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The Archive

February 2003

AC Milan vs. Atalanta - match preview
28.2 || Seamus

On December 15th, Atalanta travelled to the San Siro to play Internazionale and went down by the narrowest of margins as Kallon scored a 70th minute winner. Since then, the lesser nerazzurri have collected three wins and five draws and have now gone more than two months without losing. However, that will not change the fact that they now face a huge test of strength against AC Milan while still hanging just a point above the relegation zone. Milan will have one eye on the late encounter between Inter and Juve at the top of the table, where any result will do some benefit or the other to the red-and-black side as long as they beat Atalanta. If one of Inter and Juve lose, Milan will be able to move into second place and if the match ends in a tie, Milan will have the opportunity to go top on goal-difference.


TEAM NEWS
Carlo Ancelotti has only one big absentee: Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian is suffering from a calf strain and joins Thomas Helveg, Jose Chamot, Roque Jr. and Massimo Ambrosini on the sidelines. But, such is the luxury afforded by the former rossoneri legend that he still will be able to field close to his best lineup. Rivaldo, though will not be among them as Pippo Inzaghi is set to play the lone striker role, supported by Serginho and Rui Costa. Clarence Seedorf, who has been in sensational form, starts alongside Pirlo in a fantastically creative lineup.

Giovanni Vavassori's biggest dilemma is in attack where Gianni Comandini, Inacio Pia and Alex Pinardi are all injured. Fausto Rossini and Croat Davor Vugrinec (who has a rather good record against Milan) start up front. To further compound the coach's problems however, Luciano Zauri and Daniele Berretta are both suspended, which means that Paolo Foglio and Gianpaolo Bellini will be drafted in. However, one man to watch out will be Luigi Sala, who seems to be inspirational against his former side.


FORM GUIDE
AC Milan last 6 (all comps): DLDWWW
The comeback in the game against Lazio truly seems to have been the turnaround point for Milan. They have now collected three wins from three after that, beating Lokomotiv Moskva twice and Torino last weekend (3-0). However, the key remains the rossoneri's stunning form at the San Siro where they have won 9 and tied just 2 games all season, scoring and astounding 22 times while conceding just 5!

Atalanta last 6 (all comps): WWDWDD
A tie against Juventus and a stunning away win against Bologna followed wins against Roma and Modena. However, Atalanta have not been able to break the deadlock thereafter, drawing against Udinese and Lazio in their last two games without scoring a goal. But, it may be of note that Udinese sit in 6th place and Lazio in 4th in the standings, which is evidence of Atalanta's continuous improvement.

PROBABLE LINEUPS
AC Milan (4-3-2-1): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Serginho; Inzaghi

Atalanta (4-4-2): Taibi; Siviglia, Natali, Sala, Bellini; Foglio, Zenoni, Dabo, Doni; Vugrinec, Rossini

Milan-Juve moved forward
28.2 || Seamus

The Scudetto showdown between Milan and Juventus will take place on a Saturday evening.

The League revealed the changes to the upcoming Serie A and B fixtures and the most notable switch sees the San Siro clash brought forward by 24 hours.

Also in Week 26, Udinese welcome Inter in the Sunday evening game, a particularly interesting encounter as the Friuli side have already beaten Hector Cuper’s men this season.

In Week 25, Chievo and Parma will face off at the Stadio Bentegodi in the regular Sunday afternoon slot. Milan and Juventus will again play on a Saturday due to Champions’ League commitments.

Serie A
Week 25
Sat March 15
Reggina-Milan (18.00 local time, 17.00 GMT)
Juventus-Modena (20.30)
Sun March 16
Lazio-Empoli (20.30)

Week 26
Sat March 22
Modena-Reggina (18.00)
Milan-Juventus (20.30)

Tomasson: "Milan can win it all"
28.2 || Seamus

Milan's Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson says the club can 'win it all' this season.

"I am happy to have passed this round in the Champions League," he was quoted as saying on the club's official site. "To qualify for the quarter-finals in Madrid against Real would not have been easy.

"I am convinced that Milan can win it all. The matches against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are two important matches, but now we can concentrate on the Campionato."

The Rossoneri are also in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.

Costacurta wants to stay in soccer
27.2 || Seamus

Veteran Milan defender Billy Costacurta says he wants to stay in soccer when he finally retires from playing the game.

"There is reason for me to like Milan: I want to compete, to win and one day train," he said in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport. "I love Milan and I will stay here for another year. I will stay in soccer because it is the most intelligent street that I have gone down."

Rivaldo impressing Ancelotti more and more
27.2 || Seamus

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has spoken out in praise for his Brazilian star Rivaldo.

"He is more and more impressing," Ancelotti was quoted as saying on the club's official site. "He has shown that, besides his unquestionable quality, he has character and is ready to sacrifice himself for the team. It's a very important side."

Italian fans going too far
27.2 || Seamus

Vieri and Maldini have spoken out against the fans (Getty Images)02/26/2003. After the Italian national soccer team lost to South Korea the first time in World Cup 1966 in England, the fans "welcomed" players home by pelting them with rotten vegetables. And in 1994, disappointed Italian tifosi drew a chalk outline of Roberto Baggio in the street and spat on it after he sent a penalty kick sailing over the crossbar, guaranteeing Brazil a fourth World Cup. Those sorts of incidents might have been crude and degrading, but were fairly harmless. Both could simply be added to the laundry list of proof that Italians are full of passion -- especially for sport. One of the things I love most about my people is that we live and die by the goal. But now we've gone too far, and somebody has to stop us.

Last week, the Italian soccer league -- perhaps, the best in the world -- was again marred by violence when fans tried to raid the field at Stadio Delle Alpi in Torino as struggling Torino was down 3 to nil against highly ranked A.C. Milan. Since then, there has been lots of talk about who is to blame for such demonstrations. The answer? Us. We fans are to blame. And we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Italian League President Adriano Galliani suggested that the media is partially at fault for overanalyzing sport, thinking up conspiracy theories and inciting the masses. But the journalists are merely doing their jobs. They have access to insider information and should make the public aware if and when there is a referee giving preferential treatment, a coach with a conflict of Interests, a player who is hiding a substance abuse problem, etc. Sportscasters are the only way to keep an already politicized organization like the Italian soccer league in check. Besides, part of the joy of being a spectator is playing coach and debating what formation is best, who should be benched and who will be the next Maradona. Journalists give fans a forum for that kind of analysis. Without them, there is no fly on the locker room wall, and we are hopeless. In fact, sans sport's journalists, many people, especially Italians, would have little at all to talk about.

We are making the beautiful sport ugly by acting like savages. This season, we have wreaked havoc -- from an eruption of fan violence during a Como versus Udinese match to Napoli's poor Francesco Baldini, who ended up with a cut to the eye after fans chased him down in his car. Colombian Johnnier Montano of Piacenza's squad was forced to get police protection after fans hassled him on the street because he had missed practice. And these are just a few of the player's who were personally assaulted by their own fans this year.

More recently, some of Italian soccer's best players, including Paolo Maldini and Christian Vieri, have expressed disappointment after their own fans booed their teammates. Some commentators pooh-poohed these sentiments because hissing and jeering have always been a part of healthy competition, and players should be able to take the heat, especially when they're making millions of dollars. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and actually side with the players. The fact is that Maldini's Milan and Vieri's Inter are at the top of the scudetto in Serie A and are among the best teams in the world right now. There is absolutely no reason for their own fans to pick on them, especially when tension inside the stadium, in light of all this violence, is already high.

Frankly, we fans never have any business booing the stars who draw us to the stadium in the first place. We live vicariously through these player's accomplishments. Few, if any, of us have the talent to take the field and perform miracles even once, let alone every Sunday. And that's just what the Maldinis and Vieris of the world attempt to do (and these days they are asked to do it far more frequently than once a week). They are our oxygen, helping us to breathe with every goal and taking our breathe away with every missed opportunity. But take yourselves off their life support right now because, in reality, they are mere mortals -- imperfect men like the rest of us.

They too are bound to have good days and bad. And they don't live solely to serve our selfish needs. Maldini is a husband and father. Vieri is fidanzata and has plenty of family and friends. It's safe to guess that soccer is one of their top passions, but chances are that their lives include more than the game. We don't own them, and we certainly don't have the right to storm the field and potentially harm them simply if they kick the ball crooked one day -- no matter how much higher their salary is than our's.

There was a time when fans and players worked like yin and yang. We were practically part of the team. We lifted players' spirits -- with every roar, we made them stronger even against the toughest of opponents. Forza Italia! Ole! Ole! There was a time when fans were loyal through the wins and the losses. There was a time when our morality and mere etiquette would have prevented us from ripping seats off the bleachers, starting fires, throwing bottles and harassing innocent young men who happen to play soccer professionally. When did a team's own fans become their worst enemies? And why?

I am a big fan of Italian soccer (and my family comes from Napoli). So, I know suffering. I have watched my squads lose in penalties...in the last seconds...to unworthy oppenents...after downright lousy calls. For Pete's sake, Napoli is almost in Serie C and we all know Italy's sad 2002 World Cup fate. From the bleachers or my couch, I cried for -- and with -- those players. But I never, ever considered setting our sacred stadiums ablaze or inflicting bodily harm on anyone. In fact, after Baggio's miss in '94, my paesani and I shed a few tears, sipped some vino and then went outside to play our own game of calcio, a fitting way to mourn our loss and honor our fallen hero.

Now, I only hope I can serve my teams by making the players stronger with my support instead of scared of it. I dream of a day when the players -- rich and poor, from the north of Italy to the south -- will again find inspiration in their fans. When that day arrives, maybe, finally, we fans again will remember how to find inspiration in the players. E facciamo bravi.

SA Guest Editorial by Francesca Di Meglio

Milan set sights on the Final
26.2 || scharatz


Carlo Ancelotti has praised Rivaldo for his contribution to Milan’s Champions’ League campaign and confirms the club wants glory.

“I have no preferences over our opponents in the Quarter-Finals,” commented the Coach after their qualification was sealed in Moscow. “I would not want to face any other Italian sides.”

The Rossoneri became the first team to enter the final eight thanks to four consecutive wins in the second phase.

Rivaldo converted the decisive penalty in the 1-0 victory at Lokomotiv on Tuesday evening and Ancelotti reserved special praise for his Brazilian star.

“Every day he surprises me more and more. He is proving that the qualities we all knew about are only a fraction of his talents. Rivaldo’s work rate, character and willingness to make sacrifices for the team are an example to everyone.”

Milan now face a trip to an increasingly desperate Real Madrid, who only avoided defeat at Borussia Dortmund with a stoppage-time equaliser.

“Seeing as we are already qualified,” noted the tactician, “this could be a very spectacular encounter. We will play in the wonderful Bernabeu Stadium and do not have the pressure of a result hanging over our heads.”

The Rossoneri have already beaten the European Champions at the San Siro earlier this season and will hope to knock their rivals out early.

Pippo Inzaghi is also looking to the future now that Milan are assured of their spot in the knockout stages.

“We are very happy with this win and all it means,” said the striker. “In both qualifying phases we booked passage into the next round with two games to spare.”

With ten goals to his name, Inzaghi is also hoping to win the Golden Boot as top scorer in this competition.

“Our objective is the Final at Old Trafford, but we must reach that goal by keeping our feet on the ground. We’re not there yet.”


Torino get five-match ban
25.2 || scharatz


Torino have been handed a five-match home ban for the crowd trouble in their game with Milan, which has now been confirmed as a 3-0 away victory.

The Serie A tie, which took place on Saturday, was suspended after 60 minutes as police battled with home fans at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

The Rossoneri, who were 3-0 up thanks to goals from Pippo Inzaghi and two from Clarence Seedorf, now move onto 46 points – two behind joint leaders Juventus and Inter.

Torino will now be forced to play their home matches against Reggina, Perugia, Piacenza, Udinese and Empoli on neutral ground.

However, they will play at the Delle Alpi on April 6 against Juventus because they will technically be the away side.

Ancelotti turns attention to Scudetto
25.2 || webmaster

Carlo Ancelotti is looking to the Scudetto chase now that Milan have booked their spot in the Champions’ League Quarter-Finals.


They become the first Italian side since Lazio in 1999-00 to qualify for the final eight.


“We have done very well in this Phase and sealed the passage into the next round early. That is extremely important.”


They needed a point against Lokomotiv Moscow, but came away with a fourth consecutive victory.


“What is even better, we booked our ticket to the Quarters with good play.”


The Rossoneri have won all four qualifying games with a slender 1-0 scoreline, a swift change from their early form.


“Goal-fests are hardly easy in the Second Phase of this competition,” noted Ancelotti, “and all games will be difficult from here on in. Milan are not only able to entertain, but we can make the most of matches when we take the lead.”


There were fears pre-season that this squad was tactically naïve, but Ancelotti and his men have worked through those issues.


“This team really can understand how to react to events during the 90 minutes. They know when to get down to hard work and when to let loose and this was a dangerous trip to Moscow.”


The next match is against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, with Gennaro Gattuso ruled out by a one-match ban, but the Rossoneri must surely now be concentrated on the Scudetto chase.


“It is inevitable that without the absolute need for a result in Europe we can put more of our efforts into the domestic season.”


The timing is particularly good, as Milan will come up against Atalanta, Chievo and Juventus in the next month.


As for the tactics, Andriy Shevchenko was forced out due to a muscular problem this evening, but the pressure is on to play him alongside Pippo Inzaghi.


“Sometimes we can play with two strikers, sometimes we can use attacking wingers like Serginho and Clarence Seedorf. It all depends on our opponents and our fitness situation.”


Inzaghi earned the winning penalty in Moscow, but despite the absence of Andrea Pirlo he did not take the kick.


“It is my decision, not his,” revealed the Coach. “We have a main penalty taker in Andrea Pirlo who is extremely accurate. Then there is Rivaldo, Serginho and Inzaghi.”


“We can’t let him take the spot-kicks as well,” joked the tactician, “otherwise he’ll beat all records in the Champions’ League.”


Meanwhile, Paolo Maldini made history with a record-breaking 118th Champions' League appearance.

Lokomotiv Moscow 0-1 AC Milan - match report
25.2 || webmaster

Scorer: Rivaldo pen 33 (M)

Milan needed just one point to book their Quarter-Final spot, but made it four consecutive 1-0 victories.

The Rossoneri struggled to a 1-0 win at the San Siro and travelled to Moscow without the flu-hit Andrea Pirlo and injured Andriy Shevchenko.

Milan had the first real scoring opportunity on thirteen minutes when Clarence Seedorf flicked on a Rivaldo free kick and the goalkeeper was forced into a difficult save.

The Dutchman had another good chance soon after when he gathered a Serginho cross and tested the reflexes of Ovchinnikov.

Gennaro Gattuso was booked for a handling offence and will miss the trip to Real Madrid.

The match turned on 33 minutes when Pippo Inzaghi was dragged back by Evseev. Penalty taker Pirlo was not on the field, so Rivaldo stepped up to convert.

Inzaghi had the opportunity to double their lead before the break, but drilled wide from a good position.

Seedorf scored a splendid brace against Torino on Saturday and again went close with a free kick, then moments later Inzaghi shook the sidenetting with a low volley.

Lokomotiv threw on striker Pimenov and pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Their finishing left something to be desired, but on 66 minutes Loskov drove just inches over the bar.

There were more penalty appeals when Ignashevich appeared to trip Inzaghi as he ran towards goal, but the referee waved play on.

The home side had their best opportunity seven minutes from time as only a Kakha Kaladze challenge in the box prevented Mnguni latching onto a deflection.

In the final minute Rivaldo and substitute Manuel Rui Costa saw their efforts blocked by defensive bodies.

Lokomotiv Moscow: Ovchinnikov; Sennikov, Nizhegorodov, Ignashevich, Evseev; Maminov, Mnguni; Izmailov, Loskov, Sirkhayev (Pimenov 58); Julio Cesar (Parks 82)

Milan: Dida; Costacurta, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Redondo (Brocchi 75), Seedorf; Rivaldo, Serginho (Rui Costa 86); Inzaghi (Tomasson 84)

Ref: Vassaras (Gre)

Lokomotiv Moscow vs. AC Milan - match preview
25.2 || scharatz

Should Milan beat Lokomotiv in the early game opening Matchday 10, they will become the first team to qualify for the 2003 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. The rossoneri proceeded to the second stage in similar fashion dismissing Lens, Deportivo and then Bayern twice before losing their last two games fielding second-string lineups. Now, they are within their first quarterfinal appearance in eight years!

The Russians however may have other plans on the frigid lands of the north. While the pitch is said to be in reasonably good condition after spending much of the winter under a pitch-blanket, the conditions are sure to favour the home side. Lokomotiv must win, or else they can write-off any hopes of qualifying for the second group stage. What makes the tie even more exciting for the away side however, is that if the other game in the group ends in a draw and Milan win in Moscow, not only will they qualify, they will be group winners with two games to spare.


TEAM NEWS
For Lokomotiv, Vadim Esveev returns from suspension, but Jacob Lekcetho takes his place. Oleg Pashinine seems to have caught the flu and Obiorah is still on the long-term casualty list. The trio of Loskov, Pimenov and Buznikin who at times caused the San Siro outfit trouble will once again be given the responsibility of breaking down the stubborn Milan defence.

Milan are without the injured trio of Roque Jr., Helveg and Shevchenko while Andrea Pirlo was a late withdrawal with the flu. But, Alessandro Nesta returns after missing the weekend clash against Torino. Filippo Inzaghi is once again expected to head the attack supported by Rivaldo and one of Rui Costa or Jon Dahl Tomasson. Skipper Paolo Maldini will lead the defence, appearing tomorrow in a record-breaking 118th European appearance.


FORM GUIDE
Lokomotiv last 6 (all comps): WWWLDL
Lokomotiv's comeback from a long, game less winter has not been good as they struggled and eventually lost to Milan in the San Siro. But, things will be different in the return leg for the Russian champions and they will hope they can pull a big fat bunny out of the bag come Tuesday afternoon.

AC Milan last 6 (all comps): WDLDWW
After a slump in form Milan have picked up their game again. The brilliant comeback against Lazio in the league has now been followed up with a home win against Lokomotiv last week and a 3-0 drubbing of Torino in 60 minutes before the game was suspended due to fan protests from the granata outfit. Milan will eventually be awarded the points.


PROBABLE LINEUPS
Lokomotiv (4-4-2): Ovchinnikov; Nizhegrodov, Drozdov, Ignashevitch, Sennikov; Obradovic, Maminov, Loskov, Esveev; Pimenov, Buznikin

Milan (4-3-2-1): Dida; Simic, Costacurta, Maldini, Kaladze; Seedorf, Redondo, Ambrosini; Tomasson, Rivaldo; Inzaghi

Seedorf attacks press after Torino violence
25.2 || Seamus

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf attacked the press after his side's match with Torino on Saturday was abandoned because of crowd violence.

"I don't know who is to blame but we are all implicated: players, officials and media," he was quoted as saying on the club's official site yesterday.

"Papers only care about increasing their copies, so polemics are fuelled in them. I don't want to blame anyone in particular but I hope my words won't be forgotten early tomorrow. I want to make every football insider aware of these problems.

"We all must become more responsible. In Italy I have seen a radical change: if a paper was credible in the past, now it reports 90 per cent lies. It's a delicate matter: I just think that we are all involved. We had to stop playing when I sent the ball out: at that point Torino players had to face their supporters and talk with them."

Tomasson set for Milan start
25.2 || scharatz

Danish forward Jon Dahl Tomasson is expected to play alongside Pippo Inzaghi against Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday.

The former Feyenoord ace netted the winner in the 1-0 win over the Russians last week and is set to feature again tomorrow evening.

Alessandro Nesta will return to the first team after suffering with a virus but Andrea Pirlo has been left in Italy as he has the flu.


Probable line-ups:

Lokomotiv: Ovchinnikov; Evseev, Nizhegorodov, Pashinin, Sennikov; Ignashevich, Mnguni, Maminov, Loskov; Sirhaev, Pimenov.

Milan: Dida; Simic, Maldini, Nesta, Kaladze; Seedorf, Gattuso, Serginho, Rui Costa; Inzaghi, Tomasson.

Ref: Vassaras (Greece)

Milan looking for qualification
24.2 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti believes Milan’s Scudetto bid would be boosted if his side ensure Champions’ League qualification on Tuesday.

The Rossoneri visit Lokomotiv Moscow tomorrow where another victory will book them a place in the quarter-finals.

"I’ve never been to Moscow before and I hope my side will give me something to remember," said the tactician.

"If we can manage to qualify for the last eight after just four games then that will give us a small advantage in the Serie A race at home."

The Italian outfit have a 100 per cent record in Phase Two so far after wins against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Lokomotiv.

However, Ancelotti will be without Andrea Pirlo for the Russian mission after he withdrew from the squad with flu.

"I’m saddened that Andrea is not with us," added the Coach. "I’ll assess how everyone is feeling before making a decision on who will play."

But Alessandro Nesta does return after he missed the Torino game with illness.

Vice-president Adriano Galliani is also hoping that his club can do what is required to make sure of their place in the next round.

"We want to play a good game and wrap up qualification as soon as we can," stated Galliani. "This is the objective for the game.

"We’re in good form and after our fine second half display against Lazio a few weeks ago we can confidently say that the real Milan are back in business."

Five-match ban for Torino?
23.2 || scharatz

The riot that forced their game with Milan to be abandoned may cost Torino a five-match ban from the Stadio Delle Alpi.

Granata fans appear to have planned the violence as a form of ‘protest’ against their club’s current position in the relegation zone.

Milan were winning 3-0 when the game was stopped after 63 minutes and the points will be handed to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

However, the FA must decide whether to register the victory with a 2-0 result, as is common when games are interrupted due to fan trouble, or retain the original 3-0 scoreline.

With the Scudetto race increasingly tight, goal difference may become precious towards the end of the campaign.

In the past, for example Udinese’s victory at Como, goals scored during an abandoned game do not count for the Capocannoniere charts.

Clarence Seedorf netted twice after Pippo Inzaghi’s opener at the Delle Alpi last night, but it is likely these goals will not join their career statistics.

Returning to the Como encounter that was stopped in Week 12, the bottom of the table club was handed a five-match ban from their home Stadium.

Torino should see a similar, if not more severe as it was a premeditated act, suspension.

New laws to combat hooliganism were introduced this week in Italy and are based on the English model.

Police will be given more powers to deal with violent fans and, more importantly, the justice system can convict and imprison hooligans immediately.

Currently in the Peninsula most soccer thugs are released on bail the same day of their arrest and are rarely given a custodial sentence.

Galliani: Allegations create fan violence
22.2 || scharatz

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has pointed the finger at the press and ordered new laws against hooliganism.

“It is just disgusting. We must all try to come together and do something. Yesterday the Government passed a new law to combat violence in football, but it’s not enough.”

The law hands police new powers in Stadiums and longer sentences for convicted hooligans.

“The law is based on the English legislation to deal with this problem, but I really cannot understand what is in their minds.”

There were reports that Torino fans were planning a protest this evening and it is possible this was premeditated.

“There were no controversial incidents and nothing that would create such anger within the fans. I fear the riot was planned as a protest against Torino.”

However, Galliani – who is also the President of the League representing Serie A and B clubs – believes this was caused by the constant sniping at referees and clubs in the press.

“There are probably people in football who help feed this atmosphere. Certain areas of the press and other club Presidents make comments that attempt to inflame and enrage the supporters.”

“I cannot comment further,” added the Rossoneri chief, “as it would create more controversy. No other country in the world treats football like this when it comes to the phrases they use to discuss errors and incidents.”

The number of violent incidents has risen considerably this year and once again this evening Como President Enrico Preziosi claimed the referees favoured Juventus.

“The fans arrive at the Stadium charged up and over-excited by a week of controversy and allegations of misconduct,” warned Galliani. “Something has to be done.”


Torino 0:3 Milan - match abandoned after 60 minutes
22.2 || scharatz

Inzaghi 2 (M), Seedorf 43, 45 (M)


Milan were well on their way to another victory at the Delle Alpi, but a riot from Torino fans forced the game to be abandoned.

Torino wanted revenge for their 6-0 defeat at the San Siro earlier this season, but the main motivation was their position deep in the relegation zone.

The Rossoneri rested some players ahead of their Champions' League trip to Moscow and lost Alessandro Nesta to a flu virus, while Andriy Shevchenko is struggling with a muscular problem. Serginho made his first start since spraining his ankle in January and helped back lone striker Pippo Inzaghi.

The Brazilian made an immediate impact as within 90 seconds he had created the opening goal. His splendid pass found Paolo Maldini by the back post and the captain cut back in for Inzaghi's close-range finish.

Clarence Seedorf almost doubled their lead on 21 minutes when his splendid volley shook the side-netting.

Torino refused to give in and ex-Rossoneri man Diego De Ascentis tested Dida with a fierce drive, but the build-up work was by Carlos Alberto Marinelli.

Gianluca Comotto looked dangerous on the counter-attack, but a magnificent Maldini challenge dispossessed him as he entered the box.

Milan always seemed able to score and another Serginho centre found the head of Inzaghi, but Luca Mezzano's goalline clearance rescued Toro.

Serginho also earned a free kick from 25 metres and Seedorf curled in a wonderful set-piece just before the break.

The Dutchman made it three in first half stoppage-time with an extremely well-worked goal. Fernando Redondo threaded through for Seedorf and he dribbled past two defenders before slotting in.

The tension rose during the break and the Torino fans managed to smash the glass that divides the crowd from the field. A protest took place outside the Granata headquarters this week and they continued to vent their anger at the increasingly likely relegation.

The situation affected the two teams as they seemed frightened to go near the area of unrest. On 63 minutes the play had to be stopped as tear gas from the riot police spread onto the field.

The players were forced back into the dressing rooms and the referee abandoned the match.



Torino: Manninger; Comotto, Delli Carri, Fattori (Donati 62), Mezzano; De Ascentis, Conticchio (Sommese 46), Vergassola, Castellini; Marinelli; Franco

Milan: Dida; Simic, Costacurta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Redondo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Serginho (Brocchi 60); Inzaghi

Ref: Palanca

Coloccini: "I'd happily return to Milan"
22.2 || Seamus

Atletico Madrid's on-loan Milan defender Fabricio Coloccini says his future is in the Spanish club's hands.

"I've always said that I am grateful to Milan and would happily play for them if they asked me to return," he said.

"But it's really up to Atletico Madrid. They have a purchase option, so if they want me to stay they can sign me.

"I would be delighted to stay with Atletico Madrid. But its up to the two clubs to it sort out at the end of the season."

Torino vs. AC Milan - Match Preview
22.2 || Seamus

With the top three teams all facing rather undemanding fixtures this weekend, it is imperative that Milan demonstrate the imperious form they showed for much of the season and come back from the Stadio Delle Alpi with all three points. With the Juventus-Inter looming the week after, this may be Milan's best opportunity to reclaim the top spot that they lost rather embarrassingly earlier this year.

Milan's best result this season came against this very side, when the rossoneri mauled their opponents 6-0 early in the season. But, ask any Toro fan and they will gently remind you that AC Milan have not beaten Torino in league play at the Delle Alpi in 19 long years! Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear though, that it is time to break that tradition.


TEAM NEWS
Renzo Ulivieri looks set to do what teams have done with great success against this Milan side: defend in numbers. The granata will look to close down the free-flowing Milan attack and limit them as so many others have done. A four-man defence featuring Comotto, Delli Carri, Fattori and Mezzano may just be what is needed. On loan youngster Donati will also be keen to impress his owner club and will be given charge of central midfield. Up front Lucarelli and Franco return from suspension, but it looks like the former will have to make do with a bench spot alongside Marco Ferrante as new recruit Marinelli will play just behind Franco.

Carlo Ancelotti is without Roque Jr., Helveg and Chamot in defence, but Simic returns at right back while the changes are rung in midfield to allow rotation. Gattuso, Redondo and Seedorf replace Brocchi, Pirlo and Ambrosini. Rivaldo once again finds himself on the bench, but another Brazilian, Serginho will play alongside Rui Costa in attack in a supporting role to the sole forward, Pippo Inzaghi. Andriy Shevchenko is still recovering from his niggling thigh strain and so Leonardo and Tomasson will provide extra firepower if needed.


FORM GUIDE
Torino last 6 (all comps): DDDLDD
Torino may have only two wins all season long, but at least they have stopped losing to a certain extent. The granata have now lost only two in their last nine games and while the remainder have all ended in draws, it is surely better than nothing.

AC Milan last 6 (all comps): LWDLDW
Milan's form has been haywire in the New Year. They have only taken four out of a possible twelve points in the second half of the season, which is hardly the formula for Scudetto glory. The away form has been a cause of great worry after they have lost both their away games recently.


PROBABLE LINEUPS
Torino (4-4-1-1): Manninger; Comotto, Delli Carri, Fattori, Mezzano; De Ascentis, Donati, Vergassola, Castellini; Marinelli; Franco

AC Milan (4-3-2-1): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Redondo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Serginho; Inzaghi

Ancelotti fears Toro vengeance
22.2 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti believes the 6-0 drubbing at the San Siro will fire Torino up for revenge in tonight's game.

Milan humiliated the once glorious side earlier this season and they have since dropped to second from bottom in Serie A, but the Rossoneri have also struggled of late.

“I don’t think our performance against Lokomotiv Moscow was disappointing,” he said of the 1-0 midweek win.

“We risked very little at the back and created plenty of chances. It wasn’t the most fast-paced game in the world, but that was to be expected.”

The Champions’ League has resumed and it is inevitable it will have an effect on their Serie A campaign.

There are also injury worries to contend with as Andriy Shevchenko is out for another week with a muscular problem, while Massimo Ambrosini is also not 100 per cent fit.

“I would have preferred to have the team less tired to take on Torino,” noted the former Juventus boss, “but you need more than sparkling fitness levels for this kind of match.”

“You need inventiveness, hard work and enthusiasm. We will base our performance on those qualities.”

Torino will place most of their attention on the physical side of their game and the anger at recent results that have left them desperate for points.

“Toro are in a delicate position,” added Ancelotti, “and that will give them extra motivation to do well.”

“I hope revenge for the 6-0 result is not in their minds. Milan only did their duty on the field, it was nothing personal.”

However, many things have changed since that game in October. Renzo Ulivieri replaced Giancarlo Camolese on the bench and Torino signed Carlos Alberto Marinelli from Middlesbrough.

“I expect them to defend and hit us on the break, but I am worried by Marinelli,” admitted the tactician. “This will be tough.”

The history books also provide a distressing sight as Milan have not won in Turin since 1984

Milan Beckham bid "not worth it"
21.2 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti assures he would not find room for David Beckham in his superstar Milan line-up.

“In my ideal squad,” commented the Coach, “there would be no space for Beckham. I mean that sincerely.”

The Manchester United star has been linked to the Rossoneri in the past and the rumour resurfaced following his spat with Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, the tactician maintains signing the player this summer would be a waste of money.

“It is Milan’s intention to always improve the team and bring in more players who will raise the level of quality in the side. But Beckham is not needed here.”

“In order to make the England star play,” noted Ancelotti, “we would have to change our whole style. I frankly don’t think it’s worth the bother.”

The reports emerged this week when Vice-President Adriano Galliani told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ that one major star would arrive at the end of this season.

Galliani hinted it would be another “player who has good feet and technique.”

Tomasson thrilled by winner
21.2 || Seamus

Jon Dahl Tomasson was delighted after scoring the goal that brought AC Milan victory over FC Lokomotiv Moskva, their third successive win in UEFA Champions League Group C. "I am really happy that I scored because there are so many good players at the club so it is important to score when you play," he said.

'Easy goal'
Tomasson pounced on a rebound from Sergey Ovchinnikov on 62 minutes after the Lokomotiv goalkeeper had blocked Filippo Inzaghi's initial effort. "It was an easy goal for me to score but the important thing for a striker is to be in the right place at the right time," added the Danish international.

Lively Tomasson
Coach Carlo Ancelotti was also pleased with his striker as Milan had looked like running out of options against a stubborn Lokomotiv side by the time the Dane scored. Ancelotti said: "He was very lively and he scored a goal - and that is the main job for an attacker. They live to score goals and he did just that tonight."

Looking good
Ancelotti added that he was pleased with his side's overall performance, which might not have been as fluent as the fans have come to expect from Milan this season, but was still enough to give them their third consecutive 1-0 win in the competition. Ancelotti said: "I have to be pleased. We have won a game in the Champions League and our position in the group looks good.

'Difficult game'
"It was a difficult game for us. We played a tough match against [S.S.] Lazio on Sunday night and we could feel the effects of that in the second half. We tried to play with rhythm and managed to do that, especially in the second half."

Tough task
Lokomotiv had not played a competitive game for two months prior to this match and their task was made harder by the fact that, save for the injured Andriy Shevchenko, Ancelotti fielded more or less every attacking player available: Rivaldo, Inzaghi, Tomasson and Rui Costa all played from the start.

Three-man defence
Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin, meanwhile, opted for a three-man defence consisting of Gennady Nizhegodorov, Oleg Pashinin and Dmitri Sennikov and the trio, with the aid of five hard-working midfield players, coped with everything Milan threw at them for the first hour.

'High intensity'
It was not until Tomasson's goal in the 62nd minute that Milan found a way of breaching the stubborn Lokomotiv defence. Semin, while disappointed, refused to reproach his players and said: "We found it difficult to get going after not playing a proper game for two months and this was a game with high intensity. But all my players had the right will and they tried their hardest."

Attacking desire
Semin tried to change the pattern of play in the second period by throwing on two attacking players in the shape of Marat Izmailov and the Costa Rican Winston Parks - but to no avail. "We wanted to attack more in the second half and made attacking substitutions but it wasn't to be," Semin added.

'World-class Milan'
Lokomotiv now have one point after three games in Group C and Semin admits that it will be difficult to add to that tally when the two teams meet again next week. He concluded: "Every game against a team like Milan is difficult, whether it is at home or away, because they have so many world-class players - and they showed that tonight."

By Marcus Christenson

Serginho: "Rui Costa hissing is nonsense"
21.2 || Seamus

Milan's Brazilian left-sider Serginho has defended Manuel Rui Costa after he was hissed by the club's fans against Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday.

"The quality of our team is out of question and the worth of our players too," the club's official site quoted him as saying in the Corriere dello Sport. "I think it's even more nonsensical that a star like Rui Costa is hissed. You can't forget what he did for Milan and throughout his career."

Maldini questions Milan fans
21.2 || Seamus

Milan captain Paolo Maldini was unhappy with the whistling that the team received against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"We are first, and by now nearly characterised in Europe," he said. "In the championship we are two points from the summit. We are in the semi-finals of the Italian Cup. But we get booed anyway. And this year we do not deserve it. We are by now arriving at the crucial part of the season and can gain a lot, indeed, perhaps all. But our public would have to be with us and not against."

Manuel Rui Costa and Jon Dahl Tomasson were two of those players targeted.

Milan rejected Real Shev bid
21.2 || Seamus

Adriano Galliani has revealed that Milan turned down a £50m offer from Real Madrid for Andriy Shevchenko.

The Ukrainian international has been linked with a move to the Spaniards but Galliani maintains that his future remains with the Rossoneri.

"Andriy has never said that he is unhappy at this club and hasn’t hinted that he would want a move away," the Vice-president told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ on Friday.

"We have turned down a £50m bid from Real Madrid in the past and Shevchenko has told President Silvio Berlusconi himself that he wants to remain here.

"I don’t know how many people are aware of this but Andriy has a very close relationship with the President. They often speak about a variety of things."

Berlusconi is a massive fan of Shev and has often called for boss Carlo Ancelotti to dump his rotation system in order to always play the striker alongside Pippo Inzaghi.

And Shevchenko himself told a Ukrainian newspaper yesterday that he would stay at his current club.

"There are teams that are interested in me, including Real, but I am really happy in Milan," he told ‘Fatky’. "Life here is great and that is important to me."

Shevchenko has also been linked with moves to Manchester United and Roma this summer as rumours of unrest at Milanello continue.

Costacurta signs until 2004
20.2 || webmaster

Alessandro Costacurta looks set to end his career with Milan after he signed a new one-year deal at the club.

The veteran defender, now 37, thought that his days with the Rossoneri had come to an end last season when his contract expired.

However, Milan’s defensive problems in pre-season saw the former international recalled to the club for one more campaign.

And his form has been so good that the San Siro giants want him to remain until at least the end of next season.

The Varese-born ace started his career with Milan in 1985 and has been at the club ever since, even if he spent the 1986/87 season on loan at Monza.

The Costacurta deal comes just days after Coach Carlo Ancelotti extended his stay until 2005. Captain Paolo Maldini is also in talks regarding a new contract.

Milan are Real deal
20.2 || scharatz

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani has likened his side to Real Madrid after their latest win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Rossoneri beat their Russian opponents 1-0 last night which leaves them on the verge of the Champions’ League quarter-finals and with a very happy Galliani.

"Today Milan played like Real Madrid," exclaimed the San Siro official. "We played with a similar shape to the Spaniards and put in a good display.

"Now all that we need to do is go to Moscow and finish off the job. If we win there next week then we are through."

Milan had to thank Danish international Jon Dahl Tomasson last night as his second-half goal ensured that the club maintained their 100 per cent record in Phase Two.

The victory over Lokomotiv was their third after defeating Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund earlier this season.

Ancelotti aiming for the Treble
20.2 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti maintains Milan are hoping for the Grand Slam this season after seeing off Lokomotiv Moscow.

“We aim to go all the way in all competitions and do our duty for the Scudetto, Champions’ League and Coppa Italia.”

The Rossoneri seem more impressive on the continent than in Serie A.

“This Milan outfit has tended to struggle against teams that defend with ten men,” noted the tactician. “So far in the Champions’ League we have encountered relatively attacking opponents.”

The Russians aimed to defend the goalless result and it took an hour to break them down at the San Siro.

“We had a few chances in the first half and overall did quite well, even if the rhythm was not as good as I would have hoped.”

“The start to the second half was certainly more impressive and closer to the intensity shown against Lazio on Sunday.”

Serginho’s introduction gave Milan new pace, vigour and width after the first period provided mainly central efforts.

“Even with that formation we created several good scoring opportunities, especially with Manuel Rui Costa, but Serginho has different characteristics and bases his game on pace.”

“Mind you,” he added, “the Brazilian was also helped by the fact we were 1-0 up when he came on and therefore found more space.”

Jon Dahl Tomasson netted the winner and Ancelotti assured he would not agree to sell the Dane this summer.

“I think that Tomasson is our best player at getting away from his marker. He had a good game and although he doesn’t always get to feature, when he is called this forward is ready.”

Serginho made his comeback after a month out with a sprained ankle and proved very impressive.

“Lokomotiv had come here to get a draw and sat back a great deal,” noted the Brazilian. “After the break we tried to spread our play out wide a bit better and it made the difference.”

Moscow were not to be underestimated as they drew 2-2 at the Bernabeu before the Winter break.

“We saw their game at Real Madrid and knew it would be tough as they are very good at counter-attacking play.”

Serginho is often used as a substitute to spice up a match and again took on that role this evening.

“I am a player and obviously would love to start, but we all understand this is a big squad and we are ready when the team needs us.”

In fact, Serginho almost scored on his comeback as a solo effort rattled the woodwork.

“It almost went in, but I am content with my own performance and that of the team. These were important points.”


AC Milan 1:0 Lokomotiv Moscow
19.2 || scharatz

Tomasson 62 (M)


Milan maintained their 100 per cent record in Phase Two with a win over Lokomotiv Moscow.
Carlo Ancelotti resumed the 4-2-3-1 formation with Pippo Inzaghi the lone striker due to Andriy Shevchenko's muscular problem.

The Rossoneri pushed forward continually, but Inzaghi failed to make the most of some good opportunities. Lokomotiv relied largely on the counter-attack and a late Paolo Maldini challenge barred the path of Maminov's drive.

There was controversy on 27 minutes when Jon Dahl Tomasson fell under what appeared to be a shirt tug from Sennikov, but the referee waved play on.

Soon after a Manuel Rui Costa solo effort shaved the crossbar, then the Portuguese international set up Tomasson, but he let the chance go begging.

The first chance of the second half came on 57 minutes as Maminov lost the ball, but Tomasson's shot was parried by the compact Russian defence.

Milan eventually broke through on the hour mark when a long Rui Costa pass found Inzaghi, but his shot was parried into the path of Tomasson for a tap-in.

Serginho has been out for over a month with a sprained ankle and made his comeback for the last half-hour.

The Brazilian made a strong comeback and his solo effort rattled the crossbar.

In stoppages Inzaghi was put through alone on goal, but somehow fired straight at the goalkeeper.



Milan: Dida; Brocchi (Simic 79), Nesta, Costacurta, Maldini; Gattuso, Pirlo; Tomasson (Seedorf 68), Rui Costa (Serginho 63), Rivaldo; Inzaghi

Lokomotiv Moscow: Ovchinnikov; Pashinin, Nizhegorodov, Ignashevich (Parks 83); Obradovic, Sennikov, Loskov, Maminov, Lekgetho; Pimenov, Buznikin (Izmaylov 46)

Ref: Veissiere (Fra)

Milan test strength in depth
19.2 || Seamus

AC Milan will be without striker Andriy Shevchenko as they strive to maintain their 100 per cent record in the UEFA Champions League second group stage against FC Lokomotiv Moskva at the San Siro stadium on Wednesday night.

'A lot of options'
The Ukrainian international suffered a thigh injury in Sunday's 2-2 league draw against S.S. Lazio and will sit out the Group C fixture. However, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted his team could cope without the Ukrainian international, telling Tuesday's press conference: "We have a lot of options in attack and there are players ready to step in. No player in the team is irreplaceable."

Ancelotti wary
Milan are the favourites having beaten Real Madrid CF and BV Borussia Dortmund in their first two group games. Ancelotti, though, is taking nothing for granted. He said: "There are no easy games in the Champions League and Lokomotiv have shown they are a good side. We saw that against Real Madrid in Madrid when they got a draw in a game they could have won. They are very good defensively - they defend with all eleven players, and are powerful and quick on the counterattack. It will be a difficult game."

Weekend comeback
The Rossoneri are in upbeat mood after staging a remarkable second-half comeback against Lazio. Filippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo scored as the home team came from two goals down to rescue a point. Ancelotti said: "I want to see the same Milan I saw in the second half against Lazio. That was the best we have played so far and if we have the same attitude against Lokomotiv we will do well."

Inzaghi to start
Ancelotti has question marks against Massimo Ambrosini, Kakha Kaladze and Andrea Pirlo, all of whom picked up knocks at the weekend. Yet Brazilian winger Serginho could return after a month out injured. Inzaghi, meanwhile, is certain to start up front with either Rivaldo or Jon Dahl Tomasson in support.

Lokomotiv short of action
Lokomotiv have not had a competitive game since that impressive 2-2 draw in Madrid back in December. Russia's Premier-Liga is on its winter break and resumes only in March. Consequently, the Railwaymen have been in Italy preparing for the tie with friendlies against lower-league opposition - Castelnuovo Garfagnana US, Florentia Viola and Prato AC. However, coach Yuri Semin admitted a lack of first-team action could affect his players.

'Friendlies not the same'
Semin said: "There are several difficulties for us regarding this game and one of them is that we haven't played a competitive match for two months. We have played friendlies but it is not the same thing. I am hoping my team will compensate for this with willpower. We have to see this game as a challenge rather than a problem."

Trio offer options
The trainer is without injured Nigerian forward James Obiorah and midfield player Vadim Evseev, who is suspended. But he is not without options: Lokomotiv added Costa Rican forward Winston Parks, goalkeeper Platon Zakharchuk and defender Vladislav Khatazhenkov to their squad this winter. Having lost against Dortmund on Matchday 7, they will also want to add to the point garnered from the trip to Madrid.

Semin realistic
Whether they can do so in Milan on Wednesday, remains to be seen. Semin, for one, knows it will not be easy. "I can’t see any weaknesses in this Milan side, they are one of the best sides in Europe," he said.

By Marcus Christenson

AC Milan vs. Lokomotiv Moscow - match preview
18.2 || webmaster

On November 21st, 2002 Lokomotiv Moskva were crowned Champions of Russia for the first time in their history. But, that means that the Russians are yet to play a league match since then which puts them in an awkward position ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match against AC Milan.

Milan have been one of the finest Champions League performers this season, sweeping through a group made up of Bayern, Deportivo and Lens before beating Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to take charge of their current group. The side have saved their best form for Europe and Matchday 9 will be a good test of their ability to continue where they left off. A win would propel them close to a quarterfinal berth, while a loss could signal the start of a negative period.

Lokomotiv on the other hand, have to contend with lack of match practice. For them, it might be a little harder to reproduce the form of 2002 that saw them qualify for the second group stage and then produce an outstanding draw at the Santiago Bernebau on the last Matchday. Lokomotiv have only a point so far however, and will need to at least get a draw at the San Siro to have any hope of qualifying for the quarterfinals.


TEAM NEWS
Carlo Ancelotti is unsure whether to play one or two strikers. One thing is sure though, Manuel Rui Costa will return to the starting line-up having sat out a few Serie A games. The most likely line-up could see two playmakers supporting Champions League goal machine Filippo Inzaghi with Andrea Pirlo taking up the role of the deep-seated playmaker. Paolo Maldini returns to marshal the defence after sitting out the league game against Lazio due to suspension.

Yuri Semine will field a line-up similar to the one he fielded in Madrid. Dmitri Loskov will once again be the brain behind the Lokomotiv attacks and the serious injury to Nigerian Obiorah means that Pimenov will be alone up front. Ghanaian Baba Adamu was released from his contract, but another new face, Costa Rican Parks may make his debut for his new club given that he is the only one with some Italian experience (he was signed by Udinese Calcio and played on loan with Ascoli before joining Lokomotiv).


FORM GUIDE
AC Milan last 6 (all comps): WLWDLD
Milan have struggled in the league in the new season and seemed destined for another loss this weekend at home to Lazio. But, the rossoneri bounced back in style in the second half of the game and showed signs of the same devastating form that lead them to the top of European and domestic football earlier this season. They finally grabbed a deserved 2-2 draw after being 0-2 down.

Lokomotiv Moskva last 6 (all comps): WWWWLD
Lokomotiv's form counts for little since their last competitive match over two months ago. However, it may be noted that it may just turn out to be in their favour as they definitely will not be suffering from the sort of hectic schedule that Milan suffer from.


PROBABLE FORMATIONS
AC Milan (4-3-2-1): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Rui Costa, Serginho; Inzaghi

Lokomotiv Moskva (4-5-1): Ovchinnikov; Nizhegrodov, Lekcetho, Ignashevitch, Pachinine; Maminov, Julio Cesar, Loskov, Evseev, Mnguni; Pimenov

Sheva out of Lokomotiv clash
18.2 || Seamus

Andriy Shevchenko will not feature against Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday because of a slight thigh strain.

The Ukrainian picked up the problem in Milan’s 2-2 draw with Lazio on Sunday but won’t be risked in the Champions’ League game tomorrow night.

"Lokomotiv are a good side but there is no point in taking any risks with Shevchenko," said boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"I’ve seen the Moscow side a lot of times and they played particularly well against Real Madrid in their last European game. They were in fact unlucky not to win that match.

"They know how to defend as a unit and are very dangerous on the counter-attack. But I am hopeful that my side will perform as they did in the second-half against Lazio."

The tactician admitted that he still hasn’t made his mind up over his starting XI because he does have a few injury worries.

"I still have doubts," he admitted. "Especially because both Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini have a few fitness problems."

Ancelotti added that he also may decide to field Cristian Brocchi as an attacking right-back after his encouraging display against Lazio.

The Rossoneri will also be without reserve ‘keeper Christian Abbiati after he twisted his ankle in training earlier today.

Milan have won both of their games in Phase Two so far as Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund failed to halt the Rossoneri’s European march.

Maldini to accept new deal
18.2 || Seamus

Paolo Maldini is to accept a cut in wages in return for a new one-year contract at Italian giants Milan.

Maldini’s current deal expires this summer but the 34-year-old has admitted that negotiations have commenced about his future.

"We’ve talked about my contract even if we haven’t spoken about money yet," he told Milan Channel. "I’m open to the idea of accepting a new one-year deal.

"In cases like these I think it is important to speak to the players individually because we are aware that this is the road that we must go down to try to solve this financial crisis we are in."

The former Italy captain was brought up through the Milan youth system and made his debut for the Rossoneri in 1985.

He’s been a key member of the side ever since and has won every major honour with the San Siro giants.

The proposed cut in Maldini’s salary comes just days after boss Carlo Ancelotti accepted a lower wage structure in his new contract which ties him to the club until 2005.

Berlusconi on the attack
17.2 || scharatz

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has been told to always play with two strikers by President Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian Prime Minister made the comment after last night’s 2-2 draw with Lazio, in which Rivaldo started the game supporting lone striker Andriy Shevchenko.

"A side like Milan always needs to field two main strikers," he said. "Rivaldo is a player that is used to playing deep which makes it easier for a defence to close down only one forward.

"With two strikers there are more opportunities to become dangerous. Milan always play to win therefore two forward players are a necessity.

"Ancelotti knows this and asked Rivaldo to play a lot closer to Shevchenko but we all saw that the Brazilian doesn’t have those characteristics."

Berlusconi’s comments are given greater significance with the fact that the game turned after the entrance of Pippo Inzaghi at half-time.

With the Italian and Shevchenko up front, the Rossoneri came from two goals down to grab a deserved draw.

"Let’s say that the fight-back was only half complete," added Berlusconi who bought Milan back in 1985.

"I saw a great spirit in the side. They showed an amazing amount of character and in the end we could have even won it."

AC Milan 2:2 SS Lazio
17.2 || scharatz

Stankovic 21 (L), Lopez pen 30 (L), Inzaghi 62 (M), Rivaldo 70 (M)


Rivaldo completed an incredible comeback to catch Lazio at the San Siro as the title race remains wide open.

Milan could catch Inter and Juventus at the top of the table with a win, while Lazio would remain as dark horses for the Scudetto.

Alessandro Costacurta stepped in for the suspended Paolo Maldini, while they experimented a 4-2-3-1 formation with Andriy Shevchenko as the lone striker. Manuel Rui Costa and Pippo Inzaghi were rested.

Sinisa Mihajlovic also made his comeback two months after suffering a thigh strain. Lazio are unbeaten away this season and Milan have not yielded at home, so this was bound to be an intriguing and open match.

Both sides had an aggressive start and after just four minutes Claudio Lopez curled inches over the bar on the counter-attack.

Shevchenko has a long history of scoring against the Biancocelesti and dribbled past three defenders before Angelo Peruzzi blocked his shot by the near post.

Lazio were particularly dangerous on the break and opened the scoring on 21 minutes. Dida managed to parry a close-range Claudio Lopez effort, but could do nothing on the Dejan Stankovic follow-up into the roof of the net.

Roberto Mancini's men became increasingly confident and put them under pressure all over the pitch.

Milan tried to fight back and Shevchenko nodded a Dario Simic centre over the bar, but moments later referee Pierluigi Collina pointed to the spot. Bernardo Corradi fell under a challenge from Alessandro Nesta, though the foul was not particularly clear. Claudio Lopez converted to double Lazio's lead.

The Rossoneri kept coming forward and Massimo Ambrosini's header went just wide, but that left Lazio even more space for their counter-attacks and Dario Simic made a decisive challenge on Lopez.

Shevchenko set up a great chance for Rivaldo before the break, but it was not on his favoured left foot and the Brazilian failed to make the most of it.

Carlo Ancelotti had to make changes and introduced Inzaghi and Martin Laursen for Gennaro Gattuso and the injured Kakha Kaladze.

They were immediately more aggressive and Peruzzi only turned out Inzaghi's low drive with his feet.

The opening minutes were a siege on the Lazio goal, but Rivaldo and Seedorf failed to get the final ball on target.

On 56 minutes a delicate Pirlo cross merely skimmed Shevchenko's forehead from less than a metre out of the goal.

There was controversy soon after as Ambrosini fell under a Mihajlovic challenge in the box and the two had to be separated as the midfielder demanded a spot-kick.

They finally broke through on 62 minutes. Rivaldo ducked on Seedorf's pass over the defence and Inzaghi rolled his body around Giuseppe Favalli to slot home.

Moments later Stankovic rattled the crossbar with a piledriver from 30 metres.

Milan had another two chances to score but Simic saw his shot blocked by bodies, while Ambrosini and Rivaldo drilled wide from distance.

The draw was coming and Inzaghi stole the ball in midfield, charged up the left flank and found the unmarked Rivaldo to sweep home in the centre.

Lazio famously lost a 3-0 lead to Inter earlier this season, ending in a 3-3 draw, and the shadows of that game came back to haunt them.

The Rossoneri kept on pushing, but in the same move Shevchenko just failed to turn in twice.

Lazio remained dangerous on the counter-attack and Dida needed two attempts to block Cesar's effort.

Stankovic injured himself during a wayward shot from distance and made way for Fabio Liverani.

In the final minute of normal play Rivaldo's angled drive shaved the far post, but Lazio also went close and it was open to any result.

Into stoppages and the siege continued with Shevchenko, Rivaldo and Inzaghi efforts charged down from close range.


Milan: Dida; Simic (Brocchi 68), Nesta, Costacurta, Kaladze (Laursen 46); Gattuso (Inzaghi 46), Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Rivaldo; Shevchenko

Lazio: Peruzzi; Stam, Negro (Oddo 73), Mihajlovic (Pancaro 68), Favalli; Fiore, Giannichedda, Stankovic (Liverani 78), Cesar; Corradi, Lopez

Ref: Collina

Ancelotti extends Milan stay
15.2 || webmaster

Carlo Ancelotti has agreed a pay cut in order to sit on the Rossoneri bench until June 2005, confirmed the club.


“The contract has been extended,” revealed Vice-President Adriano Galliani, “but the wage terms lowered. I think all clubs should take this step to help ease the financial crisis.”


The tactician took over from Fatih Terim last season, but has truly made an impact during the current campaign.


Milan are in contention for the Scudetto, Champions’ League and Coppa Italia, bringing back memories of the great 1990’s squad that Ancelotti played in.


“Together with Carlo we have gone through good times and bad,” continued Galliani. “It is not always possible to win in this sport. Things are going well right now, but even if the future hands us setbacks we will deal with them alongside Ancelotti.”


The Coach himself also expressed his joy at this new deal following experiences at Parma and Juventus.


“I am very happy,” he told a press conference, “but I wouldn’t say the move was reassuring. There was no need for that as I always felt secure in my place at Milan.”


Ancelotti also revealed the background to the negotiations.


“It took about 30 seconds to work out terms. We seem to agree on everything here and I intend to stay at the San Siro for a long time. I cannot think of a better place to work in.”

Rossoneri promise fireworks
15.2 || scharatz

Milan's attacking stars suggest the similar attacking styles between themselves and Lazio will ensure an entertaining encounter.

“Lazio have more or less the same kind of system as we do,” noted Manuel Rui Costa. “There will be no open team against a side locked down in defence. It will be a test to see who is better at what we do.”

The Rossoneri have shown a tendency to struggle against opponents that batten down the hatches and are aggressive in midfield, so the pace of Roberto Mancini’s men should give viewers an intriguing game.

The 1-0 defeat at Perugia last Sunday was an example of these difficulties, but Andriy Shevchenko poured water on reports of a Milan crisis.

“We didn’t play disastrously badly last week,” commented the Ukrainian. “Fabrizio Miccoli scored a wonderful goal and we lost, but the initiative was constantly with our men.”

The result may prompt Carlo Ancelotti to resume the 4-3-2-1 formation that started the season so well and Shevchenko is tipped to turf out Pippo Inzaghi.

“It is very hard to play upfront when your opponents close down all the spaces and against Perugia I was forced to move out wide. It would be easier with just one striker up there who could move about.”

Rivaldo played for 90 minutes in the midweek international friendly with Brazil, a 0-0 draw in China, so he may be rested ahead of the Champions’ League clash with Lokomotiv Moscow.

Andrea Pirlo should return to the midfield, although Serginho is still in doubt to make his comeback from a sprained ankle.


Shevchenko happy to play out wide
14.2 || Seamus

Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko says he was happy to be played in a wider role in the 1-0 defeat to Perugia last weekend.

"The main problem is that we lost last Sunday, not that we played poorly," he told Milan channel. "Miccoli scored a great goal but we always had the grip on the game.

"I had more space playing on the wing. When you face teams who masse en defence, it's difficult to be in the forward line. On Sunday the coach asked me to play in that position and I was glad to do it, considering that Sergio (Serginho) was missing and we had few chances to break down the flanks."

Nesta eyes Lazio win
13.2 || scharatz


Alessandro Nesta says that victory against former club Lazio will kick-start Milan’s title ambitions.

The Rossoneri have struggled of late after losing two of their last three games but the stopper is hopeful for the future.

"We play Lazio on Sunday and that provides us with a great chance to erase the recent disappointments," he said.

The game will also be an emotional affair for the Azzurri star after he was sold by the capital outfit to Milan in the summer.

However, Nesta is playing down the encounter. "I now consider it a normal game," he added. "For me it doesn’t matter whether we play Lazio or Roma. I’m just thinking of Milan."

But the 26-year-old admits that he was affected by the jeers he received from the Lazio fans earlier this season.

"When we played them at the Olimpico I was whistled quite heavily and to be honest that hurt," he stated.

Nesta, a life long Lazio fan, was brought up through the youth ranks but was sacrificed to try to ease the Roman club’s financial problems.

Silvio Berlusconi wants nail-biting football
12.2 || Seamus

- AC Milan president and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would like to see more substitutions and penalty shootouts to make more of a spectacle of soccer and increase television audiences.


"I would like it if we were able to make more substitutions and if matches that had finished as draws could be decided on penalties," the businessman turned politician told sports weekly Controcampo on Monday.


"When a televised match goes to penalties at the end of normal and extra time, the audience share goes through the roof," continued Berlusconi, whose family controls Italy's Mediaset network of television stations.


Among Berlusconi's other proposals were matches timed according to the ball in play, a second referee, and a tightening up of the rules regarding penalties, which he believed were awarded too lightly.


Some of his past proposals had been put into practice, Berlusconi said, but change happened slowly.


"The world of football is a closed world, where they (the administrators) think little about the people who really count - that's to say the fans and the spectators."


"When all's said and done, though, it's fine as it is," he continued.


"With all its faults football is already beautiful enough, because it's a metaphor for life".

Milan Are Watching Me, Says Grella
12.2 || Seamus

Empoli star Vincenzo Grella says that Milan are paying close attention to his performances.

"From now until April they are basically watching me 24 hours a day," he said.

"I had a great game against them which helped everything."

Juventus are also chasing the Australian.

Milan Move In For Makelele
12.2 || Seamus

According to reports, Milan are set to make a bid for Real Madrid midfielder Claude Makelele.

Acting Rossoneri president Adriano Galliani has already approached the Spanish club, according to Marca.

The Frenchman is unhappy with what he is currently being paid by the European Cup winners, although is negotiating a new contract.

He has previously been linked with Inter.

Perugia 1-0 AC Milan (league) - match report
10.2 || webmaster

Scorer: Miccoli 35 (P)

Giant-killers Perugia take another scalp after beating Inter and Juventus in this Stadium.

It was a bright start with early chances for both teams. Dida saved a Zisis Vryzas header and on the counter-attack Manuel Rui Costa threaded through for Pippo Inzaghi, but the striker fired straight at the 'keeper.

Fabrizio Miccoli was ready to grab the headlines after his first call-up to the Azzurri and was dangerous with a fierce piledriver.

On 18 minutes Miccoli fell in the box, but immediately admitted he had dived and was promptly booked.

Soon after Manuele Blasi's deflected rocket from 30 metres was fingertipped out for a corner.

But Perugia took the lead in truly spectacular fashion with Miccoli proving precisely why he has been called to the Italy squad just five months after his Serie A debut. The tiny forward thumped a dipping effort from 30 metres that slotted just under the crossbar, leaving Dida with no chance.

The Rossoneri tried to fight back before the break, but the Grifoni were organised in defence and prevented any real shots on goal.

In the second half it turned into a siege on Zeljko Kalac's net, but Clarence Seedorf somehow ballooned over from eight yards and Inzaghi wasted two golden opportunities, one of which saw him fire wide of an open goal as Kalac had been left stranded.

Andrea Pirlo was introduced in place of Fernando Redondo to spice up the midfield, while Jon Dahl Tomasson gave them extra height upfront.

Paolo Maldini was booked and will miss next week's showdown with Lazio, but in the final minutes Shevchenko's angled drive shaved the far post and some desperate attacking play kept Perugia under constant pressure. In stoppage time Tomasson's effort was cleared off the line by Ze Maria.

Perugia: Kalac; Sogliano, Di Loreto, Milanese; Zè Maria, Tedesco, Blasi, Fusani, Grosso (Pagliuca 75); Vryzas, Miccoli (Berrettoni 80)

Milan: Dida; Roque Junior (Costacurta 52), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Redondo (Pirlo 58), Seedorf; Rui Costa; Inzaghi (Tomasson 67), Shevchenko

Ref: Dondarini

Milan join Legrottaglie queue
10.2 || Seamus

Milan could pip Roma for the services of Chievo defender Nicola Legrottaglie at the end of the season.

The Italian international had looked almost certain to move to the capital but the Rossoneri have now joined the chase.

Reports in Italy suggest that the Milanese giants will make their move if they fail to land Jaap Stam from Lazio.

The Dutchman has long been linked with Milan but speculation over the past month claims that Juventus are now in pole for the former Manchester United stopper.

Legrottaglie will definitely leave Chievo in the summer after his remarkable displays for the Verona club this term.

The centre-back made his international debut last November and is again in the squad to face Portugal on Wednesday.

Roma did make an attempt to sign the 26-year-old in January but were unable to convince the Stadio Bentegodi outfit to release the player in mid-season.

Berlusconi - "Milan didn't play badly"
10.2 || Seamus

Milan president Silvio Berlusoni, in an interview with 'Controcampo', said that he didn't think the Rossoneri played badly in yesterday's 1-0 defeat at Perugia.

"A delicious and lucky shot from small Miccoli," the club's official site quoted him as saying in the paper. "As for their performance, the Rossoneri did not do badly, especially in midfield, but they didn't create many goalscoring chances. The same problem of the last few weeks: we must find different solutions to break and find the net."

Milan pull out all the stops
9.2 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti looks to his star players and superior fitness levels for Milan's tricky trip to Perugia this afternoon.

“Serse Cosmi’s men are very organised,” noted the tactician, “and in recent weeks sides such as Inter and Juventus have been beaten at the Stadio Curi.”

This will be the second time in four days that the two teams have played each other here as Thursday’s Coppa Italia Semi-Final ended goalless.

“We have the opportunity to field a different line-up to the one that played on Thursday,” revealed Ancelotti, “and that could give us a crucial advantage when it comes to stamina and pace.”

The rotation system has been decisive in maintaining Milan’s course in all three competitions this season and it is something Ancelotti has relied on to keep all his stars happy.

“Perugia are a dangerous side and I will field the best team at my disposal. We are still waiting for a late fitness test on Paolo Maldini, but hope he can recover in time to start.”

This will be a particularly tough week for the title chasers as Juventus have earned all three points against Empoli, while joint leaders Inter welcome relegation strugglers Reggina.

“This will be important for Milan as we have a clearly more difficult task than the other teams. I admit that in recent weeks we have not been fulfilling our potential, but we are improving and will soon work through the extra January fitness preparation.”

Rivaldo should start from the bench, although his fellow Brazilians Dida and Roque Junior are in doubt with minor injuries.

All three will make the trip across the World next week to take part in Brazil’s friendly match with China, then fly back for the Week 21 showdown with Lazio.


Perugia vs. AC Milan (league) - match preview
7.2 || webmaster

Perugia have made their name as giant killers this season with wins over Inter, Juventus and Chievo in all competitions.

Fabrizio Miccoli is the shining light of this squad and when he doesn’t turn it on, his teammates tend to struggle. The Juventus-owned hitman has been compared to Romario and will be particularly inspired by his probable call-up to the Italy squad this week.

The power of Greek striker Zisis Vryzas in the air could also prove a peril for the Rossoneri defence as he has a history of netting against the San Siro outfit.

Milan stay at the top of the table, but their form has undoubtedly taken a dip after the winter break. A shock defeat against ten-man Udinese and struggle to beat Modena 2-1 at the San Siro highlighted some worrying tendencies.

An aggressive midfield that closes down spaces is difficult to get round, particularly in the absence of injured winger Serginho, while the trident attack is still anything but fine-tuned. It is therefore likely we’ll see either Andriy Shevchenko or Pippo Inzaghi relegated to the bench for this tricky trip to the Stadio Curi.

Perugia: (Probable) Kalac; Rezai, Sogliano, Di Loreto; Ze Maria, Tedesco, Obodo, Blasi, Grosso; Miccoli, Vryzas

Milan: (Probable) Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Rivaldo, Rui Costa; Inzaghi

Perugia 0-0 AC Milan (cup) - match report
7.2 || webmaster

A place in the Coppa Italia final is still up for grabs after Perugia drew 0-0 with Milan on Thursday.

Umbrian boss Serse Cosmi decided to field his strongest side possible in the semi-final first leg and his men did have a number of chances to win the game.

But it was the Rossoneri who were the first to threaten after just eight minutes through Jon Dahl Tomasson. The Dane got on the end of a brilliant pass from Brocchi but saw his shot saved by Kalac.

The home side went close half way through the first period. Ze Maria whipped in a cross from the right but Fusani’s header fell wide of goal. A similar move followed on 31 minutes but this time Vryzas saw his headed effort go over the bar.

Yet the most dangerous chance of the half fell to Milan. Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo picked the ball up around 30 yards from goal and saw his low long range effort just finish wide of the post.

Perugia should have opened the scoring after the break. Miccoli broke down the left to serve a delicious ball for the on rushing Fusani. But the youngster incredibly fired over from eight yards out with just the ‘keeper to beat.

Miccoli then saw his free-kick just fly over the crossbar and Clarence Seedorf brought a save from Kalac. Vryzas and Tomasson had two more late chance but the game ended goalless.

The second leg is scheduled for March 5. The winner will meet either Roma or Lazio in the final.

Perugia: Kalac; Sogliano, Di Loreto, Milanese; Ze Maria, Tedesco, Fusani, Obodo (Pagliuca 69), Grosso; Miccoli, Vryzas (Caracciolo 83)

Milan: Abbiati; Simic, Laursen, Costacurta, Kaladze; Brocchi (Ba 74), Pirlo, Ambrosini, Leonardo (Seedorf 62), Rivaldo (Shevchenko 78), Tomasson

Ref: Ayroldi

Perugia vs. Milan - match preview
6.2 || Seamus

This time next month, these two clubs will be sick of the site of each other.

Not only do they meet twice in this intriguing Coppa Italia semi-final, but they also clash in Serie A this Sunday.

Perugia have secured some tremendous results of late, although at the weekend they were caught up in the Reggina resurgence when losing 3-1 to Luigi De Canio's side.

Fans of the Umbrian club could surely not have wished for a better season, however. With the exception of the pint-sized Fabrizio Miccoli they are a team without stars. And at the end of the season, they are likely to be a team stripped of their main assets. Miccoli could return to Juventus along with Manuele Di Blasi, the improving Ze Maria may be heading to AS Roma, and superb young Nigerian prospect Chris Obodo has been linked with Milan amongst others. He'll certainly be keen to impress against the Rossoneri over the next month.

Milan will by no means be underestimating this tie. Having seen what Serse Cosmi's men did to Juventus in the previous round, they should proceed with caution.

Rossoneri defender Roque Junior told Milan channel that his side are not underestimating the task before them.

"The game on Thursday evening is very important," he said. "Milan will go to Perugia in order to win. A success will be very very useful to go through to the final, but we are aware that to play Perugia is never easy."

Indeed, and a Milan team that will feature many fringe players will have to be on their mettle. However, there is no lack of hunger right through the Rossoneri squad, and those who don't get many games will be eager to prove their worth.


ROUTE TO THE SEMIS

Perugia:

Sampdoria (A) 1-1: Miccoli
Sampdoria (H) 2-0: Vryzas, Miccoli
Juventus (A) 2-1: Miccoli, Miccoli
Juventus (H): 2-0 Miccoli, Ze Maria

Milan:

Ancona (A) 1-1: Leonardo
Ancona (H) 5-1: Rui Costa, Tomasson, Tomasson, Borriello, Leonardo
Chievo (H) 0-0
Chievo (A) 5-2: Kaladze, Seedorf, Tomasson, Seedorf, Dalla Bona


LATEST TEAM NEWS

Perugia: Cosmi will have to do without Blasi who is suspended. Otherwise he has a virtually full-strength side. Miccoli will be partnered by Vryzas in attack.

Milan: Leonardo will team up with Rivaldo in the attacking midfield slots, with Tomasson alone up front. The likes of Roque Junior, Laursen and Costacurta should all get a game at the back, while Brocchi will feature in midfield.


PROBABLE LINE-UPS

PERUGIA (3-5-2): 1 Kalac; 6 Sogliano, 22 Di Loreto, 3 Milanese; 2 Ze Maria, 4 Tedesco, 19 Obodo, 20 Fusani, 11 Grosso; 10 Miccoli, 23 Vryzas.

MILAN (4-3-2-1): 18 Abbiati; 25 Roque Junior, 24 Laursen, 19 Costacurta, 4 Kaladze; 32 Brocchi, 21 Pirlo, 23 Ambrosini; 33 Leonardo, 11 Rivaldo; 15 Tomasson.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fabrizio Miccoli (Perugia): the little striker has scored in every game of the competition so far and is certainly the man that the Milan back four will have to watch closest. He could replace the injured Alex Del Piero in the Italian squad for the forthcoming friendly with Portugal

Rivaldo (Milan): the Brazilian will be eager to make an impression. Despite some good displays he has not found the goalscoring touch that he did in La Liga.

Ancelotti wants the Coppa
5.2 || scharatz

Milan may be in the running for the Scudetto and Champions’ League, but Carlo Ancelotti will not shirk the Coppa Italia.

The Rossoneri have the opportunity to reach the Final when they take on Perugia in the two-legged Semi’s, starting with Thursday’s encounter.

“This will be a high-profile match,” assured the tactician, “and Milan want to reach their objective in the Coppa Italia.”

Perugia are the least fancied of the four remaining teams – one Finalist will definitely be from Rome – although they have eliminated Juventus from the competition already.

“We must remember that this side beat Juve and Inter,” noted Ancelotti. “They will go out there to fight and cause us problems. Milan cannot expect an easy ride.”

This is curious timing as the two teams will meet up again on Sunday afternoon for Serie A Week 20, both ties set at the Stadio Renato Curi.

Milan have struggled of late and Ancelotti maintains he has found the tactical key to their troubles.

“We need to cover the whole field and therefore take advantage of what space there is,” he suggested. “Everyone must make sacrifices to attack more, especially down the flanks.”

“But this team is still fine as it is. I wouldn’t change it with any other outfit.”

The enthusiasm surrounding their splendid campaign – leading the way in Italy and Europe – even prompted comparisons to the great Milan of Arrigo Sacchi and then Fabio Capello.

“I don’t think you can compare them,” said the former midfielder who played in both those teams.

“Sacchi’s era lasted for five years, as did Capello’s, but my team has been together for just over a year. Perhaps we could discuss this again in five years’ time.”

“However,” he added, “if we are talking about potential then I agree wholeheartedly. This current squad has quality and quantity to spare.”

The team to face Perugia on Thursday will be without Serginho, Thomas Helveg and Jose Antonio Chamot.

We are likely to see Fernando Redondo in a deep midfield role in place of Andrea Pirlo, a position he also held in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Modena.


Gk: Abbiati, Dida, Fiori

D: Aubameyang, Costacurta, Kaladze, Laursen, Maldini, Nesta, Roque Junior, Simic

M: Ambrosini, Ba, Brocchi, Dalla Bona, Leonardo, Gattuso, Pirlo, Redondo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Rivaldo.

F: Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson

Leonardo set to take over as Milan Vice-President
5.2 || Seamus

Veteran Milan midfielder Leonardo is set to take over as vice-president of the club in the summer.

The Brazilian returned to the Rossoneri in October after a spell back in his homeland.

He will take up his new role when his player´s contract expires at the end of the season.

Redondo slams Solari snub
5.2 || Seamus

Inter have made a massive mistake in not signing Santiago Solari according to Milan ace Fernando Redondo.

The Real Madrid man was close to joining the Nerazzurri in January but returned to Spain after failing to agree personal terms.

"I think that Inter have made an error in not bringing in Solari," said Redondo. "A player with his characteristics would be useful to any side.

"He is a man that can give so much to a side because he is technically brilliant and he knows how to move around the pitch.

"And the last time I spoke to him he was more than willing to move to Italian football."

Redondo started his first League game for the Rossoneri on Sunday where he showed well but has promised more.

"I am usually quite critical about my performances but I did OK against Modena," he added. "I’ll be at my very best in about a month’s time – when we play Real Madrid in the Champions’ League."

The former international midfielder joined Milan from Real in the summer of 2000 before a serious knee injury kept him sidelined for two years.

Galliani to go on trial for tax evasion
4.2 || Seamus

Adriano Galliani, Milan's vice president and chairman of the Italian League, will go on trial for tax evasion on May 9th.

Galiiani has been charged for drafting false contracts for some players, including Italy international Maldini and Panucci.

Nesta makes UEFA team
4.2 || Seamus

Alessandro Nesta is the only Italian player to have been voted in UEFA’s 2002 European dream team.

The Milan player is kept company in the outfit by club teammate Clarence Seedorf who is also included.

Former Inter pair Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo were selected, as was the highly rated Christian Chivu who could move to Italy in the summer.

The team was compiled by over 900,000 people who voted for their ideal side on the official UEFA website.

Dream Team: Rustu (Tur, Fenerbahce); Puyol (Spa, Barcelona), Nesta (Ita, Milan), Chivu (Rom, Ajax), Roberto Carlos (Bra, Real Madrid); Seedorf (Hol, Milan), Ballack (Ger, Bayern Munich), Zidane (Fra, Real Madrid), Duff (Irl, Blackburn); Henry (Fra, Arsenal), Ronaldo (Bra, Real Madrid).



Pizarro issues come-and-get-me plea to Milan duo
4.2 || Seamus

Udinese's Chilean midfielder David Pizarro would like to move to one of the Milan clubs.

"Playing for a team in Milan would be beautiful," he said. "But right now the market is closed and if anything is going to happen, that will be in June."

Among the followers there are also Spanish teams, but the player says: "It would be Interesting to play in the Liga, but I like staying in Italy. I've been here for 3 years and I like the way soccer is played."

Pizarro scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot last weekend as Udinese beat Milan 1-0.

AC Milan 2-1 Modena - match report
2.2 || webmaster

Scorers: Pirlo pen 76 (Mi), Inzaghi 79 (Mi), Scoponi 91 (Mo)

Milan really struggled to get all three points from relegation strugglers Modena.

Fernando Redondo made his £10m move from Real Madrid in the summer of 2000, but only today made his first Serie A start due to a succession of knee problems. The Argentine replaced Andrea Pirlo in midfield, while Rivaldo was also shelved.

Relegation strugglers Modena had the first real chance when Dida parried a Fabio Vignaroli effort and Colucci nodded the resulting corner kick wide.

Milan slowly gained more control, but goalkeeper Ballotta was equal to Kakha Kaladze's chest and volley, a Clarence Seedorf piledriver and Andriy Shevchenko's follow-up.

Manuel Rui Costa's free kick shaved the frame of the goal, but the trident attack found difficulty breaking down the defence-minded Modena.

In first half stoppage time Ballotta misjudged the flight of a cross, but Shevchenko failed to nod into an open goal by the back post.

The second period was slightly more entertaining and there were early chances for both sides - a Vignaroli effort and looping Inzaghi header.

The Rossoneri were uninspired and introduced Rivaldo and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

There was controversy on 62 minutes when Inzaghi had a goal disallowed, but replays showed he was offside.

Modena defended in ten men, but on 75 minutes Ponzo brought down Kaladze in the box. The Rossoneri have missed several spot-kicks this season and brought on Andrea Pirlo to take the penalty with his first kick of the game. The former Under-21 international did not fail despite being thrown in at the deep end.

Modena were forced to push forward in order to search for an equaliser, and the space was just what Milan needed. Inzaghi rose to nod in a Rivaldo cross soon after.

The visitors managed to grab a stoppage-time goal with Scoponi's strong volley by the back post and in the final kick of the game Dida made a confident save on Milanetto.

Milan: Dida; Simic (Rivaldo 62), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Redondo (Pirlo 75), Seedorf; Rui Costa; Inzaghi, Shevchenko (Tomasson 64)

Modena: Ballotta; Mayer, Cevoli, Ungari; Ponzo, Marasco, Milanetto, Colucci (Moretti 71), Mauri (Scoponi 67), Balestri (Kamara 77); Vignaroli

Ref: Trefoloni

Rossoneri unleash Redondo
2.2 || scharatz

Fernando Redondo looks set for his first ever Serie A start as Milan aim to put last week's defeat behind them.

“I feel more relaxed on the field now,” said the former Real Madrid hero, “and playing alongside my teammates is no longer difficult for me.”

The Argentine signed for the club in July 2000, but was promptly sidelined for two and a half years with knee ligament problems.

He has featured in several Coppa Italia ties and made a brief appearance in the League, but not seems ready to take centre stage against Modena.

It’s reported that Carlo Ancelotti will choose to rest Rivaldo and Andrea Pirlo, placing Redondo in a deep midfield role with Manuel Rui Costa behind Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.

Changes are prompted by the shock 1-0 defeat against ten-man Udinese last Sunday.

“That isn’t necessarily true,” commented the Coach on the official Milan website. “Redondo would be more than able to start the match, but I haven’t made my decision yet.”

Alessandro Nesta is in doubt with a bruised leg, while Shevchenko is struggling with a twinge in his knee.

Ancelotti also took the opportunity to banish claims that Milan are having trouble finding the back of the net.

“It seems frankly excessive to talk about a crisis when this team has scored around fifty goals since the start of the season.”

“As for suggesting we suffer when teams like Udinese attack us in midfield,” he added, “I doubt Bayern Munich, Deportivo La Coruna and Inter sat back when we beat them.”

Maldini aims for Grand Slam
2.2 || Seamus

Paolo Maldini maintains that this Milan side can do the triple in Serie A, the Champions’ League and the Coppa Italia.

“We are the only Italian club to be battling on all three fronts,” said the captain. “I know we can do it.”

The start of February marks the most intense period of the campaign as they’ll face 15 games in the space of 49 days.

“In the next three months we will gamble with everything,” confirmed Maldini. “But we are convinced that we can fight for all three trophies. We realise it will be tough, but the team is confident it can be done.”

It is quite a step up from last year, when only a late spurt allowed them to grab the fourth Champions’ League spot.

“This season the team has a common goal and puts personal problems aside. We are concentrated and words are always followed by action. Every single game feels decisive.”

Morale wavered with last week’s 1-0 defeat at ten-man Udinese, but the Rossoneri are still top of the table level with rivals Inter.

“At the Stadio Friuli we allowed ourselves to be put under pressure, then in the second half didn’t have the clarity to make the most of our situation.”

“Against Modena this Sunday,” he continued, “we must start with immediate vigour, but without losing the clarity you need in front of goal. We need patience to get three points.”

The Udinese defeat also saw the first penalty awarded against Milan this season following a week of controversy stirred up by Inter.

“It seems like one game turned it all around for those doubters,” noted the defender. “I think some people need to be a bit more consistent in their claims. I also don’t believe suspending referees is right as it only increases suspicion around what is already a difficult job.”

Milan have struggled to break down teams that aim to defend above all else, and it is feared Modena may use that tactic at the San Siro.

“I don’t think they will come here to defend. When they lost 2-0 here against Inter they caused far more problems by attacking than they did sitting back. They will have learned that lesson.”

There could be some tactical changes for the Modena game, including Fernando Redondo’s introduction in place of Andrea Pirlo.

“I saw him play incredibly well in the Coppa Italia Quarter-Final against Chievo. I don’t see why Redondo wouldn’t be ready for Serie A.”

Redondo joins Euro squad
1.2 || Seamus

Fernando Redondo is eligible to play in the second phase of Milan’s Champions’ League campaign.

The Argentine legend was left out of the original 25-man squad due to his fitness worries, but several Coppa Italia appearances have reassured medical staff that he is worthy of a place.

One of Redondo’s last official games before suffering knee ligament damage was the 2000 Champions’ League Final with Real Madrid.

He then suffered an injury during his first Milan training session and was on the sidelines for two and a half years.

Redondo is not the only change to the squad. Cosmin Contra, Marco Borriello and Jose Antonio Chamot have been removed. The first two have been loaned out, while Chamot has failed to make an impact on the team.

Milan Champions’ League squad:
Abbiati, Dida, Fiori, Costacurta, Helveg, Kaladze, Laursen, Maldini, Nesta, Roque Junior, Simic, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Dalla Bona, Gattuso, Leonardo, Pirlo, Redondo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Inzaghi, Rivaldo, Shevchenko, Tomasson





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