. He never took part in training but would change the starting line-up half an hour before kick-off just because it suited his arrogance. But the worst thing was that the coach would never really matter to him, he had no consideration for anyone and just wanted to take over everything."
Marseille are currently struggling to make the European places zone in France and if they fail, Marseille's membership of the elite G-14 - as well as Tapie's future - could well be at stake.
Ancelotti wants Contra to stay
4.2 || webmaster
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will fight to keep unsettled defender Cosmin Contra after singling the Romanian out for praise after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Lazio.
Milan came from a goal down to earn a point at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to Andriy Shevchenko's 90th-minute strike, but Ancelotti was keen to acknowledge the impact that his substitutes had on the game.
"It gave us a lift when Cosmin Contra and Andrea Pirlo came on," he declared. "They gave more support to the forwards and we were able to put Lazio under pressure."
Ancelotti's words suggest that he is determined to hold onto Contra, despite the Romania international's recent insistence that he would quit the San Siro and return to Spain less than a year after signing from Alaves.
Contra admitted last week: "I long for Spain, the lifestyle and the food. If there is a first-division club that would take me, I would be there tomorrow. Italy is not how I expected it to be."
Sunday's draw keeps Milan four points ahead of eighth-placed Lazio and could prove crucial at the end of the season when Champions' League places are up for grabs. "In football it is vital to keep going until the very last whistle," continued a satisfied Ancelotti.
"We were really pressing hard in the closing stages because when they had Fernando Couto sent off there was still more than ten minutes to play. They were struggling to keep the ball and I think in the end we deserved to get the goal.
"Of course Lazio had plenty of chances with their fast counter-attacks, but that's normal because we had to press forward. People may say we were lucky, but last week when Fiorentina came back late on against us everyone said they deserved it.
"I thought we passed the ball well today but failed to create clear scoring chances. I think Sheva was playing a bit too deep and we have to try to get him the ball in more dangerous positions."
Yugoslavia international Dejan Stankovic had put Lazio ahead after 21 minutes, but the turning point came when Couto received his marching orders for dissent in the 79th minute.
"Clearly that was a key moment," said Lazio boss Alberto Zaccheroni. "It forced us to sit back on our lead and we had to try to cope with a real bombardment in the last few minutes.
"He had already been booked, although I think the referee showed him a straight red card. He clearly shouldn't have acted in the way that he did – particularly as he was already on a booking," stressed the Lazio boss.
"Their goal came about after a misunderstanding between two of our defenders. I'm not going to start naming names because that's not my style. I keep those sort of things for the changing room."
Despite the setback, Zaccheroni insisted he was confident his team would finish the season in positive fashion. "Why shouldn't I be? We played well today," he said. "I haven't forgotten our performance against Chievo last week when we wasted far too many chances.
"If we play like that then we will not do well, but today was encouraging and I think we are moving in the right direction."
Unsettled Coco craves Milan return
4.2 || webmaster
AC Milan wing-back Francesco Coco has admitted he would jump at the chance to return to the Rossoneri when his loan spell at Barcelona finishes at the end of the season.
"The thought of going back to Milan really excites me," explained the Italy international.
"I only left because of my poor relationship with the coach Fatih Terim. He didn't believe in me, which is why when Barca came in, I didn't think twice about moving.
"But Terim has gone now so that is no longer a problem. I have been following the progress of the Rossoneri from Spain and I still have plenty of friends there," he added.
AC Milan's vice-president Adriano Galliani insisted that they were keen to bring Coco back, but he admitted that Barcelona would have the final say.
"Barca have secured an option to sign him if they want when the loan spell finishes," he explained. "But if they do want him then they have to let us know before May 31.
"If they don't, then we'll welcome him back. He is a very good player and a great friend to everyone at the club," said Galliani.
Coco has struggled to reproduce his form of last season since arriving at Barcelona in August, and is now concerned that he will miss out on a place in Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup squad.
Last month, Coco told Barcelona boss Charly Rexach that he would return to Italy without delay if he was left on the substitutes' bench anymore this season.
He soon withdrew the remarks, but it is clear that the 25-year-old, who watched AC Milan draw 1-1 with Lazio on television on Sunday, still has his heart set a move back to Serie A.
"I enjoyed the game, although I think Milan were lucky to get a draw," he said. "Lazio played the better football and created more chances.
"But my former team-mates clearly believed in themselves and they kept on going to the end. That impressed me and I was thrilled to see them take a point," added Coco.
Coco's agent and father, Nino Coco, recently fuelled rumours that the midfielder was on the verge of a move to to either Juventus or Internazionale.
"My son's priority is to hold a starting spot with the Italian national side in the next World Cup so he can't be ruled out for three months," Nino said in January. "Inter want him right now while Juventus would rather wait until next June."
Angry Zac counters hopeful Ancelotti
4.2 || webmaster
It could be argued that the single point from the Sunday evening clash did little for either side in the race for Champions’ League places. Nonetheless, Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti is pleased with the result at the Stadio Olimpico.
“It was the correct result,” claimed the Rossoneri boss, “as we put plenty of pressure on a taut Lazio defence. It was a good performance in a difficult match.”
“It may have taken a stoppage time goal but at the end of the day we got the point. I truly believe now that the troubled period of our season is over. Our campaign will improve from this point on.”
Ex-Milan manager Alberto Zaccheroni was less impressed with the outcome. “They may be happy, but we certainly are not. We were missing character and luck.”
“Even in ten men we did not allow Milan to get many shots on goal, but that equaliser was our fault. We left Kakha Kaladze unmarked.”
“It makes you angry to concede a goal like that,” he snapped, “but I am especially unhappy at Fernando Couto’s red card. He was wrong to protest and took it too far, but the foul did not exist.”
Milan eye Contra and Moreno replacements
4.2 || webmaster
AC Milan are being linked with several replacements for Cosmin Contra and Javi Moreno who are expected to depart in the summer.
Neither player has settled particularly well at the San Siro since their moves from Alaves and both are regularly linked with a return to La Liga where they excelled last season.
If Contra leaves, boss Carlo Ancelotti would be keen on Massimo Oddo from Verona or Perugia's Brazilian full-back Ze Roberto.
Should Moreno head towards the exit door, the Rossoneri may make an attempt to sign either Monaco's young Senagalise striker Souleymane Camara or Varteks' 22-year-old forward Sasa Bjelanovic who scored two goals to help his side knock Aston Villa out of the Uefa Cup this season.
Lazio 1 - 1 Milan - match report
3.2 || webmaster
Scorers: Stankovic 21 (L), Kaladze 92 (M)
This could be treated as practically a play-off for the fourth and final Champions’ League spot and the main imperative for this tie was to end the crisis in performances and results. Neither side was particularly impressive and the Rossoneri were extremely fortunate to emerge with a point in stoppage time.
Alberto Zaccheroni has faced his former club three times this season between Serie A and Coppa Italia, and lost all three.
Martin Laursen had the first real attempt with a header that drifted wide of the upright but after Angelo Peruzzi made a fine intervention on Andriy Shevchenko, it was Lazio who broke the deadlock. Dejan Stankovic saw his fantastic effort from the edge of the box dip mercilessly into the top corner.
There was controversy soon after when Fernando Couto was only booked for a last man foul on Javi Moreno, but although the Rossoneri pushed forward the last ball in was rarely effective. Christian Abbiati and Angelo Peruzzi needed their wits about them when faced with Claudio Lopez, Karel Poborsky and Javi Moreno alone on goal.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men were clearly lacking in confidence and Stankovic almost grabbed a second from a free kick and curling effort. A defensive error let Claudio Lopez clear on goal but Abbiati made a desperate reaction save.
Shevchenko had the best opportunity to draw level when he just failed to make contact with a precise Serginho centre. Fernando Couto, who was bleeding copiously from a wound to his cheekbone, completed his nightmare match with a red card for dissent.
Even in ten men Milan had problems breaking down the defence, but deep into stoppage time Kakha Kaladze’s header took a decisive deflection off Shevchenko to dip into the top corner.
Lazio: Peruzzi; Pancaro, Negro, Couto, Cesar; Poborsky, Giannichedda, Liverani (Baggio 65), Stankovic; Fiore (Mihajlovic 79); Lopez
Milan: Abbiati; Helveg (Contra 52), Laursen, Costacurta, Kaladze; Brocchi (Kutuzov 84), Gattuso (Pirlo 72), Albertini, Serginho; Shevchenko, Javi Moreno
Sent off: Couto 77 (L)
2.2 || webmaster
After winning 4-1 vs. Feyenoord, Milan has also won the other two group matches, 2-1 against Salernitana and a stunning 8-1 against New York and have advanced for the knock-out round.
De Martin and Marcos have scored 5 times and 4 times respectively in the group stage.
Ancelotti blasts Milan stars
2.2 || webmaster
Tension is at breaking point and today Carlo Ancelotti proved that there is a deep divide between the players and their Coach.
“Massimo Ambrosini says we all need to take responsibility because most of our problems are psychological,” he snapped. “I don’t believe a word of it. If anyone here has mental problems they should get professional help.”
The former Juventus boss appeared to be particularly upset during Saturday’s press conference and inevitably was called on to explain their disappointing form.
“I think the team has absorbed the defeat to Udinese. We must turn the page and close this unfortunate chapter of the season as soon as possible. This squad does well when it is compact and united,” added Ancelotti. “When they lose that unity it all becomes much more difficult.”
The players were held in a training camp for a week before Sunday’s crunch tie at Lazio in a bid to better prepare for the match. It is practically a play-off for the fourth and final Champions’ League spot currently held by Chievo.
“Chievo are doing very well at the moment but I’d say the race for that European place is still wide open. It certainly will not be decided by this one match at the Stadio Olimpico.”
“A defeat would be terrible,” he noted, “but more due to its effect on our morale than the Serie A standings. There is always time to recover points.”
The morale appears to be at an all-time low as rows break out on the field – notably between Andriy Shevchenko and Alessandro Costacurta – and off.
The so-called ‘Old Guard’ of Paolo Maldini, Costacurta and Demetrio Albertini was accused of leading a revolution against former Coach Fatih Terim and are now said to be turning on Ancelotti, their former teammate.
“The fact I played alongside them must not become an issue for me or them,” assured Ancelotti. “In the last week we have spent lots of time together as a group to discover where we went wrong and find some certainty in the squad.”
“We all thought long and hard about the work up until now, but we can only wait and see if those theories are confirmed on the field. The things we know to be true now may be disproved tomorrow.”
Nesta ready to face Milan
2.2 || webmaster
Lazio move into the most important match of their season so far and will be able to count on their captain. Alessandro Nesta is back in full training after sustaining a knee injury and will start in defence tomorrow evening.
Hernan Crespo is still sidelined with a thigh strain so the striking partners will be Claudio Lopez and Simone Inzaghi.
The Biancocelesti are at crisis point following two straight defeats at Torino and Chievo. The Sunday evening game is practically a play-off with Milan for the fourth and final Champions’ League spot.
The Rossoneri snatched a 2-0 win in the first encounter and have since knocked Lazio out of the Coppa Italia in the Quarter-Finals. Coach Alberto Zaccheroni has faced his former club three times since he was fired last season and has lost all three.
Lazio - Milan - match preview
2.2 || webmaster
The two great disappointments of the season face off at the Stadio Olimpico. Both teams have been warned that failure to capture the fourth Champions’ League spot will result in a mass sell-off of top stars so this becomes their most important match of the season so far.
Alberto Zaccheroni has come up against his former club three times since he was sacked – once in Serie A and twice in the Coppa Italia Quarter-Finals – and has emerged defeated from all three encounters.
Injury problems continue to plague the Biancocelesti as Hernan Crespo and Giuseppe Favalli remain on the sidelines, but Simone Inzaghi is now fit enough to partner Claudio Lopez.
Milan’s problems are undoubtedly psychological, a fact confirmed by Coach Carlo Ancelotti. "The team have no fight in them," exclaimed the former Juventus man and losing a 2-0 lead to Udinese is ample proof of that theory.
Andriy Shevchenko has broken his goal drought after a month, but it will be interesting to see if he agrees to step up to the spot after missing two out of three penalties.
Milan released from ritiro
1.2 || webmaster
In a surprise move Milan have been released from their ‘ritiro’ – pre-match training camp – in order to prepare for Sunday’s crunch tie with Lazio.
The players had been kept at the Milanello training ground since Tuesday morning, but after today’s training session Coach Carlo Ancelotti allowed his squad to return home to their families for the night.
The camp had been requested following last week’s disastrous 3-2 home defeat to Udinese. Clubs in Italy often put the teams into a ritiro in the run-up to a big game if recent results have been disappointing.
Vice-President Adriano Galliani kept the players in the locker rooms for almost an hour after Sunday’s defeat and the team was forced to leave the San Siro via an emergency exit as angry fans had blocked off the main entrance.
Veteran Rossoneri star Alessandro Costacurta had claimed, “These training camps are of little use to anyone.”
Nonetheless, it was considered a necessary move ahead of such a delicate encounter.
Lazio and Milan are the two teams currently battling to reach the fourth and final Champions’ League spot.
The team will reunite at Milanello for a final training session on Saturday before embarking on the trip to Rome.
Milan golden trio bid to avoid tax prosecution
1.2 || webmaster
Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard have called for a settlement in order to avoid being prosecuted for tax evasion during their playing days at AC Milan according to the Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad. The Dutch trio are accused of receiving tens of millions worth of black euros, together with nine other former players at the Italian giants. The solicitors for the three Dutch stars have proposed a three month suspended sentence, and a fine of 1500 euros.
According to records from the Italian inland revenue, it appears that the trio received extra amounts via AC Milan owner and current Italian prime-minister, Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest concern, to three letterbox companies on the Channel Islands. Van Basten received 22 million euros, Gullit 9 million and Rijkaard 4 million.
Contra wants Milan future
1.2 || webmaster
Cosmin Contra has denied claims that he is looking to return to Spain by announcing he is ready to see out his contract with Milan.
The Romanian international was rumoured to be ready to quit the Rossoneri after complaining that he wanted to be fielded in defence rather than on the right hand side of midfield.
However, the former Alaves man says he couldn’t be happier in Italy.
"I have a contract here which lasts for five years and I have no intention of leaving any earlier than that. I’m really happy here."
He added: "The rumours that I could go back to Spain was down to an interview with a Romanian journalist who I had told that I would like to go back there for two or three days holiday.
"He got the wrong end of the stick and thought I wanted to quit Milan.
"In Italy there is an emphasis on defending more but this doesn’t mean that the championship is less likeable than others."
The player also believes that Milan’s poor run of form is finally set to come to an end on Sunday – despite facing a tricky tie in Rome against Lazio.
"I think that our negative period is coming to an end. In these last few days at training camp we’ve cemented the team spirit and I’m hopeful that we can do well in the game against Lazio at the Olimpico."
Italy's Inzaghi hits comeback trail
1.2 || Tom
ROME (January 31, 2002 09:11 AM EST) - Italy forward Filippo Inzaghi is kicking a ball again in a bid to return to fitness for the World Cup after being injured in December, Corriere Dello Sport reported on Thursday.
The AC Milan striker, who scored 11 goals in all competitions for the club this season, damaged knee ligaments in a match against Chievo, arousing fears that he would not return to action this season.
"I think it will take about a month, without being too specific. We'll see if it's sooner," Inzaghi said.
"When I'm ready to play, I'll return to talk. At the moment I prefer to remain silent and work hard."
If Inzaghi returns on schedule, he should be back for the last two months of the season and in time to get match fit before the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
AC Milan has struggled to score goals in Inzaghi's absence, with big names such as Andriy Shevchenko, Jose Mari and Javi Moreno not performing well.
AC Milan has slipped down to fifth in Serie A, 11 points behind leaders Roma.
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