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The Archive

November 2003

AC Milan 2:0 Modena - report
30.11 || scharatz

Shevchenko 23, 67
Stadio San Siro


Milan overtake Juventus at the top of the table and are now joint top with Roma.

There were reports that Andriy Shevchenko would be rested, but the Ukrainian retained his spot alongside Pippo Inzaghi and Manuel Rui Costa.

The home side poured forward from the start and put some strong pressure on the Canarini early on, but Shevchenko's effort was comfortably gathered.

Modena remained dangerous on the counter-attack as Diomansy Kamara got in front of his marker and Dida did well to parry his volley from six yards.

Moments later Nicola Amoruso nodded wide as their pace showed through at the San Siro.

However, Andriy Shevchenko is on simply stunning form and gave Milan the lead with his 11th goal of the season. The former Dynamo Kiev man chested down a wonderful long pass from Andrea Pirlo before toe-poking it past the helpless Marco Ballotta.

Modena fought back as Kamara's effort was parried into the path of Amoruso, but an acrobatic Massimo Ambrosini goalline clearance prevented the ball crossing the line.

During that move Marcos Cafu suffered a thigh injury and was substituted by Dario Simic.

Manuel Rui Costa is still looking for his first Serie A goal with a Rossoneri jersey and went close with a fine daisy-cutter from distance.

In the second half Modena remained dangerous as Nicola Campedelli took advantage of a defensive error to cut back into the centre, but Amoruso was just unable to redirect it into the net.

Alberto Malesani's men continued to put pressure on the Scudetto contenders, but Milan were clinical in their finishing.

Shevchenko sprung the offside trap 30 metres up the field on a smart Rui Costa pass and placed a precise finish past Ballotta.



Milan: Dida, Cafu (Simic 41), Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro, Ambrosini, Pirlo, Seedorf (Gattuso 54), Rui Costa (Kaka' 73), Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Modena: Ballotta, Pivotto, Cevoli, Ungari, Campedelli (Ponzo 86), Marasco, Milanetto (Corrent 73), Balestri, Vignaroli, Kamara, Amoruso (Taldo 72)

Ref: Messina

AC Milan vs. Modena - preview
30.11 || scharatz

Milan attempt to take advantage of Juve’s tough task by closing the gap on the leaders, but Modena is just the kind of side that usually slips the Rossoneri up.

The European Champions had a midweek game at Ajax to deal with and may be tempted to rotate the squad in Serie A. Following two draws on the trot, they got back on their feet with a comfortable 2-0 win at Chievo last Sunday evening.

Andriy Shevchenko was the star of the show with a brace – taking his total tally of official goals with a Milan shirt to 101. He may again be partnered by Jon Dahl Tomasson as Pippo Inzaghi is given time to recover from his thigh problem. Crucially, Paolo Maldini and Dario Simic return to the defence, but Kakha Kaladze and Serginho remain sidelined.

Modena are not to be taken lightly, as it is with pace and counter-attacking tactics that Club Brugge recently grabbed an historic Champions’ League victory in this Stadium. The Canarini are flying high in eighth place and gave Juventus a game before succumbing 2-0 in controversial circumstances.

Vedin Music and Mauro Mayer may be out injured, but the danger men will be sprinters Diomansy Kamara and Fabio Vignaroli. Milan have also shown weaknesses in defending from set-pieces, so Omar Milanetto could prove crucial along with the aerial prowess of Nicola Amoruso.



Milan (probable): Dida; Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Tomasson

Modena (probable) : Ballotta; Pivotto, Cevoli, Ungari; Campedelli, Marasco, Milanetto, Balestri; Kamara, Vignaroli; Amoruso


Rivaldo departure confirmed
29.11 || scharatz

Adriano Galliani has confirmed that Rivaldo’s time at Milan is over as he was not even called for Sunday’s match with Modena.


“It is with great sadness that I must say Rivaldo will leave Milan within a few days,” announced the Rossoneri Vice-President.


“Unfortunately the Brazilian has not settled into our tactics and therefore he will play with another club from January.”


This is hardly a surprise, as the former Barcelona star already tore up his contract earlier this season after failing to find space in the line-up.


Galliani convinced him to stay on until the January transfer window, but the veteran has managed just a handful of minutes on the field since that comeback.


Above all, Rivaldo has rarely even made a spot on the bench at the San Siro due to the emergence of young Brazilian starlet Kaka’.


This was the situation once again this week, as the World Cup winners’ name does not appear in the squad called for the match against Modena.


There are several options open to Rivaldo now and the most likely appears to be a Premiership switch to Liverpool.


However, there are reports that he will return to Brazil in order to finish his career in his homeland.

FIFA warn Milan's Argentine opponents
29.11 || scharatz

FIFA have warned Boca Juniors that a dispute could see Milan automatically handed the Intercontinental Cup.


The South American and European Champions are set to face off in Tokyo on December 14 for that is also known as the Toyota Cup.


However, there is a bitter row emerging over Boca striker Carlos Tevez – also a transfer target for the Rossoneri.


Tevez pulled out of Argentina’s squad for the Under-20 World Cup due to an injury, but could now be fit enough to face Milan.


The AFA (Argentine Football Association) insists that Tevez must not be allowed to play at club level in this situation and FIFA have sided with the international squad.


“The Argentines have been warned,” said President Sepp Blatter. “Boca will not take part in the Intercontinental Cup if Tevez plays.”


“The rules are very clear: if a player pulls out of an international tournament then he cannot be fielded at club level during the same period.”


Boca Juniors are flying high at the moment and this week won the 'Clausura' title for the 20th time in their history under former Roma boss Carlos Bianchi.

Pirlo hails new Milan mentality
29.11 || scharatz

Andrea Pirlo was singled out for praise following Milan’s decisive victory in Amsterdam and claims they are now stronger than last year.


“Now we are facing the smaller sides with the same attitude and desire as the big clubs,” revealed the midfielder. “That is what cost us dearly last season and we are improving all the time.”


The Rossoneri are unbeaten in Serie A so far, but despite scoring just three goals in five games, the reigning European Champions are through to the knockout stage.


“We may not be as attractive to watch as last season,” continued Pirlo, “but we are certainly more solid and consistent. We are aware of our potential and the true worth of this squad.”


The victory over Ajax sealed their passage to the next phase and Dutch legend Johann Cruyff – a long time critic of Italian football – praised Pirlo for his performance.


“If I am doing well right now it is thanks to the club and all the Coaches who have helped me along the years,” he noted.


“My one real regret is that Marco Tardelli, the manager who put so much faith in me with the Under-21 squad, chose not to use me at Inter. That was a real let down for me.”


Inter’s loss was undoubtedly Milan’s gain, as Pirlo proved decisive in his new role in front of the defence.


“I am improving all the time,” concluded the ex-Reggina man, “and trying to give the defence more protection as well as pushing forward this season. That’s how you win titles.”

World Player Of The Year Editorial: Why Ronaldo?
27.11 || scharatz

Yet again this year the majority of football supporters across the globe have been left scratching their heads at the nominations for the World Player of the Year.

The trio up for selection have been revealed today as Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry..... (I'll give you a few minutes to look at those names again)..... and yes you did read it right first time, the name of Czech Republic midfielder Pavel Nedved is not there!

Surely some mistake I can hear you say? But no, the wisdom of 142 national managers have selected Ronaldo ahead of the Juventus midfielder and for that matter AC Milan's living legend Paolo Maldini.

The decision is simply baffling as you've told us in your droves on our message board and on our poll, which is emphatically in favour of Nedved rather than the goofy Brazilian, who won the award last year, as well as in 1996 and 1997.

Lets take a look at the evidence to explain just why this is a travesty:

Nedved inspired Juventus to the Scudetto this year and also to the Champions League final, which he consequently missed through suspension, and it was clearly the biggest factor, along with Dida's penalty saving, why Juve didn't lift the trophy.

It doesn't end there as Nedved also played a key role in the Czech Republic's superb achievement in topping their Euro 2004 qualification group ahead of the Netherlands.

So what does Ronaldo have to offer in comparison? Well, I'm not suggesting he's had a bad year, but he hasn't been electric for Real Madrid or Brazil in 2003. Admittedly he played a large part in Real's La Liga success, although many would say that was fortunate and undeserved.

Meanwhile, in the Champions League, Ronaldo's Real were outclassed by Nedved's Juve in their semi-final defeat, although the Brazilian missed the second leg through injury.

While there are many calls for Maldini to be included in the running for this honour there is also a strong case for the other two players up for the award. It is true that a number of the points against Ronaldo also apply to Zidane, but the midfielder was a much more consistent performer than his fellow Galactico, while he also helped to inspire France to a 100% record in their Euro 2004 group.

Few can question Zidane's name from being short-listed for any award as he is without question a genius and in my opinion is the best player of his generation, but his departure from Juventus two-years ago has hardly been noticed, thanks to that man Nedved.

There is no doubt in my mind that Thierry Henry's inclusion is a correct decision and of the three candidates he should now be crowned the winner when the award is dished out in Basle next month.

The French striker has outlined his class more than ever before in the past 12 months, even though he couldn't lead Arsenal to the Premiership title, or to success in the Champions League, up until Tuesday's imperious display against Inter Milan. However, at times he has looked like he's carrying a football club on his shoulders, while he was brilliant on the international scene and also led Arsenal to win the FA Cup.

I'm yet to hear anyone defend Ronaldo's inclusion, so who on this earth voted for him? The respective football federations of those managers among the 142 polled that named the former Barcelona and Inter Milan superstar should be rethinking their appointment, as the man in charge of their team clearly has some stardust in between his ears.

Ronaldo is a global phenomenon, as is the image of the Brazilian football team, so reputation has surely won the striker the majority of his votes rather than his performances, which if is the case makes this prize a joke and not worth the publicity as it is little more than a popularity contest.

Ancelotti content with slender wins
27.11 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti claims that Milan should not be criticised for registering their third 1-0 win of the Euro campaign.


“Right now we are very solid, especially in Europe with just one goal conceded,” noted the Coach, “and surely this is a good sign.”


“If you don’t concede then with players like Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko the odds suggest you will score eventually.”


Shevchenko was indeed on target in the Amsterdam ArenA to earn a 1-0 victory over Ajax.


“We were a little surprised by the Dutch change of attitude,” added the tactician, “as it was a man-marking system, but we were still able to make the most of our chances and conceded very little to our opponents.”


“After our goal Ajax began playing as they usually do with lots of short passes and intelligent movement.”


The Rossoneri are unbeaten in Serie A and now safely through to the second phase of the Champions’ League, but are already looking ahead to the Intercontinental Cup clash with South American champions Boca Juniors in December.


“Only with a relaxed attitude can we play to the best of our abilities,” concluded Ancelotti, “and we can prepare for the Intercontinental Cup by notching up some fine performances.”

Ajax 0:1 AC Milan - report
27.11 || scharatz

Shevchenko 52 (M)
Amsterdam ArenA



An Andriy Shevchenko strike has seen the reigning European Champions safely through to the next phase.

Martin Laursen stepped in to replace the suspended Alessandro Nesta. Paolo Maldini and Pippo Inzaghi returned from injury to start, while Kaka' retained his starting spot following a crucial goal in Bruges.

Ajax were dealing with a series of injury worries that ruled out Rafael Van der Vaart, Pienaar and Hatem Trabelsi. It resulted in the Dutch fielding the second youngest line-up in the history of the Champions' League with an average age of 22.

The Rossoneri had a lively start and had an excellent scoring opportunity after six minutes. Kaka' slid the ball through for Inzaghi on the edge of the box, but the hitman drilled wide.

Ajax hit back and De Jong was granted a free header from a corner kick, but sent it over the crossbar from six yards.

Gennaro Gattuso could perhaps have earned a penalty when he charged into the box and was tripped, but the midfielder insisted on staying on his feet and mis-hit the cross.

Andrea Pirlo pushed forward more than usual and slipped a through ball to Inzaghi down the centre, but he failed to make contact by a matter of inches.

There was a curious moment when Martin Laursen was forced to stand on the sidelines for several minutes while he put his contact lense back in.

Milan dominated possession, but Ajax remained dangerous on the counter-attack and Mitea volleyed over from a difficult angle.

The Rossoneri thought they had taken the lead on 33 minutes when Inzaghi's header was touched in by Andriy Shevchenko, but the referee disallowed and booked the Italian for a push. Replays were not particularly clear on the foul in this incident.

Just before the break a clever Andrea Pirlo free kick was chipped into the box for Inzaghi, but he hesitated and allowed Lobont to gather.

There was bad news for Ajax when Zlatan Ibrahimovic limped off with an injury and was replaced by veteran Jari Litmanen.

Milan had evidently been practising free kicks in training as another well-worked Pirlo effort almost reached Shevchenko.

Giuseppe Pancaro replaced the visually challenged Laursen for the second half, pushing Billy Costacurta into the centre of defence.

Milan were gradually increasing the pressure and took the lead at the dawn of the second half. Marcos Cafu swept in a fine cross for Shevchenko to chest down and drill under the body of Lobont. This was the Ukrainian's 102nd official goal in a Rossoneri shirt.

Cafu was on splendid form and moments later tried to go alone with another strong run in to the box, but Obodai bravely threw himself in his path to block. The Ghanaian injured himself in the process and was stretchered away with an ankle problem.

Clarence Seedorf had the perfect opportunity to score against his former club, but incredibly turned a free header over the bar from eight yards.

Ajax tried to fight back and Maxwell aimed a missile from 30 metres, but Dida took the sting out with his palms before easily gathering.

Inzaghi has been out with a thigh problem for a couple of weeks and was clearly not up to match rhythm. On 67 minutes Pirlo's wonderful long ball upfield sent the striker running, but he was unable to keep up with his marker.

Soon after he was replaced by Massimo Ambrosini, while Manuel Rui Costa took over from an uninspired Kaka'.

Ajax put Milan under pressure during the final minutes with a series of corner kicks, but Dida never had to make a real save as the Rossoneri sweep through to the next phase.



Ajax: Lobont; De Jong, Yakubu, Escudč, Maxwell; Heitinga, Obodai (Wamberto 54), Galasek, Sneijder; Ibrahimovic (Litmanen 38), Mitea (Sikora 76)

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Laursen (Pancaro 46), Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka' (Rui Costa 76); Shevchenko, Inzaghi (Ambrosini 70)

Ref: Meier (Swi)

Ajax vs. AC Milan - preview
26.11 || Seamus

Ajax will want to get revenge on AC Milan when the two teams face in the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday evening.

Last spring, a last minute goal by Filippo Inzaghi denied the then Dutch Champs a spot in the Champions League semi-finals, and therefore Ajax wouldn't mind putting Milan close to a shock first round elimination by defeating them tomorrow evening.

This feat won't be easy as Ancelotti's side have been in good form since the start of the season.

They have yet to lose in league action , where they hold the second spot, and are also in a good position in the Champions League as they lead their group on seven points.

The only game in which Ancelotti's players offered a terrible spectacle was when they were shocked at home by Club Bruges, a defeat that they were able to redeem through a late Kakŕ strike when they travelled to Belgium two weeks later.

That win was crucial in putting the European Champs safely back on track for a second round birth, but they will need at least a draw from the ArenA to feel safe.

On their part, Ajax, who stand top in the Eredivisie, will surely play for a win that would allow them go into their last match against Bruges with the qualification virtually in their pocket.

However it isn't clear whether the Dutch side have the potential to down the Rossoneri. The 3-2 loss inflicted by Celta in the previous match-day displayed enormous flaws, especially mental ones, in the young side coached by Rambo Koeman.

This is the price one must pay when you have most players who are under 25 years of age, and Ajax need to compensate this lack of experience and maturity with a great level of dynamism if they hope to gain a positive result against the Serie A giants.

LATEST TEAM NEWS

Ajax's chances to defeat Milan appear even slimmer when one looks at their infirmary. Trabelsi, Pienaar, O'Brien, Sonck, and Grygera are all sidelined through injury, and to make matters worse future Ballon D'Or winner van der Vaart is out through suspension. Ibrahimovic is also nursing an injury, but Koeman told reporters he expects the Swedish striker to play.

The Ajax match will mark the return of Filippo Inzaghi in AC Milan's starting eleven after more than a month of absence. The Rossoneri's other injured star, skipper Paolo Maldini, is expected to take a seat on the bench with Martin Laursen, who played a great game at Chievo last Sunday, partnering Alessandro Nesta in the middle of the Milan defense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Ajax)-Luckily for the Ajax fans the tall striker will play as with all their injuries his absence would have made things critical for Koeman's gang. However Zlatan has yet to offer a convincing performance against a Serie A side as he suffers the tight marking of the Italian difensori.

Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)-The Ukrainian superstar has already hit 10 goals in Serie A action, two of which were netted against Chievo on the weekend, but has yet to find the net in Europe this season.

PROBABLE LINE-UPS

AJAX (4-4-2): Lobont; De Jong, Heitinga, Escudč, Maxwell; Obodai, Galasek, Litmanen, Snejider; Soetars Ibrahimovic

MILAN (4-3-1-2): Dida; Cafu, Laursen, Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakŕ; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

Milan have Maldini doubt
25.11 || scharatz

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti will wait until the very last moment before deciding whether to play Paolo Maldini against Ajax.

The Italian legend has been included in the Champions’ League squad for tomorrow night’s game after recovering from a thigh strain.

"I’ve still not decided on who will play," stated the tactician on Tuesday. "Pippo Inzaghi is fully recovered but I haven’t yet made a decision on Paolo."

Maldini is certainly needed by the Italian giants as stopper Alessandro Nesta is out of the game through suspension.

"I’m feeling good but I know that no decision will be made on whether I will play until just before kick-off," admitted the defender.

"But I was impressed with our performance against Chievo without me and therefore I’m hopeful that we can repeat that against Ajax on Wednesday."

Milan go into the game knowing that a victory in Amsterdam will be enough to ensure qualification.

"It will be an extremely delicate game for is, even if it also provides us with a match point for qualification," continued Ancelotti.

"Ajax are a well organised side on the pitch and they won’t change their style to accommodate us. They will give us their very best."

Meanwhile, former Milan legend Marco Van Basten says he is totally convinced by the quality of the current Rossoneri side.

"Ancelotti is doing a wonderful job," stated the former Ajax player. "This squad is capable of starting a new winning cycle."

Milan probable: Dida; Cafu, Costacurta, Maldini, Pancaro; Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf; Kaka; Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Milan transfer plans uncovered
24.11 || Seamus

Milan director general Ariedo Braida has revealed which players his club may swoop for in the future.

The Rossoneri have been linked with a host of individuals in recent months and Braida has surprisingly put the record straight.

"We are keeping a very close eye on two Brazilians," he told the Italian weekly ‘Controcampo’ on Monday.

"The first is Sao Paulo striker Luis Fabiano and the other is Alex, a central defender who plays for Santos.

"Fabiano is a tall target man, similar in style to Christian Vieri, but I want to see a bit more of him first."

The Champions’ League winners have also been linked with Stuttgart forward Kevin Kuranyi and Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid.

"The German is very fashionable at the moment," he remarked. "As for Torres, he is too expensive.

"The past has also shown that Spaniards don’t tend to do that well away from their own country."

Meanwhile, reports that Anderlecht ace Walter Baseggio is on his way to Inter are becoming more concrete.

"I dream about playing in Italy," said the 25-year-old. "Therefore I’m delighted that Inter are keen on me.

"I’ve spoken to Enzo Scifo (formerly of Inter and Torino) who told me of the pressure in Serie A but I think I’m strong enough to emerge."

Rivaldo and Maldini back
24.11 || Seamus

Rivaldo and Paolo Maldini have been included in the Milan squad for Wednesday’s game at Ajax.

The defender returns after a thigh injury, while Rivaldo is one of the 22 despite only returning to Italy on Sunday from Brazil.

The recovery of Maldini is of particularly relief to boss Carlo Ancelotti as Alessandro Nesta is suspended.

The European champions will also still be without Kakha Kaladze and Serginho because of injury.

The Rossoneri will be looking for a win in Amsterdam which could ensure them safe passage to the last 16 knockout phase of the Champions’ League.

Goalkeepers: Abbiati, Dida, Fiori.

Defenders: Cafu, Costacurta, Laursen, Maldini, Pancaro, Simic.

Midfielders: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Redondo, Rivaldo, Rui Costa, Seedorf.

Forwards: Borriello, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson.

Rivaldo may be set for Brazil return
24.11 || Seamus

Out-of-favour Milan star Rivaldo may turn his back on the Premiership in favour of a move back to Brazil.

There are reports in his homeland that the former Barcelona man could join Figueirense, a club he owns shares in along with former Selecao team-mate Cesar Sampaio.

Whatever happens, his time at Milan looks almost to be up.

Trabelsi: I couldn't say no to Milan
24.11 || Seamus

Ajax star Hatem Trabelsi says he could not say no to a move to Milan if the Rossoneri came calling.

The Tunisian's current deal is expected to expire next summer, but his club claim they have the option to renew it without the need for negotiations.

"I could never say no to an offer from a club like Milan," he said.

"I realise there is a lot of pressure involved in Serie A, but I believe I am ready for this challenge.

"I have also had contact with sides from England and Spain, so if Ajax decide to sell me now then we shall see."

He added: "I must thank Ajax for everything they have given me as I was able to taste the highest level of football here."

Rivaldo and Maldini back
24.11 || scharatz

Rivaldo and Paolo Maldini have been included in the Milan squad for Wednesday’s game at Ajax.

The defender returns after a thigh injury, while Rivaldo is one of the 22 despite only returning to Italy on Sunday from Brazil.

The recovery of Maldini is of particularly relief to boss Carlo Ancelotti as Alessandro Nesta is suspended.

The European champions will also still be without Kakha Kaladze and Serginho because of injury.

The Rossoneri will be looking for a win in Amsterdam which could ensure them safe passage to the last 16 knockout phase of the Champions’ League.



Goalkeepers: Abbiati, Dida, Fiori.

Defenders: Cafu, Costacurta, Laursen, Maldini, Pancaro, Simic.

Midfielders: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Redondo, Rivaldo, Rui Costa, Seedorf.

Forwards: Borriello, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson.

AC Milan send Leonardo for Fabiano transfer
24.11 || Seamus

Fabiano is preparing with Sao Paolo a contract extension. The player wants more money and the club want to raise the amount of money necessary for a transfer.

The Brazilian striker's contract agent ends in 2005 and it doesn't look like he will stay in Brazil that long.

AC Milan have been following the player for a long time and will send Leonardo to meet him next week and convince him to accept a transfer to Italy.

Ancelotti praises Milan control
23.11 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti was content with the performance that crushed Chievo 2-0 and kept Milan in the title race.

“We took control of the game and kept a firm hand on it throughout,” assured the tactician.

“Chievo constantly tried to play the long ball game, and that is simply not our ideal style. We played the ball to feet and were in charge of the encounter.”

There were reports that Dida would be left on the bench with the other Brazilians, but the goalkeeper was given the nod despite suffering from jet lag.

“I understand that Christian Abbiati is not happy at spending so much time on the bench,” conceded Ancelotti, “but there is nothing I can do about that.”

“The rotation system must be evaluated for every match based on the fitness of your players at that precise moment. We do not change players just for the sake of it.”

Andriy Shevchenko’s brace decided tonight’s clash with Chievo, but he is concentrating only on Milan’s progress.

“Scoring goals is important for me,” he noted after surpassing his first Century in official games with the Rossoneri jersey, “but they only truly count when the team wins.”

The Ukrainian was able to celebrate on both counts following the 2-0 victory at the Bentegodi, the first time Milan have ever won a Serie A match here.

“It was a very difficult game,” added the striker. “Apart from Chievo’s abilities, it wasn’t easy to play knowing that Juventus, Roma and Inter had picked up such resounding victories earlier this weekend.”

“Now that this victory has boosted our confidence we can concentrate on the upcoming trip to Ajax,” he concluded.

Chievo 0-2 AC Milan - report
23.11 || webmaster

Scorer: Shevchenko 45, 50 (M)

Andriy Shevchenko celebrated his 100th official goal for the club as Milan finally beat their Stadio Bentegodi taboo.

Milan needed a win here to maintain the title pace set by Juventus and Roma, but they had never before taken all three points from the Stadio Bentegodi. Chievo have earned a 3-2 victory and a 1-1 draw during their previous encounters here, but the Rossoneri did run out 5-2 winners in last year's Coppa Italia.

Brazilians Kaka' and Marcos Cafu were rested following their 2006 World Cup qualifiers in South America, while Jon Dahl Tomasson stepped in for the not 100 per cent fit Pippo Inzaghi. There were problems in defence with Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze and Dario Simic all out of action.

Chievo had an aggressive start and Salvatore Lanna had the first shot on goal after four minutes.

Milan slowly began to settle in to the match and fans thought Manuel Rui Costa had finally scored his first goal for the club, but his fierce drive was fingertipped inches wide of the post.

Massimo Ambrosini then whistled a powerful effort wide from almost 30 metres, while goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani charged off his line to block an Andriy Shevchenko counter-attack.

There was controversy before the break when Chievo Coach Gigi Del Neri was sent off for dissent.

Milan were threatening a goal and it eventually came in first half stoppage time. Gennaro Gattuso swept a fine cross into the centre for an Andriy Shevchenko free header. The Ukrainian has now celebrated his 100th official goal in a Rossoneri jersey.

At the dawn of the second half Shevchenko made it two when he sprung the offside trap on a Rui Costa pass and slammed in at the near post. Chievo claimed that the goal should have been disallowed, but Fabio Moro appeared to be keeping several players onside.

Mario Alberto Santana was unable to start due to a thigh problem, but tried to introduce some creativity in the second half along with Under-21 international Giuseppe Sculli.

Milan thought they had earned a third on the hour mark when Rui Costa set up Tomasson, but the Dane's effort cannoned off the crossbar and back out with the goalkeeper beaten.

The Rossoneri dominated and Tomasson was clear on goal when he was dragged back by Salvatore Lanna. The captain was only booked as another defender was close by.

Clarence Seedorf replaced Shevchenko and with his first touch brought a tough save out of Marchegiani, aiming his powerful drive from over 30 metres. Carlo Ancelotti gave Under-21 international hitman Marco Borriello a rare outing in the final five minutes.

Chievo's first shot on goal was in the 86th minute, Amauri's low drive bringing a comfortable save out of Dida. Soon after he blocked a header from the young Brazilian.

Chievo: Marchegiani; Moro, Sala, Barzagli, Lanna; Morrone, Perrotta, Baronio (Sculli 55), De Franceschi (Santana 52); Pellissier (Pinilla 71), Amauri

Milan: Dida; Costacurta, Nesta, Laursen, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo (Redondo 83), Rui Costa, Ambrosini; Shevchenko (Seedorf 74), Tomasson (Borriello 85)

Ref: Farina

Ancelotti bites back
20.11 || scharatz

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has hit back at the Brazilian media who criticised him for continually ignoring Rivaldo.

The attacking midfielder scored and impressed in the 1-1 draw with Peru over the weekend which brought Ancelotti’s tactics into question.

However, the Italian boss says he has no interest in what the South American press think of his decisions.

"I couldn’t care less," he told Lombard TV station ‘Telenova’. "It makes me laugh when I hear that Kaka and Rivaldo can play together for Brazil but not for Milan.

"What they should remember is that I also have players such as Shevchenko, Inzaghi and Rui Costa at my disposal here."

Rivaldo has rarely featured for the Rossoneri this season with Ancelotti preferring to play with either Rui Costa or Kaka.

"I have nothing against Rivaldo," added the former Juventus tactician. "There is just intense competition for places here.

"Milan never play with two attacking midfielders. We use two strikers instead and I’m happy with what Rui Costa and Kaka are doing when called upon."

Rivaldo, signed on a free transfer from Barcelona in 2002, is set to quit the San Siro in January.

Ancelotti also commented on Massimo Ambrosini, who has complained that he is being under-used this term.

"He is an excellent midfielder," stated the former Italian international. "He’s been sacrificed so far but he must not lose hope.

"The importance of a player can not and should not be judged by how many games he has played."

Perugia on Redondo alert
18.11 || scharatz

Serie A strugglers Perugia are considering making a sensational January move for Fernando Redondo.

The Argentine currently doesn’t figure in Milan’s plans and a switch to the Stadio Renato Curi may be on the cards.

The Umbrian outfit are struggling in the League so far this season as they have yet to win after nine games.

Perugia are set to test Milan’s resilience over the former Real Madrid star by making them a tempting swap offer.

They are said to be willing to offer Fabio Grosso in return who could solve Milan’s left-back problem.

The Rossoneri have struggled to cover that role this term after injuries to Kakha Kaladze and Serginho.

Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti is a known admirer of the attacking wing-back who has recently played for Italy.

Perugia Coach Serse Cosmi has confirmed that he wants some new players in January and that anyone of his current squad could be sold.

"No one is untouchable here and anyone could move on," he stated. "We’ve struggled so far and I’m expecting some reinforcements.

"I need three or four significant players who can make a telling contribution."

One player definitely arriving in January is Maurizio Baciocchi. The striker has been snapped up from amateur side Orvietana.

Carlo ponders life after Milan
18.11 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti could amazingly quit football when his stint as Milan boss comes to an end.

"This is the best job in the world for a Coach and I don’t really see what could be next for me," he told the ‘Il Giorno’ newspaper.

"I think I’ll know when to call it a day and I believe that will be pretty soon as I don’t see myself carrying on at Giovanni Trapattoni’s age for example.

"It could be the time to stop after my spell here at Milan ends."

The former midfielder is very fond of the club after he won everything possible with the outfit as a player in the late 80s and early 90s.

He was appointed as the Rossoneri boss two years ago after he led Juventus to two consecutive second place League finishes.

Up until last season he had won nothing as a Coach but ended the campaign with the Coppa Italia and the Champions’ League.

However, Ancelotti has failed to rule out the possibility that he could one day take over at Roma – another of his former sides.

"Roma are a great club and have a great team right now," he added. "But if that occurred then it would be a move from the heart as I loved my time there.

"It is a nicer place than Milan but the city is one thing, Milan as a team is another completely."

Ambrosini proud of Real link
18.11 || scharatz

Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini says he is honoured to have his name linked with European giants Real Madrid.

"If these stories are true then it is definitely something for me to be proud of," said the midfielder.

"At this moment in time I know nothing about the rumours even if it would be fantastic for me if they were true."

However, the Italian international was keen to point out that he was quite happy to remain with the reigning Champions’ League winners.

"Milan are my life," he continued. "I’ve been here for eight years and I would happily stay forever if it was up to me.

"It is just a nice feeling to see that you are being considered by a club such as Real Madrid."

Ambrosini’s future has been at the centre of much speculation recently after his failure to break into the Milan side.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti prefers to play with Gennaro Gattuso in his midfield which could see Ambrosini miss out on Euro 2004.

"I’m not playing that much right now and if that continues then it will be tough for Giovanni Trapattoni to call me up," he added.

"But it is important for me to accept the decisions made by Ancelotti at this club."

Inzaghi rules out Roma
17.11 || scharatz

The race for Lo Scudetto is strictly between Juventus and Milan according to Filippo Inzaghi.

"No one is as good as us and Juventus," he told the Italian weekly ‘Controcampo’ on Monday.

"I concede that Inter and Roma are strong outfits but the rush for the line will be between Milan and Juve."

The Bianconeri are currently top of the table after nine games, two points ahead of Milan and Roma. "They may be above us but we have nothing to fear," added the Rossoneri hero.

Inzaghi was also asked to comment on his own chances of winning the European Footballer of the Year award.

"I wouldn’t do anything in particular to try to win votes from the jury," he explained. "That is because I think that Paolo Maldini should win it.

"He’s not only had a sensational career but he should get it because he is an extraordinary player right now."

Juventus ace Pavel Nedved is the bookmakers favourite to win the Golden Ball but Inzaghi disagrees. "I think that Gigi Buffon deserves it more than Nedved," he added.

Milan injury woes subside
15.11 || scharatz

The Rossoneri’s injury crisis is easing after news that Martin Laursen and Kakha Kaladze are back in full training.

“I feel good now,” announced Danish defender Laursen. “I am doing everything possible to be ready and able to play against Chievo.”

The international has been out of action for several weeks with a thigh problem and is certainly needed for a packed December schedule.

“It is a long season and there will be the opportunity for everyone to play,” he added. “The important thing is to be prepared when the Coach gives you the nod.”

Milan will take on games in Serie A, the Champions’ League, Coppa Italia and the Intertoto Cup during the next month.

An injury crisis has hit the club in defence with Paolo Maldini, Serginho and Alessandro Costacurta dealing with fitness worries.

Alessandro Nesta will also be suspended for the Champions’ League trip to Ajax.

Alex to replace Rivaldo
15.11 || Seamus

Milan have already found the replacement for Rivaldo as an offer is tabled for fellow Brazilian Alex.


Rossoneri director Ariedo Braida has been in South America all week to discuss future deals and has seemingly sewn up an agreement with Santos.


Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa is 21 years old and already a crucial element of the team in central defence.


Several big clubs are trailing the young talent, but Milan have reportedly bagged the deal for around Ł5m.


In order to sign the Brazilian they must first sell another non-EU player and Rivaldo already has his bags packed.


“This has been the worst year of my career,” confessed the former Barcelona star and current San Siro benchwarmer.


“At this stage all I can do is wait for January to arrive. I have had talks with Liverpool, but I cannot say more than that.”


Meanwhile, Milan are also tracking another mid-season target after new tests confirmed Serginho will be out until the New Year with ruptured ankle ligaments.


Perugia wide man Fabio Grosso has impressed this season and earned his third Italy cap against Poland midweek.


It is possible the Grifoni will let him go in January despite their difficult start to the campaign.

Maldini snubs Golden Ball
14.11 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini maintains that winning the Golden Ball would be nice but not fundamental for him.

The Milan captain is one of the leading candidates to be named the European Player of the Year but knows that he has some tough competition.

"Some great players of the past have ended their careers without winning that honour," said the Italian legend.

"Lots of players deserve it but only one will be given the award. Nevertheless, I don’t think it can make a great difference to someone’s career."

The 35-year-old has had a stunning 2003 after leading his club to glory in the Champions’ League and the Coppa Italia.

He’s been so good that Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni wants to bring him out of international retirement. "The chances of that are remote to say the least," he added.

Maldini is currently sidelined with a thigh injury but his return has already been pencilled in for 26 November against Ajax.

"I think I will be back for the Champions’ League game," he continued. "I’ve had tests and the results were comforting.

"We just need to see how the muscle reacts when I start training fully again with the squad."

Could he be back for the game against Chievo in Week 10? "It is possible," he hoped. "But I need to be almost fully fit by next Wednesday for that to happen."

Trap faith boosts Abbiati
13.11 || scharatz

Christian Abbiati is remaining positive about this season thanks to Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Milan goalkeeper was called up to the latest Azzurri squad this week despite not being the first choice for his club.

"My situation at Milan is not easy by any means," said the former Under-21 international. "However, I made my decision at the start of the season and I’m sticking to it.

"When you don’t play you simply have to train hard. Even though I’m only a reserve at Milan, Trap’s faith in me is a massive boost."

Brazilian star Dida became the club’s No 1 last term after a number of sensational performances.

The South American silenced his critics with some crucial saves before becoming the hero in the Champions’ League Final against Juventus when Milan won on penalties.

Abbiati was given the opportunity to leave Milan in the summer with Sampdoria and Arsenal interested.

However, he not only remained at the San Siro but decided to sign a contract extension too.

Abbiati is expected to travel to Euro 2004 as the third choice Italian ‘keeper behind Gigi Buffon and Francesco Toldo.

Rivaldo bewildered by snub
13.11 || scharatz

Rivaldo says he is still mystified why Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti continues to ignore him from his first team plans.

"I work really hard in training where I always give my very best," stated the former Barcelona star.

"However, I’m never picked by the Coach. This is something that is really troubling me, especially because I don’t know why I’m being overlooked."

The former Golden Ball winner is currently on international duty with Brazil as they prepare themselves for World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay.

"I feel as if people respect me here with the Selecao," he added from Brazil’s base in Teresopolis.

"That wasn’t the case at Barcelona though and it isn’t the case at Milan. Some people say I’m too old for this team but the fans and the experts know my true worth."

Rivaldo has rarely featured for the European Champions this season and even quit the club in October.

However, he was persuaded to stay with the Rossoneri until the January transfer window opens where a move is likely.

Liverpool have been hotly tipped to sign the former Deportivo player in the New Year even if a number of other Premiership clubs are interested.

Kuranyi's agent confirms Milan interest
12.11 || Seamus

Kevin Kuranyi's agent has verified reports suggesting that European champions AC Milan are interested in the rapidly rising VfB Stuttgart star.

"Milan are dead-serious about the player, but before sitting down for talks we are obliged to gave the priority to Stuttgart's offer," revealed Heinz Foester.

The 21-year-old Germany international has caught the eye of a whole host of Europe's top clubs thanks to his free-scoring form for Stuttgart over the past couple of seasons.

VfB boss Felix Magath reacted to all the transfer-talk surrounding Kuranyi by stressing that the Brazilian-born striker has committed to the club until 2005.

Golden Ball shortlist revealed
11.11 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini is one of nine Italian players who have been nominated for the prestigious European Footballer of the Year award.

The Italian legend, tipped by many to win the prize, is joined by Buffon, Del Piero, Inzaghi, Nesta, Toldo, Totti, Vieri and Zambrotta.

Fifteen Serie A players in total have made the list of 50 names which is selected by the France Football magazine.

Spanish giants Real Madrid are the most represented club with eight players. They are followed by Juventus who have six and Milan who offer five.

The winner will be selected in December after votes from the magazine’s world-wide base of journalists have been counted.

Speculation suggests that Juventus star Pavel Nedved is one of the firm favourites to win the accolade.

He won the Scudetto with Juventus in May, was crucial in their march to the Champions’ League Final and also qualified for Euro 2004 with his country.

Former Bianconeri hero Zinedine Zidane is also a front runner after his success with Real Madrid over the past 12 months.

Maldini is highly recommended in Italy but he may not win enough votes from foreign journalists to get the prize.

"It would be an honour to win but it is not a primary objective of mine," said the defender on Monday. "I’m more interested in the Scudetto and the Intercontinental Cup."

The full shortlist:
Pablo Aimar (Argentina - Valencia)
Michael Ballack (Germany - Bayern Munich)
David Beckham (England - Real Madrid)
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy - Juventus)
Sol Campbell (England - Arsenal)
Iker Casillas (Spain - Real Madrid)
Christian Chivu (Romania - Roma)
Deco (Portugal - FC Porto)
Alessandro Del Piero (Italy - Juventus)
Dida (Brazil - Milan)
Giovane Elber (Brazil - Lyon)
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon - Mallorca)
Luis Figo (Portugal - Real Madrid)
Ludovic Giuly (France - Monaco)
Thierry Henry (France - Arsenal)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden - Ajax)
Filippo Inzaghi (Italy - Milan)
Oliver Kahn (Germany - Bayern Munich)
Patrick Kluivert (Netherlands - Barcelona)
Jan Koller (Czech Republic - Borussia Dortmund)
Darko Kovacevic (Serbia & Montenegro - Real Sociedad)
Henrik Larsson (Sweden - Celtic)
Roy Makaay (Netherlands - Bayern Munich)
Claude Makelele (France - Chelsea)
Paolo Maldini (Italy - Milan)
Adrian Mutu (Romania - Chelsea)
Pavel Nedved (Czech Rep - Juventus)
Alessandro Nesta (Italy - Milan)
Nihat Kahveci (Turkey - Real Sociedad)
Michael Owen (England - Liverpool)
Pedro Miguel Pauleta (Portugal - Paris Saint-Germain)
Robert Pires (France - Arsenal)
Raul (Spain - Real Madrid)
Roberto Carlos (Brazil - Real Madrid)
Ronaldinho (Brazil - Barcelona)
Ronaldo (Brazil - Real Madrid)
Michel Salgado (Spain - Real Madrid)
Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine - Milan)
Paul Scholes (England - Manchester United)
Lilian Thuram (France - Juventus)
Francesco Toldo (Italy - Inter)
Francesco Totti (Italy - Roma)
Hatem Trabelsi (Tunisia - Ajax)
David Trezeguet (France - Juventus)
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands - Manchester United)
Patrick Vieira (France - Arsenal)
Christian Vieri (Italy - Inter)
Sylvain Wiltord (France - Arsenal)
Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy - Juventus)
Zinedine Zidane (France - Real Madrid)

Parma 0-0 AC Milan - report
9.11 || webmaster

Milan fall back off the top spot after fourth-placed Parma held them in an exhilarating game that had everything except a goal. This is the first time all season in Serie A that the Rossoneri have failed to find the net.

Parma were without star striker Adriano for a couple of months, while Domenico Morfeo and Sebastien Frey were also ruled out with injury.

Nonetheless, the home side had a very strong start and Alberto Gilardino just failed to slide on to a Marco Marchionni low cross within the opening three minutes.

Soon after a Hidetoshi Nakata header skimmed the far post on Mark Bresciano's free kick as the Gialloblu began to take control of the game.

Then Dida and Marcos Cafu bravely dived on to the feet of Bresciano to block his shot from seven yards.

On the resulting counter-attack Jon Dahl Tomasson was completely unmarked and saw his angled drive deflected wide of the far post.

It was a very energetic game with a high tempo and there were chances for both sides throughout.

Tomasson thought he had given Milan the lead on 27 minutes, but the goal was correctly disallowed for his offside position.

Dida was the goalkeeper forced to do the most work in the first half as he then flew to palm away a long-range Gilardino curler.

There was panic in the Parma box when Andrea Pirlo's low free kick was parried into the path of Kaka', but twice the defence charged down his follow-up.

It remained an exhilarating game in the second half and within seconds of the restart Vincenzo Sicignano flew to fingertip Seedorf's perfect shot out of the top corner. On the resulting set-piece Giuseppe Pancaro turned wide at the back post.

Seedorf drilled another good effort wide as Milan took control in the second half, but Parma always remained dangerous with rapid counter-attacks.

Moments later Andriy Shevchenko's powerful swerving attempt from 20 metres was tipped over the bar by the impressive Sicignano.

The Rossoneri were desperate for the win and threw on Pippo Inzaghi, making his comeback after two weeks out with a thigh problem.

The striker was clearly not match fit and incredibly fired straight at Sicignano as he ran on goal.

Parma: Sicignano; Bonera, Ferrari, Castellini, Junior; Barone (Seric 76), Filippini; Marchionni, Nakata (Carbone 76), Bresciano; Gilardino

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Costacurta, Nesta, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka' (Rui Costa 66); Tomasson (Inzaghi 73), Shevchenko

Ref: Collina

Maldini ready for Ajax?
6.11 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini could recover quicker than expected from a thigh strain and take part in the November 26 trip to Amsterdam.

The Milan captain pulled up with a small lesion to the left thigh muscle during Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Club Brugge.

Initial reports suggested a month long lay-off was required, but new tests indicate that the injury is not as serious as first thought.

A realistic picture of the recovery process can only be made next week, but club doctors are already more confident of a speedy return.

Today’s latest scan found that the lesion is minimal and with Maldini’s previous record of recovering quickly from muscular problems, Rossoneri fans can be optimistic.

His presence in that Nov 26 Champions’ League clash with Ajax is particularly important, as Alessandro Nesta will be suspended.

The Italian international was harshly red carded in Belgium and will find out the extent of his ban on Friday.

Russian to ref Milan-Boca Juniors
5.11 || scharatz

Russian referee Nikolai Ivanov has been assigned to the Intercontinental Cup clash between Milan and Boca Juniors.

The showdown between the reigning European and South American Champions will take place in Tokyo on December 14.

Last year’s trophy was a battle between Real Madrid and Olimpia Asuncion.

39-year-old Ivanov’s history against Italian teams is not particularly promising, as he was in charge of two defeats.

The precedents are Juve’s controversial 2-1 setback at Real Madrid in last year’s Champions’ League semi-final and yesterday’s 4-0 demolition of Lazio at the hands of Chelsea.

Milan captain Paolo Maldini faces a race against time to be fit for the December 14 match, as he limped off with a thigh strain during last night’s 1-0 win in Bruges.

Initial reports suggest the veteran defender will be sidelined for approximately 30 days.

Ancelotti hails Rossoneri heroes
5.11 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has praised his ten-man Milan for earning a crucial victory in Belgium.

The Coach admits he was lucky that Kaka’ bagged the winner before he was replaced.

“Thank goodness we didn’t get to make the substitution in time,” smiled the Milan boss following their 1-0 win at Club Brugge.

“Kaka’ looked tired, but he grabbed a crucial goal that makes a massive difference to our qualification chances.”

It looked very bleak for the reigning European Champions after Paolo Maldini limped off with a suspected thigh strain and Alessandro Nesta was harshly sent off.

“This team brought the best out of itself even in ten men and I think the aura of this Cup that we lifted in May pushed us on to this victory,” noted the tactician.

“With a man down it all became more difficult to control the tempo. The team started a bit below par, but they gradually got into shape and kept that even after the red card.”

Dario Simic was particularly impressive when pushed in to a central defensive position.

“Simic and Billy Costacurta showed their experience and took unusual roles to plug the gaps.”

Thanks to Celta Vigo’s 3-2 win over Ajax, Milan retake the top of Group H and have their confidence boosted.

“This win fills us with pride,” concluded Ancelotti, “but there is a long way to go in this season with a Serie A trip to Parma and then Amsterdam coming up.”


Club Brugge 0:1 AC Milan - report
4.11 || scharatz

Kaka' 84 (M)


A stunning last-gasp Kaka' volley gave Milan a precious win in Bruges despite Alessandro Nesta's red card and a Paolo Maldini injury.

Club Brugge are the minnows of this Group, but took a shock 1-0 win from the San Siro a fortnight ago. Milan could not afford another slip-up, but were without the injured Pippo Inzaghi and Serginho. Jon Dahl Tomasson and Kaka' stepped in, while Gennaro Gattuso made a welcome return from a two-match ban.

Bruges showed from the start they had no intention of lying down and Verheyen turned a good counter-attack wide of the far post within the first minute.

Milan suffered under some aggressive Belgian defending and went close when Paolo Maldini failed to make the most of an Andrea Pirlo set-piece.

The visitors held most of the possession, but when Bruges managed to take the ball off them they poured forward in waves and Clement's header was off target.

Gattuso tried to take the initiative and saw a relatively central effort saved comfortably. Marcos Cafu was expected to give them more width, but most of Milan's chances were created down the left flank with Giuseppe Pancaro.

Clarence Seedorf found some space with a fine run, but fired his shot just over the bar.

There was very bad news for the Rossoneri on the half-hour mark when captain Paolo Maldini limped off with a suspected thigh strain. If that diagnosis is confirmed he will be out for at least two to three weeks.

It got even worse before the break, as Alessandro Nesta was red carded for a challenge from behind on Mendoza, his second bookable offence in quick succession. Tomasson was forced to give way for defender Dario Simic as the European Champions played in ten men for the entire second half.

Despite these setbacks Milan continued to push with shots from Gattuso, Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka' well saved.

Bruges took advantage of the extra room and almost took the lead when Mendoza's header thumped the crossbar from close range.

Pirlo almost took veteran goalkeeper Verlinden by surprise with an angled drive that whistled wide, then the former Inter midfielder slipped at the crucial moment after springing the offside trap.

There was another good scoring opportunity on 75 minutes when Shevchenko nodded a Pancaro cross over the bar.

Dida has performed some remarkable saves over the last few weeks and surpassed himself with a crucial one-handed save on Stoica's powerful effort.

Kaka' charged into the box seven minutes from time, but was clearly tired and the defence was able to take the ball off him.

The Brazilian made up for that error by scoring a simply stunning goal in the closing moments of the match. Cafu ran down the field on the counter-attack and put in a cross for Kaka's spectacular volley into the roof of the net.

Ironically Kaka' was set to be substituted and was taken off immediately after the goal.

Milan had the chance to seal it up in stoppage time, but Shevchenko's effort was well saved and Seedorf turned the loose ball wide.



Club Brugge: Verlinden; De Cock, Maertens, Simons, Rozehnal, Van der Heyden; Verheyen, Clement (Saeternes 76), Ceh (Stoica 61), Gvozdenovic; Mendoza

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini (Costacurta 35), Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakŕ (Ambrosini 86); Shevchenko, Tomasson (Simic 41)

Ref: Fandel (Ger)

Sent off: Nesta 38 (M)

Club Brugge vs AC Milan - preview
4.11 || scharatz

Club Brugge have produced perhaps the biggest shock of this season's Champions League by beating defending champions Milan at the San Siro on Matchday 3. Now, they have the opportunity to make history on home turf by condemning the Italians to yet another defeat and moving three points clear of them in Group H.

Coach Trond Sollied is keeping his feet on the ground however: "I do not think the match here will be any easier than the match in Italy. We don't know what formation they will look to and that always makes it harder." Even so, his men will be boosted by the fact that the beat one of the best teams in the world on their own turf.


TEAM NEWS
Trond Sollied is sweating over the fitness of goalkeeper Dany Verlinden and may have to call on Tomislav Butina who has already made 2 Champions League appearance this season against Celta Vigo on Matchday 1 and against Ajax on Matchday 2. Sollied is expected to continue with the winning formula and go with the same line-up that causes the upset last time around. The 5-4-1 may be criticized as an overtly defensive formation but as his rival Carlo Ancelotti pointed out very correctly, "they beat us the only way it is possible to beat us…by completely stifling our play." Hence Andres Mendoza will expect to continue spearheading the attach that will be complemented by Sandy Martens runs from midfield.

Carlo Ancelotti has injury headaches at left-back with Serginho ruled out for two weeks and Kakha Kaladze still recovering from a long-term injury. Giuseppe Pancaro may return to the line-up prompting the return of Cafu to right back to provide some width. Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso return from injury and suspension respectively and even the forgotten Rivaldo has been declared fit and called up for the game. Filippo Inzaghi is another man missing-in-action and will be replaced by Jon Dahl Tomasson who has scored in all three of his starts this season. Brazilian Kakŕ and Rui Costa are expected to be fielded in the same line-up leaving Clarence Seedorf on the bench.


FORM GUIDE
Club Brugge last 6: WLDWWL
A mixed bag of results here for the Belgians who have now slipped to 5th in the league after being thrashed 4-2 by Heusden Zolder, who are second from bottom in the table. Sure, the result can be attributed to preparation for the much bigger midweek clash versus Milan, but if Brugge are to repeat the result they secured last Matchday in Milan, they will surely have to do better than build a defensive wall this time around. However, this time the clash will be at the Jan Breydelstadion, and home support often does the trick in these tricky encounters. Milan couldn't take advantage of their home pitch, can Brugge go one better?

AC Milan last 6: DWWLWD
Although Milan's results may initially portray inconsistency, it may be noted that the European Champions are currently leading the Serie A having secured six wins and two draws in their opening eight games. They also very nearly pulled clear of Juventus this past weekend before conceding a late goal. They will be keen not to miss out this time around however as they look to go all out for the win in Brugge. Ancelotti's men have conceded only 6 goals 13 official games this season, and all of them have come in separate games, which speaks volumes of their defensive prowess. If they can only score against Club Brugge, they may not have to struggle as they did at the San Siro.


PROBABLE LINEUPS
Club Brugge (5-4-1): Butina; De Cock, Maertens, Simons, Rozenhal, Van der Heyden; Martens, Clement, Ceh, Gvozdenovic; Mendoza

AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Kakŕ; Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Tomasson


PLAYERS TO WATCH
Club Brugge: Nothing gets your confidence up like a winner at the San Siro. Andres Mendoza probably never made it into anyone's fantasy football line-up last Matchday, but could be a hot pick this time around. He now knows what he and his team are capable of and may put in that extra bit of effort to prove that what happened in Italy was no rarity.

AC Milan: Gennaro Gattuso's return could be the single most important event for Milan. They have missed the gladiator-like midfielder's stamina and vigour in the centre of the pitch and will be boosted by that extra bit of energy he brings to their game.

Ancelotti: Win not crucial
3.11 || scharatz

Milan’s Champions’ League campaign will not depend on Tuesday’s game at Brugge according to boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The Rossoneri fell to a shock 1-0 home defeat to the Belgian side in the previous game which has left them with just four points from three games.

"We’ll be trying to play our own game," said the tactician. "We are keen to get the three points even if we know it won’t be easy.

"Obviously the game on Tuesday is important but it is by no means a must win match for us.

"We are still second in the group and have three games to play. We are not in the last chance saloon yet."

Ancelotti maintained that he had chosen his team but wouldn’t share his selections with the media. "I have my team and there will be changes from the one that played Juve," he said.

Reports suggest that Giuseppe Pancaro will be fielded in the left-back role, while Manuel Rui Costa will be dropped for Kaka.

Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson will keep his place in the side as Pippo Inzaghi is still ruled out with injury.

Inzaghi misses Bruges trip
3.11 || Seamus

Milan will be without their star striker Pippo Inzaghi for Tuesday’s difficult Champions’ League trip to Belgium.


The Italian international has also missed the last two Serie A games due to what was originally described as a minor thigh injury.


He suffered the slight strain during the 1-0 defeat to Bruges at the San Siro a fortnight ago and has not played since.


This is a must-win game for the Rossoneri, who fell behind Ajax in their Group following a draw and a defeat in their last two continental outings.


The good news for Coach Carlo Ancelotti is the return of Gennaro Gattuso from a two-match ban, while Rivaldo and Massimo Ambrosini are also available for selection.


Serginho is out of action after spraining his ankle during the closing stages of yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Juventus.


It is feared he could be sidelined for anything between four weeks and three months, as the sprain also took in the metatarsal bones of his left foot.



Milan’s squad for the trip to Bruges:

Gk: Abbiati, Dida, Fiori

D: Cafu, Costacurta, Laursen, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic

M: Brocchi, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Kakŕ, Pirlo, Redondo, Rivaldo, Rui Costa, Seedorf,

F: Borriello, Shevchenko, Tomasson

Serginho could miss three months
3.11 || Seamus

Milan winger Serginho could be out for the next three months after spraining his ankle in the 1-1 draw with Juventus last night.

The player has been diagnosed with a tibio-tarsical sprain to the left ankle and is likely to find out in the next two days just how long he'll be out for.

Juventus' Enzo Maresca, who was also taken off injured in the game, only suffered bruising to the left foot.

Ancelotti content with point
1.11 || scharatz

Milan were winning their clash until six minutes from time, but Carlo Ancelotti admits he is happy with the draw.

“There is a bitter taste in our mouths because the game was almost won,” he conceded, “but then again there was nothing we could have done to stop that incredible Marco Di Vaio goal.”

“We should be pleased with the overall performance and it is no dishonour to draw with Juventus.”

These two teams have met several times over the last few months and drew at the end of 90 minutes in the Champions’ League Final and Italian Supercup.

“Looking at the whole game it is perhaps the right result. Now we must concentrate on Club Brugge and prepare for this delicate encounter.”

Milan may be the reigning European Champions, but they face a difficult trip to Belgium after their shock 1-0 home defeat.

Ancelotti hopes that Dida will show the same kind of form he exhibited tonight, as the Brazilian performed some stunning saves.

“Dida is a guarantee in that goal mouth. He is remarkable and I feel sorry at leaving a great ‘keeper like Christian Abbiati on the bench, but we are lucky to have two such talented shot-stoppers.”

The intriguing attempt to turn winger Serginho into a left-back is also progressing well.

“Serginho did very well in defence during the first half,” added Ancelotti, “even if he should have pushed up a bit more, but he improved after the break and put in some good crosses.”

“This was an experiment for the player and he is doing very well in that new position.”

AC Milan 1:1 Juventus - report
1.11 || scharatz

Tomasson 66 (M), Di Vaio 84 (J)



A stunning Marco Di Vaio strike cancelled out Jon Dahl Tomasson's goal as Milan and Juve remain locked at the top.

These two teams fought for the Champions' League and Italian Supercup over the last few months, but now find themselves battling for the top of the Serie A table. Joint leaders going into this game, both clubs had scored in every single round and were unbeaten.

There were injury worries for both outfits, as Alessandro Del Piero and Pippo Inzaghi did not even make the bench. Andriy Shevchenko has a good record of scoring against the Bianconeri, while Pavel Nedved had the opportunity of facing Milan after missing the Champions' League Final due to a ban.

Manuel Rui Costa was given the nod ahead of Kaka', while Serginho retained his left-back position. Bizarrely, the kick-off was delayed by ten minutes due to a traffic jam outside the Stadium that caught the Juventus team bus.

Juventus had the first shot on goal after four minutes with a fierce Nedved piledriver palmed out for a corner kick. Marco Di Vaio then failed to take full advantage of a defensive error, while Serginho's brave intervention prevented David Trezeguet taking a free header.

Milan slowly gained more of a grip on the game after a strong Juve start and Gianluigi Buffon controlled a Gennaro Gattuso drive from almost 30 metres, then the Italian Number 1 punched a dangerous ball off Shevchenko's head.

The tension was high between these old rivals and a scuffle broke out between Dario Simic and Trezeguet with an apparent elbow from the Frenchman.

Another more determined fight exploded before the break when Milan carried on playing despite the fact Nedved was on the ground at the other end of the field. At least ten players were involved in the brawl and Buffon was forced to hold a livid Maldini back.

Shevchenko skipped past Paolo Montero and placed a slide-rule pass in to the centre, but Stephan Appiah was able to clear before a teammate could pounce.

Despite the tension, the first yellow card fell to Gianluca Zambrotta for a foul from behind on Serginho on 50 minutes.

The Rossoneri went close when a Serginho cross was fingertipped off Shevchenko's head from close range.

The strain on the field rose further when Shevcheko hit the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for a very tight offside decision.

Moments later Montero was forced into a desperate challenge on Gattuso as he strode into the six-yard box.

But Juventus went even closer to an opening goal on 56 minutes when Di Vaio volleyed a deflected Camoranesi cross on to the near post with Dida beaten.

The Brazilian goalkeeper then performed a great reaction save to palm away Trezeguet's shot from eight yards.

Milan fought back immediately and a Serginho cross caused havoc with Shevchenko and Rui Costa unable to get a solid touch on it.

A clearly unhappy Clarence Seedorf was substituted by Massimo Ambrosini.

Mere seconds later Milan took the lead through Jon Dahl Tomasson. The Juve defence tried to play the offside trap on a corner kick, but failed to notice Pirlo's through ball to the unmarked Tomasson from nine yards. Replays suggest that Camoranesi was the man keeping his opponents onside.

The Dane, who was only on the field due to Inzaghi's thigh injury, also netted in last week's 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

Juve poured forward in search of an equaliser and Di Vaio thought he had it with a free header at the back post, but Dida performed one of the best saves of his career to palm it out.

Marcello Lippi threw on Fabrizio Miccoli, while Milan turned to a 4-4-2 with Serginho in his habitual more advanced position and Kaka' partnering Shevchenko upfront.

Juventus found their equaliser and it was well worth the wait. Di Vaio unleashed a simply unstoppable volley from 20 metres that slotted into the top corner beyond Dida's outstretched hand. There was also some fine set-up work by Trezeguet to lift the ball up for the ex-Parma player's left foot.

There was bad news in the final minutes for both teams. Serginho and Enzo Maresca seemed to sprain ankles during awkward falls, but the Juventus midfielder appeared to have the worst injury.



Milan: Dida; Simic, Maldini, Nesta, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Ambrosini 64); Rui Costa (Kaka' 77); Tomasson (Pancaro 74), Shevchenko

Juventus: Buffon; Thuram, Legrottaglie, Montero, Zambrotta; Camoranesi (Miccoli 74), Tacchinardi (Maresca 81), Appiah; Nedved (Iuliano 86); Di Vaio, Trezeguet

Ref: Racalbuto

Ancelotti relies on Milan quality
1.11 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti claims that the Rossoneri's superior technique will take them through to a win against Juventus this evening.

“This team is on form at the moment, has quality, will impose its own style of play on the game and provide a spectacle,” assured the tactician.

These two giants of the Italian game have faced off several times over the last few months for Serie A, the Champions’ League and Italian Supercup, registering a win apiece and two draws.

“We certainly cannot try to out-do Juve on terms of aggression, as our main characteristic is of technical quality. It is with these strengths that we must play the game and we are all convinced that Milan can take control.”

However, the former Juve boss maintains that this showdown will not be decisive for the Scudetto.

“At this stage of the season any result cannot be considered crucial. November is not when the title is assigned.”

There could be several tactical changes on either side of the San Siro, some forced by injury woes.

Pippo Inzaghi is part of the squad, but “it is highly unlikely we’ll see him actually take to the field” due to a thigh problem.

“In the past,” reveals Ancelotti, “the 4-4-2 system has been the one to cause Juventus the most difficulties.”

This suggests that Manuel Rui Costa will be pushed out wide to the right flank, while Giuseppe Pancaro is battling with the more attack-minded Serginho for the position of left-back.

“The most dangerous element of Juve’s side is Pavel Nedved,” continued the Coach. “He gets the ball very deep and that makes him terribly difficult to mark.”

The recent 1-0 home defeat to Club Brugge is still preying on their minds, but Ancelotti assures this is a team for the big occasions.

“Milan really bring out the best of their abilities in these showcase matches,” he noted. “The spotlight suits my men.”


Rui: I'm gagging for a goal
1.11 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa admits he’d “do anything” to break his goal duck against Juventus, but question marks remain over Pippo Inzaghi.

The Portuguese international has provided countless assists for his teammates since joining Milan in 2001, but he is yet to score a Serie A goal.

“I would do anything to score against Juve tomorrow evening,” he told Milan Channel, “although my primary objective is helping the team to win.”

Rui Costa has been pushed on to the bench in recent weeks due to the emergence of Brazilian youngster Kaka’, but reports suggest he will be given the keys to the Milan midfield this Saturday.

“An assist is at the end of the day as valuable to the team as a goal,” continued the former Fiorentina hero. “When you face the Italian Champions it can only be a prestigious event.”

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has hinted that Rui Costa will be moved out to the right flank in a 4-4-2 formation, but there are question marks over who will start upfront.

Inzaghi missed last Sunday’s 3-0 win over Sampdoria due to a minor thigh problem and although he is included in the 23-man squad there is no guarantee he will even be on the bench.

A final fitness test and decision on Inzaghi’s status will only be made hours before kick-off tomorrow evening.



The Milan squad called for this game:

Gk: Abbiati, Dida

D: Cafů, Costacurta, Laursen, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic

M: Brocchi, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Kakŕ, Pirlo, Redondo, Rivaldo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho

F: Borriello, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson





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