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The Archive

April 2005

Ancelotti considers tactical switch
27.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits he is considering the Christmas tree formation in Holland, while Guus Hiddink bemoans his lack of an Andriy Shevchenko figure.

“Playing PSV is above all an issue of tempo,” pointed out the Milan boss after their 2-0 semi-final victory. “The first half was very stressful on a physical level and they are a tough side to play, so we had to be wary of their quick passes in the opposing half.”

The Rossoneri were fortunate to emerge with such a comfortable result after struggling throughout the second half.

“Milan are superior in terms of quality and experience, but the second half performance certainly doesn’t warrant this 2-0 scoreline. We are closer to our objective and must prepare for the second leg carefully by evaluating the problems they caused us after the break.”

With PSV forced to come forward in the second leg next Wednesday, Ancelotti could use the Christmas tree formation with Manuel Rui Costa and Kaka supporting Shevchenko to make more use of the counter-attack.

“It is a tactical dilemma, as an extra midfielder could give the defence more protection, but on the other side the PSV back line isn’t too solid on long balls,” noted the Coach.

“At this stage of the season we have to consider fitness levels and PSV keep possession well. We had to be aggressive and started out that way, but after our tiredness set in I introduced Massimo Ambrosini to give us solidity and Serginho to unleash his pace.”

Guus Hiddink famously Coached the South Korean side that eliminated Italy from the 2002 World Cup, but was less fortunate in this encounter with Serie A stars.

“I think the difference was that Milan needed one or two chances to score, whereas we dominated the second half and reduced them to counter-attacks,” said the tactician. “We managed to create five or six opportunities and failed to make them count.”

South Korean international Park is likely to be fielded in a wide position in the second leg, a role that troubled Lyon in the last round.

“Park is very good at finding the gaps between defence and midfield. He’s much faster than anyone thinks and created problems today, even if his finishing was not equal to the build-up. If we had a fine striker who could make his one chance count then it would’ve been a different game, but we don’t have one.”

The tie is not over yet and Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani points out what could be a crucial difference between the two clubs.

“PSV are a great and hard-working squad with a fantastic Coach, but it’s hardly surprising as they have reached the Champions’ League semi-final. They have an advantage in that they have already won the Dutch title and can rest players this weekend, whereas we have another ‘final’ at Fiorentina.”

The Rossoneri cannot afford to take their foot off the Serie A pedal as their head to head race with Juve continues.

“Given a choice between Europe and Serie A, I’d definitely choose the Champions’ League, even if purely from a marketing perspective. I must say that Jaap Stam was a human dam back there and was immense tonight, blocking any leaks the rest of the team let go.”

Rossoneri stars express relief
27.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s star players have spoken of their difficulties in breaking down PSV and their relief at the final result.

Andriy Shevchenko scored in both quarter-finals and continued that trend by breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time in this 2-0 semi-final victory.

“It was very difficult,” conceded the Ukrainian. “We knew that PSV could control the tempo and we are really feeling the strain of a packed season now. In the final stages I was simply exhausted.”

“Nonetheless, we created plenty of chances and made the most of them, whereas they were more wasteful. We had several counter-attacks and well created opportunities and Tomasson’s goal was very important, as it gives us a cushion for the trip to Holland.”

Both teams had a number of chances, but Dida rarely had a difficult save to make, whereas his fellow Brazilian Gomes performed several spectacular parries.

“I think our style of play was more effective, whereas PSV rarely had the time to line up their shots, which is why their finishing was more rushed and less effective.”

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s last-gasp goal – his first in the Champions’ League this season – ensured Milan can breathe a little more easily ahead of the second leg tie.

“Tomasson has had a tough season and always gave his contribution to the team,” concluded Shevchenko. “He also played well against Parma on Saturday and it is great to know we have him and Pippo Inzaghi coming back to full fitness.”

Kaka provided the assists for both goals and explained how he spotted Shevchenko’s run for that crucial pass.

“I like scoring goals, but my main job is to ensure the team wins,” said the Brazilian. “I saw a gap and toe-poked the ball through for Shevchenko. It is true that we were fortunate to win 2-0, but this is football and we made the most of our opportunities.”

The youngster is becoming more versatile and moved out to the right flank during the second half when Massimo Ambrosini came on for Andrea Pirlo.

“When we play 4-4-2 then I can start out on the right to mark opponents, but when we have the ball I am given the freedom to roam. The good thing about Cafu is that he draws players to him so that I have the space to shoot.”

AC Milan 2:0 PSV Eindhoven - match report
26.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Shevchenko 42 (M), Tomasson 91 (M)

Milan struggled to break down PSV at the San Siro, but Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson have given them a 2-0 first leg semi-final lead.

The Rossoneri were the last remaining Italian club in the Champions' League and the favourites to reach the Final, but then PSV Eindhoven had also eliminated Lyon against the odds on penalties and Coach Guus Hiddink - and players Young-Pyo Lee and Ji-Soong Park - led South Korea to a shock victory over Italy in the 2002 World Cup.

PSV had another advantage going into this game, as they mathematically sealed the Dutch title this weekend, whereas Milan must continue to battle Juventus in Serie A.

Alessandro Nesta's suspension pushed Paolo Maldini back into central defence alongside former PSV star Jaap Stam, while Andrea Pirlo recovered from a knee injury to bolster the midfield.

Milan had a bright start and went close after two minutes when Maldini's pass reached Andriy Shevchenko and his finish was too weak to beat Gomes at the near post.

Another splendid Maldini assist was nodded back by Shevchenko only for Hernan Crespo's shot to be charged down, then a Clarence Seedorf effort was deflected off target.

Gomes was called into his second save after nine minutes when he flew to fingertip Crespo's shot from a corner over the bar. Another corner saw Crespo's looping header beat the goalkeeper only to be cleared off the line by Park.

The home side was piling on the pressure and Gomes spilled the ball, but Crespo was unable to make the most of it.

Dida performed his first intervention at the 11th, only smothering Jefferson Farfan's long-range effort and able to control it at the second touch.

The Rossoneri were extremely fortunate to get away with a defensive error soon after, as Fanfan was left totally unmarked by Stam and Cafu to run on to Mark Van Bommel's pass, but his low drive was scuffed so that Dida could recover. A fantastically timed Maldini tackle also stopped Park in his tracks, but Seedorf was booked for pulling back the Korean on the counter-attack.

Park spotted Dida off his line and aimed a lob from 30 metres that was just over the bar.

Shevchenko burst between two defenders and it took some chaotic defending from Bouma and Gomes to stop him inside the area.

A corner kick was not cleared effectively and Gomes palmed away a powerful Kaka strike at the near post, while the Brazilian goalkeeper held a Gennaro Gattuso attempt and a poor Seedorf pass saw a great chance go begging.

Milan were pinning PSV back and Pirlo won back the ball before Kaka's fierce effort was spectacularly palmed over by Gomes. Crespo's backpass to Cafu was intercepted by Bouma after some fine build-up play by Shevchenko and the Ukrainian blazed a half-volley over.

The pressure eventually paid off after 42 minutes, as Kaka's through ball allowed Shevchenko to outsprint Wilfrid Bouma and place a low drive under Gomes' body.

Moments later Kaka did very well to keep the ball in play and his cutback to an unmarked Crespo was intercepted with some difficulty by Gomes.

PSV introduced Lucius for the second half and were immediately far more aggressive with Dida spilling a Lee strike and just about managing to recapture the ball before Park could pounce.

Cafu hooked the ball back for Crespo to score, but play had already been stopped as the linesman believed - perhaps erroneously - that it had gone out of play.

There was panic in the Milan area at the 50th minute when an error let both Park and Da Marcus Beasley get shots in that were charged down by defensive bodies.

Crespo really should've made it 2-0 soon after when Kaka's inspired pass found him unmarked from seven yards, but the Argentine lost his balance and couldn't even get the shot on target.

At the other end some great build-up from Van Bommel and Farfan eventually saw Dida block Park's finish from 10 yards in what was turning into a very tricky situation.

Yet Gomes was winning the battle of the Brazilian goalkeepers with another incredible save, reaching back to flap an accurate Shevchenko lob out from under the crossbar.

It was now a very open game and Park stumbled under pressure from Maldini before he could get his shot away, then Crespo was halted for an incorrect offside decision.

Hiddink threw on hitman Vennegoor of Hesselink for Beasley, while Jon Dahl Tomasson replaced the ineffective Crespo.

Stam was able to charge down Vennegoor of Hesselink's shot after Maldini cut off Park as both sides threatened a goal at any moment. Kakha Kaladze's wayward pass was intercepted by Van Bommel and he ballooned over the bar. Ooijer was booked for bringing down Shevchenko and will be suspended for the second leg.

Farfan was left totally unmarked at the back post and his low cross was fired wide by Park at full stretch, then Kaka's shot was well gathered.

Carlo Ancelotti saw that the midfield was being over-run and introduced Massimo Ambrosini for the tired Pirlo, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

Van Bommel's scuffed volley was comfortably saved by the attentive Dida and Milan switched to a 4-4-2 system for the final 10 minutes with Serginho replacing Seedorf on the left flank.

Vennegoor of Hesselink's looping header was inches past the post and then the PSV man rather theatrically attempted to win a penalty for the slightest of contacts with Stam.

Maldini's defensive header came out to Van Bommel and Dida again did well to smother his shot.

However, in the final minute Milan doubled their lead. Kaka was again the provider, this time his shot was deflected into the path of substitute Tomasson for a quick tap-in from seven yards as he came sliding in.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Stam, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo (Ambrosini 72), Seedorf (Serginho 80); Kakà; Shevchenko, Crespo (Tomasson 64)

PSV Eindhoven: Gomes; Ooijer, Alex, Bouma (Lucius 46), Lee; Van Bommel, Vogel, Cocu; Park, Farfan, Beasley (Vennegoor of Hesslink 61)

Ref: Vassaras (Gre)

AC Milan vs PSV - match preview
26.4 || Seamus

Champions League Preview: AC Milan-PSV Eindhoven
4/26/2005 9:35:00 AM
Two of Europe’s super-coaches, Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink, lock tactical horns in the Champions League semi-final, the first leg of which takes place on Tuesday night at the San Siro. Milan and PSV have contrasting records in the European Cup/Champions League. Hiddink led PSV to glory in 1988 – their sole triumph in Europe’s premier club competition. Milan are hoping to reach their tenth final, and to win it for the seventh time…
BACKGROUND

Milan were runners-up in 1958, and winners in 1963, 1969, 1989 and 1990 before the format changed and the Champions League was born. Since then they have been finalists in 1993, winners in 1994, runners-up again in 1995 and winners in 2003. PSV’s only appearance in the final was in 1988 when they beat Benfica 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out after the sides could not be separated in 120 minutes of open play.

Ancelotti believes that reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League is already an impressive achievement: "We have reached our objective which was to be amongst the top four in Europe," he told the club’s official website, www.acmilan.com. "We have knocked out great opponents such as Manchester United and Inter and this is something to be very content about."

Ancelotti should be confident going into this semi-final. His four years in charge of Milan have seen the club lift the Champions League, Coppa Italia and Serie A, and they currently lead the race for this season’s Scudetto. He has built an impressive team, from the Brazilian Dida in goal, to the highly experienced Cafu, Alessandro Nesta and Paulo Maldini at the back, to Rino Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaka and Clarence Seedorf in midfield and Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko in attack.

It is a formidable line-up, but the Milan camp will be unlikely to take anything for granted: they are still smarting from last season’s Champions League experience when, as holders, they were thrashed 4-0 away by Deportivo La Coruna after having won 4-1 at the San Siro. Veteran Brazilian full-back Cafu cautioned: "We will not underestimate. The Deportivo game taught us this."

Indeed, Milan can expect a tough challenge from Hiddink’s side, who clinched the Eredivisie title on Saturday. Ancelotti believes the tie will be dominated by both team’s strong defences.
"PSV are a fantastic team," said the Italian coach on Monday. "They are well organised and they have a coach that knows Italian football.

"Without a doubt their main strength is their defence that allows their team to go on the counter-attack with speed. I think tomorrow they will very aggressive.

"In theory they are considered the underdogs, and for that reason they will be more fired up to beat us," added Ancelotti. "But Milan have great experience, an experience that comes with the history and the tradition of this club and certain games are in our DNA."

Milan currently lead Serie A from Juventus after beating Parma 3-0 on Saturday thanks to goals from Kaká and Cafu either side of a Jon Dahl Tomasson effort. They are due to meet Juve in a potential title decider on 8th May. Ancelotti said: "To be honest, unlike the other teams we face a bigger disadvantage. We also have to think about our other games while Chelsea, Liverpool and PSV for different reasons don’t have to think about their domestic tournaments and can concentrate on the Champions League.

"We have to look at other games because everything is still to play for."

Meanwhile PSV coach Hiddink hopes the "surprise" factor will help them at the San Siro. The newly-crowned Dutch champions are hoping to overturn history, having failed to win any of their five previous European games in Italy. "We are the dark horses," he said.

"We know Milan have the experience and are organised but we can give them a big surprise."

PSV reached the last four after a penalty shoot-out win against French champions-elect Lyon, but Hiddink is not surprised by their progress. "My team is playing at a higher level than at the start of the competition," he said. "We have improved game by game and perhaps in the semi-final we can surprise everybody."

They should certainly not lack confidence in view of their current form: PSV set a new club record by winning the Dutch championship with five games of the domestic season still to play. They beat Vitesse 3-0 at the weekend to secure their fourth league championship in six seasons, and their 18th overall, with goals from Ji-Sung Park, Mark van Bommel and Gerald Sibon.

"We have two other goals this season," added Hiddink. "The first one is to progress to the next round of the Champions League and second to win the Amstel Cup.

"Nobody expects us at this moment to reach the Champions League final but deep down we know that we can be successful. Of course we are happy to have reached the semi-final stage. The boys have done really well, considering that out of all the teams that qualified for the last 16, we have the lowest budget.

"We are doing a hell of a job in Europe but by no means are we settling for this or relaxing, we want to reach the final. This game is at a different level with respect to our domestic league games.

"We have prepared during training for this type of game, and although I think experience will play a big factor - which may be a handicap for us - I hope that my men can control their nerves and we can see a man-to-man game."


TEAM NEWS

Milan: Jaap Stam was an injury concern for Milan, who are without the suspended Alessandro Nesta. Dutch central defender Stam suffered a hamstring strain half-an-hour into Milan’s 3-0 win over Parma in Saturday’s Serie A clash, but fortunately for the Rossoneri the injury appears not to be as serious as was first feared. "We still have to do some tests," said team doctor Jean-Pierre Meersseman. "He wants to play against PSV and we want him there as well, but without risks. Knowing him, however, there’s cautious optimism."

PSV are one of Stam’s former clubs, and he has already had the satisfaction of beating another, Manchester United, during this Champions League campaign. But Milan’s other first-choice centre-half, Nesta, is definitely ruled out of the first-leg because of a ban. "I have to play because of Nesta’s suspension," said 32-year-old Stam. "But also just because I really want to be there." It now seems certain that the Dutchman Stam will be fit to play.

Cover will be provided by Milan’s veteran defender Alessandro Costacurta, 39 last Sunday. Milan’s other main injury worry concerns midfielder Andrea Pirlo, but he is also a near-certainty to figure in the starting line-up now, having taken part in training as usual on Sunday. Filippo Inzaghi replaced Andriy Shevchenko against Parma following a lengthy with a series of injury problems.

Massimo Ambrosini is one caution away from missing the second leg on 4 May.


PSV: There are five key players in the Eindhoven side who are one yellow card away from being ruled out of the home leg. Dutch internationals Phillip Cocu, André Ooijer, Mark van Bommel and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, and Swiss midfielder Johann Vogel are all walking that disciplinary tightrope.

Alex, Wilfred Bouma and Vennegoor of Hesselink all missed PSV’s championship-clinching win over Vitesse on Saturday because of slight injuries, but should be in contention to face Milan.


WATCH OUT FOR

Milan: Hernan Crespo: The Argentine international, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, is in a rich vein of form for the Rossoneri and wants a permanent move to Milan. "I am ready to make any sacrifice in order to join AC Milan," he told the Gazzetta Dello Sport. "The Milan and Chelsea executives are working in order to reach an agreement and I believe an agreement will be reached soon. My dream is to remain at Milan until the end of my career but Chelsea are in the middle." Should Milan beat PSV and Chelsea overcome Liverpool, Crespo will be allowed to play for Milan in the final.

PSV: Marc van Bommel: The inspirational midfielder, almost certainly leaving the club this summer, will be keen to put another impressive performance in such a high profile game. Van Bommel admits it was a relief to wrap up the Dutch League title before taking on Milan.

“It’s a big boost to be champions already. It gives some peace before facing AC Milan," he said.

"This is an unusual group. It’s great fun just to be together, and I’ve never experienced that."

http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=58753&progr=19

No Korea repeat, says Ancelotti
25.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident that PSV boss Guus Hiddink won’t collect a ‘South Korean style’ victory in the Champions’ League on Tuesday.

The Dutchman was in charge of the Asian nation when they knocked Italy out of the 2002 World Cup Finals.

But Ancelotti insists he has no plans for the Eindhoven tactician to collect another surprise win in the semi-finals of the European Cup.

"We want a different ending this time," said Ancelotti this afternoon. "Italy were hampered by the atmosphere and the referee in that game."

Many are expecting the Italian side to comfortably see off PSV but Ancelotti is calling for concentration.

"We won’t be affected by the fact that we are favourites going into tomorrow’s game as there is a place in the final up for grabs," he added.

"However, nothing will be decided until the return game in Holland. PSV are a good and well organised side, plus they’ve just won the League which will be an advantage for them.

"They are very organised in attack and are very dangerous on the counter-attack as they have some quick players.

"I expect them to try to hit us on the break but we must play to our strengths by keeping the ball.

"We will attack but without leaving gaps at the back. I’m hopeful that we can go through because we have these types of important games in our DNA."

Milan go into the game after seeing Juventus rejoin them at the top of the Serie A table last night.

"It wasn’t easy for them to win at Lazio as we had difficulties there too," he added. "Could there be a Scudetto play-off? I don’t think so. It will be decided without the need for that game.

Pirlo and Stam make squad
25.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Jaap Stam and Andrea Pirlo have been named in the Milan squad for Tuesday’s Champions’ League semi-final against PSV Eindhoven.

Both players were doubts for the San Siro clash but they’ve been included in Carlo Ancelotti’s 20-man list.

Goalkeepers: Dida, Abbiati, Fiori.

Defenders: Cafu, Costacurta, Kaladze, Maldini, Pancaro, Stam.

Midfielders: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Kakà, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho.

Attackers: Crespo, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson.

Ancelotti confident ahead of PSV test
25.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident he can prevent Guus Hiddink breaking more Italian hearts when the Serie A leaders host PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday.

Hiddink, who has guided PSV to the Dutch title this season, masterminded South Korea's shock victory over Italy at the 2002 World Cup.

"We want a different story (this time). Back then we (Italy) were hampered by the atmosphere and the referee," Ancelotti told Milan Channel, the club's official television station.

Like PSV, Milan are aiming to complete a double of league and European titles.

A 3-0 win over Parma at the weekend consolidated their position at the top of Serie A, level on points with Juventus.

Chelsea, who take on Premier League rivals Liverpool, and Milan are favourites to reach the Champions League final in Istanbul on May 25.

Milan have won their last seven home fixtures in the competition but Ancelotti predicts a close encounter with PSV.

"The fact we're the favourites won't affect us," he said.

"The stakes are very high. Everything will be decided at (the second leg in) Eindhoven."

Asked how he expected the Dutch side to play, Ancelotti said PSV would probably try and hit Milan on the break.

"The important thing for us will be to play to our strengths and keep possession," he said.

Milan hope in duo return
25.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are hopeful that Andrea Pirlo and Jaap Stam will be fit enough to face PSV Eindhoven in the Champions’ League semi-finals.

The Italian midfielder has been absent for two weeks with a knee problem but he is likely to be available for Tuesday’s first leg clash.

Pirlo will be flanked by Gennaro Gattuso, who missed the Parma victory on Saturday through suspension, and Clarence Seedorf.

If the Azzurri star doesn’t recover in time then boss Carlo Ancelotti could opt to replace him with Manuel Rui Costa.

Stam is confident of making the game after picking up a thigh problem over the weekend.

The Dutch defender will undergo further tests on Monday but he’s determined to face his former club.

"I hope to recover," said the stopper. "I want to be there because this is an important game for me and the club."

Ancelotti will be hoping that the ex-Lazio ace will be available as Alessandro Nesta is suspended.

The tactician wants to play Stam alongside Paolo Maldini, with Marcos Cafu and Kakha Kaladze working the flanks.

Meanwhile, PSV will be without Robert de Pinho de Souza after he sustained ankle damage in a match against Vitesse Arnhem.

The Brazilian netted the crucial penalty that was enough to take the Dutch outfit past Lyon in the last round.

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

Sheva makes Ancelotti peace
25.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko has apologised to boss Carlo Ancelotti for reacting angrily to being replaced in the win against Parma.

The Ukrainian striker wasn’t happy at his substitution in Saturday’s 3-0 victory and made his feelings clear to the tactician.

"His reaction did bother me," admitted Ancelotti. "Just as much as my decision to bring him off bothered the player.

"Everyone only saw the first part of our debate though, the second was completed in the changing room.

"Shevchenko came out of the locker room with a black eye and you all know why," he joked. "Nevertheless, we have sorted everything out."

The current European Player of the Year also insisted that his relationship with the Coach was now back to normal.

"I made a mistake," said the forward who was swapped for Pippo Inzaghi during the fixture. "Ancelotti was right and perhaps I deserved a punch in the face…

"It was just that every striker wants to play as much as possible because I felt that I could score more goals in the match."

Shevchenko, despite the little tension with Ancelotti, will start in Tuesday’s Champions’ League semi-final first leg against PSV Eindhoven.

Meanwhile, a similar incident occurred at Fiorentina when Fabrizio Miccoli reacted with anger after being replaced by Valeri Bojinov against Bologna.

"I explained to Miccoli that he looked a little tired to me," explained boss Dino Zoff.

Cafu fears tiredness factor
25.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan ace Marcos Cafu admits that fighting tiredness will be a key factor in the last six weeks of the season.

The Rossoneri are battling for both Lo Scudetto and the Champions’ League and the club’s busy schedule is worrying the Brazilian.

"It’s not easy to play in this period," said the former Roma player. "The games have now practically turned into our training sessions.

"In fact, I wasn’t supposed to play against Parma on Saturday. I was set to be rested but then Jaap Stam picked up a problem.

"But fortunately it went well. I scored a nice goal and we managed to pick up a very important victory."

The champions destroyed Parma at the San Siro as their comfortable 3-0 win allowed them to maintain their joint leadership with Juventus.

"The result against Parma shouldn’t trick people though," he added. "The match wasn’t a very easy one at all.

"Parma defended well and it was hard for us to find space throughout the game."

Ancelotti hails perfect Milan
24.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti says this is the kind of Milan performance he expects for the rest of the season, while Pietro Carmignani concedes defeat gracefully.

“We played well and kept the tempo high from start to finish,” said the Rossoneri boss after tonight’s 3-0 win over Parma. “It was an attractive Milan performance and much of the credit for that goes to the hard work of the midfielders.”

Ancelotti was forced to reshuffle his squad in the absence of Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso, while Jaap Stam also limped off after 30 minutes.

“It was inevitable that putting pressure on your opponents you’ll be able to dispossess them and therefore create scoring opportunities. Against a three-man defence it is important to spread the play and get crosses in with our full-backs.”

This result means that Milan will be on top of the Serie A table by the end of this weekend, regardless of how Juve fare away to Lazio on Sunday evening.

“The team is motivated and now believes every game from here until the end of the season is a Cup Final, which can only be a good thing,” he added as Milan prepare for Tuesday’s Champions’ League semi-final with PSV Eindhoven.

Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze and Massimo Ambrosini will all be suspended for next week’s trip to Fiorentina.

“Unfortunately we do have a lot of players on yellow cards, but we have valid alternatives and can get through this,” he noted.

Parma boss Pietro Carmignani conceded his team could not keep up with the Serie A leaders at the San Siro.

“There’s not much we can do against this Milan side when they play like that,” he noted. “It was an excellent performance and probably motivated by the fact they can see the Scudetto close at hand. They were concentrated and never let the tempo drop.”

Nonetheless, Dida was forced into some point-blank saves on Alberto Gilardino and Matteo Contini in the few times when they did get forward.

“Luck can change a game and we had some great chances at the start of each half, but it has to be said Milan had the initiative all the way through.”

The Gialloblu’s away form has cost them and they now risk being sucked back into the relegation zone this weekend. The side must also prepare for Thursday’s UEFA Cup semi-final with CSKA Moscow.

“The team feels more protected by the fans at the Tardini and we have really struggled away from home. I think that’s why we’re in the relegation zone, as those are the points that are missing. Paradoxically, we’re more relaxed in Europe because we don’t mind too much if we fail, so we are able to relax, whereas the tension of Serie A gets to the players.”

AC Milan 3:0 Parma - match report
23.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka 34 (M), Tomasson 62 (M), Cafu 71 (M)

The Rossoneri know they'll end this weekend on top of the table regardless of Juve's result as they hammer Parma 3-0.

Milan wiped out a three-point gap from leaders Juventus this week and hoped to extend their stay at the top of the table, but welcomed a Parma side eager to pick up a result to stave off relegation. Carlo Ancelotti faced his former club and was forced to do without Andrea Pirlo and the suspended Gennaro Gattuso, but was able to bring Manuel Rui Costa and Massimo Ambrosini back from injury.

Hernan Crespo and Marcos Cafu were rested ahead of Tuesday's Champions' League semi-final with PSV Eindhoven, moving Jaap Stam to right-back, while Parma had Giuseppe Cardone out with a ban and also had to prepare for the UEFA Cup clash with CSKA Moscow. 18-year-old Filippo Savi made his first Serie A start in place of Jorge Bolano.

Parma had the first chance after less than a minute and Dida flew to punch over a stunning strike with the outside of Alberto Gilardino's right foot.

Moments later it was Sebastien Frey's turn to perform a great save, slapping Kakha Kaladze's close-range effort into the path of Kaka, who ballooned over the bar.

It was a fiery start to the match and on the fifth minute Clarence Seedorf took advantage of a defensive error and Frey somehow managed to flap Andriy Shevchenko's chip off target at point-blank range.

Milan began to take control and Seedorf rolled across for Ambrosini's volley that was charged down by Paolo Cannavaro's arm, but the players were too close together to warrant a penalty.

Seedorf drilled over the bar following some great build-up play from Kaka and Shevchenko.

There was bad news for the Rossoneri on the half-hour mark when Stam limped off with a thigh problem and made way for Cafu.

Milan eventually broke through at the end of a chaotic move. Frey parried a fierce Rui Costa effort, then Cesare Bovo cleared Shevchenko's off the line, but the assorted Parma defence could do nothing about Kaka's follow-up.

Shevchenko's free kick was over the bar and Jon Dahl Tomasson's effort was deflected by Savi just enough to allow Frey control. Seedorf then sprinted towards the goal and was challenged at the last moment, prompting Sheva to complain that he hadn't passed the ball to his unmarked teammate.

Parma had a good chance to equalise on the stroke of half-time, but Matteo Contini's free header on a Mark Bresciano cross was too weak to really trouble Dida.

Pietro Carmignani introduced creative midfielder Domenico Morfeo for the quiet Fabio Vignaroli in the second half. It certainly made an immediate impact, as within minutes Andrea Pisanu's volley whistled inches wide of the upright.

At the other end Seedorf disposessed Paolo Cannavaro and the ball eventually reached Shevchenko for a drive over the bar.

A splendid Pisanu dummy allowed him to cross at the back post for a chance that went begging, and Seedorf wasted another golden opportunity by blasting over with only Frey to beat.

Tomasson sprung the offside trap after 57 minutes and his low drive was only kept out by Frey's outstretched foot.

The Frenchman again used his legs to parry a Shevchenko cross-shot that was going in at the near post as Milan suddenly stepped up the tempo in a bid to kill off the game.

The home side managed to grab their second with a classic counter-attack. Kaka disposessed Daniele Bonera and his pass found Shevchenko and Tomasson clear on goal with just one defender back. The Dane side-footed home his fifth goal of the season from eight yards.

Kakaldze, Ambrosini and Paolo Maldini were booked, so they will all be suspended for next week's trip to Fiorentina. Shevchenko was on a charge through several challenges, but Bonera's tackle eventually stopped him in the area.

Another Shevchenko effort was charged down, but the ball came out to Marcos Cafu for a precise angled drive on the half-volley that put the result beyond all doubt. It was only the seventh Serie A goal that the Brazilian fullback had ever scored and his second in a Rossoneri jersey.

It threatened to turn into a rout as Frey palmed away a powerful Tomasson strike as the defence had lost sight of the former Feyenoord man.

The San Siro stood up to welcome Pippo Inzaghi back to the playing field after months of injury worries that included a recurring ankle problem and fractured hand. He had only managed 212 minutes of Serie A football up to this point.

Milan: Dida; Stam (Cafu 31), Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Ambrosini, Rui Costa, Seedorf (Brocchi 72); Kakà; Shevchenko (Inzaghi 78), Tomasson

Parma: Frey; Bonera, Cannavaro, Bovo, Contini (Camara 72); Pisanu, Simplicio, Savi (Olive 59), Bresciano; Vignaroli (Morfeo 46); Gilardino

Ref: Rosetti

Ancelotti enjoys the extra stress
23.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The pressure is on the Rossoneri to deliver in Serie A and Europe, but Carlo Ancelotti maintains that the extra stress is worth it to be in this position.

“This is a difficult period for all of us, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said the Milan Coach ahead of tonight’s match with Parma.

“I think many managers would love the opportunity to be in my position. If we wanted less stress then we’d have gone out in the quarter-finals of the Champions’ League and had the chance to put our feet up for a bit.”

The next week will be decisive in their campaign, as the European semi-finals against PSV Eindhoven are piled up on top of an increasingly erratic Scudetto race, with a three-point gap eradicated in the space of three days.

“It isn’t easy to handle this constant back and forth with Juventus, especially for the players who find it tough to recover their energy for the next challenge so quickly,” explained Ancelotti.

“We know full well we are gambling with our entire season in the space of a few days, but we have the potential to remain optimistic.”

The Coach celebrated his 200th appearance on the Milan bench with the 1-0 win over Chievo on Wednesday night and must now face his former club Parma.

“Parma are a stronger attacking force than Chievo, but that could well leave us more space to manoeuvre. 200 games have just flown by and I remember them all, even though it feels as if I arrived here yesterday, but it’s only the beginning for me.”

Ancelotti will have to reshuffle his midfield to replace the injured Andrea Pirlo and suspended Gennaro Gattuso, while Massimo Ambrosini and Manuel Rui Costa require late fitness tests. It is likely they’ll switch to a 4-4-2 system with Clarence Seedorf taking the creative reins.

Carmignani feels no fear
23.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are eager to stay at the top of the table, but Parma boss Pietro Carmignani points out they are no less desperate for points this evening.

“The Rossoneri have a lot of quality and their confidence is sky high after catching Juventus, but our desire for points is no less urgent than theirs,” said the Coach ahead of tonight’s San Siro clash.

Parma’s appalling away form – with just one win outside the Tardini in 2005 – has contributed massively to their struggle against relegation.

Cesare Bovo returns from a ban to replace the suspended Giuseppe Cardone, while Stefano Bettarini and Marco Marchionni remain on the treatment table.

“I only have four defenders left at my disposal, so they will have to play,” said the tactician. “I have not yet decided which system we will adopt for this match.”

To make matters worse, Parma must also prepare for Thursday’s UEFA Cup semi-final with CSKA Moscow amid controversy, as the Russian Federation agreed to freeze this weekend’s League games so that they could rest.

“It hardly seems fair and I think UEFA should intervene. Having said that, considering the players we’ve been using in this competition so far, perhaps we should ask for the Youth Team Championship to be frozen instead.”

Milan's midfield conundrum
23.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi returns to bolster the squad for their match with Parma, but Carlo Ancelotti admits injuries are continuing to decimate Milan’s midfield.

“Inzaghi is fit enough to start from the bench, while Vikash Dhorasoo (pictured) is definitely ready,” noted the Coach ahead of the Saturday evening encounter at the San Siro.

“The trouble is that Andrea Pirlo is out of action, Gennaro Gattuso is suspended and we will need late fitness tests for Massimo Ambrosini and Manuel Rui Costa. I just hope we’ll have everyone in condition to face PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.”

Pirlo was much missed in the 1-0 victory over Chievo on Wednesday evening and remains a major doubt for that Champions’ League semi-final with a knee injury.

“It is true that we have a few more injuries than we’re accustomed to, but we have survived worse situations than this,” insisted Ancelotti.

“What I do find unusual is that before we had all our strikers out of action, now the injuries have struck the midfield. Thankfully, our defenders have remained relatively healthy throughout the campaign.”

Ancelotti hinted that Serginho could be used in midfield, but Pirlo’s absence is likely to prompt a switch to the more solid 4-4-2 system against Parma on Saturday evening.

Milan squad:

Gk: Dida, Abbiati

D: Cafu, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic, Stam

M: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Dhorasoo, Kakà, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho

F: Crespo, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Tomasson

Moggi: Abolish video evidence
23.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia


Juventus director general Luciano Moggi has launched a tirade on the “biased” use of video evidence and demanded a change in the rules.

The Bianconeri chief was furious after Zlatan Ibrahimovic was handed a three-match ban for striking Ivan Cordoba in an off the ball incident during Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Inter.

“It is right to combat violence and video evidence is necessary, but the images used should not be provided by television companies,” said Moggi in an official statement.

“As far as we are concerned, the footage should come from the Federation and be handed over only when the Disciplinary Commission requests it. We cannot put the fate of the Scudetto in the hands of individual television directors.”

Ibrahimovic was caught on camera lashing out at Cordoba during the closing stages of the match and were glimpsed in a corner of the wide shot of the pitch by pay-per-view television company Sky.

“Cordoba stood on his foot and Ibrahimovic pushed him away,” insisted Moggi. “It was not a violent action and nobody in the stadium even realised it had happened.”

Francesco Totti was given a five-match ban for his clash with Francesco Colonnese in Siena’s 2-0 win at Roma that same evening, while earlier this month Giallorossi player Leandro Cufre was suspended for two matches for a similar incident to that of Ibrahimovic.

“Other more serious incidents around the country weren’t even considered by the Disciplinary Commission. This is why video evidence is necessary as long as it is the same for everyone. The only way to guarantee that is to have the footage pass through the Federation first.”

There is more to this than meets the eye, as Moggi also gave another interview in which he suggested that Milan director Adriano Galliani – who is also President of the Lega Calcio, which runs the Disciplinary Commission – had a part to play.

“It really took an eagle-eyed director to spot that incident and I’d like to thank this man for the good work he has done for the community at large,” said a deeply sarcastic Moggi.

“I must say I’m not remotely surprised that Ibrahimovic is suspended for the Milan game on May 8. It really is a quite remarkable coincidence, isn’t it?”

Milan to go for Pizarro
22.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Udinese star David Pizarro is again being linked with a move to Italian champions Milan in the summer.

Reports today suggest that the playmaker is at to top of the Rossoneri’s shopping list as they look for an alternative to Andrea Pirlo.

The side have struggled without the latter when unavailable this season, leading Vice-president Adriano Galliani to admit that the player was "irreplaceable".

Milan are looking to remedy that problem for the new season and the Chilean ace is a possible acquisition.

The two clubs have allegedly already started talks even if there is a substantial difference between the offer and the asking price.

The Bianconeri are looking to net around £7.5m, while the San Siro boys are hoping to sign the South American for closer to £4.5m.

There is also the possibility that Milan may offer cash and a player from either Massimo Ambrosini, Christian Brocchi or Vikash Dhorasoo.

Pizarro could become the second Stadio Friuli star to move to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza at the end of the season.

It’s widely understood that Czech midfielder Marek Jankulovski will join the club for £6m for the 2005-06 campaign.

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

Source: Football Italia

The Rossoneri will be looking to plunge the Gialloblu into further relegation problems while taking another step towards the Scudetto.

After the amazing events of the previous two rounds both Milan and Juventus will be desperate not to falter again in what has been an engrossing battle for the Serie A title. Parma won’t want to merely be a footnote in the story of the Scudetto though, with a very real threat of relegation hanging over them they must cause an upset or face falling into the bottom three. With games against Roma and Juventus to come and a tough battle with Siena they cannot afford to take nothing away from their trip to the San Siro.

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti faces the club that he revived in the 1996-97 season along with his Tardini pupil Hernan Crespo. On the opposite side, Alberto Gilardino faces the side that has been heavily linked with a summer move for him. Adding to his 17 goals in Serie A would surely improve his chances of a switch to Milan.

However, Parma minds may be drifting towards their UEFA Cup semi-final meeting with CSKA Moscow and Milan will be hard pushed not to have one eye on their Champions’ League semi-final with PSV Eindhoven later in the week.

Milan haven’t lost in their last five Serie A matches at the San Siro while Parma have won just once in their last seven away games. In Week 14 Milan came from behind in the last ten minutes to steal a 2-1 victory, with Kaka and Andrea Pirlo on the score sheet. Parma haven’t picked up a win at Milan since 1996, when Mario Stanic got the only goal.

Milan bring in Kakha Kaladze to rest Paolo Maldini, but the real problems are in midfield. Andrea Pirlo and the suspended Gennaro Gattuso and Billy Costacurta are out, while Massimo Ambrosini and Manuel Rui Costa face injury worries that already forced them to miss Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chievo. Pietro Carmignani loses Giuseppe Cardone to suspension and has Marco Marchionni, Vincenzo Grella and Stefano Bettarini out injured.

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Kaladze; Ambrosini, Rui Costa, Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko, Crespo

Parma (probable): Frey; Bonera, Bovo, Contini, Cannavaro; Pisanu, Simplicio, Bolano, Bresciano; Morfeo; Gilardino

Chelsea eye Crespo alternative
22.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Chelsea are ready to let Hernan Crespo join Milan on a permanent basis after telling the striker they can easily replace him.

The Argentine international is currently on loan with the Italian champions and he is eager to remain at the San Siro.

And now Crespo has revealed that the Stamford Bridge outfit have given him the green light to continue his Rossoneri career.

"Jose Mourinho (Chelsea boss) has asked me to stay," the forward told the Daily Mirror.

"But he has also said: 'If you want to go, no problem. There's a President here with a lot of money. If you go, he will buy another striker'."

Crespo, who has rediscovered his goal touch since his summer switch, has allegedly already agreed terms with Milan over a contract.

The Italian giants are now trying to reach an agreement with the Premiership leaders over a transfer fee.

The former Parma and Lazio ace was signed by Chelsea in the summer of 2003 after a £15m move from Inter.

However, poor form and an injury-plagued campaign hampered his brief stint with the London club.

Totti and Zlatan handed bans
21.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

Totti was suspended following his dismissal in Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by Siena for kicking then hitting an opponent. He will return for the last game of the Serie A season.

For the Swedish striker, who was caught on television elbowing Inter Milan defender Ivan Cordoba, the ban means he will miss the May 8 game between Juventus and title rivals AC Milan.

The two players can appeal against the sentence.

Crespo all-clear for Euro final
21.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

AC Milan's Hernan Crespo has been given the go-ahead to play against Chelsea if the sides meet in the Champions League final. The Argentine striker is currently on loan from the Blues, but Milan say he would be eligible to confront his former team-mates on May 25.

"He's a Milan player for the season and plays all the games he's asked to play in," said club director Umberto Gandini, confirming there is no clause in his contract preventing him from facing Chelsea.

"There's no special feeling. It may be special for him and probably for the Chelsea fans and management, but not for us."

Chelsea and Milan will clash in a dream final in Istanbul if they can battle past Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven respectively.

Last season, striker Fernando Morientes scored crucial goals for Monaco to upset the side he was loaned out by, Real Madrid.

Crespo was shoved out of Stamford Bridge after a disappointing first season, but has rediscovered his form in Italy grabbing twelve goals for the defending champions.

Gandini indicated that both club and player are eager to make the move permanent.

"We are talking to Hernan," he said. "We must find good personal terms with him, then we will talk to Chelsea."

AC Milan 1:0 Chievo Verona - match report
20.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorer: Seedorf 64 (M)

A Clarence Seedorf strike proved enough to beat Chievo and put Milan back on top of the table thanks to Juve's slip.

Milan could not afford another slip after a shock 2-1 defeat at Siena on Sunday, a result that opened up a three-point gap from Juventus at the top, but Carlo Ancelotti was forced to make massive changes to his squad.

Andrea Pirlo was still out with a knee injury and he was joined on the treatment table by his natural replacements Manuel Rui Costa and Massimo Ambrosini. This meant they switched to a 4-4-2 system with Kaka on the right and Serginho out wide left. Chievo had Federico Cossato suspended, but tried to emulate Siena's counter-attacking tactics with just Sergio Pellissier upfront.

The Flying Donkeys had a strong start and Andrea Zanchetta's low drive whistled just past the upright from the edge of the box. Soon after, Dida did well to block Marchesetti's angled drive at the near post.

Jaap Stam's long-range free kick whipped inches wide of the target and a Serginho set-piece dipped on to the roof of the net. Milan then had a goal disallowed for offside, but replays suggest Mandelli may well have been keeping Hernan Crespo on side when Kaka released the pass.

Marcos Cafu's cross was deflected and Luca Marchegiani managed to readjust his position with some difficulty, but for all their possession Milan couldn't find a way through.

Into the second half and Marchegiani flew to palm away a swerving Kaka strike from the edge of the box.

The deadlock was eventually broken on 65 minutes. Clarence Seedorf did everything himself, bursting through two Chievo defenders before unleashing a fierce shot at the near post.

Jon Dahl Tomasson wasted a golden opportunity to double their lead on the counter-attack, but he went for glory and missed rather than passing across to the unmarked Shevchenko.

Sheva then made a mistake himself by slipping at the crucial moment,

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Maldini; Kakà, Gattuso, Seedorf, Serginho (Kaladze 81); Shevchenko (Brocchi 86), Crespo (Tomasson 74)

Chievo: Marchegiani; Moro, Mandelli, D'Anna, Lanna; Zanchetta, Brighi, Baronio (Luciano 62), Franceschini (Semioli 74); Marchesetti (Amauri 53); Pelissier

Ref: Paparesta

Beretta issues Milan warning
20.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Chievo boss Mario Beretta says his side are looking for victory at Milan on Wednesday evening.

The Rossoneri lost 2-1 to Siena at the weekend and Beretta is plotting their second reverse in the space of four days.

"Milan are a human squad who can have a bad day at the office," stated the Bentegodi tactician.

"We won’t be going to the San Siro to just defend because that is not part of our footballing philosophy. We’ll give our all in the hope of getting all of the points on offer."

However, Beretta expects to be facing a Milan side that will be keen to archive Sunday’s loss.

"I expect them to give it their best because they will be very angry about the Siena defeat," he added.

"I just hope that they are not at 100 per cent or else it will be very difficult for us to compete against them."

The champions will be looking for the points in a bid to not allow Juventus to extend their three-point lead at the top of the table.

But Chievo have other objectives on their minds. "Milan are going for the title but survival would be our Scudetto," concluded Beretta.

Ancelotti to ignore Juve vs. Inter
20.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti maintains that his club need no favours from Inter in their bid to beat Juventus to the title.

The Bianconeri and Nerazzurri clash at the San Siro on Wednesday but Ancelotti insists his mind will be focused on Milan’s game with Chievo.

"We are capable of resolving our own problems," Ancelotti said, whose team are now three points behind the Turin giants in the standings.

"The gap isn’t big enough for us to start hoping for other teams to collect results for us. This is an advantage. Now we just need to focus on beating Chievo."

Despite reaching the Champions’ League semi-finals, Milan’s domestic results have seen them draw with Brescia and lose to Siena in their last two games.

"We need to get back to winning ways," he added. "Inter could certainly beat Juve because they have only lost to us this term.

"We would obviously be happy if Inter won but our destiny is in our hands and not those of others."

Ancelotti also dismissed claims that his side didn’t play well at Siena during the 2-1 loss on Sunday.

"I was happy with what we did," he added. "Perhaps we were just lacking in concentration on their first goal."

The tactician has selected a 19-man squad for the San Siro tie but he will be without Manuel Rui Costa and key midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

Milan squad: Dida, Abbiati; Cafu, Costacurta, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic, Stam; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Kaka', Seedorf, Serginho; Crespo, Shevchenko, Tomasson.

Chelsea Must Win Trophies to Join G-14, AC Milan's Gandini Says
20.4 || webmaster

Source: Bloomberg

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- Chelsea would be welcome to apply to join Europe's elite G-14 group of soccer clubs if it can add titles to its status as the world's biggest-spending team, AC Milan Director Umberto Gandini said.

``G-14 has a history of members with success, not just wealth,'' Gandini said at the SportAccord convention in Berlin. ``It's not on the agenda, but Chelsea would be a legitimate candidate.''

Chelsea has spent more than 250 million pounds ($478.4 million) on players since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. A home victory over Arsenal tonight would leave Jose Mourinho's team one win shy of a first English league title for 50 years. A triumph over Liverpool next month would also secure a first ever Champions League final berth.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool last month blocked Chelsea's proposed entry into the 18-team lobby group, whose members also include record nine-time European champion Real Madrid, Spanish sports daily El Mundo Deportivo reported. Chelsea needs the support of all 18 to join.

The G-14 teams want as much as $2 million each from FIFA to release players for tournaments such as the World Cup to cover salary and insurance costs. Clubs, which don't receive any payment, are also seeking to cut the time players spend on international duty. FIFA has refused to negotiate with the group, saying it will only listen to approaches from national associations.

AC Milan vs. Chievo Verona - match preview
19.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Fresh from their unexpected slip at relegation fodder Siena, Milan face another of Serie A’s strugglers. Mario Beretta’s Chievo side have won two of their last three games to push themselves out of the relegation zone but surely Milan won’t fall twice in one week?

The Rossoneri were victorious at the Stadio Bentegodi earlier this season courtesy of Hernan Crespo’s first Serie A goal for the club. The Argentine hitman is likely to start this game given that Jon Dahl Tomasson and Pippo Inzaghi are both injured. Alessandro Nesta will return to the starting XI in place of Kakha Kaladze – with Paolo Maldini reverting to left-back – in Milan’s only expected change.

The Flying Donkeys are definitely without the suspended Federico Cossato after his late red card against Parma, with his replacement likely to be the Brazilian hitman Amauri. Roberto Baronio is a welcome addition to the side in place of Paolo Sammarco. Chievo will need all of their big players to show up if they are to stand any chance of further halting Milan’s title charge.

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Maldini; Gattuso, Rui Costa, Ambrosini; Kakà; Crespo, Shevchenko

Chievo (probable): Marchegiani; Moro, Mandelli, D'Anna, Lanna; Semioli, Brighi, Baronio, Franceschini; Amauri, Pellissier

Advantage Juve, says Maldini
19.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan captain Paolo Maldini has admitted that Juventus are now favourites to win Lo Scudetto.

The veteran made the statement after the Bianconeri moved three points clear at the top of the table following his side’s shock reverse at Siena.

"I think it will be very difficult at this point of the season for Juventus to buckle," stated the legendary No 3.

"All we can do now is just concentrate on our own games and hope to win them all."

The Rossoneri were being widely tipped for the title, but picking up just one point in the two games against Brescia and Siena has cost them.

"We are very disappointed," he added. "We took the lead against both Brescia and Siena but failed to defend it."

However, there is a full round of Serie A games on Wednesday which could open up the title race again as Milan face Chievo, while Juventus host Inter.

"It looks like Week 32 will be an advantage for us on paper," he noted. "However, a large majority of the points we’ve dropped this term have been against smaller clubs."

Collina call angers Shevchenko
18.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has taken a swipe at referee Pierluigi Collina following Milan’s loss at Siena on Sunday.

The referee, widely considered as the best in the world, ruled out a Shev strike even if TV replays suggested the goal should have been awarded.

"I didn’t even want to watch the replays because I was already certain on the field of play that it was a good goal," he told TG5.

"I was then told at half-time that it should have stood. We certainly lacked concentration at times but the referees must be more alert because that mistake could cost us a lot.

"I don’t want to cause any controversy but it is just a shame that happened. Fortunately we have another game immediately, against Chievo, to get back to winning ways."

Juventus have now taken a three-point lead in the Scudetto chase but the striker insists his side are still in the race.

"I didn’t get to sleep until six and when I did drop off I didn’t rest properly because we lost a game which we shouldn’t have," he added.

"But there is nothing bad in having to chase Juventus. The championship is still within our grasp.

"We must now treat the remaining seven games like finals and just aim to win them all, including the San Siro tie against Juve.

"We’ll see what happens from now until the end of the season but I think we can still win both the Scudetto and the Champions’ League."

Milan, who will face PSV Eindhoven, are the only remaining Italian side in the last four of the European Cup.

AC Milan team doctor pleads not guilty to indecent exposure
18.4 || webmaster

Source: FOXSports.com

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - AC Milan's team doctor pleaded not guilty on Monday to indecently exposing himself to a woman eight weeks ago on the eve of a Champions League game against Manchester United.

Armando Gozzini, 44, was not present when his lawyer, Mike Brunskill, entered the not guilty plea in Salford Magistrates Court.

The case was adjourned until May 31 when Gozzini is expected to appear to testify in a jury trial.

Gozzini was arrested on Feb. 23 at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester following allegations that he had exposed himself to a female staff member of the hotel.

We’ll strike back, warn Milan
18.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan are still in the title race despite the 2-1 defeat at Siena, says Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"We haven’t given up the Scudetto chase," stated the Coach. "We are still in it and we will continue to be.

"Let us not forget that we cancelled out an eight point deficit earlier this season and deleting three points doesn’t scare us.

"There are still a host of games to play and we can also count on the match against Juventus at the San Siro."

Juve are now three points clear at the top of the table after Enrico Chiesa and Francesco Cozza cancelled out a Hernan Crespo opener on Sunday.

"We did everything that we should have done but Siena did well to strike back," added the tactician.

"These things happen in football and the game was wide open until the final whistle. Siena made us suffer, especially their midfielders who caused us problems with their deep runs."

Scudetto twist delights Capello
18.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Juventus boss Fabio Capello admits that the current League table brings a smile to his face.

The Bianconeri are now clear at the top of the Division after their win over Lecce coincided with Milan’s shock 2-1 loss at Siena.

"It is very satisfying to look at the standings right now," stated the tactician. "Milan’s defeat illustrates that there are no easy games.

"Right now every club in the Division has something to play for, whether it be the Champions’ League, the UEFA Cup or survival."

The Bianconeri themselves fell a goal behind to Lecce at the Delle Alpi, but won 5-2 thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick.

"I’m satisfied because we have shown that we are physically in good shape and showed character," continued the tactician.

"We were able to take advantage of some of Lecce’s poor awareness even if we suffered at times."

The win was also of vital importance given that it came so soon after the Champions’ League elimination to Liverpool.

"They went through because they basically played catenaccio against us," Capello highlighted.

"Our elimination has more to do with the loss in Liverpool, even if we went into the return game thinking that we could score at any time."

Siena 2-1 AC Milan - match report
17.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Crespo 63 (M), Chiesa 71 (S), Cozza 86 (S)

Siena have stunned Milan and perhaps decided the Scudetto race after fighting back from a goal down to beat the leaders.

The Rossoneri made the tricky trip to Siena and knew they could not afford another mistake after last week's 1-1 home draw with Brescia. Milan have struggled to see off the smaller sides this season and had to do it without the injured Andrea Pirlo, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Pippo Inzaghi, so Manuel Rui Costa took that deep midfield role. Dida was able to start despite suffering burns when a flare thrown by Inter supporters struck his shoulder in Tuesday's Champions' League quarter-final.

Andriy Shevchenko was able to start despite suffering from a slight calf problem in an all-attack line-up with Kakha Kaladze giving Alessandro Nesta a rest, moving Paolo Maldini back into central defence. Former Milan defender Bruno Cirillo was suspended for Siena.

The Rossoneri had a great chance after six minutes, as a long-range Marcos Cafu strike took a deflection off Igor Tudor that forced Alex Manninger into a desperate reaction save.

Paolo Maldini also had a pop from distance, but there was controversy when Andriy Shevchenko tapped in Hernan Crespo's low cross. The goal was disallowed for offside, though replays suggest the Ukrainian was behind the ball.

Gennaro Gattuso's shot was deflected wide and Kaladze's looping header was over as Milan poured forward.

But Siena were also dangerous and Igor Tudor's looping header from an Alberto cross slammed the crossbar after 15 minutes. There was another great chance 10 minutes later, as a long pass found Enrico Chiesa and Dida bravely rushed off his line to smother the shot.

There was a fine team move on the half-hour mark, as Shevchenko ran on to Kaka's through ball and rolled across for Crespo only for it to be intercepted by Giovanni Pasquale. From the resulting corner kick Shevchenko's strike was deflected over the bar from six yards by Alberto.

Milan were peppering the Siena goal with shots and Rui Costa's cross was palmed into the path of Kaladze for a looping header that was just wide.

Jaap Stam used his head to push Tudor's shot over the bar, as it appeared to be going towards the top corner of the net.

Into the second half and Maldini required a perfectly timed tackle to prevent Chiesa from scoring on the counter-attack, but Milan again went close when Manninger was at full stretch to fingertip a precise Rui Costa drive out of the bottom corner.

Milan eventually broke through on 62 minutes with Hernan Crespo. The Argentine sprung the offside trap thanks to Rodrigo Taddei's error and he managed to nutmeg Manninger at the near post from a very tight angle.

Even Gennaro Gattuso was threatening a goal and his fierce strike from distance thumped the underside of the crossbar to keep Siena in the game.

Siena threw on Massimo Maccarone and were able to grab the equaliser soon after with a chaotic move. Enrico Chiesa's first shot from a corner kick struck the post, then his second was cleared off the line by Rui Costa only to ricochet back into the net off the upright.

The Rossoneri fought back immediately and Manninger needed to stand his ground to punch away a fierce Shevchenko free kick.

Carlo Ancelotti went for broke and introduced Serginho and Clarence Seedorf for the closing stages. The Dutchman drilled a powerful effort over the bar moments after stepping on to the pitch.

But just as Milan were pouring forward, Siena struck on the counter-attack and ex-Inter man Pasquale's cross found Francesco Cozza for a precise header at the back post to stun the travelling fans.

Manninger was probably man of the match and again flew for a one-handed save to push Serginho's free kick over the crossbar.

Siena: Manninger; Portanova, Mignani, Tudor, Colonnese, Pasquale (Argilli 87); Alberto (Maccarone 70), D'Aversa, Vergassola, Taddei; Chiesa (Cozza 79)

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Stam, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso (Seedorf 77), Rui Costa (Serginho 77), Ambrosini; Kakà; Crespo, Shevchenko

Ref: Collina

Stam reveals PSV love
17.4 || webmaster

Source: sportnetwork.net

AC Milan star Jaap Stam has stated on his official website his deep feelings for his first club PSV, and saying it is a club he still carries in his heart.

This of course will be Stam’s second chance to return to an ex-club this season, with Manchester United already visited, Stam stated:

“At Eindhoven, where I played for two and a half seasons, It was a wonderful period.”

“PSV was my first love, I still have it in my heart. It must have been the fate. This year I'm having a tour of all the cities where I have played. To return to Eindhoven for such an important game is a real dream. There is a great atmosphere in that city.”

“Against Hiddink we will have to struggle. But before that we have to think about Juventus who have been wounded by Liverpool. We chase Champions League and domestic title.”

Ancelotti ready for final push
17.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Rossoneri must balance their Scudetto and Champions’ League ambitions as they go into the most decisive weeks of the campaign.

“We have to concentrate on our inner strength in order to get the maximum result from our next three games. This week will be very important to decide our season, both in Serie A and the Champions’ League, but I am convinced there will be no Scudetto play-off required,” said Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

If Milan and Juventus remain locked together at the top of the table after all 38 rounds are played, they will go into a play-off to assign the title, regardless of goal difference.

“I don’t know what form Juve are going through, but competing in Europe will take something away from our Serie A potential. If we do well in the semi-final against PSV Eindhoven, then our morale will be high when we face Juventus a few days later.”

This week Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani revealed he’d be happy to let Juve win the Scudetto if it meant seeing his team lift the Champions’ League trophy for the second time in three years.

“I agree that it’d be a good trade-off, but there is a month until the end of the season and everything could change,” insisted Ancelotti. “It is important to be in the running for two trophies and a single moment can turn our campaign.”

Milan travel to relegation strugglers Siena this afternoon, but are without Andrea Pirlo, Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Christian Abbiati and quite possibly Andriy Shevchenko as well.

“Siena have strung together a lot of draws recently and have found some consistency at last. Those who consider this an easy task are very much mistaken.”

Siena confident of Milan upset
17.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

On paper Siena don’t have much hope of upsetting the Serie A leaders tomorrow, but Coach Luigi De Canio is quietly confident.

“The first aspect to consider is that we’ll be playing three games in six days and I only have two strikers at my disposal,” said the Bianconeri boss who will probably pack the midfield and leave one upfront.

“I’ll have to take that into account and therefore will use those players who are on the best form, regardless of tactical issues. It’s what we’ll need to play the perfect game.”

Siena’s confidence has also been boosted by the fact fellow strugglers Brescia held Milan to a 1-1 draw last week.

“Actually that is a disappointment to me,” insisted De Canio. “I don’t think the Rossoneri will repeat the same mistakes they made that day, especially with regards to their approach. This means we have to be absolutely perfect.”

Andrea Pirlo is out with an injury and Andriy Shevchenko is also a major doubt going into the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

“If Pirlo was there I’d already planned to put in an extra midfielder, but the fact he isn’t merely means I can consider this option as well as several others. You have to put pressure on players like Pirlo and Manuel Rui Costa and not leave them any room.”

Siena fought back twice to earn a 2-2 draw with Lecce last week and had to thank Rodrigo Taddei, who came on as a substitute and scored despite De Canio’s insistence he was off form.

“He is not 100 per cent fit, but the important thing is that he wants to be there and help the team,” explained the Coach. “This is crucial and I hold that above all other considerations, followed by tactical issues and then physical ones.”

In Milan's footsteps
16.4 || jcagney

It’s the day after Internazionale of Milano have been ‘officially’ exiled from this season’s UEFA Champions League (such an abundance of flares haven’t been seen since the premiere of Saturday Night Fever). A six-match stadium ban (with two suspended for three seasons) and a massive fine of 300,000 Swiss francs (spare change to Signor Moratti) accompanied the confirmation of Milan’s place in the semi-final line up.

The bookmakers have installed Milan and Chelsea as joint favourites for the most coveted prize in club football. The prospect of this particular Anglo-Italian cup final would leave the fans of both sides (and for that matter, the neutrals) salivating profusely for weeks on end.

In terms of history and prestige the two have little in common, with Milan’s trophy laden annals a stark contrast to the scattering of silverware currently on show at Stamford Bridge.

However, there are glaring similarities in other areas, most notably the club’s respective billionaire owners (disparities for fondness toward publicity aside) – ‘media baron’ Silvio Berlusconi in the red and black corner and ‘oil baron’ Roman Abramovich in the blue and white corner - and the manner in which the two took to implementing their vision of world domination (football wise, naturally).

When Berlusconi took control of an ailing Milan in the mid-eighties he immediately sought to snap up Europe’s best, bringing in untried Arrigo Sacchi to oversee the likes of Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit as well as the Italian vertebrae of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and current Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Abramovich adopted a similar approach when he rescued debt-ridden Chelsea, bringing in Jose Mourinho to mould an all-conquering side from players such as Didier Drogba, Claude Makalele and Arjen Robben to further enhance the English nucleus of John Terry, Frank Lampard and, to a lesser degree after having recently found his best form, Joe Cole.

It was Fabio Capello’s Milan which first revolutionised the use of ‘squad turnover’ - an idea first implemented in England by former Milan hero Ruud Gullit when manager at Chelsea.

In Petr Cech and Nelson Dida, Chelsea and Milan have two ‘keepers perennially battling it out with Gigi Buffon for the title of world’s best shot-stopper. Both clubs have inspirational home-grown captains, step forward Paolo Maldini and John Terry, marshalling ‘super-squads’ the envy of teenage ‘console managers’ around the globe. Squad depth further demonstrated by both clubs’ ability to prevail for long periods this season without their main attacking protagonist – Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko and Dutchman Arjen Robben - due to injury.

Defensively, both sides can point to more clean sheets than a finely tuned money laundering operation and are extremely difficult to break down. Although it seems that Chelsea have saved their allotment of clean sheets for Premiership football only, conceding an amazing nine goals in their four Champions League knockout games, whilst in the same period of time Milan conceded none.

Of course, the ‘dream final’ doesn’t always come to pass and both Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven will have plenty to say on who ultimately gets to the Istanbul showpiece. In fact, of the four semi-finalists, it is only the London club who have failed to win European football’s top prize with Milan and Liverpool enjoying 10 triumphs between them.

PSV will take heart from the fact that their one and only Champions Cup win, a penalty shootout victory against Benfica in 1988, was orchestrated by current coach Guus Hiddink – the man who broke Italian hearts in 2002 when his South Korean side eliminated Paolo Maldini and co from the World Cup finals.

Liverpool can also point to the track record of their current manager as reason for optimism. Rafael ‘Rafa the Gaffer’ Benitez led Valencia to UEFA cup glory last season and he has already shown this season, particularly against Capello’s stingy Juventus in Turin, that he can mix it tactically with the best of them.

But what price, IF Chelsea and Milan were to meet in the UEFA finale on a hot summer night in Istanbul on May 25th, a Chelsea player (namely, Argentine striker Hernan Crespo who is on a season-long loan spell at Milan from Chelsea) scoring the goal that would win the game for Milan?


Written by John Cagney

Sheva to skip Siena game?
16.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko pulled up during training with a muscular problem today and is a risk for the trip to Siena, adding to a series of injury woes.

“I told him to leave training early as he was struggling with pain in his calf,” explained Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“I don’t know the extent of the problem, but it was a precautionary measure. We’ll see how his condition develops overnight.”

To lose the Ukrainian would be a heavy blow, as Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Andrea Pirlo are already out of the squad, forcing them to bring along youth team striker Ardemagni.

“Kakha Kaladze will play, so one of our defenders will have a rest,” revealed the tactician.

“I want to consider our system carefully, especially as Pirlo is out. Manuel Rui Costa could take his place in that deep midfield role, or we could use one striker and two supporting Trequartisti. If Sheva doesn’t recover in time, then that’s our most likely option.”

Milan squad:

Gk: Dida, Fiori, Dei Forti

D: Cafu, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic, Stam

M: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Kakà, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho

F: Crespo, Shevchenko, Ardemagni

Inter hit with record ban
15.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter Milan were handed a record six-match stadium ban and 300,000 Swiss francs ($248,600) fine after their Champions League quarter-final second leg against city rivals AC Milan was abandoned because of crowd trouble.

The final two games of the ban are suspended and will come into effect only if Inter fans are the cause of further trouble during a probationary period of three years, European soccer's ruling body UEFA said on Friday.

In practice the ban means Inter will have to play without supporters for their next four UEFA competition home fixtures.

AC Milan were awarded the tie 5-0 on aggregate and will play PSV Eindhoven in the semi-finals.

AC Milan won the first leg of the quarter-final 2-0 and were leading Inter 1-0 when the game was stopped after 73 minutes when flares were thrown on to the San Siro pitch.

Inter are currently third in Serie A. If they finish in that position, or fourth place, they would enter the Champions League in the final qualifying round and play the home tie behind closed doors.

If they qualified for the group stage then all three of their home matches would be behind closed doors with fans only returning to the San Siro if Inter got through to the first knockout phase.

The continued presence of Inter supporters at the Milan venue would then depend on their good behaviour and the 'suspended' two-match ban would be in addition to any separate sanction for a further offence, UEFA said in a statement.

The ban would also apply to the UEFA Cup and would be transferred to the following season if Inter were eliminated before playing four games.

Tuesday's match was the second time this season that a Champions League game in Italy had been abandoned due to crowd trouble. AS Roma's tie with Dynamo Kiev was halted after the referee was hit by an object thrown from the crowd.

UEFA ordered Roma to play two games behind closed doors.

As well as the fine, the ban will cost Inter heavily in terms of lost ticket revenue and other income.

Ticket revenue for Tuesday's game, which attracted a crowd of 82,000, was over 3.3 million euros ($4.25 million).

Siena vs. AC Milan - match preview
15.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

A clash between one of Serie A’s strugglers and a Scudetto contender is a recipe for disaster this season. Though Milan seem to be able to beat the biggest and best sides put in front of them, they tend to struggle against the smaller clubs.

Last week’s draw at home to Brescia emphasised this point – a similar result in Tuscany will surely hand Juventus the Scudetto initiative. And the Bianconeri will be hoping that Igor Tudor and Davide Chiumiento, who are on loan in Tuscany, can do them a favour.

The last time these two sides met, an Andriy Shevchenko brace helped Milan to a 2-1 win. The Ukranian striker will again take his place in attack, but Carlo Ancelotti must decide who to play alongside him.

The tactician will hand Jaap Stam and Kaka recalls after suspension, while Paolo Maldini’s involvement in Milan’s midweek Champions’ League clash at Inter is likely to see him play after missing the Brescia game last week.

Siena have no new injury worries and, with only Bruno Cirillo suspended, they are likely to name an unchanged side.

Siena (probable): Manninger; Mignani, Tudor, Portanova; Alberto, D'Aversa, Cozza, Vergassola, Falsini; Chiesa, Maccarone

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

Calcio adopts zero-tolerance
15.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Italian government has backed zero-tolerance plans that could see League matches abandoned as soon as an object is thrown on to the pitch.

Italian teams will automatically lose games 3-0 under the new rules, which will come into place on Friday, if their fans are adjudged to have been the culprits.

The Italian authorities have taken the step after Tuesday’s Champions’ League derby between Inter and Milan was abandoned.

A section of the Nerazzurri support hurled bottles and flares on to the field of play, with one hitting Milan ‘keeper Dida on the shoulder.

There was also some minor crowd trouble at the Stadio Delle Alpi on Wednesday during Juventus’ match against Liverpool.

The Interior Ministry announced the measures today after a meeting with the Italian Football Federation and the Italian Olympic Committee.

"It's important that football clubs increase their co-operation with forces of order and increase dialogue with supporters," stated Federation chief Franco Carraro.

"We have the desire that this season’s championships can end in a climate of peace and harmony.

"We are in a very delicate situation and we needed an emergency solution. We hope that these measures won’t need to be taken but they will if necessary."

However, the new rules haven’t been welcomed by everyone in the Italian game, who fear they could cause more trouble.

"Carraro’s decision has surprised me," said Palermo chief and League Vice-president Maurizio Zamparini.

"He is an intelligent person but he will soon realise that he can’t give one fan the power to stop a match simply because his side is losing."

Brescia owner Gino Corioni mirrored those views, as he rightly fears that some fans could intentionally go into rival ends to get matches stopped.

"The idea that a side can lose a match after one flare is thrown is not right," he said.

"The derby illustrated that fact. Every club has a group of mad fans who will look to damage a rival club if they know they can.

"This way we are making clubs a hostage to fans. This is sheer madness."

Ancelotti sees Juve advantage
15.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti fears that Juventus now have a slight advantage in the title race following their Champions’ League disaster.

The Old Lady were knocked out of Europe on Wednesday, which leaves them with just one objective and less games to play than their Rossoneri rivals.

"Liverpool’s qualification was a surprise," stated Ancelotti. "In all honesty, I would have preferred if Juventus went through.

"They could now possibly have a little advantage over us in the Scudetto chase.

"In fact, we will now play them at the San Siro just four days after the second leg of our semi-final against PSV Eindhoven."

Although Milan do have a busier schedule, pundits insist they’ll be able to cope thanks to their superior squad to Juventus.

"Myself and (Juve boss) Fabio Capello have a lot of options and we’ll look to use them all," insisted Ancelotti. "But I now also fear the rage that Juventus will have inside of them."

The tactician also defended his colleague over some of his team selections during the 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

"I really don’t think it is right to criticise Capello," he added. "It is easy to say that Ruben Olivera should have been replaced but he has decided a number of games this term."

However, striker Andriy Shevchenko doesn’t believe that much has changed in the title race following Juve’s European flop.

"Even if they had qualified, they wouldn’t have forgotten about the League," he told the Corriere dello Sport.

"There is great equilibrium between the two sides and every one of the eight games remaining could prove decisive. Neither of us can afford to drop points.

"The next month will be full of important games but I’m not going to choose one competition over another. I want them both."

Pirlo set to miss PSV clash
14.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

AC Milan's in-form midfielder Andrea Pirlo faces a race against time to be fit for the expected Champions League semi-final against PSV Eindhoven later this month after injuring his knee in Tuesday's abandoned quarter-final, second leg against Inter Milan.

Pirlo is expected to be out of action for ten days and is expected to miss Serie A matches against Parma and Siena.

The injury also leaves Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti with a nervous wait as he prepares his side to take on the Dutch side on April 26, providing UEFA award the club the quarter-final victory as expected on Friday.

The referee stopped Tuesday's match at the San Siro after 73 minutes when a flare hit thrown by Inter fans hit the AC Milan goalkeeper Dida. AC Milan were winning 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.

Pirlo has been in superb form recently, scoring both goals in Italy's 2-0 win over Scotland in a World Cup qualifier, as well as setting up Jaap Stam and Andriy Shevchenko to score in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

Dida calls for tougher laws
13.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has called for tougher measures to be introduced in an effort to eradicate violence in the Italian game.

The Brazilian made the statement less than 24 hours after he was struck and burnt by a lit flare in the abandoned Champions’ League clash against Inter.

"We all want a more beautiful game," stated the South American. "A sport in which all that fans thought about was supporting their own team.

"If someone introduced real laws that would stop such incidents then things would be a lot better."

Dida was substituted by Christian Abbiati as the match official attempted to restart the game last night, but he insists he’ll be fine for the Siena clash on Sunday.

"I’m feeling well," he added. "I have a slight burn but I’ll be available for the weekend. I was in great pain and I did go to hospital just to make sure that there was nothing serious."

The shot-stopper also revealed that a number of Inter players, including Sinisa Mihajlovic and Javier Zanetti, checked on his progress after the game.

Inter President Giacinto Facchetti then phoned the Brazilian today to make sure that he wasn’t too badly hurt.

Dida also insisted that the referee was right to disallow Esteban Cambiasso’s goal - a decision that sparked the missile throwing.

"Julio Cruz did foul me as he stopped me from taking a step back to catch the ball," he insisted. "That is what the referee saw."

Milan have yet to be officially confirmed as semi-finalists but that should occur on Friday following a UEFA meeting.

"I’m happy because we are in the last four," he added. "We deserved to go through as we played well, especially in defence."

The Rossoneri will now play either PSV or Lyon in the next round of the competition.

Shevchenko escapes Euro ban
13.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko won’t be punished by UEFA after he clashed with Inter’s Marco Materazzi last night.

There were fears that the striker could be ruled out of the Champions’ League semi-finals after TV pictures seemed to show him head-butt the stopper.

But UEFA have today stated that the third minute incident won’t be investigated as it appeared in front of the assistant referee, who did not indicate anything to referee Markus Merk.

Had the Golden Ball winner been adjudged to have intentionally clashed with Materazzi, then last night’s abandoned quarter-final tie could have ended differently.

Especially as Shevchenko then went on to score a super goal to give his side a 1-0 lead before the match was halted in the 73rd minute.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has authorised the use of "drastic measures" in an attempt to eradicate violence in Italy’s football stadia.

"There is a clear risk of even more serious incidents in the future, a risk which must be avoided by all possible means," read a statement from Berlusconi’s office on Wednesday.

"Premier Berlusconi urged the interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu this morning to maintain the firm line that has been taken for some time, with particular reference to preventative measures.

"However, resorting to the most drastic measures available should not be ruled out if necessary."

Berlusconi calls for action
13.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi authorised the use of "drastic measures" on Wednesday in a crackdown on violence in Italy's football stadiums, following the abandoned Champions League quarter-final second leg between AC Milan and Inter.

Berlusconi, who also owns AC Milan, met Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu a day after a barrage of missiles from Inter Milan fans led to their team's Champions League derby against AC Milan being called off at San Siro.

Berlusconi's office issued a statement warning: "There is a clear risk of even more serious incidents in future, a risk which must be avoided by all possible means.

"Premier Berlusconi urged the interior minister to maintain the firm line that has been taken for some time, with particular reference to preventative measures.

"However, resorting to the most drastic measures available should not be ruled out if necessary."

Tuesday's scenes were only the latest to shame Italian football and followed a warning this week from Pisanu that he might order high-risk matches to be played behind closed doors.

At the weekend, Lazio fans brandished swastika flags and fascist banners during a Serie A game against Livorno and there was crowd trouble at several grounds across the country.

Tuesday's quarter-final second leg was the second Champions League game in Italy to be called off this season because of violence. AS Roma's match with Dynamo Kiev in September was stopped after referee Anders Frisk was struck by a missile.

Friday meeting over Milan match at UEFA
13.4 || webmaster

Source: UEFA.com

UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case of the abandoned UEFA Champions League match between FC Internazionale Milano and AC Milan on Friday afternoon.

Missiles thrown
The body will convene in Nyon, Switzerland at 14.00CET after last night's quarter-final second leg at the Giuseppe Meazza was abandoned in the 75th minute, after missiles were thrown on to the field including one that struck Milan goalkeeper Dida. A UEFA spokesman said a decision would be communicated during Friday afternoon.

Play abandoned
Milan, who won the first leg 2-0 last week, had scored a 30th-minute goal through Andriy Shevchenko to lead 3-0 on aggregate but shortly after Nerazzurri midfield player Esteban Cambiasso had a goal disallowed, play was suspended.

Merk decision
Plastic bottles and fireworks were among the objects launched from behind the Milan keeper's goal and German referee Markus Merk decided to suspend the game and take both sets of players off the field and into the dressing-rooms.

Match abandoned
An attempt to resume the game was made at 22.40CET but within seconds, further objects landed on the pitch and the referee immediately abandoned the match.

No Shevchenko proceedings
Meanwhile, UEFA has said it will not instigate proceedings against Shevchenko for an incident involving the Ukrainian player and Inter opponent Marco Materazzi which occurred in the third minute of the game.

No indication
A UEFA spokesman said that after the viewing of the match video, it appeared that the incident occurred in front of the assistant referee, who did not indicate anything to referee Merk.

Was Moratti real Inter target?
13.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Rumours in Italy are suggesting that last night’s abandonment of the Milan derby was a premeditated attack on Inter owner Massimo Moratti.

The Champions’ League quarter-final between the two Milan clubs was brought to a stop on 73 minutes after Nerazzurri fans threw numerous objects onto the pitch, including a flare at Rossoneri ‘keeper Dida.

It was initially thought that those actions were as a direct response to the fact that Inter had a seemingly good Esteban Cambiasso goal disallowed by referee Markus Merk.

However, sources close to the Curva Nord – the section of the ground that caused the trouble – are allegedly claiming that fans had planned last night’s events for some time.

Numerous e-mails were sent to the ‘Pressing Champions League’ TV programme on Tuesday after the game which seemed to ‘confirm’ such a view.

It’s believed that the objective was to affect Inter both on an economical and image level, in an effort to send Moratti a clear message.

The Inter owner, who has pumped millions into the club over the last decade, doesn’t have a great relationship with some sections of the fans after collecting just one UEFA Cup since he took control of the outfit.

Ancelotti shocked by fan violence
12.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits he had no idea the Inter fans would resort to violence, as the Milan rivalry has always been a friendly one.

“It was an unexpected reaction from the fans, as I’ve played in a dozen derbies and never seen anything like this. It is a terrible blow to the city of Milan, which has always shown great sportsmanship.”

The Coach and former player suggested that the Italian media has exasperated fans into this sort of behaviour.

“We should certainly put more power in the hands of the security forces, but above all it is a question of culture – we don’t talk about sport in television these days, it’s just refereeing errors and stirring up tension. Nonetheless, there were no warning signs, as the fans in Milan make fun of each other, but it never goes beyond that.”

Dida could not continue the game after a lit firework struck him on the shoulder, burning a hole through his shirt.

“It is nothing too serious, but the fresh burn made it difficult to move his shoulder so we preferred not to risk it by letting him continue,” explained Ancelotti, whose side was winning 1-0 thanks to Andriy Shevchenko when the tie was abandoned.

“It was a good defensive performance against an impressive Inter side, but we were also dangerous upfront and a fantastic Shevchenko goal put the tie in our pockets. We were too relaxed after the restart and should’ve played with a higher tempo.”

Milan have not conceded a single goal in the knockout round of the Champions’ League this season, scoring five goals in four games.

“This round and the previous one against Manchester United was built on a solid defence and we kept four consecutive clean sheets. When we were beaten, Dida came to the rescue, so I think that to win this competition we have to work on the other areas of our team.”

Match-winner Shevchenko was also upset with the fact he cannot look back and remember this match fondly.

“I am very sorry and there’s nothing more we can say. It’s a real shame for Inter, as I don’t know what sanctions they will face and it ruined a very good game,” said the Ukrainian.

“I’m sure the majority of the crowd did not want it to end this way, but a few individuals are hard to reach and determined to cause trouble. All the players can do is act in a sporting manner on the pitch.”

The Rossoneri were under pressure early on and Shevchenko’s goal was practically their first scoring opportunity.

“It was an important moment of the match, as we were under pressure and knew Inter would come out of the blocks quickly, but that goal allowed us to control the match. Our approach in the second half was far too relaxed, but we are through now and have to prepare for the next round.”

Dida was again decisive with a series of fantastic saves on Kily Gonzalez, Juan Sebastian Veron and Obafemi Martins.

“Dida is a great goalkeeper and he proved once again today that he gives the whole team a sense of security knowing he’s back there.”

Clarence Seedorf suggested that this dreadful show at the San Siro was a good starting point to finally act on the growing problem of violence in Italian stadiums.

“I hope the memory of this game isn’t cancelled out, as we need to start immediately and teach people how to watch football,” said the Dutchman. “Dida is doing alright and is a little sore where he was struck, but he will be fine.”

Some have claimed that the constant media examination of conspiracy theories and refereeing favouritism has turned football into a war-zone.

“I was talking with Esteban Cambiasso and told him that I understand the moments of stress, especially when you’re losing, but players have to lead by example and not go outside the realm of respectability when something doesn’t go your way.”

Milan were set to qualify for the semi-finals anyway, as Andriy Shevchenko’s goal had given them an unassailable 3-0 aggregate lead with 16 minutes left to play.

“We were never really afraid of going out, but we did misplace too many passes early on and Inter were pushing forward aggressively,” added Seedorf. “Sheva’s great goal and our solid defending show we deserved to reach the semi-final.”

The Rossoneri are now among the favourites for the final victory and will face either PSV Eindhoven or Lyon in the semi’s.

“Of course reaching the final four gives you strength and the obstacles have not been small ones. Milan can really take centre-stage in this competition.”

Mancini: We matched Milan
12.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter were understandably angry and ashamed after a section of their fans forced the abandonment of the Champions’ League derby by attacking Dida.

Milan were already leading 1-0 and there were 16 minutes left to play when Esteban Cambiasso had a goal controversially disallowed and supporters in the ‘curva’ behind Dida’s goal rained objects on the Brazilian.

One lit firework struck him on the shoulder and burned a hole in his jersey, then within seconds of the restart more flares were thrown on to the pitch, forcing referee Markus Merk to abandon the game.

The two Coaches went into the post-match Press conference together in a show of unity against this scandalous behaviour, while the 1-0 scoreline has currently not yet been confirmed.

“We are clearly upset at going out, purely from a sporting perspective as well as what happened off the field,” said Coach Roberto Mancini.

“They were two even games and Dida was extraordinary by saving everything that came his way. I am happy with the performance and I thank the lads for never being inferior to Milan throughout this season. It’s such a shame it all had to end in this fashion and whether or not the goal should’ve been disallowed is irrelevant.”

Mancio’s tactical choices will come under attack, as he started with a half-fit Adriano – who was carried off with a muscular problem – as lone striker with Andy van der Meyde and Kily Gonzalez on the wings.

“I had planned the game like we played in the first half with plenty of crosses from the wings, but Milan scored with their first shot and it all became much more difficult for us. We should’ve closed Shevchenko down earlier, but he is a great striker and scored a wonderful goal,” added the tactician.

“Moments can change the course of a game and we had intended to score first, but Dida and Shevchenko proved to be the difference. I didn’t want to give the central defenders any static positions to mark, so with two wide players and Adriano moving around a lot, I hoped to make it difficult for Milan.”

When asked to send a message out to the supporters who had ruined the match by hurling objects at the pitch, Mancini was lost for words.

“I don’t see what more we can do other than say we’re very disappointed and upset at what happened.”

Captain Javier Zanetti was also reticent to condemn the fans and opted to discuss the performance instead.

“I would prefer to talk about the game. Everyone saw what happened and we are all upset at leaving this competition, as it meant so much to us and the club. We were honestly quite confident going into the match, but Dida was wonderful and kept his team in it.”

Doubts now hang over the future of Mancini’s tenure at the San Siro after going out of Europe and never really getting into the Scudetto race.

“We must honour these team colours until the end of the season and try to win the Coppa Italia, then we’ll see what the future holds, but I doubt the problem lies with the Coach,” concluded Zanetti.

Inter security chief Stefano Filucchi explained just how hopeless the current Italian legal system is at dealing with hooliganism.

“Everyone knows the lads in the Curva and we don’t have the legislation that in England allow clubs to ban certain supporters from the ground. If they queue up for tickets then we legally cannot turn them away at the gate.”

Dida hit by firework
12.4 || webmaster

Source: FOXSports.com

MILAN, Italy (AP) - AC Milan goalkeeper Dida was hit by a firework thrown from the stands in Tuesday's Champions League quarterfinal against city rival Inter Milan, forcing the match to be temporarily suspended.

Milan was 1-0 ahead - and leading 3-0 on aggregate - when a lit firework landed on the Brazil 'keeper's left shoulder in the 73rd minute.

Dida was treated farther infield and the teams were escorted off the field about 10 minutes later while UEFA delegates decided whether or not to finish the match.

Inter fans were upset that a 71st-minute goal by Esteban Cambiasso was ruled out for a foul.

Internazionale 0:1 AC Milan - match report
12.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorer: Shevchenko 30 (M)

Andriy Shevchenko's goal had all but qualified Milan anyway, but Inter left Europe in shame after Dida was struck by a flare.

The Rossoneri had eliminated their local rivals from this competition in 2003 and were leading 2-0 from the first leg with goals from Jaap Stam and Andriy Shevchenko, so Inter had a mountain to climb in order to qualify, especially as in three derbies so far this season they had failed to score a single goal and the Nerazzurri had not beaten their 'cousins' since 2002, managing three draws and six defeats going into this game.

Adriano made his comeback after suffering a knee injury three weeks ago and was the lone striker, as Roberto Mancini hoped to take control of the midfield with Juan Sebastian Veron in his preferred central role. Dejan Stankovic was injured and Gennaro Gattuso suspended, so Milan brought in Massimo Ambrosini to fill in. Paolo Maldini was able to start despite suffering from a slight injury.

There was an incident after two minutes, as Marco Materazzi fell to the ground clutching his face following contact with Andriy Shevchenko. The two players seemed to go head to head and the Inter man came off worse, but the linesman spoke with referee Markus Merk and no action was taken.

Kily Gonzalez and Ambrosini were booked soon after for fouls on each other as it became clear immediately that this was going to be a fiery game.

Marcos Cafu proved crucial on his fellow Brazilian Adriano after he had shrugged off Alessandro Nesta, but Ivan Cordoba was the third booked player after just 11 minutes for a late challenge on Kaka as he was sprinting through the centre towards goal. Andrea Pirlo curled the resulting free kick past the near post.

Veron unleashed a right-foot rocket from 20 metres and a very acute angle - practically the edge of the pitch - that Dida just about managed to palm round the upright as Inter continued to be aggressive in these opening stages.

However, for all the pressure, it was Milan who broke the deadlock with a fantastic individual effort from Andriy Shevchenko. The reigning European Player of the Year gathered the ball on the right corner of the box and rifled in a fierce left-foot effort that whipped past Francesco Toldo's outstretched hand. The Ukrainian is a real nightmare for Inter, as he has now scored 12 goals in 16 derbies.

Unlike the first leg, Inter refused to give in and Dida was at full stretch to flap away Veron's corner kick. Moments later, the Brazilian performed a crucial flying save on a Kily Gonzalez long-range strike.

Adriano's header was just wide, though the striker complained of a push from Cafu, then Milan poured forward on the counter-attack and Cafu's diving header was off target from Sheva's cross under pressure from Giuseppe Favalli.

An Adriano screamer from 25 metres was just wide as it became a very open game with chances for both sides. Alessandro Nesta was able to continue despite Adriano accidentally standing on his hip, but the defender was booked for the challenge and will miss the semi-final first leg.

Mancini made massive changes at half-time, introducing Sinisa Mihajlovic and Julio Ricardo Cruz in place of Kily Gonzalez and Cristiano Zanetti, moving Andy van der Meyde to the left flank and Javier Zanetti to the right side of midfield in a more traditional 4-4-2 system.

There was another blow for Inter, as within two minutes of the restart Adriano began limping heavily with a muscular problem and was replaced by Obafemi Martins. The giant Brazilian had not played for three weeks due to a strained knee ligament and was a major doubt to even feature in this tie, let alone play from the start. He generously tried to run it off, but just seemed to make the injury worse and was eventually carried off.

It was quite a start from the young Nigerian, who within a minute sprinted past Nesta on a Cruz through ball and had his angled drive turned on to the upright by Dida's reaction save.

Veron drilled another long-range piledriver just past the target, though Dida had it covered, and Mihajlovic blasted a free kick well wide.

Martins revived Inter's strike force and out-sprinted Jaap Stam only to fire straight at the goalkeeper and on this evidence some fans will think the Nigerian should've been in the starting eleven.

Cafu's low cross found Hernan Crespo for an ambitious backheel that went wide of the near post as Milan started to look more comfortable passing the ball around.

Van der Meyde held up the ball for Martins only for his shot to be charged down by Nesta, while Milan introduced Manuel Rui Costa for the disappointing Crespo, reverting back to the Christmas tree formation. The Portuguese star was in confident mood after scoring a stunning goal at the weekend in their 1-1 draw with Brescia.

When Inter did managed to get a shot on goal, Dida was more than equal to it and was at full stretch for a fantastic one-handed save to tip van der Meyde's accurate low strike out of the far corner of the net.

There as controversy on the resulting corner kick, as Esteban Cambiasso nodded in at the back post, but it was disallowed for a Cruz nudge on Dida. There was minimal contact and it was a debatable decision - there was certainly less in this than the John Terry goal Chelsea were allowed against Barcelona in the last round.

Play had to be halted when a lit flare struck the goalkeeper on the shoulder and he required treatment for a burn that singed a hole right through his jersey, but the fireworks continued to rain down in a disgraceful display that will no doubt cost Inter a large fine and possibly a ban when they re-enter Europe next season.

Merk ordered the players back into the dressing room and waited for the UEFA delegate before making a decision on whether or not the game could continue as Inter supporters continued to rain objects on to the pitch. Milan suggested switching the ends for the final 15 minutes of play, but the referee refused the request.

The teams came back out after a half-hour break with Christian Abbiati in goal for Milan, so Dida's injury was worse than previously thought. The Inter fans did not seem to learn their lesson and continued to throw flares, forcing Merk to abandon the game entirely 30 seconds later. It was a shameful night for Italian football and Inter left Europe in the worst way possible.

Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Materazzi, Favalli; van der Meyde, C Zanetti (Mihajlovic 46), Veron, Cambiasso, Kily Gonzalez (Cruz 46); Adriano (Martins 50)

Milan: Dida (Abbiati 74); Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Maldini; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Crespo (Rui Costa 69), Shevchenko

Ref: Merk (Ger)

Coppa Italia to get facelift
12.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

The Coppa Italia is to undergo a major revamp to try to revive interest in the ailing tournament. Changes will be brought in for the 2005/06 competition to make it more closely resemble the French cup, which automatically gives lower division teams home advantage.

The first round will be expanded from 32 to 64 teams with ties played over a single match with lesser teams drawn at home to increase the chances of an upset. The preliminary group stage has been axed.

Of the 64 entrants, 12 come from Serie A, 22 from Serie B and 30 from Serie C, and matches start on August 7th.

However, the top eight finishers in Serie A still get a free pass to the last 16, where the competition reverts to its present format of two-leg ties. Cup organisers could not confirm whether there will be a UEFA Cup spot for the winners.

The Coppa Italia has suffered from low attendances and TV audiences, while the top sides frequently give their lesser lights a run-out in the midweek games.

Milan don’t fear Deportivo repeat
12.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti insists his side won’t suffer another shock Champions’ League exit against Inter on Tuesday.

The Rossoneri are expected to book themselves a place in the last four following the 2-0 first leg victory.

But Nerazzurri fans are clinging on to the fact that Milan lost 4-0 at Deportivo La Coruna last season after winning the opening game 4-1.

"The situation is different today to how it was against La Coruna," argued the tactician. "Especially as we won’t feel like the away side on Tuesday as the San Siro is our home too.

"I expect Inter to change a few things but I just want my side to do what they did in the first leg.

"Adriano? We must pay close attention to him and their other strikers who are capable of creating problems."

Although the champions have a two-goal lead that they could defend, Ancelotti has hinted that his side will be looking for a crucial away goal.

"It would be decisive towards qualification if we scored and we must look to do that as soon as possible," he added.

"We won’t be playing tomorrow’s match with the first game in our heads even if we are in a strong position."

Captain Paolo Maldini is also looking for his side to attack rather than defend against their city rivals.

"If we score a goal then they will have to put four past us," stated the stopper. "Inter will want to start strongly but that is also our plan.

"We do have the advantage but we know that it could quickly change. We must just make sure that doesn’t happen."

The veteran should start the game after recovering from fitness problems. "I’m feeling in good shape and am available for selection," he said.

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

Mancini counting on Adriano
12.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter boss Roberto Mancini has confirmed that Adriano will start in Tuesday’s Champions’ League tie against Milan.

The striker has spent the last three weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury but he’s been passed fit to return to action.

"He will be fundamental for us even if he is clearly not 100 per cent," stated Mancini. "He feels that he is ready to take the risk and he’ll start."

Inter will need Adriano at his best given the 2-0 first leg defeat, yet the South American is confident he is ready.

"I’m happy to be available again," said the 23-year-old. "Like always I will give everything for this shirt.

"I also believe, like the rest of my teammates, that we can go through because it is only right to have faith."

The Nerazzurri need to beat their city cousins by an ‘unlikely’ 3-0 scoreline but Mancini is a believer.

"We want to play at a high pace and we’ll look to use the roar of the crowd to our advantage," added Mancio.

"What will count tomorrow is the hunger of the side. We must be good enough to not let them score, otherwise that would be a massive blow."

Inter have only lost twice this season but those defeats ironically came against the reigning champions.

"I would say that the two teams matched each other in all of the other derbies this term," continued the Sampdoria legend.

"There was never one game in which one team was superior to the other. It is true that we haven’t scored against them in this campaign but they also have the best defence in Europe."

Captain Javier Zanetti added that he believes his side’s mental attitude will be of real importance.

"We are concentrated on the game," said the Argentine. "Our objective is to get through to the semi-finals.

"The match will be difficult and we will need to be perfect in every way. All of us must play with our hearts on Tuesday."

Inter (probable): Toldo; J Zanetti; Mihajlovic, Materazzi, Favalli; Veron, Cambiasso, C Zanetti, Stankovic; Adriano, Martins

Maldini fit to face Inter
11.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

Milan captain Paolo Maldini has shrugged off a thigh injury to play in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final, second leg tie with city rivals Inter Milan and has urged his team mates to go for the kill. Follow the Champions League LIVE on eurosport.com from 20:45cet on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Maldini had to sit out Milan's 1-1 draw with Brescia in Serie A on Saturday but after training on Monday he said: "I feel quite good and I am available".

Milan lead 2-0 from the first leg and the absence of an 'away goal' for Inter gives the Italian champions an even bigger advantage.

"If we get a goal then they have to score four," said Maldini.

"We know that they will try and get off to a strong start but we have the same idea. We have a significant lead but we also know that it could be cut back in a very short time.

"For that reason we have to go out there and try and win the game and not get involved in any calculating."

Milan 'grateful' to Brescia
11.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The Rossoneri’s slip with Brescia almost proved very costly indeed, but the players insist it will help them prepare for their Euro clash with Inter.

“The Champions’ League derby has taken a lot out of us and it’s only normal that when facing a smaller side you get a bit distracted,” said the Portuguese international who scored a stunning goal only to see Brescia grab a late equaliser.

“I so often leave the pitch happy with my performance despite not scoring, and now that I finally hit the back of the net it didn’t help us win so there’s a sense of disappointment. Ironically, taking the lead gave us a sense of security and we allowed Brescia too much room.”

Milan were without Kaka, Jaap Stam, Paolo Maldini and Kakha Kaladze, while Alessandro Nesta is still suffering the effects of an ankle injury.

“We were a little tired, but this result does not make us any less of a great squad,” insisted the defender. “There’s a long way to go yet and unfortunately we conceded from a set-piece, but Brescia must be praised for believing in their chances until the final whistle.”

The reigning Serie A Champions remain joint top of the table anyway, as Juventus also drew in a spectacular 3-3 encounter with Fiorentina.

In fact, Alessandro ‘Billy’ Costacurta believes this Brescia setback could help them prepare for Tuesday’s second leg clash with Inter.

“The only positive aspect of this result is that we have learned yet again that it’s dangerous to lower your guard even for a second,” said the 38-year-old. “When you’re leading 2-0 from the first leg, that is an important reminder.”

German referee Markus Merk has been chosen to officiate Tuesday's decider at the San Siro.

Internazionale vs. AC Milan - match preview
11.4 || webmaster

Source: Reuters (UK)

MILAN, April 11 (Reuters) - Every form guide avaliable suggests that AC Milan's 2-0 lead from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with city rivals Inter should be enough to see the Italian champions through to the last four.

But Inter Milan, who hope to have their Brazilian striker Adriano fit enough to play from the start, insist they are capable of producing an upset at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Inter have not won any of the last nine meetings between the two teams in Serie A and the Champions League and in the three games this season have yet to score a single goal against Carlo Ancelotti's side.

They will have to score three times against Milan to progress yet Milan haven't conceded more than one goal in a Serie A or European game since their 5-2 victory over Lecce on January 6.

Indeed Milan have conceded just three goals in their entire Champions League campaign so far this season.

Inter Milan coach Robert Mancini though, has taken heart from last season's quarter-finals when Milan crushed Spain's Deportivo Coruna 4-1 in the first-leg but were then eliminated after a shock 4-0 reverse away from home.

"Football is a strange game which is full of unthinkable things, including incredible comebacks," said Mancini.

"If you believe in yourself then sometimes these things can happen for you. There are teams that come back from 3-0 down. We lost 2-0. There are weaker teams that beat stronger sides sometimes but there is little to choose between us and Milan.

"The important thing in this situation is to have the pride and the desire to turn around this deficit. We have nothing to lose and all that remains is for us to get out there and do it. There is no room for any defeatism," he added.

ADRIANO HOPING

Adriano's knee ligament injury kept him out of the first-leg but he has been back in training in recent days and there is confidence among the club's staff that he could be ready to start against Milan.

The Brazilian's hattrick in the last round of the Champions League against Porto made the difference for Inter and Mancini knows he needs a similar display if there is to be any hope on Tuesday.

Inter beat Bologna 1-0 in Serie A on Saturday playing with two wingers -- Dutchman Andy van der Meyde on the right flank and Argentine Kily Gonzalez on the left.

Mancini has hinted that he may opt for such a formation with Juan Sebastian Veron switching to a central midfield role.

"The fact that we were able to play with two wide men was important -- that is the type of line-up I prefer," said Mancini after Saturday's game.

"It is not only I that prefers to see Veron in the middle -- he prefers it that way too," added the Inter coach.

Milan looked distracted on Saturday as they struggled to a 1-1 draw with Bologna ending their run of eight successive wins in Serie A and they could be without captain Paolo Maldini for the derby.

Maldini is suffering a thigh injury and Ancelotti will wait until Monday before taking any decision.

Brazilian Serginho deputised for Maldini against Brescia but was unimpressive and Milan also have Georgian Kakha Kaladze and Italy international Giuseppe Pancaro who could come into the side at left-back.

Maldini has played most of this season in the centre of defence but returned to left-back for the first-leg with Dutchman Jaap Stam and Alessandro Nesta operating in the middle.

Massimo Ambrosini is expected to deputise for the suspended Gennaro Gattuso in the centre of midfield.

Ancelotti: Don't panic
9.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini have analysed today’s surprise results, as Milan insist their shock draw is not a disaster.

“We struggled because it isn’t easy to prepare for a game like this,” said Ancelotti after their 1-1 with Brescia. “We thankfully took the lead early, but our real problems were in defence and we left Brescia too much space.”

There were fears that the Rossoneri would slacken the pace in-between Champions’ League quarter-finals, but the absence of Jaap Stam and Paolo Maldini seemed to make the difference.

“It’s a shame the equaliser came at the last minute, but then we have earned so many points with goals like that so it’s pointless complaining. A draw is not a disaster and we won’t begin to fall apart after this result. We were not distracted by the Champions’ League, but it was a tactical mistake that cost us today.”

Inter will have been boosted by witnessing this disappointing performance from their Euro rivals and also feel more confident after beating Bologna 1-0.

“It was a very important win, especially after an undeserved defeat to Milan,” said goalscorer Julio Cruz. “This result will charge us up and I’m happy to be playing regularly.”

Coach Roberto Mancini also agreed that conquering the Stadio Dall’Ara was no mean feat. “This wasn’t a simple game and I am happy for those who performed well after being out for some time,” said Mancini.

“Now our thoughts go towards the Champions’ League and we believe that we can turn the 2-0 first leg result around.”

Both Milan goals midweek were scored on set-pieces and Inter again looked shaky at the back on Bologna’s free kicks.

“When there are 20 players in the area and the ball happens to find one of them, there isn’t much you can do about it,” insisted Mancio. “When we were man-marking we gave away even more goals from set-pieces, but at least with the zonal system you can attack the ball rather than risk penalties.”

Meanwhile, there was good news for Inter as Adriano has resumed full training from Friday and even scored in a game between ranks. The Brazilian has been out since the 3-2 win over Fiorentina on March 20 with a knee ligament strain, but is looking good to feature in Tuesday’s Champions’ League derby against Milan.

AC Milan 1:1 Brescia - match report
9.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Rui Costa 14 (M), Wome 87 (B)

Manuel Rui Costa broke his goal drought, but it was not enough to maintain Milan's pace at the top of the table as Brescia grabbed a late equaliser.

The Rossoneri were expected to beat relegation battlers Brescia and maintain their pace at the top of the table, but there were hidden dangers. Fresh from a 2-0 Champions' League quarter-final win over Inter, they were without the suspended Kaka and Jaap Stam, while Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze and Pippo Inzaghi were injured. Carlo Ancelotti went for broke with an all-attack line-up that included Brazilian full-backs Marcos Cafu and Serginho.

Jon Dahl Tomasson was given a rare start and really should've opened the scoring after 2 minutes, but when Clarence Seedorf's cutback reached the Dane totally unmarked, he somehow managed to blaze wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Andrea Caracciolo nodded Omar Milanetto's cross wide, while Andriy Shevchenko's snapshot was also off target.

Rui Costa renewed his contract this week and jokingly said he hoped to score a goal before it expires in June 2007. He got his wish, as the Portuguese star curled in a magnificent shot with his right foot that slotted into the top corner past a helpless Luca Castellazzi. The ex-Fiorentina man had appeared to be lining up a cross, but instead aimed a swerving effort under the bar.

Moments later Brescia had a great chance to equalise with Zambrella's diving header off target, but Seedorf went very close with a low version of Rui Costa's effort that whistled past the post.

The visitors continued to prove dangerous and Marius Stankevicius thumped the near upright with a rising drive, though Dida appeared to have the goal covered. A Milanetto scuffed volley also tested the goalkeeper from a deflected corner kick.

Gigi Di Biagio saw a free kick charged down by Tomasson's face, while at the other end Shevchenko sliced a Pirlo free kick wide. Caracciolo had a trio of scoring opportunities before the break - a weak drive, impressive volley and looping header.

The second half started along similar lines with Seedorf wasting a good chance following some fine team interplay and Domizzi intercepting his pass to Tomasson.

But Brescia were really piling on the pressure and it took some time to finally clear their lines from a Milanetto free kick. Caracciolo continued to trouble the defence, but his finishing left a lot to be desired and he fired wide of the target.

Brescia had a great chance to draw level on 68 minutes when substitute Markus Schopp sent Caraciolo running, but his pass found a tired Simone Del Nero unable to finalise the counter-attack from eight yards.

Castellazzi closed down some promising interplay between Shevchenko and Rui Costa, but Brescia's pressure eventually paid off with less than four minutes to go.

A free kick was not cleared effectively and it came out to former Roma player Pierre Wome for a fierce left-foot strike that slotted into the far corner past Dida's outstretched hand.

Milan now had to push forward with more conviction and threw on Hernan Crespo for the final stages, but could not create any more scoring opportunities.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Costacurta, Serginho; Gattuso (Crespo 87), Pirlo, Seedorf (Pancaro 69); Rui Costa; Shevchenko, Tomasson (Ambrosini 62)

Brescia: Castellazzi; Zoboli (Dallamano 78), Di Biagio, Domizzi, Martinez; Stankevicius, Milanetto, Wome, Zambrella (Schopp 66); Caracciolo, Del Nero (Mannini 80)

Ref: Rodomonti

Maldini to miss Euro derby?
9.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini is now a major doubt to feature in Tuesday’s Champions’ League decider with Inter, as Milan face a series of setbacks.

The captain will sit in the stands for today’s Serie A encounter with Brescia after suffering a left thigh injury and it’s reported there is a good chance he won’t recover in time for the derby.

Maldini is joined on the sidelines by Kakha Kaladze, who has continuing ankle problems, while Gennaro Gattuso will certainly miss the Euro showdown with a one-match ban.

This will force Carlo Ancelotti into a series of changes, as Giuseppe Pancaro should step into the left-back role with Jaap Stam again joining Alessandro Nesta in the centre, although 38-year-old Alessandro ‘Billy’ Costacurta is another option for that flank.

Massimo Ambrosini is the natural understudy to midfield battler Gattuso, though the lack of protection offered by these adjustments could see Milan revert back to the Christmas tree formation with Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa feeding Andriy Shevchenko.

The Rossoneri have a comfortable 2-0 lead from the first leg, but are still reeling from last year’s Champions’ League quarter-final exit, where they threw away a 4-1 result to go out 5-4 on aggregate.

Stam snubbed Mancini advice
8.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan stopper Jaap Stam says he made the right decision in ignoring Roberto Mancini’s advice to join Inter.

Mancini was the Dutchman’s boss at Lazio last season before they both decided to move to different sides of the San Siro.

"When we were together at Lazio, Mancini did often tell me that perhaps it would be better for me to move to Inter and not Milan," he stated.

"However, I have to say that I think I made the best decision by joining the Rossoneri instead.

"After all, it wasn’t difficult to pick Milan because they are undoubtedly one of the best sides in the world."

Inter, who appointed Mancini in August, and Juventus were very interested in signing the 32-year-old after it became clear that he would quit the capital club.

However, the former PSV and Manchester United central defender opted to join the Italian champions in a £7m deal.

Inter further regretted missing out on Stam in midweek after he scored in the 2-0 Champions’ League win over the Nerazzurri.

Ancelotti admits Brescia concern
8.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has precious few options open to him against Brescia and admits he is more worried by this test than Inter in Europe.

“We haven’t had much time to recover from the strains of the Champions’ League,” said the Milan boss after Wednesday’s 2-0 win. “It will be a very difficult game.”

Kaka and Jaap Stam are suspended for Saturday’s encounter, while Paolo Maldini and Kakha Kaladze have been left at home nursing minor injuries.

“Alessandro Nesta was feeling better today and we’ll see if he can start, while Pippo Inzaghi won’t resume full training until Monday. There are two options to replace Kaladze at left-back, and they are Giuseppe Pancaro and Serginho.”

With the probable rest weekend given to Marcos Cafu, it’s likely we’ll see Brazilian Serginho take on the role of attacking fullback against Brescia. There could also be changes upfront with Jon Dahl Tomasson taking over from Hernan Crespo to partner Andriy Shevchenko, while Manuel Rui Costa steps in for Kaka.

The Rossoneri have to keep concentration high as they battle for the Scudetto and Champions’ League, with the second leg against Inter only days away.

“It’s difficult not to think about European competition,” conceded Ancelotti. “We have plenty of reasons to focus on Brescia right now and have to remember the Scudetto is in the balance.”

Milan squad: Abbiati, Dida, Cafu, Costacurta, Esajas, Nesta, Pancaro, Simic, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Seedorf, Serginho, Crespo, Shevchenko, Tomasson.

AC Milan Appoints Warner Bros. CPW Licensing Representative
7.4 || webmaster

Source: I-Newswire.com

Burbank, CA - Kicking off a major global licensing agreement, AC Milan, one of the most successful and admired European Football clubs, announced the appointment of Warner Bros. Consumer Products as its exclusive worldwide licensing representative. The agreement also sets the stage for AC Milan to work with various divisions within Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner on mutually beneficial marketing and promotional opportunities.

“This unprecedented alliance between AC Milan and the world’s largest entertainment company has been a life-long dream for me,” said Adriano Galliani, Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Milan Associazione Calcio s.p.a. “Warner Bros. Consumer Products is well-positioned to globalize our franchise and expand our fan base.”

Warner Bros. Consumer Products will utilize their creative, licensing and retail expertise to develop a complete range of licensed products. New graphics, artwork and retail programs will be created for promotion partners and licensees around the globe and opportunities to license internet cafés, eateries and other specialty venues will be explored.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ Italian office in Milan will spearhead the licensing program and closely coordinate all worldwide activities.

“This partnership underscores the global leadership position that our Company has achieved and continues to expand upon. We are pleased and honored to team with AC Milan and ready to explore a host of opportunities to achieve our mutual goals,” said Dan Romanelli, President, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products.

“AC Milan is a historic sports and entertainment franchise, and we are honored to have been selected to represent them the world over,” said Jordan Sollitto, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and International Licensing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Going forward, we will be actively looking for ways to expand our relationship and share the broader benefits of the partnership.”

The AC Milan and Warner Bros. Consumer Products partnership represents the first agreement of its kind between an entertainment company and a football club. Warner Bros. Consumer Products has significant experience in the world of Football with licensing partnerships currently including the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol ( Mexican National Team ) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. They also recently represented UEFA’s EURO 2004 tournament held in Portugal.

Ancelotti breathes sigh of relief
6.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti and Andriy Shevchenko insist that Inter still have a chance of qualifying and admit they were worried after the first half.

“At the half-time break I told my players that we had to do considerably better, especially upfront where we rushed some promising opportunities,” noted the Milan boss after their 2-0 victory.

“There is always concern at this level, but I was convinced the team could handle it and they did. It wasn’t a scintillating performance, but it was solid and Inter put lots of pressure on our midfielders, especially Andrea Pirlo.”

Set-pieces proved decisive, as Pirlo assists allowed both Jaap Stam and Andriy Shevchenko to score, while Dida was decisive on Sinisa Mihajlovic.

“We were worried by Mihajlovic’s prowess and he proved why early on, but we made the most of Pirlo’s kicks and our power in the air. It isn’t easy to train a goalkeeper on these situations, as few can hit a dead ball like Mihajlovic,” noted Ancelotti.

Shevchenko bagged his fourth goal in six Champions’ League games on his comeback from suffering a fractured cheekbone.

“Sheva scored the goal in a similar way to how he got the injury and it’s a very reassuring moment for him and the whole team, as it wipes away the memory of that incident.”

Gennaro Gattuso will be suspended for next week’s decider and Milan have a two-goal advantage going into the second leg.

“Inter have a chance of qualifying and will give everything they have in the second leg, but apart from that Milan must play to win and ensure the semi-finals are in our hands,” added the Coach.

The Rossoneri must also continue their battle with Juventus for the Serie A title and welcome plucky Brescia to the San Siro on Saturday.

“Fighting on two fronts is certainly stimulating for the team, though it is difficult to keep concentration high throughout the campaign. That mental aspect is tougher than the physical one when you play every three days.”

Milan have consolidated their position as one of the favourites – along with Chelsea – to win the tournament and Ancelotti explained their secret.

“This is a team that can play in a variety of different ways, defending when necessary and attacking at the right time. I doubt any other team in the world can boast a defence of this quality, but above all that plays with this level of humility.”

Shevchenko proved that the horrific facial injury – which required the insertion of two titanium plates in his skull – had not hit his confidence by nodding in Milan’s second goal.

“I admit that I was worried before this game, as it was a special occasion and I wasn’t sure how I would hold up in a match situation,” revealed the Ukrainian who hadn’t played since February 19.

“Everything went well and I felt fit, though I might feel the strain tomorrow! It was a great second half performance and I couldn’t have asked for more on my comeback. This was a goal I desperately wanted, especially after my injury, but it’s worth nothing until we qualify.”

The turning point in this game was another header from Jaap Stam, and both goals were created by Andrea Pirlo free kicks.

“Scoring a goal on the stroke of half-time is a real advantage, while we were much better after the break. The opener gave us more confidence, though we did well to soak up pressure during the opening 20 minutes,” continued Shevchenko.

The defensive performance on those free kicks was Inter’s biggest weakness on the night, while Dida performed fine saves on Sinisa Mihajlovic efforts.

“I think we have a great advantage from set-pieces, but Inter were missing great strikers like Adriano. I expected a game between two sides who didn’t want to lose and fought for every ball, so with these situations a dead-ball can turn the tide.”

However, the European Player of the Year was not counting his chickens quite yet, especially as Milan threw away a 4-1 first leg lead against Deportivo La Coruna last season.

“It’s too early to start celebrating, as we have another leg to play and a tough game against Brescia in between. The champagne is not on ice yet!”

Milan director Adriano Galliani was also pleased with the performance, albeit admitting that Inter did not deserve to lose 2-0.

“It was a balanced game and Inter played better than us in the first half, but our goalkeeper was again decisive,” said Galliani. “I am very happy for Sheva, as scoring with his head proves he isn’t afraid after that facial injury.”

Mancini: "We have to believe"
6.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Roberto Mancini and his men are disappointed with the derby defeat, but believe they can turn it around in the second leg.

“There is real regret after playing a great first half and overall a balanced game,” said Mancio after Inter’s 2-0 loss.

“The goal came at the right time and Dida was extraordinary, but we have to admit that we cannot give away two goals from set-pieces without taking some of the blame. Milan did well to take their chances, but we should’ve been more careful at the back.”

Both goals came from set-pieces, as Andrea Pirlo’s free kicks reached Jaap Stam and Andriy Shevchenko relatively unmarked.

“It won’t be easy in the second leg, but we have to believe and give it our best shot. These two distractions totally changed the game, as if we’d have opened the scoring then it would’ve been a very different result,” insisted Mancini.

“The second goal was particularly disappointing, as Shevchenko had his back to goal and Mihajlovic could’ve taken his time instead of shoving him.”

Inter have lost just two games in all competitions this season and both of them were against their local rivals with goals against the run of play.

“I’m very disappointed with this result and Milan have beaten us undeservedly, both in Serie A and Europe. We need an extraordinary performance next week, perhaps above and beyond anyone’s expectations. But we have to try.”

Inter patron Massimo Moratti was in the stands and witnessed their first Champions’ League defeat of the campaign.

“We played a great first half, but were very unlucky to concede that goal against the run of play on the stroke of half-time and it cut down their morale,” said the oil baron. “We have to be optimistic for the second leg.”

AC Milan 2:0 Internazionale Milano - match report
6.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Stam 45 (M), Shevchenko 74 (M)

The Rossoneri are confident of reaching the semi-finals after Andriy Shevchenko marked his comeback with a goal in the 2-0 win over Inter.

The two San Siro giants drew each other in Europe for the second time in three seasons, as in 2003 Milan went through on away goals (1-1 on aggregate) on their way to the trophy.

The Rossoneri welcomed back Andriy Shevchenko for his first game since fracturing a cheekbone in February, so the Christmas tree formation that proved so successful against Manchester United was shelved. Inter are Sheva's favourite target as he had already netted 11 goals in 15 derbies.

Paolo Maldini reverted back to his old left-back position, leaving Jaap Stam and Alessandro Nesta in the centre. Hernan Crespo was on the other side of the divide in 2003 and now started for Milan.

Inter were forced to do without the injured Adriano and Alvaro Recoba, while Christian Vieri was only fit enough for the bench due to a knee problem. Julio Cruz could give the midfield extra support with Obafemi Martins spearheading the attack.

The Nerazzurri's record against their local rivals has been poor of late, as they haven't beaten them in any competition since 2002, managing three draws and five defeats going into this game. Like the Champions' League semi-final in 2003, Milan began the tie as the home team, so any Inter scored would count as 'away' goals.

Inter had the first chance after 10 minutes with a typically wicked Sinisa Mihajlovic free kick that was bending in at the near post, but Dida flew across the face of goal to palm it out.

Ivan Cordoba performed an important challenge to halt Kaka's rapid counter-attack, while Andrea Pirlo's free kick was deflected wide.

Milan had more of the possession early on, but Inter had the best chances and Julio Cruz fired over the bar from the edge of the box. Il Jardinero then turned a Martins low cross round the near post as he slid in to anticipate Dida, while Cordoba hit the side-netting from a Mihajlovic corner.

There was very bad news for Carlo Ancelotti's men on 33 minutes, as Gennaro Gattuso was booked for a handling offence and will miss the second leg.

Dida performed another good save to tip Juan Sebastian Veron's free kick over the bar, but Shevchenko threaded through for Crespo and Cordoba dived in to close down the Argentine as he pulled the trigger from eight yards.

On the stroke of half-time, Dida was called into action again with a splendid two-handed save on a precise Cruz effort as it swung towards the far post.

The goal eventually arrived in first half stoppages, but it was against the run of play. Pirlo curled a free kick into the centre, where Jaap Stam's glancing header went into the bottom far corner of the net to leave Inter in shock. It was the Dutchman's first goal since joining the Rossoneri in the summer.

The second half started in the same vein as the first, with Mihajlovic placing a free kick inches over the crossbar.

Former Inter man Clarence Seedorf made two errors to end promising Milan moves, but Shevchenko had a golden opportunity to double their lead as he was at full stretch to get on the end of Kaka's taut cross. The Ukrainian seemed to be nervous about heading the ball after his accident and went with his foot instead.

Roberto Mancini threw on Christian Vieri for Cruz in a bid to get more power upfront. The Italian international nearly scored within minutes of stepping onto the pitch, but Dida managed to pluck Dejan Stankovic's pass off his foot.

Pirlo made a rare defensive tackle inside the area as Vieri prepared to sweep home Giuseppe Favalli's centre. Giorgios Karagounis came on for Veron, while Kakha Kaladze replaced the not 100 per cent fit Alessandro Nesta, returning Maldini to central defence.

Mihajlovic was fortunate to remain on the pitch as he had already been booked when he shoved Shevchenko in the back. It proved a decisive moment anyway, as from the resulting Pirlo free kick Shevchenko rose pretty much unmarked to nod in Milan's second of the game. It came on the European Player of the Year's comeback from an horrific facial injury and he struck against Inter once again.

Inter's confidence visibly drained and the Rossoneri began to pass the ball around comfortably. Mancio played his last roll of the dice by introducing Andy van der Meyde for Cristiano Zanetti.

It nearly worked, as with three minutes left on the clock Karagounis slammed the outside of the upright from a very tight angle on van der Meyde's cross.

Yet Milan also had a great chance to make it 3-0, as Francesco Toldo flew to fingertip a splendid Shevchenko strike over the bar in stoppages.

Milan: Dida; Cafu (Costacurta 91), Nesta (Kaladze 70), Stam, Maldini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Shevchenko, Crespo (Ambrosini 83)

Inter: Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Veron (Karagounis 70), Cambiasso, C Zanetti (van der Meyde 80), Stankovic; Cruz (Vieri 55), Martins

Ref: Sars (Fra)

Shevchenko snubs Chelsea - for now
6.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko has opened the door for a Chelsea switch - but only after his present Milan deal expires in 2009.

The Ukrainian striker is on Roman Abramovich’s transfer wish-list but the Ukrainian has committed himself to the Rossoneri.

"My future is with Milan, a club who I am tied to until 2009," he told the L’Equipe newspaper. "We’ll see what happens after that.

"At this moment in time I can’t imagine myself playing elsewhere. Milan have given me everything and allowed me to win trophies.

"Abramovich? I respect him and I like him. He is someone who loves football," added Shevchenko. "We know each other and have spoken."

The current European Footballer of the Year is the sort of goalscorer that Chelsea arguably need.

But Shevchenko’s comments make a summer switch to Stamford Bridge highly unlikely despite the London club’s spending power.

Milan have also insisted on many occasions that the former Dynamo Kiev forward is not for sale at any price.

Meanwhile, the international is likely to return to action in tonight’s Champions’ League derby against Inter.

He hasn’t appeared in the side for over a month after he fractured his cheekbone during the February win over Cagliari.

Ancelotti hails ‘stronger’ Milan
5.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has warned Inter that his side are better than the outfit they faced two years ago in the Champions’ League.

The Rossoneri, who won the European Cup in 2003 after going through on the away goals rule against their rivals in the last four, face the Nerazzurri on Wednesday in the quarter-finals.

"It was a different Milan side back then, one without Andrea Pirlo," said Ancelotti. "We are stronger now and I have a more complete squad.

"My Milan side is an experienced team with some new additions. If we play how we can, then we will go through to the next round."

Although Ancelotti is confident of victory, he insists that he would be happy with a 0-0 draw as his side are technically the home team on Wednesday.

"The majority of the stadium will be full of our fans but a 0-0 isn’t a bad result," he explained. "In ties like these, not conceding at home is very important."

Inter are likely to play with five in midfield but Ancelotti maintains he will field a trademark 4-3-1-2 system.

"I won’t change anything," he said. "We have found a certain balance, especially in defence, and we will continue on this path.

"I’m serene because of what I have seen in training over the past few days. You can never be sure of victory but we are convinced that we can do well."

Inter will also be missing Adriano but Milan have been boosted with the return of Andriy Shevchenko – a player who has netted 11 times against the Nerazzurri in the past.

"He’s in good shape and trained with no problems," revealed the tactician. "I’ll speak to him and if he feels ready to start then he will start. Otherwise, I’ll put him on the bench."

Milan extend Rui Costa deal
5.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Manuel Rui Costa has put pen to paper on a new contract which will keep him with Milan until June 2007.

The Portuguese ace was expected to return to his homeland in the summer but now looks likely to hang up his boots at the San Siro.

"I’ll end my career here," said the 33-year-old. "As soon as the club offered me a new deal, I accepted.

"I’m very happy. There is a fantastic squad here that makes sure that the lesser used players are not left out. The fans also never leave you alone.

"What do I hope for from now until 2007 at Milan? To score at least one goal…"

The former Benfica star, signed by the Rossoneri from Fiorentina, was previously only contracted to the club until 2006.

It’s believed that the midfielder, who has lost his regular place in the side to Kaka, has accepted a 20 per cent cut in wages.

Euro derby excites Mancini
5.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter boss Roberto Mancini admits that he would pay to play in the Champions’ League derby against Milan.

The two teams meet in the quarter-finals on Wednesday and Mancio can’t wait for the game to kick-off.

"I would pay to play in it," said the former Sampdoria and Lazio No 10. "This is going to be a great and beautiful match.

"You can’t get much better than a Milan derby in the last eight of the European Cup."

Milan start the game as favourites to reach the semi-finals, but the tactician believes his side can triumph over the two legs.

"The only reason why the Rossoneri are favoured is that they have recently won both the Scudetto and the Champions’ League," he explained.

"But Inter are a solid side who can go on to win this competition. If we can stay calm then we can undoubtedly do well.

"We need to be fully focused and not allow Milan any opportunities to take advantage of any mistakes we make."

However, the Nerazzurri do go into the game with some selection problems as Adriano is injured, while Christian Vieri is only fit enough for the bench.

That is likely to see Mancio field an unfamiliar 4-3-2-1 system, with either Julio Cruz or Obafemi Martins playing as a lone striker.

"It’s wrong to suggest that a side becomes more defensive when it plays with one instead of two forwards," noted Mancini.

"Vieri? He isn’t fit enough to play the whole 90 minutes but he could come on at some stage in the game."

Inter have had another disappointing season so far but the club also remember the semi-final defeat to their city cousins two years ago.

"We’re not looking for revenge though," continued Mancini. "All of us at the club, at the start of the season, would have wanted to be playing such an important game at this point of the campaign.

"We want to win so that we can continue in our aim of lifting the European Cup."

Kaka relives World Cup tension
5.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka has likened Wednesday’s Champions’ League derby with Inter to the World Cup Final.

"The tension is similar to what I experienced ahead of the 2002 World Cup Final," said the Brazilian.

"But back then I knew that I wouldn’t be playing. That isn’t going to be the case in midweek.

"This is one of the most important build-ups to a game that I have ever experienced. I expect it to be a real tough encounter too."

The Rossoneri go into the game as slight favourites but the attacking midfielder is taking nothing for granted.

"There are no favourites for us, that is something that the media and the fans will have to decide on," he added.

"I’m just delighted to be a part of what promises to be a very special game. Playing well in the derby earns you a place in history and I’m hoping to do that on Wednesday night."

Although both teams share the San Siro, many believe Milan will have to be at their best on Wednesday as they are technically the home side.

"But we shouldn’t try and win it in the first game," warned Kaka. "We need to remember that there will be another 90 minutes to follow. We must play with intelligence."

Kaka still hadn’t signed for the Scudetto holders when the teams last met in this competition at the semi-final stage.

"I wasn’t here two years ago but I have this opportunity now and I hope to take advantage of it," added the player, who scored the winner in the last League meeting between the rivals.

"However, I think it will be tougher to beat Inter now than it was in 2003. A lot has changed since then."

Milan shelve the 'Christmas tree'
4.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The ‘Christmas tree’ formation will be consigned to the loft as Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo and Kaka are unleashed on Inter.

Carlo Ancelotti started his successful run on the Milan bench with the tactical system that saw Kaka and Manuel Rui Costa supporting a lone striker.

It was brought back out of necessity in recent weeks with both Sheva and Pippo Inzaghi injured, and proved decisive in their double Champions’ League victory over Manchester United.

However, with the Ballon d’Or winner now ready for a comeback after fracturing his cheekbone against Cagliari on February 19, the trident can be revived for Wednesday’s Euro derby.

It was originally believed that Shevchenko would play for around an hour before making way for the fresh legs of Pippo Inzaghi, but the former Juve star is again set to miss out with another niggling injury.

Either Jon Dahl Tomasson or Manuel Rui Costa therefore look set to come in during the closing stages of the quarter-final.

There will also be changes in defence, as Paolo Maldini should return to his old left-back role in order to bring Jaap Stam into the centre with Alessandro Nesta.

The ex-Lazio captain has now recovered from a large cut to his ankle which required seven stitches.

AC Milan to net record £2.3M gate for Euro derby
4.4 || webmaster

Source: tribalfootball.com

AC Milan are expecting a record £2.3 million gate for this week's Champions League quarterfinal first-leg clash with city rivals Inter.

A cool £2.3 million is expected to be generated for the game, which will surpass the previous record of £1.75 million from Milan's second-leg victory over Manchester United last month.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has scheduled two training sessions before the clash. After missing the weekend's Serie A round, Ancelotti had a physical session on Sunday.

Today's session will go over tactics, while tomorrow final preparations will be made before the Wednesday evening game.

French referee for Milan vs. Inter
4.4 || webmaster

Source: noticias.info

MILAN - Alain Sars will take charge of the Champions League quarter-finals first leg between Milan and Inter, scheduled on Wednesday, April 6, at the San Siro. The French referee will be helped by assistants Arnault and Texier, fourth man Derrien.

Alain Sars was born on April 30, 1961 in Dombasle. He has never overseen a Milan game, but has been appointed for Inter on two occasions in the UEFA Cup, both of which ended in a victory for the Nerazzurri.

San Siro duel for Cassetti
3.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter have joined the race to sign Lecce star Marco Cassetti in the summer, setting up a transfer duel with rivals Milan.

27-year-old Cassetti has taken his time to make an impact on Serie A, but under Zdenek Zeman he has truly found his niche in an attacking fullback role.

Italy boss Marcello Lippi also noticed his performances and gave him his Azzurri debut during Wednesday’s 0-0 friendly encounter with Iceland.

Cassetti almost marked that first cap with a goal, as his powerful header was only kept out by a goalline clearance.

Milan have long been interested in the player for his similarity in style to Marcos Cafu, but a January move fell through.

Now Inter have joined the race to sign this emerging talent and the bidding war is set to break out with Lecce taking full advantage.

Serie A calendar shuffles forward
3.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

In a controversial move, the Lega Calcio has opted to shuffle all Serie A and B fixtures along by one week following today’s suspension.

This means that the top flight Week 30 fixtures originally set for this weekend will now be played on Saturday April 9 and Sunday April 10.

Week 31 encounters will now take place on Saturday April 16 and Sunday April 17, while there will be a midweek round on April 20. All games on that Wednesday round will have a 20.30 local time kick-off.

The Serie B fixture list will change along the same lines. All sporting events in Italy were suspended this weekend as a sign of respect for Pope John Paul II.

With this in mind, the Coppa Italia quarter-finals have also been moved to May 11-12 and May 18-19.

Calcio stops for Pope John Paul
2.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The CONI has announced that all Serie A and B games will be rescheduled as a sign of respect for Pope John Paul II.

There had already been rumours that the matches would be halted if His Holiness lost his fight for life over the weekend, but calls to stop now were growing with every hour.

It is believed that the Serie A encounters will be rescheduled for Wednesday April 20, moving the planned Coppa Italia ties forward by one week to accomodate them.

"In the light of the latest medical reports that make clear the imminent death of His Holiness and in respect for the sentiments expressed by the players, Coaches, directors and fans, we have invited the Federations of all Italian sports to immediately suspend all activity planned for this weekend," said CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) President Gianni Petrucci.

Inzaghi misses Brescia visit
1.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi’s frustrating season continues after he was ruled out of Milan’s game against Brescia.

The striker, who has had an injury plagued campaign, was expected to feature against the Lombard outfit on Saturday.

But a slight knee injury has forced the player onto the sidelines again after he was ordered to rest until Sunday.

However, Inzaghi is confident that he will be available for the Champions’ League derby on Wednesday.

"Everything is fine," said the international, who has had two ankle operations in the last year.

"There is nothing serious to report. The game against Inter next week? I’ll be available for selection."

Adriano sets Milan date
1.4 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Inter ace Adriano is hoping to be fit in time for the Champions’ League second-leg against city rivals Milan.

The striker was expected to miss both of the quarter-final ties with a strained knee ligament, but he is targeting the April 12 clash as his comeback game.

"I hope to be there and play a great game," said the Brazilian international. "I want to help my teammates who have great faith in me.

"I’ll give my all in an attempt to be ready and I’m convinced that I can play in the second match."

Adriano picked up the problem in the League game against Fiorentina, but is optimistic about the future after undergoing a medical in Lyon this week.

"My right knee is a little weak right now but things are going well," he insisted. "When that becomes stable, I will be able to start running properly again.

"I know that I can play against Milan and I want to. I remember that I scored two great goals past them when I was at Fiorentina and Parma.

"I have an Interista heart and I want to beat Milan."

Inter owner Massimo Moratti is also confident that the 23-year-old will play some part against the Rossoneri.

"I think he’s already half way to a full recovery after hearing him speak," stated Moratti. "He’s doing well both physically and psychologically.

"I have great respect for Adriano who is not only a great player but also a great man."

Meanwhile, Christian Vieri is a major doubt for the first-leg against Milan as he’s still struggling with a knee problem.

The Italian missed training on Thursday and he will probably be ruled out of the Week 30 trip to Bologna.

If that is the case then Inter will line up with Obafemi Martins and Julio Cruz in attack. A partnership that may be fielded again in midweek against Milan.

Sheva returns
1.4 || webmaster

Source: EuroSport.com

Andriy Shevchenko will return for Saturday's Serie A home match against Brescia, a month after fracturing his cheekbone against Cagliari. “The injury has healed,” announced Milan medic Professor Jean-Pierre Meersseman following Thursday ’s check-up.

“He is doing better than I thought he would at this stage and his fitness levels are fine. Perhaps he’s lacking a bit of sharpness, but if he plays against Brescia this weekend then that should come fairly quickly.”

The 2004 ballon d'or winner will probably feature for only 45 minutes, while the other returning striker Filippo Inzaghi will play the other half of the game.

Shevchenko's comeback could not better fall for Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose side is on course for the two titles that matter most: the Scudetto and Champions League.

Arguably the best striker in the world, "Sheva", scorer of 14 goals so far this season in Serie A, could be the decisive asset that the Silvio Berlusconi's club need to escape Juventus in the title race.

Both share top spot in the Serie A, and Milan are on an impressive run of eight consecutive wins.

In the Champions League, Milan are about to meet their eternal rivals Inter in the quarter-finals. The first leg takes place next Wednesday at the two teams' shared home of the San Siro.

During the Ukrainian's absence, the Argentine Hernan Crespo carried the Milan striking force on his shoulders, scoring some decisive goals such as the two that eliminated Manchester United of the Champions League.

But the Milan side has been struggling to score without their best target man, and with his injury behind him "Sheva" will surely rejoin the former Chelsea man, in one of the most feared attacking partnerships in Europe.

One that could carry Milan to the top of domestic and European football.





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