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The Archive

December 2004

Old Trafford return on Stam's mind
30.12 || Seamus

Jaap Stam is counting the days until he returns to Old Trafford with AC Milan following his exit from Manchester United in 2001. Stam has recently undergone ankle surgery but hopes to be fit for the first leg of the Champions League clash with United on February 23.

'I was at Manchester United for three years and will now return as an opponent,' Stam told AC Milan's official website.

'It will be great to return to Old Trafford and meet my old team and fans. It will be a difficult game as they are a strong side as we are, but we will want to win there.

'I want it to be special and I want Milan to win everything; the league and the Champions League,' added Stam, who has had to remain busy over the winter break as he continues his rehabilitation.

'I feel fine and even during the holiday break, I continued to train and got back to Milanello on December 28. I am back running, everything is progressing well and I will be ready to play soon.'

As he nears his comeback, Stam insists he made the right decision to opt for surgery, despite now having to force his way into an in-form side.

'I felt a lot of pain, especially when I ran,' he explained. ,It was a difficult decision to have an operation but I had to have it even if it meant being out for a time.

'The team have been playing well up until now. This is important for the side and the fans.

'It is different for me sitting in the stands but I still feel part of it and now I really want to get back playing. I am feeling good and I can see the finish line coming in terms of getting back.'

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/headlinenews?id=320476&cc=5901

Milan exit saddens Berlusconi
29.12 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia


Silvio Berlusconi has spoken for the first time after he resigned as President of Italian champions Milan.

"I’m obviously disappointed, very disappointed," he stated after news of his departure was confirmed last night.

"But let us not forget that we’ve won more than anybody else during my years as President here."

Berlusconi took control of Milan on 24 March 1986, helping them basically win every domestic and international club trophy available.

Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, has been forced to quit to comply with a new law on conflicts of interest.

It was passed to help resolve the clash between his political power and his massive business empire.

However, Milan captain Paolo Maldini insists that Berlusconi will remain an important figure for the Rossoneri.

"We all know that he’s basically been forced to take this step," said the Italian legend. "But he will never abandon us. Milan are a part of his heart."


The Berlusconi Coaches:
1986-87 Nils Liedholm, Fabio Capello
1987-88 Arrigo Sacchi
1988-89 Arrigo Sacchi
1989-90 Arrigo Sacchi
1990-91 Arrigo Sacchi
1991-92 Fabio Capello
1992-93 Fabio Capello
1993-94 Fabio Capello
1994-95 Fabio Capello
1995-96 Fabio Capello
1996-97 Oscar Washington Tabarez, Arrigo Sacchi
1997-98 Fabio Capello
1998-99 Alberto Zaccheroni
1999-00 Alberto Zaccheroni
2000-01 Alberto Zaccheroni, Cesare Maldini
2001-02 Fatih Terim, Carlo Ancelotti
2002-03 Carlo Ancelotti
2003-04 Carlo Ancelotti
2004-05 Carlo Ancelotti

The Berlusconi trophies:
7 Serie A titles (1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004)
4 European Cups (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003)
1 Coppa Italia (2003)
2 Intercontinental titles (1990, 1991)
4 European Super Cups (1990, 1991, 1995, 2004)
5 Italian Super Cups (1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2004)

Berlusconi quits Milan
28.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has resigned as President of Serie A champions Milan.

The Rossoneri confirmed the news this evening, bringing an end to Berlusconi’s long relationship with the outfit.

Berlusconi has been the Milan chief since March 1986, turning the then struggling outfit into the best team on the planet.

The politician has been forced to resign after 18 years due to the introduction of a new law concerning conflicts of interest.

Milan have stated that the role will remain vacant for now, even if Berlusconi’s son Piersilvio is being tipped to replace his father.

Nesta thankful for rest
28.12 || Seamus

Alessandro Nesta has dismissed suggestions that the winter break came at the wrong time for Milan.

The Rossoneri were in fine form before Serie A shut down for Christmas, with many expecting the holiday to benefit a tired looking Juventus side.

"Having a week off will not ruin the work we have done up to now," said the former Lazio captain.

"Juventus were certainly on a dip in form a few weeks ago but the time off will have also benefited us as well.

"After all, we did have a lot of injury problems in defence which means the same players were used all of the time. The rest has been positive for us all."

Milan should have Jaap Stam at their disposal again for the January 6 game against Lecce after he recovered from ankle surgery.

"He definitely increases the quality of our team but also gives the Coach a chance to use the rotation system," added Nesta.

The Italian international also revealed his main aim for the New Year. "I would like to win the Champions’ League in 2005," he concluded.

http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/dec28h.html

Tomasson handed Danish prize
28.12 || Seamus

Jon Dahl Tomasson has committed his future to Milan on the same day that he’s been named Danish Player of the Year.

The striker has been awarded the honour after receiving the highest number of votes from his fellow Danish professionals.

Tomasson will be handed the prize this evening via a TV link between a Copenhagen studio and the Milanello training complex.

The ex-Newcastle player was a major factor in the Rossoneri’s Scudetto success last season.

However, there are doubts regarding his future after struggling to make an impact so far this term.

But Tomasson insists he is ready to stay with the outfit despite the recent stiff competition from Hernan Crespo.

"I want to continue my career with Milan," he stated. "People are saying that Crespo will now be picked above me but that isn’t necessarily the case.

"Crespo is a champion but the club have great faith in me. I will take advantage of any opportunities I’m given."

Meanwhile, Atalanta youngster Giampaolo Pazzini has been handed the Silvio Piola award for 2004.

The honour is given on a yearly basis to the best U-21 Italian striker. The previous winners were Massimo Maccarone (2001), Giuseppe Sculli (2002) and Alberto Gilardino (2003).

http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/dec28f.html

Ancelotti: What a year!
28.12 || Seamus

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is proud of what his Milan side have managed to achieve in 2004.

"It has been a year to remember," the tactician told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ newspaper.

"One date in particular was key when we beat Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. That victory on January 6 was fundamental for our Scudetto success.

"But there were other impressive performances by my side over the last 12 months.

"We came from 2-0 down to beat Inter 3-2 in February, then we won in Turin against Juventus.

"We defeated Empoli which was key after our heavy loss at Deportivo, before collecting a win against Roma to make sure of the title."

Although Ancelotti is keen to highlight the importance of all of his players, he’s reserved special praise for Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko.

"The Brazilian’s arrival gave the whole side a lift," added the former Juventus boss. "He’s a great guy but also a player who has unique ability.

"Sheva has been consistently good at scoring goals even if I would have given the Golden Ball to all of my players."

So what will 2005 hold for the champions? "We can enjoy another wonderful year even if it will depend on our form in March and April," he added.

"Our objective is to keep winning and try to become the best team in the world."

http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/dec28d.html

AC Milan to pip Man Utd for Solari
27.12 || webmaster

Source: TribalFootball.com

AC Milan are said to have beaten Manchester United for the signing of Real Madrid winger Santiago Solari.

The Argentina international is being chased by both European giants as his contract winds down at the end of this season.

While United have been waiting for January 1 to open official negotiations with Solari's representatives, DiarioSport says a deal has already been struck between the midfielder and AC Milan.

Solari is said to have agreed terms over a four-year contract, which he will take up at the end of this season when he moves to the San Siro on a Bosman.

Buffon, Gattuso Spent Christmas Behind Bars
27.12 || webmaster

Source: TribalFootball.com

Multimillionaires Gigi Buffon and Rino Gattuso chose to spend part of their Christmas in jail behind bars!

Juventus goalkeeper Buffon and AC Milan midfielder Gattuso both visited separate jails in Italy to lift the spirits of inmates and guards alike.

Gattuso even took part in a football tournament which pitched inmates of the Rossano jail against local club teams.

For his part, Buffon visited the Massa jail and spent several hours with prisoners and guards discussing their lives behind bars.

Trio Back In Italy
27.12 || webmaster

Source: SportingLife.com

Italian footballers have arrived home after being among the foreign tourists caught up in the earthquake that struck southern Asia on Sunday.

Juventus midfielder Gianluca Zambrotta and AC Milan players Paolo Maldini and Filippo Inzaghi returned on Monday to Italy following their holiday in the Maldives.

The Maldives were one of the areas badly affected by the quake that has already claimed more than 21,000 lives. The quake, that measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, triggered tidal waves and was the worst seen since 1964.

"We only saw the end of the waves," Maldini admitted at Milan's Malpensa airport.

"But we were lucky because we were in one of the calmest places that were affected."

Inzaghi added: "I am fine, but it was a frightening experience."

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Livorno goalkeeper Cristian Lucarelli has contacted his brother, team-mate Alessandro, from Baa Atoll to say he and his children are safe.

Ancelotti commited to Milan
24.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti says he has no intention of leaving the champions for Real Madrid.

The tactician has been linked with a switch after Arrigo Sacchi was appointed as Real’s technical director earlier this week.

But the former Parma and Juventus boss insists that he’s fully committed to a future at the San Siro.

"I’ve read the stories over the last few days but I would like to tell the fans that I am only thinking of Milan," he told the club’s website.

"Milan are the only thing in my mind. They are the best club in the world and the same applies to the squad that I have at my disposal.

"Not even Real Madrid, an outfit with a great tradition, can upset the feeling between myself, the club, the players and the supporters."

Real are expected to hire a new Coach for the start of the 2005-06 campaign and numerous Italians have been linked.

Apart from Ancelotti, the Spanish giants have also been associated with Alberto Zaccheroni and even Cesare Prandelli.

Jankulovski ready for Milan
23.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Marek Jankulovski has admitted that he could leave Udinese for Milan at the end of the season.

Reports earlier this week suggested that the Rossoneri would net the player and he’s keen on a San Siro switch.

"I want to help Udinese qualify for the Champions’ League right now but I’m ready for a big club next year," he told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.

"I am 28 and mature enough to take the next step up in level. I’m ready to play for a club like Milan."

The Czech ace has been heavily linked with a move to Juventus in the past but he doesn’t believe a Turin switch is on the horizon.

"I’ve always said that I would like to play with my great friend Pavel Nedved but I don’t think that dream will come true," added the former Napoli player.

"Juventus are well covered down the left with Gianluca Zambrotta and Nedved in the side."

Jankulovksi is highly rated in the Italian game because of his versatility. But what is his best position?

"I think I play better as a wide midfielder but I’m happy at left-back too," he explained. "I have no problems with either role."

Udinese have today ruled out any January sales but it does seem that Jankulovski will definitely leave in the summer.

Jankulovski set for Milan
21.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have allegedly beaten Juventus in the race to sign Marek Jankulovksi from Udinese.

Reports in the peninsula on Tuesday suggest that a deal has already been agreed between the two clubs.

The champions will sign the player in January, for around £6.5m, but allow him to remain with the Bianconeri until the summer.

That agreement suits the Friuli outfit who would like to keep the Czech ace in a bid to qualify for the Champions’ League.

Milan have decided to target Jankulovski, who was also linked with Inter, given that Serginho is likely to leave at the end of the season.

Should Jankulovski join Milan then that could in turn be bad news for newly promoted Fiorentina.

That is because Juventus would then be expected to recall the highly-rated Giorgio Chiellini.

The left-back, who was recently handed a full international cap, is currently on loan with the Viola from the Turin giants.

The Tuscan club were keen to keep him for at least another season but that may now not occur.

Milan: We're simply the best
19.12 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia



Carlo Ancelotti claims Milan proved they are a better side than the Serie A leaders, while Fabio Capello blamed the tension of the occasion.

“I am very satisfied with our performance, commanding the tempo from start to finish,” said the Milan boss after their 0-0 draw. “We weren’t fortunate tonight, but I am extremely happy with the way we played.”

The visitors dominated the tie with an extra seven minutes of possession, but Ancelotti refused to be disappointed with the result.

“Juventus have the best defence in Europe, so we did well to create so many chances and were simply unlucky when it came to the finishing. We proved our superiority against a great side and that is something to be celebrated.”

However, the Rossoneri were furious with referee Paolo Bertini after an early penalty shout and a Kaka counter-attack that was halted by excessive fussiness.

“I was angry with the referee in two occasions. He should have let play continue when Kaka was tackled by Lilian Thuram, while that was a penalty on Hernan Crespo after just three minutes. I must say Jonathan Zebina was smart to make that foul,” concluded the Coach, “as it would have been a goal for sure.”

Juventus were surprisingly inefficient, particularly in the first half, and Fabio Capello is fully aware this was a lucky escape for them.

“We misplaced far too many passes and evidently we felt the tension of the occasion,” said Capello. “At one stage I couldn’t even shout at individuals for these errors, as everyone was doing it all over the pitch.”

The first half was particularly worrying with shots raining down on Gianluigi Buffon’s goal and Andriy Shevchenko thumping the woodwork.

“Playing the way we did in the first half and escaping with a 0-0 draw was an absolute blessing for us,” conceded the Juve boss.

“The break comes at the right time for us to recover our energy levels. I’d say that at the back we held out well, but in general the side was slow to pass the ball around and wasted counter-attacks with soft mistakes we just aren’t used to seeing here.”

Marcelo Zalayeta was the main substitution, replacing the disappointing Alessandro Del Piero in the second half.

“Seeing as we had trouble getting close to Dida’s goal, I tried to put in a player who was physically strong and good at holding up the ball.

Gennaro Gattuso claimed tonight’s match left Milan as favourites for the Scudetto despite remaining four points adrift of the leaders.

“We came here to play our game and know we are a good side,” said the midfielder. “It’s a shame we didn’t win, but four points aren’t much at this stage. We wasted three or four counter-attacks and the Juve offside trap was doing overtime.”

“Milan had a difficult start to this season, but for the last couple of games we have hit our stride. I think we proved today that this is clearly a better team than Juve. They are a solid outfit, but we have something more.”

Gianluca Zambrotta believes this is merely a blip on the scanner, though it is the first time Juve have failed to score at the Delle Alpi since Oct 2001, ending a run of 53 consecutive Serie A games.

“Perhaps we were a little nervous to begin with,” conceded the fullback, “but we settled in the second half and it went much better. It is an important result for us, as we’re still four points clear and can recharge our batteries over the Christmas break.”

Juventus 0:0 AC Milan - match report
18.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan dominated the Scudetto showdown in Turin, but remain four points adrift as the woodwork kept out Andriy Shevchenko.

Games don't come much bigger than this, as the two-horse Scudetto race comes to a head at the Stadio Delle Alpi. Milan had the chance to cut the gap to just one point going into the Christmas break or find themselves seven points adrift.

The Rossoneri have only won one of their last nine pre-Christmas games, but they were on better form going into the tie thanks to three consecutive wins, including last week's 6-0 drubbing of Fiorentina. Pavel Nedved's late goal scraped a 1-0 victory for Juve at Bologna to keep them four points clear.

Paolo Maldini suffered a slight calf problem during the warm-up and had to give way to 38-year-old Alessandro Costacurta. Losing their captain was a heavy blow, but up until this match Milan had not conceded a single goal this season with Costacurta on the bench.

The Stadio Delle Alpi was sold out and witnessed the meeting of the outgoing European Player of the Year Pavel Nedved and the newly crowned Balon d'Or winner Andriy Shevchenko. Both these Coaches were facing their former clubs and Fabio Capello had only ever beaten Ancelotti twice going into the game.

Milan had the first real scoring opportunity after just three minutes. Shevchenko rolled the ball across the face of goal and Hernan Crespo just failed to get on the end of it from six yards. The ex-Chelsea man complained and replays show Jonathan Zebina did hold him back by his shoulder.

Moments later Zebina nearly scored an own goal as he haphazardly deflected a Clarence Seedorf cross just wide of the woodwork.

There were more complaints when Zebina seemed to drag Kakha Kaladze down by his neck as a free kick was floated in, but once again the referee waved play on.

Juventus were also angry with the officials when a Zlatan Ibrahimovic cross was charged down by Costacurta's arm outside the box, but Bertini judged it to be too close for the defender to get out of the way.

Shevchenko went closer than anyone after 17 minutes when his fierce right-foot snapshot from all of 25 metres beat Gianluigi Buffon and slammed the outside of the post.

Milan were beginning to dominate and Shevchenko ran on to Kaka's through ball, but Lilian Thuram dived in for a crucial challenge to prevent Crespo getting an easy tap-in.

The Bianconeri were uncharacteristically a defensive shambles on a corner kick, Buffon's punch ineffective with Kaladze, Crespo and Kaka unable to make the most of it.

Soon after Alessandro Del Piero's effort was charged down, then Buffon could only parry a powerful Crespo strike out for a corner as the pace picked up. A promising counter-attack was started by Pirlo and his cross was too long for Crespo at the back post.

Buffon smothered Seedorf's rising drive from eight yards, then Gianluca Zambrotta ran the entire length of the pitch and put in a cross for Ibrahimovic, but Dida intercepted. Zambrotta got forward again with a snapshot just about held by the Brazilian goalkeeper.

Fabio Cannavaro and Thuram required brilliant tackles to prevent Shevchenko getting into a one-on-one with Buffon, but in first half stoppages the goalkeeper had his palms stung by Crespo at the near post.

Capello had to do something and he opted to take off disappointing captain Del Piero for Marcelo Zalayeta.

Milan were still having the better of the play with Juventus giving the ball away surprisingly easily. Shevchenko was halted for a debatable offside flag as he prepared to face Buffon, then the Ukrainian's effort was charged down by Thuram.

Juve were a little less under pressure, but couldn't break through the Milan rearguard and Nedved's header was intercepted by Marcos Cafu. Kaladze was stretchered off with a bruised knee and made way for Giuseppe Pancaro.

The Rossoneri were livid on 66 minutes when Kaka robbed Thuram and was ready to run at the Juve defence with three against two, but the referee stopped play for a Milan free kick instead of letting play continue and the chance went begging. Thuram was booked for that challenge and will miss the trip to his old club Parma.

Alessio Tacchinardi replaced Manuele Blasi and the visitors continued to hold the initiative, even if the Juve defence was better placed in this second half.

Nedved had a great chance to give the Bianconeri the victory when he turned and left both defenders for dead, but the ball bounced awkwardly and he fired over the bar.

There was chaos in the Milan area four minutes from time when Nedved and Ibrahimovic failed to make the most of two defensive errors. From the resulting corner kick Cannavaro drilled a powerful half-volley over the bar.

In the final minute Shevchenko skipped past defenders and passed for Andrea Pirlo, but the midfielder's angled drive only shaved the far post with Buffon already beaten.

Juventus: Buffon; Zebina, Thuram, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Camoranesi, Emerson, Blasi (Tacchinardi 80), Nedved; Ibrahimovic, Del Piero (Zalayeta 46)

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Costacurta, Kaladze (Pancaro 63); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko, Crespo

Ref: Bertini

Champions’ League draw reaction
17.12 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia


Inter are delighted by the prospect of facing Porto, but Juventus and Milan are disappointed with their Champions’ League opponents.

Juventus will play the mighty Real Madrid, while the Italian champions face a tricky tie against Manchester United.

"It is a classic of the modern game," stated Turin boss Fabio Capello. "It is even more stimulating for me when you consider that I worked there in the past.

"Real are a difficult team to play against and although all the clubs remaining are tough, we were hoping for a kinder draw."

But are Real the force they once were? "Their form has varied recently but who knows what shape they will be in come February," noted the tactician.

Key midfielder Emerson, who rejected a summer switch to Madrid, is looking forward to the game.

"It won’t be easy but if you want to win this competition then you must play the big teams at one stage," stated the Brazilian.

Milan will return to Old Trafford, the arena which saw them lift the trophy in 2003 against Juventus.

"It has brought us luck in the past but I would have preferred a different opponent," admitted boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"United have a complete squad and are a very strong side. They also have a manager in Ferguson who has won it all."

City rivals Inter will be confident of reaching the last eight after being paired with reigning champions Porto.

"We’re happy that we avoided the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona," stated Coach Roberto Mancini.

"But not a lot changes to be honest as Porto won the trophy last season. They are a great side and it should be an entertaining match."

Captain Javier Zanetti added: "I expect it to be tough at this stage of the competition. We shouldn’t underestimate anybody."

Thuram: Milan tie not crucial
17.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lilian Thuram doubts that Juventus would take a significant step towards title glory with a win over Milan.

The Bianconeri could stretch their lead over the San Siro giants to seven points on Saturday but the stopper is keeping cool.

"Seven points at this stage of the season are basically nothing," stated Thuram. "Little will change if we win, the Scudetto will still be a two-horse race."

Nevertheless, the former French international insists that his side will look for victory in front of a packed Stadio Delle Alpi.

"I expect a balanced game," he continued. "This is always a special match and the fact that it is a sell-out proves it.

"We must be alert against Milan but we won’t wait for them in defence. We don’t start games with the aim of drawing.

"My teammates are aware that we are a great squad. We have the pace and power to score goals."

Thuram himself has actually had the honour of scoring in the November 2002 tie that Juve won 2-1.

"I can still remember it," he smiled. "In fact, I’ll never forget it seeing as I score once every 400 games…"

Buffon will face Milan
17.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Gigi Buffon missed training again today but the Juventus No 1 should play against Milan on Saturday.

The goalkeeper is suffering with a fever but the Bianconeri are confident he will be back for the Scudetto showdown.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Emerson should also start despite the fact that they only worked in the gym on Thursday.

The only other players who were absent from training were Ruben Olivera and David Trezeguet.

However, there is some good news for the French international who recently had a shoulder operation.

Trezeguet had a medical consultation today which confirmed that his rehabilitation is going as planned.

The striker will have another check-up on January 10 and he could be back in action by the middle of the same month if given the green light.

Pirlo plots Ibrahimovic revenge
17.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Andrea Pirlo has warned Juventus’ Zlatan Ibrahimovic that he wants revenge for Euro 2004.

The two clubs clash on Saturday and the Italian is eager to beat the Swede who played a major part in Italy’s European Championship elimination.

"We were playing really well against Sweden until he popped up with that goal," Pirlo told Studio Sport. "I want him to pay for that."

Ibrahimovic netted a classy back-heeled flick that saw the Azzurri only collect a 1-1 draw against the Scandinavians.

"We are in some good form at the minute as we’ve now won our last four games," continued Pirlo ahead of the Delle Alpi tie.

"But we all know about Juventus, a squad who never seem to give up. This will be a tough game as we are both doing well."

The former Inter man is undoubtedly a key figure for the Rossoneri but he expects some freedom in Week 16.

"Fabio Capello plays with a 4-4-2 and he’s never put a marker on me in the past," added the playmaker. "Let’s hope that trend continues."

The dead ball specialist was also asked to comment on his missed penalty against Fiorentina last week.

"If we are awarded another spot-kick against Juventus, I won’t have any trouble taking it," he noted.

"I know that you can either score or miss a penalty. The important thing is to have the courage to try."

CL Draw: Milan to meet Manchester United
17.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus will play Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions’ League. Inter face Porto, while Milan are up against Man Utd.

Juve and Milan have been handed the toughest tests as Fabio Capello will take the Bianconeri to his former club.

While Carlo Ancelotti’s Italian champions will have to dispose of the Old Trafford outfit if they are to reach the quarter finals.

Inter will be the happiest Italian side and will be confident of beating the current Champions’ League holders Porto.

Full draw:
Real Madrid – Juventus
FC Porto – Inter
Barcelona – Chelsea
Werder Bremen – Lyon
Liverpool – Bayer Leverkusen
PSV – Monaco
Man Utd – Milan
Bayern Munich – Arsenal

Games will be played on February 22/23 and March 8/9. Inter's second leg match should be played on March 15.

Maldini betting on Milan
16.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini and Kakha Kaladze look ahead to Saturday’s Scudetto showdown and give their views on the key tactical elements.

“We will be playing against a side that never gives in,” said the Milan captain, “but we are relaxed because we know we’re on top form.”

Juventus have a four-point lead going into the final game of 2004, but the Rossoneri are on fire after their 6-0 demolition of Fiorentina.

“We are aware of the problems we’ll encounter at the Delle Alpi, as it can’t be easy to score past the best defence in Serie A and the Champions’ League,” continued Maldini. “I think Juve will sit back at first and try to hit us on the break, so we have to move the ball around quickly.”

Over 55,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s match, so the Turin stadium is heading for a sell-out.

“The Juventus I saw against Bologna last week seemed to be some inferior impostor,” commented Kakha Kaladze after their hard-fought 1-0 win.

“The Bianconeri had an incredible start to the season, but recently they have been nowhere near that level. On the other hand, Milan struggled to begin with and are coming into this tie near to our peak and that 6-0 result gives us a psychological extra gear. This will be the game of the year.”

There is one tradition that might worry the Rossoneri, as they have only won their pre-Christmas match once in the last ten years.

“A bit of complacency can arise when you’re heading towards the break,” concedes the Georgian defender, “but not when you’re taking on Juventus. The holidays will be absolutely the last thing on our minds.”

There seems to be only one doubt in Carlo Ancelotti’s mind going into this clash, as Giuseppe Pancaro or Kaladze will take that left-back role. Jon Dahl Tomasson might not even be fit for the bench after he skipped training this afternoon.

Dida hails rival Buffon
16.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has publicly praised Gigi Buffon ahead of the match against Juventus.

"Buffon is a really special player," said the Brazilian ace. "I like to see him in action and I study him closely.

"I find I can learn something new from him all of the time."

The personal battle between the two ‘keepers is set to be one of the many interesting clashes during Saturday’s game.

Many consider the Juve No 1 to be the best in the world but Dida isn’t too far behind on current form.

"I have no problem rating him as the best around because I certainly don’t feel at the top," added Dida.

"I like to think of myself as the worst. Only that way can someone find the stimulus to keep on improving."

Juventus vs. AC Milan - match preview
16.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Games don’t get much bigger than this as the two remaining Scudetto contenders clash in the final fixture of 2004. The result could either blow the title race wide open or give Juventus a seven-point lead to enjoy over their Christmas dinner.

The Bianconeri have been leading the way throughout the campaign thanks to Fabio Capello’s intelligent tactics and hard-working squad, but in the last month some cracks have started to appear. Unconvincing victories over Lecce, Lazio and Bologna were peppered with defeat at Reggina and the extraordinary 2-2 draw at Inter. It took a last-gasp and extremely controversial Pavel Nedved free kick to keep the lead at four points last week and confidence is not running high. Alessandro Del Piero is still looking for his best form, while the partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t quite gelled yet.

On the other hand, Milan could not have asked for a better lead-in to this showdown. Fiorentina were literally torn apart in a 6-0 victory that showed just how effective Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo and Kaka can be in a trident attack. It is also the Ukrainian’s first game since he was crowned European Player of the Year and he’ll be facing the 2003 title holder Nedved at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The Rossoneri are coming off four consecutive wins in which they scored 11 goals and conceded just two.

Last season, Milan’s record against the other big clubs proved decisive in their ascent to the Scudetto and Juve often struggled in these fixtures. This tie ended 3-1 for the visitors with Shevchenko and a Clarence Seedorf brace making Ciro Ferrara’s late goal mere consolation. It was their first win in Turin since 1999 and ended a run of four consecutive defeats in this Stadium, but on current form anything could happen.

Juventus (probable): Buffon; Zebina, Thuram, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Camoranesi, Emerson, Blasi, Nedved; Ibrahimovic, Del Piero

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Crespo, Shevchenko

Sheva not off to Chelsea
16.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko’s agent has told Chelsea to forget about any dreams of landing the Milan man.

The London club have been recently associated with the striker but the new European Footballer of the Year is going nowhere.

'I know Chelsea may be interested but there is no chance, even if they make a ridiculous offer,' Oscar Damiano told The Independent.

'They would have no chance on personal terms alone. He is one of the best five players in the world and is paid as such.'

"There are always rumours but they can forget it. If Chelsea don't understand that, it is their problem. Milan are a buying and not a selling club."

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is a massive fan of the Ukrainian but he’s unlikely to Coach him in the near future.

It’s believed that the Premiership club were hoping to get Shev as part of a Hernan Crespo transfer.

The Argentine is currently on loan with Milan, who are keen to sign him outright at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old Shevchenko has been at the San Siro since 1999 and is tied to the Rossoneri until 2009.

Rui Costa set for Atletico?
14.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Italian champions Milan have reportedly offered Atletico Madrid the services of Manuel Rui Costa.

The ‘AS’ newspaper suggests that the midfielder could complete a switch during the January transfer window.

Rui Costa is said to be unhappy with life on the Rossoneri bench and is willing to leave the outfit.

The Portuguese ace has been relegated to the sidelines for the past 18 months following the arrival of Kaka.

Milan chief Adriano Galliani has allegedly already spoken to the Spanish side to make initial enquiries.

The two clubs have an excellent relationship after the deals involving Jose Mari, Javi Moreno, Cosmin Contra and Fabricio Coloccini in the past five years.

However, it is unclear whether Rui Costa would be willing to move to La Liga in the New Year.

The creative player has always insisted that he would like to end his career with former club Benfica.

The ex-Fiorentina hero is now 32 and is tied to the Italian giants until the summer of 2006.

Profile: Andriy Shevchenko - European Footballer of the Year
14.12 || Seamus

Few people if any would begrudge Andriy Shevchenko the accolade of being crowned European Footballer of the Year for 2004. The winner of France Football magazine’s award, the Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball), is chosen by journalists from 52 different countries, and this year the AC Milan striker came top with 175 points, ahead of Deco on 139 and Ronaldinho in third on 133 points.
Recognition for Sheva reflects several seasons of sustained excellence as much as his exploits in the past 12 months alone, though they were impressive enough. He has consistently combined superb individual technique with the ruthlessness of a natural goalscorer, a touch of humility and a strong team ethic.

On receiving his award, Shevchenko said: “When I started playing football I dreamed of being a top player and maybe winning a prestigious award such as this. I am really happy. I would like to send a message to all children who love this sport, that what happened to me can also happen to them.’

The 28-year-old Ukrainian international added: ’I am proud to be Ukrainian and I want to dedicate this success to the people of my country.’

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi said of his team’s star striker after the award was announced: “Andriy is not only a champion on the pitch but off it as well. He is an example to everyone, his team-mates and all Milan fans.”

Shevchenko is the fifth Rossoneri player to win the Ballon d’Or, following in the illustrious footsteps of Gianni Rivera in 1969, Ruud Gullit in 1987, Marco Van Basten in 1988, 1989 and 1992 and George Weah in 1995.

Berlusconi said of Sheva on French TV station Canal Plus: ’I appreciate your quality during matches and your professionalism in training. Andriy Shevchenko is a great champion. Even though Milan have a lot of trophies you have remained humble.

Born in Dvrkivshchyna on 29 September, 1976, Sheva made his mark playing for Dinamo Kiev in his native Ukraine, coming to the attention of a wider audience through his exploits in the Champions League. He formed a highly productive strike partnership with Sergei Rebrov at Dinamo, and soon scouts from around Europe were casting covetous glances Kiev’s way.

He made his debut in Ukraine’s top division in the 1994-95 season, playing 16 times and netting once; over the next four seasons his record with Dinamo was 31 appearances, 16 goals (1995-96), 20 games, 6 goals (1996-97), 23 games, 19 goals (1997-98), and 28 games, 18 goals (1998-99).

The inevitable transfer came, to AC Milan in the summer of 1999, and Sheva made his Serie A debut in a 2-2 draw against Lecce on 29 August that year. Any questions about whether he could make the adjustment to the Italian League and its sophisticated, highly organised defences were emphatically answered from the start of his career at the San Siro.

He scored a remarkable 24 goals in each of his first two campaigns with Milan (32 and 34 appearances, respectively). In 2001-02 his record was 14 goals in 29 matches. There were only 5 goals in 24 games in 2002-03, but last season he was back to his best with 24 in 32 as Milan won their first Scudetto for five years. So far this season he’s scored 11, including a brace in Milan’s 6-0 destruction of Fiorentina at the weekend.

At his press conference in Paris after winning the Ballon d’Or, Sheva spoke about his Milan career and the coaches he has worked for.

“Zaccheroni was the first one that I started to learn and understand Italian football from,” he said.

“He helped me a lot in the beginning. Cesare Maldini is an excellent person, I spent four wonderful months with him and we achieved good results. Terim only stayed a short period, but he had another way of thinking about football and I learnt something new. With Carlo Ancelotti, I became a winner. Our coach is different from all others I have worked with, he transmits great tranquility, he listens, you can talk to him because he is a former player as well as being very well prepared.”

He added: “Today, I feel more experienced, properly more mature, but what is important is that I have learnt to win.”

http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=38773&idSez=126

Galliani wants Collina for scudetto showdown
14.12 || Seamus

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani echoed the words spoken yesterday by his coach Carlo Ancelotti as he requested Pierluigi Collina as the referee for the Rossoneri’s Saturday night showdown against Juventus.

“I hope Collina referees the match. But it will be the draw that will decide. We can’t overturn a system that has been used throughout this season,” he said.

“Even if Collina doesn’t get to referee the match, I am sure whoever does will be the right person,” he added.

The candidature of Collina has gained full force in the last couple of days in light of Sunday night’s match that saw Juventus win thanks to alleged favours by the referee of the match Mirko Pieri.

http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=38851&progr=0

Gattuso ties the knot
14.12 || Seamus

The hot-headed midfielder got married on Monday.
Gennaro Gattuso is usually known for his fighting spirit and never-give-up attitude, but on Monday his fans were able to see his gentle side as he happily married his girlfriend, Monica.

The couple tied the knot in secret with only a few people invited to the ceremony. They already have a daughter that was born a few months ago

Gattuso also had time to congratulate his team-mate Andriy Shevchenko for winning the Golden Ball and joke about the wedding at the same time.

“We are expecting his present because it’s also thanks to us that he won.”

http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=38822&progr=8

Shevchenko lifts Golden Ball
13.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan star Andriy Shevchenko has been crowned as the 2004 European Footballer of the Year.

The Ukrainian was being heavily tipped to win the Golden Ball and his victory has been confirmed this evening.

The striker finished 36 points clear of Portuguese playmaker Deco and 42 ahead of the latter’s Barcelona teammate Ronaldinho.

"This is a very special day for me," said the 28-year-old. "I’m happy to have won this award and I think I deserve it too.

"I would like to dedicate this victory to the people of the Ukraine who are having their difficulties right now."

Shevchenko, who succeeds Pavel Nedved of Juventus, becomes the fifth Rossoneri star to win the accolade.

Gianni Rivera was the first when the midfielder triumphed in 1969. Ruud Gullit was next in 1987, while Marco Van Basten won in 1988, 1989 and 1992. George Weah was the last in 1995.

The highest placed Italian in this year’s list, voted for by 52 European journalists, was Gigi Buffon who came in 17th.

The only other Italian to have registered a vote was Paolo Maldini. The legendary captain of Milan was 28th.

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney has won the ‘Golden Boy’ prize for the best Under-21 player in Europe.

The Man Utd talent received the honour from the Italian Tuttosport newspaper, finishing ahead of teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea’s Arjen Robben and Obafemi Martins of Inter.

Golden Ball votes:
1) Shevchenko (Milan) 175 pts.
2) Deco 139 pts.
3) Ronaldinho 133 pts.
4) Henry 80 pts.
5) Zagorakis (Bologna) 44 pts.
6) Adriano (Inter) 27 pts.
7) Nedved (Juventus) 23 pts.
8) Rooney 22 pts.
9) Ricardo Carvalho, Van Nistelrooy 18 pts.
11) Charisteas 15 pts.
12) Baros, Cristiano Ronaldo 11 pts.
14) Ibrahimovic (Juventus) 8 pts.
15) Eto'o, Kakà (Milan) 7 pts.
17) Dellas (Roma), Buffon (Juventus), Drogba, Lampard, Morientes 5 pts.
22) Figo 4 pts.
23) Zidane 3 pts.
24) Baraja, Giuly, Maniche, Nikopolidis 2 pts.
28) Maldini (Milan), Vicente 1 pt.

Milan to keep Crespo
13.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have revealed that they will make Chelsea an offer in a bid to keep Hernan Crespo at the club.

The Argentine is currently on loan until the end of the season but the Serie A side want him for good.

"We are already talking to Chelsea," confirmed Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani. "We would like Crespo to stay.

"For now the player belongs to the London club but we are hopeful of reaching an agreement as we have a good relationship with the English side."

The striker arrived at the San Siro in the summer where he initially struggled to make an impact.

However, the old Crespo has returned in recent weeks and he’s starting to score with some consistency.

"I want a great gift from Milan," said the South American following his brace against Fiorentina yesterday.

"I would like the club to confirm me for next season. I have no intention of going back to England."

It’s understood that Chelsea and Milan could possibly reach an agreement in the New Year.

AC Milan 6:0 Fiorentina - report
12.12 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia

Seedorf 16, 81 (M), Crespo 22, 60 (M), Shevchenko 51, 73 (M)
Stadio San Siro


Milan couldn't ask for a better lead-in to the Scudetto showdown with Juventus as they literally tore Fiorentina apart with six goals.

Manuel Rui Costa has never been able to face his former club, as since his summer of 2001 move injuries and Fiorentina's relegation made it impossible. However, Carlo Ancelotti opted not to field the Portuguese international from the start, preferring Kaka and Andrea Pirlo in support of Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko.

The Rossoneri went close early on and Cristiano Lupatelli dived in to push a cross away from Shevchenko's head.

Milan were dominating the early stages and after 15 minutes Crespo was dragged back by Daniele Delli Carri for a penalty following some great build-up play from Kaka and Marcos Cafu. Andrea Pirlo stepped up and saw his spot-kick saved by Cristiano Lupatelli, but he could do nothing on Clarence Seedorf's follow-up header.

The home side doubled their lead soon after with a well-worked team move, even if the finish was curious. Crespo ran on to a Kaka through ball and lifted it over Lupatelli, but instead of a goalline clearance Giorgio Chiellini accidentally ensured it went into the net.

Fiorentina's first real chance saw Tomas Ujfalusi take advantage of a Kakha Kaladze error, but Christian Rigano' was put off by a desperate Dida rush off his line.

Kaka's solo slalom past defenders was not matched by an accurate finish, chaotic defending cleared the danger from Shevchenko and Crespo while Rigano's looping header shaved the far post.

Shevchenko wasted a good chance and Kaka's vicious piledriver was just about parried by Lupatelli.

There was bad news for the Viola, as Lupatelli suffered an injury and did not come back out for the second half, so former Dundee goalkeeper Roccati was guarding the posts.

Shevchenko is set to receive the Balon d'Or on Monday and he marked it with a brilliant goal. The Ukrainian exchanged several passes with Kaka as they tore the Fiorentina defence apart and he finished off the move with style.

Even Gennaro Gattuso was caught up in the atmosphere and flicked the ball over a defender to set up Shevchenko's well-saved volley.

The fourth goal came on the hour mark when Pirlo set Crespo running on the counter-attack and his angled drive left Roccati with no chance.

Crespo's hat-trick was disallowed for Kaka's push on goalkeeper Roccati, but despite the scoreline the Fiorentina fans continued to cheer on their team.

Roccati pushed away Shevchenko's tap-in at the near post, but the European Player of the Year sprung the offside trap on Crespo's pass and delicately placed the ball into the far corner for his 102nd Serie A career goal.

Fiorentina had fallen apart long before this stage, but Milan kept going and Massimo Ambrosini rolled across for Seedorf to tap in his second of the game - the team's sixth.


Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo (Ambrosini 68), Seedorf; Kakà (Rui Costa 66); Crespo, Shevchenko

Fiorentina: Lupatelli (Roccato 46); Delli Carri, Viali, Dainelli; Ujfalusi (Fantini 60), Maresca, Piangerelli, Obodo, Chiellini; Miccoli, Riganò (Nakata 68)

Ref: Rodomonti

Missed pen: Pirlo 16 (M)

Milan consider Bonera option
9.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino may not be the only Parma player set for a move to Milan, as Daniele Bonera could join him.

It’s understood that the Stadio Tardini duo are expected to be targeted at the end of the season.

Whispers in the peninsula claim that initial negotiations have already taken place.

Milan’s Adriano Galliani and Ariedo Braida are believed to have met Arrigo Sacchi and Luca Baraldi last week after the game between the two sides.

Bonera, now a regular Italian international, is liked as he can play as both a right-back and a central defender.

Although the Rossoneri have one of the strongest defences around, the likes of Paolo Maldini, Marcos Cafu and Jaap Stam may not have too much time left in their careers.

Bonera was heavily associated with a move to Juventus before the start of this season but no switch took place.

Meanwhile, the Italian champions have also opened talks with Lecce over a possible swoop for Marco Cassetti.

The defender, 27, is set to join in the summer with Milan handing over Marco Donadel as part of the deal.

The central midfielder, captain of Claudio Gentile’s Under-21 side, is currently on loan at Sampdoria.

Dida wins Milan praise
8.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani believes that goalkeeper Dida is undoubtedly one of the best in the world.

"I no longer need to keep referring to Dida. He is an extraordinary champion and a key element in our success," stated the official.

"We have great players in attack, in midfield and in defence, but we also have a fantastic goalkeeper."

The Rossoneri chief praised the Brazilian shot-stopper after another excellent performance last night.

The South American, who has been in good form lately, was one of the reasons why his side collected a 0-0 draw at Celtic.

The 31-year-old has been with the club since 2000 but it took him some time to prove his worth.

He initially struggled to settle and even returned to former club Corinthians on loan for a season.

However, he was recalled by the reigning Scudetto champions and has impressed immensely ever since.

He’s been so good that Italian international Christian Abbiati has spent the last two seasons on the bench.

Celtic 0:0 AC Milan - match report
7.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Serginho rattled the crossbar and had a penalty shout rejected at Celtic Park, but Barca's defeat ensured Milan top Group F. The result - and Shakhtar Donetsk's shock win over the Spaniards - puts the Glasgow club out of Europe altogether.

Milan and Barcelona were already sure of their place in the next round going into this game, though leadership of Group F was still up for grabs. Celtic needed a better result than Shakhtar Donetsk to be certain of the UEFA Cup qualifying spot, but nonetheless the Rossoneri rested Hernan Crespo, Gennaro Gattuso, Marcos Cafu, Clarence Seedorf and Kaka.

As expected, the Scots had a strong start and 18-year-old Aidan McGeady fired just over the bar, but Magnus Hedman made the first save of the night after 11 minutes. Andriy Shevchenko sprinted down the left flank and Bobo Balde's interception nearly caught his goalkeeper by surprise for an own goal.

A splendid team move from Manuel Rui Costa found Serginho, but his low cross just missed the foot of Shevchenko from seven yards. Soon after Serginho again ran down the left and this time he went for goal himself, the rising drive rattling the underside of the crossbar.

Another fine passing move was cut down by Varga's key tackle on Shevchenko as Milan were now taking control of the game. Serginho fell under a challenge from Jackie McNamara, but the referee waved away penalty appeals. Replays show there was contact with the Brazilian's ankle, but the Greek official awarded a free kick for Celtic.

The Scots had their first shot on goal after 43 minutes and it took an incredible reaction save from Dida to keep the scorelines level. John Hartson's spectacular volley was palmed round the post at point-blank range.

Dida was again decisive a few moments later on a deflected effort from Chris Sutton, while Massimo Ambrosini charged down Varga's follow-up. The Brazilian fell heavily on to his hip during this move, but was able to carry on after treatment.

As the second half kicked off, Sutton's first touch let him down after a Paolo Maldini error. At the other end, Neil Lennon was lucky to avoid a second yellow card when he hacked down Shevchenko from behind.

Vikash Dhorasoo was perhaps Milan's best player on the night and his strong run set up Shevchenko only for Balde to steal away the ball at the last moment.

Dida comfortably smothered Sutton's shot, while Hernan Crespo allowed Shevchenko to rest for the final half-hour, while Celtic went for it with Henri Camara and Juninho.

Hedman had to be alert on teammate McNamara's wayward defensive header, then at the other end the defender's angled drive was fingertipped round the post by Dida.

Gennaro Gattuso warmed up, but the former Glasgow Rangers midfielder was not given the opportunity to face his former arch rivals, as Kaka was the final substitute five minutes from time.

Both sides had chances with Clarence Seedorf and Hartson, while Serginho's header looped inches over the bar from a corner kick.

Celtic: Hedman; McNamara, Varga, Balde, Valgaren (Camara 66); Petrov (Juninho 76), Thompson, Lennon; McGeady; Hartson, Sutton

Milan: Dida; Coloccini, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Brocchi, Ambrosini, Dhorasoo (Kaka 85); Rui Costa (Seedorf 79), Serginho; Shevchenko (Crespo 63)

Ref: Vassaras (Gre)

Milan eye top spot
6.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has demanded that his side win Group F by collecting a result at Celtic.

The Rossoneri are already through to the last 16 of the Champions’ League but the tactician wants to stay ahead of Barcelona.

"This is a very important away game for us," said the tactician. "We need to win the group, especially as it will give us a psychological advantage over Barcelona."

The Italian giants have a two-point lead over the Nou Camp outfit with just one group game remaining.

"My team? I could make changes to the starting XI but not necessarily in attack," added the Coach. "Whoever plays will certainly have the ability to do well.

"Celtic will make it very tough for us and with the support of their fans, I expect a physical clash."

Vice-president Adriano Galliani is also keen for his club to put in a good display in Glasgow.

"We are calm going into the game as we have no fears of being eliminated," he stated. "But this is an important test against a noble club.

"Winning the group has its advantages in the knock-out stages so we mustn’t lose on Tuesday night."

Meanwhile, Ancelotti was asked to comment on the Scudetto race between Milan and his former club Juventus.

"It is mainly a psychological battle and it will last a long time," he continued. "It is tough to say who is in better shape right now.

"This midweek European trip will do us well though as it will give us a little break from Serie A."

2004 over for Tomasson?
5.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

There are reports that Milan striker Jon Dahl Tomasson will be out of action until the New Year with a back strain.

The Dane fell heavily when Parma goalkeeper Sebastien Frey clattered into him during the closing stages of yesterday’s 2-1 victory at the Stadio Tardini.

Although he carried on until the final whistle and struck the upright with a late effort, Tomasson is still feeling discomfort and will undergo tests today.

The ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ claims the former Premiership and Feyenoord forward will be out until the New Year with this back strain, making it even more likely the club will go on the transfer market in January.

Pippo Inzaghi is out until February following ankle surgery, while Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko have battled injuries this season.

Tomasson has definitely been left out of Tuesday’s trip to Glasgow, where a win against Celtic will secure first place in their Champions’ League group.

Ancelotti: Parma is a turning point
5.12 || scharatz

Source: Football Italia


Carlo Ancelotti and his Milan stars claim their comeback at the Tardini can prove a pivotal point in the Scudetto race.

“I think these three points are worth their weight in gold when it comes to the title challenge,” said the Coach. “They are precious, even if not entirely deserved by the performance.”

The Rossoneri had dominated play only to go 1-0 down to Parma, but a late surge saw the visitors turn it all around for a 2-1 victory.

“We had started out well and then had a few problems. Their defence held out and Alberto Gilardino put them ahead, but at that stage we relied more on determination than quality.”

The return of the two-striker system brought up problems for the reigning Serie A Champions and Ancelotti realises this was a lucky escape.

“We tried to put everything through the centre and really should have played more out wide on the flanks. We didn’t use all our options.”

Andrea Pirlo scored the last-minute winner and also praised Milan’s commitment in those closing stages.

“We created plenty of chances in the first half as well,” said the midfielder, “but were unable to find the net. I’d say our overall performance deserved the victory, especially as Parma were defending in ten men. We wanted this win at all costs and finally managed to achieve it.”

The mood at the Tardini was sombre after losing in the last minute for the second week running.

"This result is a real blow," said Coach Silvio Baldini, "but there's no use crying over it. We made Milan's play sterile and there were a few times when it could have gone our way, but we have to keep playing like this."

Parma 1:2 AC Milan - report
4.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Gilardino 68 (P), Kaka 82 (M), Pirlo 89 (M)

Andrea Pirlo completed a spectacular comeback as Milan scored twice in the last eight minutes to conquer the Stadio Tardini.

Andriy Shevchenko returned to partner on-form ex-Parma hero Hernan Crespo. The Argentine is still the Gialloblu's all-time top scorer in Serie A.

The Stadio Tardini outfit was forced to do without a host of stars including Marco Marchionni, Domenico Morfeo and the suspended Cesare Bovo.

There was a great chance for the visitors after just 90 seconds, as Shevchenko and Crespo combined to set Kaka running into the box, but the Daniele Bonera cut him off.

Kaka had another opportunity set up by the Ukrainian soon after and Sebastien Frey needed a spectacular scissor-kick clearance on Fabio Simplicio's over-enthusiastic back-pass.

Shevchenko has never scored at the Tardini, but he really couldn't have gone any closer than after 12 minutes. His first touch to bring down Clarence Seedorf's cross-field pass was exquisite and a fierce left-foot half-volley thumped the upright.

The Rossoneri were dominating and Seedorf did hit the back of the net, but play had already been stopped for a debatable Crespo push on Bonera.

Seedorf went close soon after when he rushed through the centre, but Frey excelled himself with a fantastic one-handed save and then Kaka blasted his follow-up wide.

Parma's first shot on goal came after 35 minutes when Andrea Pisanu drilled inches wide from around 25 metres.

The second half started on a similar vein, with Frey getting down well to block Gennaro Gattuso's strike, but for the most part Parma battened down the hatches and held on under waves of pressure.

There was more bad news for the Gialloblu when Damiano Ferronetti and Alessandro Rosina limped off in favour of Alessandro Potenza and Ruopolo. Milan also made a change, resting Crespo after he was the only fit striker available for the last three games.

However, despite the pressure, it was Parma who took the lead with their first shot on the frame of goal. Mark Bresciano's free kick from the right reached Milan transfer target Alberto Gilardino and his glancing header left Dida standing. That was the first goal Milan had conceded on their travels since September's trip to Lazio.

Kaka blasted well wide and Carlo Ancelotti threw on Serginho and Vikash Dhorasoo in a bid to turn the game around in these final 20 minutes.

The Rossoneri were pouring forward and that left room for the counter-attack, though Ruopolo got past Paolo Maldini only to waste the final pass towards Bresciano.

Andrea Pirlo curled a free kick just over the crossbar and Kaka drilled a rising strike wide. It was turning into a siege and with eight minutes left on the clock the equaliser arrived from a set-piece. A Dhorasoo corner kick was touched on by Tomasson and Kaka toe-poked in at the back post.

Frey rushed off his line to clear off Tomasson's head, but at the same time clattered into the Dane's back for a painful knock. Kaka wasted a counter-attack by not releasing the ball for Serginho in time, yet Parma could have grabbed a late winner when Bresciano's shot was deflected off Maldini and Dida readjusted his position to palm it out of the bottom corner.

From the resulting set-piece Fabio Simplicio's powerful strike came off Alessandro Nesta and almost took Dida by surprise again.

Parma gave away the ball in midfield and Paolo Cannavaro needed a brave header to clear from Tomasson. From the corner kick Tomasson's header was well parried by Frey, but the ball stayed in the area and Andrea Pirlo slammed in a fierce drive to give Milan the lead in the final minute.

It was a familiar scenario for Silvio Baldini's men, who lost 1-0 to Sampdoria last week deep into stoppages.

It still wasn't over, as Bresciano slipped in the area for Parma, then at the other end Tomasson slammed his effort on to the woodwork with Frey beaten. There were five minutes of injury time and Gilardino turned Nesta only to fire off target as Milan held their collective breath during this late scare.

Parma: Frey; Ferronetti (Potenza 61), Bonera, Cannavaro, Contini; Pisanu (Cardone 82), Simplicio, Budel, Rosina (Ruopolo 66); Bresciano, Gilardino

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Pancaro; Gattuso (Dhorasoo 69), Pirlo, Seedorf (Serginho 71), Kakà; Shevchenko, Crespo (Tomasson 66)

Ref: Pieri

Ancelotti: "Never again, Juve"
4.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has added spice to the Scudetto chase by admitting he’d never return to Juventus, while preparing to face another old club, Parma.

“Of course it’s a shame I left Turin without winning any trophies, but there is absolutely no chance of a comeback. You should never return to the scene of a crime,” he joked.

Ancelotti was dubbed a ‘loser’ after twice finishing runner-up to the Scudetto with the Bianconeri, but in the last two years at Milan he has won the Champions’ League, Serie A title and Coppa Italia. His next challenge is to close the four-point gap to the leaders and to do that he must beat another of his former teams – Parma.

“We will try to play good football and give ourselves a sense of consistency after this fine run of results,” he said ahead of today’s trip to the Tardini.

“The whole squad is on good form, both physically and psychologically, and that will allow us to be ready for the upcoming top of the table clash with Juventus.”

The Rossoneri are boosted by the return of Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson, while former Parma hero Hernan Crespo is unstoppable at the moment with four goals in three games.

“If Sheva wins the European Player of the Year award, then it will be for the consistency with which he found the net throughout 2004. He has always done well with both Milan and the Ukraine national side, excelling in every competition.”

There are reports that Alberto Gilardino will be swapping his Parma shirt for a Milan one permanently in January and Ancelotti again praised the Italian international.

“Gilardino is the complete striker who is very capable in the box and can also hold up the ball for his teammates. He is an old-fashioned hit-man.”

However, the San Siro boss is not looking at today’s game as a turning point in the Serie A Championship.

“I don’t think the title race is over yet,” he assured. “I believe the real battle for both the Scudetto and Champions’ League begins in March. Fabio Capello and his players are accustomed to working under pressure and I doubt they’ll slip up before then.”

Baldini: "We can beat Milan"
4.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Stadio Tardini will stage a top to tail battle and Parma boss Silvio Baldini insists they can defeat the reigning Champions.

“Our chances of beating the Rossoneri are slim, let us say around 10 per cent, but that is still a possibility,” said the tactician. “If we don’t believe in ourselves, then that slight chance will be wasted.”

Milan’s record in this stadium is not good, but this year Parma have struggled considerably with a young squad and are currently fighting relegation.

“Experience tells me that at times the most obvious predictions can be overturned,” added Baldini. “If that weren’t the case, then stepping on to the field would be pointless.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have already been shocked by some small clubs, beaten on home turf by new boys Messina and held to a draw by Brescia.

“This is like a university exam for us. We mustn’t worry about the result, instead channelling all our energy into being prepared for anything they throw at us.”

Parma have been able to rest this week in the UEFA Cup, so their players should be fresh and ready for this big match.

“Just being able to face a team of superstars like Milan is a lucky thing for any Coach,” continued the ex-Empoli man, “so I am certainly not afraid of the challenge. The bigger the test, the greater the honour and if we happen to get a positive result then it would boost our confidence for the whole campaign.”

Lippi: "Sheva has my vote"
2.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Marcello Lippi reveals he has given his FIFA World Player of the Year vote to Andriy Shevchenko and reassures Antonio Cassano.

“The extraordinary consistency with which Shevchenko finds the net suggests he deserves to win it,” explained the Italy boss. “I have already voted in his favour. The only one who might be able to snatch it away is Deco because of the number of trophies he won in 2004.”

The Milan hitman is the hot favourite to take both the Balon d’Or and the FIFA Award this month and can now count on the support of Italy’s international Coach.

In an interview with RAI DUE programme ‘10 minuti’ Lippi also commented on the future of controversial figure Antonio Cassano.

“Cassano is a great champion who above all needs to find his consistency at club level. Once that is sorted out and he has relaxed into the role, he can be considered for the Azzurri.”

The Roma star could be called up for February’s international friendly in preparation for the World Cup qualifier in Scotland. His row with Gigi Del Neri saw him sidelined from both teams, but he made an impressive return to form with four assists in their 4-0 drubbing of Siena last week.

The lack of big star names in the 1-0 friendly win over Finland saw Messina’s Stadio San Filippo remain half-empty, but Lippi insists there is no lack of affection for the Azzurri.

“I want to see an Italy squad that is determined and brimming with enthusiasm. Despite what some may say, I have learned from my own experience in this job that players are passionate about representing their country and are only too happy to engage in international duty.”

Parma vs. AC Milan - match preview
2.12 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

A trip to the Stadio Tardini would have worried Milan in the past but they’ll be confident of winning in Week 14. Parma, with all of their financial problems, are no longer the force they were in the Italian game, while the champions are back on track after a difficult start to the new campaign.

The Rossoneri are now just four points behind leaders Juventus after a 1-0 win at Chievo last week. Boss Carlo Ancelotti fielded Massimo Ambrosini and Vikash Dhorasoo who both impressed which may see at least one of them retain their starting shirt. Hernan Crespo will definitely start against his former club after four goals in his last three games, probably alongside Andriy Shevchenko who returns from injury.

Parma are in real trouble. Although last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Sampdoria was their first in five games, the club remain in relegation trouble after picking up just 12 points in 13 games so far. To make matters worse, one of their best defenders in the form of Cesare Bovo is suspended after his dismissal in Week 13.

One Parma player who will be particularly looking to impress is star striker Alberto Gilardino. The Italian striker has been linked with a move to Milan, possibly in January, and he’ll be keen to impress his prospective new employers.

Parma (probable): Frey; Ferronetti, Bonera, Potenza, Contini; Marchionni, Simplicio, Grella, Bresciano; Morfeo; Gilardino

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf; Kakà; Crespo, Shevchenko





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