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The Archive

December 2006

AC Milan have Belletti option
30.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may opt to swoop for Barcelona full-back Juliano Belletti if they can’t agree terms with Lazio for Massimo Oddo.

While it has been reported that the Biancocelesti are ready to accept a January offer for the want-away Azzurri defender, there are still concerns that Lazio President Claudio Lotito may drive a hard bargain for his prized asset.

According to sources in Spain, Milan have indicated that they would be ready to offer Barcelona around £3.4m for the 30-year-old Brazilian.

Belletti’s brother, who also acts as his agent, has indicated that the ex-Villarreal man would be delighted to secure a move to the San Siro.

Belletti scored the winning goal in last season’s Champions League Final, but has struggled to get on the team sheet this term following the arrival of Gianluca Zambrotta.

Ramos rejects Rossoneri
30.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has rejected a move to Milan, according to the Italian Press.

The 20-year-old stopper, who joined Los Meringues from Sevilla last year, is happy to stay in La Liga and is negotiating an improved contract with President Roman Calderon.

The Rossoneri will have to look elsewhere now. While the signing Massimo Oddo remains as complicated as ever, Vice-President Adriano Galliani is tempted by Juliano Belletti.

The Brazilian full-back would be happy to move to San Siro and Barcelona would be keen to sell him for about £3m. Milan may then offer him a three-year deal.

Belletti would then be an easy option considering the problems in all the other negotiations.

Even Argentinean left-back Leandro Grimi, who was supposed to join Milan during the transfer window, is having troubles with his passport and may only be available from June.

AC Milan close in on Cassano - reports
28.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Antonio Cassano is close to joining Milan on a loan deal in January, according to the latest reports in Spain.

The Bari-born striker is near to ending his unfortunate adventure with the Galacticos and Rossoneri officials are allegedly in Madrid to finalise the details of the deal which would bring the former Azzurri man to the San Siro.

The Spanish giants do not intend to accept the player’s indiscipline any longer and are willing to accept less than the £3.5m invested in January to bring the striker to the Santiago Bernabeu.

If the two clubs should reach an agreement, Cassano might move immediately to Milan on a loan deal until the end of the season, with an option to buy him for £3.2m at the end of the term.

The only obstacle which might now prevent the transfer could be represented by Real Madrid’s repeated attempts to bring Kaka to Spain. If the Merengues were to ask for an option on the Brazilian player to be included in the agreement the negotiation would be interrupted.

In the meantime, Leandro Grimi is expected to land in Milan on Thursday, where he will sign a five-year contract.

The 21-year-old Argentine, who arrives with the added bonus of an EU passport, grew up in the Huracan youth team before moving to Racing Avellaneda this year, when he was voted as the best young player in the Apertura tournament.

“Joining an important club like Milan is a dream come true, I am very happy,” stated Grimi before leaving Argentina.

Gattuso promises AC Milan comeback
28.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso does not believe Milan are in crisis. “I can guarantee we are coming back,” he declared.

The Rossoneri lie in 12th place on the table with 20 points after 18 matches, following a slow start in the season, but ended the year with two convincing victories which allowed them to move closer to the Champions League spots.

“We have never really been in crisis,” said Gattuso on Wednesday.

“The truth is that we went through a very difficult period, having to start with an eight-point penalisation and a team that could not complete the summer preparation,” added the fiery world champion.

“Furthermore, 15 players have suffered injuries and this made things even harder for us. This is the truth, not only are we not in crisis, but we are coming back, that is guaranteed,” explained the midfielder, who then moved on to comment on the form of city rivals Inter, who lead the table and are breaking all previous Serie A records.

“If they don’t win the Scudetto this year I doubt they will ever win it again,” said the Rossonero, smiling.

“Roberto Mancini’s squad is a great one, but please don’t let me repeat that, it causes me an allergy!,” concluded Gattuso.

Milan will leave for a mini-training camp in Malta on January 2 and will return to the peninsula for the Trofeo Berlusconi, which is scheduled at the San Siro on January 6 against Juventus.

Real Madrid ready to sell Cassano
28.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid have valued Antonio Cassano at £2.8m, less than the £3.5m spent in January to bring the striker to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The ex-Roma man seems close to definitely ending his adventure with the Merengues, despite the player’s agent Giuseppe Bozzo reiterating that his client was eager to remain in Spain.

Real Madrid’s former President Florentino Perez had signed Cassano in January, when the Bari-born player moved from Roma in a £3.5m deal, but the Spanish giants may now consider the idea of accepting a £2.8m offer, according to the newspaper Marca.

The club is in fact ready to let the player leave following his latest exclusion from the team, after he was caught on camera imitating Coach Fabio Capello.

“Cassano is a good lad, but he sometimes acts without thinking,” said sporting director Predrag Mijatovic to the Periódico de Catalunya.

“We only want players on our side who are committed to this outfit. If someone does not understand this, we will have to look for another club that can offer more than Real Madrid,” added the former Fiorentina striker.

“We make the contracts and we respect them, and we ask our players to give their all on the pitch,” concluded Mijatovic.

The only Italian side who has shown an interest in Cassano’s services is Milan, although the Rossoneri do not seem keen on confirming the player’s £2.8m per-season deal. The striker, however, may agree to a lower wage in order to leave Spain, as there do not seem to be any margins to repair the rift with the club’s management.

AC Milan eye Grimi
27.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy suggest Milan have targeted Racing Avellaneda’s Leandro Grimi and could sign him in January.

While the Rossoneri’s main target remains Lazio defender Massimo Oddo, the Via Turati outfit is close to finalising a deal to bring the 21-year-old Argentine, who would arrive with the added bonus of an EU passport, to the San Siro.

Milan desperately needs to strengthen their defensive unit, which has suffered huge problems so far – mainly because of the injuries that have hit several key players.

The Rossoneri seem therefore set on introducing young blood in a team which has a very high average age and Grimi could represent an excellent start in this sense.

Milan are allegedly trying to sign the defender in the next few days in order for him to join the squad, which is due to leave for a mini-training camp in Malta on January 2.

There do not seem to be any obstacles which might cause the negotiation to fail, although the move must be seen as an investment for the future, considering the player’s young age and given the fact that he only made his debut on the first team only in August and will definitely need some time to settle in.

AC Milan close to Oddo
27.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan could sign Lazio defender Massimo Oddo before the end of the season, according to the latest rumours in Italy.

The world champion remains the number one target for the Rossoneri outfit, who has been paired with the Biancoceleste since the summer, when Lazio chief Claudio Lotito scared off Milan with his £8m valuation of the player.

The Via Turati club has now allegedly offered £5.3m to bring the Azzurri man to the San Siro, plus Pasquale Foggia, who joined Lazio on loan in August, and the deal could be finalised when the winter market opens on January 4.

“The player is not on sale, but we do not put any chains on our men. If we receive an interesting offer, as a world champion deserves, then we might consider the idea,” was Lotito’s comment.

The Biancocelesti chief had recently set an astonishing £14m price tag on Oddo’s head, but he could now accept £7m, along with a player.

Lotito is reportedly also interested in including one of Simone Inzaghi and Matteo Sereni in the deal, as neither the striker nor the goalkeeper seem to be part of Coach Delio Rossi’s plans.

Milan will now wait for an answer from the Roman club, which is expected in the next few days.

Udinese 0:3 AC Milan - post-match comments
24.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Giovanni Galeone: “The scoreline was too harsh and we were tired after playing so much recently. I’m not afraid we’re going to lose Vincenzo Iaquinta in January as I don’t believe he has asked to leave. We want to get fourth place, so to sell a player of his quality would be like giving up. In fact, if anything I expect some January reinforcements.”

Carlo Ancelotti: “We are improving and can be more relaxed over the Christmas break with these two consecutive victories behind us. It was a tough time, so everyone put in the extra effort to end the year on a high. We hope that has been enough to put an end to the difficult period. We limited Udinese and took advantage of the counter-attack. As for the penalty, there was a clear foul on Kaka.”

Udinese 0:3 AC Milan - match report
23.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka pen 28 (M), Gilardino 35 (M), Oliveira 76 (M)

Milan have put their crisis behind them with a second consecutive 3-0 victory and finally have their strikers firing on all cylinders.

The Rossoneri have always had a good record at the Stadio Friuli, winning 10, drawing 16 and losing just five in Serie A, so they hoped to maintain the upturn in fortunes represented by the 3-0 win over Catania midweek and Alberto Gilardino's three goals in two games. Udinese were also confident after two straight victories. Daniele Bonera and Raffaele De Martino were suspended.

Roman Eremenko was booked for a hideously late tackle on Kaka, while Zeljko Kalac rather shakily tipped an Antonio Di Natale cross-shot out for a corner.

The Australian goalkeeper was more secure when beating away Di Natale's missile, while Vincenzo Iaquinta slipped and failed to tap in Di Natale's assist from six yards.

There was a fine team move with Kaka and Andrea Pirlo combining, but just as he prepared to shoot from eight yards, Giampiero Pinzi's tackle was considered worthy of a penalty. Pinzi was only booked, but Kaka got back up to roll the precise penalty into the bottom corner.

Gilardino's drought is well and truly over, as he made it 2-0 soon after. The ex-Parma striker proved his poacher's instinct, acrobatically flicking in Marek Jankulovski's deflected cross with the outside of his foot.

Marcos Cafu struck the side-netting on the counter-attack and Gilardino went close.

Milan were under increasing pressure in the second half, as Kalac beat away chances by Pinzi, Di Natale, Chris Obodo's follow-up header and Paulo Barreto.

Kakha Kaladze picked up an injury, so Pirlo had to adapt to an unusual central defensive role. Nonetheless, Milan made it 3-0 with Ricardo Oliveira's first Serie A goal since Week 1, a precise angled drive across the face of goal into the far corner.

Udinese: De Sanctis; Zenoni, Coda, Zapata, Dossena; Eremenko (Siqueira 46), Obodo, Pinzi; Barreto (Virtanen 90), Iaquinta, Di Natale

Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Simic, Kaladze (Ricardo Oliveira 69), Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Brocchi, Seedorf (Antonelli 85), Kaka (Gourcuff 52); Gilardino

Ref: Rizzoli

Galeone respects Rossoneri
23.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may be a staggering 28 points off the leaders, but Udinese boss Giovanni Galeone warns they’re second only to Inter.

“The only team stronger than them this season are Inter. Their strikers have rediscovered their form, as Alberto Gilardino and Kaka can score at any moment.”

The Rossoneri haven’t lost at the Stadio Friuli since 2002-03, notching up two draws and last season’s crushing 4-0 victory.

Following their comfortable 3-0 win over Catania and a six-match unbeaten run, Galeone warns they are once again a major threat.

“We also have to watch out for Andrea Pirlo’s set-pieces. Despite their position in the table, for me Milan remain the strongest side in Serie A apart from Inter. Although Roma are in better shape at the moment, they’re certainly not a better team, so even a draw would be an important result for us today.”

Udinese will be without the suspended Sulley Ali Muntari and Raffaele De Martino, whose goal contributed to the 2-1 win away to Atalanta on Wednesday evening.

“We played on a very bad pitch and many of our men haven’t quite recovered physically yet. I hope they’ll feel better by the time kick-off arrives,” added the veteran.

It will be an intriguing tie for Vincenzo Iaquinta and Antonio Di Natale, both heavily linked with January moves to San Siro.

“I hope that the transfer talk further stimulates them to impress,” added Galeone. “The whole team must play its part, though. We’ll play the attacking system we’ve always adopted, as to go defensive against Milan would be suicide.”

The tactician confirmed the 4-3-3 formation with Roman Eremenko in midfield and Cristian Zapata returning at the back.

Ancelotti on the offensive
23.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan will field an attacking line up as they search for the three points at Udinese, Coach Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed.

The Rossoneri got back to winning ways against Catania in midweek and Ancelotti is eager for his side to start picking up results consistently.

“We’ll play with three attackers,” the tactician noted on Friday afternoon. “It is possible that I’ll field the same sort of system used against Catania.”

It’s expected that Ancelotti will field Kaka behind a re-born Alberto Gilardino and Pippo Inzaghi at the Stadio Friuli.

Milan have had a poor start to the campaign, but still find themselves just six points shy of the last remaining Champions League place.

“This is the last game of the year, a year which has been very difficult in the second part of it,” continued the former midfielder.

“We want to end 2006 in the best possible manner, also because we want to prove that we are still a strong side despite the injury problems we are dealing with.”

However, Ancelotti’s plans have been further complicated after Marco Borriello was suspended as a precautionary measure after he failed a drugs test.

“We are evaluating the situation in order to try and understand the situation,” noted Carletto after the striker tested positive following the defeat to Roma on November 11.

“As a club we are sure that the substance found in the sample is not used by us at all. This isn’t down to the club.

“We are a serious organisation, especially when it comes to things like this, and we monitor what happens to our players carefully.”

So what happened? “He’s been having some dental work recently, but I don’t think that has got anything to do with it.

“We feel sorry for the player who has now been suspended and we will look for an explanation. This isn’t an easy time for Borriello, but we are here for him.”

AC Milan's Iaquinta move in doubt
23.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s proposed January bid for Vincenzo Iaquinta has hit the rocks after Marco Borriello tested positive for a banned substance.

The Rossoneri were hoping to tempt Udinese into selling their star striker by offering cash and Borriello in exchange.

However, the former Under-21 international has been suspended as a precautionary measure and could face a lengthy ban if his B test also comes back as positive.

The San Siro giants are desperately looking for a new striker seeing the performances of their misfiring attackers so far this term

Although Alberto Gilardino seems to have finally awoken, Pippo Inzaghi and summer signing Ricardo Oliveira continue to struggle in front of goal.

As a result, Milan may now look elsewhere and they are being strongly linked with Fabio Quagliarella.

The Sampdoria ace has been hot so far this term and he’s netted some real gems amongst his nine Serie A strikes in 2006-07.

The 23-year-old is co-owned by Udinese and may find it tough for a regular shirt at Doria given the competition posed by Francesco Flachi, Emiliano Bonazzoli and Fabio Bazzani.

Quagliarella, formerly of Ascoli and Torino, would also come with the added bonus of being available to play in the Champions League.

Milan are through to the last 16 of the competition and will face Scottish giants Celtic when the tournament resumes in the New Year.

Borriello fails doping test
22.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have suffered a severe blow as striker Marco Borriello has tested positive for corticosteroids.

The player reported for a routine doping test after Week 11’s match with Roma at the San Siro, which ended with a 2-1 defeat for the Rossoneri, and the Roman lab which analyzed the sample confirmed on Thursday that he was found positive for two different corticosteroids.

His B sample is now expected to be analyzed, in order to understand if the result will be confirmed.

The incriminating substances are commonly used as antibiotics in treating inflammatory illnesses such as asthma and can be either ingested or injected.

Borriello has scored three goals so far this season, hitting a brace in the Coppa Italia match with Brescia and one goal in the Serie A tie with Cagliari on December 3.

AC Milan target Hildebrand
21.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have eyed Stuttgart goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand as a possible replacement for Nelson Dida.

The Rossoneri are searching for a new man between the posts, as the injured Brazilian has yet to renew his contract, which currently expires next June.

The Via Turati outfit have been recently paired with Livorno man Marco Amelia and River Plate goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo, but the German is now the latest custodian to be linked with the Italian giants.

Hildebrand’s deal with the Bundesliga side also expires in June and he has started negotiations with the club to renew the agreement, although he does not seem keen on remaining in Stuttgart.

“Timo hasn’t decided if he will accept our offer or not. We will respect his decision and we will start making plans for the future,” said the club’s sporting director Horst Heldt.

“We do not intend to schedule any other meetings and we will immediately start looking for other candidates for that role,” he added.

The 27-year-old Hildebrand landed in Stuttgart 12 years ago, making his debut in the Bundesliga in 1999 and playing over 200 league matches since then.

He achieved a record of 855 goalless minutes with his club between 2003 and 2004 and was also part of the squad who appeared in the World Cup, although he was forced to leave the spot to Jens Lehmann and Oliver Kahn

The goalkeeper is also a reported target for Hamburg, and Milan may therefore decide to make a move as early as January in order to field him in the Champions League, if Dida were not to recover from his knee injury quickly.

Ancelotti eyes fourth spot
21.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Coach Carlo Ancelotti was pleased after Milan’s win over Catania on Wednesday, although he is aware that there is still much to be improved.

The Rossoneri returned to winning ways thanks to brace by Kaka and Alberto Gilardino’s third goal in two matches and now eye the fourth spot in the table, only six points away.

“After a good week’s work we are improving. Catania are an attacking team but we managed to control everything pretty well,” explained Ancelotti after the match at the San Siro.

“We did have a few problems, but we are slowly doing better, even if we still have to improve. In this period we have suffered and it was important to cut the distance from the fourth place.

“We are closing in on the good places with patience,” added the Rossonero, who was impressed by Kaka’s performance.

“He isn’t completely fit because he still has a problem with his foot, but he played well. He is an extraordinary player and determined the outcome of the game.

“I am also glad that Gennaro Gattuso was back, that’s important because he plays with heart and spirit and his determination is contagious, but I must say that all of my players did well tonight.”

Vice-President Adriano Galliani was also satisfied after the win and confirmed that there is no chance that Milan will let Kaka leave the San Siro.

“I would cut off my hand before allowing Kaka to leave Milan,’ said the chief executive, answering to the reiterated rumours suggesting the Brazilian might join Real Madrid at the end of the season.

“Kaka doesn’t need to answer any questions about his future, I will do so. Ricky signed a five-year contract with Milan and he is not leaving for any reason.

“In any case, he is happy to be a Rossonero and we will continue to build our team around him. I believe the fans can live a serene Christmas as to this issue,” added the former Lega Calcio chief.

“In this moment, injuries are our real problem. Even today Kaka was in doubt until the last minute and there are still seven out. However, the men know that the clock is ticking and that we can’t afford to drop any more points.

“Luckily, the teams ahead of us on the table have slowed down. We will do well in Udine, we want the Champions League,” concluded Galliani.

AC Milan 3:0 Catania - post-match comments
21.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti: “It was an important game and we’ve been helped by other results, as we’re now just six points away from the Champions League. We have recovered and are closing in on the good places with patience. The team has to improve and is doing so. Alberto Gilardino rediscovered his form and held up the ball very well for Kaka.”

Pasquale Marino: “The result is very harsh, although Milan deserved to win because they created more chances. We were hit hard by such an early goal that forced a change of tactics. If Gilardino was offside, then it was a matter of inches and therefore very hard to spot.”

AC Milan 3:0 Catania - match report
20.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka 4, 88 (M), Gilardino 82 (M)

Alberto Gilardino has scored three goals in two games and Kaka bagged a brace to finally put Milan back on track.

The Rossoneri were still stuttering with one win in their last eight, a long way from the position they want - a top four place currently held by new boys Catania. Nelson Dida, Serginho, Giuseppe Favalli, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini remained sidelined.

Milan broke through after four minutes - their first goal at San Siro in all competition for over 200 minutes of football - when Alberto Gilardino with his back to goal held up the ball for the on-rushing Kaka to sidefoot home.

The Brazilian sensation was fired up for this match and set up a good chance for Gilardino soon after, then on 13 minutes he tested Armando Pantanelli's reflexes and rolled the ball just past the far post when everyone was expecting a cross.

Catania scared San Siro when Giuseppe Mascara's free kick thumped the upright with Zeljko Kalac beaten.

Kaka continued to impress, running on to Ricardo Oliveira's pass and skimming the near post, then the ex-Betis striker struck the side-netting. Catania were still in it, though, and a splendid looping Gionatha Spinesi header shaved the upright.

After the break Ricardo Oliveira's magnificent volley with the outside of his foot flashed across the face of goal, then Marek Jankulovski's shot was wide from a tricky angle.

The Sicilians were really pushing and Daniele Bonera needed a goalline clearance to deny Caserta from eight yards.

Kaka had several great scoring opportunities and his curling finish was deflected just past the upright. From the resulting corner kick, Milan doubled their lead with Gilardino's third goal in two games. Kakha Kaladze held up Gennaro Gattuso's cross for Gilardino to prod the ball over Pantanelli from six yards.

Gila was again involved in the third, redirecting Clarence Seedorf's pass into the path of Kaka for a low drive.

There are still major question marks over Kalac, though, as the goalkeeper horribly flapped at a Caserta shot and Kaladze had to rescue the clean sheet with an acrobatic goalline clearance.

Milan: Kalac; Cafu (Simic 84), Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso (Gourcuff 89), Pirlo, Brocchi; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Seedorf 62), Gilardino

Catania: Pantanelli; Silvestri, Sottil, Stovini, Lucenti; Baiocco, Edusei, Caserta; Millesi (Corona 46), Spinesi, Mascara

Ref: Dondarini

Lazio value Oddo at £14m
19.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lazio chief Claudio Lotito has told Milan they can buy Massimo Oddo – so long as they meet his astonishing £14m asking price!

The Biancocelesti captain has been paired with a move to Milan for the last two years, but no transfer fee has ever been agreed for the attacking full-back.

The Via Turati outfit are still keen on signing the world champion, given their defensive injury problems this term, and reports suggest there has been contact.

However, Lotito has now almost doubled his £8m summer valuation of the stopper, whereas Milan are only prepared to offer £4m and the co-ownership of Pasquale Foggia, who joined Lazio on loan in August.

Oddo’s contract with the Roman club expires in 2008 and renewal talks are proving to be difficult, despite the 30-year-old’s reiterated desire that he wants to remain with the Biancocelesti.

Should Milan again fail in their latest Oddo bid, the Rossoneri might make a move for Ilsinho of Sao Paulo.

However, he has yet to receive his EU passport and would therefore be unable to land at the San Siro before June.

The 21-year-old is also under contract until 2009 and his rescission clause is set at £11m, although the Brazilian club might be willing to discuss a reduction.

The Rossoneri are also reportedly interested in Juve defender Jonathan Zebina, who could leave the club after Christmas given his frosty relationship with the Bianconeri management.

Catania fear Kaka threat
19.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Catania boss Pasquale Marino has dismissed talk that Milan are in crisis and considers Kaka as their most dangerous player.

The islanders, whose match with Empoli on Sunday was postponed due to heavy rainfall, travel to the San Siro on Wednesday looking to defend their Champions League position.

“I think that motivation will be very important in midweek and Milan are in desperate need to do well in order to get back on track after a bad period,” said Marino.

“The Rossoneri will want to do well in front of their supporters and I am sure they will give their all.

“I saw the match with Fiorentina and Carlo Ancelotti’s side did not give me the impression that they are in crisis,” added the Coach.

When asked who his side would have to monitor closely, Marino had no doubts about the Milanese danger.

“Kaka is their most talented element,” he stated. “We will have to be aggressive and attack intensely in every part of the field if we want to stop him.”

Catania have not impressed so far in their away games, but the Sicilian tactician hopes that the team will show the right attitude needed for such an important game.

“I have not yet decided who will play. We have recovered a few important players, therefore we will see,” he added.

“The most important thing will be to maintain the right attitude for the entire duration of the match.”

Galliani ban reduced
19.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Italian Olympic Committee’s Court of Arbitration has reduced the Calciopoli ban inflicted on Milan official Adriano Galliani.

The Rossoneri Vice-President was handed a nine-month suspension earlier this year in the aftermath of the scandal, which would have ended on April 14, 2007.

Galliani has always pleaded his innocence and therefore lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration, the highest level in sporting justice, in an attempt to see the punishment reduced.

The former Lega Calcio chief’s ban was cut down on Monday and his suspension will now end on December 23.

The rest of the punishment was a £17,800 fine, which will be paid to the Italian Football Federation within 30 days and will be used for youth activities.

Ancelotti looks on bright side
17.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t restore Milan to winning ways, but he was happy with the performance at the Stadio Franchi.

“We played well and, due to our errors, went 2-1 down, but the team reacted well and was able to bring home a deserved point that boosts morale.”

The Rossoneri had opened the scoring after just four minutes with Alberto Gilardino, but needed the striker to complete his brace in the final minute to secure a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina.

“The lads approached the game in the right spirit. Our only mistake was the counter-attack on which Adrian Mutu scored. We are improving, though, and that is a good sign.”

Milan have won just one of their last eight Serie A games and could be left even further behind the European places at the end of this weekend.

The best news from this match was the return of Gilardino, who broke his goal drought with two strikes at the Stadio Franchi.

“It started well, then we ended up behind. Thankfully we managed to get a point out of it,” said the former Parma man.

“This shows that Milan are still alive and kicking. We really want to prove our worth and, in terms of character and determination, this is an important signal. At this moment in time, we need the little satisfactions to boost confidence.”

The next test is the midweek round against high-flying Catania, who are pushing for a place in the top four.

“We still have a lot of areas to improve in, but we hope to do well on Wednesday. There are another two games before the Christmas break, when we can rest and work hard over 10 days to hopefully return in good shape.”

Fiorentina 2:2 AC Milan - match report
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Gilardino 4, 89 (M), Mutu pen 20, 76 (F)

Alberto Gilardino and Adrian Mutu bagged a brace apiece as Milan's last-minute equaliser held Fiorentina 2-2 at the Franchi.

The Calciopoli scandal and all that followed has left these two teams battling for 15th place rather than the Scudetto. The Rossoneri were in worse shape after six points in the last seven rounds, but Alberto Gilardino was given the nod despite missing a penalty in the 0-0 draw with Torino.

Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Serginho, Dida and Giuseppe Favalli were on the injury list and Carlo Ancelotti decided to field Kaka in a more advanced role.

The Milan fans wanted a reaction and they got it. Within the opening four minutes Gilardino had turned in ex-Viola midfielder Cristian Brocchi's assist with his left foot.

Kaka skipped past Per Kroldrup, but Dario Dainelli's sliding tackle proved decisive, while Fabio Liverani drilled wide from a promising position.

Fiorentina were allowed back into the game when Saccani pointed to the spot, as Kakha Kaladze mistimed his header to clear from Luca Toni, punching the ball off his chest. Adrian Mutu stepped up to convert hard past Zeljko Kalac's right hand.

The Viola were pouring forward now in a fast-paced game, with Mutu causing particular problems for Dario Simic and Kaka testing Kroldrup in the one-on-one.

On the half-hour mark Kalac spilled a curling Mutu free kick and Simic managed to clear before Riccardo Montolivo could pounce from six yards. The Australian goalkeeper also fumbled the resulting corner kick, although his defence was able to recover.

Gennaro Gattuso broke up a promising Marco Donadel counter-attack and Kaka's shot was charged down moments later. There were no stoppages, as play barely stopped for breath.

After the break Kaka drilled well wide and Kaladze dived in to charge down Toni's shot. Toni turned Marcos Cafu for another effort deflected out and Kalac plucked last year's Capocannoniere's looping header out of the air.

A corner came out to Cafu, whose shot and Simic's follow-up were well parried by a brave Dainelli. Gilardino's header was comfortably held, but Kalac got down quickly to push away Mutu's snapshot.

Martin Jorgensen replaced the disappointing Montolivo. Simic was booked for a late tackle on Toni as he prepared to run towards the goal and Dainelli had the same fate when blocking Gilardino.

Toni's influence on the game was growing and his glancing header from a Manuel Pasqual cross skimmed the far post.

Kalac was again shaky as he only flapped at Toni's header, but made up for it with a desperate save on Jorgensen's follow-up from point-blank range.

Tomas Ujfalusi cleared a dangerous through ball off the foot of Kaka from 10 yards, but it was Fiorentina who took the lead 14 minutes from time.

It was a sweeping counter-attack sparked by Pasqual and his pass went across Toni to the totally unmarked Mutu, who controlled the ball and side-footed it comfortably past Kalac.

The Viola wanted to make the result safe and Jorgensen swung a powerful effort inches over the bar. Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Mutu, while Pippo Inzaghi took over from Brocchi in a last bid to avoid defeat, but his headr was off target.

Milan were laying siege to Frey's net and in the final minute a corner kick was touched on by Marek Jankulovski for Gilardino's flicked header from six yards.

Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Pasqual; Gobbi, Liverani, Donadel; Montolivo (Jorgensen 62); Toni, Mutu (Pazzini 78)

Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Simic, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Brocchi (Inzaghi 78), Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Gourcuff 85); Kakà; Gilardino

Ref: Saccani

Gattuso: Crisis is AC Milan's fault
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso has blamed the Milan hierarchy for their dismal season with a deficient transfer campaign.

“This is a campaign that we just have to get through,” he told ‘Studio Aperto’. “Now there’s the excuse that we keep hitting the woodwork, but this is certainly not the Milan of the last few years. We don’t have an identity.”

The Rossoneri had a great start to the year even after Andriy Shevchenko’s £31m move to Chelsea, but have struggled badly recently with six points from their last seven games.

“What’s caused it? Above all the Calciopoli penalty, the fact we rushed our pre-season preparation for the Champions League preliminary round and the World Cup too.”

The injury crisis that has struck the team contributed, but Gattuso is not searching for alibis and puts the blame squarely at the door of the club.

“We expected a few more reinforcements this summer and the team has aged a little. All these little problems don’t allow us to be as strong as we were a year ago.”

Prandelli doubts AC Milan crisis
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Fiorentina Coach Cesare Prandelli thinks reports of Milan’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. “I don’t think they are in crisis.”

The Viola host the Rossoneri at the Stadio Franchi this evening and both sides are in desperate need of a win as they struggle to fight back from their Calciopoli punishments.

“We have been working well and we are ready to face Milan,” said Prandelli. “I don’t think they are in crisis, they have had some physical problems but I am sure they remain a strong side.

“I have watched the tapes of their last matches and I am under the impression that they still are a dangerous opponent,” added the tactician, who was awarded the Golden Bench prize this week as the best Italian Coach of the last season.

“We tried different tactical systems and we are aware that we did all we could to prepare this match in the best possible way.”

Fiorentina are currently fifth from the bottom in the table, but are eager to earn precious points as the UEFA Cup spots are not that far away.

“We will need to play a very careful match, also seeing as we haven’t been very lucky lately. I saw Carlo Ancelotti on Monday and I understood that he is anxious to come here and play a good match.

“I don’t think you can face a side like Milan hoping that the game will be solved by our individual players. We will need a great performance from the entire team to block them,” concluded Prandelli.

Fiorentina squad: Blasi, Dainelli, Do Prado, Donadel, Frey, Gobbi, Jorgensen, Kroldrup, Liverani, Lupatelli, Montolivo, Mutu, Pasqual, Pazzini, Potenza, Reginaldo, Santana, Toni, Ujfalusi

Ancelotti eyes Franchi revival
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes Milan will get back on track in Florence today after several star names returned to the side.

“I have no doubts whatsoever on the line-up I’ll field at the Stadio Franchi. Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Kakha Kaladze have recovered and therefore will start,” explained the Coach.

“Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Costacurta and Giuseppe Favalli are on their way to full fitness without complications. Favalli will join the regular team again next week and all three will play again after the Christmas break.”

The Rossoneri are still without Dida, who is out for three months after damaging a tendon in his knee, Serginho, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini.

The captain is the latest addition to the injury list, suffering from a muscular problem in training and has not made the trip to Florence.

“We are playing against the worst possible opponent for us at this moment in time,” noted Ancelotti.

“Fiorentina are in good shape, enthusiastic and play well. They have strikers like Adrian Mutu who are strong in the one-on-one, while Luca Toni is powerful in the air.”

The Rossoneri need a result to stave off their crisis after picking up just six points from their last seven Serie A games and two consecutive Champions League defeats.

“We hope that we can come out of the Stadio Franchi with our heads held high. We want to get a good result, especially as we are slowly getting everyone back in the side after that incredible injury crisis.”

Milan squad: Kalac, Fiori, Facchin; Antonelli, Bonera, Cafu, Darmian, Kaladze, Jankulovski, Simic; Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Guerci, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf; Borriello, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira

Galliani calms Sheva storm
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi did not label Andriy Shevchenko as a ‘puppy’ for joining Chelsea, the club have maintained.

The former Italian Prime Minister was quoted as blasting the former Rossoneri star for quitting Italy, but the outfit have today looked to defend their patron.

“I was at the Christmas party on Wednesday evening along with 600 guests and I listened carefully to our President’s speech,” said Vice-President Adriano Galliani in a statement.

“I can therefore confirm that Berlusconi used some jokes and allusive words, but always referred to himself.

“He never used the words that were reported to describe a champion who has written important pages in the club’s history.

“The things I read in some newspapers have never been said by President Berlusconi, neither during the dinner nor after,” continued the note.

“Our President and the club wish to reiterate their affection towards Andriy Shevchenko and naturally his entire family.”

The note also stated that there are always margins of interpretation when reporting words that have not been heard directly, but the “total alteration of Silvio Berlusconi’s statement was not in any way tolerable, especially when talking about family matters.”

Ancelotti shows Celtic respect
16.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that Champions League rivals Celtic will pose them problems during the first leg in Glasgow.

The Rossoneri, who have won the competition six times, were drawn with the Scottish giants today and Ancelotti is keen to show them respect.

“Celtic are a strong side when also considering the environment we will play in. They are most dangerous when they play at home,” said Ancelotti this afternoon.

“I know we could have been handed a stronger side,” explained the tactician, referring to the fact that Milan – as group winners – could have been paired with Barcelona or Real Madrid.

“However, Celtic are an excellent team who went very close to winning their group. They defeated Manchester United at home and impressed at Old Trafford,” concluded Ancelotti.

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani refused to pass comment though given his bad memories of 2004.

“After what happened in Milan-Deportivo, I have decided to not comment on the outcome of draws anymore,” stated the former Lega Calcio chief.

Milan beat the Spaniards 4-1 at home, but amazingly lost the second leg 4-0 which shattered their Champions League dream that season.

CL 1/8 Finals Draw: AC Milan vs. Celtic Glasgow
15.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Today’s Champions League draw has been kind to Milan, but Inter and Roma will have to work hard to reach the quarter-finals.

Milan will be confident of success after being paired with Celtic, Inter face the Valencia threat, while Roma will take on the dangerous Lyon.

The Rossoneri will start the last 16 in Glasgow when they will have to be wary of the Scottish outfit’s strong home record in the competition.

However, they will be equally keen to take advantage of Celtic’s struggles on the road when they entertain them in the return.


Inter will come up against Valencia and face a return to Spain – the country where last season’s Champions League bid came to an end against Villarreal.

Five-time French champions Lyon, considered by many as potential European Cup winners, are Roma’s next opponents.

First legs will be played on February 21/22 and the second legs are scheduled for March 6/7.

Full draw: Porto v Chelsea; Celtic v Milan; PSV v Arsenal; Lille v Man Utd; Roma v Lyon; Barcelona v Liverpool; Real Madrid v Bayern Munich; Inter v Valencia.

Berlusconi blasts 'puppy' Sheva
15.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has hit out at Andriy Shevchenko for joining Chelsea. “He’s his wife’s puppy,” he stated.

The striker left the San Siro for £31m in the summer after admitting that his partner was eager to live in an English-speaking country and wanted their children to attend English schools.

“He did not behave manly,” amazingly declared the former Italian Prime Minister. “Shevchenko is his wife’s puppy.

“A real Milanista and a real man would have never behaved this way. In my home I am the one who takes decisions and rules.

“But when Sheva’s wife calls him and sends him under the bed, he obeys just like a puppy,” added the media mogul.

Shevchenko has struggled to settle in the Premiership and has been linked with an imminent return, even if he insists he’s staying in London.

After losing the former Golden Ball winner last summer, Berlusconi was eager to tie down Real Madrid target Kaka.

“I told him the Rossoneri see him as a club symbol,” he added. “I am very proud that the best player in the world belongs to Milan.”

The Via Turati outfit are having a nightmare campaign, not helped by the fact that eternal rivals Inter are at the top of the standings.

“Inter are the current leaders and maybe this year they will finally be able to win after 12 years of defeats,” said the smiling Rossoneri chief.

AC Milan eye new number Juan
15.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

River Plate goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo is the latest custodian to be linked with Italian giants Milan.

The injured Nelson Dida has yet to extend his deal with the Rossoneri, which expires in June 2007, and the Via Turati outfit are looking for a possible replacement.

Carrizo, who is famous for his penalty stops, impressed Milan transfer guru Ariedo Braida during his recent tour of South America and is currently valued at £2.8m.

The 22-year-old would therefore be much more economical to sign compared to Livorno man Marco Amelia, as the Tuscan club are looking for at least £7m for the World Cup winner.

Dida, who damaged his knee in the Champions League tie with AEK Athens last month, may still require surgery.

Carrizo could join the San Siro boys as early as January if Dida does go under the knife to resolve his fitness issue.

Lippi reveals AC Milan truth
13.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marcello Lippi has quashed speculation suggesting he is on the verge of replacing Carlo Ancelotti as Milan boss.

The World Cup winning Coach is reportedly one of the candidates to be Ancelotti’s successor and the latest reports claimed he might join the Rossoneri as early as January if their present crisis continues.

But the experienced tactician, who replaced Ancelotti at Juventus in 2004, has rubbished the reports.

“The truth is that these rumours are not true,” said Lippi, who left the Italian national bench after the German triumph.

“I have not changed my plans and I want to rest until next season. I am not interested in taking on a team with the season well underway,” added the Viareggino, who had already been paired with Napoli and Mexico’s national team.

“I have not received any offers from Italian clubs and I have only been contacted by foreign outfits,” he continued.

“I have read all kinds of news lately, they mentioned Napoli and then Spain. In any case I don’t have any preferences, I will leave all doors open.”

Sheva in fresh AC Milan denial
13.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko has again ruled out a return to Milan. “I made my choice and I’m not coming back,” he noted.

The £30m Ukrainian is struggling to settle in London and has been linked with a sensational January return to the San Siro, just six months after his switch to Stamford Bridge.

Furthermore, Coach José Mourinho recently omitted his name from the list of players he considers ‘untouchable’ and is set to drop him ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Newcastle.

“I have already said this once and I must repeat myself, once and for all. I will stay at Chelsea,” said the player in an interview to the Corriere della Sera.

“I have great respect for Milan and their fans and I want to send a special hug to all of them, because they will always be in my heart.

“But I made my choice some months ago and it would make no sense for me to change my mind now,” added the 2004 Golden Ball winner.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi had stated on Saturday that he would welcome the player back with open arms, although he was aware that it looked like a problematic option.

“I have an excellent relationship with the President and I will always be thankful for what he did for me,” continued Sheva. “However, this cannot change what I feel now.

“If you leave an important club like Milan to move to another outfit, you cannot throw in the towel after such a short period, even if this is a hard moment for me.”

The former Dynamo Kiev man has scored just six times in all competitions so far this term.

“It’s not that I’m not scoring, I’m scoring less compared to the past,” he argued.

“The truth is that football players are not machines, we go through periods when things do not go the way we want.

“When you make a choice you need to follow that road until the end, only then will I be able to say if things went well or not.”

Kaka offered Real deal
13.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid are ready to offer Kaka a seven-year contract in a bid to tempt him away from Milan, according to reports in Spain.

The Merengues have never given up on the idea of seeing the Brazilian at the Santiago Bernabeu, after chief Ramon Calderon made the promise to sign him during the campaign preceding his summer election.

According to Spanish newspaper AS, they are now ready to renew their attempts in signing one of the world’s top players.

Real Madrid officials are allegedly finalising an offer that should convince Milan to let the player leave, despite reiterating in the past that he is not for sale.

The Galacticos are ready to pay £42m to the Via Turati outfit, which the Rossoneri could then use to make a bid for Barcelona star Ronaldinho who remains a target for Silvio Berlusconi’s club.

Real Madrid certainly have the funds to make such an offer after they recently finalised the sale of their television rights and will earn over £65m in the next two years alone.

That cash will not only cover the cost of the transfer fee, but will also guarantee the starlet a seven-year multi-million pound contract.

AS.com had already reported on Tuesday that the 24-year-old had spoken to Vice-President Adriano Galliani telling him that he would want to leave if the side failed to qualify for the Champions League, an objective which is currently 10 points away.

The player’s father and agent Bosco Leite was sighted in Madrid over the past few days and has allegedly been in contact with club officials Franco Baldini and Predrag Mijatovic.

No fear for Gilardino
12.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Alberto Gilardino is sure he will take other penalties, despite failing to convert the last one during Sunday’s match with Torino.

The Rossonero had insisted on taking the penalty himself, but fired it into the upright and was then unable to net the rebound, preventing Milan from taking the lead.

“When you decide to take a penalty you follow your instinct, in that moment I felt I should take it even if Marek Jankulovski was the player designated to do so,” Gilardino told Sky Italia.

“I spoke with Marek and asked him if I could take it and there were no problems at all. I did not have a chance to speak to Coach Carlo Ancelotti after the match, but I spoke briefly with Jankulovski after we returned to the locker rooms.”

“As I said, these things must be lived instinctively, so there really isn’t much to say. Would I take one again? Of course, I took several penalties when I was at Parma and things always went well.

“Anyone can make a mistake, the fact is that this happened in a special moment of the season, three points were important for us and the penalty could have been decisive,” explained the World Cup winner.

“I think a player must do what he feels like doing on the pitch and his choices must be respected. I felt like taking it, I did so and I failed. I will take one again if there will be another chance and my teammates will let me,” concluded Gilardino.

Real still chasing Kaka
12.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid have not ruled out the idea of signing Milan ace Kaka and might take advantage of the San Siro outfit’s crisis.

The attacking midfielder was at the centre of a transfer battle between the two clubs in the summer, but the Spanish giants have never given up on the idea of seeing the Brazilian at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real chief Ramon Calderon made a promise that he would sign Kaka during the campaign preceding his election in June and Los Merengues may now renew their attempt.

Reports in Spain suggest that the player’s father and agent Bosco Leite has been in contact with club officials Franco Baldini and Predrag Mijatovic, who hope that Milan’s crisis will somehow facilitate the operation.

According to AS.com, Kaka has allegedly told Vice-President Adriano Galliani that he would not be glad to stay if the side failed to qualify for the next Champions League, an objective which is currently 10 points away.

The conversations between the two parties ‘could not have led to better results’ reports the website and Mijatovic is confident of a positive outcome on the issue.

“We said we would move to bring Kaka here and that is what we will do,” declared the former Fiorentina striker.

In the meantime, Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi dismissed the latest rumours suggesting that Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s job was in peril.

“Personally, I have great trust in the tactician and the work that the entire club is doing,” said Berlusconi.

“Milan have a very strong side, but unfortunately now must count many injured players, it is normal that there are some problems.

“In any case, I do not think that the squad will be increased with new signings. Andriy Shevchenko? I consider this a closed argument, an issue that we must turn our back on,” concluded the former Prime Minister.

Abbiati admits San Siro woe
11.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Torino goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was disappointed at his treatment by Milan fans during Sunday’s 0-0 draw. “I guess I am not welcome here anymore,” he declared.

The 29-year-old joined the Granata on loan from the Rossoneri during the summer, but had recently stated that he hoped his stay would become permanent.

The comments don’t appear to have gone down well in some quarters of their support though, judging by how he was received during the stalemate.

“I heard some chants that I would have never expected,” said Abbiati. “What I heard made me understand that Milan is no longer the place for me, maybe I am not welcome here anymore.”

It is now likely that he will make his switch to Toro permanent, especially in light of the recent quotes attributed to chief Urbano Cairo.

“Our intention is to buy Abbiati,” he explained. “He is a great player that we want to keep at all costs. However, it’s too early to talk about this, we will discuss the issue in June.”

In the meantime, flying winger Alessandro Rosina admitted he is satisfied with the away draw at Milan.

“I think it was a fair result. They attacked, we tried to defend ourselves and to hit them with sudden counter-attacks,” said the 22-year-old.

“We could have scored, but they missed a penalty. In the end the result is right,” continued the former Parma man.

“Our first target now remains to save ourselves from relegation. Then we will see about achieving something more,” concluded Rosina, whose side is currently mid-table with 18 points.

Sheva rules out AC Milan return
11.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko insists that he is not considering a return to Milan. “It is just talk, talk, talk,” he stated.

The £30m Chelsea striker was linked with a sensational January return to the San Siro just six months after his summer switch to Stamford Bridge and speculation increased after Coach José Mourinho omitted his name from the list of players he considers ‘untouchable’.

“A tactician has to decide the club’s objectives for the whole season, if he decides a player has to be dropped, it has to be accepted,” said Sheva to the BBC.

“This is a team game and there are 22 players all fighting to be in the team,” added the striker, who offered yet another unimpressive performance in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

“I am staying here, all the rest is just talk, talk, talk. I never thought once about going back to Milan. I had difficult times also with the Rossoneri, but I earned my respect there.

“My role in the team is the same as it was in Milan - no different. But you need time to adapt to the style of play.

“I have no doubts that when I get into my right form, I will play and my objective is for Chelsea to win something important,” added the 2004 Golden Ball winner.

“I have 100 per cent trust in the Coach and I accept what he decides. My work here is to play well and help the team.

“If the club decides they want to bring in other players, I have no problem. Big teams have big objectives. Nobody in any of the large clubs has a clear right to play all the time.”

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi had stated on Saturday that he would welcome the player back with open arms, although he was aware that it looked like a “difficult move.”

AC Milan 0:0 Torino - match report
10.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino was the villain at San Siro afer firing a penalty on to the upright, as Milan disappointed once again.

Alberto Zaccheroni returned to face the club that fired him in 2001, hoping to further compound their crisis. Milan were booed off the pitch after Wednesday's 2-0 Champions League defeat to Lille and were dealing with a spate of injuries, including Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Dida, Serginho, Giuseppe Favalli, Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Costacurta, Kakha Kaladze and Kaka on top of Andrea Pirlo's suspension.

Carlo Ancelotti fielded a trident attack with Marcos Cafu returning at right-back. Toro had Marco Di Loreto on a ban, but Milan-owned goalkeeper Christian Abbiati between the posts.

Clarence Seedof's strike was deflected off target and another effort from the edge of the area pushed round the post by his former teammate Abbiati. Alberto Gilardino's timid penalty appeals for a Gabriele Cioffi push were waved away. Marek Jankulovski drilled just wide from 30 metres.

Seedorf and Gilardino combined passes at speed on 27 minutes, but Marco Borriello ballooned the finish over the bar from just inside the area. Abbiati flew out to punch away Marcos Cafu's free kick.

Borriello's volley was charged down by Brevi at the near post and Alessandro Rosina's lob was just over the bar. Borriello's looping header from a Paolo Maldini cross went over.

Torino's best chance of the game so far arrived straight after the break. Rosina went off on the counter-attack and only a perfectly-timed tackle from Maldini prevented him beating Zeljko Kalac.

Moments later Rosina sparked another counter, setting up Gianluca Comotto's volley that whistled past the far post.

Under-21 international Rosina was a constant threat and he forced a fine save out of Kalac with his angled drive.

Milan had their first real scoring opportunity on 56 minutes, as Ricardo Oliveira's header was blocked right on the line by Abbiati. Gattuso made his comeback much earlier than expected from his injury, replacing Yoann Gourcuff, while Pippo Inzaghi and Daniele Bonera also came on.

14 minutes from time, Cioffi tackled Gilardino from behind and did not seem to get the ball, so the referee pointed to the spot. The ex-Parma striker insisted on taking the penalty himself - a decision he may well regret, as he fired it on to the upright and then faield to turn in the ricochet!

Seedorf wasted a couple of good chances and there were more penalty appeals for a Cioffi handling offence, while Jankulovski's strike was charged down by Franceschini.

Milan have complained about the number of times they've hit the woodwork this season, but the frame of the goal came to their rescue at the 88th. Roberto Muzzi hit the bar twice in the space of five seconds with two acrobatic efforts and Kalac well beaten.

It was end to end stuff with either side able to win it and Kalac allowed a Muzzi angled drive to bounce off his chest, gifting Torino a corner.

Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Simic, Maldini, Jankulovski; Gourcuff (Gattuso 61), Brocchi, Seedorf; Ricardo Oliveira (Inzaghi 71), Borriello (Bonera 75), Gilardino

Torino: Abbiati; Brevi (Doudou 75), Cioffi, Franceschini; Comotto, Barone, De Ascentis, Balestri; Lazetic (Ardito 83), Rosina; Stellone (Muzzi 74)

Ref: Girardi

Missed penalty: Gilardino 77 (M)

Zac eyes Rossoneri revenge
10.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Zaccheroni returns to San Siro to face his former club and used Torino’s upturn in fortunes to prove a point to the side that sacked him.

“How did I manage to turn Toro’s season around? Quite simply I adapted my tactics to the players and not the other way round. I played with both three and four in defence which proves, going back to the famous controversy at Milan, that I’m not so pig-headed.”

Zac won a Scudetto for the Rossoneri in 1998, but his departure was prompted by President Silvio Berlusconi’s dissatisfaction with what he considered to be a tactical rigidity in the Coach.

If the Granata have turned a corner with three victories on the trot, then Milan are on a slippery slope with three points from five Serie A games and two consecutive Champions League defeats. However, Zaccheroni insists he isn’t surprised.

“I understood immediately what would happen. When I discovered Andriy Shevchenko was going to Chelsea, knowing Adriano Galliani’s work method, I assumed he already had either Thierry Henry or Samuel Eto’o in his grasp. When neither arrived, I thought it’d be very tough for this team. You didn’t need a fortune teller to work that out.”

Zac was also sacked by Inter after an unsuccessful spell on the other side of San Siro, but they finally look set to win the Scudetto on the field.

“Massimo Moratti has always spent a lot of money, but this time he spent it well, on players of talent and strength. It’s a squad fit for Fabio Capello, with physical power and technique, so they can’t help but win. The real difference is also in their confidence, as you can see them know sooner or later they’ll score.

“Having said that, I prefer Roma, as the way they play is exciting and entertaining with endless surprises. Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani came from the youth system, but are two of Italy’s best young prospects.”

He had a dreadful start to his Torino career, taking over three days before the start of the season, but explains why he accepted the offer.

“It wasn’t a good idea to arrive so late in the day, but President Urbano Cairo promised that we’d put ambition to one side for a year and build something for the future. Next season we can think about flying high.”

Ancelotti urges AC Milan reaction
10.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has run out of patience and has urged Milan to grit their teeth and start a winning cycle from Torino to avoid an anxious Christmas.

“This is the time when we need to grit our teeth and not look back,” said the Coach. “That doesn’t just apply to the players, but all of us, as we must focus on picking up as many points as possible before the winter break.”

The Rossoneri have been struggling badly of late with just three points from their last five Serie A games and two consecutive Champions League defeats.

Marcos Cafu returns from injury to shore up a side that is already missing Alessandro Nesta, Dida, Kakha Kaladze, Serginho, Giuseppe Favalli and midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, but Kaka’s strain to the sole of his foot is still causing concern.

“The fans will see a different team from the one they saw on Wednesday against Lille. I am certain the crowd will stay close to the players. It’s a delicate moment for us and I think the supporters are viewing it the right way.”

Milan were booed off the field midweek after an embarrassing performance and there could be psychological repercussions against Torino at San Siro this afternoon.

“My angry reaction after the Lille defeat was a realistic analysis done with the right level of bitterness,” insisted Ancelotti.

“We have to face this game with the right motivation and urge to react. This side can do it. We all have to make a few extra sacrifices, though I won’t explain what those are.”

While Ancelotti’s job hangs in the balance, he faces a Torino outfit coming off three consecutive victories with ex-Milan boss Alberto Zaccheroni at the helm.

“Toro are a solid squad in defence and I think we’ll find problems breaking them down. We still own Christian Abbiati’s contract and are following his progress, but I don’t understand why there is so much transfer talk around Milan and goalkeepers. We’ve always kept him in consideration as the first alternative to Dida for the future.”

Ancelotti turns nasty
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has warned his Milan players it’s no more Mr Nice Guy after a humiliating defeat to Lille.

“We’ve got to change our tune,” said the tactician. “We were lacking team spirit out there and this is a squad that has to be motivated all over again.”

Ancelotti carried the ‘loser’ tag during the early years of his Coaching career and many have said he lacks the authority shown by the likes of Fabio Capello.

This was highlighted this season during touchline rows with Clarence Seedorf and Kaka, with the boss admitting he often has such frank exchanges of views with his stars.

However, their dreadful form in Serie A and the Champions League – including two consecutive European defeats to AEK Athens and Lille – have pushed him too far.

“The team was booed off the field, but in fact I think the fans were too kind in their reaction. We were slow, lacked determination and only committed nine fouls in the entire game. We played as individuals and it was an ugly evening.”

The Rossoneri are qualified top of Group H and will discover their opponents in the Champions League when the draw is made on Friday December 15.

In the meantime, they must take on Torino – with ex-Coach Alberto Zaccheroni a Scudetto winner for the San Siro giants in 1998-99 – this Sunday.

“We may have to wait until the winter break to rediscover our physical fitness, but from a psychological point of view we can change immediately. The players must remember they are a team. None of us are happy at the moment and the side has to find that style it seems to have lost sight of recently,” continued Ancelotti.

“This is a strange time, the most difficult approach to Christmas I’ve had on the Milan bench. But I know we can get past this moment quickly. It’ll remain an important season that we’ll look back on as we do the others. We can solve our problems fast.”

Kaka fears Barca
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Football Italia

Milan star Kaka admits he hopes to avoid Barcelona in next week’s Champions League draw.

The Rossoneri qualified for the Round of 16 as winners of Group H and now await the outcome of the December 15 draw in Nyon to learn who they will face in February.

“I don’t really think we should be choosing opponents, although I have to say nobody would be happy to be drawn against Barcelona,” the Brazilian told uefa.com’s magazine.

“They have a wonderful squad and seem to have got themselves together after a very difficult first round, however nobody knows how things will be in February.

“Barcelona are certainly not unbeatable and we might have to be the ones to prove it,” continued Kaka, who is one of the competition’s top scorers.

“Because of our difficult situation in Serie A, it’s natural for us to have high hopes for the Champions League and every player would love to lift that trophy someday.

“But we can’t forget that it’s in Serie A that we need to book our place for the competition next year. There is a lot of work to do,” admitted the trequartista.

“Nobody appreciated being beaten by Lille, especially when Milan are in a very unusual and unpleasant situation in the domestic League,” explained the former Sao Paulo man.

“It’s not for me to underestimate the effort put on by AEK and Lille, but perhaps we unconsciously lifted our foot from the gas pedal a bit for those two matches.

“In any case we are talking about a club used to winning. People are always going to be demanding results from us,” concluded the 24-year-old.

Kaka has shown some of his best form in the Champions League since moving to European football in 2003, and has been one of the few players to have impressed in the early stages of this season.

Dida talks stall
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Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has not yet found an agreement with the club over the extension of his contract, Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

The Brazilian’s contract expires in June 2007 and the club had recently set a deadline, telling the player he needed to make a quick decision on his future as the Rossoneri need to know his intentions to plan any moves on the market.

“I met with Nelson, we spoke with affection and he lowered his demands a little,” said Galliani.

“However, there is still a big difference between his requests and our offer. We have a strict salary policy that cannot be changed. Dida is a top level player, but he cannot earn more than the other champions on our squad.

“We all hope we can reach an agreement soon,” concluded the former Lega Calcio chief

The Brazilian has allegedly asked for a £3.2m per season deal, whereas the Rossoneri are not willing to offer any more than £2.7m.

The Selecao No 1 is currently out of action and will not be back before the New Year after injuring his knee in the Champions League tie with AEK Athens in November.

Should Dida decide to leave the San Siro, Milan have a number of goalkeepers on their wish list, including Livorno’s Marco Amelia, Stefano Sorrentino of AEK Athens and even Juventus’ World Cup winner Gianluigi Buffon.

Mourinho warns Sheva
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Football Italia

Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko is not untouchable, according to Coach Jose Mourinho.

The Ukrainian star, who has been struggling after his £30m summer move, was paired with a return to Milan on Thursday seeing as he felt his game didn’t suit the tactician.

However, the player and his club have since dismissed the news, stating that Sheva’s words had been misinterpreted in Ukraine and then incorrectly translated by the British Press.

“There are nine untouchable players on my side, but Sheva is not one of them because of the way he is playing,” Mourinho told The Sun, reigniting the lengthy saga.

"Frank Lampard is untouchable, as well as Michael Ballack, John Terry, Ricky Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele, Michael Essien and Petr Cech. These are all untouchable players thanks to their performances,” added the 43-year-old.

“If Andriy were happy, we would have a problem. The good thing is that he is not happy with the way he is performing,” continued the Portuguese tactician, who has recently been linked with a move to Inter.

“This is what I think, if Abramovich doesn’t trust the Coach, he has enough money to sack me, to give me my compensation, send me home and bring another one in,” added Mourinho.

“I keep saying Serie A is something that motivates me, but what motivates me more is being in the best League in the world. And the best League at the moment is here,” concluded the Coach, who has stated he would like to Coach in Italy.

Cafu ready for action
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Football Italia

Marcos Cafu has recovered from injury and could be ready to return to playing as early as Sunday.

The Rossoneri defender has been out since the match with Empoli on November 18, but has been training well and surprised everyone by going through an intense fitness session on Thursday.

“I am fine, really fine and I hope to be available for the Coach on Sunday, if needed,” said the Brazilian to Milan Channel, confirming his hopes of making an appearance against Torino.

“This is not a great moment for us, but we have to shrug it off as soon as possible and return to being the Milan the fans deserve, a team which can always make them dream,” added the 36-year-old.

The Rossoneri have been under increasing pressure to turn their season around and were again handed an embarrassing defeat on Wednesday as they were beaten 2-0 by underdogs Lille in the Champions League.

“Maybe the defeat was due to the fact that we had already qualified, whereas they were playing a crucial game,” explained Il Pendolino, who was forced to watch on from the stands by his injury.

“They deserved the victory for the way they played. It’s not that we weren’t motivated, but maybe they were more eager than us.

“The next round will be difficult, but from now on we can't and we mustn’t choose which matches we would like to play. We will aim to get as far as possible and we have to be ready to play whoever we draw,” concluded Cafu.

The draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League will take place on Friday December 15 in Nyon.

Six-time champions Milan will play one of Real Madrid, Porto, PSV Eindhoven Celtic or reigning champions Barcelona, with the first leg scheduled for February 20.

Chelsea deny Sheva claims
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Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has cooled talk of a Milan return by insisting he’s committed to current club Chelsea.

The Ukrainian was again linked with his former outfit after certain comments attributed to him were published in the English media on Thursday.

In those extracts, he was quoted as admitting that he doesn’t fit into the tactical plans of boss Jose Mourinho.

But Chelsea and the player have maintained that Shev’s words, taken from an interview with Russian magazine Pro Sport, were misinterpreted.

“I have total respect for Chelsea and the fans, as well as for football in England and the culture of the country,” he is quoted as saying to Pro Sport on the club’s website.

“I give 100 per cent all of the time, I am committed and hungry for success with Chelsea,” he continued.

“There are always good and not so good moments in sport, that’s normal. If that means there is opinion and criticism then I respect that.”

Shevchenko has constantly been linked with a return to Milan since his £31m move to Stamford Bridge before the 2006 World Cup.

The Italian club have always responded to the whispers by claiming that the former European Footballer of the Year would not be heading back to the San Siro.

AC Milan target Alexis
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Football Italia

Milan are reportedly interested in Getafe defender Alexis and could make an offer as early as January.

The 21-year-old has impressed since his summer move from Malaga and is currently contracted until 2011, with a £5.7m release clause.

The Rossoneri are looking to sign a stopper in January, as they need to strengthen their defence after the serious injuries suffered by Alessandro Nesta and Serginho.

“The first thing we need is all our injured players to come back to fitness. New arrivals aren’t a priority, but maybe we will do something in defence,” stated Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

“Alexis could leave Getafe as early as January,” confirmed the player’s agent Manuel Garcia Quilno. “His release clause is not that high so most major clubs can afford to pay it.”

Getafe’s President Angel Torres had already stated in the past few weeks that Milan were interested in the player’s services.

“Milan are following Alexis, who is a phenomenon,” said Torres. “You mustn’t forget that the Italian club had already tried to sign him when he was 16-years-old.”

Alexis grew up in the Malaga youth team and had an excellent start of the season with Bernd Schuster’s side, although he is now recovering from an injury.

Sheva eyes Serie A return
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Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has sensationally admitted that he may leave Chelsea soon as he feels he isn’t suited to Coach Jose Mourinho’s system.

The former Milan ace moved to the Premiership side during the summer in a £30m deal, but has failed to live up to the expectations preceding his arrival in England.

Sheva was paired with a return to Milan in January on a loan deal, although it became clear that the rules limiting the arrival of non-EU players from a foreign club would make this impossible.

“I feel at home at Chelsea and it’s felt like my team for a long time, but I admit I could leave – my game doesn’t suit the Coach,” the striker told the Daily Mirror.

“Everyone has been saying that I could be sent on loan to Milan, but I still haven’t discussed this with the management.

“I think they probably still haven’t decided themselves,” continued Shevchenko, who scored his first Champions League goal for Chelsea in Tuesday’s match with Levski Sofia.

“However, if this were to happen then I’m ready to pack my bags. I’m a self-confident person, if I don’t suit somebody I’ll go back to Italy and prove how good I can still be.

“I don’t think I’m finished as a player and I don’t feel I have something to prove, everyone knows what Shevchenko is capable of,” added the Ukrainian.

“Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic is a friend and completely on my side, but all he could do was insist on a loan deal instead of me being sold.

“I understand Mourinho – I’m not scoring as many goals as I would like to. Of course I would be sorry to leave London, firstly because of my family, who have already made a new life here.

“My wife Kristen was pleased with the move which allowed her to finally find herself in an English-speaking country. It’s clear that I will not move Kristen and our sons back to Milan.”

Galliani rejects TAR appeal
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani will not lodge an appeal to TAR against his nine-month Calciopoli ban.

The Rossoneri official appeared in front of the Court of Arbitration on Wednesday as he hopes for a reduction to the suspension handed out by the Federal Court of Appeal in July.

“I do not want to make any forecast on what will be decided by the Court of Arbitration, I think we will now need to wait eight to 10 days,” said the former Lega Calcio chief.

“We will just wait for the verdict, hoping it will be positive. Now we want to focus on real football, which is played on the pitch. In any case, this is the final act of the issue,” added Galliani.

“I have already stated that I will not appeal to the civil courts, I have been a football official for over 30 years and I believe in sporting justice.

“Ten years with Monza and more than 20 with Milan do not allow me to do anything different from this, so I will just wait and see.”

One of the latest rumours doing the rounds in the peninsula is that Alberto Gilardino could be set for a summer switch to Juventus, but it appears to have escaped the attention of Galliani.

“I have never heard this,” he replied. The Rossonero then left the Stadio Meazza without releasing any interviews, furious after Milan’s 2-0 defeat to Lille in the Champions League.

AC Milan stars issue appologies
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Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze and Cristian Brocchi confess the Milan players could’ve done more against Lille last night.

“We are disappointed, above all because we didn’t like the way we approached this game,” said the Italian midfielder of the 2-0 home defeat.

“Every one of us is aware we could’ve done more. At the same time, we know what we’re going into for the rest of the season and that you can’t always be on top.”

“This is a difficult time for us with many injuries and others playing with niggling problems, but that doesn’t excuse this kind of a performance. Many of us played tonight gritting our teeth because of an emergency situation, as we would’ve been rested in other circumstances.”

The result did not change the Rossoneri’s campaign, as they were already secure of top spot in Champions League Group H.

“It’s certainly our fault as players, but every one has to take their own responsibilities and realise there is more that can be done. Now there are four games left before the Christmas break, which will allow us to train hard and recover physically.”

Brocchi also denied that the newspaper speculation over massive January changes to the squad was affecting concentration.

“When things are going well there is transfer talk because they want to lure Kaka away. When they’re going badly there are rumours we need new players, so either way Milan are going to make headlines.”

Kaladze admitted it was hardly a vintage performance, but insisted this was not something to get concerned about.

“It’s certainly not nice to lose a Champions League game, especially when you’re at San Siro, but this match counted for nothing as we were already qualified. So we hope to put this terrible performance behind us,” said the Georgian international.

“The club will think about the transfer market in January, but it is bad for us to have so many great champions out of action with injuries. All the remaining teams are in the competition strong now, but nobody is unbeatable in this sport, not even Barcelona.”

Carlo slams selfish Rossoneri
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits this was an “awful” Milan performance and urged his players to be more “altruistic”.

The Rossoneri stayed in the locker room for some time after the match with Vice-President Adriano Galliani for a crisis meeting following their worst performance of the season so far, a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Lille.

“We lost in the worst possible way – on home turf, when playing badly. It’s a habit we must not get into. The players know the way I feel about this and I expect an immediate reaction,” slammed the Coach.

“I think I have an excellent rapport with the squad and understand their difficulties, but it’s also important for everyone to act in a more altruistic manner.”

The San Siro giants have been struggling badly in Serie A and Europe this term, although the result did not change their qualification top of Group H.

“If Milan are what we saw tonight, then it’s total darkness, as we were awful. When a team isn’t working well, then clearly a lot of the responsibility falls to the Coach. I’m not backing away from that.”

The draw for the second phase is on Friday December 15 and Milan will face one of Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid, Celtic or Porto.

“The team to avoid is Barcelona, especially considering how they played yesterday. Yet we were on level terms with Barca in the semi-finals last season. The winter break will be crucial, as it’ll allow us to get some of our injured players back and work on the form of others. We absolutely need this time out.”

Lille’s victory allowed them to leap into second place and qualify for the next phase, while a stunning late scissor-kick volley from Bruno Cirillo took AEK Athens to the UEFA Cup with their 2-2 draw against Anderlecht.

AC Milan 0:2 Lille - match report
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Football Italia

Scorers: Odemwingie 7 (L), Keita 67 (L)

Howlers from Zeljko Kalac and Dario Simic allowed Lille to grab a 2-0 victory away to a desperately disappointing Milan, who were already qualified top of Group H. This result - and the 2-2 draw between AEK and Anderlecht - saw the French outfit through to the next phase.

The Rossoneri were already sure of their leadership spot going into the final game, but Carlo Ancelotti opted to field one of the best line-ups at his disposal to build confidence in this difficult time. Kaka, Marcos Cafu, Dida, Serginho, Giuseppe Favalli and Gennaro Gattuso were out injured, but Massimo Ambrosini returned from his setback. Yoann Gourcuff was given a new more creative role.

Lille were in third place, but could aim for qualification, a UEFA Cup berth or risk a European exit at the end of the evening.

Pippo Inzaghi had an early penalty appeal for a shirt-tug waved away, but the French side were more motivated and it showed. Keita dispossessed Marek Jankulovski for a Peter Odemwingie strike well parried by Zeljko Kalac at the near post.

It was only a warning, as on seven minutes Kalac was surprised by a long-range Bodmer snapshot and his ineffectual flap placed the ball right into the path of Odemwingie from six yards.

Malicki was tested by a couple of Andrea Pirlo free kicks and Inzaghi's glancing shot, but more defensive chaos between Dario Simic and Daniele Bonera almost granted Odemwingie his second of the match.

Another Simic error passed the ball straight to a Lille player and Odemwingie's effort was beaten away by Kalac.

Keita's snapshot from 30 metres took a deflection to whistle past the post, but Milan seemed to have absolutely no width and tried to aim all their attacks through the centre, leaving Gourcuff isolated on the left flank.

When Gourcuff was able to get into the game on 37 minutes, he tried to dribble through three defenders inside the area and hesitated too long to pull the trigger.

Kalac flew to fingertip a hopeful Cabaye free kick over the bar, although he seemed late to it and could easily have caught the ball.

Borriello had Milan's best chance of the first half in stoppages, hooking down a pass and storming into the area, where Malicki rushed out to smother the finish. It didn't help calm the crowd, who jeered the Rossoneri as they left the field.

Clarence Seedorf replaced Cristian Brocchi at half-time to spark some more creativity and Borriello was able to continue after a clash of heads with Tavlaridis.

Simic continued to disappoint in central defence and was fortunate Graham Poll did not consider his shirt tug on Keita to be worthy of a penalty. Odemwingie sprung the offside trap - Simic at fault - to sprint into the area only to side-foot straight into Kalac's chest.

Inzaghi couldn't get enough contact on a corner kick and nodded it wide. Kalac continued to seem insecure in goal and pushed an apparently harmless long-range strike out for a corner when he could've caught it.

Kaka replaced Ambrosini, moving Gourcuff to the right. Jankulovski's first touch let him down on Seedorf's assist, but Inzaghi was unlucky not to score on the hour mark when his towering header thumped the crossbar from a corner kick.

Inzaghi held off his marker and placed an angled drive towards the far corner, where Malicki held well, but Lille doubled their lead.

Kader Keita combined passes with Bodmer to split the Rossoneri defence and stroke his finish past Kalac. However, once again the Australian goalkeeper and Jankulovski were slow to react.

Ricardo Oliveira took over from Borriello in a final bid to make the scoreline less embarrassing, but it could've been 3-0 when Bodmer spun round to force a tough save out of Kalac. From the resulting corner kick out to the edge of the area, Cabaye's fierce strike smashed against the crossbar.

Oliveira's hopeful long-range effort didn't trouble Malicki and both teams ran down the clock for Milan's first ever home defeat to a French club.

Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Simic, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Brocchi (Seedorf 46), Pirlo, Ambrosini (Kaka 54), Gourcuff; Inzaghi, Borriello (Oliveira 72)

Lille: Malicki; Chalmé, Plestan, Tavlaridis, Tafforeau; Keita (Youla 83), Cabaye, Makoun, Debuchy; Bodmer (Fauverge 88); Odemwingie (Robail 72)

Ref: Poll (Eng)

Galliani fears Barcelona
6.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani hopes his side will avoid Barcelona in Munich’s Champions League draw on Friday December 15.

The Rossoneri will play Lille at the San Siro on Wednesday, but have already qualified for the last 16 as the winners of Group H.

“We hope we can avoid Barcelona in the next round,” said Galliani on Wednesday evening.

“We already met them last year, but I believe they are the most dangerous opponents we could find in the next round.

“However, we also have a 20 per cent chance of finding Real Madrid,” added the former Lega Calcio chief.

“Eto’o and Ronaldinho? They are great players that along with Lionel Messi form the strongest attack in the world – but they are impossible transfer targets for us,” he concluded.

No Oddo sale, claims Lotito
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Football Italia

Lazio President Claudio Lotito has blocked Massimo Oddo’s proposed January exit. “There is no ‘for sale’ sign around his neck,” he outlined.

The Azzurri international has been paired with a move to Milan during the winter transfer market and Coach Delio Rossi fuelled those rumours by insisting every player had their price.

But Lotito, who scared off the Rossoneri over the summer with his £8m valuation of Oddo, insists no deal will take place.

“We have not received any firm request for Oddo,” said Lotito on Wednesday.

“We will discuss these things when they happen, that is in 2008, when the player’s contract expires. We have not put him up for sale.”

Lotito also cooled speculation that Luciano Zauri was on his way to Juventus on a free transfer at the end of the campaign.

“There is an agreement in principle with the player over a contract extension,” he added. “Now we only need to finalise the details.”

In the meantime, the team is preparing for the clash with Roma. “I hope it will be a derby characterised by true sporting values and honour, where the best team will win,” added Lotito.

“I hope Lazio will show the same determination I have seen in the last few matches. This team plays better than many other sides, but we don’t always obtain what we deserve.

“Unfortunately in football certain incidents sometimes make all the difference,” concluded the outspoken chief.

Eight Azzurri make UEFA list
6.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Eight members of Italy’s World Cup winning squad are included in the shortlist of 55 names competing for a spot in the UEFA 2006 Team of the Year.

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona), Fabio Grosso (Inter), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Andrea Pirlo (Milan), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan) and Luca Toni (Fiorentina) are on the list released by UEFA’s official website, as well as Marcello Lippi, who was nominated along with four other Coaches.

The 2006 Team of the Year will be voted for by the users of the website and the winners, representing the most important figures of the last footballing year, will be announced on January 19.

Barcelona have the most nominees with 11 men on the list, while last year’s Champions League runners-up Arsenal have seven, followed by Chelsea, Lyon and UEFA Cup holders Sevilla.

The nominees were selected by the website staff writers on the basis of their performances for their clubs and national teams in 2006. The voting opened on Wednesday.

Oddo could leave, says Rossi
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Football Italia

Coach Delio Rossi has admitted that Lazio defender Massimo Oddo may be sold in January. “After all, no one is untransferable,” he stated.

The World Cup winner has once again been paired with Milan after his proposed summer move fell through, but it now seems that the operation may be finalised during the upcoming winter window.

“Anyone can be sold if the club receives the right offer and this is true for any one of us, including the Coach,” said Rossi.

“If someone better than me should arrive, I would be ready to step aside,” added the tactician, who does not understand why his substitution of Oddo against Fiorentina caused so much of a stir.

“Every time I replace someone during the weekend games, on Monday it feels like High Noon,” he noted.

“All my decisions have a technical motivation and I feel that this situation is exasperating, even more so because on Tuesday every problem just seems to disappear.

“I make my choices and I would repeat most of them, although there are some things that I would maybe do differently with the wisdom of hindsight.

“As to Sunday, I would have no doubt in substituting Oddo again.”

Rossi must now focus on Sunday’s derby with Roma, a match that he knows has special significance for all in the capital.

“We will play against a very strong team and we will have to do our best,” added the former Salernitana tactician.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on the team though as the derby is already a very delicate game.

“I am a passionate person, every day is a derby for me, but we all know this is a special match,” he concluded.

Ancelotti wants useless win
5.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has asked his Milan side to perform against Lille, even though they have already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Rossoneri were defeated by AEK Athens two weeks ago, but were confirmed as winners of Group H thanks to the draw between Anderlecht and the French outfit.

“The Champions League is our main objective every season and this year it is the same,” said Ancelotti in the Press conference at Milanello on Tuesday.

“We want to win tomorrow, for two different reasons,” added the tactician.

“First of all a victory would help us in this difficult moment, then many accused us of not being a serious club at the start of the campaign and we want to prove that is not the case.

“I have not yet decided which starting line-up I will field, although both Massimo Ambrosini and Kaka should be available.”

The Rossoneri have been hit by an injury crisis, but the former Juventus Coach deflected questions about possible new arrivals after Christmas.

“The club may decide to make some moves on the market in January, but this will not depend on the Champions League,” he added.

“We are just hoping that most of our injured players will have recovered by then.”

Ancelotti was then inevitably asked to comment on the betting investigation which does include two of his squad – Zeljko Kalac and Marek Jankulovski.

“These two players will be focused on the match and I am sure this issue will not distract them,” he continued.

“What happened during the summer is only the tip of the iceberg, but I believe illegal betting is an entirely different problem.

“In any case, there is a federal rule that says that FIGC members must not bet and that rule should always be respected.”

AC Milan increase Oddo pressure
5.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lazio defender Massimo Oddo is set for a move to Milan in January, according to the latest reports in Italy.

The Italian international was heavily paired with the San Siro outfit during the summer, but no transfer fee was agreed after Biancocelesti President Claudio Lotito refused to lower his £8m asking price.

The operation may now be finalised in January though as the Rossoneri are in desperate need of a defender after the injuries suffered by Alessandro Nesta and Serginho.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confirmed that the club is considering the idea of signing a new stopper during the winter window.

“The first thing we need is all our injured players to come back to fitness. New arrivals aren’t a priority, but maybe we will do something in defence,” said the official.

Furthermore, La Gazzetta dello Sport suggests Oddo, who is currently contracted until 2008, has broken off renewal negotiations with Lazio and would favour a move to Milan.

The defender had recently stated that he wanted to end his career at the Olimpico, but talks have stalled given the significant difference between the player’s demands and the club’s offer.

The Biancocelesti may therefore let him leave in the New Year rather than losing him for a much smaller fee at the end of the season.

It is believed that the co-ownership of young defender Lino Marzoratti, presently on loan at Empoli, would be included in the package for Oddo.

The Rossoneri may also allow Lazio to buy winger Pasquale Foggia, currently on loan in Rome, outright for just £2m.

Nesta return date unknown
5.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have refused to speculate on when Alessandro Nesta will be back in action after he went under the knife on Monday.

The Italian international could be sidelined for something close to three months or even longer, but the club are making no predictions at this moment in time.

“Alessandro Nesta underwent shoulder surgery at the Madonnina clinic in Milan this morning,” read an official statement.

“The club will evaluate his recovery time over the next few days.”

The former Lazio symbol has been struggling with fitness for some time after damaging ligaments in his left shoulder.

Meanwhile, teammate Serginho will undergo a hernia operation on Tuesday which may bring his career to an end.

The Brazilian could be ruled out for the season and it is not yet known whether the veteran will be handed a new deal.

The loss of Nesta and Serginho could now see the Italian giants make a move in the January transfer market.

Although they have been associated with a striker, Vice-President Adriano Galliani today admitted a new stopper may arrive after Christmas.

“It is not true that we are after a forward,” he stated. “We are evaluating whether we will need a new face to deal with the absence of Serginho and Nesta.

“Their loss may see us turn to a defender.”

It is unclear at this stage who they could target, especially if they are after a player who would be eligible for the Champions League.

Gilardino enjoys Cagliari strike
5.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Alberto Gilardino was pleased with his goal against Cagliari, but felt his side should have emerged victorious.

The Rossoneri earned a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Sant’Elia despite Andrea Pirlo being sent off, with Gilardino opening the scoring on 48 minutes.

“I am happy with my goal, but not the draw,” said the world champion. “The match started well and even in the second half we played a good game.

“Playing with 10 men created some difficulties, but even at 2-2 we continued to do well and we could have won the game.

“Marco Borriello and I are happy that we scored – I hope I will be able to score many more goals,” concluded the 24-year-old.

Teammate Clarence Seedorf reserved special praise for Cagliari hitman David Suazo, who was on target and caused a constant threat to the Rossoneri backline.

“We all ran and tried to do something more, especially at the end when we were down to 10 men,” said the midfielder.

“I gave my all and I think we played a good game. Cagliari were very dangerous, especially with Suazo.

“I have played for many years but I have never seen a player that is so fast and has so much skill.

“However, we controlled him fairly well, although it is normal to concede some space to your opponents,” concluded the Dutchman.

In the meantime, Vice-President Adriano Galliani confirmed that Andriy Shevchenko is not set to return to the San Siro.

“Sheva will not return, it is unthinkable. We don’t need reinforcements in January, apart from maybe someone in defence,” explained the official on Monday.

Galliani eyes top four
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has reiterated that the club’s objective remains a spot in the Champions League.

The Rossoneri, with nine key players out because of injury, were held to a 2-2 draw at Cagliari on Sunday, when they also ended the match with 10 men after Andrea Pirlo’s dismissal.

“We have used the entire squad so far, except for Valerio Fiori – we have nine injured players and this is incredible,” Galliani told Milan Channel.

“However, I think something has changed in terms of the results and our quality. We are currently eight or nine points from fourth place and that is our objective.

“Despite the summer dramas, we have been able to earn 20 points, and now we would be fourth. We need to recuperate the eight-point deduction we started with.

“Playing well in the Champions League and Coppa Italia lifted our morale, but now we have to finish in the top four in the League.

“It would be inconceivable for Milan not to play the next Champions League,” continued the Rossonero, who then moved on to praise Marco Borriello, who netted at the weekend.

“Borriello did well, that was a very positive note from the match as he came on and changed the game.

“As for Zeljko Kalac, he’s a good goalkeeper, although he needs to play regularly to give his best.

“We know what a good player he is and he is proving it with his performances. Kalac will hold his role until Nelson Dida is fit again.”

Galliani also reassured supporters on Kaka’s condition, as the Brazilian was not available for the match at the San Siro because of persistent pain in the sole of his right foot.

“It’s only a slight problem, he will be on the pitch on Wednesday against Lille. I must admit that in 20 years I have never seen so many players out with injuries at the same time.”

Cagliari 2:2 AC Milan - match report
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Football Italia

Scorers: Gilardino 48 (M), Suazo pen 54 (C), Capone 65 (C), Borriello 70 (M)

Milan only picked up a point in Sardinia, but had Andrea Pirlo sent off in a tense and controversial encounter.

The Rossoneri entered the Stadio Sant'Elia with an injury crisis ruling out Dida, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Serginho, Giuseppe Favalli, Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Costacurta and Kaka. Carlo Ancelotti fielded a classic 4-4-2 with Clarence Seedorf and Yoann Gourcuff on the flanks. Their results seemed to have turned with a 1-0 victory over Messina last week - their first since round 8. Marco Fortin stepped in for injured Cagliari goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti, while Daniele Conti returned from suspension.

Seedorf stung Fortin's palms from distance, but David Suazo - a summer transfer target for Milan - went on a trademark sprint up the field and D'Agostino incredibly fired the finish off target at the back post with only Zeljko Kalac to beat.

Gourcuff's long-range left-foot effort tested Fortin, but Ricardo Oliveira wasted a good opportunity by going for glory and ignoring the unmarked Alberto Gilardino.

The unstoppable Suazo ran on to Capone's long pass to leave the Milan defenders for dead, testing Kalac with a right-foot finish.

Gourcuff cut back for Seedorf only for the Dutchman to blast well over from a promising position. Kalac flew to pluck a Daniele Conti free kick out of the air.

An Andrea Pirlo set-piece from almost 30 metres whistled past the top corner of Fortin's net,

Ancelotti introduced Marco Borriello for the disappointing Ricardo Oliveira in the second half and he almost immediately earned a corner kick. Moments later Milan took the lead, as Gilardino rose to nod in Gourcuff's cross from the left. The Frenchman combined brilliantly with Seedorf in the lead-up, but there was more than a suspicion of offside.

However, soon after the referee pointed to the spot for Kakha Kaladze's challenge on Suazo. The Honduras international was running between two defenders and Kaladze was stretching to get the ball, but it didn't seem as if Suazo would've reached it anyway, as Kalac gathered. Suazo converted, sending Kalac the wrong way, and celebrated with a T-Shirt marking his little son's birthday.

Suazo caused more problems with his pace for Ferri's shot, deflected over by Christian Brocchi.

Cagliari turned the game around completely, again inspired by Suazo. He turned Paolo Maldini and brought a tough save out of Kalac, but Capone followed the move and his looping header slotted into an empty net.

Substitute Borriello equalised for Milan with an acrobatic volley. A Gourcuff corner kick took two touches before the ex-Treviso hitman spun round from six yards to thump it in at the near post.

Matters got worse for the Rossoneri, however, as Suazo won back the ball from Gourcuff and sprinted forward. Pirlo's tackle from behind was late and he saw a straight red card.

The Sardinians were furious when Lopez was on the ground inside the area - keeping everyone onside - and Milan kept playing with Borriello firing over from close range.

Despite playing in 10 men, Milan continued to have the best chances at a winner, Borriello bringing a save out of Fortin from Pippo Inzaghi's assist. Conti's touched-on free kick for Suazo was deflected wide.

Cagliari: Fortin; Ferri, Lopez, Bianco, Agostini; D'Agostino (Langella 79), Conti, Colucci, Esposito (Pepe 64); Capone (Del Grosso 82); Suazo

Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski; Gourcuff, Brocchi (Inzaghi 68), Pirlo, Seedorf; Ricardo Oliveira (Borriello 46), Gilardino (Simic 76)

Ref: Brighi

Sent off: Pirlo 75 (M)

Giampaolo sees no AC Milan crisis
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Football Italia

Cagliari boss Marco Giampaolo doesn’t trust the headlines proclaiming Milan in crisis ahead of their encounter in Sardinia.

“We need the utmost determination and concentration. Milan’s current position in the standings is irrelevant, as they are still the Rossoneri. We know and respect the true value of this squad.”

A victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s men would put them level with Cagliari on 14 points, as they have found it difficult to fight back from their eight-point Calciopoli handicap.

“We have experimented with several alternatives in terms of tactics and players this week so that we can approach this game the right way,” added Giampaolo.

“Our team must focus on playing as a unit, because if we try to defend above all else, we’ll concede sooner or later. The most important thing is to take advantage of the few scoring opportunities Milan will allow us.”

The Sardinians will be without goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti for two months, as he will undergo surgery on his right shoulder on Wednesday for a torn ligament.

“I have never complained about missing players, whether they are injuries or suspensions. Marco Fortin will replace him – a real professional and an excellent goalkeeper. There’s no problem.”

Kaka adds to Ancelotti woes
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Football Italia

Kaka has been added to the long injury list as Milan travel to Cagliari, revealed a disappointed Carlo Ancelotti.

“Kaka has not been called up because he has pain in the sole of his right foot. It’s a persistent problem that first appearances against Messina, so he’s in no condition to play and will remain at home. I think he’ll recover quickly, though.”

It’s a heavy blow for the Rossoneri, who are already without Dida, Marcos Cafu, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Nesta, Billy Costacurta, Giuseppe Favalli and Serginho.

“Kaka is without doubt an important player, but there are those in the squad who, albeit with different characteristics, can replace him,” continued the Coach.

“He is the best player in the world right now, but Milan can survive without him. His place could be taken by Clarence Seedorf, Yoann Gourcuff or we might adopt a more compact midfield.”

Milan’s injury woes have contributed to their recent crisis, although victories over Messina and Brescia this week between Serie A and the Coppa Italia may have turned a corner.

“Cagliari is a crucial crossroads for us, because to get out of this difficult period we need to have some consistency in our results. A victory away from home on Sunday would be a great re-introduction to our Serie A campaign.”

The main issue this season has been a lack of goals from the strikers, prompting rumours Milan are trying to get Andriy Shevchenko back on loan from Chelsea in January.

“The forwards already feel the pressure regardless of the Shevchenko stories. Ricardo Oliveira scored in the Coppa Italia midweek and that relaxed him a bit, so I hope the others can also break through in Sardinia. If a striker doesn’t score, it’s natural for him to be a little worried.”

Milan squad: Kalac, Fiori, Facchin; Antonelli, Bonera, Darmian, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski, Simic; Brocchi, Gourcuff, Lunati, Pirlo, Seedorf; Aubameyang, Borriello, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira

Kaka makes AC Milan pledge
2.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has once again reiterated he has no intention of walking out on Milan, regardless of the offers from Real Madrid.

“I am happy to stay at Milan and feel content here,” commented the Brazilian starlet when asked about his future.

Real have made their interest in the player entirely clear, even prompting the Rossoneri to request a FIFA investigation into an alleged illegal approach ahead of the World Cup this summer.

“I don’t know what else to say. I have signed a contract until 2011, yet the transfer speculation continues to go round and it looks like they always will.”

It’s reported the Spaniards are willing to offer as much as £50m to tempt Kaka away from San Siro and have made no secret of their aims.

Kaka’s thoughts may be swayed by the unsuccessful spell that former Milan teammate Andriy Shevchenko has had at Chelsea since his £30m summer departure, with suggestions the Ukrainian is looking for a return.

“I often speak to him and he is a friend, but only the club can talk about transfer policy. When we talk on the phone, Andriy says he is OK, but isn’t 100 per cent yet. He wants to do well with Chelsea.”

Spalletti agrees to Montella move
2.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roma boss Luciano Spalletti has opened the door for Vincenzo Montella’s move to Milan by refusing to rule it out.

“I can understand the difficult moment he is going through, but he must also understand that of the team. I’ve spoken to him about this, as I always talk to the club and the players when there is an issue,” said the Coach.

“Montella is a man who knows what he’s doing and has given a great deal to Roma. He’s important for this side and we all consider him very highly. When the transfer market opens, I cannot exclude any eventuality. We don’t know what could happen between now and January.”

The newspapers in Italy reported this week that Milan were angling for Montella’s loan to solve their striker crisis, as the hitman is disappointed at only making a handful of appearances this season.

“It’s a tough time for us and we must try to charge up our energy levels because a great deal of our future will be decided in this period. We’ve already shown we can challenge anyone and I am convinced we can push it a little bit more.”

The Giallorossi climbed into second place last weekend and will welcome Atalanta to the Stadio Olimpico this evening.

“I am Stefano Colantuono’s friend, even though we’re fairly different people. It’ll be a dangerous test for us, as they are a very physical squad and will be able to keep the tempo high throughout. We mustn’t make the mistake of underestimating Atalanta.”

AC Milan target Montella loan
1.12 || webmaster

Football Italia

Misfiring Milan are pondering making a January loan move for forgotten Roma striker Vincenzo Montella, according to reports.

The Rossoneri are having a terrible time in front of goal so far this season and could look for reinforcements in the New Year.

Having sold Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea for £31m, new boy Ricardo Oliveira has netted just once in Serie A.

Italian internationals Alberto Gilardino and Pippo Inzaghi have also rippled the net on one occasion each in the League so far.

Despite being linked with a Shevchenko January reunion, it now seems that the Aeroplanino could touch down at the San Siro.

The Sampdoria legend rarely features in the plans of Roma boss Luciano Spalletti and a temporary switch may be on the cards.

Spalletti favours using Francesco Totti as a lone striker, while on loan Lecce ace Mirko Vucinic is now his first reserve.

The situation has left Montella frustrated and he could jump at the chance to breath new life into Milan’s season.

Amelia staying with Livorno for now…
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Football Italia

Livorno have ruled out the January sale of wanted international goalkeeper Marco Amelia – even if a Premiership switch beckons.

The youngster, part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad, has been strongly associated with a New Year exit.

Milan are seemingly in pole position to sign him as a result of a knee injury sustained by Nelson Dida, whose contract also expires in 2007.

However, Amaranto chief Aldo Spinelli insists that he has no intention of cashing in on the Roman next month.

“Seeing as we are fighting on two fronts, domestically and in Europe, we are not even talking about a quick sale,” he noted.

A move at the end of the season does seem likely though, with Spinelli fuelling rumours of a transfer to England.

“We’ll see what happens in June because there is moderate pressure being applied by English clubs,” noted the fiery President.

Liverpool are understood to be monitoring his situation, while Chelsea may also be interested as a result of Petr Cech’s serious injury.

Bridge too far for Dida
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Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida’s agent has dismissed speculation that his client is of interest to Chelsea.

The Brazilian’s future is in doubt because he has yet to extend his contract which expires in June 2007.

And Chelsea have been associated given the uncertainty over when Petr Cech will resume his career following his serious head injury earlier this season.

But Oscar Damiani has quickly shot down links between the South American and the Stamford Bridge boys.

“I’m not aware of any Chelsea interest at this moment in time,” Damiani responded when asked about the whispers.

“We haven’t spoken to any other clubs, also because the rules don’t allow us to and we have to respect the laws of the game.

“We’ll be happy if Dida signs for Milan soon, otherwise we will consider all of our options from January.”

Although both Milan and the individual insist they want to prolong their relationship, talks over a renewal have stalled.

Should Dida leave then Milan do have a number of goalkeeping options seemingly available to them.

Livorno’s Marco Amelia, Stefano Sorrentino of AEK Athens and even Gigi Buffon of Juventus may be targeted.

Dida's agent denies deadline
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Football Italia

Milan have not set a deadline for the renewal of Nelson Dida’s contract, according to the goalkeeper's agent.

Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani had told the Brazilian to make a quick decision on his future, as the club needed to know his intentions since his agreement ends in June 2007.

“There is no deadline – Milan need to make some decisions and, naturally, they want to know what Dida plans to do,” said Oscar Damiani.

“If Nelson will not sign then Milan will have to look for a new goalkeeper, but that doesn’t mean that they will sign someone tomorrow.

“There will still be time to discuss in the future and eventually find an agreement, but if that doesn't happen we will see what to do. Nelson wants to stay here, but sometimes that just isn’t enough.”

Meanwhile, Milan lawyer Leandro Cantamessa has declared that the Rossoneri prefer not to comment on the latest rumours regarding Andriy Shevchenko’s alleged return to the San Siro.

“Aside from the legal, technical and economical issues, we do not want to comment because we do not speak about players who belong to other clubs,” he stated.

“We do not know if what The Sun reported on Sheva’s personal situation is true or not, but this is just an additional reason for us to not speak about his possible return to Milan.”





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