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The Archive

November 2007

AC Milan unveil Club World Cup squad
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has named his 23-man squad for the Club World Cup in Japan, including the injured Ronaldo and Marek Jankulovski.

Milan are participating champions of Europe in the tournament that runs from December 7 to 16.

Although Ronaldo and full-back Jankulovski are currently out of action, the Coach hopes to have them both back in time to play in Japan.

Il Fenomeno has been ruled out of Saturday’s Serie A match with Juventus and most likely the Champions League decider with Celtic on Tuesday evening due to a recurring calf problem.

Under FIFA rules Milan can bring 23 players, but Alexandre Pato cannot take part, as the 18-year-old’s registration can only be made official from January 2008.

The Rossoneri only enter the competition from the semi-finals on December 13, where they will face one of Sepahan, Waitakere United and Urawa Red Diamonds.

Boca Juniors enter from the other semi-final and the trophy will be assigned in Yokohama on December 16.

Meanwhile, Boca Juniors have been told they cannot use new signing Juan Roman Riquelme in the Club World Cup.

The Argentine just completed his move from Villarreal, but is not eligible because he missed the “strict deadline of Friday November 23 2007 for submitting a final list of players,” explained FIFA.

Riquelme was not on the preliminary list handed in last week.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Cafù, Maldini, Kaladze, Nesta, Simic, Jankulovski, Bonera, Serginho, Oddo; Emerson, Gattuso, Seedorf, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Brocchi; Inzaghi, Gilardino, Kakà, Ronaldo.

Ronaldo: I want injury answers
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo admits he has run out of patience following his latest mystery injury. “We’re all looking for answers now.”

The Milan star was warming up to come on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Benfica on Wednesday when he pulled up with a new calf problem that has ruled him out of this weekend’s clash with Juventus.

“We are all looking for answers now,” confessed Ronaldo when asked by Sky Italia television what could be causing this succession of setbacks.

“We want to understand what is behind this injury, as there are answers to our questions about our work and how we continue. We are always looking for the best possible option.”

Il Fenomeno has so far made just one official appearance for his club this season, in last week’s 2-1 win away to Cagliari.

“I was unlucky in Lisbon because I went to warm up and after 10 minutes the fitness Coach told me I was about to come on,” he explained.

“So I started rushing through my routine and I got a little pull in my left calf muscle. I decided not to risk it, as to go on could’ve meant a very serious injury.”

Ronaldo has barely set foot on a pitch in the last six months, but won’t let these repeated setbacks get him down.

“When I am on the field, training or playing, then I am happy. When I’m injured and in the stands I don’t lose my good humour, although clearly I can’t celebrate either.”

Meanwhile, the Rossoneri have only two strikers at their disposal for Saturday’s Serie A showdown with Juventus – Alberto Gilardino and Pippo Inzaghi – so awaiting teenager Alexandre Pato’s official registration in January, options are limited.

It is reported that Ronaldo’s latest injury has pushed the club to look for a reinforcement during the mid-season transfer window.

The prime target is Palermo’s Brazilian forward Amauri, who would be available for around £12m.

Ronaldo and Camoranesi ruled out
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

It is now official – Ronaldo and Mauro German Camoranesi are out of Saturday’s Milan-Juventus showdown.

The two players were in doubt due to injury and neither managed to recover in time for a spot on the bench.

Ronaldo felt a twinge in his calf muscle as he was warming up to come on as a substitute during the 1-1 draw with Benfica on Wednesday evening.

Il Fenomeno is not in the squad named by Coach Carlo Ancelotti for this game, but Pippo Inzaghi has returned after a bout of tonsillitis.

It is believed Alberto Gilardino will start upfront in a Christmas Tree formation with support from Kaka and Clarence Seedorf.

Over at Juventus, Camoranesi has not made the trip to Milan after failing a late fitness test today.

The Italian international is still struggling with a right thigh problem he picked up during training this week and stays behind along with Zdenek Grygera.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi

Juventus squad: Buffon, Birindelli, Chiellini, Almiron, Zebina, Zanetti, Salihamidzic, Iaquinta, Del Piero, Nedved, Belardi, Vanstrattan, Trezeguet, Criscito, Palladino, Nocerino, Molinaro, Tiago, Marchionni, Legrottaglie

Kaka closes in on FIFA award
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka is on a three-man shortlist for FIFA’s World Player of the Year award.

The Brazilian star is set to receive the Ballon d’Or award on Sunday in Paris and now stands a strong chance of doubling his celebrations.

The other two men on the three-man list are Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Argentine marksman Lionel Messi.

While the Ballon d’Or winner is elected by journalists, Coaches and captains of the national teams of FIFA member countries vote for the World Player of the Year award.

Kaka is reportedly the favourite to clinch the prize at FIFA’s World Player Gala in Zurich on December 17.

The Brasilia native could cap a stellar year that has already seen him receive the FIFPro World Player of the Year honour in October after winning the highest percentage of the 45,000 votes from fellow players.

Ranieri's Rossoneri respect
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Claudio Ranieri is keen to stress his great respect for Milan on the eve of the Bianconeri’s trip to the San Siro.

The high-flying Old Lady travel to Milan looking to extend the Rossoneri’s wait for a first home win of the campaign.

Although confidence is high in the Juve camp after last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Palermo, Ranieri is expecting a stern test.

“Milan are a great side and they are European champions, which you don’t achieve by chance,” the former Parma boss stated.

“In the second half of the season they will climb up the table place by place, but right now they also have to think about the Club World Cup.

“Playing Milan is an amazing motivation and to go to the San Siro just gives that little extra emotion.

“These are the kind of classics that every player wants to take part in. It will be a difficult game but a great one.

“We come to the game on good form and we are growing, we haven’t come to be beaten as we always go out to win in these top of the table clashes.

“We are looking to prolong their winless run at the San Siro, but Milan have time to turn things around. We need to show humility and play a really great game.”

The Cadetti champions were handed a blow earlier today with the news that winger Mauro Camoranesi is unlikely to be fit for the game.

“He will be a big loss,” admitted Ranieri. “I feel sorry for Camo as he is the kind of player who can make the difference, but it’s good to have all our strikers available.

“I am still weighing up my choices – a Coach plays a game many times in his head before it actually happens.”

Camoranesi out for AC Milan?
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus winger Mauro Camoranesi may join Milan’s Ronaldo in the stands for tomorrow’s San Siro crunch match.

The Old Lady were boosted by the news that Rossoneri striking star Ronaldo is set to miss out on this weekend’s big game, but now it seems that they could lose an ace of their own.

Azzurri midfielder Camoranesi has reported severe muscle fatigue during training and could be forced to sit out the trip to the Meazza.

“We are hoping for good news on Camo,” Ranieri told journalists.

“But we learned the lesson from his last injury and we will only play him if he’s 100 per cent and he wasn’t yesterday.”

Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Trezeguet are ready to start up front but Ranieri’s plan to field the same side that decimated Palermo is in jeopardy.

Alessandro Del Piero could replace Camoranesi, or there may be a reshuffle with Marco Marchionni or Hasan Salihamidzic claiming a start.

Giorgio Chiellini is expected to take over from Domenico Criscito and Zdenek Grygera could be fit enough to steal Jonathan Zebina’s place.

Ronaldo set to miss Juve
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo doesn’t think that he will recover from a calf injury in time to feature for Milan against Juventus on Saturday.

The Brazilian star has only just returned to action after a frustrating period on the sidelines with a thigh injury.

However, during the warm-up at Benfica last night, El Fenomeno reported a suspect calf pain.

“I’m still feeling a bit of pain and I don’t think that I’ll be back in time for Juventus,” Ronaldo explained.

“I don’t know what happened last night yet. I will have to wait until tomorrow when I see the doctors again. I don’t even know if I’ll be back for Tokyo.”

Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani was also unable to shed any light on the Selecao marksman’s condition.

“I don’t know – the decision will be up to the doctors and Ronaldo himself,” he growled.

“One thing at a time. Before the Club World Cup we have to face Juventus and Celtic.”

Buffon: We’ll prolong AC Milan misery
30.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon is mindful of Milan’s hunger to end their home hoodoo, but is determined that the Bianconeri won’t be the fall guys.

The Old Lady have enjoyed a superb start to the campaign, while Milan have stumbled and are the only side in Serie A yet to muster a home win.

Second-placed Juve travel to the San Siro on Saturday for an epic encounter and Buffon believes that they can stop the Rossoneri grabbing the win they long for.

“Milan haven’t won at home this year and I know that they have a great desire to make up for the dark nights, but we don’t want to be sacrificial lambs,” the Azzurri custodian declared.

“They are European champions and they could soon occupy the world throne, so it’s obvious that this will be a difficult game.

“We have great faith in our own abilities as long as we continue to work with the same humility and spirit of sacrifice that has been at the heart of the campaign so far.”

As for the Scudetto race, Buffon remains characteristically sarcastic when asked about Juve’s chances.

“There are three sides that are stronger than us,” he grinned.

“It’s true that Milan, Inter and Roma have Champions League distractions, but they would need to have injuries to all 20 of their players.”

Ballon d'Or 'top 10' unveiled
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

It is widely accepted that Kaka will receive the Ballon d’Or on Sunday, but there are some surprises in the predicted top 10 that is circulating.

The European Footballer of the Year award will be presented in Paris on Sunday and it is one of the game’s worst kept secrets that Milan’s Kaka will triumph.

The Brazilian ace’s starring role in the Rossoneri’s Champions League triumph last term seems to have secured the silverware in the eyes of the judges.

In recent weeks, members of the Inter camp have claimed that striking star Zlatan Ibrahimovic could usurp Kaka, but reports suggest that the giant Swede was just seventh in the vote.

Kaka’s teammate Andrea Pirlo is believed to be the highest-placed Serie A challenger in fifth with Francesco Totti back in 10th spot.

Manchester United wizard Cristiano Ronaldo is said to be the runner-up with Argentine marksman Lionel Messi in third and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba pipping Pirlo to fourh.

The predicted top 10 in full:

1. Kaka (Milan)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
3. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
4. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
5. Andrea Pirlo (Milan)
6. Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid)
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter)
8. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
9. Robinho (Real Madrid)
10. Francesco Totti (Roma)

Seedorf waits on injured ankle
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf is hoping that he can shake off his injury problems in time to play on Saturday.

The Rossoneri take on Juventus in a huge match at the San Siro and will need to be at full strength against a rampant Bianconeri outfit.

However, there are question marks over Ronaldo and Seedorf is also not 100 per cent after aggravating an existing ankle injury during yesterday’s game against Benfica.

“It was going well for the first 15 minutes and then I twisted the ankle a bit when I landed in a divot and it didn’t feel so good,” the ex-Inter ace revealed.

“But I played 75 minutes and now I have three days to recover and get myself ready for Saturday evening.”

Milan weren’t altogether convincing in their 1-1 draw with Benfica, but the result was enough to send them into the last 16 and satisfy Seedorf.

“The important thing in Portugal was to qualify. They put us under pressure, but what mattered was getting the result,” he concluded.

AC Milan fear Ronaldo relapse
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan must wait to see if Ronaldo will be fit for Saturday’s clash against Juventus after he reported a calf pain during yesterday’s warm-up.

The Brazilian star has only just returned from three months on the sidelines with a thigh injury and is desperate to make an impression.

However, El Fenomeno was ruled out of last night’s game against Benfica when he felt a strange pain in his calf before the game.

Carlo Ancelotti is insistent that the discomfort was merely muscle fatigue and stressed that the problem is “nothing serious”.

Nonetheless, club doctor Jean-Pierre Meersseman is planning to run a series of tests to discount the possibility that the latest complaint is linked to his previous injury.

Ronaldo’s loss would be a big blow ahead of a game that Ancelotti admits is a must-win.

“It will be a difficult game because they are in great form,” the former Juventus tactician admitted.

“We cannot afford to fail as a defeat would leave us too far from the top to catch the leaders.”

Galliani asks for Celtic scalp
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan general manager Adriano Galliani told the team it is “imperative” to beat Celtic and Juventus over the next few days.

Although they booked their ticket to the next phase of the Champions League with a 1-1 draw against Benfica last night, the final game with the Scots will be a battle for top spot in the group.

“The first half was an excellent game with both sides playing great football and scoring wonderful goals. The second was a little less exciting, even though we had a good chance with Kaka at the end,” explained Galliani.

“The draw was the right result and it wouldn’t have mattered, as even if we had won today we would still have had to get at least a draw with Celtic to ensure top spot.

“Winning the group is imperative, as Milan always qualify when we have the second leg on home turf and that is the most important thing about the draw.”

A draw at San Siro would be a result that suited both parties, as Celtic would beat Shakhtar Donetsk to the second qualifying place and leave Milan with the leadership.

Yet the Diavolo have other pressing concerns too, as they welcome Juventus in a Serie A crunch match on Saturday evening.

“Getting back into the next Champions League is crucial, so we have to finish in the top four of Serie A. It is a classic fixture, but above all against a side in the top four, so we need to close that gap,” continued Galliani.

“We have dropped too many points on home turf and our general situation in the table is not that good.”

Looking beyond those ties, they travel to Japan for the Club World Cup on December 13 and 16. It is Milan’s first entry since the new format was introduced for what was once the Intercontinental Cup.

“Football is global now and it is great to see the winners of the various continental trophies face each other.

“I like the new format and we’ll have a tough semi-final, as we risk taking on a Japanese side that will have an incredible home support.”

Galliani had a final thought for his players that most Italian mothers would agree with, especially after Pippo Inzaghi dropped out of the Benfica game with tonsillitis.

“You see these players go around with little jackets when it’s –7 degrees C and don’t dry their hair when they come out of the locker-room. If they wrapped up nice and warm with a scarf then they’d be less likely to get ill!”

Gilardino awaits Ronaldo partnership
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino reveals why he is doing so much better in Europe and hopes Ronaldo can soon make his debut.

“It is only normal that if you start the way I did this season, with two goals against Shakhtar, you are able to play every other game with a more relaxed state of mind,” said the Milan striker.

He had struggled badly to break his duck on the continent, but has become visibly more confident and was fielded as the lone striker during the 1-1 draw with Benfica.

“It depends on the opponents, so the Coach does well to choose the right tactical system for that situation. The two strikers worked better in Cagliari and the one-forward system was more advisable here.”

Ronaldo was ready to make his Champions League debut for Milan, but pulled up with a twinge during the warm-up.

“I am accustomed to both roles. Having said that, when Ronaldo is beside you it creates more space and helps give the defenders something else to worry about.”

As Pippo Inzaghi is home with tonsillitis, Gilardino had to hold the fort on his own in Lisbon.

“We played extremely good football for the first half-hour, then that goal from distance changed the game and we tried to sit back a little more and control the tempo. We attempted to move the ball around well, but the service didn’t always get to me.”

Now Gila’s attention is aimed towards Tokyo, where Milan will compete in the Club World Cup.

“This is my first time at the Club World Cup and after winning the top trophy at international level I hope to also become world champion with Milan.”

Ancelotti juggles AC Milan demands
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits the pressure is on Milan as in the next fortnight they face Celtic for the top spot, Juventus and the Club World Cup.

Former Milan man Massimo Donati gave Celtic a last-gasp 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk and the Rossoneri drew 1-1 at Benfica, so even though the Italians are mathematically qualified, the final game at San Siro will be a battle for first place.

“We had a fine start, took the lead and controlled the game, but the equaliser put things back in the balance,” explained the Coach.

“We had less energy than Benfica and realised a draw would guarantee our qualification, so we sat back a bit too much in the second half and there were some tense moments at the end.

“Kaka did some wonderful things at the start and end. Alberto Gilardino had more chances in the first half, but then paid the price for the rest of the team not creating as much.”

Milan will travel to Japan for the Club World Cup with games on December 13 and 16, but cannot afford to lose their concentration against Celtic, as winning their Champions League group is key.

“I believe first place is very important for the draw, especially as it gives us the second leg on home turf.”

There were worrying moments in Lisbon when Ronaldo was preparing to make his Champions League debut in a Milan jersey, but pulled up for treatment instead.

“Ronaldo felt a twinge during the warm-up and still wanted to go on, but considering Clarence Seedorf’s ankle wasn’t in good shape I opted to play it safe. Ronaldo is fine and will be available for Saturday.”

This weekend is a dramatic one for Ancelotti’s men, as they welcome Juventus to San Siro in a Serie A showdown.

“We have a game on Saturday that will certainly be tough, as Juventus are in good shape and we have to recharge our batteries very quickly, otherwise we could run into problems.

“Having played six home games and not won any of them in Serie A this season, I’d say this is an excellent opportunity to end that run.

“Our physical condition is good, in general, although we can certainly improve. We have 10 days to prepare for the games in Tokyo and can work then to find our best fitness levels.”

Rui Costa hails Rossoneri
29.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Manuel Rui Costa believes Milan are as near to perfect as a football team can be after facing his former teammates.

“Right now I feel disappointed that we were unable to win and went out of the Champions League after a game where we played well against the champions of Europe,” said the Benfica star after the 1-1 draw in Lisbon.

“I was very happy at the start to see my friends and former teammates, but after that I focused on Benfica, as this was an extremely important match for us.”

Milan have been criticised this season, but grabbed the point they needed to qualify for the knockouts and Rui Costa defends his old squad.

“A side that reaches the Final three times in five years has little to improve upon. They have moments of stasis, but they are more cut out for the decisive matches. When the pressure is on, they really step up.

“It is a shame we were so nervous and timid at the start, as we needed to take the initiative and not be so fearful.”

Rui Costa is Milan’s most expensive ever signing at £27m, but his heart also belongs to Fiorentina, who are currently in the Scudetto race.

“I am happy to see Fiorentina doing so well and Milan winning the Champions League. I wish I was doing so well, too!” he smiled.

“In terms of age and form, I probably did have my best years in Florence, a team that at the time could have won more silverware.

“We lost Gabriel Batistuta to injury and at the same time Edmundo was… otherwise indisposed at the Carnival! I don’t know if we could have won the Scudetto, but we could have gone far.

“I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had and the 12 years I spent in Italy, a country that always treated me very warmly.”

Benfica 1:1 AC Milan - match report
28.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Pirlo 15 (M), Maxi Perreira 20 (B)

Andrea Pirlo and Maxi Perreira traded screamers as Milan got the point they needed against Benfica to secure qualification.

The Rossoneri needed only a point to be sure of qualification and rested Ronaldo, preferring the Christmas Tree formation with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf supporting Alberto Gilardino. Former Serie A stars Manuel Rui Costa and Nuno Gomes were leading the line for Benfica.

Milan got off to a blistering start with three shots on goal in the opening four minutes. Cristian Brocchi created a chance for Gilardino and Serginho's cross-shot threatened. Gilardino exchanged passes with Seedorf and the Dutchman's fierce strike stung Quim's palms.

Petit's deflected long-range attempt whistled wide, but the Italians were in control and opened the scoring with a sensational effort from Andrea Pirlo. He unleashed a rocket from 30 metres that slotted in at the base of the far post with the goalkeeper unable to get a fingertip to it.

Pirlo almost created a second by accident, as his free kick to the six-yard box was deflected off Leo's wayward touch to skim the upright.

Serginho's woeful defensive error sent Benfica clear on goal, but Kakha Kaladze did enough to put off Cristian Rodriguez, who fired straight at Nelson Dida. It was a warning sign, as the Portuguese equalised with a goal that more than matched Pirlo's ballistics. Maxi Perreira cut back to leave Gennaro Gattuso stranded and smacked a left-foot screamer in from 30 metres.

A Nuno Gomes header was charged down by Alessandro Nesta, then in the same move Kaka sprinted half the way up the field to have his shot bravely blocked in the box.

Rui Costa created a fine opportunity that Rodriguez drilled past the near post, but Brocchi tried to make it a hat-trick of stunning long-range strikes as he brought a tough acrobatic save out of Quim. Seedorf just failed to get on the end of Kaka's cutback, but Benfica threatened again with Kaladze flinging himself at the unmarked Maxi Perreira to turn out for a corner after Rui Costa's inspired dummy.

Serginho was poor in the first half and made way for veteran Paolo Maldini at the break. Yoann Gourcuff also replaced Brocchi, who was struggling with a back problem.

Rui Costa was on wonderful form, dribbling past a series of his former teammates to sting Dida's palms from a tight angle. Rui went on another mazy run, but this time fired wide from the edge of the box.

Benfica did hit the back of the net when Dida parried a Petit strike into the path of Nuno Gomes, but the ex-Fiorentina striker was offside. Gourcuff saw the goalkeeper off his line and attempted an audacious lob from midfield.

A spectacular Nuno Gomes volley was straight at Dida's grateful arms, then Pirlo's free kick skimmed the top corner from a tight angle.

Ronaldo was warming up ready to come on, but pulled up and asked for treatment on his knee, so this could be another setback in Il Fenomeno's battle for fitness. Instead, Massimo Oddo replace Seedorf and switched to a 4-4-2 system. Benfica went for broke with Oscar Cardozo, who was not 100 per cent fit, and Angel Di Maria.

Six minutes from time Nesta caught his studs in the turf and turned his knee, but was able to continue with a slight limp. American prodigy Freddy Adu came on for the final minutes, but Kaka risked a winner when he skipped past two defenders and the angled drive flashed across the far post.

Kaka had another great chance, but the cross was a little too far behind him and the header looped over.

Benfica: Quim; Luis Filipe (Di Maria 74), Luisao, David Luiz (Adu 87), Leo; Maxi Pereira, Petit; Katsouranis, Rui Costa, Cristian Rodriguez; Nuno Gomes (Oscar Cardozo 74)
Milan: Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho (Maldini 46); Gattuso, Pirlo, Brocchi (Gourcuff 51); Seedorf (Oddo 73), Kaka; Gilardino
Ref: Fandel (Ger)

Kaka banks on Ballon d’Or
28.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Whispers that Milan’s Kaka has won the Ballon d’Or award are intensifying with reports that he has organised a trip to the Eiffel Tower this weekend.

The prize for European Footballer of the Year will be presented in Paris this Sunday and Kaka is the overwhelming favourite to clinch the honour.

Kaka’s heroics in Milan’s Champions League triumph last year seem to have lifted him above other candidates, including Inter hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

While nothing official has been announced yet, it has been revealed that Kaka is planning a special celebration in Paris.

“I was contacted to arrange a private visit to the Eiffel Tower,” Vice-Mayor of Paris Jean Bernard Bros revealed to Le Parisien.

There are also suggestions that Kaka will lift the World Player of the Year award a fortnight later and become just the 10th man to achieve the double.

Carletto: Let’s finish the job
27.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti sees the trip to Benfica as the perfect opportunity for Milan to secure Champions League qualification.

The European champions won’t relinquish their grip on the trophy lightly and they travel to Portugal leading Group D by three points.

“We have a great chance to finish the job and secure qualification,” Ancelotti asserted in his UEFA Press conference.

“Playing against big sides we turn in big performances and I think that it’ll be a great game.

“We must be positive after the Cagliari game and see this as a golden chance to ensure that all we are playing for in the final game is first and second place.”

As well as trying to revitalise their Serie A push by beating Juventus on Saturday, Milan have one eye on December’s Club World Cup.

“It’s not just an important week, but from here until Christmas we will be busy,” Ancelotti stated.

“Things have started well and we need to continue like this as it’s a month that will define our ambitions.”

Ronaldo is expected to start on the bench at Estádio da Luz with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf playing behind Alberto Gilardino.

Trezeguet plots AC Milan attack
27.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

David Trezeguet is on heroic form for Juventus and he believes that the Bianconeri’s strikers could be the difference against Milan.

The French hitman is leading Serie A’s scoring chart with 11 goals to his name and has been pivotal in guiding the Old Lady to second place.

Trez was the first to insist that Juve could compete for the Scudetto in pre-season and he thinks that his goals can help Claudio Ranieri’s men negotiate a trip to rivals Milan.

“Our attack is devastating and better than Milan – the numbers prove that,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We just keep getting better and we really showed our strength against Palermo. Morale is high and we are going to the San Siro to win.

“We know that we are a strong side, but this is the big moment with a direct battle. To win over Milan at the San Siro would be ideal.

“It’s important that we go out there with humility, but we know that we don’t have to fear anyone.”

The San Siro has been a happy hunting ground for Trezeguet as he scored his first Serie A goal there and sealed the Scudetto in 2005.

“I have always enjoyed myself at the San Siro,” Trez recalls.

“I think that soon you will see Trezeguet at his best and I have confidence that I’ll prove that on the pitch. I feel like part of this project and I will stay at Juve for life.

“Our objective is to win the title. After that, if things continue like this I will think about the Capocannoniere crown.”

Ronaldo eager to impress
26.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striking star Ronaldo insists that he wants to earn a new contract with the Rossoneri after making his long-awaited return yesterday.

El Fenomeno made his first appearance of the season in Cagliari after a frustrating period on the sidelines with a thigh injury.

There was little sign of rustiness from Ronnie as he struck the post and was brought down for a penalty, but he believes he has much more to do if he is to renew his contract, which currently expires in June.

“I’m going to try and impress this year to win the trust of the club,” the Selecao marksman told Sky Sport Italia.

“I want to earn things for myself and at the moment I haven’t deserved an extension.

“If I manage to impress then I don’t see there being problems in negotiations with the club at the end of the season, but I need to get stuck in as I don’t want anything gifted to me.”

Cagliari 1:2 AC Milan - match report
25.11 || webmaster

Scorers: Acquafresca 4 (C), Gilardino 61 (M), Pirlo 85 (M)

Milan fought back from a goal down with Andrea Pirlo's late winner on Ronaldo's debut after Kaka had seen his penalty saved.

Il Fenomeno had not played a competitive match since May, but was finally ready to lead the line, especially as Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi, Kakha Kaladze and Marek Jankulovski were sidelined. Cagliari had their own debut, as Coach Nedo Sonetti took over from Marco Giampaolo. The Rossoneri were undefeated here in Serie A since a 1-0 result on October 18, 1998, although last season they were held to a 2-2 draw.

There was a minute's silence ahead of every game this weekend for Italian soldier Daniele Paladino, who was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.

It took less than four minutes for Cagliari to take the lead. Once again a corner kick proved disastrous for the Rossoneri defence, as Massimo Oddo lost sight of Robert Acquafresca and Nelson Dida failed to come out, so the Under-21 international turned in the header.

Paolo Maldini took matters into his own hands with a left-foot strike from distance that tested Marco Fortin, but the Sardinians threatened again when Pasquale Foggia's pass flashed across the face of goal with nobody able to get on the end of it.

Dida spilled a Foggia counter and Alberto Gilardino's glancing header from a corner caused concerns. Ronaldo turned between two defenders, but lost his footing and a defender came flying in with the tackle.

Gennaro Gattuso headed Kaka's cross into the path of Ronaldo, who was held back by Paolo Bianco. Kaka stepped up, but his penalty was saved by Fortin and on the follow-up Maldini struck the side-netting.

After the restart the Sardinians remained in control, as Bianco's glancing header whistled across the face of goal. Yet Ronaldo was unlucky not to equalise when he turned the ball on to the base of the upright with the inside of his right foot.

Serginho's angled drive was deflected inches past the far post, while Massimo Ambrosini went off injured, pushing Serginho further up the field.

Milan finally drew level with Gilardino's acrobatic finish, as he had to jump up and flick Serginho's deflected cross in off the outside of his right foot from six yards to avoid the goalkeeper's intervention.

Cagliari almost restored their advantage moments later, as Acquafresca ran down the right flank and squeezed his shot from the narrowest of angles past both Alessandro Nesta and Dida, but Daniele Bonera performed a decisive last-gasp goalline clearance.

Bianco risked an own goal as he anticipated Gilardino at the near post, but the resulting Andrea Pirlo corner came out to substitute Marcos Cafu for a sensational volley that skimmed the crossbar.

Dida smothered a Parola snapshot from the edge of the box, but Milan turned it all around five minutes from time with a Pirlo free kick. His right-foot effort swung over the wall and seemed to take Fortin by surprise, as it was relatively central.

Cagliari: Fortin; Ferri, Lopez (Bizera 74), Bianco, Agostini; Biondini, Conti, Parola; Foggia (Larrivey 87); Matri (Fini 66), Acquafresca

Milan: Dida; Oddo (Cafu 70), Nesta, Maldini, Serginho; Gattuso (Brocchi 79), Pirlo, Ambrosini (Bonera 58); Kakà; Ronaldo, Gilardino

Ref: Dondarini

Missed penalty: Kaka 43 (M)

Sonetti sets Ronaldo trap
25.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo makes his debut in Sardinia, so Cagliari Coach Nedo Sonetti hatches a cunning plan to tame the Milan star.

“Will we construct a tactical cage to limit him? No, we’ve got a real one we’re borrowing from the circus,” joked the boss.

“The truth is that against a world class player like this there is very little one can do. If he is in good shape, Ronaldo is one of the best on the planet.”

It will also be a debut for Sonetti, who returns to the Sardinian bench after replacing the sacked Marco Giampaolo.

“I am very excited, but also concentrated on a difficult game. In any case, we will try to stop Milan. My tactics have not changed, so a four-man defence with a midfield of three if not four players.

“It all depends on Pasquale Foggia, but there are always three attacking players to move forward. I want to see a courageous team with real character.”

Foggia is expected to start in ‘the hole’ behind Alessandro Matri and Under-21 international Robert Acquafresca.

Ancelotti: Ronaldo will start
25.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Ronaldo will play from the start against Cagliari on Sunday afternoon, but Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi are sidelined.

Il Fenomeno has not set foot on the field in official competition this term after picking up a mysterious injury in August that dragged on for months and required two different sets of treatment.

“Finally Ronaldo will be there from the start,” said the Milan Coach in a real sigh of relief.

However, he urged the media and fans not to expect fireworks right away from the Brazilian striker.

“Ronaldo has never played a consistent 90 minutes and he never will. He has particular characteristics and those are enough for us.

“He has moments of great genius and creativity, so we are focusing on them. I am convinced that he can do well.”

Ronnie has played in friendly games to get back match-fitness, including this week’s charity event in Madrid against Zinedine Zidane’s all-stars.

But it will be his first Serie A tie since the encounter with Reggina at the Stadio Granillo on May 27 and is live on Five, kick-off 14.00 Sunday.

If Ronaldo returns, then Seedorf and Inzaghi sit out the trip to Sardinia, as neither are in the squad for the Cagliari game.

“Seedorf picked up a knock in training and sprained his ankle. He had not played with his national team midweek, so it is a shame, he would have been fresh,” explained Ancelotti.

“Kakha Kaladze and Dario Simic just returned from international duty yesterday and are very tired, so I’m afraid we’ll have to ask Kaka to do overtime again.

“Inzaghi had a bit of a temperature last night and so Alberto Gilardino will start upfront alongside Ronaldo. My only doubts over the line-up are for the full-backs.”

Massimo Oddo and Giuseppe Favalli are the favourites to take those roles, as Kaladze’s absence means Paolo Maldini should return to central defence, although Marcos Cafu and Serginho provide South American alternatives.

“Cagliari changed Coach and we don’t know how this new side will present itself. It will certainly be a complicated match, but we have worked well and can get the win.

“Nedo Sonetti has a lot of experience, is very determined and will make his mark on Cagliari.”

Pasquale Foggia will also be eager to make a good impression, as he was on Milan’s books but repeatedly loaned out.

“He is a player who prefers to move out wide, so in our tactical system he didn’t find much space,” explained Ancelotti.

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Digao, Favalli, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Pirlo; Aubameyang, Gilardino, Kakà, Inzaghi, Ronaldo

AC Milan: We'll fix Adriano!
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Rumours Adriano wants to join Inter’s rivals picked up pace after Milan President Silvio Berlusconi pledged to “return him to the top.”

The Brazilian striker has been struggling for form over the past two years and is currently in Sao Paolo for a two-month rehabilitation programme.

He is still expected to move on in January, either on loan or in a permanent sale, but there are reports he wishes to terminate his contract so that he can be free to cross the city for Milan.

“At Milan he would find the ideal environment to return to the top – a place that someone like him should aspire to,” grinned Rossoneri patron Berlusconi.

“All I will say is this: tell me a club that would not like to have Adriano.”

L’Imperatore would not be the first to find a new lease of life on the other side of San Siro, as Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Ronaldo have all had success since their moves away from Inter.

Christian Vieri was the most recent to make the immediate switch, terminating his contract by mutual consent only to then accept a free transfer to their rivals.

“We have an extraordinary environment, have never had a crisis or unhappy players complaining, nor have we ever lost players by the wayside,” added Berlusconi in a sly dig at Inter’s man-management skills.

The President and former Italian Prime Minister also assured he would be strengthening the squad after the Club World Cup.

“We all hope it will be a fine end to an extraordinary year. I always have Milan in my head and my heart. Will Kaka remain? Of course!”

Report - Kaka wins Ballon d'Or
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Newspaper reports in Italy claim that Milan hero Kaka has already been told he is the Ballon d’Or winner for 2007.

‘France Football’ will only officially name the victor on December 2 in a ceremony in Paris, but the top player tends to be alerted earlier for a photo shoot.

According to the ‘Corriere della Sera’, a member of the jury has told Kaka he is the winner.

The report claims that the figure called him up to explain that the gap in votes was so large there was no point waiting to give the good news.

Right from the start the Brazilian was the hot favourite for the title, having been the Champions League top scorer in Milan’s victorious campaign.

Potential challengers included his Rossoneri teammate Andrea Pirlo, Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, but they were reportedly left far behind by Kaka in the voting.

The 25-year-old Serie A star is set to succeed Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro as the European Player of the Year – and is expected to take the FIFA World Player of the Year title as well.

Milan have traditionally done very well in the Ballon d’Or, with Gianni Rivera lifting the trophy in 1969, Ruud Gullit in 1987 and Marco Van Basten taking it three times in 1988, ’89 and ’92.

George Weah represented the Rossoneri in 1995 and Andriy Shevchenko won the prestigious award in 2004.

Maldini: Fourth time's the charm
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini is eager to add the Club World Cup medal to his collection after losing three Finals with Milan.

“I am thinking back to the Finals I played. We went to the first not realising exactly how important this trophy was and only realised it after we had won,” said the captain of the tournament that used to be called the Intercontinental Cup.

His side thrashed Paraguayans Olimpia Asuncion 3-0 in 1990, but crumbled on three successive trips to Japan.

Milan lost 3-2 against Sao Paolo in 1993 and fell 2-0 to Argentines Velez Sarsfield a year later, but only capitulated to Boca Juniors in 2003 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

“The next three Finals still hurt to recall. We lost to Sao Paolo after a game played on level terms. In the other two we did not feel inferior to our opponents and the flight home was a bitter one, as we really wanted to win.”

The Rossoneri have the opportunity to take their revenge on Boca Juniors as they are the two favourites to win the 2007 edition in December.

“We are very proud to be participating in the Club World Cup. It is the first time we have entered this new format and I think it will be more difficult than in previous years.”

It is now a tournament between the champions of all the different confederations, although qualifying has whittled it down to seven clubs.

Boca Juniors and Milan won’t enter the fray until the semi-finals on December 12 and 13 respectively, where the Italians will face one of Sepahan, Waitakere United and Urawa Red Diamonds.

“Thankfully we will be given enough space to get accustomed to the time difference and rhythm of Japanese life. On a physical level I think the team will arrive in Japan in their best form.”

Carletto wants to rule world
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has supported the decision to ban Juventus fans from Week 14’s San Siro battle and looks ahead to December’s Club World Cup.

Juventus usually take thousands of fans to Milan, but this time around they won’t be allowed to travel as a result of the events of November 11.

“It was a decision that had to be taken to calm things down,” Ancelotti insisted in his Press conference.

“That evening won’t be lacking anything,” his assistant Alessandro Costacurta agreed. “So much has been said about it, but I don’t see the problem.

“The important thing is that there will be less risk of clashes and fewer police officers fearing attack – I’m with the police.”

Ancelotti’s thoughts then turned to the upcoming Club World Cup in Japan – a title that Milan won in 1969, 1989 and 1990 in its old format.

“We have high hopes for this Club World Cup and we still remember the defeat to Boca Juniors in 2003,” the Diavolo boss admitted.

“We really want to take the Cup and do whatever we can to get our revenge.”

Milan are likely to start their campaign against Japanese side Urawa Reds on December 13, as they have a bye to the semi-finals.

“We want to be in the best condition possible, but it won’t be easy because the Japanese side will already be used to the time zone and the atmosphere,” Ancelotti continued.

“Ronaldo will use these games before the tournament to get into shape so he can give his all in Japan.

“This team needs to get into a winning cycle and every victory is vital at the moment.”

AC Milan legend backs Pirlo
24.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Serie A’s first Ballon d’Or winner Gianni Rivera claims that Andrea Pirlo deserves this year’s award as much as Milan teammate Kaka.

Brazilian ace Kaka is the overwhelming favourite to claim the European Footballer of the Year prize after his heroics in last season’s Champions League triumph.

Pirlo is an outsider to clinch the silverware, but 1969’s winner believes that the Azzurri star would be a worthy winner.

“Kaka is one of the most exciting and important players of a generation,” Rivera told Sky Calcio.

“But Pirlo is a player who has consistently achieved great things and I would say that he is just as good.”

Rivera also stated that, like Ronaldo, he can see Milan overcoming their dismal start to win the Scudetto.

“I think that they can still win the title even if it is more difficult than it was at the start of the season and it is clear that the Club World Cup and the Champions League will take their toll,” he maintained.

Finally, the former Milan hero gave his view on the thorny issue of controversial refereeing decisions.

“The fact that sides like Milan are complaining is positive because it means that they are human errors,” he claimed.

“I remember the 1971-72 season when we lost the title due to a very debatable penalty.

“It was the final straw and at the end of the game I made some strong accusations that earned me a ban for two months.

“There will always be mistakes and we need to avoid reading anything into them.”

Juve fans miss AC Milan
23.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus fans will not be allowed to travel to Milan to watch Week 14’s crunch encounter.

The Bianconeri usually bring thousands of fans to the San Siro for the battle between two of Italy’s giants, but sanctions have been imposed after the events of November 11.

Away fans are also banned from Torino-Genoa, Atalanta-Napoli, Fiorentina-Inter and Siena-Lazio.

Atalanta’s Curva Nord will be shut until March 31, 2008 and will be empty for the first time as the Orobici host Napoli on December 2.

There are also limitations in Serie C for supporters of Salernitana, Taranto, Venezia, Verona, Viareggio and Perugia.

Galliani: No Zambrotta in January
23.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has denied that Gianluca Zambrotta will join the Rossoneri in January, but he hasn’t ruled out a summer switch.

Zambrotta is reportedly keen to quit Barcelona as his wife Valentina is reportedly feeling homesick and wants a return to the peninsula.

The European champions have made no secret of their desire to lure the 30-year-old, but the deal may have to wait.

“If Zambrotta is going to arrive, it will be in July,” Galliani stated while entering today’s Lega Calcio meeting.

“We won’t be making any moves in January. The only activity will be the official transfer of Alexandre Pato as we already have a good squad.

“Zambrotta is a great player. We tried to sign him back when he was at Bari, but Juventus got there first. I thought he would arrive in 2006 if the famous events hadn’t happened.”

Galliani also took time to comment on the return of star striker Ronaldo, who should feature against Cagliari this weekend.

“There are several games before we go to Japan for the Club World Cup and he should be a starter there as he would have played in Bergamo.

“I don’t know if he’ll be a lone striker against Cagliari as I’m not the Coach,” he concluded dismissively.

SuperPippo eyes Euro spot
20.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan hitman and World Cup winner Pippo Inzaghi has put his name forward for Italy’s Euro 2008 squad.

This evening Coach Roberto Donadoni revealed he has already picked the basic 23-man group to take to Austria and Switzerland next summer, but four or five places still need to be assigned.

It is a message for new faces like Giampaolo Pazzini and Alessandro Rosina as well as elder statesmen who have recently been dropped, such as Alessandro Del Piero and Inzaghi.

“I am always more than happy to accept the call of my country. If they need me, then I am there,” responded SuperPippo.

“Donadoni will make his choices and even if he doesn’t include me, that will not be a problem.”

Inzaghi was decisive for the Rossoneri last term, netting both goals in the 2-1 Champions League Final victory over Liverpool.

Although he only made one appearance in the 2006 World Cup, he still scored the ‘safety’ goal in the 2-0 defeat of the Czech Republic.

He recently became the all-time top scorer in UEFA club competition with 62 goals. His record for the Azzurri is 25 in 57 caps.

Calcio's Oscar hopefuls revealed
20.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

The nominees for the Italian Association of Footballers’ Calcio Oscars 2006-07 have been announced.

The awards are voted for by the players of Serie A and will be presented at a ceremony in Milan on January 28, 2008.

World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro won Best Overall Player, Best Italian Footballer and Best Defender last year, but this time around no one player is set to dominate.

Milan’s Andrea Pirlo [pictured] will battle Roma duo Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi for the Best Italian Player prize, while Ballon d’Or favourites Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic compete for Best Foreign Player along with Fiorentina’s Adrian Mutu.

Gigi Buffon isn’t eligible for Best Goalkeeper as he was banished to Serie B with Juventus.

The Azzurri shot-stopper has won for five of the last six seasons and Fiorentina’s Sebastien Frey, Inter’s Julio Cesar and ex-Lazio veteran Angelo Peruzzi will look to take advantage.

Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo and Giampaolo Pazzini are up for Best Young Player as is Villarreal hitman Giuseppe Rossi. Marco Materazzi, Philippe Mexes and Alessandro Nesta are the nominees for Best Defender.

The nominations in full:

Best Italian Player: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Andrea Pirlo (Milan), Francesco Totti (Roma)

Best Foreign Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter), Kaka (Milan), Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina)

Best Goalkeeper: Sebastien Frey (Fiorentina), Julio Cesar (Inter), Angelo Peruzzi (Lazio)

Best Youngster: Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Giampaolo Pazzini (Fiorentina), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal)

Best Defender: Marco Materazzi (Inter), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Alessandro Nesta (Milan)

Atalanta vs. AC Milan to be replayed
19.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

The abandoned Atalanta-Milan Week 12 fixture will be replayed behind closed doors and the Orobici have been hit by spectator sanctions.

The tragic death of Gabriele Sandri led to violent protests from sections of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on November 11.

After just seven minutes, the game was abandoned when the safety glass was broken despite attempts from Atalanta players to quell the protests.

There had been whispers that the game may be awarded as a 3-0 win to Milan, but instead the full 90 minutes will be played at a later date.

Atalanta have come under fire from the Press and the calcio community and the Curva Nord will now remain closed until March 31, 2008.

Meanwhile, Lazio have escaped action over reports of racist taunts aimed at Adrian Mutu during the Biancocelesti’s November 3 clash against Fiorentina.

Video evidence showed that Mutu was the victim of abusive chants, but there was no proof that they were discriminatory.

Juventus have been fined £12,000 after a banner reading “Ibrahimovic the grubby gypsy” was unveiled at Week 11’s Derby d’Italia.

Vargas cancels out Kaka
19.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Kaka was on target for Brazil, but Catania’s Juan Manuel Vargas levelled for Peru in last night’s World Cup qualifier.

The Peruvians snatched a shock point in Lima to inflict the Selecao’s second draw of the campaign after their opening stalemate with Colombia.

Kaka opened the scoring after a slow start with a spectacular strike in the 39th minute. The Rossoneri idol brought the ball down with his left foot before lashing home from distance with his right.

The Brasilia native came close to making it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time, but his rasping drive was tipped over by Peru ‘keeper Diego Penny.

The Copa America holders were stunned with 20 minutes remaining as Catania midfielder Vargas’ volley was deflected in off Lucio when a corner wasn’t fully cleared.

Roma’s Juan was nearly the hero in stoppage time, but his header clipped the bar and went over.

The pressure is now on for Carlos Dunga’s men to take maximum points against Uruguay on November 21.

Meanwhile, Udinese’s Gyan Asamoah was on target for Ghana in the Black Stars’ 2-0 friendly win over Togo and former Lazio marksman Marcelo Salas bagged a brace in Chile’s 2-2 draw with Uruguay.

Kaka snubs Ibrahimovic for award
19.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka is the hot favourite to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award, but he’d vote for Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.

The trophy goes to the player voted for by tacticians and captains all over the world and the Milan man is expected to pick up both this piece of silverware and the Balon d’Or.

“I would vote for Cristiano Ronaldo as the best in the world,” he told Brazilian newspaper ‘Globoesporte.’

“Not just for his quality, but also as he has been able to do so well with the Portugal jersey. Lionel Messi is a great player, but he has not won any titles this year.”

The decision is a snub for Inter rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as this week Nerazzurri patron Massimo Moratti suggested Ibra was more deserving of the prize than Kaka.

Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and Kaka hopes to be the captain leading out his Selecao.

“I would love to be the captain of Brazil in 2014. I think I’ll still be playing by then and it would be a marvellous experience, but I am aware for the moment that these are images I can only dream of.

“However, I don’t like being referred to as soft. I prefer to be seen as a winner. It’s true I like things done simply and effectively, with hard work, but that does not mean I am soft on the pitch.”

AC Milan pick Intercontinental team
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

FIFA have released the provisional 30-man squad that Milan will take to Japan for the Club World Cup in December.

The Rossoneri are representing Europe in the tournament that has replaced the Intercontinental Cup and will challenge Boca Juniors, Waitakere United, Pachuca, Sepahan, Etoile du Sahel and Urawa Red Diamonds.

Alexandre Pato cannot take part because his contract with Milan is only valid from January due to the fact he was still 17 and therefore underage when he penned the deal in August.

Carlo Ancelotti will bring along Ronaldo as he continues the road to recovery along with Ibrahim Ba and Kaka’s younger brother Digao.

The Club World Cup is played in Japan from December 7 to 16.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori, Offredi; Cafu, Maldini, Kaladze, Nesta, Simic, Jankulovski, Favalli, Bonera, Serginho, Digao, Darmian, Oddo; Emerson, Gattuso, Seedorf, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Caraglia, Ba; Inzaghi, Gilardino, Kaka, Aubameyang, Ronaldo.

Maldini's AC Milan wake-up call
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan veteran Paolo Maldini calls for the Rossoneri to spark a revival against Cagliari and relives events in Bergamo last weekend.

The European champions have endured a nightmare start to the campaign and are languishing in mid-table, rendering the trip to Cagliari a must-win.

“We want to prove ourselves so badly and we are going there desperate to win as these matches are crucial,” Maldini told the Milan Channel.

“I think results will depend a lot on the start of the game as has happened for us a lot this season.”

After the Stadio Sant’Elia encounter, Milan have the daunting prospect of hosting Juventus.

“It’s great because there’s such a great rivalry between the two clubs and Serie A isn’t the same without Juve,” the famous stopper declared. “I think it’ll be a great spectacle.”

Milan will try and put the shocking scenes during their abandoned game with Atalanta to the back of their minds, but Maldini won’t forget the day in a hurry.

“I think one of the most striking images was the sight of children in the stadium who could understand what was going on,” he recalled.

“The fans called out to me and told me that they didn’t want us to play. I told them that it wasn’t up to us players, but I told the referee that the situation was very delicate.”

Oddo out for Scotland?
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy may have to do without Milan defender Massimo Oddo for their decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Scotland tomorrow.

The Azzurri flew to Glasgow this morning needing just a point to secure a place in Austria and Switzerland.

While Roberto Donadoni was relieved to welcome back Gianluca Zambrotta from injury, he has been given a late headache as Oddo limped away from the final training session in Florence.

The ex-Lazio defender’s foot was stamped on near the end of the session and he was taken to hospital in pain.

The national side’s doctor Andrea Ferretti has ruled out a fracture, but Roma’s Christian Panucci is set to step in.

Donadoni could opt for a 4-4-2 system with Mauro Camoranesi behind Luca Toni and Antonio Di Natale or an attacking trident if Vincenzo Iaquinta gets the nod.

Italy will train at Hampden Park this evening ahead of tomorrow’s 5pm kick-off.

AC Milan’s Brazilian stars shine
17.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alexandre Pato and Ronaldo were the stars of the show as they went head-to-head in a training match at Milanello.

The Rossoneri were due to play a friendly against Serie C2 outfit Varese, but opted instead to play an internal test game.

All eyes were on striking starlet Pato and his compatriot Ronaldo, who is returning from a long-term thigh injury.

Neither man disappointed and the match finished 2-2 with each man bagging a brace and winning high praise from youth Coach Filippo Galli.

“Ever since he arrived Pato has impressed me,” he enthused. “He always scores and he is the kind of player who isn’t afraid to bathe in sweat.

“It’s not easy to find players of his calibre. Obviously these are just training games, but he has shown himself to be an extraordinary player in Brazil and in friendlies.

“Ronaldo is also looking good. He is a born goal scorer and his return will be important, as opposition sides fear him.”

Coach Carlo Ancelotti was also happy with what he saw and indicated that Ronaldo’s frustrating spell on the sidelines would shortly come to an end.

“Ronnie wants to play and he would have surely played part of the game in Bergamo,” he revealed. “He’ll get time in Cagliari.

“Pato is a great champion and he will prove it. All we have to do is wait until January when he is available.

“The only worry that he has at the moment is that he hasn’t learned very much Italian, but luckily footballers don’t have to say that much.

“He goes a lot on instinct and that’s something that you have inside and it can’t improve or deteriorate.

“He is lucky that God has given him that quality. Now he must exploit it and use it for the good of the team.”

Pato is available in official games from January 3 when his move from Brazilian side Internacional is finally complete.

Fan ban for 15
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Fans of 15 clubs won’t be allowed to travel to their next away games as a result of last weekend’s events.

The measure is part of an effort to clamp down on violent clashes in Italy’s stadiums after the explosive reaction to the shooting of Gabriele Sandri.

It has not yet been confirmed that the season will restart on the weekend of November 24, but whispers suggest that it is highly likely.

The six Serie A teams who will travel without fans are: Atalanta, Catania, Milan, Roma, Sampdoria and Torino.

Supporters of Sere B sides Bari and Cesena are also forbidden from attending their fixtures, as are Serie C outfits Potenza, Reggiana, Taranto, Ternana and Verona.

The other two sides to be ruled against are amateurs Gragnano and Turris from Serie D/H and D/I respectively.

There is no decision on Napoli yet. Neapolitan fans have been exiled from several games this term, including last weekend’s Derby del Sud against Palermo, but the ban may be lifted.

Gourcuff homeward bound?
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Yoann Gourcuff may be ready to return to France in a loan deal as he continues to sit on Milan’s bench.

The 21-year-old midfielder has been touted as the heir to Zinedine Zidane, but he has started just one game this term.

While Gourcuff has repeatedly insisted that he will stay at the San Siro and fight for a place, L’Equipe reports that he could be tempted by a temporary return to his homeland.

The imminent availability of Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato has further jeopardised Gourcuff’s chances of breaking into the first team and it may be an obstacle too far for the talented youngster.

Ex-Rossoneri star Jean-Pierre Papin is hoping to lure the No 20 to his Lens side on loan, while Monaco are aiming for a more permanent swoop.

Moratti: Ibrahimovic beats Kaka
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Inter President Massimo Moratti believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic deserves to beat Kaka to the Ballon d’Or.

Kaka is the overwhelming favourite to clinch the European Player of the Year award on December 2 with rumours suggesting that the decision has already been made.

However, Ibrahimovic has been in devastating form this term and Moratti insists that the Swede’s purple patch hasn’t come too late for him to grab the honour.

“Who says it is too late for Zlatan? He is the best striker in the world,” the Nerazzurri chief told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Ibra deserves the prize more than anyone and he would be a good choice.”

The identity of the winner usually becomes public knowledge around a fortnight before the ceremony when France Football representatives contact the chosen man.

Serie A has provided more winners than any other European League with 17 compared to La Liga’s 12, the Bundesliga’s nine and the Premier League’s five.

AC Milan ponder Stelvio swoop
15.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Press reports from Portugal suggest that Milan are watching midfield starlet Stélvio.

The powerful 18-year-old is building a reputation at Braga and has impressed in this term’s Bwin Liga.

The Angola-born prodigy is equally capable in the middle or playing on the right wing and has been seen as a great future prospect since his days in the youth team at the Estádio AXA.

According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola, the Rossoneri sent scouts to watch Stélvio in the Arsenalists’ 3-0 win over Sporting Lisbon last weekend.

Despite his undoubted promise, the European champions would probably not have to dig too deep in their pockets to prise Stélvio away from Manuel Machado’s side.

It is believed that Braga would have to accept any offer in excess of £3m due to the club’s delicate finances.

Oliveira: I’m up to Rossoneri return
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan outcast Ricardo Oliveira insists that he has earned a return from his loan spell at Real Zaragoza at the end of the season.

The Brazilian has hit the net five times in 12 games for the Blanquillos in La Liga and erased memories of a last term’s misery at the San Siro.

The 27-year-old scored just three goals in 26 outings in a campaign dogged by news that his sister had been kidnapped.

“Just when things were going well, the kidnapping happened and had a big effect on my performances,” Oliveira revealed to Don Balon.

“I didn’t have a calm head and that stopped me from giving my all.

"If it hadn’t happened I’m not sure that I would have been frozen out of the side, even though there were great players like Pippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino and Ronaldo competing with me.”

The ex-Valencia man seems like a new man at La Romareda and believes that he is up to the challenge of Serie A.

“Anything could happen. I’m still under contract with Milan for three more years and I have the ability to play there – there is no doubt about that,” he maintained.

“For now, I want to do well here and make the most of all my chances so that I can regain my confidence after a tough year.”

Kaka could quit AC Milan
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has surprisingly admitted that he could be forced to quit Italy if violent scenes persist in the nation’s stadiums.

The Brazilian ace has always insisted that he will remain at the San Siro for the foreseeable future and even suggested that he would be willing to extend his current contract.

However, the weekend’s events seem to have caused the Brasilia native to think twice about his future.

“Could I leave Italy? Yes, if these violent episodes continue,” the Ballon d’Or favourite told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I love football because it brings me happiness, but at the moment I can’t enjoy myself.

“If there are big problems in Italian football that prevent me doing my job properly, anything could happen.

“I am worried for my family’s safety as my wife and parents frequently come to watch me, so there is a chance I could move to another country.”

Kaka has repeatedly been linked with Real Madrid, but the Spanish champions officially retracted their interest in the 25-year-old a few weeks ago.

However, the Merengues may be tempted to reconsider their options if they sense that Kaka could be open to approaches.

Carletto: Pato better than Ronaldinho
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has increased the pressure on Milan new boy Alexandre Pato by insisting that he can outshine long-term target Ronaldinho.

The 18-year-old signed from Brazilian side Internacional in the summer and will be available to make his first full appearances for the Rossoneri after January 3.

“I’d say that Alexandre is better than Ronaldinho,” Ancelotti boasted to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The starlet made his non-competitive debut for the Diavolo in a friendly against Dynamo Kiev on September 3 and marked the occasion with a headed goal.

“He is a phenomenon and with him available we can return to playing with two strikers,” Carletto revealed.

The struggling European champions are eagerly awaiting his contribution to their Serie A campaign and sources inside the club suggest that he has shown devastating talent in training.

Despite Milan’s poor form, Ancelotti concluded by maintaining that his side are still in the title hunt.

“I still think we can win the Scudetto because it is a very strange and even championship this year,” he stressed.

Maldini eyes world title
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan veteran Paolo Maldini believes that December’s Club World Cup is a crucial test for the struggling Rossoneri.

The European champions travel to Japan looking to jumpstart their faltering campaign.

The Diavolo will come up against winners of FIFA’s other continental championships in the competition that takes place between December 7 and 16.

“It’s the tournament that can make you champions of the world and it is fundamental for the club,” Maldini told FIFA’s official website.

“I have played in Japan before in my career and we have been unlucky there because we haven’t managed to win on our other trips.”

Milan are most likely to face Argentine giants and South America’s Copa Libertadores winners Boca Juniors in the Final.

“They are a tight unit,” the famous stopper continued. “Argentine football is based on team unity and great mental strength.”

While Maldini is hoping he can fully recover from a long-term ankle injury, the competition may also be a chance for Ronaldo to return to action.

“I’m not at 100 per cent yet, but I’m counting on being at full strength by December,” Maldini said.

“Ronaldo will be there and he is a world-class player. His talent and personality can give us a great push when he’s at his best. He can turn any pass into a goal scoring opportunity.”

Atalanta face AC Milan forfeit
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Atalanta-Milan could be counted as a 3-0 win to the Rossoneri, according to ex-judge Maurizio Laudi.

The game was abandoned after just six minutes at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia when a section of the Orobici support smashed the safety glass separating them from the pitch.

It remains to be seen what action will be taken after the weekend’s events, but Laudi has words of warning for Atalanta.

“They are at risk of the game being declared a Milan win,” he told Radio Marte Stereo.

“Atalanta could face financial and disciplinary sanctions, but the most likely outcome is that they will have to play behind closed doors or on neutral soil.”

Kaka demands calcio clean-up
14.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has warned that the stars will leave Italy unless the game addresses its problems and has set his targets for the future.

Calcio is in crisis after the death of Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri with debate raging over the logical course of action to prevent violence in stadiums across the nation.

“Italian football is losing credibility,” Kaka told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We need to take action immediately or the sport could die.

“The scandals, the dead police officer and now the dead fan. Stop it now or the champions will leave one after another.”

The Brazilian ace now seems certain to clinch the Ballon d’Or award for European Player of the Year on December 2.

“If I win it, I will have to thank God first of all then everyone who has supported me starting with my wife,” he beamed.

Despite the Rossoneri’s dismal start to the season, Kaka still believes that he can add team silverware to individual honours.

“We can still win the Scudetto,” the 25-year-old claimed. “I’m not scared about how far behind Inter we are.

“There are still so many games to play and two derbies. I’m dreaming of a Milan-Barcelona Champions League Final."

“I also want to win at the Olympics as Brazil has never won that trophy,” he continued.

“The problem is that I am above the selection age, so I will need Carlos Dunga to choose me as one of his overage quota. I really want to take part in the Chinese adventure.”

Kaka concluded by discussing his Milan future and the possible arrival of struggling compatriot Adriano.

“Real is a closed chapter for me at the moment. If Milan wanted I would be ready to extend my contract immediately and my current deal doesn’t expire until 2011. Nobody should doubt my desire to stay at Milan for many years.

“I have spoken to Adriano a few times and I would be happy if he came to Milan. He would be a big signing and perhaps he would find some peace. But I don’t want to say any more than that because I don’t know his situation.”

Bonera's Bergamo regret
12.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Daniele Bonera has explained that the Rossoneri wanted to play on at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

The game was abandoned after just six minutes when Atalanta Ultras broke the safety glass in protest at the shooting of Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri.

“We wanted to play,” Bonera told Sky Sport Italia. “What happened in Bergamo wasn’t related to the death of a man, it was more to do with the temperament of the fans.

“It would have been a positive gesture if we had continued to play, but I’m aware that the police saw the situation as unsafe.”

Diavolo hitman Alberto Gilardino also has deep regrets after the trip to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

“We’ve reached the limit,” he fumed. “We all have to feel a bit defeated by what has happened.

“We have been hearing the same thing for a while, but no solution has been found.”

Seedorf explains armband decision
12.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Clarence Seedorf has defended his decision not to wear a black armband during the Rossoneri’s ill-fated clash against Atalanta yesterday.

Every other player on the pitch in Bergamo chose to wear an armband as a mark of respect for Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri, who was killed by a policeman in Arezzo yesterday.

After the abandonment of the game due to violent protests from the Ultras, Seedorf explained why he hadn’t seen fit to follow the example of his fellow players.

“I didn’t know who the armband was for,” the Dutchman told Sky Sport Italia. “I didn’t know the person or the facts.

“I also thought of past situations like when Kakha Kaladze’s brother was kidnapped and killed but the FIGC and Lega Calcio did nothing.”

Atalanta vs. AC Milan - suspended
11.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

This match was halted after just eight minutes when Atalanta fans threatened to riot if play continued despite the death earlier today of a Lazio supporter.

There were brawls outside the stadium before kick-off after news came through that a Lazio fan had been accidentally killed by a police officer's bullet. The tension inside the arena was sky-high, as both sets of supporters repeatedly urged the players to leave the pitch and call off the game, going so far as to throw objects on to the field and try to smash down the plexiglass dividers. Atalanta players appealed to their fans to stop, but they were determined to stop play at all costs.

Inevitably play was halted after eight minutes and when negotiations between Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni and the chief Ultras failed to find a solution, the referee led the two teams off the pitch.

Atalanta: Coppola; Rivalta, Carrozzieri, Capelli, Bellini; Ferreira Pinto, Tissone, Guarente, Langella; Doni; Floccari

Milan: Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kakà; Inzaghi

Ref: Saccani

Seedorf eyes more silverware
11.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf has warned Milan to prepare for their toughest test yet in December’s Club World Cup.

"I'm very happy to take part in this competition for the third time in my career, although this will be the first time under the new format," he said of the contest formerly known as the Intercontinental Cup.

"We need to prepare as well as we can, because there's no guarantee that being the most decorated team, along with Boca Juniors, will be enough for overall victory. Mexican side Pachuca, as well as the African and Asian representatives, will all be motivated by many factors."

The Rossoneri have not won this trophy in 17 years, having since lost to Sao Paolo, Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors.

Seedorf is in the history books as the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs – Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan – but has found his international career less satisfying.

"Netherlands Coach Marco van Basten didn't pick me for three years and so I missed the World Cup in Germany, which was a huge disappointment,” he told FIFA.com.

“However, because of that, I've been able to focus on AC Milan and have definitely earned the right to be Japan with my contribution. I can now play in a World Cup myself and hopefully win it."

Seedorf has discovered a new lease of life this season with Carlo Ancelotti switching to a Christmas Tree formation, so he is in no hurry to consider the future.

"Retirement is still a long way off for me and I still haven't decided exactly what I'll do when I stop playing.

"Who knows, I might become a Coach and then again I might do something else. I believe much can be done for young players. Too many talents fall by the wayside at a young age and it's not only their fault. The system could be radically improved."

Ramos rejects AC Milan talk
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are reportedly keeping an eye on Real Madrid defensive star Sergio Ramos, but it seems he is an unobtainable target.

The 21-year-old ex-Sevilla man has been a revelation at the Bernabeu where he has already made 77 appearances.

His authoritative performances have already won him some prestigious comparisons, with ex-Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi likening him to Paolo Maldini.

“I’m flattered by that comparison, but it’ll be tough to match the heights that Paolo reached,” Ramos responded.

While the Rossoneri are determined to lure the precocious youngster, he is under contract until 2013 and reportedly has an astronomical rescission clause.

“I think it would be very difficult for me to play for Milan,” he revealed.

“It is always interesting when a big side like Milan are interested in me, but I’m just thinking of staying here at Real.

“I’m very happy in Madrid and I don’t see any reason to leave this glorious club.”

Although the chances of Ramos pulling on the Diavolo jersey look slim, Spanish paper Marca has hypothesised that Milan could propose an exchange with Kaka.

Kaka has long been a target for Real and it has been suggested that Ramos’ arrival could help reconcile the European champions to the loss of a franchise player.

Nervous Kaka's going for gold
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Kaka claims he has received no news about the Ballon d’Or, but has his fingers crossed that he can secure the prestigious prize.

The European Footballer of the Year award will be presented on December 2 and Brazilian ace Kaka is hot favourite to clinch the honour.

There have been whispers that the decision has already been made, but Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani quashed such talk yesterday and Kaka also insists he is in the dark.

“I know nothing at the moment so I’ll just keep doing my job,” the Brasilia native said. “But it’s surely a really good sign that there are these rumours.”

Kaka did his cause no harm with a goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in Tuesday’s Champions League tie and he hopes that the judging panel were watching.

“It was a good goal and an important one. Every game is big now and I’m just trying to give my best and hope that things work out off the pitch for me. I’d love to receive a huge honour like the Ballon d’Or.”

It hasn’t been such a successful period for compatriot Ronaldo, who has been sidelined since July with a thigh injury, but Kaka is looking forward to El Fenomeno’s return.

“Ronnie was the first to celebrate our goals on Tuesday,” he explained. “He is so keen to get back and it’s nice to see how happy he is to be in the group.

“We’re just hoping that he can get on the pitch as soon as possible to score one of his great goals.”

Ronaldo may play in front of Kaka this weekend as the European champions travel to Bergamo to take on Atalanta.

Galliani: I know nothing
9.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani insists he doesn’t know if Kaka will win the Ballon d’Or, despite rumours that the decision has been made.

The Brazilian ace is the strong favourite to win the award for Europe’s Footballer of the Year after his heroics in last term’s Champions League triumph.

Whispers have been circulating that Kaka has already clinched the prize to be presented on December 2, but Galliani claims to know nothing about it.

“They haven’t said anything to us,” he maintained when quizzed by journalists.

“I know that usually France Football arrange photographers for a week before the ceremony, but as yet there is no news.”

Galliani was happier to discuss the Rossoneri’s trip to Bergamo to face Atalanta in this weekend’s quasi-derby.

“I’ve asked the lads to win on Sunday because it would be such an important win,” he revealed.

“Given the international break which follows, if we don’t win we will be under pressure for 15 days instead of three.”

Kaka thanks 'generous' Inzaghi
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka was impressed with Milan’s team spirit in Donetsk as he exchanged assists with Pippo Inzaghi. “We were both feeling altruistic!”

The Brazilian scored his 10th goal of the season in all competition when Inzaghi rolled the ball across for a smart finish in last night’s 3-0 win at Shakhtar.

In the final minute Kaka went on the counter and instead of scoring opted to cut back for Inzaghi to complete his brace.

“He set up the second for me and I returned the favour in the third. We were both feeling rather altruistic tonight!"

There may have been an extra reason for the kind-heartedness on display, as Kaka’s family was in the stands in Donetsk.

“My parents come to all the away games. My grandmother came to Italy for the first time and she wanted to come here too, it’s a shame it was a bit cold for her!

“We played well in the first half and it wasn’t easy in that situation, then Pippo came on and broke the deadlock. Once that goal had been scored, the spaces opened up and it all got much simpler,” continued the Selecao star.

“I hit it with the inside of my right foot. That was the only option in the circumstances and it is a type of shot I really like doing.”

The goal and assist surely helped Kaka’s candidacy for the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards, although he has been the hot favourite for many months.

“I just focus on what I can do on the field, doing my best for Milan. Aside from that, the Ballon d’Or voting has nothing to do with me.”

Lucarelli: I'm angry at Shakhtar
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Cristiano Lucarelli denies he’s heading back to Italy in January, but did admit he is in unhappy with Shakhtar Donetsk’s false promises.

“I have said that I miss Italy, but that doesn’t mean I have to go back. I believe I will be here in January and then we can clarify things with the club in the summer. Unless someone turns up with a bag full of cash!”

There have been strong rumours – fuelled by Livorno President Aldo Spinelli – that he is set to return to the Stadio Picchi mid-season.

Although Lucarelli was cagey over an immediate switch, he does confirm there are serious problems with this overseas experience.

“So far what I was told was going to happen is not happening. There are a series of reasons for my disappointment, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss them,” he told Sky Italia television.

The hitman limped off during last night’s 3-0 defeat to Milan and there were fears he had picked up an injury that would rule him out of the crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

“That depends on whether the Coach calls me! I went off because of cramp and also as I barely play more than 50-55 minutes in the domestic League, so it becomes difficult for me to do 90 minutes in the Champions League,” he said.

“In the opening 60-65 minutes in which we played in an Italian style, we held Milan level and were able to have some chances. When we conceded a silly goal, the spaces opened up and they ran riot.

“Milan did not rob anyone, but the 3-0 was a little harsh. We did not maintain that tactical set-up for the whole 90 minutes and were not clinical enough in attack.”

Lucarelli had harshly criticised Coach Mircea Lucescu’s all-attack system in the 4-1 defeat at San Siro a fortnight ago.

“Playing on the counter is a completely different approach for us, but we learned the lessons from the first leg and prepared much better for this game.”

Shakhtar look set to go head-to-head with Celtic for the second qualifying spot behind Milan, but failing that will most likely be in the UEFA Cup as third-place finishers.

“It would be satisfying to win the Ukraine title. It’s not the same as winning in Italy, but it’s an addition to my rather empty trophy cabinet.

“Our season ends on December 1, the last Champions League round is on December 4 and there is a Ukraine Cup competition. We will go for a few months touring warmer climates before the campaign starts again in March.”

Galliani diagnoses "crazy" AC Milan
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Vice-President Adriano Galliani claims he has diagnosed Milan’s problems – but not how to solve them.

“The diagnosis is now clear – when we are given a little bit of space, we are devastating. Kaka is unstoppable and perhaps we only struggle at home because opponents sit back and soak up pressure,” he said after the 3-0 win away to Shakhtar Donetsk.

“It is crazy that with the same line-up and tactical system we win with a wide margin away from home and then fail to impress our own fans at San Siro. It has never happened before.”

Although Carlo Ancelotti has maintained the same 4-3-2-1 format, the Rossoneri are yet to win on home turf in Serie A this season, but have scored 10 goals in their last two away games.

“So much of our performance depends on converting our chances. We played very well against Torino, but were unable to make the most of three or four scoring opportunities.

“When the deadlock is broken, the opposition has to attack and that opens up space, which makes us very difficult to stop.”

Their Champions League tie in Ukraine was going down a similar path before Pippo Inzaghi came off the bench and opened the scoring with his 62nd goal in UEFA club competition.

“Pippo scored a Shevchenko-style goal tonight. He is now the top scorer in Europe of all time along with Gerd Muller and just one behind Andriy in terms of goals netted for Milan, so these are extraordinary figures,” added Galliani.

“We did well to break the deadlock after hitting the post with Massimo Ambrosini, then did brilliantly on the counter.”

Milan are now three points clear at the top of their group with nine points, while Benfica are out of the running, so it will probably be a head-to-head battle between Shakhtar and Celtic for the second qualifying spot.

“Let us enjoy this victory, which was 7-1 over the two meetings against the group leaders Shakhtar. Now we hope to go to Lisbon and get a result so that we can qualify early.”

Inzagol matches Muller record
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi matched Gerd Muller’s record of 62 European goals and admits he was feeling frustrated on the Milan bench.

“As far as I am concerned, the records that really matter are the two Champions League trophies I won with Milan. Aside from that, the records are fun to throw at people who say our strikers are too old,” smiled the veteran.

Inzaghi has netted 62 goals in UEFA competitions in just 97 games and is also just one shy of Andriy Shevchenko’s total of 34 continental goals for Milan.

“It would be nice to beat Sheva’s tally, as he was a great teammate of mine and friend, so I would be pleased to do that.”

Super Pippo came off the bench when it was still 0-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk, but scored two and set up another for Kaka.

“I play in a team that has allowed me to score many goals. Altruism isn’t one of my top characteristics, but it was right and Kaka did very well,” laughed the former Juventus star.

“He even gave me back a perfect assist later on. Without this squad I never would have achieved these records in Europe.

“Andrea Pirlo also did brilliantly, as he knows me so well. The moment I stepped on to the field he told me to go deep, as their defence would struggle with that.”

It was Inzaghi’s first goal since September 18, but he has barely played recently, left on the bench in favour of an inconsistent Alberto Gilardino.

“I have been in good shape for two weeks and was just waiting for my moment. I was suffering, as we lost against Roma and I hoped my time would come soon.

“I believe that hard work pays off and when I am in good shape, I can really make a difference. I am convinced results do come from hard training.”

Ancelotti so proud of Pippo
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Pippo Inzaghi for his splendid performance after weeks on the sidelines. “He’s a consummate professional.”

The striker had been left out in recent matches in favour of Alberto Gilardino, but Super Pippo came on as a substitute to score two and set up a third for Kaka in tonight’s 3-0 victory away to Shakhtar Donetsk.

“Inzaghi worked hard in this period despite the fact I didn’t give him the chance to play,” commented the Coach.

“I could see him champing at the bit, but also acting like a real professional even though he was suffering. He was brilliant both on the night and in preparing for it, as he was always ready.”

“I think the game was dominated in the first half by Shakhtar’s very negative approach. They were trying to play the counter-attack despite being the home side, so it was a static and balanced game,” continued Ancelotti.

“Inzaghi’s goal broke the deadlock and forced them to come out of their shell, so the spaces opened up and we did very well on the counter.”

Massimo Ambrosini was booked and will be suspended for the trip to Benfica. Ronaldo might make his Champions League debut with a Milan jersey in that game, as he was on the bench this evening but did not feature.

“Considering the way the game was going, I decided to be prudent, as it wasn’t wise to introduce Ronaldo in this cold when he had not played in three months. He will have time to give his contribution.”

The Rossoneri continue their Jekyll & Hyde act, as they are yet to win a Serie A game at home this season, yet have impressed on their travels in Italy and Europe.

“It has become difficult for me too to understand the difference. It is starting to become a positive period for the team, as we are more solid at the back and have kept three consecutive clean sheets.

“Unlike the home games, we had fewer scoring opportunities tonight and did not want to run too many risks of going a goal down.

“I think it is not easy to deal with a large squad, but the side is finding consistency. We were organised at the back and did not let ourselves get pinned back, so that is a sign of renewed confidence.”

Shakhtar Donetsk 0:3 AC Milan - match report
7.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 66, 93 (M), Kaka 72 (M)

Super Pippo Inzaghi came off the bench to change the game by scoring two and setting up another for Kaka as Milan won 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Rossoneri had demolished Donetsk 4-1 at San Siro on October 24, but came into this tie off the back of a dismal Serie A run of results. It was a head-to-head battle for leadership of Group D and Ronaldo made his first Champions League appearance for the club, albeit on the bench. Serginho made a rare start at left-back, as Marek Jankulovski was injured. Shakhtar left out Olexander Kucher, whose poor marking of Alberto Gilardino gave away two goals in their last meeting.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off and both teams wore black armbands to mark the passing of Milan's Swedish legend Nils Liedholm.

Andriy Pyatov smothered an early Serginho effort and Brandao just failed to get on the end of a dangerous cross from six yards, while Razvan Rat's free kick skimmed the upright. Mircea Lucescu had warned he would field a far more prudent squad and that was certainly the case, as the tempo slowed to a crawl.

Milan had a fine chance on 12 minutes when Alberto Gilardino chested down Andrea Pirlo's pass, but was closed down by a defender as he pulled the trigger.

There was almost a disastrous double howler, as Serginho's wayward clearance on a Rat cross went straight up into the air and Nelson Dida fumbled the ball, but captured it back before Brandao could tap into an empty net.

Gilardino's glancing header from Serginho's cross at the end of a long team move was off target, while Jadson's free kick was nodded straight into Dida's grateful arms by Dmytro Chygrynskiy. Kaka went into the book for a late tackle on Ilsinho and Gennaro Gattuso was carded for dissent.

There was real danger on 33 minutes, as Alessandro Nesta flung himself at Cristiano Lucarelli's feet to charge down his shot and Dida got a fingertip to Darijo Srna's follow-up that flashed across the face of goal.

Pirlo got his body in front of a Jadson strike from the edge of the area, as Shakhtar finally came out of their shell. Gilardino got a knock to the back and was limping for the final stages of the first half.

Straight after the restart Kakha Kaladze's poor clearance found Fernandinho for a daisy-cutter that shaved a coat of paint off the base of the upright with Dida beaten.

Milan were incredibly unlucky on 56 minutes, as Massimo Ambrosini's long looping header from Pirlo's free kick thumped the far post with the goalkeeper stranded and Gilardino could not turn in the rebound.

Gilardino was still not entirely recovered from that knock to the back and made way for Pippo Inzaghi. Pyatov plucked a Kaka header out of the air from a Pirlo corner kick, but Carlo Ancelotti's substitution proved to be inspired.

Within a couple of minutes of stepping on to the field after a long injury lay-off, Inzaghi ran on to Pirlo's through ball in the centre to thump a powerful quickly taken right-foot strike past Pyatov from 10 yards.

Dida grabbed Brandao's free header from close-range, as the Shakhtar striker hit it straight at the goalkeeper. Ambrosini was booked and will be suspended for the trip to Benfica.

Inzaghi changed the game completely, as he also set up Kaka for Milan's second. He held up the ball and drew three defenders to him before sliding it across for Kaka to curl in off the inside of the far post with the inside of his right foot.

Shakhtar were hit hard, but tried to aim from distance with Dida smothering a Jadson attempt. There was bad news for the Ukrainians, as Lucarelli limped off with a muscular problem. Paolo Maldini replaced Clarence Seedorf, moving the squad to a 4-4-2 with Serginho on the left of midfield.

The Rossoneri were fortunate not to concede moments later, as Pirlo was caught in possession and Fernandinho rushed into the area for a shot that was deflected just past the far post by Kaladze. Milan wasted a golden opportunity on the counter, as Kaka tried to pass to Inzaghi rather than shoot inside the box.

Dida got down to pin another Jadson strike, but Ronaldo was not to make his comeback here, as the final substitution saw Cristian Brocchi step on for the not 100 per cent fit Serginho.

It still wasn't over, as Inzaghi completed his brace in stoppages when Kaka returned the favour with an altruistic assist. The Brazilian was clear on the counter-attack, but rolled across to the unmarked Inzaghi, who was behind the line of the ball and therefore not offside, to fire home.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov; Srna, Chygrynskiy, Yezerskiy, Rat (William 73); Ilsinho, Hubschman, Fernandinho; Jadson; Lucarelli (Castillo 77), Brandao (Gladkiy 84)

Milan: Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho (Brocchi 84); Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf (Maldini 79), Kaka; Gilardino (Inzaghi 63)

Ref: Vink (Ned)

Calcio legend Liedholm dies
5.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Swedish ex-Milan hero Nils Liedholm has died at the age of 85.

The midfielder nicknamed The Baron played 359 games for the Rossoneri and scored 81 goals after arriving from IFK Norrkoping in 1949.

Liedholm was known for his dedication to training and his accurate passing during his time at the San Siro.

Alongside Gunnar Nordahl and Gunnar Gren, he formed the legendary Gre-No-Li trident.

After hanging his boots up at the age of 39, Liedholm became a Coach and enjoyed three spells at Milan and three at Roma as well as periods with Verona and Fiorentina.

A Swedish newspaper poll recently named the Valdemarsvik native as the nation’s greatest player.

Liedholm passed away at his home in Cuccaro Monferrato in the Piedmont province of Alessandria near Turin.

Ronaldo savours date with Donetsk
5.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striking star Ronaldo can't wait to make tomorrow’s trip to Shakhtar Donetsk after his long injury lay-off.

The Brazilian ace is yet to make an appearance this term after a long-running saga revolving around a thigh injury.

However, El Fenomeno is finally back in training and has been selected in the squad for the Champions League test in the Ukraine.

“I’m so happy to be back in the squad and to be a player again,” the ex-Real Madrid man told the Press.

“I have always reacted well to pressure and I know what I am capable of and what I have to offer Milan.

“Of course it hasn’t been the best start to the season, but this is my beginning. I have been doing well in training and I think I’m ready to go.

“Now I just want to get on the pitch and score…”

The European champions destroyed Donetsk 4-1 a fortnight ago and know that a similar result would make them strong favourites to win Group D.

Ronaldo back for Shakhtar
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo is ready for his comeback and has been included in Milan’s Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Brazilian is yet to make a single official appearance for the club since sustaining an injury in August and the long road to recovery has seemingly reached its destination.

“I was hoping to play tonight,” he had said ahead of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Torino. “I am fit now and it is up to the Coach to decide when to use me.”

Carlo Ancelotti has put Ronaldo in the squad travelling to Ukraine for Tuesday’s Champions League game.

It will be Il Fenomeno’s first Rossoneri appearance in Europe, as when he joined from Real Madrid in January he was cup-tied and could not take part in their trophy-winning campaign.

Massimo Oddo also returns from injury and Nelson Dida is back after his one-match ban, but Emerson and Marek Jankulovski remain sidelined.

UEFA have assigned Dutch referee Pieter Vink to the tie with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Lazio’s Champions League meeting with Werder Bremen at the Olimpico will be officiated by Croatian Ivan Bebek.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Bonera, Cafu, Favalli, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ronaldo, Kakà.

Galliani rages against refs
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani launched a scathing attack on Pierluigi Collina’s referees after Milan appeared to be denied a penalty against Torino.

“Milan played an excellent first half and I did not want to get angry with the referees again, but the repetition of their errors against us is crazy. This cannot go on,” slammed the general manager after last night’s 0-0 draw.

Cesare Natali muscled Massimo Ambrosini off the ball with what could be considered a shoulder-charge, but the official waved play on.

“Crazy is the right word. I don’t know how else to define Natali’s challenge on Ambrosini. It was a stonewall penalty.

“Either I have become blind or that was a spot-kick obvious to everybody. Sometimes you can win 1-0 with a penalty, you know, it’s not banned in the regulations…”

This is not the first time during the course of the campaign that the Rossoneri have been angered by refereeing decisions.

Galliani even suggested the club would put together a dossier of the incidents that went against them – something already done this morning by the official Milan website.

These range from goals awarded despite offside positions, such as Massimo Maccarone’s at Siena and Amauri in Palermo, to penalties not given in their favour in games with Empoli, Lazio and Torino.

“I would like to count up – and we will – how many points have been taken from us by refereeing errors. There was even an investigation by the consumers association that found Milan were the team most damaged by refereeing errors this season,” raged Galliani.

“Let us talk about it, then on Tuesday Collina will admit ‘Yes that was a penalty,’ but our points won’t be given back to us. The refereeing problem exists and it is serious. It is futile to keep denying it.”

Ancelotti snaps at Gilardino
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has criticised Alberto Gilardino’s San Siro performance and thought Milan deserved a penalty.

“We had some good opportunities in the first half, but did not do well enough to convert them,” he said of their 0-0 with Torino.

“When you can’t break the deadlock, especially at the moment, you later get into trouble. Gilardino was not as precise and sharp as he was on Wednesday. It is not a positive time for him on home turf.”

Gila netted a brace in the 5-0 victory away to Sampdoria midweek, but the Rossoneri are still without a Serie A win in front of their own fans.

“These are games where it is not easy to find space and that is what this team needs, especially when it comes to Kaka,” continued the Coach.

There have been calls to shelve the Christmas tree formation, but Ancelotti assures he is taking the correct approach.

“I think that Massimo Ambrosini is an important figure, as he guarantees push from the midfield. Playing with two upfront could be helpful to create some more movement off the ball, so when Ronaldo returns from injury we can try that.”

There was a controversial incident as Ambrosini appeared to be shoulder-charged off the ball inside the penalty area.

“During the match I did not see that, but looking at the video footage it does seem like a spot-kick. That’s a shame.”

AC Milan 0 - 0 Torino - match report
4.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan's San Siro curse persists, as poor finishing and Torino goalkeeper Matteo Sereni held them to a 0-0 draw. The Diavolo have now scored five times as many goals on their travels as at home.

The Rossoneri were buoyed by their 5-0 demolition job at Sampdoria, but were yet to win on home turf in Serie A this season. Gennaro Gattuso was rested, while Ronaldo, Marek Jankulovski and Massimo Oddo were on the treatment table. Toro were without Alvaro Recoba, Vincenzo Grella, Matteo Rubin, Simone Barone, Ivan Franceschini and the suspended Tommaso Vailatti missed out, but David Di Michele made his debut for the Granata after the end of his three-month ban for a betting scandal.

Kaka tried to batter down the Toro defence then tested Matteo Sereni with a snapshot from distance and had a shot charged down.

Milan really should have scored on 16 minutes. Clarence Seedorf skipped past Gianluca Comotto on the left and crossed for Alberto Gilardino. The former Parma striker hooked it down and hit it on the bounce, but Sereni got across to the back post for a desperate point-blank reaction save.

Paolo Zanetti drilled a couple of efforts wide from 20 metres, but in the space of 10 seconds there were two fantastic chances for both teams. First Alessandro Nesta's perfectly-timed tackle stopped Di Michele in the area, then Seedorf's through ball released Gilardino to fire wide of the near post.

Andrea Pirlo tried a cheeky free kick almost from the corner flag that Sereni flew to fingertip over the bar, while Kaka sprinted through the centre of the Granata back line only to drill wide.

Pirlo was effective in defence, intercepting a dangerous Di Michele-Alessandro Rosina duet and dribbling it clear inside his own penalty area, earning the applause of San Siro.

Toro went close with Rosina's snapshot wide and Giuseppe Favalli stuck by the Under-21 starlet to close him down in the six yard box. Gilardino couldn't quite get his head to Seedorf's centre and on the stroke of half-time Kaka's ball across the face of goal was deflected out by Cesare Natali.

Milan really should have broken through in first half stoppages. Sereni first parried a Pirlo control and strike from the edge of the area, then did the same on Gilardino's follow-up.

Sasa Bjelanovic replaced Nicola Ventola for the restart, but within 90 seconds he had been booked for a tackle from behind on Kaka.

Marcos Cafu's cross found Kaka with his back to goal for an acrobatic overhead kick that whistled just over the top corner. However, moments later Di Michele skimmed the far post at the other end with an angled drive after he had cut back past Nesta.

There were penalty appeals as Natali shoulder-charged Massimo Ambrosini in the box, but the referee waved play on on 53 minutes. Nesta had a header deflected wide off Natali's back and from the resulting corner Pirlo's splendid volley skimmed the base of the upright.

Milan still couldn't break through, so Carlo Ancelotti threw on attacking figures Serginho and Pippo Inzaghi. Di Michele continued to be dangerous as Kakha Kaladze cleared a pass into the centre for Rosina, while Sereni captured a Serginho cross-shot.

Toro's first real shot on goal came on 69 minutes with Rosina's sudden snapshot just past the near post, but Nelson Dida was yet to make a single save.

Sereni beat away a Cafu strike from the byeline when the Brazilian should have crossed into the centre. Milan had a fantastic opportunity with Seedorf's pass with the outside of his right foot freeing Inzaghi, but he went round Sereni and narrowed the angle too much, hitting the side-netting of an empty net.

Cesare Natali was stretchered off with a calf problem, but Dida got down to hold a scuffed Di Michele effort. Ambrosini's looping header was off target and Milan could not break the deadlock.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Favalli (Serginho 63); Brocchi, Pirlo (Inzaghi 63), Ambrosini; Seedorf (Gourcuff 78), Kakà; Gilardino

Torino: Sereni; Comotto, Natali (Di Loreto 81), Dellafiore, Lanna; Motta (Bottone 56), Corini, Zanetti; Rosina, Ventola (Bjelanovic 46), Di Michele

Ref: Tagliavento

AC Milan don't scare Novellino
3.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Torino take on Milan at San Siro this evening without the slightest fear, assures Coach Walter Novellino.

“Milan will no doubt showcase their quality and prestige, but I want Toro to be aware of their own capabilities and not be hit by fear. They can do well here,” said the tactician.

The Granata are still without an away victory and were defeated in the midweek round at Udinese, but have reason to be confident.

Milan are yet to win on home turf in Serie A this term and Novellino is boosted by some news from the medical staff.

“I have important players back in the squad like David Di Michele, Paolo Zanetti and Cesare Natali.”

However, he also realises that Carlo Ancelotti’s squad is desperate for a victory and confident again after crushing Sampdoria 5-0 on Wednesday.

“We know the calibre of side we are facing. We have to be careful and play a smart game in every sense.”

Di Michele is expected to start upfront in his first official appearance for Torino, as he had been sitting out a three-match ban for betting, which expired this week.

Tommaso Vailatti is suspended for two games, while Simone Barone, Vincenzo Grella, Matteo Rubin and star Alvaro Recoba are injured.

Ronaldo: I’m back
3.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo is unlikely to feature for Milan tomorrow, but stresses that his injury nightmare is finally at an end.

The Brazilian hitman hasn’t featured yet this season after reporting a thigh pain on July 31.

Having been misdiagnosed twice and missed several return dates, Ronaldo finally insists that he is back in action.

“It’s three months since I picked up my injury and it has been a difficult period, but I think that it’s over now,” El Fenomeno told the Milan Channel.

“Now I’m just thinking of making the most of training with my teammates and trying to be ready to play as soon as possible.

“Being on the sidelines is never easy and mentally it has been very tough not having a definite recovery date, but it’s all in the past now.”

While Ronaldo is set to watch the game against Torino from the stands once more, he is likely to make the trip to Bergamo to face Atalanta on November 11.

Carletto: Let’s end Meazza jinx
3.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has called upon his Milan side to end their San Siro hoodoo when they entertain Torino tomorrow night.

Strangely, the Rossoneri’s three wins in this campaign have all been achieved on away soil.

The European champions have drawn three and lost two at home, but after hammering Sampdoria 5-0 in midweek will be confident of changing that record.

“I think it’s time to lift the San Siro curse,” Ancelotti told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It’s our home and it’s time we did something good there, even if it won’t be an easy game.

“This is an important time for us and we will need the support of our fans. We haven’t been getting the results we deserve, but there has been no lack of preparation.”

While the Press have readily declared that the Diavolo are a side in crisis, Ancelotti believes that is a simplification.

“A struggling team doesn’t alternate between negative performances like Empoli and positive ones such as Roma and Genoa,” he claimed.

“The problem has been finding a breakthrough and we haven’t been good enough from set-pieces.”

Despite finding themselves stuck in mid-table, the season’s objectives haven’t changed.

“We want fourth place and the Club World Championship.

"If we add those to the European Super Cup it will have been a successful season,” Ancelotti concluded.

It now appears unlikely that Ronaldo will feature in tomorrow’s encounter, but he is heading towards recovery from a long-term thigh problem.

Kaka set for silverware?
3.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Former FIFA President João Havelange has dropped a strong hint that Milan’s Kaka will be named FIFA World Player of the Year.

The Brazilian ace is amongst the favourites to succeed Fabio Cannavaro and it is believed that his contribution to the Rossoneri’s Champions League triumph will prove decisive.

“It seems that Kaka will win the vote for the award,” Havelange told journalists in his native Brazil.

“If he does get the prize it will be a very popular choice because the lad shows such discipline as well as talent on the pitch.

“He is a player who always behaves himself impeccably,” the 91-year-old concluded.

The winner of FIFA World Player of the Year will be announced on December 17 with Gigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Patrick Vieira, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo amongst the candidates.

Ancelotti finds AC Milan key
2.11 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti thinks he has found the key to Milan’s problems. “It’s all about breaking the deadlock.”

The Rossoneri are yet to win on home turf in Serie A this season, but have now scored 10 goals in their last two away games, including tonight’s 5-0 demolition of Sampdoria.

“This victory proves that matches are decided by incidents. At home we struggle to break the deadlock and then things get complicated,” reasoned the Coach.

“That is the key, as once you score a goal the space opens up for you. In the first half we played well, putting Sampdoria under pressure.”

There was however some tension – possibly sparked by the recent dismal results – when Kaka appeared to argue with Ancelotti on the touchline.

“We talk about the position on the field and he knows where he needs to play. Kaka was asking to go a bit deeper, but we wanted to force the play up starting from the wings instead.”

Alberto Gilardino scored a brace and Nelson Dida kept his side afloat in the first half, silencing some of his critics.

“When it was still 0-0 he was fantastic. He has gone through a difficult time, but that save restored his pride.”





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