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The Archive

September 2006

Gilardino feels AC Milan faith
30.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino has thanked Milan for renewing his contract until 2011 in a time when he’s struggling for goals.

“I am very happy and this is a great sign of confidence in my abilities and my future,” said the hitman.

Gilardino completed a £17m move from Parma in the summer of 2005 and scored 17 goals in his first season, going on to win the World Cup with Italy, but he is yet to find the back of the net this term.

“This contract is confirmation that I made the right choice by coming here to Milan,” added the 24-year-old.

“I’ll give everything I can to repay the club for its faith in me. This signature gives me the necessary push to get over this difficult moment in which I haven’t been able to score.”

Gilardino signs until 2011
30.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Milan until June 30, 2011.

The striker arrived from Parma in the summer of 2005 for £17m and netted 17 goals in 34 Serie A appearances, but he is yet to score in an official match this season.

The contract extension can therefore be seen as a confidence-boosting sign from the club, as Andriy Shevchenko’s move to Chelsea has put more of the responsibility on his shoulders.

World Cup winner Gilardino began his career at Piacenza in 1999-2000 before moving on to Hellas Verona, Parma and Milan.

Gourcuff injury blow
29.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan starlet Yoann Gourcuff could be out for the next three weeks after a scan confirmed that he has cracked a rib.

The 20-year-old sustained the injury during a training session before the Champions League clash with Lille this week, which ended with a goalless draw.

Recent reports suggest that the Frenchman was already suffering before the match against Ascoli last week, but Milan’s medical staff did not believe it was a serious injury.

The French youngster, who has been dubbed the next Zinedine Zidane, joined the Rossoneri from Rennes this summer and enjoyed the spotlight after scoring in his Champions League debut against AEK Athens.

The U-21 international’s absence will be a blow for Milan, who have drawn their last two matches 0-0 and will host Siena at the San Siro on Sunday.

Sheva misses AC Milan, says Kaladze
29.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Kakha Kaladze believes that Andriy Shevchenko misses life with the Rossoneri as he cannot express himself at Chelsea.

Sheva landed in West London during the summer in a £30m deal, but has struggled to adapt and has been overshadowed by Didier Drogba in the first part of the season.

“We miss Shevchenko a lot and I am sure he misses us as well,” said Kaladze in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I am sorry to see that he isn’t doing well at Chelsea. You can see that he is unable to express his talent and he has not yet integrated into the group.

The Ukrainian has only scored once in eight games for the Blues and has not found the net for more than a month.

However, Coach Jose Mourinho is willing to wait for as long as it takes for him to hit top form again.

“Upfront we can feel the difference after he left. I only hope he finally recovers top form so he can prove his true value in the Premiership,” said Kaladze, who rejected a move to Chelsea last year.

“I think my decision to stay was vital. Paolo Maldini’s injury meant that I started to play as a centre-back and felt I could be useful for the team.

“Also my relationship with the club changed and I decided to extend my contract, committing to Milan until 2011,” concluded the 26-year-old.

Ancelotti denies Kaka rift
28.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has reassured Rossoneri fans that there is no problem with Brazilian ace Kaka.

The talented youngster was unhappy with the formation fielded by Ancelotti in the 0-0 Champions League draw at Lille on Tuesday, but the tactician was eager to play down the seriousness of the situation.

“The atmosphere described by the Press is totally false, I want all our supporters to know that there is great harmony in the club,” Ancelotti told Milan Channel on Thursday.

“We all respect each other and I don’t understand how the papers can say anything different.

“I am not disappointed about what happened, but I only thought the fans should know the truth.

“I will speak to my players, as they need to be more careful when they release statements to the media,” continued the boss, who was caught by the television cameras in a heated discussion with Clarence Seedorf during Saturday’s match with Livorno.

“All these things are part of the game. I would now like the team to isolate itself from the outside, to avoid any further misunderstanding.

“We have to continue our work, just as we have done until now.”

Seedorf defends Ancelotti
28.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf believes that the Christmas Tree formation is perfectly suited to Milan’s style of play.

The Rossoneri used Seedorf and Kaka in a more advanced role to support Alberto Gilardino in the 0-0 Champions League draw at Lille on Tuesday, but Carlo Ancelotti’s decision was not approved by the Brazilian star, who said he hates the one striker formation.

“I don’t know exactly what Kaka said, but we play well with the Christmas Tree system and it certainly isn’t new for us” said Seedorf.

“It is our second favourite formation, so I don’t see any problem.

“Kaka was tired and that is understandable after playing three matches in a very short period of time, but I am sure that his words really stemmed from the fact that he was sorry we weren’t able to bring back three points.

“I don’t want to go into this issue, we have played together so many times and everyone needs to adapt.”

Rino Gattuso was also quick to defend Ancelotti’s tactical decisions. “The formation I prefer? The one preferred by the Coach,” said the world champion with his usual eloquence.

Kaka slams Christmas Tree tactic
27.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has told Carlo Ancelotti he hates the Christmas Tree formation and begged for a return to the two-striker system.

“Personally I much prefer the tactic with two forwards, as that way I don’t have to hold on to the ball so much,” said the versatile Brazilian.

Milan used Kaka and Clarence Seedorf in a more advanced role in support of Alberto Gilardino in the 0-0 Champions League draw at Lille last night, but there were critics of this decision within the squad.

“Some say I’m egotistical when I run with the ball and go for a one-on-one, but when you’re a forward then it’s necessary. With two strikers it’s easier for me to release the ball and get the whole team moving.”

This is the second consecutive 0-0 draw for the usually prolific Rossoneri following their Serie A stalemate at Livorno.

“We’re not worried. The only thing we’ve been doing wrong at the moment is that we create so many chances and can’t make the most of them,” insisted Kaka. “We aimed so many shots at the goal and the ‘keeper was always equal to them.”

Seedorf feels French nerves
26.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf believes the French air isn’t good for Milan, but assures his row with Carlo Ancelotti has been shelved.

“We deserved to win this game,” he said of the 0-0 draw at Lille. “We maintained possession and tried to find a way through, but wasted a lot of opportunities. It reminds me of Lyon last season and in fact they had a couple of chances on the counter-attack.”

Seedorf had hit the back of the net, but the goal was incorrectly disallowed for an offside position.

“I thought I was offside to be honest, but kept going because until you hear the whistle, you never know! This is still the start of the season, we have a long way to go yet, but we still managed to push hard until the 80th minute. There are opponents we are facing here and Milan cannot be expected to steamroller past everyone.”

Seedorf was given a slightly more advanced position at Lille, using the Dutchman and Kaka in support of Alberto Gilardino.

“We’ve used this tactic a lot since I’ve been here and are used to it. The Christmas Tree is our second choice system and always has been. I’ve always felt like a Number 10, but we had some great champions in that role like Manuel Rui Costa, so it’s nice to be wearing that shirt now.”

The midfielder has been in the news this week following his furious touchline row with Coach Carlo Ancelotti, but he assures it was a storm in a teacup.

“There was nothing to talk about. It was between us and quickly forgotten, but the Press had fun discussing it for a few days. I didn’t throw the bottle at Ancelotti! I was drinking by the touchline and had to throw it somewhere, as I couldn’t just play while holding the water.”

Ancelotti rues Seedorf decision
26.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti insists he was satisfied with the point at Lille, although he was angry that a Clarence Seedorf goal was incorrectly disallowed.

“We had scored a goal and it looked valid to me,” he said after Milan’s 0-0 draw in France. Seedorf hit the back of the net, but it was disallowed for what the images proved to be an erroneous decision.

“It was better that I didn’t see that replay! It wasn’t even a debatable offside where the defender is coming back, he was static and it was clear Seedorf was in play.”

The Rossoneri dominated possession against Lille and had several chances to take the lead, but are held to their second consecutive 0-0 after Saturday’s visit to Livorno.

“It was a good performance, although we had a brief moment of difficulty about halfway through the second half. We lost a few balls in midfield to spark counter-attacks, which is dangerous against such a rapid side, but we had chances and dominated the possession. We could’ve been a bit sharper in our finishing, but these are details. The substance of this game is that we were the better side.”

Ancelotti lost Yoann Gourcuff to an injury and this probably affected his tactics, opting for Seedorf and Kaka supporting lone striker Alberto Gilardino.

“I chose this tactic to keep control of the ball and use Kaka as both a Trequartista and forward, depending on how he felt in that situation. It’s disappointing we were unable to win after playing pretty well,” continued the Coach.

“We had several clear scoring opportunities, above all with Kaka and Gilardino, but we were wary at the start because we didn’t want to leave ourselves open to their counter-attack specialists.”

“In my view this was a system with two strikers who did good work. We created plenty of scoring opportunities and maintained an aggressive midfield to prevent Lille hitting us on the break.”

Pippo Inzaghi came on for the final stages, but it was in place of Gilardino rather than as an additional hitman.

“The side was organised and remained focused until the final whistle, so I felt no need to change the tactics. Gilardino had worked very hard for the team, so I replaced him with Inzaghi’s fresh legs.”

Milan had a scintillating start to the season, right from the Champions League preliminary round, but could the early games be getting to them?

“It’s possible the players are tired, but we’re near the end of this first cycle of games and want to finish on a high by winning on Sunday. Having said that, if we’re psychologically tired now, then we’ll never reach May in one piece!”

Ancelotti had been wary of the trip to Lille, so he is content with the draw on French soil.

“This was the toughest away game of the Group in my opinion, so we’re happy to have emerged from it with a point. There’s also a visit to Anderlecht next and we hope to play just as well there with a bit more luck in front of goal.”

Thanks to the 1-1 draw between AEK Athens and Anderlecht, Milan remain two points clear at the top of Group H.

Lille 0:0 AC Milan - match report
26.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka, Alberto Gilardino and Clarence Seedorf had the best chances, but Milan were held to their second consecutive goalless draw - held by French side Lille. Following their 0-0 at Livorno on Saturday, they again fail to hit the back of the net.

The Rossoneri were without the injured Paolo Maldini, Giuseppe Favalli and Yoann Gourcuff for this trip to Lens (as Lille's stadium is too small for European competition), so Carlo Ancelotti opted for a more defensive formation with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf supporting lone striker Alberto Gilardino. Gennaro Gattuso celebrated his 300th official match in a Milan jersey.

Alessandro Nesta returned from an injury and required a crucial intervention to block Nicolas Fauvergue on the edge of the area. Seedorf drilled wide from distance and Andrea Pirlo's attempt didn't trouble Tony Sylva, but Nesta was again called to hook a dangerous ball off Fauverge's foot.

Fauvergue did get on the end of a Kader Keita cross from the right, but fired over the bar. Gilardino also went close, his angled drive skimming the far post.

Keita was allowed too much space on the edge of the Milan area and Dida smothered the shot with his palms. At the other end, Seedorf's snapshot was off target.

Although the Rossoneri maintained 60 per cent of the possession in the first half, their patient play struggled to break down Lille. In fact, the home side were more dangerous when they actually did get a shot away, Fauvergue's close-range volley well blocked by Dida after he got in front of Kakhaber Kaladze.

The Brazilian goalkeeper also comfortably held an ambitious Peter Odemwingie strike from a tight angle.

Marcos Cafu shook off his marker with some fancy footwork and floated in a cross for Kaka at the back post, but the shot was deflected and easy prey for Sylva.

Milan created the best scoring opportunity of the half on 40 minutes. Pirlo's through ball set Kaka clear and he prodded it past Sylva, but the goalkeeper stayed on his feet to narrow the angle and force the finish on to the side-netting with his hand.

The resulting Seedorf corner was flapped out by the goalkeeper, but Marek Jankulovski drilled over a totally open goal.

Gilardino is still looking for his first career Champions League goal and sprung the offside trap on Gennaro Gattuso's assist only to scuff his shot inches wide of the far post.

The former Parma man then swung wildly at the ball just inside the penalty area, as the visitors were pouring forward in waves towards half-time.

After the break a Kaka right-foot effort was captured, while Seedorf hit the back of the net and it was disallowed for an offside position. However, replays shot the Dutchman was kept in play by the last defender.

Keita was a real threat on the counter-attack on 56 minutes, but his left-foot shot was over the bar after a promising run from midfield.

Moments later Gilardino held up the ball for Kaka, who ran rings round Vitakic before bringing a tough save out of Sylva at the near post.

Seedorf wasted a golden opportunity for the Rossoneri. Kaka feinted a pass for Gilardino, but the dummy let Seedorf through with only the goalkeeper to beat from seven yards, yet the former Inter midfielder slipped and horribly scuffed his shot.

Plestan knocked a corner kick back into the centre, but there were no other Lille players to take advantage and Dida was able to control the situation. The goalkeeper also smothered a long-range Tafforeau strike.

Pirlo's free kick was punched out as far as Seedorf, who fired straight at the goalkeeper's body. Kaladze was also unable to get the ball through a sea of legs.

Lille's best chance of the game so far came after 69 minutes. Bodmer's glancing header from a Tafforeau cross was sneaking into the far bottom corner of the net before Dida palmed it out at full stretch.

Soon after, Dida spilled a Tafforeau piledriver and was able to capture it before Odemwingie could pounce. Milan were increasingly toothless in attack, but Ancelotti refused to change tactics, introducing Pippo Inzaghi for Gilardino.

Seedorf found Cafu with a long pass, though the Brazilian's first touch let him down as he entered the area from the right. Inzaghi pounced on a loose ball and was eventually crowded out by defenders,

Seedorf again wasted a good chance by scuffing the ball with the outside of his foot, set up by Kaka. Moments later, Dida was at full stretch to fingertip a Cabaye snapshot round the base of the post.

Inzaghi's angled drive was well held by Sylva, then Ambrosini nodded a Pirlo free kick well over the bar. Dida parried a powerful Bodmer effort from the edge of the box

Lille: Sylva; Chalmé, Plestan, Tavlaridis (Rafael 85), Vitakic; Keita, Makoun, Bodmer, Tafforeau; Fauvergue (Cabaye 62); Odemwingie
Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kakà; Gilardino (Inzaghi 76)
Ref: Mejuto Gonzalez (Spa)

Puel predicts AC Milan upset
26.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Lille Coach Claude Puel is confident that his side can beat Milan when the two sides meet in the Champions League tonight.

The French outfit have lost two straight Ligue 1 matches and have dropped nine points behind leaders Lyon after losing 4-1 to the French champions, but Puel insists that the Champions League is an entirely different story.

"There is no point in dwelling on what happened on Saturday," the tactician stated.

"Tuesday will be a different competition, a different level and a different universe.

“This time I want my team to show me what they can really do, it’s not the time to think about the reasons behind Saturday’s defeat.

"Of course Milan are a side with great individual talents, but last year we beat Manchester United and that proves we can compete with the best sides in Europe.”

Lille are forced to play their home games at the Félix-Bollaert Stadium of neighbours Lens, as their home ground still presents problems that do not allow its use for the Champions League.

"This is our third Champions League campaign away from home and it's a real handicap.

“Basically it leaves us in the same situation as our opponents, although it is always better to play in Lens than in other French stadiums.”

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti is definitely without Paolo Maldini, who limped off against Livorno with a thigh complaint, but Alberto Gilardino will return upfront after recovering from the head injury suffered in Parma.

Former Rennes ace Yoann Gourcuff is doubtful though, after he injured his neck during the afternoon training on Monday.

Lille (probable): Tony Sylva; Chalmé, Plestan, Schmitz, Tafforeau; Cabaye, Makoun; Keita, Bodmer, Bastos; Odemwingie

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Inzaghi, Gilardino

AC Milan face defensive epidemic
25.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has a number of defensive injury worries to deal with on the eve of the Champions League match with Lille.

Captain Paolo Maldini limped off during Saturday’s match with Livorno and will face a one-month absence, confirming he has not yet fully recovered from his long-term injury last year.

Veterans Alessandro Costacurta and Marcos Cafu are also struggling, as well as Alessandro Nesta, who continues to suffer muscular problems, but should be part of Tuesday’s match.

Converted left-back Serginho is suffering from a slipped disc and will probably need to undergo surgery, which is likely to keep him out for a number of months.

Ancelotti is aware of the importance of the match and knows that the rotation of his men is the best possible.

“This is the most important match of the group face, as we will face the strongest team away from San Siro,” said Ancelotti before the team’s departure from the Malpensa airport.

“They have been doing very well and are a dangerous side. They play dynamic and aggressive football.

“We will have to try to keep full control of the situation, but it won’t be easy because they are very fast and dangerous when they attack.

“A victory would be the best possible outcome and would solve most of our worries about the Champions League. I will have to rotate the players though, as turnover is the only solution.

“I am not concerned about the fact that the team seemed a bit tired at the end of the match with Livorno – it’s normal when you have to play so often.”

Lille warmed up for the game with a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Lyon in their Ligue 1 clash at the weekend.

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Simic, Favalli; Seedorf, Gattuso, Pirlo; Kaka; Inzaghi, Gilardino

Seedorf offers Carletto olive branch
25.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf has played down his row with Carlo Ancelotti, insisting that it was just a heat of the moment bust-up.

The television cameras caught a heated discussion between the Rossoneri Coach and his player during Saturday’s match with Livorno, just a few days after Carletto had a similar argument with Kaka.

“The episode had no consequences and I don’t need to clarify the facts with Ancelotti as we know each other very well,” said the Dutch ace.

“There were no insults, we were talking about football and what normally happens on the pitch.

“We were both heated because it was during a match, but there is nothing else to add.”

Ancelotti had told Seedorf to play the ball more quickly, with the player responding that he should focus on coaching and might like to give his team a hand from the bench, causing another furious comment from the tactician.

“Unfortunately there are pitch side cameras and journalists – I really think the team and Coach need more privacy,” added the former Inter player.

“I want people to understand that these things happen constantly, but the Press make things seem worse than they actually are.

“We are all grown-ups with the same objective, fighting is not in our interest.”

Andrea Pirlo echoed his teammate’s sentiments, insisting that there is no problem between players and Coach.

“Anything can happen on the pitch, but that doesn’t compromise the relationship we have with him,” stated the Azzurri midfielder.

“Ancelotti is not that older than us, we feel he is more a player than our Coach and we have a very frank relationship with him.

“If there is something wrong we can talk about it, but everything also depends on the intelligence and respect of the players.”

Ancelotti-Seedorf spat analysed
24.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

This morning the newspapers are highlighting the vicious touchline row between Carlo Ancelotti and Clarence Seedorf.

The pitch side television cameras caught the exchange during yesterday’s 0-0 draw at Livorno and it comes just a few days after a similar argument with Kaka.

“You have to play the ball quickly. You’re too slow,” said the Coach from the side of the field.

Seedorf responded: “Focus on Coaching. You can’t just criticise. Instead of shouting, you might like to give us a hand from the bench.”

Ancelotti was furious and answered the Dutchman. “And you focus on playing. You’re lucky I’ve run out of substitutions, otherwise you’d be off.”

The 0-0 draw at the Stadio Armando Picchi was Milan’s first stalemate of the season, as they had won all three of their Serie A games and as many in the Champions League.

Nonetheless, reports of tension within the Rossoneri camp hit boiling point with this exchange and Ancelotti took his anger out on the media.

“I’m not angry about what happened, as it’s between Seedorf and me. I won’t explain it to you, otherwise it’ll get turned into a soap opera like the Kaka discussion. If I’m angry it’s because there’s always a camera under my nose and getting on my nerves.”

Milan travel to Lille for a Champions League Group H encounter on Tuesday and the referee will be Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez.

The Spaniard is familiar to the San Siro giants, having been in charge of the ill-fated Champions League Final with Liverpool in 2005.

Lille also struggled this weekend in their domestic League, as they were hammered 4-1 at leaders Olympique Lyon.

Arrigoni hails Amaranto achievement
24.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Daniele Arrigoni had classed Milan as “the best team in the world,” so he was overjoyed to hold them to a 0-0 draw.

“My Livorno managed to stop the Milan champions,” he said almost incredulously at the result at the Stadio Armando Picchi.

“It was a tough ask and I can’t help but compliment my lads for having earned a crucial point. I’m also happy because the squad rotation system is working well, as we played better in the second half, especially on the flanks.”

The Tuscans were under pressure during the opening 45 minutes, but emerged after the break and went closest to a winner when Stefano Morrone thumped the crossbar.

However, Livorno lost striker Cristiano Lucarelli to an injury and he is now a major doubt for the UEFA Cup clash with Austrian side Pasching Superfund.

“It’s a shame,” said Arrigoni. “It seems to be a muscular problem, but Ibrahima Bakayoko did well when he came on.”

The second leg is in Austria on Thursday evening. Livorno won the first leg 2-0 with goals from Tomas Danilevicius and Lucarelli.

Ancelotti anger at 'nosy' media
24.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti is furious with the media for focusing on him when he is arguing with players from the touchline.

“My outbursts are being turned into soap operas now. What happened is between Clarence Seedorf and myself, it concerns nobody else. What irritates me is this camera always under your nose recording what you say to the players,” slammed the Coach.

He exchanged words with Seedorf during today’s 0-0 draw at Livorno, while last week he was questioned about why he was shouting at Kaka.

“I want to talk about the match. Milan played well in the first half, less so in the second. We lost our unity and struggled a lot more. We tried to win, which meant running a few more risks, such as when Stefano Morrone hit the bar.”

This goalless draw ends the Rossoneri’s 100 per cent record, although they still climb up to two points, having started from –8 this season.

“Considering our position in the table, it’s certainly not a favourable result. Now we must find the right attitude and spirit, the one we showed in the first half,” continued Ancelotti.

His attention now turns to the Champions League, where Milan take on Lille in France on Tuesday evening.

“Lille play very well on home turf and are certainly a dangerous opponent, especially when they turn up the tempo.”

Livorno 0:0 AC Milan - match report
23.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan's 100 per cent record was ended at the Stadio Picchi, where Livorno held out for a 0-0 draw and rattled the crossbar with Stefano Morrone. It's their first Serie A draw since March 12.

The Rossoneri have already wiped out their eight-point Calciopoli penalty and were hoping to maintain their perfect record, but Livorno are strong on home turf and eager to cause an upset.

Captain Paolo Maldini limped off after just four minutes of play to make way for Kakha Kaladze, raising further doubts over his fitness levels after a long-term injury last term.

Pippo Inzaghi set up a promising opportunity for Ricardo Oliveira that was charged down by Marco Amelia, then Clarence Seedorf drilled over the bar.

Kaka's splendid curling strike was inches wide of the top corner with Amelia beaten, then Inzaghi scuffed over from a Daniele Bonera assist. Dario Passoni gave the ball away in midfield and Kaka's ambitious lob was off target.

Massimo Ambrosini was furious when he fell inside the area on a David Balleri challenge, but the referee waved play on.

Livorno also had a scoring opportunity just before the break, as Bonera's error sparked a counter-attack that Cristiano Lucarelli fired over from seven yards.

Amelia pushed a Kaka set-piece off Inzaghi's head and there were penalty appeals for a Bonera challenge on Lucarelli. However, while Milan lost Maldini, Livorno also saw their most representative player limp off with a thigh problem, making way for Bakayoko.

Yet it was after his substitution that Livorno really began to threaten. Alessandro Nesta cleared a Balleri cross to the edge of the box, where Stefano Morrone's missile cannoned off the bar.

Giuseppe Favalli also went off with a muscular injury, letting Marek Jankulovski on to the field. Carlo Ancelotti's only unforced substitution saw Andrea Pirlo replace Gennaro Gattuso.

Dida did well to hold a Luca Vigiani glancing header and a long-range Balleri snapshot flashed across the face of goal. At the other end, Inzaghi nearly pounced on a Rahman Rezaei error, closed down by Amelia.

Kaka chested down and drilled his half-volley wide from the edge of the box, then another of the Brazilian's strikes was controlled by the Livorno goalkeeper.

In the final minute, Pirlo's long ball sent Ricardo Oliveira running, but Amelia timed his intervention perfectly to pluck it off the striker's feet and prevent a goal or penalty.

Livorno: Amelia; Grandoni, Rezaei, Galante; Balleri (Pavan 93), Morrone, Passoni, A Filippini, Pfertzel; Vigiani, Lucarelli (Bakayoko 56)

Milan: Dida; Bonera, Nesta, Maldini (Kaladze 4), Favalli (Jankulovski 63); Gattuso (Pirlo 68), Ambrosini, Seedorf; Kaka; Inzaghi, Oliveira

Ref: Ayroldi

Arrigoni in awe of AC Milan
23.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are the best side in world football, claims their next opponent, Livorno Coach Daniele Arrigoni.

“The Rossoneri are the strongest team in the world right now and have champions at the top level all the way through their squad,” warned the former Cagliari tactician.

“If we are to get a result, then we must play the game of our lives and maintain concentration for the whole 90 minutes.”

Milan started the campaign with an eight-point handicap from the Calciopoli scandal, but have already wiped that out with three consecutive victories.

Now they travel to Livorno’s Stadio Armando Picchi, where they won 3-0 last season, in a bid to maintain their 100 per cent record.

The Amaranto beat Fiorentina on home turf last weekend and were held to a 2-2 draw at Cagliari on Wednesday, but Cristiano Lucarelli returns to the starting line-up.

“I won’t give any precise clues on what my formation will be, but I can say that there will be many changes from Wednesday’s game,” noted Arrigoni.

Livorno will be able to count on Croatian summer signing Dario Knezevic, whose international transfer has finally come through.

Ancelotti: We can win Scudetto
22.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have already wiped out their eight-point penalty in three games and Carlo Ancelotti warns the Scudetto is possible.

“Here is where a long catch-up race begins, but we hope to go all the way,” said the tactician. “It is possible for us to win the Serie A title.”

The Rossoneri were docked eight points from the 2006-07 campaign as a result of the Calciopoli scandal, but with three straight wins they are already out of the minus zone, albeit nine points adrift of leaders Palermo.

“The Scudetto is not a short-term objective. This target will require time and patience. We’ll have to get over certain difficulties, but it’s clear that we are aiming for the top of the table. Here’s hoping we manage it before May. This season is an uphill struggle, but it’s not impossible.”

Their next test is at Livorno’s Stadio Picchi, where they were defeated in 2005, but won last term with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline.

“It’s a difficult arena to come away from with points, but we must try to win every match in our situation. Livorno change their system often, so I’m not sure how they’ll set out against us,” continued the former Juventus boss.

“Pippo Inzaghi rested against Parma last week, so he could play this weekend. Alessandro Nesta needs to find his match rhythm and has recovered from a muscular problem. Up until the break for international duty in October we’ll continue rotating the squad, then things will change.”

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Maldini; Cafu, Kaladze, Nesta, Jankulovski, Favalli, Bonera; Gattuso, Seedorf, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Kaka, Ambrosini, Brocchi; Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ricardo Oliveira.

Marek's magic moment
21.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marek Jankulovski was delighted to be Milan’s match winner against Ascoli after a torrid first season at the San Siro.

The Rossoneri ran out 1-0 winners, their third straight success which wipes out the eight-point deduction they were forced to start the season with.

“I am very happy with this result, we struggled at times but also created many clear opportunities,” said Jankulovski, who scored with a precise header 68 minutes into the game.

“Ascoli played well and we were still recovering from Sunday’s match with Parma.

“The rotation is proving to be vital in this season when we have to play so many times during the week.

“Everything is going very well for the moment and I hope this will continue.

“I was very happy with the goal – I am usually not very good at headers, so I was even more pleased.

“The past season was not a positive one for me, but this year has started very well and I hope I will be able to keep contributing to the team.

“My teammates are such good players and I am learning so much from them, but I still have a lot to do.”

Brazilian ace Kaka was also pleased with the win, but admitted it was not an easy task for the Rossoneri.

"At the end of the match I was very tired, but we won again and that is what counts,” he insisted.

"In the first half we played too far apart from each other, there was never a teammate nearby, but then things changed.

"My relationship with Coach Carlo Ancelotti is special and I am very happy, but what’s more important is that we finally removed the minus sign from the standings."

Milan will now face Tuscan side Livorno at the Stadio Armando Picchi on Saturday evening.

Ancelotti keeps his cool
21.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have already wiped out their eight-point penalty after three games, but Carlo Ancelotti is keeping his feet on the ground.

“There is a long road ahead of us and we have to make up a lot of points against quite a few teams,” warned the Coach.

Marek Jankulovski’s header gave them a third straight victory against Ascoli this evening, but the visitors gave them some real problems and rattled the crossbar in stoppages.

“In the first half our performance was middling. If you don’t get an early goal, then it all becomes more difficult.”

Once again Ancelotti rotated the squad with several new faces, including striker Marco Borriello, allowing others to rest.

“This system is absolutely necessary. It’s the only way we can remain competitive in all the games we have to face this season.”

AC Milan 1:0 Ascoli - match report
20.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorer: Jankulovski 68 (M)

Marek Jankulovski earned Milan's third straight win and put them into 'real' points, but it was very tough going against Ascoli.

The Rossoneri were on a 100 per cent record going into this game and had already wiped six points off their eight-point penalty. Alberto Gilardino was out with a head injury, while Yoann Gourcuff returned to the line-up along with Marco Borriello. Paolo Maldini and Gianluca Pagliuca were on the field, adding to their tallies as the players with the most Serie A appearances in history.

Ascoli had the first chance with Sasa Bjelanovic springing the offside trap and going round Dida, but the angle was too tight and the goalkeeper was able to recover.

Marcos Cafu fired an angled drive over the bar, then Borriello went close to his first Serie A goal for the Rossoneri, his close-range effort from Cafu's low cross pushed wide at the near post.

Pagliuca flew to fingertip Inzaghi's looping header out from under the crossbar from a fine Gourcuff cross. Domenico Giampa's header was also dangerous at the other end, testing Dida's reflexes, then Pecorari nodded a corner kick across the face of goal.

Inzaghi couldn't have gone closer than on 37 minutes, as he turned inside the area and his shot beat Pagliuca, but not the upright.

On the counter-attack Dida had to rush out and close down Skela's shot, as he was totally unmarked inside the area.

Milan hit the woodwork for the second time, as Borriello redirected Cafu's pass on to the base of the post.

Inzaghi again threatened with a header that shaved the upright to Pagliuca's right.

Super Pippo had an even better chance after the break on Kaka's through ball, but incredibly fired wide with only Pagliuca to beat after wrestling the ball past a defender.

Ascoli were very much in this game and Fini's long-range strike shaved the upright, but Milan also went close with Pagliuca twice pushing Kaka's fierce efforts over the bar.

Carlo Ancelotti strengthened the midfield with Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini, pushing Kaka further up the pitch.

Milan finally broke through when Andrea Pirlo floated in a cross for Marek Jankulovski's precise header from the left.

Kaka ballooned over the bar from a Seedorf assist and the Dutchman drilled wide, but Ascoli so nearly snatched a shock equaliser in stoppages. Dida was beaten by a long-range Boudianski piledriver and it cannoned off the crossbar.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Simic, Maldini, Jankulovski; Brocchi (Seedorf 61), Pirlo, Gourcuff (Gattuso 82); Kakà; Borriello (Ambrosini 60), Inzaghi

Ascoli: Pagliuca; Nastase, Pecorari, Cudini, Lukovic; Skela (Delvecchio 77), Giampà (Perrulli 73), Zanetti, Fini (Galloppa 65), Boudyanskyi; Bjelanovic

Ref: Dondarini

Ancelotti aims for the top
19.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

A win against Ascoli will take Milan past the zero mark and Carlo Ancelotti warns they’re chasing the leadership now.

“We’re not basing our progress on that of Inter. There are other strong sides like Roma and Palermo, so we are aiming for the head of the table. The Giallorossi aren’t bit-part players in this race and it won’t be easy to claw back an eight-point deficit against them.”

The Rossoneri’s title hopes were hit hard by the eight-point penalty inflicted in the Calciopoli scandal, but a victory against Ascoli tomorrow evening would wipe that handicap out, putting them on one point.

“Our psychological status right now is excellent, as we’re very motivated. We want to do well over the next few games to secure our position in Serie A and the Champions League. So far we’ve proved nothing, only that we are a competitive side.”

Ascoli held Milan to a 1-1 draw last season at the Stadio Del Duca and were only narrowly beaten 1-0 at San Siro, so it won’t be an easy prospect.

“They’ve changed a great deal, but at the same time maintained the ideals set out by Marco Giampaolo last year,” noted Ancelotti. “They’re aggressive and organised, but we have the opportunity to take that minus sign off our table.”

Several adjustments will be made to the line-up that beat Parma 2-0 on Sunday, with Alessandro Nesta and Alberto Gilardino out injured. The ex-Gialloblu striker required three stitches to a head wound suffered at the Tardini.

“The basic foundations of the team are confirmed, but if everyone can be trusted to do a job, then I won’t have difficulties allowing some players to rest. Dario Simic is playing consistently now, while Daniele Bonera and Marek Jankulovski proved they were up to the task.”

Paolo Maldini, Marcos Cafu, Giuseppe Favalli, Pippo Inzaghi and Marco Borriello are expected to start on Wednesday evening.

Gk: Dida, Kalac
D: Maldini, Bonera, Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Jankulovski, Simic
M: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf
F: Borriello, Inzaghi

Simic eyes regular spot
18.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Dario Simic is hoping that his performance against Parma convinces Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti to hand him a regular spot.

The Croatian defender was on top form as the Rossoneri came away from the Stadio Tardini with a 2-0 win, maintaining their 100 per cent record.

“I am delighted with my performance,” said Simic. “I feel more at ease as a centre-back, but when I arrived here at Milan I was asked to play at full-back and I agreed.

“I have been fortunate enough to meet some great players like Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Alessandro Nesta, and they have taught me so much during these years.

“Now there is more space for me in the centre and I am glad to play in the role I prefer.

“We’ve begun the campaign well, winning five matches in a row. It won’t be easy to keep this pace, and we still need to improve our physical condition.

“I think Ancelotti (pictured) is managing the team very well, he has many players at his disposal and it isn’t easy to change six players and still win.”

Simic was decisive against Parma 67 minutes into the match, when he made a desperate goal line clearance which prevented Andrea Gasbarroni from equalising.

“That is something I learned from Maldini and Costacurta – you must never let go, right until the end,” he added.

“It wasn’t an easy situation. I had a Parma striker behind me and I had no idea if Gasbarroni would pass the ball or shoot.

“I am glad I was useful for the team and I hope this will be a good season for me – I would like to repay this club and its staff as they have always done a lot for me.”

Moratti silences Ancelotti
18.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Inter President Massimo Moratti has reacted strongly to Carlo Ancelotti’s comments following the appointment of Guido Rossi as Telecom Italia President.

The FIGC Commissioner was chosen to lead the Federation through the Calciopoli scandal, but also accepted to take charge of Telecom on Friday, causing angry reactions within the world of football.

Milan Coach Ancelotti didn’t mince his words, stating: “I believe that the Federation needs a chief who knows this environment.

“It doesn’t have to be a former player, but I do think we need someone who is competent.”

However, Moratti has hit out at the former Juve tactician’s comments, insisting that he has more to worry about closer to home.

“I think it’s really strange that Ancelotti should speak about a conflict of interest,” said the oil tycoon.

“Rossi is a lawyer who studies this kind of issues – I believe everyone should worry about what happens in their own home.

“Rossi can decide what is the best thing to do and is capable of covering both roles,” concluded Moratti, who does not appreciate the rumours suggesting that Rossi, who was a former Inter club official, could somehow favour his team.

“The Federation is my house, I have been working in football for the past 30 years, so I feel I am entitled to worry about what happens. I really hope the Federation will do its best in this moment,” replied Ancelotti on Sunday evening.

Reports on Monday suggest that Rossi may formally hand in his resignation from the FIGC on Tuesday, with Vice-President Vito Gamberale one of the prime candidates to lead the Federation, along with Gianni Letta.

Ancelotti: We're fired up
18.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti claims the Calciopoli penalty has given Milan that extra motivation to do well this season.

“We all have the spirit and desire to recover from this handicap,” said the Coach. “We had the advantage of starting our pre-season preparation early for the Champions League preliminary round, so we immediately settled into the rhythm of the big games. Clearly it’s a long campaign, though, so we must be careful.”

The Rossoneri started the term with an eight-point penalty, but after their 2-0 victory at Parma this evening are already on –2 in the table. After two rounds, they’re the only team – along with Roma and Palermo – to maintain a 100 per cent record.

“We showed good concentration in the first half, but Parma had more verve and pace in the second. That was partly our fault, as we gave the ball away too cheaply in midfield.”

Alberto Gilardino returned to face his former club, but was stretchered off with a deep gash to his forehead after an accidental clash with Massimo Paci.

“It’s nothing too serious. He needed three stitches, but was able to walk into the hospital. It’s possible we lost a bit of power upfront when he went off and the rest of the team was affected by that, allowing Parma to pressure us more.”

The Rossoneri won 3-0 over AEK Athens in the Champions League midweek and rested several of their top stars, including Pippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini.

“Marek Jankulovski was excellent at left-back,” noted Ancelotti. “I do think carefully about rotating the squad, as we need to keep everyone stimulated and fresh. I’m glad to see despite the changes I’ve found reliable players throughout.”

Parma 0:2 AC Milan - match report
17.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Seedorf 26 (M), Kaka pen 85 (M)

Clarence Seedorf's sublime free kick and a Kaka penalty secured victory in Parma as Milan maintain their 100 per cent record. The eight-point penalty has now been chipped away to -2.

These two sides produced epic clashes last term, Milan winning 4-3 at San Siro and 3-2 in the return leg. Both teams had confidence-boosting midweek victories in Europe and that meant rotating the squad with ex-Parma men Daniele Bonera and Alberto Gilardino returning to the Tardini.

The home side had the first chance after 11 minutes, as Domenico Morfeo pounced on a Billy Costacurta error and set up Andrea Gasbarroni, who fired just over the bar.

Igor Budan had timid penalty appeals for a tussle with Dario Simic, but Milan lost 40-year-old Costacurta to an injury, making way for Kakha Kaladze after just 18 minutes.

Gilardino nearly scored against his former teammates, springing the offside trap and his side-footed finish well saved by Alfonso De Lucia.

The Rossoneri broke the deadlock after 26 minutes with a classic free kick from Clarence Seedorf. He was dropped for the midweek Champions League win, but the Dutchman curled in a splendid free kick from 25 metres to beat De Lucia at the near post.

Domenico Morfeo tried from a similar range moments later, but it was well over, and Ricardo Oliveira fired straight at the goalkeeper on the counter-attack. The Brazilian striker was then booked for simulation when he tried to go through defenders.

Andrea Gasbarroni's pace was a problem when Dida blocked a shot from the former Palermo winger.

Gilardino clashed heads with Massimo Paci and the Milanista was left with a deep gash to his forehead. He was in no condition to continue against his old club and was stretchered off, so Kaka became the second forced substitution for Carlo Ancelotti. Rossoneri medical staff later confirmed he required three stitches.

Igor Budan's header was comfortably held by Dida on the stroke of half-time. Andrea Pisanu sparked a counter-attack, but Gasbarroni curled the finish round the far post.

Ricardo Oliveira scored on his Serie A debut last week and almost doubled his tally on 63 minutes with a powerful header on Marek Jankulovski's cross, but De Lucia flew to palm it out from under the crossbar.

Parma introduced former Milan man Vitalii Kutuzov for Pisanu, but Milan threatened again with Kaka's angled shot parried at the near post.

Yet the Gialloblu should've equalised on 67 minutes. Dida came rushing out to close down Vincenzo Grella and Gasbarroni went round the stranded 'keeper, but Dario Simic got back in time for a desperate and decisive goalline clearance.

Kaka earned a free kick from 22 metres and Andrea Pirlo's effort was comfortably held by De Lucia.

Massimo Ambrosini won back the ball in midfield and Kaka rolled it across for Oliveira, but the former Betis Sevilla man ballooned over the bar.

Pirlo set Kaka running down the left flank only for him to fire straight at the goalkeeper. It was now end to end stuff at the Tardini with both teams rushing forward in waves.

Matteo Contini acrobatically managed to take Jankulovski's cross away from Oliveira when only a tap-in would've put the ball in the back of the net.

Kaka sprinted into the area five minutes from time and De Lucia knocked him over inside the area without making contact with the ball. The penalty was inevitable, converted by Kaka low into the far corner, and the goalkeeper was booked.

Oliveira pounced on Contini's weak backpass, but couldn't get past De Lucia. Kutuzov held up the ball for Contini's volley wide at the other end of the field.

Parma: De Lucia; Coly, Paci, Contini, Castellini; Grella, Ciaramitaro (Dessena 83); Pisanu (Kutuzov 64), Morfeo, Gasbarroni; Budan

Milan: Dida; Bonera, Simic, Costacurta (Kaladze 18), Jankulovski; Gattuso (Brocchi 72), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Ricardo Oliveira, Gilardino (Kaka 40)

Ref: Trefoloni

Ancelotti turns to Bonera
17.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Daniele Bonera will make his Milan debut against his former Parma teammates.

“Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo have rested and will therefore play from the start. Paolo Maldini will take a weekend off, Serginho is injured and Kakha Kaladze isn’t ready quite yet, so Bonera will feature,” confirmed the Coach.

Bonera has been a lifelong Rossoneri supporter and jumped at the opportunity to make the move, but he’ll play his first official game for the club at the Stadio Tardini, his home for four years.

“There are more than 11 first team players in my squad. The important thing is that everyone feels they are key to the cause.”

Bonera isn’t the only former Parma hero, as Alberto Gilardino is also set to return against his old club after sitting out the 3-0 Champions League victory over AEK Athens.

“I haven’t decided on the front line yet. I still have to make a decision,” said Ancelotti, himself a familiar face in Parma after leading them from 1996 to ’98.

“Ricardo Oliveira and Yoann Gourcuff settled in very well and immediately combined with everyone in the team. They’ve given an excellent contribution.”

Parma conceded a late equaliser at Torino last week and have always been strong on home turf, so Milan face a challenge if they are to continue eating away at that eight-point Calciopoli penalty.

“Stefano Pioli’s team had a good start and could easily have won in Turin. They also won in the UEFA Cup this week and have undergone renovations within the squad, but still maintained the basic set-up they had last year. They’ll play tight in defence and counter-attack with their fast wingers sparked by the creativity of Domenico Morfeo.”

I’m like Zizou, says Gourcuff
15.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Yoann Gourcuff says he’s flattered to have been compared with Kaka, but insists he feels technically more similar to Zinedine Zidane.

The French youngster, nicknamed ‘Petit Zidane’, is the talk of the town after his Champions League heroics against AEK Athens and he’s happy to have been given the opportunity to reveal himself.

“I have to thank Coach Carlo Ancelotti for giving me a spot in the starting line-up on Wednesday, it was a risk for him in such an important match and I am glad I repaid his trust with a goal,” said the 20-year-old.

“It’s an honour for me to hear that I am being compared to Kaka and Zidane, but I admit I feel that I play more like the latter as Kaka is much faster than me,” continued the former Rennes man.

“I think Zidane is a great example as an athlete and as a person, with the exception of the World Cup Final episode. I just met him a few times, but was too shy to speak to him.”

The midfielder, who still had a year left on his previous contract with Ligue 1 outfit Rennes, landed in Milan in the summer after signing a contract until June 30, 2011.

“I chose Milan for its history and what they represent in Europe and I am very glad about my move,” he underlined.

“I am getting along well with my teammates, all of them, but I know that I need to keep my feet on the ground.

“There are so many high-quality players and it won’t be easy to find place on the team,” continued Gourcuff.

“I will keep on working hard in order to always be prepared if Ancelotti decides that it’s time for me to play.”

AC Milan pursue Ronaldinho dream
15.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are planning a fresh bid to sign Barcelona star Ronaldinho. “We would do all that is in our power to sign him,” said owner Silvio Berlusconi.

The Brazilian is a dream capture for the Rossoneri President and he’s ready to make a sensational offer if the player was ever to leave his current club.

“Ronaldinho is destined to remain a dream, at least for the time being, as Barcelona are not willing to discuss a transfer for the player,” stated the former Italian Prime Minister.

“However, if the conditions were to change then Milan would definitely be interested in making an offer,” continued the club chief.

“Ronaldinho is an extraordinary player, one who can really make the difference and we would do all that is in our power to sign him.”

The Brazilian star was paired with a move to Milan during the summer, but no firm offer was ever made by the Via Turati club for the player who is contracted to the Nou Camp outfit until 2014.

However, the side’s hopes of seeing Ronaldinho at the San Siro in the future were boosted after Ricardo Oliveira finalised his transfer to Milan – as his agent is Roberto de Assis, the brother of the Balon d’Or winner.

Berlusconi is now praying in a similar scenario to the one which saw Alessandro Nesta join the San Siro side in 2002.

“We had said that we would not sign Nesta because he was a symbol of Lazio,” explained the President.

“But the Biancocelesti then changed their mind and decided that the player was no longer untransferable, so we then made our offer and signed him.

“I hope something similar may happen with Ronaldinho. If Barcelona should change their mind then we will be ready to take advantage of the situation.”

CONI arbitration dates set
15.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus, Milan and Lazio are scheduled to appear in front of the Italian Olympic Committee's Arbitration Court on October 11, followed by Fiorentina the day after.

The four clubs were punished in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal and are fighting for a reduction of the sanctions imposed against them – with the Arbitration Court being the last degree in appeal within the sporting justice system.

CONI have confirmed that the hearings will take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and the President of the board of arbitrators will be Pierluigi Ronzani, with the aid of Guido Cecinelli, Marcello Foschini, Luigi Fumagalli and Giulio Napolitano.

Juventus, who were stripped of their last two Serie A titles and demoted to the Second Division with a 17-point deduction, had initially threatened to appeal to the TAR Lazio civil court.

The Bianconeri then dropped the option, choosing to remain within sporting justice, in the hope of seeing the point deduction reduced or totally scrapped.

Milan instead began their Serie A season with an eight-point penalty, Fiorentina were docked 19 points and Lazio 11.

Third parties interested in taking part in the debate must present their request to CONI by September 25, confirmed an official statement on the Committee’s website on Friday.

Gourcuff enjoying spotlight
14.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan starlet Yoann Gourcuff has revealed that he loved every minute of his stunning performance against AEK Athens.

The 20-year-old Frenchman netted against the Greeks in the Rossoneri’s 3-0 win in their opening Group H match at the San Siro.

“To debut with a goal in the Champions League is a beautiful feeling, I am delighted,” said Gourcuff.

“I moved well on the pitch and found an immediate understanding with Kaka. I served him many times and I scored thanks to one of his crosses.

“I really hope I will play again, so I will have more opportunities to show what I can do.”

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi’s son was also impressed with the player’s performance and is sure that Gourcuff can earn a regular spot in the team’s starting line-up if he continues like that.

“I saw a very good team on the pitch. All the players have improved their physical condition and the new signings have proved to be good buys,” said Piersilvio Berlusconi.

“I am optimistic for the future. Gourcuff showed us that he has a strong personality, technical qualities and physical strength – he ran a lot during the match and that is very important in today’s football.”

Kaka praises Gourcuff
14.9 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka has praised Yoann Gourcuff after the French youngster made a scoring start to his Milan career.

The French starlet netted against AEK Athens on Wednesday, when Milan dominated the Greeks 3-0 in their opening Group H match at the San Siro.

“Gourcuff is talented and intelligent – tonight we really enjoyed ourselves out there,” said Kaka (pictured) after the match.

“With these kind of players we can start a new cycle, this is exactly the attitude we need if we want this to be a great season,” continued the Brazilian international, who was also on target after converting a penalty.

“The arrival of these new players is very important for us, the Champions League is a special tournament for every one of us, but this year the championship is also interesting and the eight-point deduction is stimulating.

“AEK had a few chances before we scored the first goal, but we are all feeling well and are slowly finding our best physical condition – I trust we can do well.”

New signing Ricardo Oliveira was handed his first start for the Rossoneri after Carlo Ancelotti decided to leave Alberto Gilardino on the bench and the striker repaid the Coach for his trust.

“This is a high-quality squad, it’s nice to play with teammates like this,” said the former Betis man.

“It’s hard to lose when you have players like Kaka on your side, and the final result could have been even more severe,” added Oliveira, who was substituted for Clarence Seedorf in the closing stages.

“We won a very important match, as this wasn’t an easy game. Our physical condition can only improve.

“But I will be on top form by the end of the week, and this year I can play well and score many goals.”

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani was radiant after the win and dismissed rumours suggesting Gilardino’s disappointment for not being part of the match.

“We played an excellent game, we couldn’t have started better,” said the club official to Sky Italia.

“Gilardino will play on Sunday, this is all planned. We have 24 good players on our side so the Coach is forced to choose every time, but our men know when their turn will come.

“We have an intense schedule ahead of us, with a match every three days, so everyone will have a chance to play. If we concentrate I think we can do very well.”

The Rossoneri now lead Group H, after the match between Anderlecht and Lille ended with a 1-1 draw.

Super Pippo enjoys purple patch
14.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment, as he notched up his fifth goal in as many official games this season.

“I have the good fortune to play in this side and they always put me in a position to score,” said the Milan hitman after the 3-0 victory over AEK Athens at San Siro.

“At the moment I am in fine shape physically and that is the most important thing, as it makes everything easier.”

He has now scored three goals in the Champions League, one in Serie A and one for Italy in the 1-1 draw with Lithuania.

It is his European tally that remains extraordinary, though, as this was his 55th goal in continental competition.

“I will keep going with Milan. When I retire, then perhaps these tables will be more important, but right now I want to win with the Rossoneri and for this fantastic crowd.”

Ancelotti sees AC Milan in shape
14.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes the key to Milan’s splendid Champions League form is their physical fitness and a wide range of options.

“I think the most important aspect of these early months, especially considering our preparation was affected by the preliminary round, is to have the players at peak fitness,” said the Coach.

He rested Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino against AEK Athens, but still won 3-0 with 20-year-old French starlet Yoann Gourcuff particularly impressive.

“Gourcuff certainly has talent and quality. I’m happy he was able to prove that in the Champions League and it was an important debut for him.”

Super Pippo Inzaghi is the in form striker of the moment, netting five goals in as many official games between Milan and the Azzurri, then earning a penalty for Kaka.

“Inzaghi has always had great starts to the season with remarkable consistency. We hope it’ll last as long as possible. It was a clear penalty, as he defended the ball and was pulled down.”

The 3-0 victory puts them clear at the top of Group H, as Anderlecht and Lille drew 1-1, so they have a point apiece.

“We played well and improved in defence compared to Sunday’s game against Lazio. We didn’t know much about AEK going in, so we were careful and remained focused,” continued Ancelotti.

Marcos Cafu was again in splendid form and never stopped running down the right flank.

“Cafu takes care of himself and is a constant surprise, above all for his consistency. He returned on August 1 because of some family problems in Brazil, but he clearly worked hard and remained professional throughout, as he came back in spectacular shape.”

This has been a marvellous start to the Champions League for the Italian clubs, but Inter disappointed with their 1-0 defeat at Sporting Lisbon.

“It was certainly unexpected, but that’s the Champions League for you, especially away from home where there can be nasty surprises.”

AC Milan 3:0 AEK Athens - match report
13.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 17 (M), Gourcuff 41 (M), Kaka pen 77 (M)

Yoann Gourcuff was a revelation with his first goal for Milan in their 3-0 domination of AEK Athens. Pippo Inzaghi continued his incredible scoring run and Kaka was also on target.

The Rossoneri entered the Champions League via the preliminary round win over Red Star Belgrade after the Calciopoli trial risked knocking them out of Europe altogether.

With Alberto Gilardino dropped to the bench, this was new signing Ricardo Oliveira's first start for the Rossoneri and French youngster Yoann Gourcuff also played in place of Clarence Seedorf. AEK Athens boasted two Italian players, ex-Torino goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino and former Inter man Bruno Cirillo, plus one-time Roma defender Traianos Dellas.

Dario Simic charged down a Liberopoulos effort and Gennaro Gattuso was cut off as he ran on to Pippo Inzaghi's assist. Gattuso came very close to an opener from the resulting corner kick, as Gourcuff threaded through for the midfielder and Sorrentino performed a tricky one-handed save from point-blank range.

AEK fought back with an equally good opportunity, as Dida smothered a header from Delibasic, who couldn't get enough power on a smart cross from the left.

The chances kept coming as the game sprung to life. Another excellent Gourcuff pass was nodded back into the centre by Gattuso, but Oliveira's header was off target.

The goal eventually came on 17 minutes and it was that man Inzaghi again. The striker rose for a looping header into the top near corner from Paolo Maldini's cross that left Sorrentino rooted to the spot. It was Super Pippo's fifth goal in as many official games this season for Milan and Italy.

Kaka found an unmarked Marcos Cafu with an illuminating pass and the roll back for Inzaghi was intercepted at the last moment by a desperate Dellas challenge.

Inzaghi hit the upright, but it wouldn't have counted as he was correctly flagged offside, and Maldini was booked for a late challenge. The former Juventus striker turned assist man for Oliveira, again the header over the bar when he was off balance.

Milan were now dominating and doubled their lead just before the break with the very impressive Gourcuff. The 20-year-old Frenchman put a powerful and precise header past Sorrentino at the near post from Kaka's right-flank cross for his first goal since joining the club.

Dida's first real save came after the break to parry a long-range Lyberopoulos effort, but Dellas limped off with a muscular problem. Nonetheless, Lagos had a shot charged down by defensive bodies from a promising position.

Kaka nearly scored an absolutely spectacular goal on 56 minutes, as his volley with a hand on the ground was tipped over the bar by an alert Sorrentino.

Oliveira ran forward on the counter-attack and his left-foot strike was turned round the near post by the goalkeeper. Inzaghi was found at the back post only to nod wide from another fine Gourcuff cross.

Sorrentino kept the scoreline down by batting away another Inzaghi header from point-blank range before Seedorf replaced the tired Oliveira.

AEK had two chances, one created by a Dida fumble on a seemingly harmless cross and substitute Ivic turning a free header well wide from six yards.

Massimo Ambrosini replaced Christian Brocchi, who filled in admirably for the rested Andrea Pirlo this evening.

Inzaghi tried to turn Moras and was hauled down, so the referee pointed to the spot and Kaka converted the penalty into the bottom near corner for 3-0.

It should've been four when Gourcuff and Seedorf went on the counter-attack, but Kaka ballooned over the bar. Moments later Sorrentino parried a Seedorf piledriver into the path of Inzaghi, who incredibly fired over an open goal, but it wouldn't have counted as the striker was offside.

Julio Cesar curled a free kick over the crossbar that failed to trouble Dida in the final minute. Gattuso even had time to delight the crowd by balancing the ball on his head in an attempt to prevent a corner kick.

AEK Athens: Sorrentino; Pautasso, Dellas (Ivic 54), Cirillo, Tziortziopoulos; Emerson (Tozser 69), Moras; Kapetanos (Lagos 46), Lyberopoulos, Julio Cezar; Delibasic

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Simic, Maldini, Favalli (Jankulovski 78); Gattuso, Brocchi (Ambrosini 74), Gourcuff; Kakà; Ricardo Oliveira (Seedorf 70), Inzaghi

Ref: Riley (Eng)

Ancelotti: It won’t be easy
13.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has warned his troops against complacency ahead of tonight’s AEK Athens clash. “There are no easy matches,” he said.

The Rossoneri are favourites to start Group H of the Champions League – which also consists of Anderlecht and Lille – with a win, but the tactician is remaining wary.

“We must not underestimate this challenge,” he noted. “It may be very dangerous to think that there any easy matches in this phase.

“Our opponents may not be that famous at a European level, but the fact that we do not know them may instead represent a risk.

“These clubs are not used to this kind of stage and are sure to do their best to impress,” added the Rossoneri boss.

“We must consider that Italian teams are always slower in reaching top form as our championship starts later than other countries and we still need some time to improve our condition.

“AEK are a very fast side who play like the Spanish teams and are very dangerous on the flanks.

“They will play like Lazio on Sunday and, considering how much we suffered in the second half, we will have to be very careful.”

Ancelotti has not released details of Milan’s starting line-up, but confirms that all his men have recovered from the Serie A debut.

“All the players fielded on Sunday are available, Ricardo Oliveira can play approximately 30-40 minutes and I can’t exclude that he will part of the match.”

Paolo Maldini is optimistic about Wednesday’s tie and believes that Milan are the strongest side in Europe.

“In the past few years we have been the best Italian club in international competitions and we have also outclassed most of the other European teams,” said Maldini.

“I consider Milan the best team in Europe and the Champions League has always been our primary target, just as it will be this year.

“It’s not that we aren’t interested in the Scudetto, but for some reason we seem to do better in Europe.

“I admit that I was disappointed to read the UEFA motivations after they decided to readmit us to the tournament, but I don’t believe that we will encounter any additional obstacle for this reason.”

Maldini’s condition is fairly good after two injury-struck seasons, but he does not know how many matches he will be able to play.

“I am at the Coach’s disposal,” he argued. “If there are no further problems then I think I can play two or more games in a row.

“I still haven’t spoken to the boss, but I am feeling good. There still are some problems and those won’t go away, but I trust this year will be better than the past one.”

I'm not leaving, says Kaka
13.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan star Kaka has turned down the opportunity of joining Real Madrid after insisting he wanted to become a Rossoneri symbol.

The Brazilian was courted by Real during the summer, but has now committed his future to the San Siro giants.

“I am happy to be here and I have no intention of leaving,” said Kaka, still just 24, to Milan Channel.

“I want to become a leader for this team and that is something that can only be done taking your responsibilities, year after year.

“I am not afraid of these responsibilities, it’s nice to play well but I now want something more than that.

“A good player helps his side to also play well, his support to the team’s game can make the difference – a single stunning action is useless if the outcome of the game isn’t positive.

“I feel that I am growing and I am faster in interpreting the match, these are things that you only learn with time and I still have so much to learn, but I can really feel the difference from the first two years here at Milan.”

The Brazilian international also offered words of praise for new teammate Ricardo Oliveira after he scored on his debut against Lazio on Sunday.

“I am glad we started the season with a victory as we played a fearless match, even if we suffered in the second half,” he noted.

“Oliveira? He is used to playing in important teams and I have always said that he was a good player.

“He will be very useful for us because he moves differently from Filippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino, but now let’s not put too much pressure on him.”

Ancelotti to stick with Gilardino
12.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

The struggling Alberto Gilardino is set to keep his place in the Milan side which will face AEK Athens in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The World Cup winner is far from his best and now faces serious competition from Ricardo Oliveira after the Brazilian scored on his debut against Lazio on Sunday.

However, Coach Carlo Ancelotti is set to field Gila next to the in-form Pippo Inzaghi, in the hope that the 24-year-old can score his first seasonal goal with the Rossoneri – and his first in the competition itself.

“Alberto has always scored a lot and will continue to do so,” said Ancelotti’s assistant Mauro Tassotti. “Last year he had a slow start as well.

“With Lazio he was still tired from his match with the Nazionale, he only trained once with us and we were aware that he might suffer from a physical point of view.”

Should Gilardino not be declared fit to start, Oliveira is ready to take his place – even if he hasn’t got 90 minutes in his legs either.

“Oliveira impressed me on Sunday, but now we must not put pressure on the player,” said Milan’s Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

“He scored a decisive goal and I am sure that everyone will now look at him with different eyes,” continued the club official.

“There was scepticism about this player, nobody seemed to know exactly what to expect, but now it’s clear he was an excellent buy.

”If he will continue like this, Ancelotti will have to face tough decisions when it comes down to deciding whom to field,” concluded Galliani.

Oliveira wins Altafini approval
11.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Former Milan striker Jose Altafini was left impressed by Ricardo Oliveira’s debut with the Rossoneri when Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement scored the winner against Lazio.

The Italian giants started to wipe out their eight-point deficit defeating Lazio 2-1 in their opening match at San Siro, with Oliveira netting just 10 minutes after being sent on to the pitch as a substitute.

“He is a fast player, very dynamic in his movements and he sometimes reminds me of Antonio Careca,” said Altafini, who wore the Milan jersey between 1958 and 1965 by netting 120 goals in 250 matches.

“I had seen him play with Santos where he had impressed me and yesterday he played a very good match,” continued the former Italian international.

“As all Brazilians, he went on to the pitch with no fear and behaved as if he had been a Milan player for a long time.

“I knew he would immediately adapt to playing with Kaka and Clarence Seedorf.”

Oliveira signed a five-year deal with Milan after Real Betis accepted £12m plus midfielder Johann Vogel in return, but was considered an unknown object until his weekend unveiling.

“He has all the characteristics to become a very good player,” continued Altafini. “Once you find the goal you never forget it, but we now don’t have to put too much pressure on the player.

“We must remember that Milan are not yet on top form. When a team plays well it also helps all its players to give their best and Oliveira can still improve a lot.”

AC Milan 2:1 Lazio - post-match comments
10.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti: “Ricardo Oliveira broke through the moment he got on the field. He needs to improve, but he has the potential of a great striker, even if he isn’t 100 per cent fit yet. Lazio caused us problems because they used their pace and we struggled against that. I saw Inter play yesterday in good shape and it’ll be difficult to catch them with our penalty, but we want to do it at all costs.”

Delio Rossi: “In the first half we could’ve had more grit and determination to really attack three or four chances, then we made a mistake at the back and the situation changed completely. The game got away from us. We played well here, though, and managed to really scare the Rossoneri.”

AC Milan 2:1 Lazio - match report
10.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 26 (M), Oliveira 70 (M), Makinwa 73 (L)

Ricardo Oliveira made a memorable debut, scoring Milan's winner to beat a determined Lazio 2-1.

Both these teams needed a strong start to wipe out their Calciopoli penalties, eight points for the Rossoneri and 11 for the Biancocelesti. Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini returned to full fitness, though Christian Brocchi replaced the suspended Gennaro Gattuso.

It was a curious game for new Lazio captain Massimo Oddo, who had begged for a summer transfer to San Siro, while Pasquale Foggia is still owned by his opponents. Lazio have a notoriously poor record here and were without a win since a 1-0 result in 1989.

Angelo Peruzzi held an early Andrea Pirlo free kick and Pippo Inzaghi couldn't get enough contact on Marcos Cafu's cross. Milan maintained the early pressure, but Lazio almost scored on the counter on 10 minutes with Dida eventually parrying Goran Pandev's effort.

The Biancocelesti were using their pace to shock Milan's defence and Dida rushed out to clear from Stefano Mauri, then moments later Tommaso Rocchi found space and his cut back for Pandev was intercepted by Nesta.

But it was Milan who took the lead. Kaka threaded through for Inzaghi, who held off his marker and placed a precise angled drive into the far corner of the net.

Lazio fought back and Dida plucked a Luciano Zauri strike out of the air, while a Kaka solo effort from distance whistled wide and Peruzzi rushed out to block Inzaghi's shot with his body.

Inzaghi had a goal disallowed in first half stoppages for an incorrect offside decision as he ran on to Kaka's pass. To add insult to injury, he was booked for scoring after the whistle had blown.

Lazio threw on Stephen Ayodele Makinwa for Pandev in the second half and Gay Mudingayi immediately fired a snapshot off target. Yet Pirlo should've made it 2-0 when he sprung the offside trap and fired straight at Peruzzi from seven yards.

Dida smothered a Cristian Ledesma shot heading under the bar and a Zauri angled drive.

Ricardo Oliveira was given his Serie A debut on the hour mark, replacing Alberto Gilardino. He immediately combined with Kaka, the latter's shot deflected out for a corner.

Makinwa and Serginho had a sprinting competition, the Brazilian winning to prevent a counter-attack, then Peruzzi performed a great save on Clarence Seedorf's piledriver.

Inzaghi nearly scored with a header, but from the resulting corner kick Ricardo Oliveira made his mark with a goal just eight minutes after stepping on to the field. Sebastiano Siviglia allowed a free header into the far corner for the £10m signing.

It still wasn't over, as Rocchi sprung the offside trap and rolled across for Makinwa to tap in from six yards between two defenders.

Peruzzi missed a cross completely, but Nesta was equally surprised and nodded wide of an empty net. Oliveira nearly scored a wonder goal on the counter-attack, going through the entire Lazio defence, but he hadn't reckoned on Peruzzi's spectacular fingertip save.

Christian Manfredini threatened with a cross-shot that missed both its targets, then Rocchi went close with a counter-attack cut short by a perfectly timed Cafu tackle and overhead kick.

Oliveira could've had another goal in stoppages when Massimo Ambrosini sprinted past several defenders, but his low drive was deflected inches wide.

Milan: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Serginho (Favalli 76); Brocchi, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Gilardino (Oliveira 62), Inzaghi (Ambrosini 77)

Lazio: Peruzzi; Oddo, Siviglia, Cribari, Zauri; Foggia (Mutarelli 53), Mudingayi (Manfredini 76), Ledesma, Mauri; Rocchi, Pandev (Makinwa 46)

Ref: Bertini

Rocchi unafraid of AC Milan
10.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Tommaso Rocchi isn’t worried at the prospect of taking on Milan at San Siro and insists it’s the Rossoneri who must fear Lazio.

“They should be concerned about playing against us, as Lazio are a good side that have to start well to recover from the 11-point penalty,” said the striker.

“We’re going to Milan in order to get an important result. The sooner we manage to get this handicap behind us, it’ll allow the team to really go on to the pitch in a relaxed frame of mind.”

The Biancocelesti were originally demoted to Serie B in the Calciopoli trial, but restored to the top flight and ordered to begin this season from –11 in the table. Milan were also punished in the match-fixing investigation and docked eight points from the 2006-07 campaign.

Lazio haven’t won here since a 1-0 result in September 1989, losing their last three visits on the trot, but Rocchi remains confident.

“Milan are a great side, so it’ll be a battle, but our spirit compels us to go out there and impress.”

Pirlo makes AC Milan pledge
8.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Andrea Pirlo insists he wants to end his career at Milan after signing a contract extension this week.

“This will allow me to end my career with this club, after ten years with Milan,” said the midfielder who is now tied to the Rossoneri until 2011.

“When I signed, my teammates greeted me with an applause and I think they will do the same for Alessandro Nesta shortly.”

The playmaker was courted by Real Madrid during the summer, when the Merengues thought that the Calciopoli scandal would cause a mass exodus from Milan, just like it did at Juventus.

“My agent was contacted by Real Madrid officials, but Milan has always been my priority. There was no hurry to extend my deal, but once the summer ended the club immediately renewed the contract and I am pleased about this.”

The Rossoneri are called to a difficult start against Lazio on Sunday, with both teams eager to start wiping out the point deductions handed out by the summer trial.

“We can finally start playing, the race for the Scudetto will be even more stimulating,” said Pirlo of their eight-point deficit.

“We are not suffering in this situation. We are very motivated and we want to win the Championship. The points handicap only encourages us to do better. The race for the Scudetto this year is very stimulating, although the Champions League always has its charm. We will prove our strength, as we have always been honest and behaved correctly,” added the 27-year-old.

As for the Nazionale, Pirlo defended Coach Roberto Donadoni and claimed it’s too early to despair of qualifying for Euro 2008, despite the draw with Lithuania and the 3-1 defeat against France.

“He has done his best. Our main goal is still to win the European Championship. It isn’t easy to train the world champions and the fact that he changed his tactics doesn’t mean anything, as Marcello Lippi also used to vary a lot. There are still 30 points available in our group, I understand criticism when things are not going well, but now we have to look ahead.”

AC Milan block Kaka exit
8.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have again warned Real Madrid to forget about signing Kaka. “If they want to strengthen, they must look elsewhere,” said chief Adriano Galliani.

The latter made the statement after reading the comments of Real director general Predrag Mijatovic, who insisted the 24-year-old would one day join the Merengues.

“I do not intend to cause any controversy, but we do not allow such behaviour,” stated Galliani. “We are not a branch of another club.

“I met President Ramon Calderon and we spoke to each other,” added the Rossoneri official. “Milan are a great club with a great President and our recent history outweighs Real Madrid’s.

“We are not in a state of psychological subjection, if the Spanish club needs new players then this is not the right place to come.”

The former Lega Calcio chief has also insisted that Kaka has never asked to leave Italy, a reason why the South American extended his contract until 2010 in the summer.

“Let’s take Chelsea as an example,” continued Galliani. “They chased Andriy Shevchenko for three years and we always said no.

“A negotiation started with the Premiership club only when the player expressed his desire to leave, but this is not the case with Kaka.”

Real Madrid, however, consider Kaka the only true alternative to the retired Zinedine Zidane and have not yet ruled out the idea of seeing him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

We'll sign Kaka, say Real Madrid
8.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Real Madrid have told Milan fans to expect a Kaka exit in the near future. “He will come sooner or later,” said director general Predrag Mijatovic.

The Brazilian starlet was named as a proposed summer arrival by President Ramon Calderon before his election in June, but Kaka remained in Italy after extending is contract until 2010.

However, Mijatovic is now ready to bet on the fact that the 24-year-old midfielder will one day play with the Merengues.

“Kaka represented one of the promises made to our supporters by Calderon, who knows it would be important to have such a high-quality player on our team,” he told the AS newspaper.

“During the summer we had several conversations with Kaka and his agent and I honestly believed that we could reach an agreement.

“The player expressed his wish to come here and the complicated situation caused by the match-fixing scandal made me think that Kaka would finally land in Madrid,” he continued.

“In the end, Milan did not allow him to leave and he preferred not to put any pressure on his club, which he is very fond of.

“But we are sure that he will come sooner or later,” added the former Fiorentina striker.

Mijatovic’s latest Kaka related statement is almost certain to infuriate Milan who declared war on the Spaniards this summer over their attempts to net the South American.

Gourcuff eyes AC Milan debut
8.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan summer signing Yoann Gourcuff says he’s prepared to make his Serie A debut on Sunday when Lazio come to town.

Gourcuff joined the outfit from Rennes and could feature at some stage given the injury to Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso's suspension.

“I am ready, although I am aware that it will be difficult for me to often be in the starting line-up,” said the 20-year-old to the club’s website.

“With the number of matches in this season’s calendar. I hope I will be given the opportunity to play.

“I am settling in, I feel part of the squad and I am slowly learning Italian,” added the £2.5m capture.

“Alessandro Costacurta has been helping me a lot. It's important to be able to speak to your teammates and Clarence Seedorf is also doing a lot to put me at ease."

Gourcuff impressed many onlookers in midweek when he guided the French Under-21 side to a 2-0 win over Slovenia, in which he also scored the opener.

"It went very well for me and the team, we won and we will now attempt to reach the Finals next summer via the play-offs,” he concluded.

Gourcuff, who is contracted to Milan until June 30, 2011, played 36 Ligue 1 games for Rennes last year. He netted six goals.

Pirlo extends AC Milan deal
7.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have guaranteed themselves the services of Andrea Pirlo for the next five years after extending his contract on Thursday.

The 27-year-old midfielder is now committed to the Rossoneri until 2011 and may probably end his career with the Via Turati outfit.

Pirlo landed at Milan in 2001 – after spells at Brescia, Reggina plus Inter – and has played 141 Serie A matches with the Rossoneri outfit, netting 25 goals.

He was one of the main protagonists of Italy’s victory in the 2006 World Cup, managing to score in Italy’s opening Germany 2006 win against Ghana.

He netted the Man of the Match award after that tie, something which he also did following the wins against Germany and France in the Final.

Pirlo was also voted third best player of the tournament behind Zinedine Zidane and Fabio Cannavaro.

The playmaker, who was part of the Azzurri squad defeated by France in the Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday, will be in Milan’s starting line-up for the San Siro debut on Sunday against Lazio.

Foggia dreaming of AC Milan upset
7.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Lazio winger Pasquale Foggia is desperate to start his capital stint with a win at Milan – the team that own him.

The former Under-21 international joined the Biancocelesti on loan after spending last season at Ascoli and impressed Coach Delio Rossi in the recent friendly against Anderlecht.

“I dream of winning at San Siro, although I understand it won’t be easy,” said the creative midfielder.

“I know that Milan are a strong side, with many top-level players, but we will go on to the pitch to do our best.”

Although it seemed that Foggia could have remained at Milan this term, he admits he was excited by the possibility of joining Lazio for the campaign.

“This transfer was very important for me, I wanted to stay in Italy and Lazio represented my first choice,” noted the 23-year-old.

“Here I will have a chance to play more games. Milan are a great club but I know I wouldn’t have been handed much playing time there.

“I am aware there are many players competing for a spot in the starting line-up, but if we all play well that can only be an advantage for the team.”

The Biancocelesti will start the term with an 11-point deduction following Calciopoli, but Foggia is remaining optimistic.

“This will be a difficult season, there are no doubts about that, but we are a young side that wants to do well,” continued Foggia.

”There is an excellent group here and Rossi is a good boss. We are all aware that our supporters expect a lot from us, but that only motivates us more.

”I personally want to contribute to Lazio’s championship, hopefully scoring some goals. The derby with Roma? They’ve told me about, I don’t think anything else needs to be said…”

Meanwhile, Massimo Mutarelli’s fitness is improving even if he’s unlikely to be available for the Week 1 clash.

Oliveira impresses Costacurta
6.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Alessandro Costacurta is impressed by summer signing Ricardo Oliveira and trusts that the striker can do well with the Rossoneri.

“He is an excellent player, I followed him when he was with Betis and when he played the qualifiers for the Copa Libertadores,” he said of Andriy Shevchenko’s replacement.

“As to his character, I admit I don’t know him much from a personal point of view, but my Brazilian teammates have said good things about him. He is very talented, a few days ago he tried to dribble past me during training and he actually managed to. Joking, I told him that he better wear his shin pads next time.”

Costacurta is still a reference point for Milan’s defence and he confirmed himself as a leader during the summer matches, including the Champions League preliminary round against Red Star Belgrade.

“We are finally about to begin the new season, I was anxious to start,” said the former Azzurri star. “We have been working well and I think that the preliminaries actually helped us to improve our condition.”

Milan start the season with an eight-point handicap, so it’ll be particularly crucial to get a good Week 1 result against Lazio on Sunday afternoon.

“Our opening match with Lazio will be difficult, they are an aggressive side which base most of their game on physical strength. They have signed Pasquale Foggia, they have Ayodele Makinwa and they reinforced their midfield with Cristian Ledesma, I am sure they will give us a hard time,” concluded Costacurta.

Maldini blasts "scandalous" Blatter
6.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan and Italy legend Paolo Maldini has launched a sensational attack on FIFA President Joseph Blatter.

The defender has taken issue with Blatter’s comportment after the Azzurri beat France on penalties to win the World Cup this summer.

Blatter opted to not be a part of the award ceremony when the side was handed the trophy, a snub which Maldini finds hard to digest.

“The way FIFA treated us in Berlin was scandalous,” the former Azzurri captain said in an interview to magazine Panorama.

“Blatter refused to hand over the trophy to us and this is a scandal that our Federation did not react to,” he added.

“I had never seen anything like this and what is worse, Blatter keeps expressing very harsh comments on Italian football

“Now I understand why we never won as much as we deserved in the past.

“I think I know why everyone shows so little consideration for Italy, it’s mainly a political issue, but I think the FIGC must now behave like a Federation of world champions and make themselves heard.”

The veteran added that he may consider becoming some kind of football ambassador once he quits the game, even if he’s unsure of what his future holds.

”I have thought about this, but I don’t know what I will do,” he added before also criticising another important figure in the game.

“Let’s take Michel Platini’s example, he was always considered a very outspoken person, but now his statements always depend on what people think about him. I don’t really like what he says.”

Maldini was also asked for an opinion on former Milan boss Fabio Capello who was blasted by Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero last week.

“I fought with Capello in the past and that is no secret,” he added. “Discussions with him are always very heated, but one of his qualities is that he forgets the past very quickly.

“However, I must admit that I believe Barcelona are stronger than his Real Madrid side this season.”

Albertini stands by Donadoni
6.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

His former Milan teammate is under pressure already, but FIGC representative Demetrio Albertini has publicly backed Roberto Donadoni.

“Our faith in Donadoni is total, regardless of the result against France,” stated the vice-commissioner in a Press Conference this evening.

The Azzurri boss took over from Marcello Lippi in the summer, but so far his World Cup winning squad has managed just a 2-0 friendly defeat to Croatia and 1-1 Euro 2008 qualifier with Lithuania.

The Italian media has already suggested that tomorrow’s crunch match with France in Paris will be decisive for their hopes of reaching the tournament and for Donadoni’s future.

“It’s true that with the Nazionale you can never have too much time to wait, but to talk about this game as a last chance saloon is exaggerated,” added Albertini.

The two men were teammates at Milan and former Barcelona midfielder Albertini was instrumental in picking Donadoni as Lippi’s successor.

There are claims this week that this poor start to his Azzurri career will be helped by the return of Lippi in a consultant’s role.

“We have never contacted Lippi,” assured Albertini. “If we want to continue building things up just to knock them down again, then the Press is on the right track. It’s the same old story. Let’s just give Donadoni the space to work.”

It is a familiar scenario, as many members of the Italian media lobbied to have Lippi fired ahead of Germany 2006, citing his name in the early days of the Calciopoli investigation as incompatible with the job of representing the nation at a World Cup. He was cleared of all wrong-doing.

Kaladze pens AC Milan deal
4.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan stopper Kakha Kaladze has committed his future to the club by accepting a new contract at the San Siro.

The 28-year-old now looks likely to end his career at the side after putting pen to paper on a deal which will expire in June 2011.

Kaladze has had a successful Rossoneri spell since arriving at the club in January 2001 from Dynamo Kiev.

The Georgian international has been used in a variety of positions including central midfield, central defence and as a full-back.

Kaladze was close to leaving for Chelsea in the summer of 2005, but no fee could be agreed between the two European giants.

It’s not war, says Gattuso
4.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso insists his Italian side will have no fear going into Wednesday’s European Championship qualifier against France. “It’s not a war,” he argued.

The Azzurri are expected to get a hot reception at the Stade de France after the Azzurri’s World Cup Final win, but the Milan man is confident his side will be able to cope with anything.

"Luckily, the fans don't play,” Gattuso said on Monday. “And we're used to this type of game as we played Germany during the World Cup.

"The World Cup doesn't have anything to do with Wednesday's game, though," Gattuso added. "We have to find the strength to put that aside. We can enjoy that when we retire.

“But the tie will just be a game of football, not a war.”

Nevertheless, the match will have added spice to it given the Zinedine Zidane incident during the Final when he was dismissed for head-butting Marco Materazzi following verbal provocation.

Zidane was handed a three-match ban, while Materazzi was given a two-game stop – a judgement that stunned the ex-Rangers man.

"Materazzi should be playing in this game,” he argued. “What do I have to do — tie my tongue?

"There was too much attention put on the Zidane-Materazzi situation. I believe, if anything, the real controversy should have been that Materazzi was banned for two games!

"When we lost the European Championship 10 seconds from the end we didn't create this type of controversy.

"I know we usually complain after losses, but they do it even more. Italy is second to France in that."

Italy started their European Championship campaign with a disastrous 1-1 home draw with Lithuania and Gattuso knows how vital the France encounter could be.

"We know it's a big game, decisive,” he argued. “We're motivated though. There are three points up for grabs and we're coming off a game where an expected three points didn't come.”

Gattuso also dismissed reports that Marcello Lippi would accept the FIGC’s offer to become a supervisor for all of the national sides.

“I might be wrong, but if I really know him then I don’t think he would take the role,” he noted. “If he was to be a kind of tutor then he would have remained as Italy boss.”

Maldini books Lazio date
3.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Paolo Maldini’s four-month injury nightmare is over after he announced he’ll be ready for the Serie A opener against Lazio.

“I really think I’m ready for the start of the season, both from a physical and psychological stand-point,” he told Milan Channel.

The Rossoneri captain played 45 minutes in their Trofeo TIM victory, beating both Inter and Juventus to take the summer friendly tournament.

“It’s true it wasn’t an entire match, but the knee reacted well and it was an important test on a particularly rough pitch. Despite all of that, there was no swelling. I believe I’m ready to return now.”

There were fears last season’s persistent injury concerns would force the 38-year-old to retire, but he’s fired up for his 23rd Serie A campaign and the tough opener against Lazio on September 10.

“I don’t think the order of the fixture list can change the course of a championship all that much. We have an eight-point penalty and must therefore try to win every single game. Whether we’re facing more prestigious or easier sides is irrelevant.”

Milan were the least affected by the Calciopoli scandal, as Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina had stronger penalties, while Juventus were demoted and stripped of two Serie A titles.

“Italian football has changed a great deal and naturally the most obvious difference is seeing Juventus in Serie B. As a sportsman, I feel it’s right to pay for certain mistakes, but at the same time I hope to see Juve back in Serie A from next season. Italian football needs this club and we respect them as opponents.”

The San Siro giants had originally seen their Champions League status removed as a result of the scandal, but they entered through the preliminary round and were paired in Group H with AEK Athens, Anderlecht and Lille.

“It’s clear that we were luckier in the draw than in previous years, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easier,” warned Maldini.

“History has shown us that it’s often more difficult to win a group with less prestigious sides than when facing bigger clubs. In Europe nowadays every team can put you under pressure and so we must be extremely careful.”

Oliveira: I'll fill Sheva's shoes
3.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Ricardo Oliveira will fill Andriy Shevchenko’s Number 7 shirt for Milan and maintains the fact he’s an unknown face in Serie A will help him make his mark.

“I was told the number was free and wanted it, then after they explained it used to be Shevchenko’s I was even more determined. I have a lot of respect for Shevchenko, who wrote a page in the history books with Milan, but now I’m here to write my own,” said the Brazilian.

Oliveira’s £10m transfer was only decided on the last day of trading and some in the Italian media considered it a let-down after rumours linking the Rossoneri with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Didier Drogba.

“I’m not scared of controversy and do not feel the pressure of fan expectation. Inter have bought a lot of star names, but Milan are a strong side and can certainly challenge them for the title, even with an eight-point handicap. Lyon were offering me more money, but I was determined to join Milan, a club that is the dream of all players. This move is a challenge and an opportunity,” he told the ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’.

Oliveira was the Liga top scorer in 2004-05 for Real Betis Sevilla, but joined San Paolo on loan to recover from a serious knee injury.

“It’s better for me that the fans and opposition players don’t know what I’m like. They’ll soon learn my name. I know I’ll need a little time to give my best, but I came here to play, score goals and win. With hard work and focus, I will achieve those aims. I played as a lone striker at Betis and San Paolo, but I like to move around and get the ball, opening up spaces for my teammates. I won’t let the fans down.”

Gattuso aims anger at France
3.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso is furious at Italy’s failure to win their opening Euro 2008 qualifier and wants to take his anger out on France next week.

“I’m livid that we weren’t able to get a victory for us and Coach Roberto Donadoni,” stated the midfielder following their disappointing 1-1 draw with Lithuania.

“There’s no such thing as an easy opponent in modern football. From now on, we have to get it into our heads that we are World Champions and that means every team will face us with extra aggression and determination.”

Donadoni is still looking for his first victory on the Azzurri bench after this draw and a 2-0 friendly defeat to Croatia.

He faces his toughest test yet – and a potentially crucial Euro 2008 qualifying game – in Paris on Wednesday evening.

“It’ll be tough in France, but the crowd won’t scare us,” insisted ‘Ringhio’ Gattuso. “It’ll already be a decisive match, even if the result against Lithuania won’t make us anxious. If anything, it increases our desire to prove who we really are to the French.”

The controversy after the World Cup Final, won by Italy on penalties after a 1-1 draw and Zinedine Zidane’s dismissal for headbutting Marco Materazzi, rumbles on in some quarters and tension is expected to be very high at the Stade de France.

The Euro 2008 qualifying campaign can be followed here. France earned a comfortable 3-0 win in Georgia, while Scotland thrashed the Faroe Islands 6-0.

Inzaghi saw unlucky Italy
2.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi scored the goal that prevented defeat to Lithuania, but believes the Azzurri were unlucky not to emerge with three points.

“I think Italy played a great game and their goalkeeper was excellent tonight, despite the fact they’re far ahead of us in terms of physical preparation for the season. We were unlucky and deserved to win,” said the striker.

It’s a terrible start to their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, as after one match they already trail two points behind France, Georgia and Scotland.

The World Cup winners visit Les Bleus in Paris on Wednesday night and will need to step up their game if they are to avoid defeat.

“You cannot fault this team’s character and every time we bring the desire to win and the hard work. It won’t be easy against France, but we can build on this performance,” maintained Inzaghi.

His goal was scored at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples thanks to some delightful play from Antonio Cassano, who returned to the Italy squad after a year’s absence.

“It’s always easy to play alongside Cassano, as he is a remarkable talent. It’s nice to score, obviously, but it would’ve been better to thank these wonderful supporters with a more positive result.”

Injured Ambrosini leaves Azzurri
2.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Massimo Ambrosini has left the Italy camp after suffering a thigh injury that could also rule him out of Milan’s Serie A opener.

The midfielder was all set for his first official appearance in two years, but the right thigh strain he picked up in training proved too serious.

He was considered unable to recover in time for tonight’s Euro 2008 qualifier with Lithuania or Wednesday’s clash with France.

The bad news filters down to Milan too, as Ambrosini’s injury requires more tests to ascertain if he’ll be fit for the September 10 Serie A opener against Lazio at San Siro.

Italy Coach Roberto Donadoni has already called in reinforcements for that role, bringing along Sampdoria duo Angelo Palombo and Gennaro Del Vecchio.

AC Milan triumph delights Ancelotti
1.9 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti says he’s delighted with Milan’s Trofeo TIM victory after defeating both Inter and Juventus on Thursday.

The Rossoneri won the sixth edition of the now annual summer friendly by coming from behind in both 45-minute matches, winning 2-1 against city rivals Inter and 3-1 over the Bianconeri.

“I believe tonight’s test was interesting,” said the Coach. “I think the team showed the right attitude and the will to do well and win which is always very important.”

Milan’s start to the season has been disrupted by injuries to key defenders, but he argues his rearguard problems are now simple headaches rather than migraines.

“I am not worried about our defence,” he commented. “Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta returned to action this evening.

“Kakha Kaladze is also recovering and should be available on Monday. We have plenty of defenders in our side.

“I know that some of our full-backs are not that young anymore, but our defence is very reliable. I think Maldini proved it tonight despite his four-month stop.”

Ancelotti was also left unsurprised with the fact that Giuseppe Favalli scored against Inter – just months after leaving the Nerazzurri for the other side of the San Siro.

“The player has only scored six or seven times in his career but I had told him he would net a goal,” smiled the Coach. “Scoring against a former club is a classic of this game.”

Milan will kick off their Serie A campaign at home to Lazio on September 10.

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