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Antonio Cassano “wants to be ready for Euro 2012 and is very determined,” confirmed Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli.
The tactician said in his press conference yesterday that he will “wait to the last minute” to bring Giuseppe Rossi and Cassano to the tournament, despite the fact neither has played yet this year.
Cassano underwent heart surgery after suffering a mini-stroke in November, but paid visit to the Italy squad ahead of tonight’s friendly with the USA.
“Antonio came to see us and passed on all of his enthusiasm,” revealed Prandelli.
“He wants to be ready for Euro 2012 and is very determined. The three months to the tournament could feel huge and could feel very brief.
“I have only one worry, that in such a tight season I’ll be delivered injured players. I don’t think such an intense wrestling match for the Scudetto can cause problems for the Nazionale. I know the players and realise in these situations you reach June with plenty of fuel in the tank.”
Nocerino praises former club Palermo 29.2 ||webmaster
Milan’s Antonio Nocerino will come up against his past this weekend when the Rossoneri travel to Palermo.
The midfielder left the Stadio Barbera in the summer for just €500,000 given that he had a year left on his Palermo deal.
“I’m happy to be at a club like Milan, playing for the Rossoneri would be a dream for everyone, but if I am here then it is because of Palermo,” he told Milan News.
“Palermo gave me the opportunity to grow and I will always be grateful to the Rosanero and their fans who were always close to me.”
The 26-year-old has been a revelation at San Siro after scoring eight goals in 23 League games. He’d only netted six top-flight goals in his entire career during spells at Juventus and Palermo before 2011-12.
Meanwhile, there are whispers emerging from Sicily which are suggesting that Palermo may line up with a 3-5-2 system at the weekend.
Serie A? Balotelli no, Pogba maybe 29.2 ||webmaster
Palermo’s Igor Budan sees the referee for Saturday’s clash between the Rosanero and Milan as likely to come under unparalleled pressure.
Both sides go into their Week 26 clash off the back of strong complaints against match officiating. Where Sulley Muntari had a clear goal incorrectly disallowed during the Rossoneri’s match with Juventus, Budan’s team were equally despondent at the standard of refereeing during their 4-1 defeat to Siena.
A red card in the first minute to Federico Balzaretti was soon followed by a controversially awarded penalty to the Robur, much to the disdain of Palermo.
Croatian striker Budan, who has recently returned to fitness and form for the Renzo Barbera outfit, believes the climate going into the weekend will see the referee placed under intense scrutiny.
“Saturday will see the most significant pressure put on the referee.
“They always say that we must leave them in piece, even if we also have pressure on us. We have to accept as players, they are like us.
“Technology? I am in favour of it. Today, the errors will be accepted, but we could help ourselves with such things. You could start putting a referee behind each goal, as they do in European competition.”
Pogba puts Juve and AC Milan on hold 28.2 ||webmaster
Michel Platini has offered his two cents on the ongoing controversy surrounding Gianluigi Buffon’s post-Milan-Juventus comments.
After the top-of-the-table clash, which finished 1-1 but was overshadowed by the controversy of Sulley Muntari’s missed legitimate goal, Buffon said that even if he knew the ball had crossed the line, he would not have admitted so to the referee.
The Italy captain has been criticised for lacking responsibility in his choice of words and even as the goalkeeper and his national Coach Cesare Prandelli defended them on Monday morning, former Juve legend and current UEFA President Platini is the latest to suggest he was unwise.
“Buffon has gone too far with his words and between Turin and Milan there should not be war. If the referee had asked him and he had said ‘no’, then that would have figured him to be a liar.
“If I had scored a goal with my hand and the referee had asked me, I would have said I had scored it with my hand. Maradona didn’t do it? No-one asked him.”
Thiago Silva: Barcelona are interested 27.2 ||webmaster
Milan defender Philippe Mexes has received a three-match ban after video evidence found him guilty of punching Juventus’ Marco Borriello at the weekend.
French centre-back Mexes was caught on camera punching former Roma teammate Borriello in the ribs, on the blind side of both the referee and his assistants, during Saturday’s clash between Milan and Juve.
After investigation, the No 5 has been handed a three-game ban and will now miss the Rossoneri’s fixtures with Palermo, Lecce and Parma.
Meanwhile, teammate Sulley Muntari and Juve midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who were both also under investigation for alleged off-the-ball clashes, have both been cleared and will not face any action.
Muntari had seemingly been caught on camera twice lashing out at Stephan Lichtsteiner, whilst Pirlo reportedly elbowed Mark Van Bommel.
Juventus - AC Milan on March 20th 27.2 ||webmaster
Milan patron Silvio Berlusconi blasted Juventus and the officials. “Our mission is to be stronger than envy, misfortune and injustice.”
The former Italian Prime Minister was in the stands for last night’s 1-1 draw, which saw both teams have perfectly good goals disallowed.
“We did not agree with the decision to suspend Zlatan Ibrahimovic for three games, robbing us of his presence against Juve,” Berlusconi told journalists.
“Ibra was only guilty of a little tap and the judges should’ve taken into account that this match was putting the two protagonists of the season against each other. It would’ve been opportune for each side to have their best men available.
“As for the goal, I am more disappointed than angry. The result was falsified by that incident. If we’d gone 2-0 up, the situation would have been very different.
“Was the referee conditioned by Antonio Conte’s comments during the week? I really think so, yes. In any case, it was a mistake and I absolutely do not want to believe in a plot against Milan.
“I have a great deal of faith that Milan can win the Scudetto, because our mission is to be stronger than envy, misfortune and injustice. Milan had the right to a positive result.
“The goal that wasn’t given was absolutely clear for all to see, even without the photographs and video evidence. I have always encouraged the use of technology in football and it would be opportune for referees to have the option of watching the replays in big decisions.
“The Sulley Muntari incident confirms that technology in football would lead to less injustice in football.”
Antonio Nocerino has been a sensation for Milan this season and hopes “someone at Juventus is feeling regret at seeing me play like this.”
The midfielder scored against his former teammates in last night’s 1-1 draw at San Siro.
“What did this goal mean to me? You can see it in my celebration,” smiled Nocerino.
“I was so fired up and had this anger within me that I wanted to let explode. I spent 11 years at Juve before being set aside without much of an explanation.
“Fortunately I went to Palermo, where I was able to grow, and now I’m very happy at Milan. I’m convinced someone at Juventus is feeling regret at seeing me play like this.”
The 1-1 draw was packed with controversy, as Sulley Muntari’s header had crossed the line, while Alessandro Matri had a goal incorrectly ruled offside.
“We played a great game against a great team. In the first half we scored two goals and the match could’ve changed if we had gone 2-0 up.
“I still don’t understand how the referee and his assistants didn’t give the goal. We then continued and created more chances, but controlling the game with a two-goal advantage is a whole other situation.”
Antonio Conte admitted “Milan deserved more” than a point, but engaged in a row on live TV because “both refereeing errors were equal.”
Juventus had spent weeks protesting at the controversial refereeing decisions that went against them, so there was huge pressure on the officials during tonight’s 1-1 draw.
The linesman, Romagnoli, made two errors when he failed to see Sulley Muntari’s header cross the line, then flagged Alessandro Matri offside.
“First of all we must praise Milan, as they played for an hour at the highest level and put us under pressure with our own weapons. Where I see that we went wrong, it’s also because they made us go wrong.
“Of course it’s tough to keep up that tempo and they collapsed at a certain point, while our substitutes brought fresh legs and allowed us to equalise.
“Let’s leave the Scudetto talk alone after this game. Anyone who saw this match realises Milan were wonderful, while Juve were lucky. We have a long way to go and Milan are a very strong team who proved it again today despite their many absentees.
“I compliment my lads for hanging in there and eventually snatching a draw at the end. That fightback showed our 24 games unbeaten are not down to luck, but also heart and hard work.”
Conte blamed the media and also accepted some responsibility for the tension around this fixture.
“These things happen. What I am disappointed by is that this game was fired up too much by everyone, both those within it and outside of it. The atmosphere in my view was not good for sport. It’s a shame, but the match is decided within the pitch and too many things happened this week.
“The most wonderful thing about all this was the match itself. The rest needs to be improved by everyone, including myself.
“The officials made two big mistakes again this evening. What can I say? These things happen and we take note one was in our favour and the other against us. We hope that the errors all even out at the end of the season for all the teams.”
However, Conte engaged in a row with former Milan star Zvonimir Boban, now a Sky Sport Italia pundit, when discussing the two incidents.
“I find it unacceptable that you can compare the two and say one error was more damaging than the other. Both goals were incorrectly disallowed and are therefore equal. What, was our goal not worth as much? I see no difference whatsoever. They were both mistakes.
“You always manage to make it into controversy, even when we come here very openly. For the last week we have been bombarded by questions and controversy, so the temperature was raised far too much.
“Admittedly, Milan deserved more from the match in terms of performance, but there were incidents against both teams tonight.”
The two eventually made peace and Conte apologised for using harsh words during the debate.
Milan Coach Massimiliano Allegri mocked Juventus after a phantom goal. “It falsified the result. I am entertained by all this.”
The Rossoneri had been leading 1-0 when Sulley Muntari’s header was flapped out by Gigi Buffon, but only after it had crossed the line.
“I had fun, as it was a wonderful game that Milan played very well. Unfortunately there was that incident that certainly falsified the result. Either the line was drawn wrong and was a bit too big… We have to accept it,” said Allegri in a sarcastic tone.
The 1-1 draw came after weeks of Juve directors, players and Coach Antonio Conte protesting at unfair treatment from referees.
“There’s no need to see the replays. It was pretty obvious from all round the stadium. The referee pointed to the centre-circle then it all just kept on going.
“Apart from everything, this incident certainly damaged us as we would’ve gone 2-0 up and that is a different match. This is a sign that perhaps someone ought to stay quiet. I am entertained by all this. In any case, it’s better to talk about the football.
“Juventus are unbeaten until now and are doing some great things. Tonight we chose to put pressure on them as high up the field as possible and take away their spaces. We kept up the tempo for most of it and got tired at the end, but wasted three or four great counter-attacks.
“This was an important turning point in the campaign, we put in a wonderful performance and I’d like to think the chances of winning the Scudetto are now 50-50.”
Alessandro Matri also had a goal incorrectly ruled offside in the final stages, but Allegri points out they cannot be compared.
“Muntari’s goal would’ve made it 2-0. Matri’s would’ve made it 1-1, so it’s a different situation entirely.”
Alexandre Pato disappointed, while replacement Stephan El Shaarawy brought more of an attacking threat.
“Pato was not 100 per cent fit, as he had a muscular twinge during the first half, so rather than risk I preferred to replace him.
“El Shaarawy gave us great intensity and could’ve done better with a few chances. I am happy with the spirit shown by the team and we will now relax a little, then begin again.
“We had a spell during the season where we felt a little mentally tired, such as the derby and against Lazio.”
There were also problems at half-time, as Vice-President Adriano Galliani reportedly shouted at the referee in the tunnel and then left San Siro due to "blood pressure problems."
Robinho: 'Error can decide Scudetto' 25.2 ||webmaster
Antonio Nocerino and Alessandro Matri secured a 1-1 draw, but both Milan and Juventus were denied evident goals in a controversial encounter!
The two top teams went head-to-head in this Scudetto showdown and it was particularly special for Andrea Pirlo and Marco Borriello against their former club. Zlatan Ibrahimovic lost his appeal against a three-match ban, joining the injured Maxi Lopez, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Aquilani, Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Merkel, Antonio Cassano, Rodney Strasser and Gennaro Gattuso. Alexandre Pato got a rare start with Robinho and Urby Emanuelson.
Antonio Nocerino couldn’t get enough power to a volley at the back post, while Leonardo Bonucci was robbed for an Urby Emanuelson shot deflected wide.
Bonucci’s wayward pass was intercepted again in midfield, so Nocerino unleashed a screamer from 20 metres that took a decisive deflection off the same defender to leave Gigi Buffon stranded.
Thiago Silva bravely charged down an Arturo Vidal snapshot with his crotch, while Robinho forced a corner from Andrea Barzagli as he tried to go past him at the by-line.
From that corner, Buffon palmed a Mexes header off the line, then Sulley Muntari had the follow-up from a couple of yards that the goalkeeper again scooped away, but replays clearly show it was well over the line. Nonetheless, play continued and Juve nearly scored at the other end, as Christian Abbiati had his palms stung by a Marcelo Estigarribia strike.
Pirlo fired wide from a huge distance, but the Bianconeri were struggling, so after 37 minutes switched from the 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 system. Andrea Barzagli went into the book for tripping Emanuelson as the Dutchman surged forward on the counter-attack in the final third.
Thiago Silva’s free kick was straight into the wall, but the Mark Van Bommel follow-up skimmed a coat of paint off the upright.
A poor clearance fell to Vidal on the edge of the box for a chest and volley inches wide. At half-time both sides made changes, as Stephan El Shaarawy and Simone Pepe replaced Pato and Estigarribia.
However, within 60 seconds of the restart Mexes was caught on camera punching Borriello in the ribs in an off the ball incident. The referee did not spot it, but Mexes will undoubtedly be penalised using video evidence.
Robinho seemed to be tripped on the very edge of the box by Vidal, but the referee was right there and waved play on. Robinho also threaded a smart through ball that Muntari just failed to control when clear on goal.
Emanuelson’s pass was sending El Shaarawy through, but Barzagli’s crucial sliding tackle stopped him short.
Juventus finally created an excellent scoring opportunity on 68 minutes, as Chiellini rolled the ball across the face of goal for Fabio Quagliarella, but Abbiati managed to parry from point-blank range.
Moments later Abbiati flapped a cross off the head of Vucinic, but in the final 15 minutes Vidal had to limp on as there were no more substitutions.
Alessandro Matri ran on to a through ball and put it in the net, but the offside flag was incorrectly raised and the goal did not stand. It was the same linesman who got it wrong with the ‘phantom’ goal.
There was a huge risk on the counter with three Milan men after Pirlo’s poor free kick, but Barzagli performed a decisive sliding tackle to stop Robinho on the edge of the box.
With seven minutes to go, Juventus equalised in spectacular fashion. Pepe got down the right and crossed for Matri, who got in front of Thiago Silva and volleyed a powerful right-foot strike at the near post.
In the final minutes it was end-to-end stuff, but Vidal was shown a straight red card for going through the back of Van Bommel. Moments later, Pepe risked another red when he went through Robinho, but got away with a booking.
Luca Antonini knocked down a cross for Muntari, but Buffon smothered at his feet from six yards. There was an ugly scuffle after the final whistle, as both Chiellini and Massimo Ambrosini had to be dragged away by teammates.
AC Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Nocerino, Van Bommel, Muntari; Emanuelson (Ambrosini 71); Pato (El Shaarawy 46), Robinho
Paolo Maldini has blasted Milan for refusing to hire him as he is “an independent mind,” then hammered Juventus for “whining” about referees.
The Rossoneri legend was expected to continue his career at San Siro, but has not been called in due to reported disagreements with Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“I don’t think I’ll go back to Milan,” he told the Corriere dello Sport. “I am seen as a problem because I have an independent mind. The club’s choices are perfectly legitimate, but let us avoid hypocrisy. They said ‘he’s one of us and is always welcome,’ but that’s not the truth.”
Maldini had also been linked with a job at Paris Saint-Germain with former teammates Leonardo and Carlo Ancelotti.
“I was in Paris to visit Leonardo, but I don’t want to be a Coach. Mind you, going abroad makes you realise just how little teams know about how to defend.”
The former Milan captain was asked about tonight’s big game at San Siro.
“With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, it’ll be a faster Milan side looking more to counter-attack. I don’t understand the justice system, though, as last season he received a two-match ban for much the same thing and this time it’s three. Salvatore Aronica did something similar and was not punished at all.
“As for Juventus, they need to stay calm, as whining about every half-a-shout for a penalty isn’t the kind of thing a big club does.
“In order to beat them, you need pace. Had I been at Milan, I wouldn’t have let Andrea Pirlo join Juventus, as he should’ve gone abroad to Chelsea. Tonight’s game could be decisive for the Scudetto, even if only in psychological terms.”
Nesta out of AC Milan - Juventus? 25.2 ||webmaster
There are reports emerging that Alessandro Nesta might not even be fit enough for the bench in tonight’s Milan-Juventus showdown.
The veteran defender has been struggling with injury in recent weeks and was expected to be back in the central partnership with Thiago Silva this evening.
However, reports from the Milanello training ground this afternoon suggest Nesta has failed a fitness test and might not even be able to stay on the bench.
This means Philippe Mexes steps in to the centre-back slot.
Milan are already missing Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Aquilani, Mario Yepes, Antonio Cassano, Gennaro Gattuso, Alexander Merkel, Rodney Strasser and the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Nedved: 'Juventus penalties are a fact' 25.2 ||webmaster
Alberto Aquilani assures “Milan are stronger than Juventus, but we have to prove it on the pitch” in tonight’s Scudetto showdown.
The midfielder has played for both clubs and is injured for this game, but spoke to the Gazzetta dello Sport on the fixture.
“What do I envy Juve? Just their unbeaten record. There are many talents in their squad, but I’d point out Claudio Marchisio, who is very strong and we have a good rapport.
“I hope Alexandre Pato will be the decisive man for Milan, as he has enormous capabilities, but due to injury this season he hasn’t yet expressed himself at his best.
“I think Milan are stronger than Juventus, but we have to prove it on the pitch,” continued Aquilani.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also misses out, as an appeal against his three-match ban for slapping Napoli’s Salvatore Aronica was rejected.
“A three-game suspension was too much, especially as there was no equal treatment for Aronica. Having said that, we didn’t get too worried about losing Zlatan, as we did well even without him.
“This is not a decisive match for the Scudetto, because there are so many rounds left to go, but it can be a turning point for the season.
“I thought Juventus would be in the title race, as they invested so much in recent years, but I didn’t expect them to be unbeaten in February. Antonio Conte has given them solid organisation, but it’s the players who make the difference.”
Luciano Moggi gave his predictions for Milan-Juventus. “The Rossoneri run the biggest risk with their many absentees.”
The former Juventus director general spoke to RadioCalciomercato about tonight’s big Serie A match.
“It was already a fixture in the past that decided important things like a Scudetto or Champions League.
“This time it won’t be so decisive because there’s a long way to go to the end of the season, but it will be very important in psychological terms. Neither side wants to lose its positive streak.”
Milan are without Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to his ban, joining the injured Kevin-Prince Boateng, Maxi Lopez, Alberto Aquilani, Clarence Seedorf, Antonio Cassano, Gennaro Gattuso, Alexander Merkel and Rodney Strasser.
“Ibrahimovic was suspended for Juventus when they earned that famous 1-0 win here in 2005, but the ‘luxury reserve’ ended up scoring in the shape of David Trezeguet.
“In my view, anyone would want Zlatan on the field at all times, so he is an important loss for Milan. Boateng is another serious blow, so the Rossoneri run the biggest risk with their many absentees and missing those stars will also make the others feel less confident.”
Antonio Conte was a midfielder when Moggi was at the helm of Juventus and has now become a very successful Coach who is still unbeaten this season.
“As a player he had already shown signs of potentially being a good Coach. After all, he won two Serie B tournaments as a tactician and always showed he could bring something to the players.
“Besides which, he has the Juventus DNA and knows off by heart what we repeated every day – that you can make up for any lack in quality with mentality.
“Are there any comparisons with my Juventus? My side was a bit better! Don’t forget the 2006 World Cup Final looked like a Juve training session with the number of our players out there for Italy and France.
“We had Trezeguet and Adrian Mutu on the bench, so it’s impossible to make a comparison, but I have to say this current team is a surprise for everyone.”
Alessandro Matri agrees that Milan-Juventus will not decide the destination of the Scudetto, and reveals he bears no grudges towards his former employees.
The Rossoneri host Matri’s Juve on Saturday night, but like a number of pundits and figures central to proceedings, the striker does not see the game between the League’s top two sides determining where the title will end up.
“I am calm as I am for all other games,” Matri reassured Mediaset on Friday.
“Of course there are great expectations for it is a game between the leading sides, a major challenge, but we want to approach it with a peaceful mindset.
“I do not think it will be decisive, the championship is long, but it is an important game.”
Matri began his career with the San Siro outfit, but only made one senior appearance - in May 2003 - before developing as a more accomplished player elsewhere.
“These are decisions made by clubs. I have had a very broad route through the game, whilst Juve has also believed in me.”
Matri is contention to start the game alongside one of Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic.
“Since the beginning of the season there has been competition, but as long as it is healthy then it is good that it is there, because it is the case not only at Juve, but all teams.”
Conte: AC Milan more than Ibrahimovic 24.2 ||webmaster
Antonio Conte has warned his Juventus players not to relax against Milan just because Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be playing.
The 30-year-old Rossonero had appealed to have his three-game suspension for a sending off against Napoli reduced so he could play in Week 25, but that was turned down on Thursday.
Whilst admitting that he didn’t expect that outcome, Conte believes it still doesn’t change Juve’s preparations going into the top-of-the-table clash on Saturday night.
“You know, the obligation is to win, one wants to win, there is no doubt, with or without Ibra, beyond if you are playing for Milan or another club,” Conte insisted to the gathered media on Friday.
“Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. Nothing changes if there is Ibrahimovic or there is no Ibrahimovic, this is beyond doubt. We should not change anything at all in the attitude or desire to look for victory - this will be the case for us, as it will be for Milan.
“From a tactical point of view, certainly Ibrahimovic gives Milan more reference points than others, he gives a point of reference to us as well as Milan.
“But we are prepared and nothing changes the way in which we have prepared all week. I will, yesterday in training, when we look at the opposing team, we had anticipated an attack of Robinho and Ibra.”
Conte was asked again about the Swede’s absence and if his side could relax in facing a Rossoneri team without the striker.
“I think it would be stupid to relax, because Milan is not just Ibra. This was demonstrated in their previous two games, perhaps in the greatest moment of difficulty in Udine when without a great player like Ibrahimovic they won on a field that we had only drawn on and all others had lost on.
“Milan-Juventus is definitely at this time the most anticipated game of the year. There can be no release of tension because we face a Milan who have the badge sewn on to their jersey, who is ahead of us in the standings and is considered by us to be the strongest in the League.”
The Coach is rumoured to be considering using the 3-5-2 formation on Saturday night.
“It’s inevitable, that I, as was the case at the beginning of the week, have a particular idea in mind. I have an initial idea, then it is inevitable that I see in the week if this idea is supported by what I see with my eyes, then the physical state of the players and their desire and attitude in training.
“But in my head, for sure, from the first day I am working on something, I already have it in mind when training. If it is supported by what I see, then I’ll go with it.”
Having already beaten Massimiliano Allegri’s side in the reverse League fixture and again in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, Conte was asked if he truly believed that the Bianconeri are underdogs this weekend.
“Let’s not forget, they beat us in the Trofeo Berlusconi. Milan are a strong team - us, as I have said, have reached an important step, to be competitive again. I had set myself this step, I set myself several steps, but the most important was to become competitive again.
“I think we have achieved this and this is a beautiful thing and should be a source of pride and satisfaction for the players, for me, for the club and for the fans.
“Look, quite frankly, it would be nice to open up a gap between us and third place. I do not know if this will happen based on what we do against Milan. It’s inevitable that I’d like to selfishly that the top two cut themselves off.
“But we know that the Italian League is very competitive, there are teams like Udinese, Lazio, Roma and Inter.
“That said, we look to ourselves, which is most important, we look forward and try to do the best we can, starting tomorrow night, which is the first game in which we face.”
Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli sees Milan’s clash with Juventus this weekend as fascinating and important, but not a game that will decide the League title.
The two sides meet at San Siro on Saturday night locked in a season-long title race. Currently the Rossoneri hold top spot over second place Juve by a point, but the Bianconeri are unbeaten and hold the advantage of a game in hand.
Echoing Milan Coach Max Allegri’s words on the weekend's game, Azzurri boss Prandelli sees a significant game ahead, but not one that will necessarily determine the destination of Lo Scudetto.
“For me, it’s too early to say it will be a decisive game, these are two teams who will fight to the end for the title,” the 54-year-old told Eurosport.
“They are two teams that have demonstrated consistency and who have a well-defined identity on the field. This year’s Serie A is fascinating, because it will be ongoing right up to the end.
“It will be a very balanced game, a game in which Milan will try to lower the pace and keep hold of the ball, and one that Juventus will try to accelerate. The transition will be key to this meeting.”
Prandelli reserved special praise for Juve’s Antonio Conte, who has yet to lose a game in charge of the Old Lady.
“Conte is fantastic, extraordinary, he has introduced the right spirit to the club, which he had when he was captain of Juventus, and in no time. He has involved all of his players in Juve’s project too.”
Former Fiorentina Coach Prandelli also believes that Milan are stronger than critics are acknowledging.
“There are many who claim Milan depend on the individuals - I do not agree because the team did very well in these last two seasons, collecting good results.
“This means that even just on the viewpoint of tactics, things are working properly. The fantastic match in the Champions League against Arsenal also indicates that it is not just a team full of excellent players, but also one strong with perfect organisation.”
Ibrahimovic to miss Juventus match as appeal is rejected 23.2 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be available to face Juventus on Saturday after Milan lost an appeal against his three-match ban.
The striker was handed the punishment after being dismissed in the Week 22 0-0 draw with Napoli for slapping Salvatore Aronica in the face.
Having already missed the games against Udinese and Cesena, the Diavolo today made their case for the suspension to be reduced from three to two ties – thus making him available for this weekend.
Milan argued that Ibra’s gesture was not violent conduct, but one of an unsporting nature.
In seven Serie A games against former club Juventus, while playing for Inter and Milan, Ibrahimovic has scored just one goal versus the Old Lady.
The 30-year-old has netted 15 Serie A goals in 19 games this season. That is one more than the combined League goals of Juve’s Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella, Alex Del Piero and Marco Borriello.
Juventus boss Antonio Conte will reportedly use a 3-5-2 formation against Milan – but who will play up front?
The tactician has fielded a variety of systems so far this season, yet it is being suggested that he has opted for a three-match defence rather than a 4-3-3 shape ahead of this weekend’s Scudetto clash.
As a result, the tactician will now have to decide whom he uses in attack given the Old Lady’s recent problems in that area.
After two consecutive 0-0 draws, Conte fielded Marco Borriello and Fabio Quagliarella from the start in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Catania.
Tuttosport is today reporting that Mirko Vucinic, who began on the bench last week, is in pole position for a starting shirt.
However, it is unclear at this stage who will partner the summer signing from Roma. The possibilities are: Quagliarella, Borriello, Alessandro Matri or Alex Del Piero.
Milan, Napoli, Lazio, Palermo and Roma have all scored more League goals than the Bianconeri’s 36 so far this term.
Leaders Milan and Juventus, currently a point behind with a game in hand, will meet at the San Siro on Saturday night.
Montolivo 'agrees' AC Milan switch 21.2 ||webmaster
Rumours continue to push want-away Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo towards a summer Bosman switch to Milan.
The Italian international is widely known to be leaving Florence in the summer on a free transfer after seven years with La Viola. Whilst he enraged club officials during the breakdown of contract negotiations in late 2011, the player remained at the Artemio Franchi over the January transfer window.
Reports within a week of the winter window closing suggested that the 27-year-old was on the verge of agreeing to a Bosman switch in July to Milan.
Florence-based radio station Lady Radio led such rumours then and today have now claimed that the 31-times capped midfielder has finalised negotiations with the Rossoneri on a €2.5m-a-season, four-year contract, with the option for a fifth also available.
Andrea Agnelli is another who believes that Milan are favourites for the upcoming League clash with Juventus this weekend.
Following on from Beppe Marotta’s claims that Juve are the underdogs for Week 25’s clash, Agnelli also sees the odds favouring the Rossoneri.
The Bianconeri President, however, still sees one advantage that his players take into the crucial encounter between the League’s current first and second-placed sides.
“I realise that there will be a bit of nervousness, that many people in the League at this time are trying to protect their interests,” reflected Agnelli on Tuesday.
“We have the rare honour - we are very relaxed.
“We approach Saturday’s game knowing that Milan are favourites because they are the current champions of Italy and they are already in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, so surely the Rossoneri are favourites.
“We’re going to make it a great game, it’s been so long they truly competed.”
Massimiliano Allegri has backtracked slightly on the importance placed on Week 25’s top-of-the-table clash with Juventus. “It’s important, but not essential.”
The Rossoneri will meet Antonio Conte’s Bianconeri a point and a place above them in Serie A. Whilst at the weekend he described the clash between the Division’s top two sides as ‘likely to decide the title race’, Allegri had somewhat downgraded the game’s importance by Monday afternoon.
“The challenge on Saturday is very important, but it is not essential,” the Coach told radio station RTL 102.5 on Monday. “The controversy? I believe it is part of the game, it is normal for the teams at the top.”
The latter comment was in reference to Juve’s recent complaints over the quality of refereeing.
Meanwhile, Allegri’s side will welcome back Andrea Pirlo to San Siro. The playmaker spent a decade with the Rossoneri, but left last summer on a Bosman to join Juve, who he has been in excellent form for recently.
“He’s an extraordinary player. In Turin he has found a new motivation and certainly those 10 years at Milan were not a failure. His quality is not up for debate.”
Nor too, according to Allegri, is Alexandre Pato’s quality.
“Pato has not been a disappointment, this is absolutely not true. Unfortunately he has suffered several injuries in the last two years.
“Now he is better, on Sunday I rested him as a precaution. He’s a great professional and on Saturday he will be available again to the team.”
Milan will find out on Thursday if Pato will be partnered in attack with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the club’s appeal to reduce his three game ban to two is heard.
“Ibra is a good guy, a generous guy. It shows in his way of thinking, playing and especially in the fact that he is always at the forefront in defence of everything and everyone. I think he is an important player, who is doing well at Milan and fortunately arrived when I arrived.”
Former Napoli, Udinese and Milan winger Marek Jankulovski has retired from football at the age of 34 due to injury.
The Czech Republic international, who spent over a decade in Serie A and made over 250 appearances in the Italian top Division, has called time on his career in light of ongoing injury problems.
Having left Milan last summer after six years at San Siro, the left-sided player returned to his first club Banik Ostrava. However, the player suffered a knee injury in his first appearance for the club in October and has now stepped away from the game due to the recurring nature of the injury.
“Stopping is painful,” reflected Jankulovski in confirming the news on Monday. “But I am still happy with what I was able to do.”
Jankulovski won four major honours with Milan, represented his country at three European Championships and a World Cup and was named Czech Player of the Year in 2008.
Marotta: Juventus are the underdogs 20.2 ||webmaster
Daniele Arrigoni: “We were always under pressure in the first half and in thrall of Milan. The second period was different, but recovering that gap was going to be difficult.”
Massimiliano Allegri: “We’re on top of the table and have a week to prepare for the game with the Bianconeri. It would be better to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but I don’t expect anything from the appeal.”
Allegri: 'Decisive AC Milan - Juventus' 19.2 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri is back on top of the table after winning in Cesena and admits next week’s Milan-Juventus “may well decide the title.”
The Rossoneri’s 3-1 victory at the Stadio Manuzzi this afternoon allowed them to leapfrog Juve in the leadership role, although the Bianconeri have a game in hand.
“We’re happy to be up there, even with an extra match played. Now we have a whole week to prepare for Saturday’s big clash and I am certain we’ll put in a great performance,” said the Coach.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat out the second in his three-match ban, but Milan have lodged an appeal.
“If Ibra is available, then he will play against Juventus. If he isn’t, then we have others who can do well. All we can do is wait for the result of the appeals process.
“On Saturday it will be a fascinating encounter that may well decide the title.”
Allegri was not entirely content with today’s 3-1 result in Cesena, even if Sulley Ali Muntari scored on his debut.
“The lads put in a great performance up until the third goal, then we allowed Cesena too much of the initiative and sat back, as we just stopped running in attack.
“Urby Emanuelson has great technique and does not often give the ball away. Other than the goal, Muntari also played well and is highly motivated, as he wants to forget the recent negative spell of his career.”
Serie A: Cesena 1:3 AC Milan - goals/highlights 19.2 ||webmaster
Serie A: Cesena 1:3 AC Milan - match report 19.2 ||webmaster
Sulley Muntari scored on his Milan debut in a confident 3-1 victory away to Cesena, as Urby Emanuelson and Robinho were also on target.
The Rossoneri’s enthusiasm was sky high again after beating Udinese and then a midweek 4-0 demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League. They were still at the centre of an injury crisis, though, as Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alessandro Nesta, Philippe Mexes, Clarence Seedorf, Rodney Strasser, Alexander Merkel, Mario Yepes, Gennaro Gattuso, Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Cassano were out. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his three-match ban, so Maxi Lopez partnered Robinho.
Cesena missed Djokovic, Vangelis Moras and Steve Von Bergen, but above all needed a boost after throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at 10-man Lazio.
Muntari received his Milan debut after moving on loan from Inter in January. With practically his first touch the Ghanaian smashed a long-range effort not far off target. Moments later he went even closer, spinning round from nine yards to drill wide.
Urby Emanuelson stung Francesco Antonioli’s palms with a left-foot strike from distance. The Dutchman’s first-time pass sent Massimo Ambrosini clear through the middle, but fired straight at the goalkeeper from point-blank range.
It was a siege on the Cesena goal from the very start, though after 15 minutes Cesena began to emerge from their own half.
Muntari marked his debut with the opening goal. Thiago Silva’s fierce free kick bounced off Antonioli’s chest into the path of the midfielder for a tap-in from a couple of yards.
Moments later it was 2-0, as Emanuelson gathered from Robinho and smashed a powerful long-range left-foot shot past Antonioli.
Cesena finally had their first effort on target when Christian Abbiati turned Vincenzo Iaquinta’s header out for a corner. They changed their tactics so Adrian Mutu became the trequartista behind Iaquinta.
Antonio Nocerino struck the side-netting from a tight angle. Just 40 seconds after the restart, Gianluca Comotto’s ball over the top found Mutu totally unmarked, but the Romanian’s header was over the bar.
Mario Alberto Santana won back possession to roll across for Iaquinta, but the former Juventus striker scuffed his finish, as Cesena were far more attacking in this second half.
However, it was Milan who got the goal, as Robinho sprung the offside trap and beat the goalkeeper with an angled drive. He was in acres of space through the middle of the Cesena defence from Ignazio Abate’s pass. The Rossoneri players went to the touchline to celebrate with Gianluca Zambrotta, as it was his birthday.
Mutu did get the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for an offside position.
Cesena finally got one back with January signing Daniel Pudil’s debut Serie A goal. A poor Daniele Bonera clearance on the cross from the right fell to Pudil on the edge of the box and his angled half-volley bounced in front of Abbiati on its way into the far bottom corner.
Iaquinta’s powerful free kick whistled just over the crossbar, but Stephan El Shaarawy came off the bench and almost immediately pounced on a defensive error, but his finish from a tight angle was deflected over the bar by Antonioli’s shoulder as the goalkeeper bravely rushed off his line.
Cesena had a great scoring opportunity on 82 minutes, as Iaquinta sprung the offside trap on a Mutu chipped pass and his splendid volley was well beaten away by an alert Abbiati.
Pippo Inzaghi got a run-out in stoppages for Milan. El Shaarawy very nearly scored at the end, turning just wide under pressure.
Daniele Arrigoni hopes Cesena can catch Milan off guard this afternoon, but won’t adjust his tactics. “I’ve chosen my path and am sticking with it.”
The Rossoneri are fresh from thrashing Arsenal 4-0 in the Champions League, but visit the artificial turf at the Stadio Manuzzi.
“We’ve got to reach 40 points and secure our safety, taking every opportunity that comes our way,” said the Coach.
“I have no intention of changing tactics against big clubs like Milan. I’ve chosen my path and am sticking to it. Milan are missing some key players, but I’d say the replacements are more than impressive.
“It was important to come together during the week and focus on fitness work, as our schedule has been shaken up recently.
“I spoke to the players for a long time and we’ve got to believe that we can win, even when things start to go wrong.”
It is an issue for Cesena, who were leading 2-0 away to 10-man Lazio last week only to lose 3-2.
“We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that just because we have Adrian Mutu and Vincenzo Iaquinta, then we’ll get points. Results are achieved by the whole team fighting for every ball.”
Riccardo Montolivo’s contract with Fiorentina expires in June, but he denies having a deal with Milan. “I don’t know what my future will be.”
The midfielder refused an extension and will therefore be a free agent in the summer, but while he was heavily linked with Inter, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Roma, the general belief is that he’ll end up with the Rossoneri.
“At the end of the season I will very likely leave Florence, albeit with great disappointment,” Montolivo told children ‘interviewing’ him on a visit to a paediatric hospital.
“There has not been any offer from Milan, so I don’t know what my future will be.”
The children also asked whether money or passion was the deciding factor in his career.
“Money is important in life, but without the passion you have within you right from childhood, it would all be over.
“You must never give in and always believe in your dreams. I dreamed of Serie A and I did it.”
Massimiliano Allegri rings the changes against Cesena, including Sulley Muntari, but still urges Milan to maintain “the same spirit” that saw them crush Arsenal 4-0, even if it means getting angry.
The Rossoneri will be without several stars for tomorrow’s Serie A game, not to mention the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“Alessandro Nesta’s knee is playing up, but he will be available against Juventus,” explained Allegri in his press conference.
“Alexandre Pato has a muscular problem and there’s no point risking him, the same goes for Kevin-Prince Boateng. Philippe Mexes will be ready in three or four days.
“I’m not sure who will start between Luca Antonini and Djamel Mesbah, while Massimo Ambrosini replaces Mark Van Bommel and Muntari makes his debut in the Milan jersey. Robinho had his best game of the season against Arsenal.
“We need to approach Cesena with the same spirit and motivation that we had against Arsenal. We mustn’t get this wrong, as we’re facing an organised side with a strong strike force that always creates something good on home turf.
“I don’t think my lads are tired after Wednesday’s game. We need balance and a concentrated team. How am I feeling? Angry. That’s because when things are going well, you need to maintain your concentration with even more grit and determination than usual.”
Allegri also commented on Juventus Coach Antonio Conte’s complaints about refereeing errors going against the Turin giants.
“I don’t believe the referees are affected by any sort of pressure. We can all make mistakes, so just as I can pick the wrong line-up or substitutions, they can miss a penalty incident.”
AC Milan squad: Abbiati, Amelia, Piscitelli, Abate, Antonini, Bonera, Ely, Mesbah, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta, Yepes, Ambrosini, Cristante, Emanuelson, Muntari, Nocerino, Van Bommel, El Shaarawy, Inzaghi, Maxi Lopez, Robinho
Ibrahimovic: 'AC Milan's best performance' 18.2 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal was “Milan’s best team performance” and praised Thiago Silva as the “best defender in the world.”
The striker was on target with a penalty in Wednesday’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg encounter, while Kevin-Prince Boateng and a Robinho brace rounded out the scoreline.
“Everyone said it was easy because we won 4-0, but if you look back at the game it really was not so simple,” Ibra told Goal.com.
“Normally we tend to relax when 1-0 or 2-0 up, so we can control the match, but we continued pushing. We kept it in top gear for the full 90 minutes. I’ve been at the club for a year and a half now and this was probably Milan’s best team performance in my time here.”
Zlatan also revealed why he did not join Arsenal when they first contacted him in 2000, still playing in Sweden for Malmo.
“Arsenal came to me and said they were interested, so I went to London. However, when I arrived I got the sensation Arsene Wenger saw this as a trial run. I would not have turned up for an audition. I thought they wanted to convince me to join them. In my view, you either want a player or you don’t.
“In any case, I made the right choice at the time and I am happy now, as it is still the right choice.”
Ibrahimovic had words of advice for a current Arsenal star, Robin van Persie, who could well leave in the summer.
“I’m sure van Persie will do great things wherever he plays. Naturally, if you don’t win anything at club level for a few years then something does trigger inside you. Inevitably, you feel that desire to win. If you don’t feel that instinct, then I’d never want you in my team.
“Milan have the best defender in the world: Thiago Silva. Believe me, I’ve played alongside people like Lilian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, who are all fantastic, but Thiago Silva is like all of them put together. He has everything a defender needs to become the leader of a team. I can’t understand why people don’t praise him more.”
The Rossoneri now dive back into the Scudetto race and are top of the table, even if Juventus have a game in hand.
“Last season we’d pick up the points we needed even when not playing well. This year that isn’t happening. Taking home a result when not at your best is an important quality. We also had some strange injuries that ruled players out for a long time.
“Juventus are certainly doing well, but we must not forget they play only once a week, whereas we play every three days. It makes a big difference.”
It’s reported Milan and Inter will finally replace the notoriously awful San Siro turf with a ‘mixed’ artificial pitch from 2013-14.
The clubs had already considered the possibility of using an artificial playing surface, as since the third tier was added to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in 1990, the air flow means the grass does not grow effectively.
It has to be re-laid repeatedly throughout the year, but remains very choppy and causes the ball to bounce in an uneven manner.
According to Tuttosport newspaper, Milan and Inter have found a different solution to the artificial pitch that is used by Cesena and Novara in Serie A this season.
The new system to be introduced in 2013-14 would be only semi-artificial, so the grass is real, but growing on a synthetic surface.
Milan inaugurated a new ‘super-synthetic surface’ in their Milanello training ground yesterday, where the foundation is made of natural earth and the artificial grass is attached to it.
AC Milan thrashing 'will haunt' Wenger 18.2 ||webmaster
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confessed the 4-0 thrashing to Milan is the kind of result “you take with you until the last day of your life.”
The San Siro hammering was the biggest European defeat in the history of the Gunners and left them needing to win 5-0 in the second leg in order to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals.
“It never gets out of your system because you take it with you until the last day of your life,” admitted Wenger on Sky Sports.
“You can find 100 explanations why we had a poor performance and an off day. We lost against a good Milan team, not an exceptional one. Unfortunately we were punished severely.
“It is important not to dwell on that too much, instead focus on the next performance, respond in a positive way and ensure we have the mental qualities to be at this club.
“We have put together a good series of results and we can consider that night was just an off day.
“We are focused on what we have done well recently because we go into a battle now where we need confidence, belief and great commitment.
“We are in fourth position in the Premier League and we have an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It is important that we are up for that and do not feel sorry for ourselves.”
Christian Abbiati cannot disguise his satisfaction at pulling off a great save against Robin van Persie. “It was like a weight off my shoulders.”
The goalkeeper was crucial in the 4-0 Champions League victory over Arsenal on Wednesday evening, performing a spectacular reaction save on van Persie.
“I celebrated like crazy after that save, because it was like a weight off my shoulders,” Abbiati told Milan Channel.
“I was coming off an unlucky period full of injury problems. Making a save like that really fired me up.”
Now the Rossoneri hope to take that enthusiasm through to Sunday’s trip to Cesena.
“It won’t be easy, as Cesena are a good side who really strengthened over the January transfer window. Their artificial turf could cause some problems, but in any case we have to play the same way we did against Arsenal, by attacking them from the first minute.
“As for next week’s game with Juventus, we won’t think about that for now. One step at a time and from Monday we’ll concentrate on the next test.”
Milan have been dealt another injury blow as Clarence Seedorf has been ruled out of action for a month after picking up an injury midweek.
The Dutch veteran was forced off early on in the Rossoneri’s Champions League first leg clash with Arsenal on Wednesday night. Tests have now revealed the full extent of his complaint, with a strained hamstring diagnosed and likely to keep the No 10 out of action for at least a month.
His is not the only new injury concern for Coach Massimiliano Allegri, as Philippe Mexes also reportedly left training this week with a suspected sprained ankle.
The 4-0 win over Arsenal saw Kevin Prince Boateng and Alexandre Pato both return from recent lay-offs, but in preparing for the weekend trip to Cesena, Allegri is still without more than half a dozen first-team names, as well as the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Massimiliano Allegri still wasn’t entirely content with Milan’s demolition of Arsenal, as “we could’ve won 6-0 and ought to take our chances.”
The Rossoneri crushed the Gunners 4-0 in the first leg of tonight’s Champions League Round of 16 tie at San Siro.
“Tonight we had so many chances, especially after going 4-0 up. We could’ve won 6-0 and ought to take our chances when they appear, above all in Europe,” said the Coach.
“I hoped to add some more to the result, because we have to take the opportunities. The result is good, but it would’ve been better to score a few more and definitively end the tie. Now we need a goal in London to relax.
“The team played almost perfectly, attacking our opponents from the start on all areas of the pitch. In terms of concentration we got it all right and the side showed the right spirit of sacrifice to win.
“We must always play this way in Europe and Italy so we can win every trophy.”
Robinho bagged a brace, while Kevin-Prince Boateng scored a screamer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a penalty.
“Robinho is a important player and proved that in the past. This season he started without much training work behind him, so he is only now finding his form.”
Champions League: AC Milan 4:0 Arsenal - Crudeli 15.2 ||webmaster
Champions League: AC Milan 4:0 Arsenal - goals/highlights 15.2 ||webmaster
Szczesny: 'Ibrahimovic among greats' 15.2 ||webmaster
Milan absolutely dominated Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League clash, winning 4-0 with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a Robinho brace.
The Rossoneri hoped to break their curse of three consecutive Champions League exits at the Last 16 stage to English opposition. The injury crisis was beginning to calm down, as Kevin-Prince Boateng returned to the starting XI, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic was able to play because his three-match ban only applies to Serie A. Arsenal missed Per Mertesacker, but welcomed back Kieran Gibbs after four months out.
Clarence Seedorf hit the side-netting from the edge of the box, but the Dutch veteran immediately picked up an injury. He tried to run it off, but eventually had to be replaced by Urby Emanuelson. Just moments after stepping on to the pitch, Ibra knocked down a Boateng pass for Emanuelson to drill wide.
Milan took the lead thanks to a moment of magic from the returning Prince. He chested down a ball over the top and let it bounce before smashing the right-foot shot on the volley from a tight angle in off the underside of the crossbar.
Antonio Nocerino attempted a not dissimilar attempt, but this time it was just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Ibrahimovic pounced on a Thomas Vermaelen error to go clear, but was closed down by the goalkeeper and rather harshly the referee too.
Robinho also went on the counter after another Vermaelen error, but again could not finish off the move by rolling across to Ibra because Laurent Koscielny intercepted.
Milan doubled their advantage when Ibrahimovic sprung the offside trap down the left and pulled back from the by-line for the simplest of Robinho headers into the ground from seven yards.
The Ibrahimovic diving header from Boateng’s curling cross was blocked off by Bacary Sagna using his body as a shield from point-blank range. Arsenal had to make a substitution too, as Koscielny came off.
In first half stoppages, Boateng broke away down the right and his screamer hit the side-netting. Luca Antonini rushed through the middle of the Arsenal defence on to an Ibra pass, but Wojiech Szczesny bravely rushed off his line to charge down in a heavy collision. The defender was rather harshly booked, as it seemed to be a clean attempt on the ball.
After the restart Thierry Henry replaced a quiet Theo Walcott for his final game, as he returns to New York Red Bull tomorrow. Substitute Johan Djourou was at full stretch to intercept an Ibrahimovic pass for Boateng in the six-yard box.
However, Milan made it 3-0, as Vermaelen slipped again to leave Robinho the space to pick his spot, firing low at the near post from the D.
Boateng’s first touch let him down when going past Gibbs, then Antonini went on the counter and fired well wide with his weaker left foot. Robinho’s shot was charged down in the area when he probably should’ve rolled across to Ibra.
Aaron Ramsey’s header was over the bar from a corner, but had a great chance on 65 minutes when Henry flicked up a pass for Robin van Persie’s stunning volley, but Christian Abbiati pulled out an equally impressive save.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Gibbs, moving Vermaelen into left-back. Another van Persie volley was easier for Abbiati to smother at the near post.
Djourou tripped Ibrahimovic after the Swede changed direction to go past him and the referee pointed to the spot. Zlatan stepped up to take it himself and buried it despite Szczesny getting the right angle.
Alexandre Pato also made his comeback after another thigh injury, replacing Robinho for the final minutes. Abbiati needed another good save on van Persie’s downward header, but Emanuelson wasted the chance for a fifth by ballooning off target. Pato had a good opportunity with the final kick of the game, but was denied by a one-handed Szczesny save.
Milan have been encouraged by the return of a number first-team names to training ahead of the Champions League meeting with Arsenal this week.
The Rossoneri face the Premier League side on Wednesday in the Last 16 of UEFA’s premier competition with the likes of Kevin Prince Boateng, Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta and Christian Abbiati all back to full training at Milanello on Monday.
The quartet sat out the weekend’s 2-1 win at Udinese, alongside nine other teammates through injury or suspension. All four are now expected to play a part on Wednesday night, easing Coach Massimiliano Allegri’s selection fears ahead of the European encounter. Last season saw Milan eliminated at the same stage of the competition to Arsenals’ cross-town rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Mathieu Flamini and Sulley Muntari will also be back to full training by Tuesday, but neither are in contention for the Gunners’ visit as they are not on the club’s Champions League squad list.
Ibrahimovic drops Champions League obsession 13.2 ||webmaster
Scorers: Di Natale 19 (U), Maxi Lopez 77 (M), El Shaarawy 85 (M)
Maxi Lopez came off the bench to score his first Milan goal and set up Stephan El Shaarawy’s winner, ending Udinese’s unbeaten home record.
This was a head-to-head battle for second place, as only three points separated the teams. Zlatan Ibrahimovic began his three-match ban, while Mark Van Bommel was also suspended. The injury list included Christian Abbiati, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta, Alberto Aquilani, Gennaro Gattuso, Mario Yepes, Mathieu Flamini, Antonio Cassano, Alexander Merkel and Rodney Strasser. Udinese missed Andrea Coda, Giampiero Pinzi and Paulo Vitor Barreto.
There was no snow at the Friuli, but it was extremely windy, which made play difficult for the two teams. Milan’s last win here was in 2008 and Michele Pazienza crucially intercepted Robinho’s cross as Stephan El Shaarawy was pulling the trigger.
Udinese broke the deadlock with their first real scoring opportunity. Antonio Di Natale completed a give-and-go with Gelson Fernandes and the snapshot from just inside the area took a decisive deflection off Thiago Silva to loop over Marco Amelia.
Mauricio Isla went on a promising solo run before aiming a weak finish at Amelia, while Di Natale skipped past Philippe Mexes only to attempt an audacious lob at the near post.
A misplaced midfield pass sparked an Udinese counter-attack that Di Natale scuffed wide when totally unmarked. A promising Milan attack fell apart on the edge of the area when Robinho tripped up over the ball. The first real shot on target from the Rossoneri came after 43 minutes with Mexes firing straight at the goalkeeper.
There was a great chance in first half stoppages, as Danilo waited for SamirHandanovic to come out and gather a cross, allowing El Shaarawy to pounce and volley off target.
After the restart, Antonio Nocerino just failed to get his head to a wayward Urby Emanuelson effort.
Massimo Ambrosini accidentally fell on top of Isla, as the Chilean went down awkwardly and seemed to bend his knee, so was stretchered off in evident pain. There are fears there could be ligament damage.
It was so nearly 2-0, as Di Natale rolled the ball across for Pablo Armero, but Djamel Mesbah got back for an absolutely decisive intervention to stop him tapping in undisturbed from nine yards.
Armero went on the counter into the box, but Ignazio Abate sprinted at his shoulder to put him off. Maxi Lopez came off the bench to form a Milan trident. The Argentine thought he’d earned a free kick, but the referee waved play on and Udinese went on the counter, as Amelia was at full stretch to palm away a Maurizio Domizzi angled drive.
From that corner, Amelia fingertipped a looping Danilo half-volley that was heading under the bar. However, Udinese were caught out from their own corner this time, as Handanovic only pushed an El Shaarawy strike into the path of Maxi Lopez for his first goal in a Milan jersey.
It was so nearly 2-1 for the Rossoneri moments later when El Shaarawy pounced on a Mehdi Benatia error in the area, but Robinho and the ‘Little Pharaoh’ both kicked at the same time and the scuffed shot allowed Danilo to clear off the line.
Amelia beat away an Armero snapshot after Seedorf lost possession in midfield, but Milan struck on the counter again.
Maxi Lopez sprung the offside trap on a long ball from midfield and rolled across for El Shaarawy to smash his first-time shot under the bar from eight yards at the near post.
Udinese poured forward and Amelia had his gloves stung by an Almen Abdi half-volley from a tight angle.
Antonio Conte said Juventus were ready to play in Bologna before it was snowed off and blasted Milan. “Clubs and players must set an example.”
The Bianconeri boss held his press conference just before the announcement came through that Sunday’s trip to the Dall’Ara had been postponed.
“We’re waiting for news from Bologna. We prepared the game and are ready to step on to the field, but my idea is always that fans must be able to watch a spectacle. Therefore we need to be in the right conditions to guarantee that,” said the Coach.
The main talking point in the absence of football is the bitter row that exploded between Milan and Juventus after the Coppa Italia semi-final.
Giorgio Chiellini protested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be punished for an altercation with Marco Storari, while the Rossoneri accused the defender of ‘telling tales.’
“Chiellini simply replied to questions from the journalists,” noted Conte. “As for the rest, certain attitudes on the field are not good for football.
“These are things that can provoke reactions and we must always act responsibly. Clubs and players must set the example.”
The teams also go head-to-head in the Scudetto race as well as the Coppa Italia.
“We won the first leg and are now the favourites to reach the Final of the Coppa, but when it comes to the Scudetto it’s a different story. There’s a long way to go and we’ll be battling till the very end, while a lot will depend on the other teams who get into the race. I am not so certain it will be just Juve and Milan for the title.”
Conte was also asked about Fabio Capello, who resigned as England manager this week and is reportedly heading to Juventus as a director.
“I worked with many great tacticians, but never had the good fortune to work with Capello, a person I respect very much. I am very happy with the club and we are all doing extremely well.”
Francesco Guidolin is not convinced that Milan are weak going into their Week 23 clash with Udinese on Saturday night.
This weekend sees the Rossoneri certainly without eight first-team members through injury, with a further three players’ involvement only up for last-minute evaluation. Added to this starting XI of absentees are the suspended duo Mark Van Bommel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Even with the unenviable list of unavailable at Milan and their recent three-game winless run in League and Cup, opposition Coach on Saturday night Guidolin remains unconvinced that Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be that affected.
“Milan deservedly won the League last season and wherever they play they try to control the game immediately,” he said on Friday.
“I think they are a team that can compete with the biggest in Europe, while we express good football but can improve more and more.
“We are taking part this season as protagonists, but to remain on top and try to move forward in Europe is hard and expensive. You say that Milan are not themselves with their absences? I tell you that I expect the real Milan tomorrow.
“I care about tomorrow and I know that that if we are not focused, attentive and good, it will be very tough because I do not trust this ‘uncertain’ Milan.
“In fact, I think it is a team of pride and quality and you can say whatever you want but I will not fall for it. I expect a tough and difficult match. Everything else is just talk.”
Such talk was from Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini, who this week stated that where his team need to react to their recent poor form, that Udinese do concern him.
“In preparing for the game I will mention Ambrosini’s interview,” revealed Guidolin.
“He is a guy I had the chance to train as a boy and that was smart. What you see are the words of a leader at Milan, a man of great charisma in Allegri’s dressing room.
“Since it is also not just Ambrosini saying this, I am expecting a competitive Milan team instead.”
AC Milan boss Allegri: What crisis? 10.2 ||webmaster
Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia accused Juventus of having “an infantile reaction” to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s row with Marco Storari.
Giorgio Chiellini went to the media room after the final whistle of last night’s 2-1 Coppa Italia victory and demanded video evidence, claiming Ibra had slapped Storari.
“Looking at the footage, it’s less of a slap than Ibra telling Storari he wasn’t fair by denying he’d touched a shot for a corner and only admitting to it after the match,” Amelia told Radio Sportiva.
“Therefore he just prodded him with a finger to show that Storari had done the wrong thing, but this enormous chaos emerged out of nothing, followed by an infantile reaction from Juve.”
Ibrahimovic is at the centre of controversy just days after receiving a three-match Serie A ban for slapping Napoli’s Salvatore Aronica.
“In my view, the Napoli gesture wasn’t so serious either, as it was a discussion during the game and it ended there. I saw no real violence.
“I saw Chiellini arguing with Mauro Tassotti and I told him to stop it, as he was trying to stir up trouble over nothing.
“Everyone is afraid of Zlatan, because he’s so big and has this scary look in his eyes, but if they think they’re going to wind him up by provoking him then they are unfair. He apologised to everyone for his red card against Napoli.”
Ambrosini: 'Chiellini must not tell tales' 9.2 ||webmaster
Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini has hit out Giorgio Chiellini for accusing Zlatan Ibrahimovic of slapping Marco Storari last night.
The Juventus defender drew attention in a post-match interview to a clash that he saw between Ibra and Juve’s goalkeeper at the end of the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg yesterday.
Video evidence suggests that the Swede did hit out at Storari, but where Ambrosini admits that if true then Ibra deserves punishment, he has accused Chiellini of stirring up trouble unnecessarily so.
“I think Chiellini should avoid taking these stands,” the 34-year-old angrily suggested.
“They are nasty things, out of place, and I mind because then you attempt to raise certain tones.
“You say that it is fair to raise them, but it does not seem funny to go into the Press room and call for television proof.
“If there is action taken against Ibra? If he has made a mistake then he must pay, but do not go into the Press room and tell tales or say certain things because that is something that should not be done.”
The captain then reflected on the current predicament the team find themselves in, as the Juventus defeat last night confirmed a winless run of three games.
“We must learn from yesterday’s defeat for the sake of the rest of the season. At this moment there are differences between us and Juve and we must understand what they are as we have time to fix them.
“We must find the bite that last year enabled us to win the League and play out a great season.”
The Rossoneri face Udinese at the weekend and then Arsenal in the Champions League in midweek.
“Who do I fear most between Juve and Arsenal? I am currently concerned about the game with Udinese, which is the nearest. It is decsive as early February has shown it takes something more than now, we cannot let another game pass without showing that there is a change of course.
“I think that Juve right now has an extra point and a game in hand and will contend with us to the end. I think Conte and the players know how good their chance is of winning.”
Revenue drops for AC Milan, Inter and Juventus 9.2 ||webmaster
The latest Football Money League report reveals Milan, Inter and Juventus all suffered drops in revenue in 2011 but that it was a good year for Napoli.
The annual report, carried out by financial analysts Deloitte, reveals the top 20 club revenues in European football each season and for another consecutive campaign, the top positions belong to Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich close behind.
Where Milan held on to their position in the table as having the seventh highest total annual revenue in Europe and Inter moved up a place to having the eighth highest, both clubs suffered a slight decline in money earned.
The Rossoneri generated €8.9m less in 2010-11 than they managed in 2009-10, whilst the Nerazzurri’s earnings fell by €13.4m over the same period. Similarly, Juventus dropped three places to 13th in the Money League with a €51.1m fall in total revenue.
All three clubs have been hit hardest by the new and more even distribution of television broadcast rights for Serie A games. Milan and Juve both saw broadcasting revenues drop by around €40m between 2009-10 and 2010-11, whilst Inter also took a €13m hit in this area.
However, it was not all bad news for Serie A sides, with Roma enjoying a healthy growth of over €20m to a total €143.5m revenue last season, whilst Napoli were one of three newcomers to the League this year, taking 20th spot with a €114.9m revenue, thanks in a large part to a 52 per cent increase in matchday revenue.
This is the first year that the Partenopei have broken the €100m barrier and they are anticipated to move even higher up the table next year due to 2011-12’s participation in the Champions League.
The Deloitte Football Money League 2012 (total revenue for 2010-11)
1. Real Madrid €479.5m
2. Barcelona €450.7m
3. Manchester United €367m
4. Bayern Munich €321.4m
5. Arsenal €251.1m
6. Chelsea €249.8m
7. Milan €235.1m
8. Inter €211.4m
9. Liverpool €203.3m
10. Schalke €202.4m
11. Tottenham Hotspur €181m
12. Manchester City €169.6m
13. Juventus €153.9m
14. Marseille €150.4m
15. Roma €143.5m
16. Borussia Dortmund €138.5m
17. Lyon €132.8m
18. Hamburg €128.8m
19. Valencia €116.8m
20. Napoli €114.9m
Barbara Berlusconi: Have faith in AC Milan 9.2 ||webmaster
Barbara Berlusconi has appealed to the Milan fans to get behind their team as they struggle to find form in a crucial run in the season.
Defeat to Lazio and a draw to Napoli in the League was followed last night by a first-leg semi-final defeat at home to Juventus in the Coppa Italia, raising suggestions again of a crisis within the Rossoneri.
However, as Massimiliano Allegri’s team prepare for the trip on Saturday to face another title rival in the form of Udinese, Berlusconi - club President Silvio’s daughter and a member of club’s board of directors - appealed to the fans to have faith.
“The team needs to feel the support of our fans. This should not be a time of controversy and criticism. We are in an important stage of the season.
“The coming weeks will no doubt be decisive. We are still on course to still achieve all our goals, this was information we had at the start of the season.
“There is no lack of good news. [Stephan] El Shaarawy is proving to be a promising footballer and some of our players are now reaching a good level of form.
“In general, however, this is a difficult period to go through, many of our players are still unavailable and we are playing every three days, so it is difficult to recover.
“But, even so, I ask everyone for their support and confidence.”
Massimiliano Allegri has urged Milan to “stay calm” after their Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus, even if “we have lost a few too many times recently.”
The Rossoneri are struggling in Serie A and this evening fell to a 2-1 home defeat in the semi-final first leg.
“We conceded the second goal in a very naive way. It’s a shame to lose a game that we had played well in the second half, although Juventus did too,” Allegri told RAI Sport.
“After the equaliser we pushed forward with too much passion and were punished on the counter-attack. The qualification for the Final is an uphill struggle now, but nothing has been compromised.
“We have lost a few too many times recently, but must stay calm and confident of our own abilities, especially as we have an injury crisis on our hands and many players cannot rest the way they ought to.
“There is no pressure on us, because I know the strength of my squad. We’ve got to continue working to emerge from this situation.”
Coppa Italia: AC Milan 1:2 Juventus - match report 8.2 ||webmaster
Martin Caceres scored a magnificent brace to give Juventus the 2-1 away victory against Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.
These two sides are battling for the Scudetto and also go head-to-head in the Coppa. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended for three Serie A games, but that does not apply in other competitions, so he was able to start alongside Stephan El Shaarawy. Antonio Conte’s Juve were still unbeaten and gave Caceres and Simone Padoin their first starts since joining in January, while Andrea Pirlo returned to San Siro as an opponent after 10 years.
El Shaarawy ran on to a long cross-field Daniele Bonera pass and flashed the shot across the face of goal. Marcelo Estigarribia had a couple of chances, but twice fired off target, the second time just wide of the far post after shaking off Philippe Mexes.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s shot took a deflection off Mexes that looped it up, but Marco Amelia did well to fingertip it out from under the crossbar.
Alessandro Del Piero took advantage of a Mark Van Bommel error only to be forced out for a corner.
After the restart, Juventus confirmed their strong performance by taking the lead. Amelia was at full stretch to palm away a Borriello angled drive, but could do nothing on the Caceres follow-up in front of an open goal. As this is the Coppa Italia and a two-legged affair, it could well count as an away goal.
Milan fought back with Storari palming away a fierce Ibrahimovic free kick, but Clarence Seedorf’s set piece was well off target. Del Piero smashed an angled drive across the face of goal to skim the far post, but Milan equalised moments later.
Massimo Ambrosini knocked down a Luca Ambrosini cross for El Shaarawy to side-foot home from six yards.
Del Piero dribbled into the box and hesitated, eventually stopped short by Mexes. Conte changed both strikers simultaneously, introducing Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic.
Ibrahimovic had the ball in the back of the net, but the whistle had already gone for a handling offence as he controlled the deflected Van Bommel shot from the edge of the box. Ibra then pounced on an Andrea Barzagli error and fought his way past Leonardo Bonucci, but Giorgio Chiellini threw himself at the finish from close range.
Juve also threatened a second, as the Vucinic shot was only parried by an uncertain Amelia and Ambrosini dived in to prevent Quagliarella completing the chance. Vucinic also turned between a crowd of defenders, but couldn’t get the final touch.
Caceres made a spectacular return to the Juventus jersey, as he completed his brace with a wonderful strike. The Uruguayan pounced on a poor clearance and curled a magnificent finish into the top corner that left Amelia rooted to the spot.
El Shaarawy's attempt was deflected off target by teammate Robinho and after the final whistle there was a scuffle between players.
AC Milan: Amelia; Bonera, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Emanuelson (Robinho 61), Van Bommel (Maxi Lopez 86), Ambrosini; Seedorf; Ibrahimovic, El Shaarawy
Francesco Guidolin tells Udinese they need to be “more ruthless” if they are to defeat Milan on Saturday and progress in the Europa League.
The Friulani slipped back in Serie A after their 3-2 defeat to Fiorentina on Sunday, but hope to face a tired and injury-ravaged Rossoneri side.
“We have the chance to work all week, but I’d have preferred to be in the Coppa Italia semi-final instead of Siena,” confessed the Coach.
“I suppose we have to take advantage of this, but it might not make a difference anyway, as Milan are accustomed to playing every three days.
“As for our game with Fiorentina, we did very well in the first half and the main problem was we failed to double our lead. I don’t think it was an issue of fatigue.
“We had the opportunity to go 2-0 up and damage the confidence of our opponents, but we’ve got to be stronger, nastier, more clinical and ruthless. A team like Fiorentina needs to be given the knock-out punch earlier, as they have strong players and can fight their way back into a game.
“It’s a shame that once again we threw away points on our travels, as I tried to help the squad improve their attacking mentality away from home, but we aren’t repeating the results of last season. Perhaps it’s an issue of concentration and focus.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended for three games after slapping Napoli defender Salvatore Aronica, so misses Sunday’s encounter with Udinese.
“It is beyond doubt that Ibrahimovic is a crucial and decisive player for Milan, but I am convinced the team has many resources to draw upon,” continued Guidolin.
“In some circumstances they clung to him, but Milan are packed with champions, are the Scudetto holders and in terms of quality have the best side in Serie A. I’m sure they can push through any absence.
“I see Juventus and Milan as the favourites for the title this season.”
Ahead of the Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus, Max Allegri declares Milan are not in crisis and defends Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his weekend dismissal.
Defeat to Lazio and a draw at home to Napoli may see the Rossoneri still just a point behind League leaders Juve, but they have now played a game more than their Turin rivals.
Ahead of welcoming Antonio Conte’s side to San Siro in midweek for the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final, Allegri looked to first deny that the red half of Milan is struggling.
“Right now we have to stay calm and focused on what we do in the field,” began the Coach. “Without getting distracted by what is said outside of Milanello.
“This is not a moment of crisis. There have been some bad results but also on Sunday Juventus drew at home and we are therefore still in line.”
The former Cagliari Coach is still wary of the threat Juventus represent on Wednesday night.
“The first thing that catches the eye is that they are team with character, all the players show this with their availability and nature and this competition is their first chance to win something important.
“If after 20 rounds they have not lost then it means that Juventus have excellent quality.
“They are doing well but in the end to win a Scudetto it is always the same, you need to reach around 82-83 points.
“Tomorrow will be important for us to win or at least do well in, so as not to endanger the chance of progressing to the final. We want to get to the final of the Coppa Italia.”
Allegri prepares for the match with Ibrahimovic available, but he is facing doing without him for the team’s next three League matches after the Swede’s red card for violent conduct at the weekend.
“Ibrahimovic has paid a little bit for everyone,” he reflected in defence of his forward.
“Unfortunately Ibra has made a not-so-wonderful gesture in going to the defence of Nocerino. We have seen similar incidents in games go unpunished, but we are hopeful on the appeal.
“We can cope without him now as apart from Cassano and Pato, everyone is available, so I am not worried.”
Where counterpart Conte refused to comment too much on the situation with Ibrahimovic, Allegri showed no qualms in stirring the pot with regards Beppe Marotta’s complaints from the weekend.
The Bianconero director general’s statements on Monday have caught attention in the Press, after he suggested that referees need to be better assigned to games.
“I do not know what has prompted these statements from Marotta, but at Milan I have a different style,” commented the 44-year-old tactician.
“Here we talk about helping referees, instead of raising a fuss at the first unfavourable decision.”
The agent to Maxi Lopez has given a ringing endorsement of his client, stating that he is ready to fill the void left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan.
Ibrahimovic is set to sit out League clashes with Udinese, Cesena and Juventus after being handed a three-game League ban for his dismissal against Napoli on Sunday.
Lopez, who joined on an initial loan deal this January, has so far only featured from the bench, but his agent believes he is prepared to make the step up to replace Ibra in the starting line-up, if called upon.
“Should Maxi be called up by Max Allegri then he will give his best,” enthused Andrea D’Amico to Tuttomercatoweb.com.
“He is a physical player, has great talent, both technically and physically and he will undoubtedly make a contribution to the build-up passages of play, and beyond.”
D’Amico also represents Gennaro Gattuso, but was reluctant to confirm or deny reports that the player is looking to renew his Rossoneri contract.
“At this time the renewal is the least of his problems. Our desire is to get him feeling good and then we will see about the rest, particularly as to the man’s regards.
“Then with Milan we will see about the rest - the Rossoneri is his home and the club have been absolutely fantastic in these difficult times.”
Massimo Ambrosini will only discuss a new contract with Milan once the season is over, but his agent confirms that retirement is not an option.
Il Diavolo’s captain will be 35 at the end of May and will have just completed his 17th season with the San Siro outfit.
His current contract is due to expire in the summer, but unlike last year where he expressed unhappiness at having to wait until mid-May to extend for a year, his representative has confirmed this time, he wants to wait.
“We’ll discuss his future with the club only after this season, but the situation is calm,” Moreno Roggi told SportMediaset on Tuesday.
Roggi was then asked if the player would consider retiring, should an offer not come in from the Rossoneri.
“Absolutely not, this is something that is made up. Nor is anything true with regards links to other clubs, like Genoa.”
Conte targeting Coppa Italia final 7.2 ||webmaster
Antonio Conte has declared that Juventus will do everything to beat Milan in the Coppa Italia, even as he confirms first-team changes will be made.
The two sides, currently locked in the Serie A title race, are preparing this week for the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final, scheduled at San Siro for Wednesday evening.
Ahead of the hotly-anticipated clash, Conte has promised that he and his players will give their all to progress through.
“I actually would have preferred a weaker opponent,” he told the assembled Press on Tuesday afternoon.
“Let me be clear, however, that tomorrow’s match is important beyond the team we face, because it is the semi-final of the Coppa Italia.
“We want to reach the final, as well as to take on Milan now. The opportunity to progress is equally spread between the two teams because playing home and away in this meeting counts for a lot in terms of performance.
“To win a European competition for example, you have to be good but also lucky, because if you are in a period of poor form, you can get away with facing less-equipped opponents, whilst in the League usually the best team is rewarded for their continuity.”
Conte has confirmed that he will ring the changes for the clash, from giving run-outs to each of the club’s January signings to handing Marco Storari a go in goal again.
“He is playing his part in the right way and the least I can do on my part is thank him for what he is doing. He is a great professional and a great goalkeeper who is giving me a big hand on and off the field.
“The new signings have come to represent not only alternatives but points of strength.
“Moreover, Caceres has been at Juventus before, I’ve worked with Padoin at Atlanta, whilst Borriello has now been here for a month.
“Therefore when they play they can contribute, because we need them to, straight away.”
However, it may still be too early to expect involvement from the forgotten man Elijero Elia.
“Elijero has grown since he arrived. He is starting to understand what we want from him and he is close to becoming a more complete player. He is entering a new type of mentality and a new way of working and is starting to show in training some of the features that led us to buy him.
“I expect him when the time is right to become a reliable player in all the points that you say I do not see in him on the field, and it will be when you least expect it.”
The two clubs also meet later in the month in the League. Before they do, though, the Bianconeri face three further League tests in what is proving to be a cramped fixture schedule through February. Specifically, the postponed clash with Parma is scheduled for a week tomorrow.
“The rearranged fixtures are destabilising, because there are programs of work we have planned out for months in advance, and instead, you find yourself having to review things a little because you have to try to retrieve items that are already planned out.
“There was meant to be a week of work between Bologna and Catania, and yet now we have to play against Parma…
“We are experienced a tough winter, you still don’t know what will happen tomorrow of even in the next round of League games, but the call is always the same - to be in a position to offer the best show possible.”
Ibrahimovic ban is harsh, says Inzaghi 7.2 ||webmaster
Former Fiorentina and Milan Coach Fatih Terim is targeting summer moves for midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Riccardo Montolivo.
The newly-appointed Galatasaray tactician, who spent a year in Florence and five months straight after that at San Siro, is reportedly eyeing moves for players from both his former Italian employers in June.
The reports suggest that even if Montolivo is understood to have agreed to join the Rossoneri this summer on a Bosman, Terim is keen to meet with Adriano Galliani to negotiate the release of one of the two midfielders to his club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has apologised for getting himself sent off at the weekend, but has faith in his teammates to do well in his absence.
After striking Napoli’s Salvatore Aronica and receiving his marching orders on Sunday, Ibrahimovic was hit with a three-match ban on Monday, which rules him out of clashes with Udinese, Cesena and Juventus.
Milan are planning to appeal, with the belief that it is similar to last season’s incident between the Swede and Bari’s Marco Rossi, which was reduced on appeal from three to two games.
Receiving the Tapiro d’Oro award, a mock award handed to players who have tripped up in some way or another, Ibra apologised.
“I did a stupid thing. It happens, it happens. I have to learn when I am wrong. I don’t need the television pictures to know what I did. I messed up.
“I have confidence in the team. They will do well without me.”
Fabio Capello gives his views on the Scudetto race.
“Juventus and Milan remain the favourites for the title,” he told RAI 1 television.
“Juve do not just have grit, but also remarkable team spirit. Milan possess greater class, but without Zlatan Ibrahimovic they could really lose something. This is why I say Juventus are the favourites.”
Capello had been heavily linked with both the Roma bench and Inter over the summer.
“Roma deserve faith, as there are always risks when there is a new project, but with hard work and good fortune you can go far. The Giallorossi still have defensive problems, though.
“I don’t know anything about reported links with Roma, even though I have an excellent rapport with Franco Baldini.
“As for Inter, we did have talks, but nothing came of it and that’s long gone now.”
Capello was at the helm of Juventus during the Calciopoli years, so the two Scudetti he won at the club were wiped off his CV.
“I continue to maintain Luciano Moggi is absolutely the best director in Italy along with Antonio Giraudo,” he said, referring to the two figures at the centre of that scandal.
Milan were held to a 0-0 home draw by Napoli, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic lost his head with a red card.
Both sides were in need of a boost, as the Rossoneri were falling behind leaders Juventus after their 2-0 midweek defeat to Lazio, while Napoli were 14 points off the pace. The injury crisis intensified with Alessandro Nesta joining Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alberto Aquilani, Alexandre Pato, Mario Yepes, Alexander Merkel, Mathieu Flamini, Gennaro Gattuso, Rodney Strasser and Antonio Cassano. Gokhan Inler was dropped in favour of Blerim Dzemaili due to poor form.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had timid penalty appeals in the opening minutes for his shoulder-to-shoulder with Hugo Campagnaro, while Morgan De Sanctis smothered a Clarence Seedorf snapshot. At the other end, a smart Juan Zuniga slalom forced a corner, from which Edinson Cavani’s header was charged down. Mark Van Bommel was booked and will therefore be suspended against Udinese.
Marek Hamsik’s blockbuster stung Christian Abbiati’s palms, but a defensive howler let the Christian Maggio cross through for Ezequiel Lavezzi, who opted to hit the side-netting rather than roll back for an unmarked Cavani.
Antonio Nocerino’s effort was charged down from close range, while Cavani failed to take advantage of a misunderstanding between Abbiati and Ignazio Abate.
The injury crisis went from bad to worse, as Abbiati picked up an injury and made way for Marco Amelia at half-time. Robinho has become known for missing sitters this season and he added another to the list, as Ibra knocked on a long ball and the Brazilian somehow passed it wide of the near post with only Morgan De Sanctis to beat.
De Sanctis smothered a downward Robinho header on the line as both the Brazilian and Seedorf went for the cross. The Dutchman also hit a half-volley over the bar and Robinho almost made the most of a defensive error, but Salvatore Aronica’s sliding tackle prevented the danger.
Ibrahimovic chested down a long ball to turn Aronica and placed his curler that De Sanctis palmed out for a corner.
However, Ibra lost his temper and reduced Milan to 10 men, not to mention earning no doubt a lengthy ban. The Swede was mid-argument with a group of players and reached round the back of Nocerino’s head to slap Aronica on the side of the temple, earning a red card.
Cavani completely mistimed his header under pressure from Abate on Lavezzi’s cross to the back post. Even with 10 men, Massimo Ambrosini went close with a header deflected just wide from a corner.
The Rossoneri had another excellent scoring opportunity on the rapid counter-attack, but Robinho’s screamer was acrobatically saved by De Sanctis at the near post.
Walter Mazzarri prepares to face Milan and expects Napoli “to give a response” at San Siro, wiping away recent disappointment and refereeing errors.
The Partenopei are now 14 points off leaders Juventus and were furious at the annulment of a valid Goran Pandev goal in the final minutes of their 0-0 draw with Cesena.
“The Rossoneri are not accustomed to losing, just like all the big clubs, so they’ll be determined to prove themselves after Wednesday’s defeat to Lazio,” said Mazzarri.
“We must not forget that in previous matches they had won almost at a canter. We need the perfect performance to get a result, but I expect Napoli to give a response.
“At the same time, we can’t say our campaign is already over. There are many games to go and we want to pick up as many points as possible. Our first objective is to climb back up the standings.
“Pocho Lavezzi is in great shape and I am confident he will have a wonderful game. He needs to do well not only in attack, but also when out of possession, because everyone has to give something extra against Milan.”
Napoli beat the Rossoneri 3-1 at the San Paolo earlier this season and conquered Inter at San Siro, so hope to continue causing upsets.
“We know each other well by now. I have a few options in my mind to surprise Milan and we must hit them in their weak spots. I won’t give any clue on who will start, as I don’t want to provide my opponents with an advantage.”
The Coach is still fuming after those recent refereeing errors and reportedly asked his club to put together a dossier of mistakes.
“It’s a shame, as we create so many chances, work so hard and then don’t convert much. We’ve got to improve in this respect. However, at the same time I cannot just ignore the effect of refereeing errors. If they cost us points in the table, it’s only right to note them.”
Antonio Cassano “could return to the playing field in June,” says the Milan and Italy star’s neurosurgeon after an operation on a congenital heart defect.
The forward was taken ill on the flight back from Rome and rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mini-stroke. On November 4, he had surgery to correct the heart defect that had caused the stroke.
“He is progressing well and all according to plan,” neurosurgeon Nereo Bresolin told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Let’s say the first phase of his rehabilitation has been completed. The tests showed there is still a trace of the stroke, but that is bound to disappear over time.
“There is a schedule that needs to be followed and the lad is still on blood-thinners, so he can only have solo training sessions for the moment. He cannot risk bruising or trauma.
“His positive spirit was evident right from the first day he arrived in hospital. He’s in good humour and the psychological aspect is very important during the recovery process.”
There were hopes Cassano would be able to play before the end of the season, but that seems unlikely, which also damages his Euro 2012 target.
“I think it is possible for him to be playing in June, but not beforehand. I heard some talk about April as a comeback date, but that is too early.”
Massimiliano Allegri prepares Milan for tomorrow’s big game against Napoli, but insists their recent poor results “do not make for a disappointing season.”
The Rossoneri have already lost twice in 2012 against Inter and Lazio, confirming their dismal record against the big clubs.
“It’s a shame for those defeats, but they absolutely no not make for a disappointing season, because we are in the Coppa Italia semi-final, the Champions League second round and are one point behind this time last year.
“I thought about this, but at the end of the season if we are on top then we won’t look at how many points we picked up against Juventus, Lecce or Chievo. Winning a head-to-head such as the one with Juventus on February 25 would fire us up, but what really counts is the Scudetto on May 13.
“When a team loses, it’s normal that the Coach is the first in the dock, but we have been through worse. We need balance, as the side hasn’t lost its quality or become mediocre from one week to the next.
“There are some absentees who don’t allow me to make certain decisions, but I am in any case happy with the squad at my disposal. Everyone has an opinion in football, but the important thing is to have a balanced outlook both when things are going well and going badly.
“I can also confirm there is absolutely no problem within the locker room. Is Zlatan Ibrahimovic belly-aching? We’ve got a supply of antacids.”
There have been reports that Milan are Ibra-dependent, which is a worry considering February is traditionally his worst month.
“Ibra had a great year with him, Pato and Robinho scoring 45 goals between them. This season we’ve been without Pato and Robinho for a long while, so it’s only to be expected most of the goals are down to Ibrahimovic. Fortunately, the midfield has been very supportive.”
Napoli have also been on poor form recently and were furious after Goran Pandev’s goal was disallowed in the final minutes of their 0-0 draw with Cesena.
“They have great qualities, both as individuals and a collective, while Napoli have the characteristics to climb into the important spots of the table,” continued Allegri.
“We will play with two strikers tomorrow. Luca Antonini is more likely to start than Djamel Mesbah, but at the moment this is the only big question mark for me.
“Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Alberto Aquilani are unlikely to recover in time to face Arsenal, so I don’t want to create any false hope. They’re doing everything they can, but this is a difficult time.”
Gattuso 'understands' AC Milan snub 4.2 ||webmaster
As Mark Van Bommel passes the halfway mark to 1000 career games, he promises that Milan will learn from their defeat at Lazio.
The Rossoneri’s 2-0 reverse to Le Aquile on Wednesday ensured that they remain a point behind Juventus, but have now played an extra game.
Talking to Milan Channel on Friday, tough-tackling Van Bommel admitted that the team are keen to not repeat their mistakes in what is an important run of fixtures.
“This year, just like last, Milan-Napoli is a key game in the Scudetto race. After losing to Lazio we do not want to lose any more points in the standings.
“We are facing Napoli, Juventus, Udinese and Juventus again - I consider this period the most important in our season and I also want to score a goal.
“We are not happy when we don’t win because we know we fall further behind Juventus. The reaction has been positive and the squad knows it is important to learn from the defeat, so as to return to winning.”
Van Bommel also took time to reflect on a more positive element to the game in Rome, as it saw the Dutchman reach 500 career appearances.
“When I started as a footballer, I never thought of succeeding in reaching more than 500. I should be happy because I have suffered with injury and 500 is a good number.
“In my career I have played with many champions, but the name of the strongest is that of a player called Luc Nilis.
“We were at PSV and he was our playmaker with excellent feet. He knew how to take penalties, free-kicks and corners very well, but then his career was interrupted by a serious injury in which he also risked losing his leg.
“The hardest game I have ever played in? The World Cup final in 2010. The Netherlands did not play very well, but I know that we could have beaten Spain.
“When I get older I would love to be a Coach, but there is still time before that.”
AC Milan vs. Napoli kick-off moved 2.2 ||webmaster
The Lega Serie A has moved Roma-Inter, Milan-Napoli and Cesena-Catania this weekend to 3pm Italian time in a bid to avoid losing them to the weather.
The three fixtures were originally all scheduled as Week 22’s evening kick-offs but will now all be played in the middle of the afternoon. Cesena-Catania and Roma-Inter will still both be played on Saturday, whilst Milan-Napoli will happen on Sunday afternoon as part of the main block of weekend games.
President Maurizio Beretta has taken the action to move the three fixtures having seen the midweek round of games hit by four postponements as heavy snow and freezing conditions took hold of the country.
Adriano Galliani had earlier requested that Milan’s home fixture with Napoli be rearranged due to the potentially dangerously low temperatures that fans will have had to watch it in at the original time of 8.45pm local time.
Maurizio Zamparini has weighed in on the fixture-rescheduling debate sweeping Serie A as a result of midweek postponements.
The FIGC and Players Association (AIC) have both advocated that the quickest step to be taken to avoid a repeat of Week 21’s four postponements would be to reorganise the fixture schedule.
Meanwhile, the Lega Serie A are also reportedly considering moving all kick-offs this weekend to 3pm Italian time in order to alleviate immediate pressure.
However, Palermo President Zamparini suggests debate is only being had because of Milan’s involvement.
“Return to just Sunday matches because the weather is too cold? Absurd. They are only talking about it because Milan have asked,” said the Udine-born businessman, in relation to the fact Adriano Galliani has requested that Milan’s fixture with Napoli be postponed.
Weather forecasts predict temperatures on Sunday evening at San Siro to go no higher than minus 8.
“Had Atalanta asked to cancel our game, nobody would have spoken about it. Since it is Milan, at least half the country is listening, that’s what annoys me.”
Even so, Zamparini does agree with Galliani.
“We must avoid avoid playing in the evening and plan winter games for the afternoon. It makes no difference to me if we plan these things at the start of the season or we change according to the conditions.
“I must say, also, that in recent years things have improved. I remember games being played on ice without much complaint.
“Playing games in August? You’ll have to see if the corporations want us to play football in August.
“TV dictates where and when we all play, besides it is what they pay for television rights that keeps money coming into the game.”
The Lega Serie A are reportedly considering moving all the weekend’s fixtures to mid-afternoon in an attempt to avoid postponements.
The midweek round was hit by four postponements as heavy snowfall and below freezing temperatures hit the north of the country.
Siena, Bologna and Parma’s stadiums were closed due to safety concerns, whilst the conditions also got the better of Atalanta’s attempts to host Genoa.
More snow and even colder temperatures anticipated in parts of the country at the weekend, prompting Milan’s Vice-President Adriano Galliani to request to the League’s President Maurizio Beretta that their Sunday evening fixture with Napoli be rearranged.
Reports in Italy are suggesting that Beretta is considering sanctioning that all the weekend’s Serie A fixtures are moved to 3pm Italian time kick-offs on both the Saturday and Sunday.
Players’ Association (AIC) chief Damiano Tommasi specifically backed Galliani’s request to cancel the game at San Siro, where predictions have the temperature as no higher than eight below zero.
“If the forecasts are correct then it is better not to play that Milan-Napoli game. It would be advisable with the foresight of the weather predictions to avoid calling it off when everyone is at the stadium.
“The fixture schedule is very busy and inconveniences are always the same. We have never addressed this issue in an effective manner and according to me, spreading the games from August to June would at least limit the damage.
“The players are the last to be consulted and it is wrong to accuse us of wanting to call off games.”
Carlos Tevez has complained about Manchester City’s handling of his transfer saga this January. “There were offers…”
The Argentine forward, City’s top goal-scorer in each of the previous two seasons, was talking having failed to leave the English side during the January transfer window.
Linked with Inter and Paris Saint-Germain, Tevez failed to secure a move after a transfer fee could not be agreed with his desired option Milan. The Rossoneri reportedly wanted the player on loan, City were keen for a full sale.
“I think this situation has become almost comical,” spouted Tevez to Kicker magazine. “I wanted to leave City and I had offers from other clubs, both from Italy and Spain.
“But in the end it all collapsed because City rejected every offer they received. They say I cost a fortune and they do not sell me, not even give me a loan.
“I really have no idea what will happen in the coming months.”
The 27-year-old revealed that he had written to the club to request that he be sold in the winter transfer market.
“I sent a letter to the club in which I said I wanted to leave. In recent days I also contacted the Premier League to appeal the fine imposed on me by City.
“Now I’m waiting for a response. Talking to the League is my only option at this time.”
City have reportedly fined the player more than €10m during his self-imposed exile in Argentina and are set to fine him again for failing to return at the end of January.
“There were offers from Milan, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain. But in the end they have done nothing.
“Although there was interest, and these people wanted to see me play football again.”
The Argentine international hinted that he will look into ways to return to playing between now and the summer transfer window.
“Of course there were personal aspects to this story. I wanted to be closer to my children who live in Argentina. So I took the situation to hand.
“Now I must talk with the management at City. Let’s see what happens. Of course I would return to play football, but at this time, I have to settle for playing golf, or taking part in testimonials, such as my friend Martin Palermo’s one.”
Massimiliano Allegri admits Milan played “a terrible game, but the defeat to Lazio can do us good.”
The Rossoneri could’ve gone top after Juve’s match with Parma was snowed off last night, but they fell 2-0 at the Olimpico instead.
“We played a terrible game against a team that did not allow us much, but this is not giving the all-clear to Juventus,” said the Coach.
“The campaign is still long and there will be time to discuss these things. I believe the defeat can do us good and help us to grow.
“Lately, despite winning, we haven’t had the same grit that we need to win the Scudetto. This is why I believe the defeat can be healthy.”
The result did show a definite trend this season, as Milan have lost to all the big clubs: Juventus, Napoli, Lazio and Inter.
“Unfortunately these are the statistics and so we have to improve our mentality when playing against the top teams. It’s not that we work less harder, but we do have a different mental attitude compared to other games.”
There was controversy, though, as Stephen El Shaarawy wanted a penalty for an Andre Dias handling offence, but it’s unclear why the linesman advised the referee against it.
“I believe he said it was El Shaarawy’s handling offence and not the Lazio defender. He changed the referee’s mind, as the penalty had originally been given.”
Replays show that Dias punched the ball off El Shaarawy’s chest.
AC Milan change Champions League list 2.2 ||webmaster
Lazio took their chances and Milan did not, as Hernanes and Tommaso Rocchi sank the Rossoneri 2-0.
This was a huge game in the Scudetto race, as the Rossoneri had the chance to close up on leaders Juventus. They were in the middle of an injury crisis with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mathieu Flamini, Antonio Cassano, Alberto Aquilani, Mario Yepes, Gennaro Gattuso, Alexandre Pato, Alexander Merkel and Rodney Strasser unavailable. Lazio had problems too, as they missed Cristian Brocchi, Libor Kozak, Stephen Makinwa, Emiliano Alfaro, Lorik Cana and Stefano Mauri.
Antonio Nocerino’s header was well parried by Federico Marchetti, while Francelino Matuzalem’s daisy-cutter was just wide. Strangely, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was playing in a slightly deeper role than Robinho and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Marchetti rushed out of the box to nod a dangerous ball away from Ibra. Lazio threatened from a corner that flew past the crowd of players, nobody able to finish it off, while Christian Abbiati smothered a Hernanes snapshot.
El Shaarawy ran on to an Ibra through ball and got round Marchetti, staying on his feet despite some contact, but by then the angle was too narrow to score.
Ibrahimovic sprung the offside trap in midfield, but hesitated and it rolled out of play rather than set up an unmarked El Shaarawy. The Swede blamed a divot in the turf for his error and glared daggers at it.
There was controversy within 120 seconds of the restart, as El Shaarawy burst between two Lazio defenders and wanted a penalty for an Andre Dias handling offence. The referee discussed it with his assistant and suggested El Shaarawy was to blame, but replays clearly show Dias punching the ball off the Under-21 international’s chest.
Massimo Ambrosini’s header skimmed the crossbar and Lazio lost Dias to a suspected thigh strain. Christian Abbiati flapped at an Abdoullay Konko cross-shot and Tommaso Rocchi was furious, as he felt Stefan Radu was tripped just inside the area by Thiago Silva, but the referee insisted the Brazilian had not actually moved, so the Lazio player ran on to his leg.
Nocerino’s screamer was beaten away and Robinho threaded through for Ibrahimovic, who surprisingly hesitated so the chance went begging.
However, just as Milan were pelting the goal with attempts, it was Lazio who scored on the counter-attack. Hernanes got his sixth goal of the season by running on to a smart Rocchi flick and anticipating Alexxandro Nesta to flash the angled drive across Abbiati as he fell to the ground.
Hernanes nearly made it 2-0 with another well-taken angled drive on Rocchi’s dummy, but it skimmed the base of the far post.
Milan gave Maxi Lopez his debut, but Lazio doubled their lead with Rocchi’s 99th Serie A goal. Senad Lulic got to the by-line and pulled back for Rocchi, who smashed it first time into the near top corner from six yards.
Ibra wasted another chance in a really off day for the Swede, placing the daisy-cutter across the six-yard box to go wide.
Antonio Candreva received his Lazio debut just 24 hours after completing the move from Cesena.
Miroslav Klose is a late doubt for Lazio’s midweek clash with Milan, adding to Edy Reja’s selection headache in attack.
After the sales of Djibril Cisse and Giuseppe Sculli, the failure to secure a replacement in the transfer market on Tuesday and the injuries to Libor Kozak and Emiliano Alfaro, Reja’s attacking options were already limited.
Klose is understood to be struggling to recover from an impact injury sustained at the weekend away to Chievo. Whilst just taking a knee to his thigh, it is thought likely to rule the 33-year-old out of Week 21’s home match with Milan.
If Klose does miss the game, Reja is left with just one fit striker to face the defending champions, in Tommaso Rocchi.
Both the Italian FA (FIGC) and Footballers’ Association (AIC) are keen to rearrange the fixture list so as to avoid future Serie A postponement chaos.
Heavy snowfall has hit the north of the peninsula this week and has already caused the cancellation of three top-flight matches from Week 21’s midweek round of games.
Tuesday’s match between Parma and Juventus was called off just an hour before kick-off much to the anger of Beppe Marotta and Antonio Conte.
Meanwhile, Fiorentina’s trip to Bologna and Siena’s meeting with Catania have also been called off. The remaining seven games are set to go ahead, but Udinese-Lecce is likely to be played in below freezing temperatures, whilst there are predictions that the chaos caused by the weather could spread to the weekend’s Week 22 games.
Milan have already requested that their Sunday meeting with Napoli be postponed.
Vice-President of the Italian FA Demetrio Albertini admitted that the current situation is not one that should be repeated.
“It is the time to change something and we must have the courage to do so,” he declared on Wednesday.
“Almost all the stadiums in Italy are old now, unfit to provide decent accommodation for players or the public in adverse weather conditions.
“Pending their renovation, and it will take years, a viable solution is to start the season in August and possibly expand the winter break, to avoid the coldest period.
“One summer night is certainly more feasible than a unpleasant winter, just see how they follow friendlies in August.”
The former Milan and Italy midfielder continued his point, whilst also responding to those who might criticise such an idea.
“We want to respect the players and the fans, even those that watch a bad game on TV, because it is played on a disgraceful playing surface.
“Some are saying that abroad it is different, but this is not true. Those who say that we cannot predict certain weather conditions, I respond that the winter in the centre-north of the country is unlikely to be mild.
“This situation must change, but without creating division, instead coming to a shared belief with benefits for all.
“Already, for example, during the winter break, many teams travel abroad to heat. We could allow for a longer winter break so as to play the friendlies that would be lost in August.”
This last comment was taken further by President of the Italian Footballers’ Association Damiano Tommasi, who is equally keen to put forward a rearrangement of the fixture list.
“We are certainly experiencing a unique situation from a meteorological perspective,” said the former Roma man.
“But we should definitely review the fixture calendars, perhaps by increasing the number of games played when the climate is better.
“It would safeguard the quality of the show - to play on a frozen pitch or in the fog, is not the best for those who play or care for the sport.
“The numbers speak for themselves - the majority of injuries occur in cold weather.
“Approval for the law permitting stadium development goes on for so long, but this is not the only possible solution.”
AC Milan ask for Napoli postponement 1.2 ||webmaster
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has asked for Sunday’s evening game against Napoli to be postponed.
The official has written a letter to Serie A Lega chief Maurizio Beretta requesting the game – set to kick off at 20.45 local time – be re-arranged because of the poor weather which has already seen three midweek games called off.
“All the forecasts for the next few days, and the weekend in the particular, predict prohibitive weather conditions, those that we have not seen for 27 years,” he wrote.
“In Milan there will be snow and temperatures between -8 and -10.
“In these conditions, I strongly believe that playing the Milan-Napoli game is inopportune due to the extreme conditions.
“I thus ask you to postpone the game to a different date in which we will be able to play in climatically normal conditions.”