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The Archive

March 2006

No Shev offer received, insist Milan
31.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have denied reports that Chelsea have made an official offer for star striker Andriy Shevchenko.

Stories in England continue to suggest that the London club are bombarding the Italian outfit with bids as they look to finally land a recognised scorer of undisputed quality.

Yet Milan have confirmed that no talks have taken place and none are planned in the future for the international.

“No Chelsea offer for Shevchenko exists,” said chief operating officer Adriano Galliani when asked to comment on the speculation.

“If one did arrive then we would courteously yet firmly state that none of our jewels are for sale at any price.”

The player himself rejected the latest whispers yesterday afternoon after an alleged £35m bid had been tabled.

“I would like to thank the English Press as perhaps Milan will now call me to their offices and extend my contract,” he stated.

“I know nothing at all about any interest from Chelsea for me,” continued the Ukrainian on his return from Lyon.

“I’m really calm about this. I don’t need to deny anything as it is all clear to me. I’ll just let other people keep talking about this story.”

The former Dynamo Kiev star has repeatedly rejected links with Chelsea in the past three years by insisting that he wants to end his career with his present Italian club.

Sheva rejects Chelsea rumour
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko has poked fun at the latest reports from England which insist that he will join Chelsea in the summer.

The Ukrainian has been continually associated with a switch to the Premiership outfit, with some whispers on Thursday claiming that a deal had already been done.

Yet Shevchenko has laughed off the latest speculation as he again committed his future to the Rossoneri.

“I would like to thank the English Press as perhaps Milan will now call me to their offices and extend my contract,” he stated this afternoon.

Sheva was referring to the fact that Spanish speculation that Carlo Ancelotti would be joining Real Madrid next season simply led to the tactician signing a new deal until 2008.

Chelsea were allegedly prepared to pay around £35m to the San Siro outfit for the former Dynamo Kiev sensation.

It was further reported that the former Golden Ball winner would sign a four-year contract worth £23m in total.

“I know nothing at all about any interest from Chelsea for me,” continued the international on his return from Lyon.

“I’m really calm about this. I don’t need to deny anything as it is all clear to me. I’ll just let other people keep talking about this story.”

Shevchenko shares a special bond with the Rossoneri and, in particular, club owner Silvio Berlusconi – who is also his son’s Godfather.

The Ukrainian has repeatedly rejected links with Chelsea in the past three years by insisting that he wants to end his career with his present Italian club.

Milan on right-back track
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have claimed that they have no plans to buy any central defenders once the transfer window opens at the end of the season.

The Rossoneri have been linked with numerous stoppers given the imminent departure of Jaap Stam and the age of Paolo Maldini, as well as Billy Costacurta.

However, the club’s Vice-President has insisted that a new right-back – where Stam has been used during his San Siro career – is their priority.

“We are well covered in the central roles,” stated Adriano Galliani after Kakha Kaladze’s recent impressive displays there.

“If someone does come in then it will be on the right. Who will that be? We’ll have to wait and see…”

Lazio full-back Massimo Oddo is believed to be their top priority even if the capital club insist that he is not for sale.

The Italian giants have also been linked with Francois Clerc and Anthony Reveillere of Lyon, as well as their central defensive colleague Cris.

Another option for the right is Chelsea and France’s William Gallas, who is also a target for Italian giants Juventus.

Milan’s need for a new player in that position could become even greater if rumours that Marcos Cafu will rejoin Sao Paulo turn out to be true.

Milan reach Poulsen agreement
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Denmark and Schalke 04 midfielder Christian Poulsen will play for Milan next season, according to reports.

Sources in Italy claim that the Rossoneri have acquired his signature after reaching an agreement with Villarreal – a club who the Dane had originally already agreed to join.

Poulsen, who first hit the headlines in Italian football at Euro 2004 for being spat on by Francesco Totti, is understood to have signed a pre-contract deal with the Spanish outfit.

However, he’s freed himself from that accord by paying a £600,000 release clause that the San Siro giants will obviously cover.

Milan turned their attention to Poulsen, whose contract with his Bundesliga side expires in the summer, after impressing them in this season’s Champions League.

Although he infuriated the club, and Gennaro Gattuso in particular, with his rough man-marking of star man Kaka, the Rossoneri believe he would be a valuable addition to their squad.

In fact, Poulsen is seen as the perfect understudy for Gattuso seeing as Massimo Ambrosini continues to struggle with fitness.

Ambrosini, an Italian international, may now actually be sold once the Scandinavian arrives with Real Madrid and Juventus possible destinations.

Whispers suggest that Poulsen will net around £600,000 a season if, as it now appears, he does complete his move to Serie A.

Houllier hails Rossoneri
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lyon Coach Gerard Houllier was impressed with Milan's performance at the Stade Gerland, so much that the French side was in awe for the opening 20 minutes.

"It was a game of two halves, as Milan had the best chances in the first half and we had the better of the second," he said after their 0-0 draw in France.

"Two things happened: We managed to up the tempo of the game and stopped watching Milan, as we gave them too much respect and sat back. Once we started playing, it emerged that we are very alike, although perhaps they are better offensively."

Although Lyon had a lot of possession in the second period, they failed to really trouble Dida apart from a Benoit Pedretti free kick and dipping Tiago strike from distance.

"The Rossoneri proved a lot of their worth in the first half. They're always a threat when they get the ball. I don't think we were threatening enough in terms of offensive play."

Brazilian star Juninho Pernambucano was suspended for the first leg, but will return for the decider at San Siro next week.

"He can score goals and create them, so he is definitely a great asset for us and we really missed him tonight," admitted the former Liverpool tactician.

Lyon remain unbeaten in the Champions League this season thanks to seven wins and two draws, but this is the first time they have failed to hit the back of the net, having scored 18 goals in the previous eight games.

Milan are also a very attacking side with 17 goals in the same period.

Maldini rolls back the years
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini is back from a long injury lay-off and notes he is finding a new lease of life in an unusual right-back role.

"It feels odd to me as well! Of all the defensive roles this is the one that suits me the least, but it's just good to be playing again after four months and to give my contribution to the team," said the 37-year-old who made his career as a left-back.

"Over the last few years I have given my best in the centre, but I still like to attack and every now and then enjoy playing as left-back.

"I am right-footed, but perhaps my biggest problem is that I'm so accustomed to being pushed on the left, so it takes a little getting used to."

The Milan captain was fielded on the right in both of his recent substitute appearances against Fiorentina and Lyon, as he is trying to find his form after almost four months out with a knee condition.

"I have recovered from my injury and am still looking for match fitness, so we'll see how much I can play against Lecce."

He gave his view on last night's 0-0 Champions League quarter-final draw at the Stade Gerland and the change in Milan's defensive performances.

"We're certainly not lacking in experience and you saw Lyon were a little worried at the beginning, so we should probably have taken a bit more advantage of that.

"Milan always try to take the game to their opponents, whether at home or away, and with a few clean sheets we have gained confidence that we were perhaps missing at the start of the season."

However, Maldini denied newspaper reports that Italy boss Marcello Lippi has been pestering him with calls to come out of international retirement for the World Cup.

"Lippi called me once, straight after he took the Italy job, but I told him the same thing that I said to Giovanni Trapattoni. That part of my career is over with now."

Pippo Inzaghi also came on as a substitute against Lyon and insisted Milan were the better team in this stalemate.

"I think it was a great performance and if there's a team who should've scored, it was Milan," said the striker.

"We know we have to win at San Siro and aim to repeat the game we played against Bayern Munich in the last round. Our season is in the balance and we'll try to take our chances."

The Rossoneri drew 1-1 in Germany for the first leg of that second round tie and went on to win 4-1 at San Siro.

Ancelotti hedges Lyon bets
30.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes Milan have a 50-50 chance of qualifying for the semi-finals after their draw in France.

“I think it’s 50-50 for qualification, as Lyon are also dangerous away from home and can step up the tempo, but if we repeat this performance then I think our chances will increase,” he said after the 0-0 at the Stade Gerland. “A 1-1 would’ve been better, but I am happy with the performance and we will make do with the result we got here.”

The Rossoneri dominated the first 20 minutes, but were under pressure in the second half, even if Dida was rarely tested.

“The second half was acceptable, as they tried to throw everything forward in the second half, but we still hardly ran any risks. It was always going to be difficult to maintain the standard of that opening 20 minutes. Serginho and Alessandro Costacurta’s movement forced the Lyon wingers back and so we had the advantage, but physically they couldn’t push as much in the second half and that’s when the French side began to take more control.”

Alberto Gilardino has been off form of yet and was again quiet in the Champions League tie in Lyon.

“Gilardino is important as a presence in the area and to hold up the ball for the midfielders to come forward. It’s true he didn’t have any chances, but he worked for the team and gave his contribution,” insisted Ancelotti.

With the gap from Serie A leaders Juventus cut to eight points, Milan are going into the toughest weeks of the campaign and will probably rotate the squad against Lecce on Saturday.

“The important thing is to evaluate the situation and at the moment it’s better to focus on rest and recovery rather than heavy training sessions. We hope that Marcos Cafu can come back soon and give his contribution in the final stages of the season.”

Vice-President Adriano Galliani was also impressed with the performance in France in this quarter-final first leg tie.

“We had a very good opening 20 minutes and had several chances to take the lead, then it became more balanced, which was only to be expected with such a quality team. I’d hoped for a score draw, but this will be fine and we have to win at San Siro,” said Galliani.

The transfer guru was asked about rumours linking the club to Lyon stars Cris, Antony Reveillere and Clement.

“We have many central defenders and our main transfer targets are for the right flank to replace Jaap Stam, but nowhere else. It was curious to see Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta both play at right-back after 20 years of central and left-back roles. I was impressed by Sylvain Wiltord, as he troubled us for much of the game and I complimented him when we crossed paths after the match.”

He also denied there would be a new central midfielder to perhaps give some tactical variation next term.

“I don’t see us playing 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 in the future, as we love our Trequartisti too much! We’ve also discussed this with Ancelotti and will continue with this system next season.”

Lyon 0:0 AC Milan - match report
29.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan come away from Lyon with a creditable goalless draw at the end of an even game in which Andriy Shevchenko had some of the best chances.

The Rossoneri travelled to France for the first leg of this Champions League quarter-final and, with Marcos Cafu, Jaap Stam and Paolo Maldini still dealing with injuries, Billy Costacurta started at right-back less than a month shy of his 40th birthday. Lyon have reached the quarters for the last three years running, are heading for their fifth Ligue 1 title on the trot and are unbeaten so far in the Champions League this season, but had star player Juninho Pernambucano suspended.

Milan had the first real shot on goal after six minutes, as Gennaro Gattuso threaded through for Andriy Shevchenko and the goalkeeper stretched out a leg to block the low shot.

Kaka unleashed a fierce drive from distance that swung wide of the target, as the Rossoneri were increasing the pressure in these early stages and Serginho set up another great chance for Shevchenko that Gregory Coupet once again was at full stretch to clear with his trailing foot.

Former Roma flop John Carew ballooned over the bar, but Milan were dominating at the Stade Gerland and Kaka shrugged off two challenges before hitting the side-netting with a cross-shot from the byline.

Florent Malouda had a good chance to set up Carew and Mahmadou Diarra, but his cross was off target on 25 minutes.

Milan's defending from set-pieces is still a problem and a Benoit Pedretti free kick went past everyone and Dida performed a splendid save to bat it out from inside the far post.

Carew had timid penalty appeals waved away for a clash with Kakha Kaladze and Pedretti hammered his shot well wide of the target.

On the stroke of half-time, Shevchenko had another great chance to give Milan the lead, but Coupet performed another smart save - this time with his palms - to stop it going under the crossbar. Carew's header was straight into the arms of Dida.

Milan nearly handed Lyon the opener after 55 minutes. They gave away the ball, but both Carew and Tiago had their shots charged down.

The Rossoneri were a little sloppy and Costacurta clipped Malouda's heels to earn a booking. Carlo Ancelotti made changes with Pippo Inzaghi replacing the quiet Gilardino and Paolo Maldini making his Champions League comeback for Costacurta, slotting into his right-back position. Fred came on for Carew for the home side.

Diarra, who has been linked with a move to Milan, volleyed well wide from the edge of the box and Tiago's weak effort failed to finish off a good move from Lyon.

Coupet rushed off his line to nod the ball away from Inzaghi outside the area, but Lyon were maintaining long periods of pressure in the second half, although their shots were often either off target or timid efforts into the arms of Dida.

Shevchenko threaded through for Kaka and the Brazilian's shot was charged down inside the area. The Ukrainian then had a shot comfortably saved by Coupet.

Only Dida's second real save of the game was eight minutes from time, as he tipped Tiago's dipping long-range strike out from under the crossbar.

Tiago was booked for a blatant shirt-tug to stop Kaka's counter-attack and will miss the second leg through suspension.

Lyon: Coupet; Clerc, Cris, Caçapa, Abidal; Tiago, Diarra, Pedretti (Clement 68); Wiltord, Carew (Fred 63), Malouda

Milan: Dida; Costacurta (Maldini 61), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo (Vogel 85), Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko, Gilardino (Inzaghi 61)

Ref: Plautz (Aus)

Milan make Oddo bid
29.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have made an official move for Lazio full-back Massimo Oddo, according to reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri have been linked with the Italian for some time and a bid is now believed to have been tabled.

Milan are in need of a new right-back given that Jaap Stam has agreed to join Ajax, while Marcos Cafu is being associated with a return to Sao Paulo.

Oddo, an Italian international who scored a brace at the weekend in the 2-0 win over Sampdoria, is liked by boss Carlo Ancelotti given his offensive nature.

The Biancocelesti are understood to have maintained their stance that Oddo is not for sale and will stay until his contract expires in 2008.

However, the Rossoneri are now expected to make an improved offer for the player, thought to be in the region of £5m.

Oddo, who is pushing for a place at the 2006 World Cup Finals, actually started his career in Milan’s youth ranks.

He’s since played with success at Napoli and then Verona.

It’s also believed that Oddo, who was close to joining Juventus last summer, is being monitored by both Valencia and Tottenham.

Ancelotti trusts in Costacurta
29.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alessandro Costacurta may be 40 next month, but Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti could start him as right-back against Lyon tomorrow evening.

“If Costacurta recovers from the strains of Saturday and is in good shape, then he will play,” pointed out the Coach ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final in France. “However, Paolo Maldini will definitely not start.”

Costacurta amazed on-lookers in this weekend’s 3-1 win over Fiorentina, as he set up Kaka’s goal and put in several fine crosses from the right flank. He has spent most of his career as a centre-back, but has found new verve in this position since injuries ruled out both Marcos Cafu and Jaap Stam.

“This will be a very delicate encounter with Lyon, but Milan are coming into it in good condition. It’ll be an entertaining game between two teams who love to play attacking football and take control of the game. We won't sit back and wait for them,” continued Ancelotti as he flew in to France this afternoon.

“It has been a difficult journey to this point and it will be even tougher from here on in, as Lyon play some of the best football in Europe.”

In this impromptu Press conference, the tactician also revealed a few of his changes to the side that beat Fiorentina.

“Alberto Gilardino has to play and work hard, as he always does. If a goal arrives for him then that’s even better, but what I am interested in is a performance to the height of his abilities.”

The Rossoneri have a slight advantage for the first leg, as Brazilian star Juninho Pernambucano is suspended.

“We’ll try to win in Lyon, but above all the most important thing is to score an away goal. What comforts me is the knowledge that when Milan are playing well, we almost always manage to hit the back of the net.”

Lyon boss Gerard Houllier had words of respect for the San Siro giants ahead of the quarter-final clash, but certainly not of concern.

“We have the same chances as Milan of going through. We respect them and admire their trophy cabinet, but being an outsider doesn’t matter,” he told French newspaper ‘L’Equipe’.

“It will certainly be important to play the first leg at the Gerland, but I don’t want to make predictions. A positive result and a clean sheet would be a good start for qualification. I expect two or three moments of genius or craziness to prove decisive. Losing Juninho is like missing Kaka or Andriy Shevchenko, but if we are to win this trophy then we must do so with or without him.”

Cris makes Milan plea
28.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lyon defender Cris has told Milan that he would welcome a San Siro move on the eve of the Champions League clash between the two sides.

The Brazilian, whose full name is Cristiano Marques Gomes, has been linked with the Rossoneri for some time and he’s now admitted that he would have no objection to such a switch.

“I still have three years left on my Lyon contract, but I can’t hide my love for Milan,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

“I like that Rossoneri shirt, it fascinates me as does the fact that the club have won six European Cups, they are full of tradition and stars.

“I hope that something can develop from the simple interest which they currently have in me,” he continued.

Milan are looking to rejuvenate their ageing defence and the South American has been monitored by transfer guru Ariedo Braida in person.

Although the Ligue 1 outfit’s £9m valuation is rather steep, with Milan not wanting to spend more than £6m, the fact that he will soon have EU status is an advantage.

“My mum is Portuguese and I am in the process of completing all of the documents in order for me to get a European passport,” he added.

Cris, who now looks likely to feature for Brazil at the 2006 World Cup, will have a chance to further impress Milan officials this week.

He’ll be partly responsible in stopping Andriy Shevchenko and Co in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg tie.

Milan still in race, claims Ancelotti
27.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti insists his side are still in the title chase after cutting Juventus’ lead to eight points on Saturday.

The leaders were held at home by Roma, while the Rossoneri came from behind to beat Fiorentina at the San Siro.

Although there are only seven games of the campaign left, Ancelotti is well aware that the seemingly impossible could happen.

“There is a slim chance,” he told TG5 on Monday afternoon. “That’s because anything can happen in this game.

“I was taught that at Juventus myself when my side were nine points clear with eight games left and we ended up coming second to Lazio.”

Nevertheless, Ancelotti is shelving his Scudetto ambitions for now given that they travel to Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“Serie A is not in our minds right now, we are being stimulated by our next game against Lyon in Europe,” continued Carletto.

“This is a crucial time of the season and we must just focus on doing well and continuing our run of good results.”

The San Siro outfit seem to be back on track and the Coach is content with the almost perfect football which his side are exhibiting presently.

“A Coach is always looking for perfection,” he added. “That is our dream but it is very difficult to deliver.

“Milan right now are a club with all of our components fully motivated.”

Ancelotti is also keen to lift some silverware this term after he was last week handed a new contract until the summer of 2008 – even if some of the Spanish media continue to insist that he is heading to Real Madrid in August!

“All you have to do is drop by the offices of the Lega Calcio and see the contract,” continued the former midfielder.

“This contract is a sign of great faith, a positive which gives a Coach great belief.”

Sheva snubs Chelsea again
27.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko has again told Chelsea that he has no interest in becoming their latest big money signing.

The Ukrainian has continually been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in recent seasons, but he insists that he just can’t see himself wearing another club’s shirt in the future.

“I’m bored and tired of these rumours about Chelsea,” the star striker told the L’Equipe newspaper on Monday.

“I still have three years left on my contract and am only thinking about Milan and ending this season in the best possible manner.

“Although nobody can say with any certainty what will happen in this game, I am happy at Milan and I have already said that I want to end my career here.

“I want to become a ‘Milanista’ like Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini.”

Shevchenko will next be in action on Wednesday night when the Rossoneri take on Lyon in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

“Playing away from home first will be an advantage for us,” argued the former Dynamo Kiev sensation.

“That’s also because I think Lyon will win more free-kicks at home than at the San Siro and that will hurt as Juninho is suspended.”

The Brazilian is arguably the best set-piece expert in the European game, but is out of this week’s clash through suspension.

“Juninho is simply incredible,” added Sheva. “He is a better free-kick taker than Ronaldinho right now.”

However, Shevchenko was quick to also warn Lyon that his side have their own dead-ball specialist.

“I can’t forget about Andrea Pirlo, he’s great at free-kicks too,” concluded the international forward.

Sneijder 'ready' for Milan
27.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Ajax youngster Wesley Sneijder believes he has what it takes to become a major player in the European game with Milan.

The Italian giants have been strongly associated with the 21-year-old and he insists he’s ready to follow in the footsteps of numerous Dutchman to have signed for the Rossoneri.

“I’m honoured by the interest of Milan, they are an absolutely fantastic club,” commented the midfield sensation.

“I think I am prepared for such a big move even if I have to underline that the decision regarding a potential transfer is not made solely by me.

“Until there is something defined then there is really nothing more that I can say about it at all.”

Milan are looking to freshen up their midfield options, with Swiss international Johan Vogel assessing his future after failing to win a regular first team shirt.

The latter, who was a January transfer target for Manchester United, arrived on a free last summer from PSV Eindhoven.

Vieira: Arsenal as good as Milan
27.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus ace Patrick Vieira has warned his teammates that Tuesday’s game against Arsenal will be like facing Milan.

The two teams square off against each other at Highbury in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

And although the Gunners are struggling domestically since Vieira’s departure last summer, the Frenchman insists his Bianconeri colleagues face an almighty task.

"In terms of the way they play, if I had to compare Arsenal to an Italian team, I would say they were like Milan," he said on state television channel RAI.

"They like to play football and have some great individual players. Their play is more based on technique than physique - but we have what is needed to beat them.”

Worryingly for Juve fans, their side have failed to beat the Rossoneri this term after losing 3-1 and drawing 0-0 with them in Serie A.

Yet Vieira is confident that his team can get a result in what promises to be an emotional tie for the former Arsenal captain.

"When you play for a team for nine years you can't not be emotional,” added the 29-year-old. “I enjoyed many good moments in that stadium. I expect a warm welcome.”

Vieira won numerous League and FA Cup honours during his Highbury stint, but won’t be taking on some of his former colleagues.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has today confirmed that both Sol Campbell and Freddie Ljungberg are unavailable because of injury. Striker Jose Antonio Reyes is also a doubt.

Juventus will be without injured captain Alessandro Del Piero and the suspended Pavel Nedved, who was also sent-off at the weekend in the 1-1 draw with Roma.

Maldini 'not ready' for Lyon
26.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini made his comeback after four months out with a knee injury, but warns he probably isn’t fit enough to face Lyon on Wednesday.

“I do need to play at the moment to regain my match fitness and am at Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal, but I don’t think I’ll start the game against Lyon,” noted the Milan captain.

The 37-year-old hadn’t made an official appearance since December 6 due to a recurring knee injury that some suggested would prompt an early retirement at the end of this season.

However, he played for the final 20 minutes of last night’s 3-1 win over Fiorentina and could show his face in the Champions League quarter-final in France next week.

Milan cut the gap from Serie A leaders Juventus to eight points, but Maldini is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“We are happy with Saturday’s results because they allow us to go five points clear of Inter in the race for second place. We are going well, but must keep an eye on realistic objectives.”

Ancelotti in awe of Costacurta
26.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits he was amazed by Alessandro Costacurta's performance, while Cesare Prandelli blames Fiorentina’s midweek strains for this defeat.

“At the moment we are playing good football, are solid and run few risks,” said the Rossoneri Coach after tonight’s 3-1 win. “We are also comforted by the five-point lead we now have over Inter in third place, as that is what counts in Serie A now.”

Milan have also closed the gap from Juventus to just eight points following the 1-1 draw at the Delle Alpi with Roma, but Ancelotti already has his eyes on the Champions League quarter-finals with Lyon.

“We struggled a little in the first half, but improved as time went on and ended the game attacking dynamically, which is very reassuring. We didn’t have to use up too much energy ahead of Wednesday’s game either.”

Alessandro ‘Billy’ Costacurta was one of the most impressive players of the night in a right-back role, despite the fact he turns 40 next month, while Paolo Maldini made his first appearance in four months.

“I embraced Billy when he left the field, as I really didn’t expect such a great performance from him,” added his former teammate Ancelotti. “He was a fantastic full-back tonight and exceptional for his dynamism, so we should all forget his age and look at the man. As for Maldini, it was a positive comeback and he has recovered from that knee injury.”

Fiorentina had taken the lead through Luca Toni, but fell away in the second half and Coach Prandelli believes the key lies in Sardinia.

“We weren’t as sharp as usual, as playing midweek in that rescheduled game with Cagliari took a lot out of us. It was an intense encounter and I liked the way my team played until tiredness took its toll.”

The Viola’s lead from Roma in the race for that fourth Champions League spot is just one point now and the two teams meet next weekend.

“That will be a very important game, but it won’t decide the battle for that place in Europe,” insisted Prandelli.

AC Milan 3:1 Fiorentina - match report
25.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Toni 13 (F), Shevchenko 20 (M), Kaka 48 (M), Gattuso 60 (M)

Milan fought back from a goal down to sweep Fiorentina aside 3-1, including a spectacular goal from Gennaro Gattuso.

It was second vs fourth at the San Siro and both sides were eager to make up for previous embarrassments. Fiorentina lost their last trip here 6-0, while the Rossoneri wanted revenge for their 3-1 drubbing earlier this season. The Viola had to do without the suspended trio of Marco Donadel, Cristian Brocchi and Dario Dainelli, but Milan welcomed Paolo Maldini back to the bench after months out with a recurring knee problem. The captain had made only 11 Serie A appearances this season and hadn't played since December 6.

Fiorentina had a bright start and went close in the opening minutes with Stefano Fiore setting up Luca Toni and his strike skimming the woodwork. Kakha Kaladze was then fortunate to escape with an error, as Toni also slipped and the chance went begging.

Dida saved a Toni header from ex-Rossoneri full-back Giuseppe Pancaro's cross.

Milan's first real opportunity fell to Pippo Inzaghi, who got in front of Manuel Pasqual to redirect a corner kick that shaved the near post.

The Viola broke through after 13 minutes thanks to a defensive error on a Pasqual free kick. Tomas Ujfalusi got above his marker to nod the ball into the centre for an unmarked Toni to push in from six yards.

The Rossoneri defence has been solid of late, but was again distracted from a Pasqual set-piece as Toni - again unmarked - saw his shot charged down.

Costacurta's misplaced cross turned into a shot that struck the roof of the net.

Andriy Shevchenko both started and finished Milan's equaliser, as his mazy run caused problems for the Viola, then he sprung the offside trap on Andrea Pirlo's pass, cut back past a defender's challenge and beat Bogdan Lobont at the near post.

Alessandro Nesta was booked for bringing down Luis Jimenez after a splendid piece of footwork from the Chilean youngster.

Lobont was again less than secure when he lost Costacurta's taut cross from the right, but was protected by his defenders.

The Fiorentina goalkeeper made up for his error with a stunning save on Kaka's equally spectacular scissor-kick volley from nine yards.

Milan took just two and a half minutes to take the lead after the restart. Costacurta, who turns 40 next month, crossed in for the unmarked Kaka to swing home a free header into the far bottom corner of the net.

Dida had his palms stung by a fierce Toni strike that was rising venemously, but the next goal came from an unlikely source.

Gennaro Gattuso unleashed a powerful curling shot from the edge of the box that went under a Fiorentina defender's leg and caught Lobont by surprise at the near post. The fiery midfielder sprinted all the way up the field to hear the applause of 'his' fans in the Curva.

Fiorentina switched to a more attacking formation with striker Valeri Bojinov replacing Jimenez.

Bojinov skipped past several players and drilled a good chance over the bar.

Billy Costacurta, who was putting in crosses all night despite his age, limped off for the final 20 minutes and gave Paolo Maldini his first appearance in almost four months, earning a standing ovation from the crowd.

Toni was rested for the final stages, but seemed visibly irritated at leaving the field to make way for Giampaolo Pazzini.

A hopeful Shevchenko piledriver from distance was over the bar and he was replaced by former Fiorentina hero Manuel Rui Costa. There were Fiorentina penalty appeals for Nesta's push on Pazzini, but they were waved away.

Clarence Seedorf really should've made it 4-1 in stoppages, but he incredibly ballooned over from six yards after some great work from Kaka, who out-sprinted Ujfalusi.

Milan: Dida; Costacurta (Maldini 75), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Shevchenko (Rui Costa 82), Inzaghi

Fiorentina: Lobont; Pancaro, Ujfalusi, Kroldrup, Pasqual; Fiore, Brocchi, Montolivo, Jorgensen; Jimenez (Bojinov 64); Toni (Pazzini 77)

Ref: Paparesta

Rossoneri track Reveillere
25.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have identified two main targets to reinforce their defence next season: Lyon’s Anthony Reveillere and Hannover man Per Mertesacker.

It is well known that the San Siro side must bring in fresh blood to reinvigorate an ageing defence, as Paolo Maldini, Marcos Cafu and Alessandro Costacurta are all in their late 30s, while Jaap Stam has already agreed a move to Ajax in the summer.

They have been linked with a bid for 26-year-old right-back Reveillere for some months now and will get the opportunity to observe him up close when Milan meet Lyon in the Champions League next week.

The French outfit paid £3.3m to sign him from Rennes three years ago, having first made his mark as an Under-21 international.

Reports in the Corriere dello Sport today suggest that another defender is also on his way to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

It’s claimed that Hannover starlet Mertesacker has already signed a pre-contract agreement with the Rossoneri.

The 21-year-old stands at 1.96m and is a first team player in the German national side, with suggestions he was recommended to Carlo Ancelotti by former Milan man Oliver Bierhoff.

There are other options, such as Atletico Madrid defender Luis Perea, William Gallas of Chelsea and Lazio’s 30-year-old right-back Massimo Oddo.

Milan welcome back Maldini
25.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini could play against Fiorentina this evening, opening up a starting spot for him against Lyon, revealed Carlo Ancelotti.

“If Maldini is able to play, then he could be ready for Olympique Lyonnais as well,” said the Coach. “It’s true that our defence is solid at the moment, but his presence would only strengthen it further. Either way, we managed without him against Bayern Munich and would do the same in the quarter-finals if necessary.”

Maldini has been out of action for several months with a recurring knee problem that has prompted some to suggest he’ll put an early end to his career.

However, the captain will be on the bench against Fiorentina this evening and could make an appearance in this clash between second and fourth.

“Jaap Stam is slowly improving, but he is unavailable for this game. Alessandro Costacurta shows no signs of deteriorating with age and if anything has been a real surprise for us this season, especially as he can play at right-back as well as central defence.”

Just days ahead of the Champions League showdown with Lyon, Ancelotti admits he could opt to rotate the squad.

“Massimo Ambrosini picked up a knock and Marcos Cafu continues to work hard. All the strikers are in good shape, so a little rotation helps everyone in the long run. I’ll make my decision based on how I’ve seen them in training this week.”

Fiorentina will be particularly motivated in this game, as they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat here last season.

“They’re not the only ones looking for a re-match, as we aren’t over the 3-1 loss we had at the Stadio Franchi earlier this year,” added Ancelotti.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac; Costacurta, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic; Ambrosini, Gattuso, Kakà, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Ancelotti surprised by Milan offer
25.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he had no idea that he would be offered a contract extension when asked to attend a summit on Tuesday.

The tactician committed his future until 2008 this week after meeting with chief Adriano Galliani for what he believed would be a normal conversation between both parties.

“It was a surprise renewal for me,” he stated on Friday. “Galliani asked me to drop by and when I got there and realised it was about my contract, we had a little chat and quickly reached an agreement.”

Ancelotti, whose previous deal was to expire in 2007, was wanted by Real Madrid even if he concedes he had no direct discussions with the Spanish giants.

“I had no official contact with Real Madrid who, rightfully, got in touch with Galliani to ask for permission to talk to me,” he continued.

“But Galliani quickly brought an end to the situation by offering me this extension to my Milan contract.”

Ancelotti arrived at the club in 2001 and he’s delighted that he’s been given an opportunity to add to his Scudetto, Champions League and Coppa Italia triumphs with the Rossoneri.

“This is my third renewal and I don’t consider it to have arrived because the club had a fear of losing me,” he added. “It is because things work between us.

“This is a great challenge for me and I want to continue to collect results and success here with Milan.

“A lot of people thought that a cycle had come to an end after our defeat in Istanbul, but the cycle continues.”

Ancelotti was then asked whether he could take charge of the national side once his San Siro stint finally ends. “It is just my desire to respect the contract which I have now,” he concluded.

Rui Costa set for Benfica
24.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Manuel Rui Costa will bring his Milan career to an end in favour of a return to Benfica this summer, according to reports.

Although the attacking midfielder’s contract with the Rossoneri doesn’t expire until June 2007, sources suggest that he will move back to his homeland next season.

Rui Costa has made no secret of the fact that he has always wanted to end his playing days with the Lisbon outfit.

Benfica are now said to be ready to make that happen after another frustrating season for the Portuguese ace in Italy.

The 34-year-old is now a regular on the San Siro bench given the impact made by Kaka since his arrival three seasons ago.

Rui Costa spent three years with Benfica before he moved to Serie A in 1994 when Fiorentina netted his services.

The playmaker performed for seven years at the Stadio Artemio Franchi until Milan swooped at the end of the 2000-01 campaign.

Milan trio chase contracts
23.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Three more Milan stars are in talks with the club over new contracts after boss Carlo Ancelotti and Billy Costacurta inked renewals this week.

Coach Ancelotti opted to turn down a move to Real Madrid by committing himself to the Rossoneri until 2008, while the veteran stopper agreed to play on until 2007.

Now Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Nelson Dida are all scheduled to hold negotiations with the outfit.

Italy stopper Nesta (pictured) will have few problems in netting a longer-term contract given his importance to a defence which is set to be rejuvenated this summer.

Gattuso too is almost certain to commit himself to the San Siro outfit despite last summer thinking about an exit.

He seems to have finally recovered mentally from the Istanbul nightmare against Liverpool and is ready to extend his stay after already spending seven years with the club.

The Italian midfielder should also net a pay increase as well as a promise to be given the captain’s armband once Paolo Maldini finally retires.

Dida’s future with the Italian giants will also be discussed even if it is unclear what decision will be taken.

The Brazilian has made some costly and uncharacteristic errors this term which have raised doubts about his future.

Although Milan did say they were ready to extend his deal late last year, the club are pondering their options.

They could opt to put their faith in Christian Abbiati once his loan deal at Juventus expires, while they have also been linked with Livorno’s Marco Amelia and Nantes No 1 Mickael Landreau.

Inzaghi on the offensive
23.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan striker Pippo Inzaghi has told the club to not waste transfer funds on any new forwards this summer.

The Rossoneri have been linked with possible moves for Chelsea’s Hernan Crespo and Ronaldo of Real Madrid, but Inzaghi believes there is no need for any alterations up front.

“Our attack is envied across Europe by everyone, there is no need for me to give the club any advice on whom to buy,” he said.

Inzaghi is just one of four international forwards plying their trade at the San Siro, seeing as he is accompanied by Andriy Shevchenko, Alberto Gilardino and Marcio Amoroso.

Although the latter has hardly featured since his arrival in January, the other three have been alternated with success by boss Carlo Ancelotti.

“I’m happy that Ancelotti has renewed his contract with the club,” the former Juventus and Atalanta player added.

“We have opened a winning cycle with him. The team is right behind the Coach and I think that the club have made the right decision in keeping him.”

Milan are next in action on Saturday when they take on Fiorentina, before they travel to France to play Lyon in the Champions League.

“Lyon will cause us more problems than Bayern did in the last round,” added Simone Inzaghi’s older brother. “We’ll need to be at our best to reach the semi-finals.”

Winning the Champions League is now the Rossoneri’s main ambition and Inzaghi is hoping to finish the campaign in style, also because of this summer’s World Cup Finals.

“I must just continue to do well for my club as I have always attempted to,” continued the player who hasn’t featured at all for Italy under Marcello Lippi.

“Whatever comes after that is a bonus even if playing for Italy is the dream of all footballers out there.”

Milan clubs track Landreau
23.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Nantes goalkeeper Mickael Landreau is a summer transfer target for both Milan clubs, according to his agent.

The 27-year-old is coming towards the end of his contract with the Ligue 1 side and is expected to move on a free transfer at the end of the season.

A number of outfits have been linked with the French international, with Italy and the San Siro a possible destination.

“My client is being chased by Milan and Inter,” stated Alex Lablatiniere. “While there has also been contact with Arsenal and Sevilla.”

Milan are believed to be assessing their ‘keeping options for the new term given that Nelson Dida has struggled recently, while Christian Abbiati – who has spent this season on loan at Juventus – wants first team football next year.

Meanwhile, Inter are looking at the shot-stopper as they ponder what to do with Brazilian international Julio Cesar.

The former Chievo player has recently lost his place in the side to veteran Francesco Toldo and could be sold at the end of the season.

Both Arsenal and Fulham have been linked with a move for the South American custodian.

Landreau, who has played in 328 top-flight games in France, is also believed to be a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

Italian duo track Gallas
22.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus and Milan are set to battle it out on the transfer market for Chelsea defender William Gallas.

The French international’s future at Stamford Bridge is in doubt and both Italian giants are prepared to make an offer if he opts to leave the Premiership champions.

Although a recognised central defender, Gallas’ versatility has impressed Juve and Milan who have a right-back spot to fill next term.

Juventus will almost certainly sell Jonathan Zebina, probably to Tottenham, and subsequently need a new full-back after they failed to lure Willy Sagnol from Bayern Munich.

The Turin giants would also hope that the strong French contingent at the Stadio delle Alpi in the form of Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and David Trezeguet could prove tempting to Gallas.

The Rossoneri are taking an interest seeing as Jaap Stam has agreed an Ajax switch and Marcos Cafu may join Sao Paulo.

However, Gallas is not the only individual being monitored by the top two teams in Italy at this present time.

Milan are known to be very keen on Lazio full-back Massimo Oddo, while Real Madrid’s Michel Salgado has been associated with the Old Lady since last summer.

Meanwhile, further reports in the peninsula on Wednesday are mirroring previous whispers that Juventus want Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool captain could be Juve’s big summer swoop seeing as the club’s infamous triad is now set to continue running the club.

Costacurta opts to play on
21.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have announced that veteran defender Alessandro Costacurta has today extended his contract with the club.

The stopper, affectionately known as Billy, has decided to postpone his retirement in favour of staying for at least one more season at the San Siro.

Costacurta, who is just a month away from his 40th birthday, has now committed himself to the Italian giants until June 2007.

The former Italian international, winner of 59 caps, has played 12 times in Serie A so far this season despite his advancing years.

The Varese-born defender joined Milan in 1985 and has spent his entire career with the club apart from a loan spell with Monza in Serie C back in 1986-87.

Ancelotti signs Milan extension
21.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has looked to silence the rumours of a move to Real Madrid by signing a new contract with Milan.

The former midfielder was being heavily associated with a switch, but has today committed himself to the Rossoneri by penning until 2008.

“I’ve signed until 2008 and I’m happy,” stated the former Parma and Juventus Coach on Tuesday afternoon.

“There was a temptation with regard to Real Madrid, but I have preferred to stay where I am with Milan.”

Ancelotti’s previous deal was set to expire next year even if many were predicting that this would be his final season with the Rossoneri.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani insists there is nothing strange about the timing of the announcement.

“We meet at the start of each Spring to decide on what we will do for the following year,” he simply stated.

Ancelotti, 46, has won the Scudetto, the Champions League and also the Coppa Italia while on the Milan bench.

BetAndWin to be Milan's new shirt sponsor
20.3 || webmaster

Source: SportEconomy.it

According to SportsEconomy.it, as of July 1st this year and until June 30th 2010, BetAndWin, the Austrian bookmaker, will be Milan's new shirt sponsor, ending Milan's 12 years affair with Opel.

The deal is expected to be made official in the upcoming two weeks in a press conference organized by the club.

BetAndWin will pay Milan 60 million Euros spread over 4 years for the shirt real estate, up 60% as compared to the Opel deal.

Milan will jump to 3rd place in the top of shirt sponsorships after Juve-Tamoil (24 million Euros per year) and Bayern-TCom (18 million Euros per year), tied with Real-BenQ.

Milan look at Tacchinardi option
20.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alessio Tacchinardi is again being linked with a move to Milan, this time according to reports in Spain.

The Villarreal midfielder, on loan at the club from Juventus, has been associated with the Rossoneri for some time.

Now the Marca newspaper insists that the European giants are ready to make a summer move for the Italian international.

They claim that boss Carlo Ancelotti has specifically asked the San Siro hierarchy for the Atalanta youth-team product.

Ancelotti highly regards the player after they spent some time together in Turin while Carletto was at the helm of Juventus.

Tacchinardi, contracted to Juve until 2008, will be keen to impress Italian eyes when his Liga outfit face Inter in the last eight of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, the same publication claims that Villarreal are keen on landing two of Inter’s Argentines for next season.

Captain Javier Zanetti and winger Kily Gonzalez are wanted, even if the latter is the only one of the two likely to move on at the end of the campaign seeing his lack of playing time for the outfit.

Ancelotti admits Real interest
20.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and Adriano Galliani confirm that Real Madrid are interested in the Coach, but insist he’ll stay with Milan next season.

“Who wouldn’t like to be in charge of Real Madrid?” noted the tactician after today’s 4-0 win away to Udinese.

“I think that there is a different mentality when it comes to sport, as they appreciate entertainment above all else, even the result. However, I think I have time to achieve that ambition.”

The Spanish newspapers have tipped Ancelotti to be the new Merengues boss next term, beating competition from Fabio Capello and Arsene Wenger precisely because his Milan side have regularly played spectacular football.

Now the Rossoneri have confirmed that these reports have some truth to them and that an initial approach has been made.

“There is certainly a real interest from Real,” revealed Vice-President Galliani. “I don’t know if there has been actual contact, but former President Florentino Perez rarely makes a move without informing me. All I’ll say is that I will put a bet on Ancelotti being our Coach next term as well.”

The talk over Ancelotti’s future intensified after ending last season empty handed, but even if he wins the Champions League in May, it could well be his final trophy for the club.

“Ancelotti will stay at Milan for many years to come,” insisted Galliani. “We don’t tend to sell our star players, let alone our Coaches. He has a year left on his contract and we’ll discuss an extension soon, as we are happy with him and he is content with us.”

However, the Vice-President did leave the door open to a potential departure in the summer.

“We have been in the top places of the UEFA rankings for the last five years, so there is no need to change tacticians. Even if Ancelotti does ask to go, we will stay good friends. There is a very affectionate rapport with Carlo and that will always remain.”

Udinese 0:4 AC Milan - match report
19.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Shevchenko 41, 65 (M), Gilardino 60 (M), Seedorf 71 (M)

Milan ran riot at the Stadio Friuli, as Udinese slide further towards the relegation zone.

The Rossoneri's main focus now was to hang on to second place, but Udinese desperately needed points to avoid sliding into the relegation zone following their midweek UEFA Cup exit. Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and the suspended duo of Gennaro Gattuso and Jaap Stam were out of action, while the Friuli side were without a win in eight games and still looking for their first Serie A victory under Coaches Nestor Sensini and Loris Dominissini.

Milan benchwarmer Marcio Amoroso was given a warm welcome by the fans, having scored 39 goals in three seasons - including a Capocannoniere title - with Udinese. Alessandro 'Billy' Costacurta started at right-back just five weeks before his 40th birthday.

The Rossoneri couldn't have gone much closer to opening the scoring after seven minutes, as Andrea Pirlo's free kick from 20 metres thumped the crossbar.

Sulley Ali Muntari was booked for a sliding tackle on Alessandro Nesta and Udinese also went close with a spectacular Antonio Di Natale scissor-kick volley that was deflected off target by Johann Vogel.

Vincenzo Iaquinta's glancing header drifted wide of the upright, while Dida smothered a Di Natale shot from distance.

Milan, and in particular Kaka, struggled to get into the game during the first half, but Alberto Gilardino had a goal correctly disallowed for an offside position on 36 minutes.

Dida was at full stretch to smother a Iaquinta strike after Kakha Kaladze slipped on the edge of his own penalty area.

It was an Udinese error that gifted Milan the opening goal after 41 minutes. Morgan De Sanctis intercepted a Rossoneri move with his feet, but stumbled and effectively handed the ball to Shevchenko for a comfortable finish from nine yards.

De Sanctis made up for his error moments later with a fine save on Gilardino's volley from a Pirlo long pass, as the shot-stopper stuck out a leg to block the ball.

Vincent Candela's scuffed effort was smothered by Dida, but Milan doubled their lead on the hour mark. Gilardino sprung the offside trap on Costacurta's pass and placed his shot past De Sanctis. However, replays suggest the ex-Parma man was in an irregular position.

Shevchenko made it 3-0 soon after, as he ran on to Gilardino's smart backheel and sidefooted into the far corner. Gilardino clattered into Felipe during the build-up and both players required treatment.

The Rossoneri were in total control and made it 4-0 with Clarence Seedorf finishing off an impressive team move with a right-foot finish.

Marcio Amoroso was given his Serie A debut in a Milan jersey and did so in front of his old fans.

Dida put the clean sheet at risk in the closing stages, as he fumbled a seemingly harmless free kick, but the goalkeeper was able to recover.

Udinese: De Sanctis; Zapata, Natali, Felipe; Zenoni, Obodo, Muntari, Candela, Pieri (Barreto 64); Iaquinta, Di Natale (Vidigal 78)

Milan: Dida; Costacurta, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Vogel (Ambrosini 73), Pirlo, Seedorf (Jankulovski 79); Kaka; Shevchenko (Amoroso 73), Gilardino

Ref: Trefoloni

Ancelotti chooses Milan
18.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has again reiterated his rejection of a move to Real Madrid and instead focuses on Milan’s encounter with Udinese.

“My choice is an obvious one, as I have a contract with Milan and intend to respect it,” assured the Coach who has repeatedly been linked with a move to the Spaniards at the end of this season.

“It is nice to hear so many compliments on the work that I have done, especially the praise for our entertaining style of football, but that is the end of the matter.”

The Rossoneri’s 0-0 draw with Juventus last week left them 10 points adrift of the leaders and therefore focusing mainly on ensuring second place.

“Automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League is of vital importance for our future plans, so that position is still up in the air with Inter and Fiorentina in the running. We’ll be facing those two teams soon and need to maintain a run of positive results.”

There is also the danger that Milan will pour all their energies into winning the Champions League quarter-final against Olympique Lyonnais, but Ancelotti won’t hear of it.

“The game with Udinese is a delicate one, as they are struggling at the moment and made some very precise choices in the UEFA Cup midweek to best prepare for this encounter. A good performance in Serie A is the best way of getting into gear to face Lyon, so we want to win in Udine.”

It’s possible that Marcio Amoroso, who shot to fame at Udinese, will be given his Serie A debut in a Rossoneri jersey in front of his old fans, as Andriy Shevchenko is still not 100 per cent fit.

“Sheva has trained regularly this week and his tendonitis has improved considerably. The squad is in good shape in general and I see their vigour while they work.”

Marcos Cafu and Paolo Maldini are injured, while Jaap Stam and Gennaro Gattuso are suspended, so changes must be made with Johann Vogel and Dario Simic expected to step in.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Costacurta, Kaladze, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic; Ambrosini, Kakà, Piazza, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Milan derby date set
18.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Milan derby will be played on the evening of Saturday April 15, while the clash between Juventus and Fiorentina concludes Week 33.

The Lega Calcio has announced the changes to the fixture list for the upcoming rounds next month, factoring in Champions League commitments and the Easter holidays.

Week 33 will see Udinese and Inter’s games brought forward to the Saturday, while the big game between Juve and Fiorentina is the late kick-off on Sunday April 9.

All of Week 34 will be played on Saturday April 15 for the Easter holiday, but the one evening match will be the Milan derby at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Week 33
Saturday April 8
Livorno-Udinese (18.00 CET)
Ascoli-Inter (20.30)
Sunday April 9
Juventus-Fiorentina (20.30)

Week 34
Saturday April 15
Milan-Inter (20.30)

Jankulovski rejects Roma rumour
17.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Marek Jankulovksi has thanked Roma for their interest, but insists he has no intention of leaving Milan at the end of this season.

The Czech Republic star has been linked with a loan move to the capital where he would link up with former Udinese boss Luciano Spalletti again.

However, Jankulovksi has today committed his future to the Rossoneri despite his difficulties since his summer arrival from the Stadio Friuli.

“Am I joining Roma? It’s the first I’ve heard about it,” he claimed. “It’s pleasing to be of interest, but I want to pay back Milan for their faith in me after a year which hasn’t gone to plan.”

Jankulovski was netted in a £7m agreement, but he’s been hampered after he broke his ankle towards the end of the last campaign.

“It wasn’t easy to recover, but I now feel good again,” continued the versatile left-sided player.

“I took part in pre-season training, but I was out for the next four months and I got injured again once I returned with the national side.

“However, my difficulties were not just down to that fact. The impact of joining a great club, with a new system of play wasn’t easy.”

Jankulovski will take on a piece of his past at the weekend when his new club travel to Udine’s Stadio Friuli.

“It will be a special game for me as I spent three great years at Udinese,” commented the former Napoli ace.

“It won’t be an easy match for Milan even if Udinese have been struggling somewhat over the last few weeks.

“I really didn’t expect them to be fighting for their Serie A survival this season. Nevertheless, we are going there to win – as we always do before every game.”

Silvio makes Ancelotti admission
16.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has sensationally left the door open for Coach Carlo Ancelotti to join Real Madrid.

Although the tactician only last night insisted that he wanted to remain at the San Siro, Berlusconi has indicated that a Spanish switch is not out of the question.

“It will be up to him to decide between ourselves and Real Madrid,” the Italian Prime Minister stated. “He is a very good Coach and we love each other.

“If I could create a law to keep him here then I would, but that isn’t possible. We live in a democracy.”

Ancelotti was this week heavily associated with the Spanish giants who are looking for a new Coach to rejuvenate their club’s fortunes.

Although Ancelotti’s contract with the Rossoneri doesn’t expire until June 2007, many in the game believe this will be his final season at the San Siro.

Nevertheless, the former Juventus boss went to great lengths last night to distance himself from stories that he was in competition with Fabio Capello for the Real hotseat.

“I am very close to this club and hope to stay here for many years to come,” stated the former midfielder.

“If Capello and I have been linked with Real Madrid, that’s a sign that Italian Coaches are still fashionable around Europe.

“Of course it pleases me to be associated with such a great side, but I have a contract with an equally important club.”

Van Basten rejects Milan seat
16.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Marco Van Basten has declared himself unavailable to replace Carlo Ancelotti on the Milan bench if the latter leaves this summer.

Ancelotti’s future at the San Siro remains in doubt with strong speculation suggesting that Real Madrid are keen on his services.

Former Milan great Van Basten is understood to be a man who owner Silvio Berusconi would like to see take charge of his team, but the Dutchman insists he has other commitments.

“I’ve never even thought about coaching Milan,” said the current Holland tactician after appearing in Demetrio Albertini’s farewell game last night.

“I have a contract with the Dutch FA which has two years left to run on it and I want to continue this project up to Euro 2008.

“I can’t possibly know now what the future holds for me after that time.”

Van Basten is just one of a number of former teammates of Ancelotti who are all being associated with his job.

Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard, sacked Livorno tactician Roberto Donadoni and Mauro Tassotti – Ancelotti’s No 2 – are all believed to be possible successors.

Ancelotti himself insisted on Wednesday that he wanted to remain at the club beyond June 2007 when his current agreement comes to an end.

Albertini takes last kick
16.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

An emotional Demetrio Albertini brought his stunning career to an end on Wednesday night during a star-studded farewell game.

Over 35,000 fans turned out at the San Siro as a Milan XI defeated a Barcelona outfit 3-2 in a match which rolled back the years.

“I could only dream of a last day like this,” the 34-year-old stated. “I’ve had a lucky career, one full of success.

“I want to thank my teammates at Milan, Barcelona, my family, my manager and the President (Silvio Berlusconi).

“I would also like to say thank you to my public, to my Curva and our Curva, I’ll have you in my heart forever.”

Albertini opened the scoring himself for the Rossoneri, bossed by Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti, with an early free-kick.

The home side doubled their lead in the 11th minute when Marco Van Basten headed in to make it 2-0 to the delight of his former fans.

Milan made it 3-0 on the night thanks to a Nadal own goal after a Ruud Gullit shot. Barca replied with second half goals from Ezquerro and a Samuel Eto’o penalty.

Albertini spent 14 years with Milan where he won five Scudetti, a Champions League, a European Super Cup and three Italian Super Cups. He also won a Liga title at Barca.

The former Italian international, who has been inactive since his Barca deal expired in the summer, also had one season spells with Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Atalanta.

Other players who entertained at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza included Ronaldinho, Deco, Kaka, Shevchenko, Baresi, Rijkaard, Michael Laudrup, Stoichkov, Papin and Weah.

Ancelotti rejects Real link
16.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has been linked with a move to Real Madrid next season, but the Coach insists he wants to stay at Milan.

“I am very close to this club and hope to stay here for many years to come,” said the tactician who also represented the Rossoneri during his playing career.

Fabio Capello of Juventus had been the main candidate for many years, but new Real President Fernando Martin was reportedly won over by Ancelotti’s entertaining style of football.

“If Capello and I have been linked with Real Madrid, that’s a sign that Italian Coaches are still fashionable around Europe. Of course it pleases me to be associated with such a great side, but I have a contract with an equally important club.”

Ancelotti was speaking ahead of tonight’s superstar encounter at the San Siro between Milan and Barcelona for Demetrio Albertini’s testimonial.

“I had a few problems when we worked together as Coach and player,” he confessed. “These are normal issues that arise when you have to make choices, although we were always open and clear with each other. This is how you create the best working relationships.”

Albertini is hanging up his boots at the age of 34 after 13 seasons at Milan, and one each at Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Barcelona and Atalanta.

“This is not so much a goodbye as a celebration of sport with my friends and teammates,” said the midfielder. “The fact so many of them wanted to be here was a great sign of the respect and fondness I’ve earned over the years and that is the most wonderful feeling of all.”

However, Albertini also confessed that he could not forget the bitterness at leaving the Rossoneri in 2002.

“I will always keep in my heart the trophies I’ve lifted, just like the 1994 World Cup Final we lost to Brazil on penalties. The wound of leaving Milan is also there forever.”

New role suits Kaladze
15.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan defender Kakhaber Kaladze is delighted that he is finally expressing himself for the club in the role that he prefers.

The Georgian has been used in a wide variety of positions since his arrival from Dynamo Kiev, but is now impressing onlookers in the centre of the Rossoneri defence.

“I was happy when I was playing at left-back and the club were too,” the international told Studio Sport.

“However, then I heard the rumours that the club were looking to buy a new centre-back. I started to ask myself why seeing as that is the position I prefer.

“Vice-President Adriano Galliani and boss Carlo Ancelotti just told me to be patient, thankfully I got my chance.

“The injury to Paolo Maldini allowed me to enter the team against Schalke 04 and everyone has seen what I can do.”

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have dismissed reports that they’ve agreed to sell Luis Amaranto Perea to the Rossoneri.

“At this moment in time there are no negotiations going on,” read a statement from the Spanish club. “There are no talks with regard to any players or Coaches.”

A £4m fee had allegedly been agreed between the two clubs for the 26-year-old Colombian defender.

Trio handed European aid
15.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The presence of three Italian teams in the last eight of the Champions League has led to a slight change to the Serie A calendar.

The Italian Football League has today confirmed that the trio will all play their League matches on the Saturday before their ties, giving them an extra day to prepare for their European challenges.

Juventus face Arsenal, Milan take on Lyon and Inter – last night’s conquerors of Ajax – play Villarreal in the quarter-finals.

Serie A changes:
Saturday March 25
Parma – Inter (18.00 local time)
Juventus – Roma (20.30)
Milan – Fiorentina (20.30)

Saturday April 1
Lecce – Milan (18.00)
Treviso – Juventus (18.00)
Inter – Messina (20.30)

Juninho plots Milan downfall
15.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lyon’s Juninho Pernambucano believes he has the key to beating Milan in the Champions League – by stopping Kaka.

The two sides will meet in the European Cup this month as both look for a place in the last four of the competition.

The Italian outfit will start the tie as slight favourites even if Juninho, a free-kick master, believes the Rossoneri’s hopes rely on his Brazilian teammate.

“Nobody is irreplaceable but Kaka represents 80 per cent of Milan’s potency,” said the creative midfielder.

“He has great vision and is one of the few remaining playmakers in the game seeing as Milan’s play flows through him.

“He is a quick player and has marvelous technique. He’s an automatic choice for Brazil and I’m happy to be his reserve.”

Milan travel to the multiple Ligue 1 champions on March 29, before entertaining them at the San Siro on April 4.

However, Lyon will be without Juninho – who Milan’s Andrea Pirlo used as an example to improve his own free-kick technique – in the first of those ties as the midfielder is suspended.

Gattuso receives normal ban
15.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso has escaped with just a one-match ban following his sending-off against Juventus.

The Italian international didn’t take too kindly to being red-carded in Sunday’s 0-0 draw and it was feared that his reaction to the dismissal would see him handed a lengthy suspension.

However, Gattuso has just been given the normal 90-minute sentence, aided by the fact that he did apologise to referee Massimo De Santis after the game.

Jankulovski set for Roma
14.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Roma have convinced Milan to loan them the services of Marek Jankulovski for the 2006-07 campaign, according to reports.

Whispers in the peninsula on Tuesday suggest that an agreement has already been reached between the two parties, with the player also accepting the switch.

Jankulovski has endured a difficult first campaign at the San Siro since his £7m move from Udinese in the summer.

The Czech Republic international joined the club just months after breaking his ankle and has failed to subsequently prove himself with the Rossoneri.

Milan are now ready to offer the player a chance of regular first team football by allowing him to play for the Giallorossi next season.

It’s unclear at this stage whether Roma will also be handed an option to buy the wing-back outright in the summer of 2007.

Jankulovski will certainly be hopeful that he can revive his career at the Stadio Olimpico given his relationship with boss Luciano Spalletti.

The two men were a massive success together at Udinese before both opted for separate destinations at the start of this season.

Milan plan Chivu swoop
14.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are ready to tempt Roma into selling Christian Chivu by offering Christian Abbiati and Pasquale Foggia for the stopper.

Although the player’s agent, Andrea Pretti, has indicated on numerous occasions that his client will remain in Rome, Chivu is at the top of the Rossoneri’s wish-list.

The San Siro outfit are keen to rejuvenate their defence and Chivu’s versatility is highly valued by the Milan hierarchy, especially after they were put off making a bid for Lyon’s Cris given his £10m valuation.

Milan are hoping to entice the capital club to release the former Ajax man by offering cash and Abbiati as part of the deal.

Roma are keen on a new goalkeeper and Abbiati, currently on loan at Juventus, is desperate for regular first team football again.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are also ready to offer the services of Foggia, the Under-21 international who has really impressed this term.

Foggia has continually been one of Ascoli’s best players on the right-side of the Bianconeri’s midfield.

Meanwhile, reports in Spain claim that Milan have agreed to sign Luis Amaranto Perea from Atletico Madrid.

A £4m fee has allegedly been agreed between the two clubs for the 26-year-old Colombian defender.

Ancelotti is Real favourite
14.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is understood to have overtaken Fabio Capello in the race to become Real Madrid boss.

The Juventus Coach was understood to have been the clear favourite to land the job, but reports on Tuesday suggest Ancelotti is now their primary objective.

Although Capello’s record as a Coach can’t be questioned, sources close to the Spanish giants claim that Ancelotti’s more attractive brand of football has put him in pole position for the role.

New President Fernando Martin and his board have been impressed with the way that the latter has combined style with results at the San Siro over the last five years.

Although the Madrid outfit have remained without a major trophy for three years, Martin doesn’t want to win at all costs – he wants to do so in style.

Ancelotti’s Milan contract, like Capello’s at Juve, expires in June 2007 but reports have suggested for some time that this will be his last campaign with the club he represented as a player.

And after bossing both Juventus and Milan in Italy, the former midfielder would be happy to try his luck in La Liga.

It is also understood that former Real Madrid technical director Arrigo Sacchi, a massive admirer of his former pupil, has recommended Ancelotti as a possible answer to the club’s problems.

Ancelotti would also be a cheaper option than Capello seeing as the latter reportedly wants a three-year deal worth £14m in total.

Meanwhile, a report in the ‘As’ newspaper today claims that Capello will only leave Juventus this summer if he leads them to Champions League glory.

Maldini eyes Lyon date
14.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan defender Paolo Maldini is hoping to be fit for the Champions League game against Lyon, but admits he can’t afford to rush his recovery.

The 37-year-old defender, who has been hampered by a knee injury this season, is eager to return to action but is aware that a premature re-entry could compromise his career.

“I really do want to be ready for the Lyon game even if I have to be prudent,” he told Milan Channel.

“This is not a simple case of just gritting my teeth, the problem could develop into something more serious and lead to an operation – I can’t afford to make that mistake.”

Maldini, who will play no part in Demetrio Albertini’s farewell game on Wednesday, has just returned to Italy after training in the warmer Miami climate.

It’s a break that has served him well, but he admits that his eagerness to return to action earlier this term has handicapped him.

“If I had taken this month and a half off a little sooner then I would be playing football now,” he noted.

“However, I was really desperate to feature in the high pressure and important games that we had to play.

“I gave it my best to be ready for action but I always failed, sometimes breaking down on the Saturday before matches. I can’t make the same error again.”

Maldini’s fitness problems this term had led to suggestions that this may be his last as a professional.

Yet the former Italian international, winner of a record 126 caps, insists that he still has the enthusiasm and hunger to continue.

“I want to play on in the future,” he commented. “I’m feeling better now than I did in August. The future now is brighter than it was then.”

Tacchinardi in Milan link
13.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are pondering a summer bid for Juventus-owned midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi, according to reports.

Stories in some sections of the Italian Press are suggesting that the former Italian international is wanted by boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The latter highly regarded the player during their time together at the Stadio Delle Alpi and he’s keen for them to link-up again.

Tacchinardi is currently in Spain with Villarreal but will be recalled to Turin in the summer as his Juventus contract doesn’t expire until 2008.

Should the move take place then it is likely to be a simple swap deal rather than one involving cash.

Juventus are believed to be presently keen on two Rossoneri stars in the form of goalkeeper Christian Abbiati and Massimo Ambrosini.

Abbiati is currently on loan at Juventus after he was brought in as a temporary replacement for the previously injured Gigi Buffon.

While Ambrosini is a midfield option who director general Luciano Moggi has attempted to lure on many occasions in the past.

Tacchinardi will be keen to impress Italian eyes should Inter make it through to face the Liga outfit in the last eight of the Champions League.

Inter take on Ajax at the San Siro on Tuesday following the 2-2 first leg draw during the Amsterdam Arena encounter.

Ancelotti: We were the better side
13.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and his players note that Milan had the better of the Turin showdown and feel they deserved more than a draw.

“All we were lacking tonight was the goal, as we played well and dominated for long periods. It wasn’t easy to break through here, especially after going down to 10 men. I don’t know if that was the right decision, as he seemed to slip as he came in,” said the Coach after the 0-0 result at Juventus.

Gennaro Gattuso saw red for a second bookable offence on Pavel Nedved, but Ancelotti had words of dissent for the referee.

“It was a decisive moment of the match and without doubt made a difference. Patrick Vieira committed more fouls than Gattuso and could easily have earned a second booking, too, while Emerson’s handling offence could have been a penalty.”

As with Fabio Capello and the Juve players, many of the post-match comments were aimed at the dismal state of the Stadio Delle Alpi turf.

“This is a pitch full of sand and it makes it tough to control the ball, but despite these conditions we still managed to do well here. Considering the way we play football, it makes a big difference to our performance to count on a smooth surface,” added Ancelotti.

“We have reason to be satisfied, as we take the game to our opponents no matter who they are and have found our confidence again in defence. To come here and play better than Juventus is also something to be proud of.”

The Rossoneri are on fine form at the moment in Serie A and the Champions League, although Jaap Stam was added to the injury list after just 15 minutes.

“There were times during the season when we had problems, above all by conceding a lot of goals from set-pieces, but everything has improved of late with Kakha Kaladze and Serginho getting into their roles. We had to make changes due to Paolo Maldini and Marcos Cafu’s injuries, so it took a while for the side to adjust.”

Alberto Gilardino was left on the bench against both Juve and Bayern Munich, but Ancelotti assures there is no problem with the £17m signing.

“Gilardino knows full we he is the present and the future of Milan, while at the moment Inzaghi is going through an incredible period of form, so I have to find a balance between a wide selection of very talented players.”

Kakha Kaladze was again impressive in central defence, where he has filled in admirably for the injured Paolo Maldini.

“I have always been a central defender and am enjoying this role after playing as a midfielder and fullback at Milan,” said the Georgian international. “If we had won then it would’ve been better, but the pitch was in a terrible state with sand flying around. It’s very difficult to play Juve when you’re in 10 men, but at least we didn’t concede a goal.”

Andriy Shevchenko was also disappointed with the 0-0 result, but saw a silver lining to this particular cloud.

“I think we tried to play our game and perhaps deserved a little more than Juve. We are playing with enthusiasm and a great team spirit, so it’s a shame we couldn’t reopen the title race tonight, but at least we can put all our efforts into the Champions League,” said the Ukrainian. “The state of the pitch made it tough for everyone and it’s a shame Rino was sent off. I don’t believe it was an intentionally nasty foul and there were worse tackles around the field.”

Capello: We got the job done
13.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Fabio Capello and his Juventus players are happy to have achieved their objective by holding Milan and insist there’s more to football than entertainment.

“We did not choose to be prudent, but there were moments when Milan had the upper hand and when we took control,” said the Coach after their 0-0 draw. “The Rossoneri needed a victory and we didn’t, so there was a difference in motivation and that showed. This was a tough game and was always going to be difficult, but the result was the most important thing.”

The lead-up to this match was dominated by debate over whether Juve were the best team in Italy for their results or Milan for their entertaining play. In an encounter where some would suggest the Bianconeri tried to batten down the hatches, it brought the discussion to the fore again.

“Football depends on the players at your disposal. If you have fast people then you try to pass it around quickly, but if they are more solid then you aim to maintain possession. A play is only as entertaining as its actors, but above all you get applause at the end if you get the result.”

The performances of the two sides were not helped by a Stadio Delle Alpi field that was in its worst condition for a long time, as players repeatedly slipped on the sandy turf.

“We have been saying for a long time that this pitch makes life difficult for us and a technical team like Milan had similar problems. Something has to be done about it and hopefully as the temperature warms up in Spring the grass will grow.”

Capello reveals that the tempo was the key to controlling the Rossoneri, as the midfield had to close down their sprinters.

“Milan have two or three players who can give them a change of pace, above all Serginho and Kaka. It’s no coincidence that most of their chances were created down the left flank.”

Once again, Alessandro Del Piero started from the bench and replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic at half-time, while Adrian Mutu was a surprise choice on the flank.

“I thought it right to introduce Del Piero, as he helps out the midfield and could take away some of Andrea Pirlo’s dominance in the centre. As for Zlatan, there is something in the Balkan nature that makes him want to do something extraordinary when simplicity would do! Mauro Camoranesi is carrying an injury, but above all I needed someone fast who could worry Serginho on the break.”

Gennaro Gattuso’s red card left Milan in 10 men and the fiery midfielder appeared to aim a few phrases at Capello as he left the field.

“Gattuso swore at me on his way out, but he had his mind in the game and these things are understandable,” said the Coach.

Emerson admits he was disappointed with the overall performance, even if Juve got the job done on the night.

“We cannot say the title is ours as there are a lot of games left, but we have a good chunk of it in our grasp,” said the Brazilian. “I think we could’ve done more tonight and tried to go for the win, but this result is acceptable. We were both a little tired after the Champions League and have a little more time to recover over the next week.”

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

Source: Football Italia

Juventus have all but secured the title after a 0-0 draw with 10-man Milan left them 10 points clear following Gennaro Gattuso's dismissal.

It was do or die for the Rossoneri, as anything less than a victory would put an end to their title hopes. With a 10-point lead going into the game, Juve could afford to hedge their bets, even if they wanted revenge for the 3-1 defeat they had suffered at the San Siro in Week 10.

Gianluca Zambrotta was the only injury worry for Fabio Capello, who picked Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of Alessandro Del Piero. Paolo Maldini and Marcos Cafu were out of action. Andriy Shevchenko, Jaap Stam and Serginho were doubts before the game due to niggling injuries, but were all able to start.

Andriy Shevchenko had the first chance on the counter-attack after two minutes, then Ibrahimovic combined with David Trezeguet inside the area and Dida rushed off his line to close down the ball.

Lilian Thuram slipped and missed Stam's cross, but Jonathan Zebina was able to clear before it could reach Inzaghi.

Gianluigi Buffon rushed off his line to clear from Shevchenko and Trezeguet's scuffed effort was wide of the target.

Dida was fortunate that Patrick Vieira's header was straight at him, as otherwise he might not have had time to react.

Stam was booked for a crunching tackle on Giorgio Chiellini and suffered an injury during that move, so he made way for Alessandro Costacurta after just 14 minutes.

Inzaghi was stopped when running alone on goal for an extremely tight offside decision.

Adrian Mutu skipped past Kakha Kaladze's challenge and was stopped short by a perfectly timed and crucial Alessandro Nesta tackle.

Milan had a great chance on 21 minutes, as Serginho hooked Andrea Pirlo's long pass with a marvellous first touch and crossed in for Shevchenko, but it was charged down by a combination of Buffon and teammate Inzaghi.

Buffon rushed out again to pluck the ball off Inzaghi's feet, while Ibrahimovic tried an ambitious effort from 30 metres that was well over. Inzaghi's diving header on a Seedorf free kick was wide of the near post.

The Rossoneri again threatened, as Kaka won a lucky ricochet and his low cross went past both Buffon and Zebina, but Inzaghi also slipped and couldn't fire into an empty net.

Fabio Capello made a change at half-time, introducing Del Piero for the disappointing Ibrahimovic. The substite combined with Trezeguet, but the move was intercpeted by Kaladze.

Inzaghi sprung the offside trap and Fabio Cannavaro managed to close him down after a poor first touch inside the area.

Dida got down well to block a Nedved strike from the edge of the box, Mutu ambitiously fired over the bar and Kaladze charged down a Del Piero counter-attack.

Del Piero's flicked header from Chiellini's cross was just wide of the far post, but Milan threatened again with Buffon flinging himself at Inzaghi's feet after he sprung the offside trap on Kaka's through ball.

A corner kick found both Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso, the midfielder bringing a save out of Buffon. The move continued and Nesta was booked for dissent, as he claimed Emerson's handling offence was worthy of a penalty, but the two players were very close together and it was clearly involuntary.

Alberto Gilardino replaced Inzaghi for the final 25 minutes, but Gattuso was furious when a free kick was awarded against him for a foul on Nedved. The second booking was more for the reaction than the challenge itself and the midfielder was sent off. He had to be dragged off by the scruff of the neck by Costacurta.

Del Piero sparked a move that was finalised by Nedved's strike well held by Dida.

Despite playing in 10 men, Milan were more dangerous and Chiellini needed an acrobatic clearance to stop Shevchenko and Gilardino turning in Seedorf's cross.

Nesta charged down another Del Piero effort in stoppages and the final whistle was blown on the game and probably the Scudetto race.

Juventus: Buffon; Zebina, Thuram, Cannavaro, Chiellini; Mutu, Emerson, Vieira, Nedved; Ibrahimovic (Del Piero 46), Trezeguet

Milan: Dida; Stam (Costacurta 14), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Ambrosini 79); Kaka; Shevchenko, Inzaghi (Gilardino 67)

Ref: De Santis

Sent off: Gattuso 69 (M)

Moggi: Milan have to gamble
12.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus director general Luciano Moggi is confident ahead of tonight’s Scudetto showdown with Milan, as he says they’re holding all the cards.

“The truth is that we can happily make do with two out of three results, while the Rossoneri have no other choice but to win if they want to keep their title hopes alive,” explained the transfer guru.

The Bianconeri are 10 points clear at the top of the table and welcome second-placed Milan to the Stadio Delle Alpi this evening.

These two giants have dominated the Serie A race in recent years, as only Lazio and Roma have split their monopoly in over a decade.

“We always thump each other black and blue on the pitch,” smiled Moggi. “These clubs respect each other, but there is also a healthy sense of competition.”

They also clashed in the Champions League Final in 2003 and the stage is potentially set for a repeat of that meeting in May.

“I certainly hope so, but it’s best to talk about the games we’ve already booked our tickets for. Having said that, it would be nice to get our revenge for that defeat at Old Trafford.”

Milan won the Final in Manchester on penalties after the tie had ended 0-0 after extra time.

Ancelotti: It's do or die in Turin
12.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti knows the showdown with leaders Juventus will decide the fate of the Scudetto – one way or the other – but they could do it without Andriy Shevchenko.

“We have a small flicker of hope for the title that on Sunday night could either be extinguished completely or revived. Juve will play the match ball for the Scudetto, there’s no doubting that, and a victory would put clear the path to the trophy. One way or the other, it will be decided this weekend.”

The Rossoneri are fresh from a 4-1 hammering of Bayern Munich in the Champions League and have won their last five Serie A games on the trot.

“We have to focus on quality to win this game and use that to control Juve’s physical strength, just the way we did against Bayern,” continued the tactician. “These are two schools of football facing off and we must make sure our philosophy gets the upper hand.”

Shevchenko netted in that European victory, but is a major doubt for this showdown due to a recurring tendon problem.

“He still isn’t 100 per cent, but if he feels that he’s up to it, then he will play. In any case, we’ll decide together what is the best course of action, considering he can also be very effective as a substitute. The players have understood that 30 minutes played at the top of your game is better than 90 when you’re dragging your feet. Alberto Gilardino has the advantage over both Pippo Inzaghi and Sheva because he is rested.”

Jaap Stam and Serginho are also struggling with fitness worries, while Gennaro Gattuso returns from his Champions League ban to shore up the midfield.

It is a return to the Stadio Delle Alpi for Ancelotti, who divided the fans after failing to win the Scudetto in his three seasons at Juventus, finishing fifth and with two silver medals.

“I think the claim I was unpopular is an urban legend,” insisted the Coach. “There are 10 million Juve fans and if 50 or 60 of them wage a campaign against me, that isn’t really a majority. Even Fabio Capello has been jeered by a section of the supporters for his treatment of Alessandro Del Piero, so results aren’t everything to them.”

The draw for the Champions League has kept Milan and Juve separate, so in theory there could be a repeat of the 2003 Final. After losing a trophy that seemed to be well within their grasp against Liverpool last year, would Ancelotti prefer to face his demons first?

“I’d certainly hope for a Milan-Juve Final in Paris, because that would mean we had reached our objective and gone all the way. After that, we’d see what happened. I say it would be far more irritating to go out earlier rather than lose a Final.”

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Costacurta, Kaladze, Marzoratti, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic, Stam; Ambrosini, Gattuso, Kakà, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Ancelotti content with Lyon test
11.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims his Milan side had a lucky draw when pulling Olympique Lyonnais out of the Champions League hat for the quarter-finals.

“These are strong opponents who have been at the height of European football for many years, just like us. I think it’ll be an entertaining encounter, as both teams are very attacking,” said the Coach on Sky Italia.

Lyon have won the last four Ligue 1 titles and reached the quarters for the last three seasons running, but look even more of a threat as they are still unbeaten in the current Champions League campaign.

“It’s a good draw,” said Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas. “Playing the first leg at home is what we hoped for, because Juninho Pernambucano is suspended and we wanted him to be with us in the away game. Playing giants like Milan, who we have never met, is exciting and I remember when we were told we had easy draws against Porto and PSV Eindhoven that we went out.”

Meanwhile, Ancelotti believes that Juventus are the ones to watch for the Final in Paris despite scraping through only on away goals against Werder Bremen.

“We want to win the Champions League, but it’s always a very difficult task. To win the Cup you need to combine so many factors, above all finding your form at the right time. This is that time. You also need a bit of good fortune and in that sense I see Juve as the favourites considering how they qualified.”

The crushing 4-1 victory over Bayern Munich, 5-2 on aggregate, must also have put the Rossoneri into the list of favourites for many pundits.

“The philosophy of Milan and patron Silvio Berlusconi is to command games and impose our style of play upon our opponents,” continued Ancelotti. “We try to achieve that at all times, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

There has been talk of Ancelotti moving on if he fails to win the Champions League for the second time in four years and even rumours that they’ll tempt Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to San Siro instead.

“I read a lot of things in the newspapers, but in all honesty I think that next year the Milan bench will again have my name on it.”

Sheva doubt for Juve clash
10.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko is an injury doubt for Sunday’s showdown with Juventus, while his Milan teammates comment on the tough Champions League draw with Lyon.

The Ukrainian has been struggling with a recurring tendon problem for several months and the injury flared up again after the 4-1 win over Bayern Munich.

With the Champions League quarter-finals against Olympique Lyonnais coming up on March 29 and April 4, Coach Carlo Ancelotti could decide not to risk a further setback by playing him from the start, opting instead for Alberto Gilardino and the on form Pippo Inzaghi.

Meanwhile, the club has been commenting on the European draw that has paired them with the French side, who are unbeaten in the tournament so far this season.

“The important thing was to avoid an Italian derby with another Serie A team. That’s better in the Final than now,” noted Paolo Maldini.

“We are very happy to have avoided the risk of an all-Italian clash,” agreed vice-President Adriano Galliani. “Lyon are a team that play well and are part of the top clubs on the continent but, after our famous exit to Deportivo La Coruna, it’s pointless making predictions.”

Milan have never met Lyon before and their last encounter with a French outfit was in the 2002-03 Champions League, beating Lens 2-1 both home and away.

“Lyon are a tough team and we respect them,” said Massimo Ambrosini. “They were one of the three opponents we wanted to avoid in the draw, but to win this competition you have to beat the best and it’s more satisfying to qualify the hard way.”

The Rossoneri risk facing Barcelona in the semi-finals, so the path to the Final in Paris is littered with prestigious hurdles.

“Lyon have done very well up until now but, with all due respect for the other remaining teams, Milan have every opportunity of continuing their progress,” said Clarence Seedorf. “The Frenchmen have been playing together for a long time and are solid, but we have a lot of experience at this level, quality and the desire to repeat our fine performance against Bayern Munich. We have no reason to fear anyone.”

Serginho: Bring on the best
10.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan defender Serginho has clear ideas about Friday’s Champions League draw. “I want to face the best,” he said.

Although the Rossoneri could potentially be paired with the weaker options of Villarreal or Benfica, the Brazilian is confident enough that his side can beat anyone in the quarter-finals.

“I want us to be paired with the strongest team in there,” the South American told Datasport ahead of today’s draw procedure.

“We are playing really well at this moment in time and it would be better for us to face the best team left so that we can eliminate them instantly.

“Are Barcelona the best? I don’t know whether they are. I just want to play the toughest opponents and that is that.”

Milan eased through to the last eight after their 5-2 aggregate demolition of Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

“We are working a little harder than we were in January and that has helped us to find our character and balance again,” continued the 34-year-old.

“But not that much has changed for us really.

“I’m personally doing well in training and I feel a lot better than what I did. I think I did pretty well against Bayern.”

Friday’s UEFA draw will have no country protection aspect involved which means that all of the clubs remaining can face anybody.

Italy will have three representatives in the draw in the form of Milan, Juventus and Inter – even if the latter will be joined by Ajax seeing as their second leg tie won’t take place until next week.

The other five clubs left in the competition are Arsenal, Benfica, Villarreal, Lyon and Barcelona.

CL Draw: AC Milan vs. Lyon
10.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan, last season’s runners-up, will face French champions and current Ligue 1 leaders Lyon in the last eight.

The Rossoneri will use the game to get a closer look at Lyon defender Cris who is understood to be on the Italian club’s wish list.

The Turin giants, who just shaded past Werder Bremen in the last round, will travel to London first before welcoming back Thierry Henry, a Delle Alpi flop, in the return.

Inter have been handed the simplest task on paper in the form of Villarreal, even if the Italian outfit will firstly have to overcome Ajax on Tuesday following the 2-2 draw in Amsterdam.

The other tie sees Barcelona, conquerors of Chelsea, take on Fabrizio Miccoli’s Benfica outfit after their success over Liverpool.

That game will also be a special occasion for Benfica boss Ronald Koeman after his goal gave Barca a European Cup Final win over Sampdoria in the 1990s.

The draw for the semi-finals also took place in Paris on Friday, with Juventus set to face Inter if both progress.

Milan or Lyon will obviously take on the winners of the Benfica-Barcelona tie in the other semi-final.

Quarter-Finals - March 28/29 and April 4/5
Arsenal v Juventus
Lyon v Milan
Inter/Ajax v Villarreal
Benfica v Barcelona

Semi-Finals - April 18/19 and 25/26
Arsenal or Juventus v Inter/Ajax or Villarreal
Lyon or Milan v Benfica or Barcelona

Inzaghi: What a night!
9.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Champions League hero Pippo Inzaghi insists the 4-1 destruction of Bayern Munich will live long in the memory.

The Italian international netted twice last night in the 5-2 aggregate victory to enable his side to take their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Inzaghi’s latest show simply underlined that he’s back to his very best after spending much of the last two seasons sidelined with numerous injuries.

“I have never felt better in my career and when you’re out for over a year it becomes trickier to get back on form,” said the former Juventus striker.

“Thankfully I made the right choice with the medical staff of spending two months just working on my muscular tone and you can see the difference.

“The important thing is to train regularly, as that is the secret of any player’s success, and I hope to continue on this path.”

The only negative for Inzaghi was the gloom on his face when he was substituted, yet he insists he wasn’t saddened to have been dragged off at all.

“I was exhausted when I went off the field, not angry! It was wonderful to hear the fans cheering for me as I was substituted, this was a great night,” he added.

“I also want to thank Serginho who is exceptional and we are fortunate to have teammates who are always putting us in goalscoring positions.”

Super Pippo was the man most were praising though, a player who could prove crucial in the latter months of the season and maybe even in the summer.

“Inzaghi is in great form and proved that with a superb performance tonight,” said teammate Kakha Kaladze.

“I’m glad for him, as he suffered during those long months of injury and deserves to have success.

“He would be useful for the Italy squad and is always a danger in the area, as he has an instinct for goal, but that is up to the Coach.”

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani added: “I must celebrate Inzaghi for his achievement in beating the tally set by Alfredo Di Stefano.”

His brace on Wednesday took his career total in all European competition to 50 goals, 32 of which were in the Champions League, overtaking the Real Madrid legend’s amount of strikes.

Kaladze targets CL title
9.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Kakha Kaladze is hoping that history will repeat itself after admitting that the Champions League is Milan’s only real chance of glory this term.

Although the Rossoneri could cut the gap at the top of Serie A to just seven points on Sunday if they win at Juventus, the stopper is gunning for the European Cup after last night’s 4-1 drubbing of Bayern.

And given that the Italian outfit have gone on to win the trophy on the three previous occasions that they have beaten the Germans in the same competition, the Georgian is keeping his fingers crossed for a fourth.

“We are certainly aiming for the Champions League Final, as it will be difficult to recover the 10 points in Serie A from Juventus, and we are playing our best football in Europe,” he stated.

Milan were in awesome mood at the San Siro and the former Dynamo Kiev player has revealed that a phone call before the game lit the fuse.

“We played brilliantly, Jaap Stam and Serginho were particularly effective tonight,” he continued.

“I will also admit that before the game Coach Carlo Ancelotti said that Silvio Berlusconi had called and ordered us to dominate the play in our home stadium.

“We dedicate this win to Berlusconi, a great fan.”

The only disappointment of the night was Nelson Dida’s howler, a mistake which gifted Bayern a goal and allowed them to get back into the game for a short time.

“I don’t want to judge Dida for that error, as it must be remembered we were playing against Bayern Munich and he performed some good saves later on,” he concluded.

Roma next for Abbiati?
9.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Roma have emerged as a possible destination for Christian Abbiati as his search for first team football continues.

The Giallorossi have reportedly made contact with Milan in an effort to gain an understanding of their intentions over the goalkeeper.

Abbiati is currently on loan at Juventus but will leave at the end of the season after losing his place in the side once Gigi Buffon recovered from his shoulder injury.

He is scheduled to head back to the San Siro but he may depart if he isn’t guaranteed a first team shirt ahead of Nelson Dida.

After spending three seasons as his No 2 with the Rossoneri, Abbiati is keen to be handed regular football at the highest level.

Although the Brazilian has been in shaky form this term, with his latest blunder allowing Bayern Munich to score last night, it seems more likely that the Italian international will be sold.

Roma are pondering a move, if the price is right, as there are still problems regarding contract extension talks over current first choice Alexander Doni.

Although the capital club do have a potential star of the future in Gianluca Curci, they are keen to not throw the Under-21 international into the deep end at this stage of his career.

Abbiati has been associated with moves to Arsenal, Palermo and Fiorentina in the recent past.

He also actually signed for Genoa in the summer, but returned from his loan stint almost immediately after they were demoted into Serie C.

Ancelotti aiming for CL final
9.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti confirms Milan are aiming straight for the Champions League Final and Andriy Shevchenko answers Oliver Kahn.

“This game was built on what we saw in the first leg, as we hadn’t made the most of our full-backs and were a little too soft on our marking,” said the Coach after their 4-1 thrashing of Bayern Munich.

“Tonight we started on the right foot and, apart from the moment when the goal made things a little more complicated, we were in charge. This will be a performance that’ll live long in the memory.”

Pippo Inzaghi’s brace took his career tally in all European competition to 50 goals, 32 of which were in the Champions League, overtaking Alfredo Di Stefano’s total. Andriy Shevchenko also netted his 56th goal, making him the third most prolific European striker of all time behind Gerd Muller and Eusebio.

“Inzaghi had played brilliantly, but was exhausted and I opted for some fresh legs. He scores so many goals precisely because of his personality, as he is never sated and would be angry even if I’d taken him off after he’d scored four or five.”

The Rossoneri are top scorers in Serie A and have Shevchenko as the current leading hitman in the Champions League, although there are still questions marks at the back after Nelson Dida’s howler gifted Valerien Ismael with a goal.

“We are fortunate that we can score goals easily right now with these incredible strikers, but the rest of the team has also found solidity. A goalkeeper can fumble when it’s hit powerfully and we probably were a little distracted on the loose ball, but the rest of the match was first rate from everyone.”

There were reports that this match was decisive for Ancelotti’s future and he reveals that patron Silvio Berlusconi rang up before the game.

“Berlusconi asked us to stick to Milan’s philosophy, which is to score lots of goals and play better football than our opponents. This is the 20th year of his Presidency and we are happy to have given him this performance as a present.”

Milan are the only side from last season’s semi-finals who are still in the competition, so they must be considered among the favourites.

“Everyone knows how hard the Champions League is and the fact we have shown such consistency in the competition is a good sign. We now have to maintain our physical and psychological focus. Let’s not forget that every time we thought we had an easy draw, we ended up running into trouble, so whatever we get will be fine. It would be nice to see the same performance against Juventus on Sunday.”

Shevchenko missed a penalty in the first half and goalkeeper Kahn was seen shouting taunts in his ear, but the Ukrainian responded with a goal just over a minute later.

“I didn’t pay attention to what he said, but it wasn’t a nice thing to do for a German legend,” said the hitman. “We gave all our answers on the pitch, so Kahn can say all he likes, but he lost 4-1.

“Our first half-hour was very aggressive and Bayern only caused problems when we took a bit of a breather. We played very well and won back the ball repeatedly, but above all I feel we wanted it more. I don’t mind who we meet in the quarters, as long as it’s not a derby with another Italian side.”

AC Milan 4:1 Bayern Munich - match report
8.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 8, 47 (M), Shevchenko 25 (M), Ismael 35 (B), Kaka 59 (M)

Andriy Shevchenko missed a penalty, but Milan still swept through to the quarter-finals thrashing Bayern 4-1 with a Pippo Inzaghi brace.

The Rossoneri had an away goal from the 1-1 first leg result in Munich, but were far from in a comfortable position in this clash of the titans. Jaap Stam returned from injury and Johann Vogel was hoping to celebrate his 29th birthday as he stepped in for the suspended Gennaro Gattuso, while Pippo Inzaghi was chosen to partner Andriy Shevchenko upfront.

Both goalkeepers were injured during the first leg, Dida suffering his problem during the second half, but both the Brazilian and Bayern star Oliver Kahn were back in action. The San Siro was sold out with 78,569 tickets sold, including 9,000 travelling German fans.

Early on a well-time Kakha Kaladze tackle stopped Roy Makaay short and some good play between Kaka and Shevchenko led to a corner kick from Serginho's deflected cross.

Milan took the lead within the opening eight minutes, as they pounced on a defensive error. Serginho intercepted a poor Demichelis pass and crossed in for Inzaghi's cushioned header from six yards.

Bayern gave the ball away again in midfield and Vogel immediately threaded through for Inzaghi, but Kahn rushed off his line to clear the danger in a one-on-one situation.

Kahn also captured a wayward Demichelis header from Clarence Seedorf's free kick, then Vogel's volley from a corner kick was wide of the near post.

Dida's first save came on 15 minutes, comfortably blocking a deflected Bastian Schweinsteiger volley from Michael Ballack's cross, while Inzaghi couldn't make the most of another Serginho assist from the left.

On 23 minutes the referee pointed to the spot when Valerien Ismael was judged to be holding back Inzaghi. Shevchenko scored a penalty in the first leg, but this time he drilled wide of the target, so this was an opportunity wasted for the Rossoneri and Kahn tried to wind him up by shouting in his ear.

Shevchenko made up for the error just over a minute later, as the Ukrainian popped up for a glancing header on Stam's cross at the near post that slotted into the low far corner of the net.

Kaladze cleared the danger when a poor clearance fell to Ballack, while the referee waved play on for a shove on Shevchenko inside the area. Ballack also drilled an effort wide of the near post and Vogel was booked for a lunging tackle on Willy Sagnol.

Bayern got back into the game thanks to a terrible Dida error. The goalkeeper only parried a fierce long-range Schweinsteiger free kick off his chest and Ismael tapped in from six yards.

Lucio escaped a booking for an elbow-first challenge on Serginho, but Ballack was yellow-carded for bringing down Pirlo.

Dida performed a fine save to push away a Deisler free kick into the centre that may have taken a touch off Ballack's head. There was a scuffle after play was halted for a foul on Inzaghi between Ballack and Kaladze.

Bayern were putting on the pressure towards half-time and Claudio Pizarro turned a header wide from a corner kick, then Sebastien Deisler ballooned over the bar.

The Germans introduced Guerrero for the ineffective Makaay at half-time, but Inzaghi made the most of another Bayern defensive error just moments after the restart. Ismael and Bixente Lizarazu clattered into each other in a bid to clear Serginho's cross and Inzaghi nodded in from a couple of yards to restore Milan's two-goal cushion.

Dida did well to catch Pizarro's header from a Deisler free kick, then Bayern threw on Ze Roberto for Lizarazu.

Another defensive howler from Sagnol was intercepted by Shevchenko and Seedorf incredibly prodded it past the near post from six yards.

The Rossoneri made it 4-1 on the hour mark, as Kaka showed blistering pace to spring the offside trap on Shevchenko's through ball and cannoned a powerful right-foot finish into the roof of the net with Kahn getting a fingertip to it.

Lucio nodded substitute Mehmet Scholl's free kick well wide, then Dida had to parry a freeshot from Pizarro, who had been kept onside from a corner kick by Vogel. Ballack held up the all for Ze Roberto, who slipped and sliced it wide.

Dida was brave moments later, as he punched the ball off Ballack, taking the German's chin along with it, to prevent a certain goal from six yards.

Alberto Gilardino replaced brace hero Inzaghi and Dida again only smothered a Ballack missile, but this time grabbed the loose ball before anyone could pounce.

Massimo Ambrosini made his comeback after a long-term injury for the final 15 minutes, taking over from Shevchenko for Ancelotti's Christmas Tree formation.

Seedorf burst through the centre, but tried to put it under Kahn and the goalkeeper made a good save. Pizarro's looping header settled on to the roof of the net.

Ambrosini tried to head the ball back across the face of goal for Gilardino when he could easily have gone for goal and netted a fifth.

Milan: Dida; Stam, Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Vogel, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka (Rui Costa 86); Shevchenko (Ambrosini 76), Inzaghi (Gilardino 72)

Bayern Munich: Kahn; Sagnol, Lucio, Ismael, Lizarazu (Ze Roberto 52); Demichelis; Deisler (Scholl 63), Ballack, Schweinsteiger; Makaay (Guerrero 46), Pizarro

Ref: Ivanov (Rus)

Missed penalty: Shevchenko 23 (M)

Ancelotti sets Bayern trap
7.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has called on the San Siro fans to push Milan on to a Champions League victory against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.

“We have a slight advantage in the tie due to the away goal and it’s important to be able to build on that in front of our home fans, who could be a crucial element for us,” said the Coach after the 1-1 draw in the first leg.

“This will be a clash of two concepts of football: the strength of the German side and the Italian quality. Whoever manages to make their characteristics count will go through to the next round.”

The Rossoneri have faced Bayern three times and always qualified – in fact, they also went on to win the trophy in each campaign.

“I don’t think Bayern will play any differently than they did in their home stadium, while I hope our fans will create the kind of atmosphere that will give us an extra edge and make it a more entertaining encounter. This is a very important match in our season and this is where the competitions come to a head.”

Nelson Dida suffered an ankle injury in the first leg, but could be fit in time for tomorrow’s showdown, although the suspended Gennaro Gattuso will be in the stands.

“Dida is fit again, but not 100 per cent,” revealed the Coach. “He could be ready, and the same goes for Massimo Ambrosini. As for the midfield, Johann Vogel is ready to replace Gattuso. Rino has unique characteristics and great determination, something that nobody else is able to really bring in those quantities. Vogel has different, but equally important, qualities.”

Pippo Inzaghi has scored seven goals in his last five Serie A games, but Ancelotti is keeping tight-lipped on whether he’ll be chosen ahead of Alberto Gilardino.

“I have very clear ideas on who will play upfront, but I don’t want to say any more than that.”

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac; Costacurta, Kaladze, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic, Stam; Ambrosini, Kakà, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Galliani: Milan don’t fear Juve
7.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan chief Adriano Galliani insists that his outfit is as good as Serie A pacesetters and next League opponents Juventus.

The Old Lady are a massive 10 points clear of the Rossoneri, but Galliani has suggested that the top-flight table doesn’t reflect reality.

“We are not inferior to Juventus and we don’t feel the gap between us at all,” the club official told Sky Italia’s Fuori Zona programme.

“After all, last term we fought with Juventus until the last four games of the season while also competing in the Champions League Final – something they didn’t do.”

The two teams meet at the Stadio Delle Alpi next Sunday, even if Galliani insists that there are more important matters for his club to resolve before the weekend.

“I don’t want to judge Juventus,” he added ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League return against Bayern Munich.

“Perhaps our style of football is more suited to international competition or maybe we have always considered it to be more important to be European champions than domestic champions.”

The Rossoneri drew 1-1 in Munich in the first leg and will be favourites to reach the last eight, even if Galliani has underlined that whatever the result some big clubs would be heading out of Europe this week.

“There will be three teams out of Milan – Bayern, Arsenal – Real Madrid and Chelsea – Barcelona who will exit the competition, but still remain as top clubs,” he added.

“I’m saying this before our game because I don’t know how it will end, even if I obviously hope that we can reach the quarter-finals.”

Ancelotti wins Silvio backing
7.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has given boss Carlo Ancelotti a massive vote of confidence in a crucial week of the club’s season.

The Rossoneri face Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the Champions League before visiting Juventus on Sunday, two games which could define Ancelotti’s future at the San Siro.

But despite rumours that this will be the tactician’s last season with the outfit, Berlusconi has given the former midfielder his complete backing.

“He is a Coach who I admire and a man who I love,” the Italian Prime Minister stated. “My faith in him has never fallen, not even after that loss to Liverpool in Istanbul.

“This is an important week and all I will say is that Milan often play at their best against the bigger teams.”

Berlusconi, who recently celebrated 20 years of ownership of the Rossoneri, has brought a whole host of stars to the club in the past.

And he’s indicated that more big name players will arrive in the future, which could possibly include Real Madrid’s Ronaldo and Ronaldinho of Barcelona.

“Who wouldn’t want Ronaldo? Or Ronaldinho? The latter is brilliant, but we already have Kaka,” added the patron.

Ranieri recommends Inzaghi
5.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Former Chelsea and Fiorentina Coach Claudio Ranieri has recommended Pippo Inzaghi for a spot at the 2006 World Cup.

“Italy have an excellent squad,” Ranieri told Datasport. “Marcello Lippi’s strength as a Coach has always been his leadership and making players feel like part of a unit.”

Lippi ignored Inzaghi and Livorno hitman Cristiano Lucarelli – last year’s Capocannoniere – for the 4-1 friendly victory over Germany on Wednesday.

“I would definitely bring Inzaghi along to the tournament this summer,” insisted the tactician. “He reminds me of Toto Schillaci.”

Schillaci had barely featured for the Azzurri before shooting to fame as top scorer of the 1990 World Cup with six goals, helping Italy to third place.

Milan striker SuperPippo has scored 21 goals in 48 international caps, but hasn’t played for his country since netting a brace in the 4-0 win over Azerbaijan in October 2003.

He is on splendid form for the Rossoneri, as yesterday's brace against Empoli took his Serie A tally into double figures.

Inzaghi’s candidacy would be boosted if Francesco Totti did not recover from his fractured ankle in time, but Roma director Bruno Conti is confident.

“I am optimistic over his recovery,” said the former Giallorossi Coach. “He really wants to play in this World Cup and has the time to get back to full fitness. I am convinced Italy can do well in this tournament as, aside from the 4-1 win over Germany, you can see this squad is united and happy to be together.”

Ancelotti: I'd have dropped everyone
5.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti was furious at his Milan players after a sluggish display against Empoli. “I’d have substituted everyone if I could.”

“In the first half we got everything wrong,” he said after the hard-fought 3-0 win. “We were too slow, not aggressive enough and frankly I’d have substituted all my players if I could. Nonetheless, we did well to keep our heads and speed up the tempo after the break.”

The Rossoneri were disappointing for an hour of their match with the Tuscans, but once Pippo Inzaghi’s first goal went in off the crossbar, suddenly the game opened up.

“I thought I had put out the line-up that was most reliable for this delicate encounter. We had a lot of internationals who weren’t too sharp after the midweek games and I knew I could make changes later on. Our other commitments proved distracting.”

This is a crunch week for Ancelotti, as he challenges Bayern Munich for a place in the Champions League and faces Juventus next weekend.

Inzaghi came to the rescue again, scoring a brace in the closing stages to take his seasonal tally in Serie A to 10 goals. Was this a message to Italy Coach Marcello Lippi?

“No, no,” assured the striker who was left out of the squad for the 4-1 friendly win over Germany. “This was purely for Milan, as it was important to win so that we could keep Inter at bay and prepare for the Bayern game. I’m not a first team regular here either, but there are many great strikers and I have always accepted the Coach’s choices.”

Empoli boss Gigi Cagni was also impressed with Inzaghi’s display at the San Siro.

“Inzaghi is a World Cup style player and surely the best at negotiating his position in the area,” said the Coach.

“We always make the same mistakes, as if a defender stands so close to strikers like this, they get turned too easily. It’s a shame about the result, as we put in a good performance and had some good chances in the first half.”

AC Milan 3:0 Empoli - match report
4.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Source: Inzaghi 77, 87 (M), Shevchenko 81 (M)

Milan made hard work of Empoli and hit the woodwork three times before Pippo Inzaghi's brace and an Andriy Shevchenko strike.

The Rossoneri were without the suspended Jaap Stam, with Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and Massimo Ambrosini still injured. Dida and Andriy Shevchenko have recovered, but were not risked from the start so close to their Champions League crunch match with Bayern Munich. Empoli have dropped into the bottom three since Coach Gigi Cagni's arrival and won just once in the last four months. Richard Vanigli stepped in for the suspended Andrea Coda.

Empoli were locked down in defence, but proved dangerous when they decided to burst through, as Fabio Moro's first touch let him down with only Zeljko Kalac to beat after five minutes of play.

Sergio Almiron created another good opportunity and on the counter-attack from that same move Manuel Rui Costa drilled just past the near top corner of the net.

An ambitious Clarence Seedorf lob did not catch goalkeeper Balli too far off his line, then a fine Pippo Inzaghi solo effort was just over the bar from the edge of the box.

Marek Jankulovski took a long time to get into the game and his error almost gifted the Tuscans a goal, but Almiron failed to get the last touch to Antonio Busce's wayward shot.

Johan Vogel charged down another Busce' effort, as Empoli continued to create the best scoring opportunities.

Incredibly, Milan almost grabbed an opener with 39-year-old Alessandro Costacurta! The veteran sprinted up the field, combined with Rui Costa and won a tackle in the area before his cross-shot beat the goalkeeper and thumped the inside of the far post.

Inzaghi ran on to a through ball, but was squeezed out by Balli and Francesco Pratali for a corner kick.

Carlo Ancelotti had to change something to liven up the squad and opted to introduce Kaka for Seedorf, then later replaced Rui Costa with Andrea Pirlo.

There was a dangerous moment when two flares were thrown on to the pitch and missed the players by a matter of inches, but the firemen quickly cleared the offending articles.

Kakha Kaladze went close to an opener after 58 minutes when his deflected strike from the edge of the box whistled wide of the upright.

Alberto Gilardino tried to turn between three defenders and lost his footing, but the referee rightly waved play on as he emphasised the contact. Soon after, Inzaghi was brought down on the very edge of the area by Pratali, but Pirlo curled the free kick off target.

Kaka's shot was charged down, as Empoli clammed up even more in the second half. Nonetheless, Milan thumped the woodwork for the second time when Dario Simic's looping header from a corner kick came off the crossbar.

Andriy Shevchenko was the last gamble, coming on for the ineffective Gilardino. Kaka's header was off target and Shevchenko's sweeping shot was deflected wide of the same post, but the referee did not award a corner kick.

The Rossoneri eventually broke through after 77 minutes, but not before hitting the woodwork for a third time. Inzaghi turned around his marker on a Gennaro Gattuso through ball and his rising strike cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and back into the net.

Empoli now had to open up and it was only a matter of moments before Milan took advantage of the extra space. Shevchenko found himself totally unmarked after combining with Kaka and shrugging off an Ascoli challenge to prod it past Balli at the near post.

Milan may have been unlucky in the first half, but they more than made up for it with a bizarre third. Shevchenko's wayward free kick struck Inzaghi on the shin to send Balli the wrong way, though the Italian international didn't seem to know much about it.

Substitute Francesco Tavano was the last to give in and drilled just wide of the far post. However, during that move, he accidentally ran his studs down Kakha Kaladze's calf, making a deep cut that could cause problems for the upcoming Champions League game with Bayern Munich.

Milan: Kalac; Simic, Costacurta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Vogel, Seedorf (Kaka 46); Rui Costa (Pirlo 55); Inzaghi, Gilardino (Shevchenko 69)

Empoli: Balli; Raggi, Pratali (Ascoli 73), Vanigli, Tosto; Buscè, Moro, Ficini, Almiron, Zanetti (Tavano 79); Riganò (Pozzi 78)

Ref: Dondarini

Ancelotti ready for crunch week
4.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti points out that Milan are doing no worse than last season, but admits this is a crucial week for their Scudetto and Champions League hopes.

“Up until now, we are on a par with last term,” said the Coach amid criticism of his team’s performance.

“We are at the same stage that we were in the Champions League this time a year ago and have the same number of points in the Serie A table. We’ve had a few problems which have led to highs and lows, but the overall effect hasn’t changed.”

This will be an important few days for his future, however, as a victory against Empoli would consolidate second place and above all on Wednesday their Champions League fate will be decided against Bayern Munich.

“We hope to have Dida and Massimo Ambrosini fit again for the Bayern game. Marcos Cafu will return next week after surgery and can already work with the rest of the squad, but for Paolo Maldini we have to wait until the inflammation in his tendons dissipates.”

The suspended Jaap Stam is also out for the Empoli tie this afternoon, so Dario Simic will be given a start in defence.

“In attack we’ll field the strikers who have not been on international duty this week, while Kaka will rest if he feels tired. Don’t forget we missed out on many of our key players for long periods of the season, so the side can improve and find its consistency in these final months.”

Marcio Amoroso has barely set foot on the field since his January arrival as a replacement for Christian Vieri and should again be on the bench in favour of Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.

“There isn’t any embarrassment about this situation, it’s just a shame that he can’t find space,” assured Ancelotti. “His opportunities will come and the whole team is in a good place right now.”

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Costacurta, Kaladze, Marzoratti, Nesta, Jankulovski, Simic; Gattuso, Kaka, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Vogel; Amoroso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Empoli starlets eye Milan shock
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Source: Football Italia

Empoli starlets Nicola Pozzi – who is owned by Milan – and Antonio Buscè believe they can come away from the San Siro with a result tomorrow.

“We are aware that this will be an incredibly difficult game where we must maintain our concentration for 90 minutes, but we have quality and aim to return home with some points under our belts,” insisted Buscè.

The Rossoneri have won all but one of their games on home turf this season and Empoli have dropped into the bottom three, but they still hope to cause an upset.

“We have to put our performance against Treviso behind us and realise that we are in our element when we are given space to play in, and Milan will give us that. The fact we fought back to earn a draw last week shows we believe in our chances of avoiding the drop.”

Empoli have lost five of their trips here and won once, with a shock 1-0 victory in April 2003.

Young hitman Pozzi is on Milan’s books, but will be on the other side of the divide when he visits his ‘home’ stadium on Saturday.

“I hope to play and will give 100 per cent, as always,” said the striker. “On paper we have no chance, but we’ll try to play our game and take away a few points that could be decisive in the race to stay in Serie A. The only way to achieve that aim is to stay united.”

Francesco Tavano will also be hoping for a goal to celebrate his 27th birthday on Thursday.

Milan move for Barzagli
4.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are set to step up their interest in Palermo defender Andrea Barzagli, according to reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri are set to rejuvenate their ageing defence in the summer and a new centre-back is required.

After admitting that Lyon are unlikely to sell Brazilian stopper Cris for a reasonable fee, they have turned their attentions closer to home.

Barzagli has been monitored by the Italian giants for some time and the outfit have received some glowing reports from his international teammates.

The former Chievo stopper is now a regular in Marcello Lippi’s national squad and has impressed the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso.

Although Palermo chief Maurizio Zamparini has stated in the past that the former Under-21 star is untouchable, Milan are ready to test his resolve.

The Rossoneri are said to be prepared to offer almost £7m for the versatile stopper who can also be used as an emergency full-back.

General director Ariedo Braida is poised to commence talks in an effort to land the ex-Piacenza player.

Milan need defensive reinforcements as Jaap Stam and Alessandro Costacurta are set to leave, while doubts remain over the fitness of Paolo Maldini.

Milan have Poulsen alternative
3.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan will make a move for Parma’s Fabio Simplicio if they fail to sign Christian Poulsen from Schalke 04 in the summer.

The Danish international is wanted by the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza outfit after impressing in games against them in the Champions League this term.

But Poulsen has yet to decide where his future lies once his contract expires in June, seeing as a number of clubs are keen on the midfielder.

Milan have already taken steps to cover his proposed failed capture by making contact with Parma regarding Simplicio.

The Brazilian has had an encouraging 18 month spell at the Stadio Tardini despite the club’s troubles on the football field.

Originally signed by the Gialloblu at the request of Arrigo Sacchi, the same man has now suggested that Milan consider his swoop.

Sacchi still has close links with the Rossoneri hierarchy after leading the club to domestic, European and international success in the late 80s and early 90s.

Simplicio is expected to be sold at the end of this term with Palermo and Fiorentina also monitoring his situation.

Gila hungry for Euro strike
3.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Alberto Gilardino is hoping to finally open his Champions League scoring account on Wednesday against Bayern Munich.

Despite his flurry of goals for the club in other competitions since his £18m transfer from Parma, he has yet to ripple the net in Europe.

And after scoring against Germany for Italy last night, he wants to leave his mark against the Bundesliga leaders at the San Siro following the 1-1 first leg draw.

“I am waiting for a goal in the Champions League,” he said on Thursday. “It would certainly be great to score against Bayern.

“However, after getting 15 goals in the League and netting for Italy, I am sure that sooner or later I will do so in Europe too.”

Milan’s focus on the season is definitely to try to triumph in the European Cup, yet Gila hasn’t given up on closing the 10 point gap which separates his side from Juventus in Serie A.

“Bayern is a really important game, but first we have a tie against Empoli on Saturday which is vital that we get three points from,” continued the ex-Piacenza youngster.

“To go into the Juventus game with the gap possibly cut to eight points would be a great achievement.

“Nevertheless, we need to see how we do against Empoli at the weekend and how Juventus get on at Sampdoria.”

Materazzi opens Milan door
3.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter stopper Marco Materazzi has indicated that he would accept a move to city rivals Milan at the end of the season.

The Rossoneri have been linked with the unsettled defender for some time and he this evening suggested that a city switch could be on the cards.

“I have an excellent relationship with everyone at Milan,” the former Everton player told Sky Italia on Thursday night.

“After all, I consider Gennaro Gattuso as a godson and I get on well with all the Milanisti,” he tellingly added.

Materazzi is thought to be looking for a new club after falling out of favour with Inter boss Roberto Mancini.

The two men are understood to have clashed recently as a result of Materazzi’s lack of use at the San Siro.

Materazzi wouldn’t be the first Inter player to swap blue for red given some high profile transfers in the past.

Dario Simic, Cristian Brocchi, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Christian Vieri all left Inter for Milan during the Massimo Moratti era.

Inter now run the very real risk of losing the only current Italian international – he should take part in the 2006 World Cup Finals – in their squad.

“I’m very proud to be the only Inter player in the Italian set-up, even if that is also because there are only four Italian players in the Inter squad,” he continued.

Milan are looking to rejuvenate their ageing defence given the probable summer departures of Jaap Stam, Marcos Cafu and Billy Costacurta.

Italian clubs ponder Trabelsi
2.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

A number of Italian clubs are in line to snap up Hatem Trabelsi after he announced his imminent departure from Ajax.

The Tunisian will quit the Dutch outfit in the summer on a free transfer after admitting that he wouldn’t be extending his contract again.

“I will definitely be leaving Holland at the end of this current campaign,” said the highly-rated full-back.

“I was already on the verge of leaving two years ago until the club told me that they wanted to keep me at all costs.

“I happily stayed but I have no plans to renew my agreement which is set to expire at the end of June.”

Milan, Inter and Juventus have been associated with the North African in the past and they are understood to all be assessing a bid.

Milan and Juventus are particularly keen on a new right-back given that both clubs are likely to lose players in that position over the summer.

Jaap Stam and Marcos Cafu will leave the Rossoneri, while Juventus are set to sell Jonathan Zebina after he asked for a pay rise.

Nevertheless, a number of other top European clubs would also welcome Trabelsi, with Arsenal just one outfit who may make a move.

Milan still contenders, says Serginho
2.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Serginho has praised leaders Juventus but insists his side still have a slim hope of winning the Scudetto.

Although the Rossoneri are still a massive 10 points behind the seemingly unstoppable Old Lady, Serginho hasn’t thrown in the towel just yet.

“Juventus have a massive advantage, but we must continue to do our best from now until the end of the season,” said the Brazilian.

“It is important to forget about what Juventus are doing in the championship, we must focus on only ourselves.

“We need to just try and win all of our remaining games. Then at the end of the season we’ll see what happens.”

After a little dip in form, Milan are now back in second place and have seemingly returned to their old selves after an impressive win against Palermo at the weekend.

“This Milan side has changed from the one which was beaten by the Rosanero in the Italian Cup,” added the full-back.

“The team has re-found the balance needed, we know what to do when we have the ball and are dangerous on the counter-attack.”

Dida ready for Bayern
2.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are confident that Nelson Dida will be fit enough to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The goalkeeper has been absent from the side since twisting his ankle in the 1-1 draw in Germany last week.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian is well on the way to making a full recovery and there is renewed optimism that he will start at the San Siro in the second leg.

“He is ahead of schedule, further than we had planned,” explained Milan chief medic Jean Pierre Mersseman.

“We don’t want to rush him, but we do hope that he will be back for the Bayern game and all the signs suggest that will happen.”

Although Dida has endured a difficult campaign at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, his return will be a boost to boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The good news doesn’t stop there for Milan either, with Massimo Ambrosini said to be fit enough to start on the bench against the Bundesliga giants.

The midfielder has spent the last few weeks training with Paolo Maldini in Miami, America, in order to take advantage of the warmer temperatures.

Maldini is still struggling, though, as Mersseman has admitted.

“He’s better but he still has a few problems,” added the doctor. “There is no specific way to cure him, he just needs time even if I can’t say exactly how much.”

Milan are also missing Marcos Cafu, but he should resume training on March 7 following his minor knee surgery in Brazil.

Lazio block Oddo exit
1.3 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lazio chief Claudio Lotito has told Massimo Oddo that he will not be allowed to leave the Stadio Olimpico at the end of the season.

The right-back is wanted by Milan and yesterday hinted that he would consider an exit in the summer.

But Lotito has today insisted that he has no intention of releasing the former Verona defender despite the number of clubs chasing him.

“I will not sell him,” stated the unpopular Biancocelesti main man. “I have already said that I am willing to argue with all of my fellow Presidents to keep him.

“I want to underline again that he has a contract here with us until June 2008 and Lazio have never put him up for sale.

“I already told him last summer that Lazio could help him to get back into the national squad and where is he today?”

Oddo has been recalled to the Azzurri set-up for tonight’s friendly against Germany and he is undoubtedly a contender to make the World Cup Finals.

Nevertheless, there is still a large slice of uncertainty at the club given that Paolo Di Canio and Fabio Liverani are only contracted until June.

“We will speak about Di Canio after April 30,” continued the Roman businessman.

“As for Liverani, he is a player who is a part of the Lazio project.”

The latter suggested earlier this week that he was considering his future after so far failing to agree terms over a new contract with the capital club.





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