Carletto celebrates Kaka contract
29.2 || webmaster
Carlo Ancelotti is delighted that Kaka has committed to Milan and has given his view on the refereeing situation in Serie A.
The Rossoneri face a tough battle for fourth place and Champions League qualification, but it seems that Kaka isn’t fazed by the possibility of the UEFA Cup.
The Brazilian ace put pen to paper on a contract extension yesterday, which will tie him to Milan until 2013.
“It’s a great thing for him and for the club,” Ancelotti declared. “Kaka is becoming more and more a symbol of this team.”
There have been suggestions that the sudden renewal could have been due to the advances of Chelsea.
“I don’t think that external factors sped up his decision to sign an extension,” Ancelotti said. “It was the player’s desire and the club’s desire.
“Kaka has a great image on the pitch as he has such talent and temperament. He is training hard and hoping to be there for Tuesday against Arsenal and I think that he will make it.”
With so much recent debate over the refereeing in Italy, the Rossoneri boss made it clear that he has faith in the men in charge.
“The championship is fair, even if some refereeing decisions have been shown to be incorrect,” he stressed.
“We also need to look at the positives. Nicola Rizzoli was perfect in the Torino-Juventus game. He isn’t considered the best ref and he isn’t often used for the big games, but he was excellent.
“Designating referees is a complicated job. In Catania, the officials did a good job with the big incidents, but there were too many whistles. In Italy the game is stopped too often and that is the big difference with the rest of Europe.”
Oddo: We're so tired
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Defender Massimo Oddo has blamed fatigue for Milan’s costly draw at Catania last night.
The Rossoneri have lost their grip on fourth place after losing a 1-0 lead at the Stadio Massimino and their ageing squad seems to be flagging.
Over the last two months, Milan have been forced to catch up the Serie A games they missed due to December’s Club World Cup and Oddo believes the fixture pile-up is taking its toll.
“We are all very tired,” the 31-year-old moaned. “We need to recover and we have had to play certain players who don’t always get a game.
“It’s not easy to play so little and then step up to the mark when you are called upon.
“The draw was the right result in Catania. Alexandre Pato scored a wonderful goal then they scored a really good goal on their first real chance.”
Oddo must now hope that Milan can pick up maximum points against his former side Lazio this weekend.
“The important thing now is to keep the pressure on fourth place and to do that we must win our next games,” he concluded.
Kaka is 'AC Milan for life'
28.2 || webmaster
Milan have received a huge boost with the news that Kaka has signed a new deal with the Rossoneri until 2013.
Despite the advances of Spanish giants Real Madrid, the Brazilian ace has always insisted that he would stay at San Siro for the rest of his career.
While his previous contract would have lasted until 2011, the fact that the Ballon d’Or winner is willing to add another two years to his commitment will be a relief to a side struggling to qualify for the Champions League.
“Ricky has repeatedly declared that he wants to become a symbol of this side,” Adriano Galliani wrote on the club website.
“He already is that and also the best player in the world and now he has decided to tie himself to the Diavolo.
“This contract is for the rest of his career and I hope that if he is still playing in 2013 that we will be able to get him to sign another one. This is good news for all Milan fans.”
Ancelotti: What a waste
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Carlo Ancelotti realises Milan have missed a precious opportunity as the draw in Catania loses them fourth place.
The Rossoneri had only managed to catch Fiorentina at the weekend, but their 1-1 in Sicily and the Viola’s victory over Livorno sent the Tuscans two points clear.
“We wasted an opportunity here, as we took the lead and were unable to then secure an important result,” moaned Ancelotti.
“It’s a shame for the situation that came about. We allowed ourselves to be taken by surprise on their equaliser.”
Alexandre Pato had given the visitors the advantage with a splendid strike, but overall the team was disappointing without the injured Kaka and rested Andrea Pirlo.
“Pato scored a stunning goal, it was world class. As for the rest of our play, we cannot do any more at the moment. We have so many commitments and find it difficult to juggle them all. Some important players have got to rest.
“At this moment in time, the team is not particularly sharp, I’m afraid.”
That’s not reassuring ahead of the crunch Champions League match with Arsenal, as they must win to qualify considering the first leg at the Emirates Stadium ended goalless.
“Kaka got a knock and should be given more consideration by referees when he is consistently tackled from behind – the most dangerous type of foul.”
Yet Ancelotti also criticised the referee at the Stadio Massimino for coming down too hard.
“There were 48 free kicks tonight and eight bookings. It seemed a bit much, nobody had the chance to let play run.”
It is a morale-boosting result for Catania, who even with this point are hovering just above the relegation zone.
“It is an important result,” smiled Coach Silvio Baldini. “We had also played very well against Fiorentina, but tonight made up for our poor performance with Empoli.
“Gionatha Spinesi had a knee problem and after missing a penalty last Sunday his confidence was rock bottom. I am happy for him with this goal, he is a great striker.”
Borriello's Genoa commitment
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Genoa’s striking revelation Marco Borriello admits he is flattered by praise from Carlo Ancelotti, but remains focused on the Rossoblu cause.
After a torrid time at Milan, Borriello was loaned to Genoa last summer and has finally demonstrated his devastating potential.
Last weekend’s hat-trick moved Borriello top of the Capocannoniere chart and reasserted his claim for a trip to Euro 2008 as well as winning plaudits from Ancelotti.
“I have found a squad that shows trust in me and I can play regularly,” the Neapolitan marksman explained. “I think that is crucial for a player.
“Other sides where I have played knew that I had talent but it was impossible to show it without that trust. Now I have found the ideal environment.”
There have been suggestions that Borriello will be brought back to base this summer and they have intensified with Palermo’s reluctance to sell Amauri to the Rossoneri.
“There is so much competition in attack at Milan. There are famous players with big names and when you are young and you aren’t known it is very difficult to find space.
“Therefore it was really nice to hear Ancelotti’s words when he said that I was undervalued. It’s a small grievance that I can lay to rest, but I’m not here to stir controversy, as that wouldn’t help anyone.
“I want to stay here and keep doing as well as I have been, but we know that my situation is a bit complicated.
“I am co-owned and if Genoa and Milan can’t agree then it will be decided with offers in sealed envelopes.
“However, I repeat that there is along time before decisions have to be made and I am just focused on scoring for Genoa and securing a place in Europe.
“I don’t want to dwell on my past at Milan. I want to look forward and towards my new dream of the Azzurri shirt.”
No Amauri for AC Milan
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Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini has warned Milan that they’ve got no chance of signing in-demand hitman Amauri.
The Brazilian, who hopes to gain Italian citizenship in time for Euro 2008, is effectively going up for auction in the summer, with some of Europe’s biggest sides interested.
Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Milan are just a few of the clubs reportedly lining up a swoop for the big striker, but the Rossoneri might have to turn their attention elsewhere.
“They are the last team I would sell him to," said the fiery chief, who has a reputation in the peninsula for his outspoken comments.
"The player will probably leave this summer, but if I could choose then Milan would be the last team I would give him away to. However, they haven’t even enquired about him.”
With Ronaldo set to be out until the New Year at the earliest, the boys from San Siro will probably have to turn their attention to their other major target, Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.
There are also reports suggesting that Marco Borriello will be handed a place in the squad after his loan spell at Genoa, where he has been in stunning form and is currently the joint-top scorer in Serie A.
Catania 1:1 AC Milan - match report
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Scorers: Pato 55 (M), Spinesi 63 (C)
Alexandre Pato's opener was cancelled out in Catania, but the home side can complain at two disallowed goals.
The Sicilians had lost four on the trot, but had already defeated Milan over two legs on their way to the Coppa Italia semi-final earlier this season. Having said that, their last Serie A victory over the Rossoneri was in May 1963. Kaka was out with a knee injury and Andrea Pirlo rested.
Alexandre Pato was immediately dangerous, halted for a very tight offside position and a left-foot strike charged down. Silvestre just failed to get on the end of a set-piece at the back post.
Pato got down the right channel and sparked a promising move, but Clarence Seedorf's finish was deflected out for a corner by the desperate Mark Edusei with the goalkeeper sliding in.
Zeljko Kalac bravely plucked a Gennaro Sardo cross off Giuseppe Mascara's foot, causing pain to the little finger he dislocated just over a week ago.
Pato continued to test Ciro Polito from distance and Pippo Inzaghi nodded a Marcos Cafu cross just past the post.
In the second half Seedorf's free kick was too high to trouble Polito, while at the other end Martinez failed to make the most of a promising opportunity.
The disappointing match sprung to life thanks to 18-year-old Pato. He shook off three Catania players 25 metres out, then unleashed a right-foot snapshot that bounced just in front of Polito to slip into the far bottom corner of the net.
Inzaghi also scored on 62 minutes, but it was correctly disallowed for an offside position.
It proved decisive, as moments later substitute Gionatha Spinesi equalised for Cataia, springing the offside trap to nod in a Vargas cross from the left. Spinesi had only been on the field for four minutes and was surprisingly out of the starting XI after coming under pressure from fans for missing a penalty last week.
Catania hit the back of the net again soon after, but it was disallowed for Silvestri's soft push on Daniele Bonera. Kalac blocked a Martinez header, as the Sicilians were now pouring forward.
The Elefanti had a second goal disallowed for a tight Colucci offside position, but Milan seemed to lose all momentum after Inzaghi's attempt was ruled out.
Polito got a scare from Pato late on, but neither side was able to get past the 1-1 scoreline.
Catania: Polito; Sardo (Spinesi 59), Silvestri, Stovini, Silvestre, Varagas; Colucci, Edusei, Baiocco; Martinez (Alvarez 84), Mascara
Milan: Kalac; Cafu (Oddo 67), Bonera, Maldini, Favalli; Brocchi (Gattuso 79), Emerson, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Pato, Inzaghi (Gilardino 77)
Ref: De Marco
Carletto counts on Kaka
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Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident that Kaka will be fit for the Rossoneri’s Champions League battle against Arsenal.
The Brazilian star has been struggling with a left knee injury and will miss out on the world champions’ trip to Catania tomorrow.
However, despite reports of an ongoing complaint, Milan will do everything in their power to field Kaka for the second leg of the Champions League last 16 at San Siro next week.
“We think that Kaka will be able to recover for the Arsenal game, but we will have to see what happens over the next few days,” Ancelotti maintained.
“I don’t think that he will be back for Saturday, but we will have to wait for more news.”
Kaka has complained at a lack of protection from referees after he was caught by Roberto Guana in the opening stages of last weekend’s game against Palermo.
“I don’t believe it’s the intention of the opponents to injure him,” Ancelotti claimed. “I just think it’s the natural extra attention that a great champion gets.”
Having moved into the Champions League qualification zone by overhauling Fiorentina, it is now imperative that Milan keep up the pace.
“We have done well to get fourth place, but now we need to maintain that,” Carletto stated.
“These games against Catania and Lazio are very important. Catania have lost a little security recently and are back in the danger zone in the table. We will be up against a side with some fears, but they are always good at home.”
Kakha Kaladze, Andrea Pirlo and Marek Jankulovski are not in the squad for the game in Catania as Ancelotti tries to recharge their batteries.
“They are tired and they need a little rest,” the Diavolo boss explained.
“Alessandro Nesta could come back for Lazio on Saturday and Clarence Seedorf is available, although he may go on the bench.”
Ancelotti finished the interview with a comment on Marco Borriello, who is currently firing on all cylinders while on loan at Genoa.
“I honestly didn’t expect this, but he is showing all his quality,” he said. “He could play in any side, Milan included.
“He is a complete striker who scores goals and has technical ability. Sadly, Borriello was suspended last year at the time when he may have been able to get a place in the side.”
Milan (probable): Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Maldini, Favalli; Brocchi, Emerson, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Pato, Inzaghi
Frey explodes AC Milan myth
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Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey has rubbished suggestions that he will move to Milan this summer. “I would be a fool.”
The French custodian is one of the most highly rated No 1’s in Serie A and has often been touted as a replacement for the struggling Nelson Dida at Milan.
Recent reports stated that Frey had bought a house in Milan in preparation for a summer switch, but the 27-year-old has laughed off such talk.
“Football is full of players who pledge their future to a club and then leave after six months, but I am in another category,” he explained in an interview with La Nazione.
“I stayed here at Fiorentina when we were bound for Serie B – I don’t see why I would leave now that we are fifth and moving towards the UEFA Cup.
“I would be a fool to be thinking of quitting this club right now. Things will be discussed in the summer.
“Working with Cesare Prandelli is a factor in my decision. I won’t give a percentage, but I will say that he is very important as it is fundamental to work with someone who respects you.”
Kaka to miss Arsenal?
25.2 || webmaster
There are fears in the Milan camp that Kaka may miss their crucial Champions League last 16 second leg against Arsenal due to a knee problem.
The Brazilian star has been experiencing pain from his knee for the last six months, but has been able to play through the discomfort.
Over the last few weeks, Kaka has also been suffering from tendonitis and the situation worsened in last night’s game against Palermo.
The Ballon d’Or winner took a heavy blow to the knee after a collision with Rosanero midfielder Roberto Guana in the third minute of the game and was forced to come off at half-time.
Kaka will now almost certainly miss the Serie A games against Catania and Lazio, but it is unclear whether he will be ready to face Arsenal on March 4.
After an impressive stalemate at the Emirates Stadium, Milan know that one goal could be enough to book a place in the quarter-finals, but they are looking worryingly short of firepower.
With Ronaldo out for the season and Pippo Inzaghi still lacking match fitness, Alexandre Pato will be under pressure to perform but he isn’t 100 per cent either after an ankle complaint.
Ambrosini hails San Siro success
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Massimo Ambrosini believes that Milan’s victory over Palermo yesterday can be a springboard at a crucial stage in the season.
The Rossoneri stole the three points against the Sicilians thanks to Ambrosini and a last-gasp Pippo Inzaghi winner.
“This win can only be something to build on because this road is long and there are lots of tough rivals ahead,” Ambrosini declared.
“It was important to take fourth place, but it’s also crucial to keep on good form at this stage.
“Now we have two tough League games against opponents we can’t underestimate before the tie against Arsenal.
“That will be a great game and the fans can spur us on to deliver the kind of night that we have become used to at Milan.”
Ambrosini’s opener was his third of the season and seemed to please a man with a modest strike rate.
“I was happy to score. I love pushing forwards and sometimes I find the net.
“There are lots of tight games at the moment and the onus is on us midfielders to stop tiredness creeping in when Carlo Ancelotti calls on us.”
Sadly, last night’s game was slightly overshadowed by refereeing controversy as three possible penalty shouts were waved away.
“Football today is decided by lots of incidents and it’s a shame that the referees don’t always get the support they need from their assistants who should be decisive,” Ambro stressed.
“When there is lots of confusion in the box it isn’t easy for the ref to see every little detail and so we need better from the linesmen.”
Ancelotti: Mission accomplished
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Carlo Ancelotti and match-winner Filippo Inzaghi praised Palermo as they celebrated Milan’s ascent into the top four.
The Rossoneri went behind to a Mark Bresciano opener at San Siro before Massimo Ambrosini and a stoppage-time Inzaghi header turned it around for a 2-1 victory.
“Palermo played well and did not deserve to lose,” admitted Ancelotti. “Having said that, when we met earlier this season we deserved better and still lost, so that’s football.
“Kaka got injured and Clarence Seedorf was rested, so we were missing two quality players. At the moment we aren’t particularly sharp, but still achieved our main objective of fourth place.”
Fiorentina’s 1-0 defeat at Roma this afternoon allowed Milan to catch them, although Ancelotti’s squad are in front on goal difference.
The Rosanero were furious at the final whistle, as they felt Gennaro Gattuso tripped Amauri just seconds before Inzaghi’s winner, while earlier the home side had two penalty appeals waved away.
“There were three spot-kicks tonight, but the referee did not award any of them,” added the Coach.
Inzaghi also praised Palermo for their fighting spirit and smiled at his latest last-gasp heroics.
“I’ve been out for a while and had to rush back my recovery, but thankfully I am in good shape now. This is a wonderful night, as I had not played or scored much in Serie A recently.
“Palermo are a great side and made life difficult for us. They deserve to be higher up the table. It’s nerve-wracking and we make our fans suffer, but it’s fun to win this way!”
Understandably, Rosanero boss Francesco Guidolin was less amused at the outcome.
“It is very disappointing to lose like this, right at the death,” said the Coach. “We made one mistake on Inzaghi’s goal and he did well to take advantage.
“We played a good game and in the second half were never under pressure. We deserved to take home at least a point.”
AC Milan 2:1 Palermo - match report
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Scorers: Bresciano 9 (P), Ambrosini 24 (M), Inzaghi 91 (M)
Pippo Inzaghi's first Serie A goal in over a year defeated Palermo in stoppages and put them on a par with Fiorentina in fourth place, but both sides complained about the referee.
The Rossoneri needed a victory to keep up with fourth-placed Fiorentina, while Sicilian boss Francesco Guidolin was on thin ice despite a hard-fought 2-1 win over Cagliari. Clarence Seedorf and Paolo Maldini were rested after the 0-0 with Arsenal midweek, but Palermo welcomed back Amauri, Fabrizio Miccoli and Roberto Guana from suspension, though the former Juventus star was only fit for the bench.
The Rosanero had a good record here with a 3-3 draw in 2005 that lost Milan the Scudetto and a shock 2-0 victory last term. They had also beaten Carlo Ancelotti's men at the Barbera earlier this season.
Palermo took the lead thanks to some confused defending just nine minutes in. Mark Bresciano volleyed a Guana cross from the left and it took a deflection off Massimo Oddo's chest to leave Zeljko Kalac stranded.
Amauri went on a slalom including some fancy footwork with his heel, like a rabona mid-sprint, but was eventually closed down by Daniele Bonera.
Milan wanted a penalty moments later when Alberto Gilardino's flicked ball struck Andrea Barzagli's arm, but the linesman insisted it was involuntary, as it came off his chest first and ricocheted.
Alberto Fontana smothered a cracking Kaka piledriver and was very fortunate as it bounced off the ground and got trapped under his body.
The Rossoneri drew level on 24 minutes with captain Massimo Ambrosini. Oddo's sweeping cross to the back post found Ambrosini totally unmarked for a sliding finish, as he had lost marker Cassani.
Pirlo curled one of his trademark free kicks from 25 metres under the bar, bringing a fantastic one-handed save out of 41-year-old Fontana. Moments later the veteran tipped another Pirlo set-piece out for a corner.
Kaka rolled across for the onrushing Ambrosini, halted by a crucial tackle on the edge of the area. Towards half-time it was turning into a siege on the Sicilian goal and a corner fell kindly for Marek Jankulovski to balloon over.
Ambrosini nodded a Pirlo free kick just over the bar, as the midfielder remained Milan's most dangerous attacking figure. Kaka got a knock to the knee, so made way for Yoann Gourcuff at half-time.
Kakha Kaladze did well to stand by substitute Fabio Simplicio and protect the ball for Kalac as the Brazilian ran into the box.
Pato skipped past Giuseppe Biava with a splendid nutmeg and his deflected snapshot was palmed round the post by the ever-attentive Fontana. From the resulting corner Kaladze complained of a Guana handling offence that took the ball off his foot as he was lining up the volley. It looked like an evident penalty, but the referee and linesman ignored his protests.
Yet Palermo risked restoring their lead when Simplicio's free kick went past everyone, Kalac getting a hand to it before the ball could settle into the far bottom corner.
Edison Cavani found himself in acres of space on Guana's through ball, but blasted over the bar with only Kalac to beat. Pippo Inzaghi replaced the disappointing Gilardino, but Cavani found another gap in the Rossoneri defence and hesitated, wasting the opportunity.
Inzaghi was angry when he was lining up a header, but teammate Gourcuff clattered into him. SuperPippo was also halted for an incorrect offside decision and Barzagli did just enough to keep Inzaghi from turning in a Biava error.
This time it was Palermo who had furious penalty appeals in the final minute, as Amauri ran into the area and nutmegged Gennaro Gattuso to fall over the outstretched leg, but once again the referee and linesman waved play on.
It's a decision that is bound to cause controversy, as moments later Inzaghi gave Milan the victory. He was left completely unmarked for a free header from six yards on Gourcuff's cross from the left, springing the offside trap. It was his first Serie A goal in over a year.
Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Favalli 85); Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka (Gourcuff 46); Gilardino (Inzaghi 73), Pato
Palermo: Fontana; Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava; Cassani, Guana, Migliaccio, Bresciano (Simplicio 54), Balzaretti; Cavani (Tedesco 88), Amauri
Ronaldo: I could quit AC Milan
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In a surprise statement, Ronaldo admits if he does return to football, it might not be with a Milan jersey on his back.
The striker has been sidelined for a minimum of nine months after surgery for a snapped tendon in his left knee and there are real doubts over whether he’ll ever be able to play professionally again.
However, with talk of a contract renewal at Milan and all the support they have given to the oft-injured Fenomeno, Ronaldo put the brakes on taking his San Siro comeback for granted.
“We’ll see. If I manage to recover at my best, then Milan are in pole position considering the way they have treated me and how much I am loved here. The human rapport I have with club and teammates is remarkable.
“But we will have to wait and see. It is my dream to play for Flamengo, who were my team when I was a young boy, but it all depends on how I recover. The important thing is to get back on the playing field, then I will decide where.”
The mere assumption the 31-year-old will be back on a professional basis is also on shaky ground, as the forward himself admits.
“I hope to come back and my heart tells me to play football and enjoy the atmosphere of the game, but at the same time my body is tired and has suffered so much over the years,” he told Sky Italia television.
“At the end of the recovery process I will see if it is opportune for me to go through another few years of football. I still feel like a player and have been doing this job since I was 15. I am going through a tough time, but must overcome the obstacle to return.”
This is the third time he has undergone surgery for serious knee tendon injuries and the football world united to show support for the unfortunate Fenomeno.
“I received calls from many friends and colleagues, including people I had problems with in the past, like Real Madrid’s Ramon Calderon.
“I also spoke to Massimo Moratti, who was very worried. I lived through the exact same trauma at Inter, so he knows full well how horrible this is and wanted to show his affection.
AC Milan stand by Ancelotti
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Milan are standing by Carlo Ancelotti, even if he fails to qualify for the Champions League, insists Adriano Galliani.
This week there were strong reports that failure to reach the European semi-finals or a top four finish in Serie A would see the Coach sacked and replaced with 2006 World Cup winner Marcello Lippi.
“Milan will 100 per cent have Ancelotti on the bench next season, even if we were in the UEFA Cup,” assured the general manager.
“If we don’t qualify for the Champions League then we will aim to win the UEFA Cup Final and so will Carletto.
“I say that with all the respect and friendship I have with Lippi, who is a fantastic Coach. But he will not be in charge of Milan.”
Ancelotti has taken the Rossoneri to three Champions League Finals in the past five years – winning two of them – and in 2007 also lifted the European Super Cup and Club World Cup trophies.
Ancelotti warns wasteful AC Milan
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Carlo Ancelotti prepares to face Palermo in a must-win match and urged his Milan side to improve their overall build-up.
“With the 0-0 at Arsenal we proved that we have a very solid defence, but also difficulty in providing important attacking alternatives,” warned the Coach.
“In two weeks our fitness levels will be better, but we must improve the quality of our play. Arsenal remain very strong and dangerous, so the chances of qualifying are 50-50.”
The Gunners will go into that second leg without Eduardo Da Silva, who broke his leg in a horrific injury during today’s game against Birmingham City.
The Milan website posted a message wishing him well and a “sincere good luck on returning quickly to the playing field.”
In the meantime, Milan have to beat Palermo in order to keep up with Fiorentina in the battle for a top four finish.
“We’ve got to improve our forward play with more clinical finishing and propulsion from the full-backs, starting from tomorrow.
“Palermo have a much better squad at their disposal than some of the teams we have recently faced on home turf.”
Alessandro Nesta and Nelson Dida are out of action, but Alexandre Pato is available. Ronaldo left the Paris clinic where he underwent surgery on a snapped knee tendon and questions remain over his future.
“I think he hasn’t quite got on the right path yet, but he will and for the moment is very uncertain over what is to come,” revealed Ancelotti.
“His foot is stabilised for 30 days, then we’ll see if he can put in the right determination to return. I say he has a great opportunity in amongst the bad luck, as Ronaldo has always been considered lazy, so this is the time to prove everyone else wrong.”
The pressure is on Ancelotti with reports today suggesting Marcello Lippi is ready to replace him if he fails to reach the Champions League semi-finals.
“We are accustomed to this sort of reporting now,” shrugged the former Juventus boss.
Milan squad: Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Emerson, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Pirlo; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Kaka, Pato
AC Milan line up Lippi option
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There are reports that if Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t take Milan to the Champions League semi-finals, World Cup winner Marcello Lippi is ready to take over.
The Coach has been one of the most successful in this club’s history, particularly in Europe, where in 2007 alone he won the Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup.
According to the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ that is still not enough to guarantee Ancelotti’s place on the bench for next season, as they have struggled to finish in the top four of Serie A.
Last season there were similar problems and the Rossoneri tactician saved his job by lifting the trophy in Athens in May.
At the time the same rumours were that Lippi was being lined up to take over, as he reportedly had negotiations with the club hierarchy.
Lippi has been on a sabbatical since winning the 2006 World Cup trophy with Italy and is said to have turned down offers for international positions with England and the Republic of Ireland.
Ancelotti’s contract with Milan expires in 2010, but despite his years of success and silverware at San Siro, he is always under pressure to deliver.
Emerson: A country for old men
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Emerson sees Milan’s average age as a strength rather than a weakness when facing Arsenal’s young guns.
Much has been made of the age difference between the two teams, but they were wiped out in the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
“Arsenal are a strong team and full of youngsters, but Milan have the extra weapon – experience,” said the midfielder.
“We also know how to do better on home turf than we did in London, so that too will be an advantage.”
The second leg of that Champions League tie will be at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – known as San Siro – on March 4.
Emerson made a late substitute appearance in the first leg and hopes to play a bigger role when they meet again.
“I am in good shape, but whether I play or not isn’t up to me. I respect the decisions of the Coach.”
Ronaldo: I couldn't stop crying
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Ronaldo confesses he’s not sure if he’ll ever play again and gives an insight into what he felt when his knee tendon snapped for the third time.
The Milan star has now left the Paris clinic where he underwent surgery to repair a snapped left knee tendon and gave a revealing interview.
“At the start I couldn’t stop crying, as there was an incredible pain,” he explained of the incident during the 1-1 draw with Livorno 10 days ago.
“I felt a very strong crack and immediately my mind raced over images I had already seen. In that moment I thought the right thing to do was give up after this had happened to me again.”
It was the third time he has severely damaged knee tendons, although in the past it had always been the right knee.
Doctors have warned Ronaldo will be out of action for a minimum of nine months and even he admits he doesn’t know if he will ever play professional football again.
“At the time I thought I’d try to recover so I could live a normal life and rest, because I have been playing for many years,” he told Sky Italia television.
“But in those moments of sadness so many things go through your mind. I was defeated, on the floor, but slowly there is the chance to come back and I will fight until the bitter end for that possibility.”
An element of doubt remains around Il Fenomeno’s chances of returning to the sport at the highest level at the age of 31.
“This isn’t the right time to think about it, because everything is still so fresh and recent. I have to focus on my recovery now, which will be very long and difficult.
“Then at the end, if I really am fit again, truly do not feel pain and have the confidence to step on to the pitch, I will certainly return to the playing field.”
Galliani prepares striker short-list
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With Ronaldo out indefinitely, Milan transfer guru Adriano Galliani wouldn’t rule out bids for Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Andriy Shevchenko or Karim Benzema.
“I will not talk about our transfer policy until May or June, but with Ronaldo out of action we do need a fourth striker to join Alberto Gilardino, Alexandre Pato and Pippo Inzaghi,” said the general manager.
“All the big clubs need four strikers and it is better to have an abundance of options than too few. Inter have a similar problem with Hernan Crespo not getting much space, but there is no alternative at this level.”
However, when he was given a list of names by journalists – Chelsea hitman Drogba, Arsenal’s Adebayor, former Rossoneri hero Sheva and Lyon starlet Benzema – he didn’t shoot them down.
“All four of them would fit the bill,” replied Galliani.
Milan have already been heavily linked with Drogba and a return to San Siro for Sheva, but Adebayor impressed during the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, where he hit the bar in stoppages.
“It will be a very difficult second leg against Arsenal. We have a 50 per cent chance of qualifying, but usually in these cases Milan do well on home turf. Here’s hoping we repeat that perfect performance against Manchester United,” continued the club official.
In last year’s semi-final the Rossoneri lost 3-2 at Old Trafford, but hammered United 3-0 in the second leg and went on to lift the trophy by beating Liverpool.
“We did well to sustain the pressure in London and I saw a lot of pride, even if in life one can always improve.”
Pato, Kaka and Clarence Seedorf were returning from injury and visibly not 100 per cent fit in the first leg, but Galliani wants to see a veteran lead the line.
“Inzaghi has scored five goals in the last three Finals. The second leg will be like a Cup Final, but it’s up to Carlo Ancelotti to pick the side.”
Capello analyses CL ties
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Fabio Capello has assessed the chances of Serie A’s Champions League representatives and discussed his progress as England manager.
After a dramatic set of last 16 first legs, Milan and Roma are optimistic ahead of their return games, but Inter are in crisis after a 2-0 reverse against Liverpool.
“The first legs went as I expected,” Capello claimed.
“Inter were reduced to 10 men just as they were finding their balance and inevitably they suffered.
“Milan seemed very focused to me and stopped Arsenal playing their football, which proved their ability on the big stage once again. It was a very good 0-0 and very entertaining.
“Milan will have to be very careful in the second leg, but just like Inter’s game against Liverpool it is still very open.
“I said that Roma would have to be on their guard in the first leg and from what I read it seems that they did well.
“Real haven’t lost at home this year, but the Giallorossi have always played well in Madrid.”
The Rossoneri and their blend of youth and experience especially impressed Capello.
“Paolo Maldini has found the elixir of youth, but you can’t just explain his longevity like that,” he said. “He is also a very intelligent person with such technical ability.
“Alexandre Pato has really impressed me. I have only seen him in the flesh in training and I was surprised. He will become a top player. You can tell from his personality, speed and quality.”
These are early days for Capello in his new role as England boss, but he believes his side are on the right track.
“You can’t construct a new system in four training sessions,” the 61-year-old admitted.
“But I have been pleased with the way the players have made themselves available. I knew almost all of them from beforehand, but I had only seen many on TV.
“It is crucial that I speak English before the game and in the half-time team talk when you need to make an impact tactically and above all psychologically.
“It’s very important to know the right words. I have brought my way of working with me, and my rules, but obviously I have had to adapt to certain English characteristics.
“I saw the effects of what we did in three and a half days during 80 per cent of the game against Switzerland.
“I want an organised side who move together on the pitch and can show the ability of the individuals.”
Miccoli may miss AC Milan
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Palermo may be without key striker Fabrizio Miccoli for Sunday’s visit to San Siro to face Milan.
The Rosanero are looking to build on a win over Cagliari and haul reassert their UEFA Cup credentials as they take on the world champions.
However, they may need to manage without diminutive ace Miccoli after he missed training yesterday with a muscular problem.
The former Juventus man has been undergoing a course of physiotherapy, but the recovery time for such a problem is unclear.
Brazilian hitman Amauri will be present and is likely to be paired with Uruguayan starlet Edison Cavani.
Palermo stunned the Diavolo with a 2-0 triumph in this fixture last term and the Sicilians won 2-1 when the two sides met at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Week 5.
Amauri issues AC Milan warning
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Palermo travel to San Siro this weekend to face Milan and striking star Amauri is confident the Sicilians can build on their win over Cagliari.
The Rosanero have endured a miserable spell with President Maurizio Zamparini on the warpath and pressure mounting on Coach Francesco Guidolin.
However, the Aquile bounced back with a hard-fought win over Cagliari last weekend and are still sitting in eighth place.
Amauri has previously been linked with Milan, but Juventus are in pole position for his signature and he is ready to show the Rossoneri what they are missing.
“We are going there to win,” the former Chievo man roared. “Milan are a very strong side, but we will play our football at San Siro.
“Milan showed their strength yesterday to stay in the game when others would have lost, but no team is invincible and so we are travelling with optimism.”
It seems that Brazil and Italy could clash over the right to field Amauri for their national side, as he gets closer to acquiring Italian citizenship.
“I can honestly admit that I have been a bit disappointed by the lack of a call-up for the Selecao,” the 27-year-old admitted. “I haven’t heard anything from Carlos Dunga.
“The bureaucracy involved with getting an Italian passport is moving forward and I hope that it will all be resolved soon.
“Am I thinking about Euro 2008? At the moment I’m not. My objective is to do well in the Palermo shirt and then we will see.”
Maldini enjoyed London stalemate
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Milan captain Paolo Maldini was happy after the Rossoneri’s draw with Arsenal last night as Kaka calls for the fans to make themselves felt at San Siro.
The world champions survived a couple of scares to return from London with their Champions League last 16 clash at 0-0.
Although the Gunners looked the more likely side to score, the Diavolo will fancy their chances of delivering qualification on home soil.
“We came back with a good result,” Maldini enthused. “In the return leg I’m expecting a similar game to last year against Manchester United and we can go on the attack when we need.
“Arsenal are a very young side with a group of good lads. For me, it is always good to come and play in England where there is such a sporting culture and respect for opponents.”
Kaka agrees with Milan Vice-President that fitness was a key factor, but believes that home advantage can spur his men to success at San Siro on March 4.
“We really wanted to win and perhaps we would have if we had shown a little more aggression,” the Brazilian star lamented
“But the team was tired because we ran so hard and so it wasn’t such a bad way for things to turn out.
“We need the fans to really get behind us now because we know we can do it.”
Galliani: A fortnight for fitness
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Adriano Galliani is confident Milan’s fitness levels will improve enough over the next fortnight to put in a “different” performance against Arsenal.
“The result is satisfying considering the way the game was going early in the second half. This is a good side and are not top of the Premier League for nothing,” said the Vice-President after a 0-0 in London.
“We got a very tough draw here and it will be extremely difficult, but we expect to qualify and carry on in the competition.
“The Champions League is a different sport when it comes to atmosphere, approach and everything else. Now we will prepare, hope to get our fitness levels back – especially Kaka and Clarence Seedorf, who have been out for a few weeks and were rusty – and it will be a different Milan in the second leg.”
The Rossoneri lost Alexandre Pato and Alessandro Nesta to injury during the game and also had Ronaldo and Nelson Dida sidelined.
“Pato just had cramps and Nesta reassured everyone, he stopped before anything more serious could happen, so they are both easily recoverable.”
“What people forget is that because of the Club World Cup we had to play the Serie A games on a Wednesday the last few weeks when others were resting. Our players are not robots, they are human beings.
“We made our bed and will lie in it, but I believe this team has everything needed to achieve a top four finish. I cannot imagine a Milan out of the Champions League next season, even though it’s tricky to win it every year!”
Galliani confesses his heart stopped in stoppages when Emmanuel Adebayor’s header cracked against the bar.
“We were not as dangerous as I would’ve liked upfront. Pato moved well, but that’s the way the game went and I thought Adebayor’s header that hit the bar was actually beyond the end of stoppages, so it really would’ve been painful to concede then. I thought it was in and haven’t recovered from that fright yet!
“We came here 13 years ago at Highbury and drew 0-0 the first leg before winning 2-0 in the second, so we hope it is a good omen.”
Wenger admits Arsenal nerves
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Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal were “nervous” at facing the reigning European and World club champions.
“I feel we played the game we wanted to play and created many chances,” he said of the 0-0 draw.
“We didn’t concede a goal, that’s quite positive for the second leg, but unfortunately did not make the most of our chances to score.
“We were a bit nervous maybe in the final ball, but overall we created many chances and played well.”
Milan tend to give their best on the continental stage and held out well at the Emirates Stadium.
“I feel you could see tonight that, being under pressure, they have a lot of experience and can adapt to the problem they face. They realised quickly they had to defend well and did that with a lot of discipline,” he told Sky Italia television.
“We were a little bit nervous in our final third and a little bit had to do with facing a side like Milan.
“We have to recover now to play on Saturday and of course hope to come to Milan in a good position in the Premiership table.”
Ancelotti's not celebrating
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Carlo Ancelotti is not entirely happy with the 0-0 draw in London and warns Milan will be under pressure in the second leg, too.
“This is not a result that can give us tranquillity. We struggled a bit and could have done more, but Arsenal are a strong side,” said the Coach.
“We know we’ll be under pressure as well in the second leg, but hope to go through anyway.”
Alexandre Pato made his Champions League debut from the start despite not playing in three weeks due to a sprained ankle.
“As the Arsenal defence was quite high, we used Pato in a bid to let his pace cause them problems. They move the ball around very well in midfield, but also leave spaces.”
Paolo Maldini proved magnificent against the much younger Gunners, especially after Alessandro Nesta’s injury moved his position.
“Maldini did very well on the left and especially in the centre, where he is more comfortable and cleared many dangerous opportunities,” added Ancelotti.
After Inter stuttered psychologically at Liverpool last night, how do Milan manage to always prepare for the top European games.
“It takes maturity to deal with these big appointments, but every game has its own story.”
Arsenal 0:0 AC Milan - match report
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Zeljko Kalac and the crossbar allowed Milan to hold Arsenal to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium.
The Rossoneri welcomed Zeljko Kalac, Clarence Seedorf and Alexandre Pato back from injury, the 18-year-old making his Champions League debut after three weeks out with a sprained ankle. Nelson Dida's back and a serious Ronaldo knee injury ruled them out. As Manuel Almunia was sidelined, former Milan flop Jens Lehmann started in the Gunners' goal.
The Italians played with white shirts and black shorts, an unusual away strip. They had the first chance after four minutes, as Pato flicked the ball over a defender and his shot was delfected out for a corner off Kolo Toure'. Seedorf's resulting set-piece was flapped away from danger by Lehmann.
The goalkeeper immediately launched an Emmanuel Adebayor counter and Massimo Oddo's sliding tackle was decisive. On the corner Adebayor was given a talking to for an overhead kick that booted Kakha Kaladze in the face.
Toure' picked up an early injury and was replaced by Philippe Senderos. An Adebayor header was comfortably caught by Kalac, then Eduardo came sliding in just too late to meet Sagna's cross from the right.
Kaka failed to get past Cesc Fabregas after Oddo has skipped over Gael Clichy, but Pato was rather harshly booked as he tried to outsprint Sagnol and ran into the back of him.
Eduardo couldn't get any power on his header from a Fabregas free kick at the back post. Adebayor sent Maldini down and cut back for Mathieu Flamini, whose low shot was easily held by Kalac.
Pato sprinted into the box and Senderos did well to protect the ball. Fabregas was totally unmarked just inside the box on 42 minutes, but Adebayor's pass was too long and Milan breathed a sigh of relief.
Moments later Kalac did well to beat away a Flamini cross-shot after he had skipped past Andrea Pirlo. Straight after the restart Alessandro Nesta went down with an injury and before Marek Jankulovski could replace him, the corner was taken with Kaladze's clearance skimming the upright. This moved Maldini into the centre.
Kaka managed an odd looping cross from the byeline that scared Lehmann, but Arsenal went on the counter and Alexander Hleb rolled back for Eboue' to flash a shot past the far post. Adebayor did hit the back of the net, but was clearly offside.
Kalac came rushing out to smother the ball at Adebayor's feet from six yards. The Gunners were pouring forward now and Eduardo's left-foot strike sailed over the bar from the edge of the box.
It was a very open game now and Kaka threaded through for the unmarked Oddo, who drilled well wide from a promising position. At the other end Maldini got a decisive touch to knock Fabregas' brilliant cross off the foot of Adebayor clear on goal.
Kaka spun round and fired wide of the near post from distance, but there was absolute chaos on 70 miutes when Pato took advantage of a lucky ricochet and the ball was trapped in a sea of legs before Arsenal managed to clear.
Eduardo was clear on Adebayor's pass, but missed so badly it nearly hit the corner flag. He was substituted immediately after by Nicklas Bendtner and moments later Kalac got down well to smother a Fabregas effort, then Kaladze performed a crucial tackle on Bendtner.
Pato was suffering from cramp as he sprinted towards the box and made way for Alberto Gilardino. Eboue was booked for a dramatic dive over Jankulovski, as he ran into the Czech's leg.
Senderos had to close down Kaka as he was lining up the shot from eight yards, then Adebayor's volley was gathered by Kalac on his knees and the Australian goalkeeper plucked another strike out of the air.
Emerson was Ancelotti's final change for Seedorf and Gilardino's glancing header from a Pirlo corner kick was smothered by Lehmann. Another two Pirlo set-pieces were off target, but Arsenal wasted a golden opportunity created by Adebayor's header on, Bendtner eventually ballooning over.
Theo Walcott came on for Eboue' for the four minutes of stoppages and his volley from a cleared corner was well held by the secure Kalac, who was playing with a dislocated index finger in his right hand.
Arsenal thought they had scored in the final seconds of injury time, but Adebayor nodded Walcott's cross on to the bar with Kalac finally beaten from five yards.
Arsenal: Lehmann; Sagna, Gallas, Toure (Senderos 7), Clichy; Eboue' (Walcott 89), Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb; Adebayor, Eduardo (Bendtner 74)
Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Nesta (Jankulovski 50), Kaladze, Maldini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf (Emerson 85); Pato (Gilardino 77)
Ref: Larsen (Den)
Kalac set to start
20.2 || webmaster
Zeljko Kalac is likely to be passed fit to start between the posts for Milan at the Emirates Stadium tonight, but his finger is still raising concerns.
The Australian international has impressed while filling in for Nelson Dida in recent weeks, but he is a doubt for this evening’s Champions League last 16 battle after he dislocated the phalanx of one of his fingers.
With Dida not in the squad after his latest injury, which he sustained while sitting on the bench at the Stadio Tardini, Carlo Ancelotti feared he might have to turn to third-choice custodian Valerio Fiori.
Fiori has been at Milan since 1999, but he has been a perennial understudy and made just two appearances in eight years.
Kalac trained at the Emirates Stadium this morning under the watchful eye of goalkeeper Coach Villiam Vecchi and club doctor Pierre Meeserman.
After a tense low-intensity session, the man nicknamed ‘Spider’ returned to the dressing room with a smile on his face and will now probably start tonight’s crunch match.
Arsenal (probable): Lehmann; Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy; Ebouè, Flamini, Fabregas, Hleb; Adebayor, Eduardo
Milan (probable): Kalac; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Maldini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Kaka, Seedorf; Gilardino
Ferrari: I'm off in June
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Matteo Ferrari has confirmed that he will be leaving Roma at the end of the season, but claims that he hasn’t yet agreed a deal with Milan.
The 27-year-old defender has been unsettled at the Stadio Olimpico this term as he continues to struggle to command a starting place.
With the Algeria-born stopper’s contract set to expire this summer, he will be available on a free transfer at the end of the campaign to any club willing to pay his wages.
“The conditions for a renewal at Roma aren’t there,” he stated in Il Tempo.
“In June I will be leaving, but I will give my all until the end of my last game for the Giallorossi.
“I have become used to being whistled and I expected it after there were reports that I had already agreed a deal with Milan.
“But I want to make it clear that I haven’t come to any agreement with anyone – I just won’t be staying here.”
Cesc expects 'ultimate test'
20.2 || webmaster
Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas certainly isn’t underestimating Milan ahead of tonight's Champions League last 16 battle in London.
The world champions have a daunting task as they prepare to face the Premier League leaders, who are still smarting from last weekend’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United.
And despite Milan’s lowly position in Serie A, it doesn’t seem that their opponents are taking the Italian threat lightly.
“We didn’t play well against Manchester United, but we want to win things and against Milan you don’t need extra motivation,” Fabregas explained.
“We have to bounce back bigger and stronger than ever and this is probably the ultimate challenge.
“They are a team of experienced, strong and intelligent players and they can kill us in a minute, so we have to be at our best.
“I really rate Andrea Pirlo,” the Spaniard enthused. “He is a great player and such a good passer of the ball – he always sees the right pass.
“And then there’s Kaka. He had a great 2007 and we have to be careful of him, but they have so many other strengths and one of the best midfields in Europe.
“We have so much respect for them, but we want to prove that we can compete with them and get to the Final again.”
Arsenal (probable): Lehmann; Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy; Ebouè, Flamini, Fabregas, Hleb; Adebayor, Eduardo
Milan (probable): Kalac; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Maldini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Kaka, Seedorf; Gilardino
Leonardo gives injury update
19.2 || webmaster
Milan director Leonardo has given the latest on the Rossoneri’s three stricken Brazilians – Ronaldo, Alexandre Pato and Nelson Dida.
Ronaldo is still in hospital in Paris after surgery on a severed knee tendon and faces a long road to recovery.
“He is in hospital as it has only been a few days since his operation and that causes a lot of stress,” Leonardo told Sky Sport Italia.
“Ronnie is a strong man who has fought back from big injuries before.
“He seems calmer and I can see that he isn’t thinking about the long term. I think that he will have to focus day to day and take each step at a time to get through this difficult situation.
“He isn’t talking about whether he will return and I think that he doesn’t know what he will be able to do yet.”
In 2001, sports doctor Ruben Dario Oliva suggested that Ronaldo has fragile tendons – a comment that has haunted the Brazilian.
“I’m not a doctor and I won’t even allow myself to argue with someone who knows what he is talking about,” Leonardo began.
“But I don’t know if Oliva has visited Ronaldo. All I know is that he has had tests on his tendons and weaknesses have never shown up. There has never been any confirmation for that hypothesis.
“He actually has a very strong constitution. Everyone says that he is fat, but he is actually just big as he has enormous muscles.”
Striking revelation Pato’s diagnosis is far simpler and the Diavolo new boy should be fit to play some part against Arsenal tomorrow night.
“He still needs a bit of time, but he is training and that is a good sign,” Leonardo stressed. “With an ankle you still get lingering pains that annoy you – that’s natural.”
Dida’s season has been a catalogue of misfortune and his latest indignity came when he injured himself while sitting on the bench at Parma’s Stadio Tardini.
“He hasn’t been to hospital,” the former midfielder revealed.
“He was sat badly on the bench on the edge of the seat and he felt this pain when he tried to change position.
“He had already had a small problem in the past with his back. He is still in some pain, but it’s not serious and not really even an injury.”
Capello predicts Anglo-Italian epics
18.2 || webmaster
England manager Fabio Capello has warned Italy’s representatives in the Champions League to expect a tough time in the last 16.
Milan and Inter face Arsenal and Liverpool respectively and will have been boosted by their opponents’ FA Cup embarrassments at the weekend.
However, Capello doesn’t believe that Carlo Ancelotti should take any comfort from the Gunners’ crushing at the hands of Manchester United.
“On Wednesday it will be a different Arsenal side to the one which lost in the FA Cup,” the former Juventus boss insisted.
“For one thing it wasn’t a perfect pitch whereas the Emirates Stadium is a beautiful surface and it’s scarily fast.
“But most importantly, they were also lacking three very important players who can make all the difference.
“Milan will need to watch out for Emmanuel Adebayor, who made an immediate impact when he came on for 10 minutes. Generally, the Diavolo have to be careful because when a side are wounded, they react.”
Liverpool were stunned by Championship outfit Barnsley at Anfield, but Capello is expecting a completely different proposition when Inter arrive in England on Tuesday.
“Liverpool have had problems since the Coach’s position has been called into question and things haven’t been working as they normally do,” Capello admitted.
“Because Liverpool have spent so much money this year in the hope of being Premier League contenders and they are so far back from the lead, the manager is bound to be criticised.
“However, Liverpool at Anfield are a tough team and they know how to pressurise their opponents. Benitez has the side very organised and it will be a very interesting game between two sides who play exciting football.”
The other tie of Italian interest sees two of Capello’s former sides in action as Roma entertain Real Madrid at the Stadio Olimpico.
“I like both teams,” the 61-year-old maintained. “I don’t know who I will be supporting. I like both sides and carry them both in my heart.
“I watched Real yesterday and they were good, even if they were a little unlucky. They had lots of chances to beat Betis, who are a tough side.
“Roma seem to be a little tired at the moment. A few weeks ago I would have rated their chances, but now I expect a tight game.
“I think that Roma have to be more careful in Rome than in Madrid because in all the ties we had against the Merengues we lost despite putting in good performances in Madrid.
“I would advise Luciano Spalletti to be careful of Guti and to stop him playing because he provides the through balls, but also they need to remember Ruud Van Nistelrooy because he is a player who can punish you for the slightest space.”
Kalac at risk for Arsenal trip
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Milan could be without both Nelson Dida and Zeljko Kalac for the Champions League clash with Arsenal.
The Rossoneri lost Dida to a freak injury during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Parma when his back froze as he tried to stand up from the bench.
He had to be stretchered off at half-time and as this is a recurring back problem is a major doubt for the game in London.
Now the club has released a statement warning that Australian international Kalac is also at risk for the Emirates stadium.
“During today’s training session the goalkeeper Kalac dislocated the phalanx of his index finger on his right hand.
“His condition will be evaluated tomorrow to understand if he will be available for the London match against Arsenal.”
If Kalac is also sidelined, then the Rossoneri only have third choice Valerio Fiori and youth team ‘keeper Daniel Offredi at their disposal.
Alexandre Pato and Clarence Seedorf are also doubts, while Ronaldo is out for the rest of the season after snapping a tendon in his left knee.
Dida injured by the bench
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Carlo Ancelotti admits Alexandre Pato is a doubt to face Arsenal, while he explains how Nelson Dida managed to get injured on the bench.
Kaka made his comeback in the 0-0 draw with Parma this evening, but Clarence Seedorf and Pato did not make the trip and are at risk for the Champions League.
“Seedorf will be there, I am certain, but if we do recover Pato in time then it will have to be at the last minute,” said the Coach.
Arsenal were crushed 4-0 by Manchester United in the FA Cup today and Ancelotti was impressed.
“That is quite a surprising result, but also a lovely one for me. I hope it will be the same on Wednesday night.”
Zeljko Kalac’s fine form has earned him the gloves, but he would be there anyway as Dida sustained a freak injury at the Stadio Tardini.
“Dida’s back seized up and it is quite a serious problem.” The Brazilian was stretchered off at half-time after finding he couldn’t get up off the bench.
The 0-0 draw comes just days after a 1-1 result against little Livorno, dropping precious points in the race for a Champions League place.
“In the first half we struggled under Parma’s tempo, in the second played better and could have won it.
“We are in fourth place right now and have achieved our target of being in the top four when the Champions League kicked off again, even if Fiorentina have a game in hand.”
If the Viola pick up a point against Catania on Sunday, they’ll leave Milan in fifth.
Ronaldo 'offered contract renewal'
17.2 || webmaster
Ronaldo’s agent has thanked Milan for offering a contract renewal days after a career-threatening injury.
Even the surgeons who operated on the snapped tendon in his left knee cannot say if the striker will ever play again, but his representative is hopeful.
“Ronaldo is a warrior who has fought and won so many battles in his lifetime,” said Fabiano Farah.
“He is the type of person who goes all the way in his challenges and I think he is ready for this latest fight.”
There had been talk of Ronnie’s contract before the horrific injury in the 1-1 draw with Livorno on Wednesday.
One would’ve thought the setback – which at the very least will keep the 31-year-old out for nine months – would preclude any paperwork, but the agent revealed that is not the case.
“Every indication suggests the Rossoneri are interested in renewing his contract and Vice-President Adriano Galliani has already expressed this intention.
“Ronaldo wants to get back to playing football, but his primary objective right now is to be healthy and go through a successful rehabilitation process.”
A contract renewal could be an important motivating factor, as even surgeon Eric Rolland warned today that the psychological aspect is crucial in coming back from such a serious injury.
Ronaldo surgeon's warning
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The surgeon who operated on Ronaldo warns only the most motivated player can come back from this latest injury.
Although the Brazilian snapped the tendon in his right knee in 2000 and took almost two years to recover, he is now 31 and suffered an identical injury to the left knee.
“It will need a lot of energy to play football again,” surgeon Eric Rolland told Le Parisien newspaper.
“The rehabilitation process is much longer than usual because this is a tendon, not a ligament. We first of all need to give solidity to the area again.
“We know straight away, though, that Ronaldo cannot run before six months and cannot be in a reasonable condition to train earlier than nine months.”
Il Fenomeno’s knee buckled during Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with Livorno and he flew to Paris for the operation on Friday. The Milan striker will remain in the clinic for at least a week.
“We must see how quickly the player recovers from the shock of the surgery. This week will allow us to have more precise ideas of how he has experienced this latest injury,” continued Rolland.
“Then we can only set milestones at 45 days, three months, six months. If at each of these steps it all doesn’t seem too much for Ronaldo and he can see an objective taking shape, then anything is possible.”
Meanwhile, there is controversy in Brazil over the cause of Ronaldo’s many knee injuries during his career.
The anti-doping co-ordinator of the Brazilian Federation has accused PSV Eindhoven of creating a monster.
“It is all the fault of PSV. In Holland they gave him vitamin integrators when he was very young and among these substances were anabolic steroids that could have boosted his growth more than was healthy,” said Bernardino Santi in newspaper Folha.
“His muscles grew excessively and this accumulation of mass in a short period of time, when he had not yet completed his natural development, made his muscles incompatible with the structure of his bones.
“The effects of steroid use can only become apparent 10, 15 or even 20 years later.”
Ronaldo played for PSV Eindhoven from 1994 to ’96, but the Brazilian Federation immediately distanced itself from Santi’s allegations and fired him.
17.2 || webmaster
This evening at the Tardini Paolo Maldini could celebrate the 1,000th match of his professional career.
He made his debut on January 20, 1985 and between Italy and Milan in all official competition has so far notched up 999 appearances.
“Serginho always asks me how many nights I have spent in a pre-match ritiro. The answer is really quite a lot…” smiled the living legend.
“My other view of this milestone is that I have been fortunate to avoid serious injuries, to play in a great club, to be pushed by an enormous passion for the sport and having always had fun.”
In his 23 years at the top, Maldini has won six different games with a 6-0 scoreline, though of course one in particular stands out.
“The derby we played with Inter as the home team. I remember the sight of the scoreboard at San Siro and my father’s face, as he was on the bench. It wasn’t a great season, but the derby gave us all such joy.
“Having said that, it’s not always enjoyable to win by such a big margin. We respected Inter in that game. It is not right to stop when you are 2-0 or 3-0 up, but at the end of the day you do feel a little sorry if a team is beaten so heavily.”
It is that kind of attitude to the sport that has seen Maldini respected by teammates and opponents alike.
“I hope my legacy will be one of absolute respect for the sport and opposition. This respect has been recognised by the fans, as I have never been insulted or jeered in any particular fashion.
“I did not create a personality or character that is separate from how I am in real life and this was appreciated by fans.”
Il Capitano has already said he won’t follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a Coach after his retirement in June, aged 40.
Recent reports suggest he could take over as the main director for the Milan youth teams, which include his son, Christian.
“I have not yet spoken to the club, but I don’t think that will be my path. I have not set a meeting either. I hope I can keep proving my sense of belonging to Milan.
“That does not mean we have to work together at all times, but if it did happen I would be very happy.”
'Too early to tell' if Ronaldo will recover
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Ronaldo’s doctors admit it is “too early to say” if he will ever play again, but Leonardo tried to be reassuring.
The Milan striker snapped the tendon in his left knee during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Livorno and underwent surgery in Paris.
The diagnosis is to be out for at least nine months, but doctors in the La Pitie’ Salpetrie’re hospital released a less confident statement this evening.
"It is too early to say what the chances are of Ronaldo playing competitive soccer again," the statement said.
"That will depend not only on the surgery, but also on physical therapy and the motivation of Ronaldo - currently 31 years old - to return to high-level sports."
Ronaldo was accompanied in the ambulance from San Siro by former Rossoneri and Brazil star Leonardo and went with him to Paris for the operation.
“It was a relaxed night. Now he just needs to rest, that is all he has to do right now,” said the club director.
“These have certainly been very intense days full of emotion and for this reason he has to relax. He slept and just needs to recuperate the energy he lost.”
Ronaldo’s father has told newspapers in Brazil that this great career is not over and Leonardo agrees.
“His father is optimistic and I think optimism always helps. Only time will tell Ronaldo what he needs to do.
“The only positive aspect of all this is that Ronaldo is well aware of what comes ahead and what he has already been through. I think he is ready.”
Parma 0:0 AC Milan - match report
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Milan failed to score for the first time in 14 rounds, as a 0-0 at Parma slows their push for a Champions League spot.
The Rossoneri hoped to continue their comeback towards a top four finish, but were still in shock after Ronaldo snapped the tendon in his left knee during Wednesday's rescheduled Week 16 1-1 draw with Livorno. Clarence Seedorf and Alexandre Pato were also still injured, but Kaka returned to the fold. Carlo Ancelotti, Daniele Bonera and Alberto Gilardino were facing their former club, but Bernardo Corradi and Francesco Parravicini were banned.
Milan were undefeated at the Tardini since 2003, picking up a draw and three straight wins.
Giulio Falcone turned an Andrea Pisanu corner over the bar and Pippo Inzaghi failed to make the most of a defensive error. Emerson tested Luca Bucci as he got his head to Serginho's set-piece.
On 24 minutes Kaka unleashed a rocket that flashed across the face of goal and Zeljko Kalac smothered a long-range Pisanu attempt.
Cristiano Lucarelli wanted a dismissal for Kakha Kaladze's nudge when they were clear on goal, but the referee judged it shoulder-to-shoulder and waved play on.
Reginaldo flicked on a free kick with his head and Kalac flapped it over the bar. On the resulting corner Alessandro Nesta charged down a cracking Castellini half-volley that looked ready to beat the goalkeeper at the near post.
Pisanu really should have given Parma a half-time lead when a pass rolled invitingly in front of him just seven yards out, but incredibly the Under-21 international completely missed the ball!
Milan were ineffective, so Carlo Ancelotti threw on Gilardino and Andrea Pirlo for the second half. Curiously, Nelson Dida was stretchered off during the break after his back seized up while sitting on the bench.
Within 120 seconds Pirlo had proved what a crucial player he is, as a free kick was punched away by Bucci in the Rossoneri's first real chance.
Inzaghi held off Fernando Couto for a chest and half-volley on the spin that went over the bar. Soon after, Super Pippo was stopped for an extremely tight offside flag.
Parma completely revamped their front line with Igor Budan and Andrea Gasbarroni. Within 60 seconds of coming off the bench, Gasbarroni threaded through for Budan to spring the offside trap and brought a great save out of Kalac.
On 68 minutes Kaka forced Bucci into a fantastic save with his chest and volley from 10 yards, the veteran goalkeeper at full stretch for a low fingertip touch.
There was an historic moment when Paolo Maldini replaced Marek Jankulovski, celebrating his 1,000th official match between club and international level.
Another Pirlo free kick dipped over the wall and whistled inches past the near post.
There was a triple chance moments later. Inzaghi's first attempt was charged down, Bucci stuck out a foot to parry Pippo's second and Gilardino acrobatically prodded the follow-up wide from six yards.
A Gilardino header looped over the bar from Maldini's cross, but there was a sigh of relief when MacDonald Mariga's splendid volley was denied by Kalac's desperate reaction save from point-blank range. Had it gone in then it wouldn't have counted, as he was flagged offside.
Emerson should have won it for the Rossoneri in the final minute, as Bucci flapped a cross into his path, but the Brazilian blasted over the bar under no pressure.
At the other end Kalac had his palms stung by Budan's screamer at the near post that was heading in from the tightest of angles.
Parma: Bucci; Zenoni, Couto, Falcone, Castellini; Dessena, Morrone, Cigarini (Mariga 75), Pisanu; Reginaldo (Gasbarroni 64), C Lucarelli (Budan 64)
Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Maldini 70); Gattuso (Gilardino 46), Emerson, Ambrosini, Serginho (Pirlo 46); Kakà; Inzaghi
Ancelotti faces injury crisis
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Carlo Ancelotti is forced to work around Milan’s many injuries ahead of crunch matches with Parma and Arsenal.
The first thought in today’s Press conference evidently went to Ronaldo, who is out for at least nine months after snapping the tendon in his left knee.
“After the operation we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. What remains, though, is the sadness for this horrible injury,” said the Coach.
The setback occurred just three minutes into a substitute appearance against Livorno on Wednesday night and some have suggested he was not ready to play.
“Ronaldo was ready. If someone talks about players I showed a lack of respect for, then I don’t know what they are referring to. Nobody can tell whether or not Ronaldo’s career is over.
“It depends on his willpower, as he managed to overcome the first injury and can get past the second as well. He has to face a long rehabilitation process knowing he is 31 and can play another two or three years.
“He knows he cannot play until the age of 40, both because he is not Paolo Maldini and as he is a striker. Milan will do everything possible so that Ronaldo can return to being a great champion.”
Meanwhile, the Rossoneri must face the rest of the season without Il Fenomeno and go into the most crucial period with Saturday’s Serie A trip to Parma followed by Arsenal.
“Parma are a very vivacious, dynamic and well organised side who three weeks ago could have beaten Inter. Parma have had a few problems lately and will miss important strikers, but remain a good squad.”
Bernardo Corradi is suspended and Cristiano Lucarelli injured, so Erjon Bogdani is expected to lead the line.
Milan must decide whether to risk Kaka and Clarence Seedorf or give them extra time to recover from injury.
“We will evaluate Kaka and Seedorf during training and decide whether they can start, come off the bench or not play at all. Alexandre Pato won’t be at Parma, but he will be ready for Wednesday,” added Ancelotti.
“We hope to reach the Arsenal game with all the players at our disposal.”
Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Emerson, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kaka, Pirlo; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Paloschi
Pato's message to Ronaldo
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Alexandre Pato shows his support for Ronaldo and hopes he can recover in time to face Arsenal next week.
“Ronaldo is Il Fenomeno, all of the world is with him right now,” said the Milan striker after his teammate’s horrific injury.
The former Real Madrid and Inter star will be out of action for at least nine months after snapping the tendon in his left knee during the 1-1 draw with Livorno.
Pato missed that game due to a sprained ankle, but hopes to be back on the field for the Champions League showdown in London.
“I want to return as soon as possible and am doing everything the fitness coaches tell me to. The ankle is doing much better.”
Kaka and Clarence Seedorf were also injured, but both are expected to feature in Saturday’s Serie A match with Parma.
Ronaldinho: AC Milan or Inter? Neither
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Barcelona star Ronaldinho has laughed off talk of a move to either Milan or Inter this summer.
The Brazilian ace has long been a target for the Rossoneri and their city rivals have recently entered the chase for the former PSG man.
While Ronaldinho seems likely to leave the Nou Camp at the end of the season after a disappointing campaign, the 27-year-old insists that he isn’t interested in relocating to Italy’s fashion capital.
“Milan and Inter want me? I’d have to say no thank you,” ‘Dinho said on Italia 1’s Studio Sport.
“Obviously knowing that a great club appreciate your work is an added incentive, but I’m just trying to get into top form for Barcelona.
“It’s only natural that there have been critics this term – if we were top of the League it would be very different.
“That’s the way football is. It doesn’t bother me and I will give my reply on the pitch. When I walk around Barcelona I feel the support of the fans just as I do when they sing my name at the stadium.”
Ronaldinho’s interview ended with a thought for injured compatriot and friend Ronaldo.
“I hope that he gets better soon. We are very close and I just want things to be ok for him.”
Seedorf admits Ronaldo doubts
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Clarence Seedorf has shattered the air of optimism surrounding Ronaldo’s recovery by admitting that he fears for his Milan teammate’s career.
Seedorf accompanied El Fenomeno to hospital after he severed a tendon in his knee while playing Livorno on Wednesday evening.
The Dutch midfielder is a close friend of Ronaldo’s, but he believes that the regularity of the 31-year-old’s injury problems could be an issue.
“It’s the third time that it has happened to him,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. “That’s why I’m thinking that it might be the end.
“I hope that he makes the right decision at the right time. We’ll see what happens over the next six months, but for now he needs to focus on rehabilitation.”
Seedorf was obviously moved by the events at San Siro and sounded pained as he recalled Ronaldo’s fall.
“Nobody wants to watch moments like that,” he said. “My heart stopped beating because it was like watching a repeat of the injury he suffered while playing for Inter against Lazio – his reaction was the same.
“He’s one of the greatest players to play the game and hopefully this is not the way it’s going to end.”
The initial reports are positive after Ronaldo underwent surgery in Paris yesterday and he is expected to begin his long course of rehabilitation sometime next week.
Galliani sees Ronaldo recovery
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Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani insists that Ronaldo’s chances of recovery are better than they were eight years ago.
The Brazilian star is recovering in hospital in Paris after yesterday afternoon’s operation on a severed tendon in his knee.
The doctors involved in the surgery were pleased with the procedure and has estimated a nine-month rehabilitation process.
While there are fears that at 31-years-old age could be a disadvantage for Ronaldo, Galliani has seen positive signs.
“Ronnie is feeling a little bit of pain, but it seems that the tendon is in better condition than his left was when he had the operation eight years ago,” he maintained.
“I’m no doctor so I won’t be able to give you any medical updates, but he will tell you how he is in a few days.
“For now he will stay in this clinic, but in a week or so he will be able to leave. We aren’t sure whether he will choose to recover in Milan or go to Madrid to be with his son.
Galliani finished his interview by refusing to discuss the possibility of bringing in a new striker to replace the No 99 in the summer.
“I’m ruling that out,” he said. “But for now we aren’t thinking about the market but simply about securing fourth place.”
Ronaldo surgery successful
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Ronaldo’s knee operation yesterday evening was a success as messages of support continue to pour in from the world of calcio.
Milan’s striking star severed a tendon in his knee during Wednesday night’s game against Livorno at San Siro and there are fears that his career may be over.
El Fenomeno turned to the same medical team that restructured his other knee in 2000. The surgery took place in Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital where Ronnie is staying in the same room as he did eight years ago.
“It went well,” Gerard Saillant, the doctor who performed the surgery in 2000 explained having supervised colleague Eric Rolland during the procedure.
“The operation took close to two hours and there were no complications.
“Now Ronaldo must rehabilitate the knee and that will take around nine months. Whether he will play again depends on him.”
News of the injury has prompted tributes from all over the peninsula and Empoli Coach Alberto Malesani is the latest man to offer his best wishes.
“It’s such a shame,” he said. “I really hope that he can come back, even if it will be very difficult.
“I believe that after Diego Maradona he is the best player of the last 30 years, so I am devastated that he has been hit by another bad injury.
“It’s such horrible news because he is a great lad as well as a pleasure to watch.
“Unfortunately he has had too many of these accidents in his career and now he will have to fight doubly as hard as he did with his other knee.
“He would be a big loss to the world of football and I hope for the good of calcio that he returns,” the former Panathinaikos man concluded.
Torres' AC Milan maybe
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Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has refused to rule out a move to Milan at some stage in the future.
The Spanish international has netted 19 times in all competitions since arriving at Anfield from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Torres was briefly linked with a San Siro switch before agreeing a deal with Liverpool and it seems that the 23-year-old has pictured himself in a Milan shirt.
“Relations between Atletico Madrid and Milan have always been excellent and there was talk about the possibility of me going there,” he revealed in La Stampa.
“Last summer I didn’t receive a concrete offer from the Diavolo, but I don’t know whether I will eventually play for Milan.
“At the moment I am happy at Liverpool so I would have to say no and I hope to stay in the Premier League for a long time, but you can never say never.”
Medics: Ronaldo will return
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The future may look bleak for Ronaldo, but there is optimism amongst medical experts and Milan President Silvio Berlusconi is confident of a return.
The former Real Madrid hitman flew to Paris at 9am this morning to receive surgery on a severed tendon in his knee amongst fears that his career is over.
Accompanied by compatriot and Milan official Leonardo, club medic Massimiliano Sala and fiancée Maria Beatriz, Ronnie was applauded by a group of fans as he left hospital.
“Ronaldo himself asked to be operated on by the same team in Paris who reconstructed his right knee eight years ago,” club doctor Pierre Meeserman explained.
“The procedure was excellent eight years ago and surgical technology has only improved.”
“If things go according to plan he can return to being a great player, but it is hard to put a time scale on that,” respected sports doctor Walter Pascale commented.
While the nation’s Press have prepared obituaries to Ronaldo’s career, Pietro Volpi – Inter doctor between 1995 and 2000 – thinks it is premature to bid farewell to Il Fenomeno.
“It is a very serious injury, but it can be repaired and technology has made huge steps in recent times,” he told Sky Tg24.
“A recovery will probably take between eight and 10 months, but I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about Ronaldo’s future.
“The real problem is that he is eight years older than he was in 2000 and that makes it harder to get to peak condition in sport.”
Rossoneri President Silvio Berlusconi, a committed admirer of the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year – is determined that Ronnie can quickly make a full recovery.
“I spoke to him on the telephone last night and I told him to believe in himself as he has such a great physical capability,” he said on Unomattina.
“At 31-years-old he is still young and I think that he can return in a number of months to being the champion of old. Everyone in the sporting community hopes that is the case.”
Amelia: I heard a snap
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Livorno goalkeeper Marco Amelia was visibly upset as he gave his account of Ronaldo’s knee injury at San Siro last night.
El Fenomeno’s career could be over after he severed a tendon in his knee while jumping for a ball in the Livorno box during last night’s 1-1 draw.
The Brazilian had been on the pitch for a matter of minutes before he was stretchered off and Amelia witnessed the whole thing from close range.
“I heard a horrible noise,” the Azzurri custodian said. “I have never heard anything like it and then I heard Ronaldo yell.
“We all feel very close to him because he is such a great player who has battled back from such problems in the past and now he must fight another injury.
“I want to offer him all my best wishes and that goes for all the other Livorno players as well.”
Ronaldo’s injury was followed very quickly by Milan’s equaliser from the penalty spot when Jose Luis Vidigal handled a Massimo Oddo cross and Amelia concluded by explaining that the two events were closely connected.
“It was a handball by Vidigal,” he admitted. “But it was caused by Ronaldo’s injury as Jose was reeling from seeing it.”
Shaken stars' Ronaldo reaction
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Ronaldo’s Milan teammates have relived his serious knee injury last night as the hitman flies to Paris for surgery.
The injury-blighted marksman’s career could be over after he severed a tendon in his knee while jumping for a ball against Livorno at San Siro last night.
The horrific injury was reminiscent of April 12, 2000 when his knee buckled when making his comeback for Inter against Lazio.
Today, Ronnie has flown to Paris’ Pitie Salpetriere Hospital to be operated on by Gerard Sailant – the same man who treated him in 2000 – but the best-case scenario is a period of nine to 12 months out of the game.
“You could immediately see that it was something serious as his expression was the same as it was in Rome,” defender Daniele Bonera explained.
“We hope that he is ok, but fear that it is a bad one. He is a golden lad and I just hope he still has the desire to react and fight back. Whatever is written, he has always given himself to this team and is a great professional.”
Goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac didn’t have the best view of the injury, that took place in the Livorno box, but he could see the severity of the problem.
“I didn’t even know who it was who had gone down at first, but then it became clear,” the Australian international recalled.
“I am so gutted. He is a great person who doesn’t deserve this. It’s hard to say what will happen now, but a severed tendon is very bad.”
“We are all devastated for Ronnie and now we just have to be there for him,” Georgian star Kakha Kaladze said.
“On the pitch you could see it was a big problem immediately. It was such an unlucky thing to happen.”
The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year needed 20 months to recover from his 2000 knee injury. Such a lay-off at this late stage in his career would probably cause him to hang his boots up.
Rossoneri stunned by Ronaldo drama
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Milan general manager Adriano Galliani and Coach Carlo Ancelotti admit they cannot explain why Ronaldo’s knee tendon snapped.
The striker’s career could well be over after he was stretchered off in tears during Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with Livorno, as the diagnosis of a severed knee tendon requires nine months to a year on the sidelines.
“Ronnie has a serious problem in the tendon of his left knee, so it is not the one that underwent surgery in the past,” noted Galliani.
“On the field and in the locker room there was a bitter atmosphere. Injuries, especially serious ones, to a great champion like Ronaldo are tough.
“To see him cry like that, it affects those who are on the pitch and the directors. It was a terrible feeling.”
Ronaldo had been an injury doubt for this game and was introduced as a substitute in the second half, but lasted only three minutes.
“Ronaldo is in hospital and over the next few hours we hope to understand what has happened,” added Ancelotti.
Il Fenomeno had been spotted before kick-off receiving massage around the knee area, but that was again on his right leg – the one that had undergone surgery twice in 1998 and 2000.
“The problem he had was on the other leg and there was no indication of anything serious. If he played it was because he could, we’re not crazy.”
Not only is Ronaldo out for the season, possibly forced to hang up his boots altogether, but Ancelotti is forced to deal with further worries for the Champions League game with Arsenal on February 20.
“I think everyone will have recovered by then. In fact, Clarence Seedorf and Kaka should be back against Parma this Saturday.
“We have had so many matches to play and with all these injuries, we are not in the best shape right now.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was in the stands at San Siro to witness Ronaldo’s untimely exit.
Official - Ronaldo tendon severed
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Milan have now confirmed Ronaldo has completely severed the tendon in his left knee, effectively ending his career.
The striker collapsed as he jumped to reach a cross during tonight’s 1-1 draw with Livorno and immediately the situation seemed to be serious.
His teammates waved for medical staff and called for a substitution as he was stretchered off the field in tears.
Ronaldo was rushed to a local hospital to undergo tests and initial reports suggesting he had completely severed the tendon were confirmed on the official Rossoneri website.
Ronnie has already suffered this type of injury twice before in 1998 and 2000, but that was in his right knee.
As there was talk of a possible retirement at the end of this season, if the diagnosis is confirmed then it is likely Ronaldo’s career is over.
An injury of this type requires a player to be out of action for between nine months and a year.
AC Milan 1:1 Livorno - match report
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Scorers: Pulzetti 50 (L), Pirlo pen 61 (M)
Milan were held to a 1-1 home draw by Livorno, but above all the team is in shock after Ronaldo was stretchered off with a serious knee injury.
This fixture was rescheduled from December 16 due to the Rossoneri's Club World Cup commitments and was the last Serie A game to be moved from that period, but after four wins on the trot they knew another victory would see them leapfrog Fiorentina into fourth place.
Kaka, Alexandre Pato, Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi were injured, so Alberto Paloschi got his first start just three days after scoring in the opening 20 seconds of his Serie A debut. Yoann Gourcuff supported the 18-year-old and Alberto Gilardino. Livorno came off a 1-1 draw with Genoa and were just three points clear of the drop zone.
After five minutes Andrea Pirlo's snapshot was palmed round the near post by Marco Amelia, then back-to-back Gourcuff and Massimo Ambrosini efforts were charged down inside the box.
Ambrosini's haphazard cross turned into a shot that Amelia flapped out from under the bar. Pirlo dispossessed a player in midfield and threaded through for Paloschi, who lost his footing at the key moment and allowed Amelia to save.
Livorno had their first attempt on 18 minutes, as Francesco Tavano spun round to drill over the bar, but it was all Milan as Gourcuff smashed a powerful left-foot drive past the woodwork.
A free kick was floated to the back post and Tavano was left unmarked thanks to Massimo Oddo's error, but Ambrosini did just enough to put him off as he fired high from eight yards.
The best chance of the game so far saw Ambrosini's diving header fingertipped round the base of the post by a spectacular Amelia save. The Italian international goalkeeper was tested again by a Pirlo snapshot.
Livorno's chances of getting points here were hit when Tavano limped off clutching the back of his thigh just before half-time. Straight after the restart, Gennaro Gattuso risked a penalty with a sliding tackle on Antonio Flippini, but it was clean.
However, it was Livorno who took a shock lead on 50 minutes. Nico Pulzetti gathered a weak Kakha Kaladze clearance, took it to his stronger left foot and unleashed a rocket into the far top corner from just inside the box. It was a fine way to celebrate his 24th birthday.
Gilardino requested a penalty, but the ball ricocheted off Fabio Galante's leg and on to his arm, so was not a spot-kick offence. Carlo Ancelotti completely revamped the strikeforce with a double substitution, introducing the not 100 per cent fit Ronaldo and Inzaghi.
Within a couple of minutes the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty as Jose Luis Vidigal struck Oddo's cross. Most of the attention was on Ronaldo, who fell in that move and was stretchered off clutching his left knee. The Brazilian was crying in agony and his teammates seemed very shaken, fearing the worst.
Pirlo kept his cool to convert the spot-kick and draw Milan level, while Serginho came off the bench. Initial reports suggest Ronaldo has sustained a serious tendon injury in his left knee and the fall was not entirely dissimilar to the horrific injury he suffered on April 12, 2000.
Ambrosini moved further up the field to fill in and there were long-range efforts from Inzaghi and Diamanti.
On 76 minutes an Inzaghi diving header was somehow pushed off the line by a crucial Amelia reaction save.
In the final minute Livorno risked a winner with Pulzetti again. He was totally unmarked at the back post and came sliding on to a cross, but couldn't make decent contact and the ball was trapped under his body.
Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Gourcuff; Paloschi (Inzaghi 57), Gilardino (Ronaldo 57) (Serginho 62)
Livorno: Amelia; Grandoni, Knezevic, Galante; A Filippini, Pulzetti, De Vezze, Vidigal (Pavan 84), Pasquale; Tavano (Diamanti 45), Tristan (Rossini 77)
Ronaldo suffers serious injury
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Ronaldo has been stretchered off in tears after sustaining what could be a very serious left knee injury.
The Brazilian had only been on the field for three minutes in Milan’s rescheduled Week 16 match with Livorno when he collapsed in the box.
The referee awarded a penalty for Jose Luis Vidigal’s handball – later converted by Andrea Pirlo to equalise from Nico Pulzetti’s effort – but all attention was on Ronaldo.
He was stretchered off screaming and crying in agony, clutching his left knee, and initial reports suggest it is a very serious injury to the tendons.
The fall was not entirely dissimilar to the April 12, 2000 collapse that happened minutes after his comeback for Inter against Lazio.
That kept him out for almost another year and with the recent rumours Ronaldo is considering retirement, there are fears another setback could force Il Fenomeno out of football.
The player was taken immediately to a local hospital in an ambulance accompanied by Milan director Leonardo.
Ancelotti rubbishes Ronaldo rumours
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Milan tactician Carlo Ancelotti has refuted suggestions that Ronaldo is considering retirement and is likely to have him on the bench tonight.
El Fenomeno has been dogged by injury problems this term and there were new fears over his fitness when he limped off against Siena.
Reports from Brazil suggested that the former Inter man had lost patience and was contemplating hanging his boots up, but Ancelotti gives no credence to the rumours.
“Is Ronaldo retiring? You would have to ask him about that,” the Rossoneri boss insisted. “But he seems fit to me and I haven’t heard anything from him.
“He wasn’t in the best condition to be playing on Sunday and if I’d had other options I wouldn’t have played him.
“But I felt that starting Alberto Paloschi would have been too much, so I appreciated that Ronnie was willing to help out.”
It seems that the Brazilian international’s latest injury isn’t as serious as feared, and Carletto believes he will extend his contract when his current deal runs out at the end of the season.
“If he finds fitness, his contract will be renewed,” Ancelotti maintained.
Paloschi is likely to start against Livorno tonight at San Siro alongside Alberto Gilardino as Milan look to leapfrog Fiorentina into fourth place.
Milan (probable): Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Gourcuff, Seedorf; Gilardino, Paloschi
Livorno (probable): Amelia; Grandoni, Pavan, Galante; E Filippini, Pulzetti, Vidigal, De Vezze, Pasquale; Bogdani, Tavano
Ancelotti looks to Paloschi
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Milan prodigy Alberto Paloschi could get another chance to shine against Livorno tomorrow, concedes Carlo Ancelotti.
The 18-year-old netted less than 20 seconds into his Serie A debut, grabbing the winner in a 1-0 victory over Siena, and with injury woes continuing could be called on again.
“We will not have Alexandre Pato or Kaka, though Ricky will be ready for Parma. Gennaro Gattuso and Alberto Gilardino return, but for the rest we have to evaluate those who played on Sunday,” commented the Coach.
“Alessandro Nesta probably won’t be there, as he has not entirely recovered from a back problem, while I could rest Paolo Maldini.”
Paloschi is likely to get his opportunity because Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi are still struggling with fitness woes.
“Ronaldo’s main problem is one of match fitness and condition, not physical injury. He has the chance to work well in training this week and come back out against Parma on Saturday,” added Ancelotti.
“If Inzaghi shows difficulty in his recovery, then Paloschi will be there for the start, otherwise he’ll be on the bench. Paloschi is very young, like Pato, but he has more room for improvement than the Brazilian. Alberto will certainly stay here next season and I’ll settle him into the main squad.”
The tactician was seen laughing on the sidelines after Paloschi’s debut goal and admitted it was a special moment.
“Something incredible happened and at times football can reserve these extraordinary surprises for everyone. We hoped he would score, but when it actually happened it was a great shock.”
The Rossoneri have won four on the trot and, with a victory over Livorno in the rescheduled Serie A match from December, would leapfrog Fiorentina into fourth place.
“With Giancarlo Camolese’s arrival Livorno stepped up a gear. They are in good shape, just like Siena were. It is a great opportunity for us to get back into the top four.”
Milan squad: Dida, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Favalli, Kaladze, Oddo, Serginho, Simic; Ambrosini, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ronaldo, Paloschi.
AC Milan consider Selecão snub
13.2 || webmaster
General secretary of the Milan Foundation Leonardo has hinted that the Rossoneri may not release Kaka to play for Brazil at the Olympics.
There is a good chance that the Ballon d’Or winner will be selected as one of Brazil’s overage contingent for the summer’s trip to Beijing, but that would see him miss out on the Champions League preliminary round should Milan be involved.
“If Kaka is named in the Olympic squad then he would not be able to play two very important games if we finish the current Serie A season in third or fourth place,” Leonardo told O Globo.
“The competition clashes with games that represent a major percentage of the club’s finances.
“It has nothing to do with saying that Milan won’t release a player. There are regulations we follow on this and the Olympic games are not organised by FIFA.”
Although FIFA regulations would not force the Diavolo to allow Kaka to compete, Leonardo suggests that an agreement may be reached in any case.
“Sepp Blatter of FIFA and Michel Platini of UEFA are very good and Brazilian Football Federation President Ricardo Teixeira is a powerful man,” he stressed.
“There is a level of communication that did not exist in the past.”
Ferrari en route to AC Milan?
12.2 || webmaster
Reports in the peninsula suggest that Roma defender Matteo Ferrari will sign a deal with Milan at the end of the season.
The 28-year-old stopper hasn’t regularly commanded a place in Luciano Spalletti’s side this term and is considering his options with his contract set to expire in June.
A story in Rome’s Il Tempo newspaper this morning states that Ferrari’s agent has been in early discussions with the Rossoneri over a possible free transfer switch.
It is believed that the Giallorossi have tabled an extension offer worth around £1m a year, but Milan are expected to blow that sum out of the water.
There are suggestions that the world champions would be willing to pay Ferrari £1.6m annually and provide the security of a four-year deal.
Ferrari has 11 Azzurri caps and has made 62 appearances for Roma since moving to the Eternal City in 2004, despite a loan spell at Everton.
Ronaldo to retire?
12.2 || webmaster
There are rumours in Brazil that Milan’s injury-plagued striker Ronaldo may quit football.
The 31-year-old missed the start of the season due to a thigh problem and sought treatment in Brazil, which put a great strain on El Fenomeno’s relationship with the Milan medical team.
The Selecao star returned to action in Week 18’s 5-2 win over Napoli and bagged a brace, but his problems resurfaced when he limped off at half-time against Siena last weekend.
Ronnie will certainly miss tomorrow night’s game against Livorno and could be forced to sit out the weekend’s fixture against Parma and even the Champions League encounter with Arsenal in London.
With his contract expiring this summer, Ronaldo had been determined to earn a new deal, but his chances of doing so are fading with each week he spends in the stands.
The emergence of Alberto Paloschi and the impressive form of Alexandre Pato has seen Ronaldo’s future at the club called into question and there are reports that he has become increasingly depressed by his situation.
While there are suggestions that Ronaldo will hang his boots up, sources in Brazil insist that the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year will opt to join Flamengo in the summer to play out the rest of his career in his homeland.
Gilardino is proud of Paloschi
12.2 || webmaster
Milan marksman Alberto Gilardino insists that he is happy for Alberto Paloschi after the youngster’s debut goal against Siena.
Life at San Siro is becoming increasingly tough for Gilardino who has seen competition for a place in the front line intensify with the arrival of Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato.
When Pato was sidelined by injury last weekend, a new hero appeared in the form of Paloschi, who scored the winning goal within seconds of his maiden Serie A outing and piled the pressure on the struggling Gila.
“I am very happy for him,” Gilardino maintained on Sky Sport Italia.
“He is a lad who deserved a goal and I hope that he will score many like it because to make such a quick impression is an impressive feat.
“He is a very good player who has grown up in Milan and that is an extra source of pride.
“At 18-years-old we must make sure we don’t put too much pressure on him, but he has great potential and statistics at youth level.”
However, it seems that Carlo Ancelotti is ready to call the young gun into action again for Milan’s rescheduled game against Livorno tomorrow evening.
“Paloschi will play on Wednesday night, but I haven’t decided whether he will start or come on as a substitute,” Carletto revealed.
“We are just waiting on whether we will have a few players back from injury.”
While Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi seem highly unlikely to make it back, midfield dynamo Gennaro Gattuso is nearing a miracle recovery from a muscular problem he picked up 10 days ago.
Gattuso’s problem had been expected to keep the former Rangers man out for more than a month, but he trained with his teammates yesterday and could start against Livorno.
Cafu cools quit talk
11.2 || webmaster
Milan veteran Marcos Cafu has played down suggestions that he will be retiring at the end of the season.
After an injury-plagued start to the campaign, the 37-year-old stopper is back in action and played the full 90 minutes against Siena yesterday – his ninth outing of the campaign.
Cafu is only bound to San Siro by a one-year deal, but he has hinted that he may be looking for an extension.
“I have been hearing from everyone that I will stop playing at the end of the championship,” Cafu told journalists. “But I didn’t ever say that.
“I haven’t decided anything yet. I am fit and I want to keep contributing to this side’s success.
“Carlo Ancelotti knows that he can count on me at any time and I will be available every three days over the coming months.
“After that we will have to see, but last year’s contract renewal was agreed a month before the end of the season,” the Brazilian star concluded.
Bosses bow to Paloschi destiny
11.2 || webmaster
Carlo Ancelotti and Mario Beretta believe Alberto Paloschi was destined to score against Siena.
The 18-year-old Milan striker netted the winning goal 15 seconds into his Serie A debut at San Siro.
“Paloschi wasn’t meant to be here,” revealed Ancelotti. “He was at the Viareggio youth tournament when there was an injury crisis, so we recalled him.
“It seems to be destiny, as he has scored in all three of the official games he has played in. Among our strikers he is the most prolific.”
Paloschi also scored two goals in his two Coppa Italia matches earlier this season and has earned his step up from the Primavera side.
“Now he will stay with the senior squad because we need him right now, but he has to be given the time to grow.”
The goal got the Rossoneri out of a sticky situation, as they were struggling badly against a Siena side that had thrashed Roma 3-0 last week.
“We knew there were going to be difficulties and tried to make the most of our chances. The 4-4-2 system was necessary because we were without Kaka and Clarence Seedorf, so opted to introduce Serginho.”
Paloschi’s goal may have been a shock to everyone at San Siro, but not to Siena boss Beretta.
“He is an excellent player and a good lad. When he stepped on to the pitch I said he’d score. Next time I’ll keep quiet!”
The Tuscans put in another splendid performance against one of the big clubs, but came away empty-handed.
“We wasted so many scoring opportunities in a great performance. We were unlucky, hit the upright and did not deserve to lose, but in any case this is not the place where we are expected to pick up points.”
Paloschi is the new Pato!
11.2 || webmaster
A star is born, as Milan teen Alberto Paloschi scored the winner against Siena with his first Serie A touch!
“I had a bit of luck, too. I really didn’t expect to score on my debut and I still feel goosebumps now,” said the young striker after the 1-0 victory.
Paloschi only turned 18 years of age on January 4, but had already made his mark for the Rossoneri, scoring two goals in as many Coppa Italia appearances this season.
“I have had the opportunity to play at San Siro in the Coppa Italia, but there were only 5,000 spectators.
“Today the stadium was packed and it really is another atmosphere entirely. I am happy to have scored today and hope to net many more.
“I dedicate this goal to my family. Up until now they have made many sacrifices to take me from my hometown of Bergamo to Milan and I owe it all to them.”
With Alexandre Pato also scoring on his Serie A debut, it seems Milan can push back talk of an ageing squad with no new faces ready to step in.
“I have Ronaldo, Pippo Inzaghi, Pato and Alberto Gilardino ahead of me. I can only learn from these great champions,” continued Paloschi.
“Inzaghi is my idol and after the goal he gave me compliments.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s choice of substitute was indeed inspired, as within 15 seconds Paloschi had scored the winner against Siena that takes them within two points of Fiorentina in fourth place.
AC Milan 1:0 Siena - match report
10.2 || webmaster
Scorer: Paloschi 63 (M)
A star is born, as 18-year-old Alberto Paloschi scored the winner 15 seconds into his Serie A debut!
The Rossoneri had risen to fifth place with a game in hand following three wins on the trot, but Alberto Gilardino was suspended, Kaka, Alexandre Pato and Gennaro Gattuso injured, so Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi formed an unlikely partnership. Siena were fresh from a shock 3-0 drubbing of Roma, following on from a victory over Palermo and a slender 3-2 loss to Inter.
Last season this tie ended 0-0, the first time Siena had emerged undefeated. Both goalkeepers were forced into splendid saves in the opening six minutes, as Zeljko Kalac flew to parry a Mario Frick snapshot and Alex Manninger had his palms stung by an Inzaghi counter-attack.
Siena hit the back of the net after 13 minutes, but the goal was disallowed for a very tight Tomas Locatelli offside position, as he may have been kept in play by Marek Jankulovski before he volleyed in from seven yards.
Serginho nutmegged Locatelli only to hit the side-netting, then Inzaghi spun round his marker to drill over the bar from Massimo Ambrosini's assist. Serginho was in splendid form in a rare start and some more fancy footwork sent Ronaldo clear, but Il Fenomeno's effort was charged down.
Inzaghi got in front of his marker at the near post to nod a Serginho cross on to the side-netting, while at the other end Massimo Maccarone was not alert enough to pounce on Lukas Jarolim's smart cross.
Milan made two substitutions at half-time and Manninger risked dismissal as he rushed out to clear outside the box, almost handling. Inzaghi was furious as he was stopped alone on goal for a debatable offside position, as Portanova seemed to be keeping him in play.
Yet on 51 minutes Siena went closer than anyone to a goal, Frick sweeping a right-foot strike on to the upright from nine yards.Substitute Clarence Seedorf lost the ball in midfield an Simone Vergassola launched Maccarone's counter, but Daniele Bonera did just enough to put him off and Kalac saved the shot.
Locatelli had another great chance for Siena, nodding over an empty net under no pressure. The San Siro crowd started to jeer and Carlo Ancelotti resorted to desperate measures - 18-year-old youth striker Alberto Paloschi.
It proved inspired, as 15 seconds into his debut the teen let the ball bounce and cracked a fantastic right-foot strike into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box! After Pato, another youngster made a sensational San Siro debut.
Siena were stunned, but fought back with Locatelli drilling past the post. Paloschi combined brilliantly with Inzaghi and had the crowd on its feet again, then Manninger flew to parry Seedorf's rocket from distance.
Simone Vergassola was shown a straight red card for stopping a clear scoring opportunity, as he raised his arm - albeit very close to the incident - to block Inzaghi's counter.
In the final minute Kalac performed a fantastic save on Frick's flicked header and Manninger went up for the last corner kick, but ended up causing more problems as he got in the way of teammate Simone Loria.
Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Nesta (Bonera 46), Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Ambrosini, Pirlo, Serginho (Paloschi 63); Ronaldo (Seedorf 46), Inzaghi
Siena: Manninger; Rossettini, Portanova, Loria, De Ceglie; Jarolim (Kharja 73), Codrea, Vergassola; Locatelli (Forestieri 75); Maccarone, Frick
Sent off: Vergassola 80 (S)
Ancelotti's odd couple
9.2 || webmaster
Carlo Ancelotti reshuffles his Milan squad to face Siena and believes the unusual partnership of Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi can work.
Alexandre Pato and Kaka are injured with Alberto Gilardino sitting out a ban, so the Coach is forced to try an all-new double act.
“Ronaldo is a striker who plays much better going deep than he used to. I am not interested if he can play 90 minutes, I’d be happy with 20…” smiled Ancelotti.
“He is not in perfect shape, considering the problems he has had over the past few months. Let us say he is in the same condition as he was against Napoli.”
Il Fenomeno netted two goals in the 5-2 victory over Napoli last month, one of only a handful of appearances this season due to a series of injuries.
Inzaghi is ready to play his first match since the derby before Christmas, after which he suffered from both an ankle injury and painful kidney stones.
“He’s the same as always. Pippo trained well and is very motivated. He and Ronaldo have the right characteristics to play well tomorrow.”
There are also changes in defence, where Kakha Kaladze should be rested in favour of Paolo Maldini, introducing Marek Jankulovski in the left-back slot.
“Alessandro Nesta will also rest at some point over the next few games. Andrea Pirlo is the greatest central midfielder in the world and he has been moved slightly to help Emerson settle in. In these years many players have adapted to the needs of the team.”
Sunday’s meeting represents a crucial time of the season, as Milan have closed to within four points of fourth place with a game in hand.
Not only do they face a midweek rescheduled fixture with Livorno, but they welcome a Siena outfit fresh from thrashing Roma 3-0.
“The very fact that after winning five of our last six games we are still here chasing shows just how long we’ve got to go yet. It is important to have consistency in results, as at the end of the day third or fourth place is the same.”
Ideally the Rossoneri would finish in the top two, as that would mean automatic qualification for the Champions League without going through a preliminary round in August.
“We are in a tricky situation, as we are missing important players and taking on a team that plays at a high tempo. It’s going to be a complicated match.”
AC Milan not feeling Olympic spirit
9.2 || webmaster
Milan believe they’ll have Alexandre Pato ready for the Arsenal game, but refuse to release Kaka or Pippo Inzaghi for the Olympics.
Pato will miss this weekend’s match with Siena after badly spraining his ankle during the 1-0 win at Fiorentina and there were fears he’d be sidelined for several weeks.
However, there is comforting news on the 18-year-old’s progress, as he told the media during a publicity event on Friday night.
“My ankle is feeling much better, it is not as serious as we thought,” commented the Brazilian. “I really hope to be there against Arsenal.”
The first leg of the Champions League clash is on February 20 in London and Pato was set to make his European debut.
“He is starting to do physiotherapy on the sand, so the ankle injury is not as bad as it may have at first seemed,” added Coach Carlo Ancelotti. “We are going towards a recovery as quickly as possible.”
Pato is expected to miss out on a potential Champions League preliminary round in August because he is part of the Brazil youth squad that will take part in the Beijing Olympics.
There are rumours that tactician Carlos Dunga aims to call Kaka among the three over-age players allowed for the competition, which would mean he’d skip Milan’s crucial qualifiers as well.
“The Olympics are not part of the FIFA calendar, it is just a great tournament reserved for the Under-23 players in which three older figures are allowed,” pointed out general manager Adriano Galliani.
“I think that everything should be viewed in a reasonable manner, both from the clubs and the Federations.
“Milan will release any Under-23 players, so if Pato is called by Brazil then we will let him go. One can find opportune agreements for the over-age players, though.”
It has also been reported Italy could offer to bring along some of the Rossoneri’s older figures, including Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo.
“Let us not forget this is the year of the European Championships, that during the Olympics some Leagues have already started and there are the preliminaries for the Champions League,” concluded Galliani.
Ronaldo focused on European glory
9.2 || webmaster
Ronaldo is back in action after a series of injuries and has one target in his sights – to win the Champions League with Milan.
“I have not yet won the Champions League, so I will do everything I can to bring it back home with Milan.”
He is closing in on full fitness in the run-up to the second round showdown with Arsenal, which would be his European debut in a Rossoneri jersey.
He was cup-tied due to his time with Real Madrid in last season’s triumphant competition, while physical problems have prevented him from playing in the Champions League, European Super Cup or Club World Cup this term.
The striker has barely set foot on the field this season due to recurring knee and muscular injuries, but finally seems ready to make his mark against Siena this weekend.
“This is going to be an important game. We are make up for lost ground after a bad start and to win here would be crucial.”
The Rossoneri are now in fifth place with a game in hand after defeating top four contenders Udinese and Fiorentina away from home in recent weeks.
However, they are without injured stars Alexandre Pato and Kaka – as well as the suspended Alberto Gilardino – for the Siena encounter, so he could partner Pippo Inzaghi.
“We had a few training sessions together and had a lot of fun. This season when I was fit then he tended to be injured, and vice versa, but now we’re more or less alright at the same time. If we do play alongside each other, we will try to do very well,” he told Milan Channel.
“A year ago I was able to give my contribution, this year a little less. I am disappointed at all the injuries I had in my career and think there were many mistakes both from the medical staff and from me.
“Now I hope to get some consistency into my performances because being here at Milan is wonderful and very motivating. I am determined to do well.”
Kaka aims for Arsenal
7.2 || webmaster
Siena this weekend, but he is determined to return for the Champions League trip to Arsenal.
The Ballon d’Or winner has been playing in spite of a knee problem for the last year, but has finally been forced to give the problem some time to heal.
While it looks likely that he will be absent for the February 16 clash against Parma, Kaka believes he will be ready to travel to London on February 20 after positive tests today.
“The knee is getting better,” the Brasila native said at a charity event in Milan.
“Unfortunately, this is an old problem. I’ve been dealing with this pain for a long time and managing to deal with it, but I can’t keep training and playing at my best with it.
“This is the right time to take a rest and see if that’s enough to cure it. I’m hoping to play again as soon as possible.
“I don’t know how long it will take, but it doesn’t look like I will be playing on Sunday or Wednesday. Still, we will see about the Parma game because there is a week to go.
“I just want to be back for the double test against Arsenal. I don’t think any operation will be needed, not even at the end of the year.”
Milan have a number of injury worries ahead of this weekend’s game against Siena, but Carlo Ancelotti could welcome back striking stars Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi.
“There will be a lot of changes in attack as Ronaldo and Inzaghi will be coming back in,” Kaka insisted.
“I am happy for Ronnie and I hope that Pippo can get back to his best too as we have missed him so much.”
Kaka finished the interview by commenting on his chances of playing for Brazil’s Olympic side in Beijing this summer.
“I would like to go,” he admitted. “But I will leave the decision to the Brazilian Football Federation and Milan because there can be such trouble with these things.”
Cristiano Ronaldo questions Kaka crown
7.2 || webmaster
Milan’s Kaka may be the European and World Player of the Year, but Cristiano Ronaldo believes that he is No 1.
The Manchester United ace is having a magnificent season and has found the net 27 times in all competitions, but he missed out on 2007’s silverware.
Despite being banished to second place in last year’s award ceremonies, Ronaldo doesn’t feel that he should bow to anyone.
“I don’t need to demonstrate that I am the No 1 in the world,” the former Sporting Lisbon man said in the Daily Mirror.
“You really see who is best from the work you do over the nine months of the season and if I am named the best in the world, it won’t be a surprise to me.
“I’m 23 now and I never believed I would find myself in such a privileged position in the world of football, playing at the highest level for a club of United’s standing.”
Ronaldo concluded his interview by hinting that he may one day come face-to-face with Kaka in Serie A.
“I love playing for United and I am very happy in England, but Italy is another League that is very attractive to me,” he revealed.
AC Milan gunning for Kaka and Pato
6.2 || webmaster
Kaka’s spokesman may not be so sure, but Milan’s fitness staff are confident the Balon d’Or winner and Alexandre Pato will be ready to face Arsenal.
The presence of the two Brazilians in this Champions League clash was put in doubt by recent injury worries.
Pato turned his ankle on the turf during Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Fiorentina, while Kaka’s spokesman Diego Kotscho warns a knee problem has been dragging on for months and “he probably will not be fielded against Arsenal.”
However, a very different opinion has been proffered by MilanLab co-ordinator Jean Pierre Meersseman.
“Pato is much better today. Up until yesterday he was walking with the aid of crutches, but now he can walk without feeling any pain,” he told Milan Channel.
“We are confident of his recovery time. Up until yesterday we thought it would take two or three weeks, but now I think within a fortnight he can be recovered and ready for the match with Arsenal.”
There were fears Pato had damaged ligaments or even fractured his ankle when he caught his studs in the turf.
“Pato was certainly very frightened, as it was his first injury and came after scoring a fantastic goal the day before he was set to join the Brazilian national team. It was a physical blow and a psychological one.”
The race to play at the Emirates on February 20 is also on for Kaka, who has been struggling with a knee problem.
“Kaka will certainly be available against Arsenal, but he won’t be there with Siena,” confirmed Meersseman.
“This knee injury has been going on for almost two years and he always feels a little pain the day after a match. This is why we decided to take action so he can recover quicker in future.”
The Rossoneri face Siena this weekend without the suspended Alberto Gilardino, so there are precious few options left in attack.
“Ronaldo and Pippo Inzaghi will certainly be there against Siena. They looked good in training. We also scanned Gennaro Gattuso and he too should be ready for Arsenal.”
The professor revealed a curious particular about Gattuso’s hardman reputation,
“We need to protect Rino from himself, as he feels no pain and so pushed forward through everything. We need in-depth tests to see if there really is any damage or not.”
Jankulovski: I’m back
6.2 || webmaster
Czech international Marek Jankulovski is back in action after knee surgery and can’t wait to return to the Milan line-up.
The 30-year-old has played just six games this term as a serious knee problem has kept him sidelined.
However, the former Udinese man has returned to full training and may even make a contribution against Siena at San Siro this weekend.
“Finally I am fit and I’m back at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal,” Jankulovski grinned.
“I think that I’m already fine to play. I hope to be ready against Siena on Sunday, but we will have to see how training goes.
“Perhaps this surgery could have a small psychological effect on me because it’s the first time that I’ve had such an important procedure, but I think that I can play through small pains and see how it develops.”
Jankulovski will face some stiff competition for a starting place this term and could find things harder still next term if Azzurri star Gianluca Zambrotta does join from Barcelona.
“My teammates Paolo Maldini and Giuseppe Favalli are playing really well, but it’s better for us to have an abundance of options now that I have returned,” he continued optimistically.
“If a player of Zambrotta’s class arrived I would be happy because he is the best wing-back in the world, even if it meant greater competition.”
For now, Jankulovski is concentrating only on Milan’s Champions League qualification charge,
“Every game we play from now on is important to get towards our objective of fourth place,” he stressed.
“Slowly but surely we are getting closer but we have to keep it going in our rescheduled game against Livorno and against Siena.
“We won’t be taking the Robur lightly, they are a good side and they stopped Roma.”
Brazilian pair are Arsenal doubts
6.2 || webmaster
Both Kaka and Alexandre Pato look likely to be sidelined for Milan’s Champions League last 16 first leg against Arsenal.
The Rossoneri take on the Premier League leaders in a fortnight, but their preparations have been seriously jeopardised by injuries to two of their key men.
Pato has made a superb start to life in Serie A and has already chalked up four goals, but the Brazilian starlet damaged his ankle against Fiorentina last Sunday.
Reports in the Corriere dello Sport suggest that the 18-year-old striker will not recover in time for the Emirates Stadium clash and will have to settle for playing a part in the return on March 4.
Meanwhile, it seems that Kaka’s knee problem is becoming increasingly severe after it was revealed that he has been in pain for months.
The FIFA World Player of the Year’s spokesman Diego Kotshco has explained that Kaka is unlikely to feature in London.
“He has been treating this knee pain with physiotherapy and anti-inflammatories,” he told Globoesporte.
“It is not appropriate to intervene surgically, but he probably will not be fielded against Arsenal.”
Carlo Ancelotti could also be without Ronaldo and Filippo Inzaghi who are currently injured and may be left with only Alberto Gilardino in terms of striking options.
AC Milan in Lopez link
6.2 || webmaster
Despite Vice-President Adriano Galliani’s insistence that Milan are happy with their current goalkeepers, the Rossoneri are linked with a new custodian.
Nelson Dida’s struggles between the posts for the world champions have been well publicised and there have been repeated suggestions that his days at the club may be numbered.
In spite of his recent upturn in form, understudy Zeljko Kalac hasn’t always convinced either and a number of highly rated custodians are reportedly on Milan’s radar.
Galliani tried to put an end to repeated questioning over the future of the club’s ‘keepers by stressing his faith in Dida and Kalac and claiming they would start next season as first and second choice, but the whispers continue.
While there are still whispers that Fiorentina’s Sebastien Frey is a target, Villarreal’s Diego Lopez is the latest name to be generated by the rumour mill.
The 26-year-old has been in inspirational form for the Yellow Submarine this year and has deposed Uruguayan star Sebastian Viera.
Fabio Capello is said to be an admirer of the Spaniard after working with him at Real Madrid last year and reports in Marca state that Milan began watching him on the England manager’s recommendation.
It is widely believed that the Diavolo will search for a new goalkeeper in pre-season, which may prove to be the end of the line for Dida.
AC Milan turn to Paloschi
5.2 || webmaster
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani reveals that young striker Alberto Paloschi will be called up to play Siena due to the injury crisis at San Siro.
Brazilian star Alexandre Pato has made an inspirational start to life with the Diavolo and is already top of the attacking ladder.
However, he was stretchered off with an ankle injury and is even a doubt for the Champions League last 16 clash against Arsenal on February 19.
“The hope is that we will have Pato for the trip to London,” Galliani insisted. “But we will have to look elsewhere this weekend.”
The Rossoneri’s shortage of striking options for the game against Siena next weekend could present talented young gun Alberto Paloschi – who impressed in the Coppa Italia earlier this year – with a chance in Serie A.
Paloschi is still a member of Milan's youth team and has been playing in the Viareggio youth tournament.
“That’s the way football goes,” Galliani said philosophically. “It just so happens that Alberto Gilardino picked up a trivial booking at the same time that Pato got injured while Pippo Inzaghi and Ronaldo are out.
"We have called Paloschi back from Viareggio and he is training with the first team.
“Gennaro Gattuso is a different matter. His problem isn’t muscular, but we will have to listen to the medical team. I would like him to be back next Sunday.”
Galliani concluded by stressing his support for the current goalkeepers Zeljko Kalac and Nelson Dida.
“I don’t know if Kalac will be first or second choice, but we certainly aren’t looking for another ‘keeper.
“I have said before and I repeat that Milan’s goalkeepers for next year will be Kalac and Dida or Dida and Kalac if you prefer.”
Kaka: AC Milan for life
5.2 || webmaster
Milan ace Kaka has again pledged his future to the Rossoneri and suggested that he could spend the rest of his career at San Siro.
Despite repeatedly stating his love for the world champions, Kaka is regularly linked with La Liga champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Press.
The Merengues have made no secret of their desire to lure 2007’s FIFA World Player of the Year, but the Selecao hero is married to the Diavolo jersey.
“I would like to finish my career with Milan,” Kaka told Spanish newspaper Publicò.
“I want to win more with this club and one day become captain, as I love the city, the team and the country.
“Transfer speculation is a part of football, but I have always made it clear that my intention is to stay here. Anything else you hear is just rumour and it doesn’t bother me.”
Reports suggest that Kaka was delighted by the addition of young compatriot Alexandre Pato in January and that the strong contingent of Brazilian stars at Milan has made a key contribution to his contentment.
Pato faces Arsenal absence
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Milan starlet Alexandre Pato could lose the race against time to recover from injury before the Diavolo's Champions League clash against Arsenal.
The Brazilian striker has been a revelation since arriving at San Siro from Internacional at the start of January.
Four goals in six games have made Pato the talk of the peninsula, but he was stretchered off with an ankle injury minutes after he scored the winning goal against Fiorentina last weekend.
Latest reports suggest that Pato could be out of action for around three weeks and will miss out on Milan's trip to London to face Arsenal on February 20.
The Rossoneri medical staff are still conducting tests, but the 18-year-old is now almost certain to miss the Serie A games against Siena, Livorno and Parma.
Pato’s injury is particularly badly timed for Carlo Ancelotti as his side face three fixtures in seven days and there are doubts over Kaka’s fitness after a series of recent niggles.
Ancelotti fears for Pato
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Carlo Ancelotti has warned Alexandre Pato’s injury “is pretty serious,” leaving Milan with few options for next week’s game against Siena.
The 18-year-old was stretchered off in the final minutes of tonight’s 1-0 away win at Fiorentina after turning his left ankle on the turf.
“He sustained up a pretty serious sprain. We need 48 hours to evaluate the extent of the injury,” said the tactician.
It remains to be seen how long he will be out for, but the Brazilian is a real risk for the first leg of the Champions League clash with Arsenal on February 20.
It is a bitter blow for the Rossoneri, not only because Pato scored the winner at the Stadio Franchi, but also as Alberto Gilardino picked up a booking.
“We are back in an emergency situation. With Gilardino suspended, we hope that Pippo Inzaghi or Ronaldo can recover for next Sunday.
“Pato’s goal was very well constructed. Kaka did a great job in attacking the space left by Gilardino and putting it straight into the centre for Pato, who had a marvellous control and finish.”
Zeljko Kalac was also a revelation in goal, keeping the gloves despite Nelson Dida’s return to fitness from a shoulder problem.
“He earned his place with his performances, but we have another great goalkeeper who will not be forgotten, nor shelved.”
The win in Florence means Milan fly into fifth place with a game in hand against Livorno, which will be played on February 13.
If the team doesn’t qualify for the Champions League, it is likely Ancelotti will be sacked and there are new reports he’ll be replaced by Marcello Lippi.
“These rumours emerge every now and then, but they make me smile more than cause irritation. Will I leave Milan? I’ll chain myself to the gates!”
Fiorentina 0:1 AC Milan - match report
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Scorer: Pato 77 (M)
Alexandre Pato gave Milan a crucial victory away to Fiorentina, but the youngster was stretchered off with a potentially serious injury.
This was essentially a play-off for fourth place between two teams finally finding their form. Fresh from a rescheduled midweek 1-0 away win at Reggina, the Rossoneri were without Ronaldo and Gennaro Gattuso, so former Viola man Cristian Brocchi had a rare start. Fiorentina's Marco Donadel sat out a ban and Fabio Liverani was sidelined, but they were coming off four straight wins.
Milan have traditionally struggled at the Stadio Franchi, held 2-2 last season and with just one win here in their last five visits. Having said that, the last time they failed to score was a 4-0 thrashing in January 2001. There was a minute's silence before kick-off and Milan wore black armbands out of respect for President Silvio Berlusconi's mother, who died this weekend aged 97.
Giampaolo Pazzini had the first shot on goal in the opening minute smothered by Zeljko Kalac, who was given the gloves despite Nelson Dida's return to fitness.
There was chaos in the Viola box on seven minute as the Rossoneri had several chances in one move to score. Alberto Gilardino flicked the ball over Sebastien Frey and Manuel Pasqual's goalline clearance was almost an own goal, ricocheting off the inside of the far post! The move continued and Massimo Ambrosini's effort was charged down.
Adrian Mutu went close as well soon after, his first header clattering against the near post, the follow-up looping but not enough to beat Kalac in a splendid save.
Clarence Seedorf flashed a shot over and Martin Jorgensen's goalline clearance kept out Kakha Kaladze's header from a corner kick.
Kaka pounced on a Per Kroldrup error and Gilardino fired a snapshot across the face of goal, but at the other end Mario Alberto Santana just failed to get a decisive touch from close range thanks to Paolo Maldini's protection.
Gilardino was clear on goal from the D, but completely scuffed his right-foot shot so that it went well wide. A Massimo Oddo error sent Riccardo Montolivo on the counter, but Pazzini's finish was charged down inside the box.
Moments later Pazzini chested down the ball to hold off Alessandro Nesta and spun round, the rising strike skimming the crossbar.
Kaka and Seedorf combined for a classic counter-attack, but Frey did well to smother the Brazilian's finish.
Straight after the restart Nesta was extremely fortunate to avoid a straight red card. He was dispossessed by Mutu and chasing the Fiorentina striker twice held him back by his jersey, but because Kaladze was between them and the goalkeeper, it was not considered a clear scoring opportunity and so only a booking.
From the resulting free kick Nesta rode his luck again, the ball deflected out for a corner over his shoulder. Oddo dived in to prevent Pazzini getting a header from six yards on Mutu's cross.
Alexandre Pato replaced Seedorf, who was struggling with an ankle problem since the first half, but the Dutchman was visibly angry and walked off the field distant from the bench.
Maldini charged down a Tomas Ujfalusi attempt, but Kaka skipped past three tackles to fire wide of the near post.
It was a very open game and Kalac did brilliantly to parry Mutu's volley at the back post from point-blank range.
Emerson came off the bench and beat two Fiorentina players with nutmegs before unleashing a curler just over the bar in a wonderful solo move. Moments later Pato was inches away from getting the decisive touch on an Oddo cross that zipped across the face of goal.
Santana wasted a golden opportunity and it proved disastrous. Santana's unnecessary backheel for Montolivo wrecked a great chance and on the counter Milan took the lead. Pato chested down Kaka's cross, controlled it and fired past Frey with his left foot between a crowd of defenders. It was the 18-year-old's fourth goal of the season.
Former Milan flop Christian Vieri replaced Montolivo, but Kroldrup needed a desperate sliding tackle to stop Pato getting a second.
The Brazilian badly sprained his left ankle as he put his foot down awkwardly and was stretchered off in visible pain. Milan had completed their substitutions, so had to play five minutes of stoppages with 10 men. In the final seconds a corner had both teams packed into the box and it fell to Alessandro Gamberini's header from six yards, but Kalac performed a stunning point-blank reaction save!
Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Kroldrup, Gamberini, Pasqual; Kuzmanovic, Jorgensen (Gobbi 81), Montolivo (Vieri 78); Santana, Pazzini, Mutu
Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Nesta, Kaladze, Maldini; Brocchi (Emerson 72), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf (Pato 66), Kaka (Favalli 80); Gilardino
AC Milan line up Lippi
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Marcello Lippi will replace Carlo Ancelotti on the Milan hotseat next season, according to the Corriere dello Sport.
The reputable newspaper claims that a switch will occur after such a move was already considered by the Italian giants last year.
Ancelotti is said to be looking for a new challenge and the European and world champions are ready to let him go.
The newspaper is already suggesting that Carletto is considering a future with Spanish giants Barcelona or even the Italian national side.
Milan, who have won almost every trophy attainable with Ancelotti since his 2001 arrival, will cope with his departure by appointing Lippi.
The 59-year-old has been out of the game since winning the 2006 World Cup and has been waiting for the right offer.
After rejecting a host of foreign jobs and even a Juventus return last summer, it’s understood that the option of bossing Milan is ideal.
It’s even claimed that Milan are lining up a move for Barcelona’s Gianluca Zambrotta with the full backing of Lippi.
Marcello, who carved his reputation during two spells at Juventus, will reportedly hire Angelo Peruzzi as his assistant.
The former goalkeeper retired from the game in June 2007 and worked with Lippi at Juventus, Inter and with the Azzurri.
Serie A attendances rise
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Average Serie A attendances have gone up by 3,000 per game this season and Milan have the most fans in the stands.
The Lega Calcio confirmed the average attendance for top flight games in the opening 19 matches was 22,504 compared to 19,181 last term.
The figures put together season ticket holders and those who buy individual tickets for the games.
Milan have the best regular attendances with an average of 57,317 at their home games, followed by Inter in the same stadium with 47,639.
Roma on 40,167, newly promoted Napoli with 39,179 at the San Paolo, Fiorentina on 32,107 and Palermo’s 26,310 continue the list.
The Marassi duo of Genoa (23,461) and Sampdoria (21,369) precede Juventus, whose return to Serie A has attracted an average of 20,706 fans.
However, although Juve are only ninth in terms of total attendance, they lead the way when it comes to filling their arena, as the Stadio Olimpico in Turin tends to be 81.59% full.
Catania come second in this list with 79.79% and Torino, who also play their home games at the Olimpico, with 79.93%.
Milan’s 69.09%, Inter’s 57.43% and Roma’s 49.47% averages reflect the size of their stadiums, as both San Siro and the Olimpico in Rome hold over 70,000.
The situation is different in Serie B, who have lost big clubs like Juventus, Napoli and Genoa to promotion.
The average attendance here has precipitated from 8,531 in 2006-07 to just 5,946 so far this season.
Lippi grades Pato and Balotelli
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World Cup winner Marcello Lippi has given his view of the two new Serie A starlets, Alexandre Pato and Mario Balotelli.
“These are two players with completely different characteristics, so it is difficult to compare them,” the Coach told Sky Italia television.
“Pato is faster and more creative with an excellent way of keeping possession and he roams around the field a lot more.”
The 18-year-old Milan forward is has scored three goals in two Serie A home games, but could not make his official debut until January because of rules over international youngsters, as he only came of age after the summer transfer deadline.
This week Inter have unveiled their response to Pato, as 17-year-old Italian of Ghanaian origin Balotelli bagged a brace to knock Juventus out of the Coppa Italia.
“Balotelli is a pure centre-forward, very strong physically and perhaps has even more technique than the Brazilian. He has a fantastic ability to defend the ball and hides it from opponents.”
Lippi saw fit to compare these two new faces to some familiar figures in the Serie A landscape.
“Pato reminds me of Andriy Shevchenko, while in Balotelli I see a new Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”
Curiously, newspaper Corriere dello Sport went to Balotelli’s hometown and discovered the new Inter hero is a lifelong Milan fan!
Gattuso out for three weeks
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Gennaro Gattuso’s thigh strain will only keep him out for three weeks rather than the feared two months.
It had originally been reported the Milan midfielder would be out of action for at least 50 days after he limped off against Reggina on Wednesday evening.
Today the Rossoneri conducted further tests and announced that Gattuso could return in around three weeks.
He has suffered a strain to the femoral bicep in his right leg.
This means the World Cup winner will miss out on Sunday’s trip to Fiorentina, the first leg of the Champions League clash with Arsenal on February 20 and Italy’s friendly against Portugal.
There is also the real risk Gattuso will not be able to recover in time for the second leg against the Gunners on March 4 at San Siro.
AC Milan reshuffle Champions list
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Milan have unveiled their new Champions League squad list, including youngsters Alexandre Pato and Alberto Paloschi.
Brazilian Pato was unavailable for the competition until January because he only turned 18 in September, after the deadline to hand in the list.
In order to make way for Pato, fellow Brazilian Serginho has been removed from the line-up and will take no further part in the Champions League this season.
Young midfielder Paloschi has replaced striker Willy Aubameyang in the B list of youth team players after his fine performances and two goals in the Coppa Italia.
The Rossoneri will face Arsenal in the second round later this month.
Milan Champions League squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Cafu, Maldini, Kaladze, Nesta, Simic, Jankulovski, Favalli, Bonera, Darmian, Oddo; Emerson, Gattuso, Seedorf, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Paloschi; Inzaghi, Gilardino, Kakà, Ronaldo, Pato
No Gattuso or Ronaldo for AC Milan
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Milan face an injury crisis as Ronaldo and Gennaro Gattuso are both out of this weekend’s crunch match against Fiorentina.
The world champions travel to the Stadio Artemio Franchi to take on one of their direct rivals in the battle for Champions League qualification, but Carlo Ancelotti has lost some key men.
Inzaghi is nearing recovery from a long-term problem, but isn’t set to return to action until Milan host Siena on February 10.
Ronaldo had been expected to step in, but the Brazilian is still suffering from the thigh complaint that forced him out of the Rossoneri’s 2-0 win over Genoa.
While El Fenomeno started the week positively and hoped to be ready to take on the Viola, he is now out of the reckoning and Ancelotti will turn to Alberto Gilardino and Alexandre Pato.
There was another serious injury blow for Milan today as it was confirmed that key midfielder Gattuso will be out of action for around 50 days with a serious muscle strain.
The news may mean that Cristian Brocchi faces the side he spent last season on loan to.
Brocchi has made no secret of his affection for Florence and was even tipped to make a permanent switch to the Gigliati during the January transfer window.
Essien: I love AC Milan
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Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has expressed his admiration for Milan, but is quick to deny any talk of a move to the Rossoneri.
Essien is in his native Ghana at the moment trying to guide the Black Stars to glory in the African Nations Cup, but it seems that he may be keeping abreast of events in Serie A.
“I like Italian football very much,” he said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “From a tactical point of view it is the best League in the world.
“My favourite team are Milan because they have Kaka, Paolo Maldini and of course Gennaro Gattuso.
“The Italian player I like the most is Gattuso. He is an extraordinary fighter – tough, but fair.”
Despite his obvious admiration for the Diavolo, Essien was eager to stress that he is happy with his current employers.
“London is the best city in the world,” the 25-year-old claimed. “It’s a sea port where hundreds of languages are spoken and where football is played. For us English-speaking Africans who love music it is even more fascinating.”
Gilardino is settled at San Siro
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Alberto Gilardino was Milan’s goal hero against Reggina last night and he insists that there is no rivalry with teammate Alexandre Pato.
Since the arrival of Brazilian young gun Pato from Internacional at the start of the month there have been question marks over Gilardino’s future.
The former Parma man has seemed frustrated at having to settle for a seat on the bench in recent weeks and he celebrated wildly after scoring the only goal of the game in Reggio Calabria.
“I feel good physically at the moment,” the Azzurri hitman enthused. “Yesterday was an important win and three big points.
“I was very happy to score and I ran towards Daniele Bonera who predicted before the game that I would find the target. I also celebrated with Cristian Brocchi as it was his birthday.”
There had been reports that Gila was furious at being a substitute in last week’s game against Genoa, but he denied that he was angered at being behind Pato in the striking hierarchy.
“There was no controversy during the Genoa game,” he stressed. “Any player on the bench is suffering as everybody wants to be first choice.
“I get on well with Alexandre because he is such a quality player and he is very fast. He is a very different player from me and that allows me to make certain runs.”
Milan’s next task is a crucial Champions League qualification battle against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi this Sunday evening.
“We have four days to prepare ourselves well,” Gila said. “We will have to manage possession well against the Viola and try to avoid tiring ourselves too much while still avoiding the counter-attack.”