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Cesare Prandelli laughs off recent criticism of Giorgio Chiellini and looks ahead to Juventus-Milan. “It’s going to be very interesting.”
The Italy Coach was asked for his predictions on Sunday night’s big Scudetto showdown.
“One set of players have the Scudetto symbol on their chests, the other is trying with great determination to get back to the top of Italian football after a few years that ended badly,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“They are two important teams and without doubt it is going to be a very interesting match.”
The media has been harsh towards Juventus defender Chiellini so far this season, but Prandelli has not lost faith in the Italian international.
“Chiellini is a guarantee. Andrea Barzagli is also doing well in the Juve defence. As for Milan, Antonio Cassano has been strong since the start of the season, so he just needs to keep it consistent.”
Ibrahimovic: 'Bring on Juventus!' 29.9 ||webmaster
Clarence Seedorf has thanked the Milan crowd for the standing ovation they gave him on Wednesday night, and claimed he is tired of talking about the boos.
The Dutchman played 71 minutes of the Champions League contest with Viktoria Plzen. He has now started every game of the season so far, but admitted when reflecting on the game that he has yet to fully recover from a knee injury.
“It was a good game, we got the first victory in the Champions League and there is much joy. The knee is better, it takes two more weeks to heal completely: it is a bit delicate, but I can play, and well, and so for now it is ok.
“The Juventus match is very timely, we are both well and will be a great match.”
Seedorf was then asked how it felt to receive a standing ovation from the San Siro crowd, with consideration to past years that have seen him booed.
“In 10 years the public have cheered for me 95% of the time I have been here, I'm tired of talking of the past few boos.”
Antonini: 'Referee apologised to me' 29.9 ||webmaster
Luca Antonini made his comeback in Milan’s “important” win over Viktoria and reveals “the referee apologised to me.”
The full-back had a great scoring opportunity in the first half cut short by an incorrect offside call.
“At the end of the first half the referee apologised to me for that offside decision. It was impossible, as I was coming from behind the line,” Antonini told Sky Sport Italia after the 2-0 victory.
“It was important to get the three points today, we managed it and kept a clean sheet. We could’ve sealed it before the break with all the chances we created, but did well to continue pushing in the second half.
“To begin with we suffered under Viktoria’s counter-attacks, as we wanted to open them up straight away and became unbalanced.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also returned from injury and inspired Milan by converting a penalty and setting up Antonio Cassano’s goal.
“Ibra is decisive for us and tonight you saw that, as every ball thrown in there is his. He gives us great confidence and then did very well combining with Cassano.”
Antonini went off in the final minutes after suffering from cramp.
Massimiliano Allegri was glad to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back, but warned Milan’s fatigue will show against Juventus on Sunday.
The Rossoneri beat Viktoria Plzen 2-0 at San Siro with Ibra’s penalty and Antonio Cassano scored the 2,000th Milan goal in the Silvio Berlusconi era, which began in 1986.
“It is an important victory to give consistency to what we did in Barcelona,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“We alternated good things with not so good, but overall the win was deserved. Ibrahimovic is an important player and can give great physical presence to the side.”
Ibra had been out of action since before the Barcelona match due to a thigh strain, but played the entire 90 minutes along with an increasingly-tired Cassano.
“When you win, then it helps even physical recovery to speed up. However, for a month we’ve been playing with the same men and so many games in quick succession. Once again this evening we struggled towards the end with fatigue.
“If Robinho and Alexandre Pato recover for Juventus, then it means I’d have more options, or at least the opportunity to rest someone.
“It is a difficult game on Sunday, even if it’s early to talk about it. Juventus have the big advantage of playing only once a week, while we will certainly feel the after-effects of this strain.”
Barcelona conquered BATE Borisov 5-0 in the other Group H tie.
Champions League: AC Milan 2:0 Viktoria Plzen - match report 28.9 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one and set up Antonio Cassano's goal as Milan beat Viktoria Plzen 2-0.
The Rossoneri welcomed back Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luca Antonini from injury, though Antonio Cassano was the only other available striker. Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Philippe Mexes and the suspended Gennaro Gattuso were out, plus Pippo Inzaghi and Stephan El Shaarawy were not on the UEFA list. Czech champions Viktoria were surprise qualifiers and only missed goalkeeper Roman Pavlik, who still wasn't back since July.
Viktoria had the first chance and a wonderful one it was too, as a Marek Bakos diving header was going to the far bottom corner before Christian Abbiati's fingertip save in the opening three minutes.
Moments later Ibra pulled back for Cassano and his first-time shot was parried by Marek Cech's legs from point-blank range.
Cassano tested the goalkeeper again from the edge of the box, while Ibrahimovic at full stretch couldn't control a Clarence Seedorf ball over the top. Petr Jiracek wasted a promising Viktoria counter-attack by firing well wide.
An Ignazio Abate cross beat Cassano, but found Ibrahimovic totally unmarked at the back post. He controlled and smashed the powerful strike that Cech somehow palmed over the bar from point-blank range.
Jiracek was caught in possession on the edge of his own box, but Ibrahimovic fired straight at the goalkeeper. At he other end a slick Viktoria passing move released Pavel Horvath, but his finish was well wide to waste a great chance.
Seedorf flashed a ball across the face of goal with nobody ready to tap in. Straight after the restart it was Urby Emanuelson's turn to balloon over the bar.
On 52 minutes Ibra flicked up the ball to turn Cisovsky, who stuck out an arm to block. The referee pointed to the spot and Ibrahimovic sent Cech the wrong way to put Milan in front, though Max Allegri didn't see it, as he refused to watch. Cisovsky had already been booked, but was not shown a second yellow card.
It was Ibrahimovic's 24th goal in 79 Champions League games.
Some Ibrahimovic flicks sent a flying pass to Seedorf, who set up Cassano only for the Italian to fire over. At the other end Abbiati did well to palm the cross off Bakos' head and block the follow-up from Horvath.
Milan doubled their lead with a moment of Ibra magic, as his glorious first touch brought down a long ball and immediately sent Cassano through, as FantAntonio delicately chipped it over the on-rushing keeper. It was his first Champions League goal since 2004.
Cassano tried to return the favour with a volleyed pass, but David Bystron was at full stretch to intercept and stop Ibrahimovic going clear. Antonini limped off with cramp to make way for Taye Taiwo.
Alberto Aquilani attempted an audacious rabona shot from nine yards, but only succeeded in hitting a defender in the face.
Viktoria substitute Michal Duris had a great chance in the final six minutes from point-blank range, but Thiago Silva stuck a foot in to deflect it over the bar. A sliding Bystron tackle stopped Cassano getting a third with the last kick of the game.
After Carlos Tevez refused to play for Manchester City and Roberto Mancini said he was “finished,” Inter and Milan are linked with a swoop.
The Argentine international has handed in transfer requests several times, but a summer move to Corinthians broke down and he remained at Eastlands.
Last night Mancini stated Tevez refused to come off the bench during the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, infuriating the Italian manager.
“Is he finished at City? I don't decide this, but if I did, then yes. I helped Carlos for two years but I cannot accept this behaviour. For me, it's a bad situation because in a game like this it's impossible for one player to refuse to come on, but also for the team because he didn't play.
“If I have my way he will be out of the club. He just refused to go on. I don't know why. I cannot be happy with this situation. Would something like this happen at Bayern Munich, AC Milan or Manchester United?”
Tevez had already been heavily linked with a move to Inter last January and over the summer, while Juventus also took an interest.
However, Sky Sport Italia pundit Gianluca Di Marzio claims another Serie A solution is more likely.
“A real bidding war could break out, but I’d keep an eye on Milan. The Rossoneri are always careful about these deals, as Tevez could arrive on loan or in any case for a reasonable price.
“The rapport between the clubs is excellent, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this move went through.”
AC Milan youngster set for record books 28.9 ||webmaster
Simone Andrea Ganz could enter the record books if he plays a part in Milan's Champions League Group H game with Viktoria Plzen.
Should the young primavera striker make an appearance, most likely from the bench, then he will become the club's third-youngest footballer to play in the Champions League.
Current full-back Ignazio Abate holds the record as the youngest, when he appeared for the Rossoneri against Celta Vigo aged just 17 years and 27 days.
Massimiliano Cappellini's name is second in the list. The former striker only made five appearances in total for the club, but one of those chances came in the 1989-90 edition of the tournament at 17 years, eight months and 15 days old.
Should Ganz take to the field, he will replace a current teammate in third. Alexandre Pato made his debut in the competition aged 18 and five months against Arsenal in February 2008. Ganz has just turned 18 himself.
Ganz is the son of former Diavolo forward Maurizio, who scored 19 goals in 40 appearances in the late 1990s. Although the two share the same position, Simone Andrea has been described as possessing a different style of play.
The youngster finds himself in the squad as Massimiliano Allegri's options are stretched amid a continuing injury crisis.
Ibrahimovic back in AC Milan squad 28.9 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in the Milan squad to face Viktoria Plzen, but Massimo Ambrosini has not recovered.
Ibra has been out of action for several weeks and returned to training yesterday, so has been included in the 20-man squad.
Luca Antonini and Daniele Bonera also return, but Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Philippe Mexes, Mathieu Flamini and the ineligible Pippo Inzaghi and Stephan El Shaarawy are out.
The striker shortage means Coach Max Allegri has called up youth team player Simone Ganz, the son of club legend Maurizio Ganz.
Milan squad: Abbiati, Amelia, Roma, Abate, Antonini, Bonera, De Sciglio, Nesta, Taiwo, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta, Yepes, Aquilani, Emanuelson, Nocerino, Seedorf, Van Bommel, Cassano, Ibrahimovic, Ganz
Seedorf: 'AC Milan can win Champions' 28.9 ||webmaster
Clarence Seedorf assures Milan “want to win the Champions League” and praised Antonio Cassano ahead of the Viktoria Plzen test.
“All that counts against Viktoria is the victory,” said the Dutchman of tomorrow’s match at San Siro.
“The three points would be crucial in helping us continue our race towards the knockout rounds.
“Can we win the Champions League? Milan are a great side, so reaching the Final and winning the trophy is our objective.”
There is an injury crisis at the club that has ruled out Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini, Philippe Mexes and possibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luca Antonini, Massimo Ambrosini and Daniele Bonera.
With the squad so limited in recent weeks, Cassano has been doing over-time in positions he is not necessarily familiar with.
“When he came here, the whole squad put itself at his disposal. Antonio is repaying the faith the group had in him.
“His attitude is excellent. To play at Milan, you need to avoid certain behaviour. He understood that and his performances on the pitch speak for him.”
Seedorf has also been forced to play more than expected, though at 35 he scored their decisive winner against Cesena on Saturday.
The veteran Dutchman is again expected to start against Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday evening.
Massimiliano Allegri warns Milan’s match with Viktoria Plzen “will not be easy,” especially as Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs a last-minute fitness test.
The Rossoneri notched up their first win of the Serie A season on Saturday, beating Cesena 1-0 at San Siro, but are still in the middle of an injury crisis.
“Tomorrow it will not be an easy game, because Viktoria Plzen are a side who did very well in the preliminary round and have good quality, both as a unit and individuals,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“If we want to validate the draw with Barcelona, then tomorrow we have to start winning.”
Ibrahimovic returned to training on Monday, but it remains to be seen if he can feature.
“He’ll only play from the start if he’s in good shape and has a good training session. I’ll see how he does and then decide if we’ll play with one striker or two.
“At this moment Clarence Seedorf knows there’s no time to rest and when I get the chance he will be able to take time out. He is 35 years old, but is still in peak condition because he is an exemplary professional and an example for young players.
“Tomorrow the only player who can recover is Ibrahimovic, though Daniele Bonera is much better and could possibly be at our disposal.”
The likes of Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini and Philippe Mexes are out, though there is hope for Luca Antonini and Massimo Ambrosini.
“We must have the right attitude with focus, spirit of sacrifice and good technique, which is what we did at the start of this season regardless of the unfair criticism,” continued Allegri.
“We paid a heavy price for some mistakes, but also proved we can control the tempo, so we’ve got to think positive. It’s important to top the group, as then we’d be able to face one of the runners-up in the next round.
“We must pick up as many points as possible so we can reach the face-to-face with Barcelona on level terms and gamble it all in that game.
“The victory over Cesena gave us confidence in a time where we were missing results rather than performances. We have great respect for Viktoria and will need a great, very intense game.”
Clubs propose reserves enter Serie B 28.9 ||webmaster
The Italian League is reportedly considering a proposal put forward to allow reserve teams to compete at Serie B and Lega Pro level.
It is one suggestion put forward this week at a conference chaired by Arrigo Sacchi at Coverciano and attended by the heads of youth development at each of Serie A's teams.
Their aim at the meeting is to work towards improving the country's recent track record of producing young Italian footballers.
This particular initiative would be similar to that seen in Spain, where the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal have reserve 'B' teams competing as high as the Segunda Division, the equivalent to Italy's Serie B.
The idea is that clubs in Italy would then be able to give primavera players a taste of regular competitive football at the professional level.
Tuttosport reports that Fiorentina and Milan are the first to put their names to the proposal, and that Juventus are also in favour of the scheme.
Sacchi is also believed to support the idea, unlike Serie B President Andrea Abodi, who instead wants to develop FIGC's focus on improving infrastructure at clubs.
AC Milan trio recover for Viktoria Plzen 26.9 ||webmaster
Milan are reassured by news Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daniele Bonera and Luca Antonini are fit to face Viktoria Plzen.
The trio have all missed out on at least the last two Serie A games and there were fears they’d also be sidelined for Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
However, the official club website announced that Ibrahimovic, Bonera and Antonini took part in today’s full training session.
Massimo Ambrosini also hopes to be back for the match with Viktoria Plzen, though there is little chance of seeing Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alexandre Pato, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini or Philippe Mexes.
Pippo Inzaghi is ineligible for the Champions League, as he was left off the UEFA list.
Massimiliano Allegri has given his thoughts on the start of the season, starting with his intention to remain at the club for a long time.
The 44-year-old Milan Coach was talking to Rai and responded positively when asked if his intention was to stay at San Siro for the long term.
“I hope so, because Milan is a great club. I'd like to stay a long time, but it always depends on the results. Last year we started well with the Scudetto and now we have also won the Supercoppa, and we hope for a repeat this year.”
Allegri then passed comment on Antonio Cassano's exended run in the team, and how it stemmed on everyone's actions in the summer.
“Cassano is doing very well. There was talk about him in the summer because it seemed he was leaving. Instead, we are very happy, because it was also still Milan's intention not to sell him.”
The Coach has begun the season with a number of absences in attack. Whilst repeating Adriano Galliani's words on the mystery that surrounds Alexandre Pato's injury record, he also confirmed that the club intend to welcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Massimo Ambrosini back for the midweek Champions League tie with Viktoria Plzen.
“It is a strange case because only two years ago to now he has had repeated injuries, and it is normal to think there is something strange.
“We are much better, we have three days available and we hope they are ready.”
Should Ibrahimovic not make the Champions League match, he is thought definitely available the following weekend, when Milan travel to Juventus, and face former hero Andrea Pirlo.
“Pirlo is a great player, in the summer the choice was made by the club and by Andrea. He is over at Juventus, who have conducted an excellent market, and are one of the candidates to win the Scudetto.
“The same applies to Inter. Organically they remain strong and will ultimately be at the top in the fight for the title.”
Allegri then also gave his view on Walter Mazzarri's belief that playing in the Champions League will see a team drop at least 10 points in the League.
“I think that for Napoli being in the Champions League after 21 years, it is a novelty. It is normal to play every three days, especially with the Champions League. It takes away mental energy, you have to be used to it.”
Ibrahimovic to miss Viktoria Plzen? 26.9 ||webmaster
Clarence Seedorf gave Milan their first win of the Serie A season, beating Cesena with a sudden curler.
The Rossoneri were in crisis with just two points from three Serie A games, although Coach Max Allegri could blame an unprecedented injury list that included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Luca Antonini, Daniele Bonera, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Mathieu Flamini, Kingsley Boateng and Philippe Mexes. The only two fit strikers started with Urby Emanuelson as trequartista, while Taye Taiwo received his Serie A debut. Cesena had lost all their games this term and relied on Adrian Mutu to turn that around.
Steve Von Bergen deflected a Clarence Seedorf cross on to the side-netting, risking an own goal. From that set play, Seedorf finished the job with a sensational curler into the far top corner to stun Ravaglia, as the goalkeeper was simply not prepared.
Cesena fought back and Gianluca Comotto hit the side-netting, then Christian Abbiati smothered a Mutu daisy-cutter. Emanuelson had penalty appeals for a Martinez handling offence, but the referee waved play on.
Antonio Candreva burst down the right and his cross for Martinez was crucially intercepted by Abbiati with an unorthodox intervention. Mario Yepes and Emanuelson drilled just wide from the edge of the box, then Seedorf just failed to get on the end of Cassano's assist.
Ignazio Abate burst past Marco Rossi, but the ball across the six-yard box was just past Cassano's toe. El Shaarawy hesitated in the penalty area and allowed Comotto to dispossess him.
Cassano was incorrectly halted for offside when he would've been clear on goal. Taiwo had already been booked and was given a final warning for a dreadful scissor-kick challenge on Roberto Guana before half-time.
Marco Giampaolo made a double substitution at the break, introducing Abdel Ghezzal and Eder. However, Milan went close when Emanuelson combined with Cassano to set up El Shaarawy, his angled drive well beaten away by Ravaglia.
Cesena immediately went on the counter and Yepes was booked for bringing down Eder outside the box, but Mutu fired his free kick into the wall.
Marco Parolo's powerful but central snapshot was well held by Abbiati. Milan should've been 2-0 up on 63 minutes when El Shaarawy's dummy let the Cassano pass through, but Seedorf blasted over the target.
Ravaglia turned a Cassano right-foot shot out for a corner, then FantAntonio had strong penalty appeals ignored for a clumsy Rodriguez tackle.
Cesena also complained, as Comotto was furious that Gianluca Zambrotta's shirt-tug just outside the area was not sanctioned.
Pippo Inzaghi got a huge cheer as he came on for an exhausted Cassano in the final nine minutes. Rodriguez charged down Zambrotta's counter and Seedorf's cross was too long for Emanuelson after Inzaghi pounced on Von Bergen's error.
Marco Giampaolo’s Cesena haven’t got a single point so far, but he insists “we’re going to San Siro to get a result against Milan tonight.”
The Sea Horses invested heavily over the summer transfer market and had a new artificial pitch installed, but have lost all their games with Napoli, Catania and Lazio.
“We’re going to San Siro to get a result against Milan. We are working to make that happen and must think positive,” said the Coach ahead of the 19.45 UK time kick-off.
“We started out with three undeserved defeats and recognise that tactics count only to a certain degree, as it’s mentality that wins you games.
“The team played three decent matches, but we paid the price for making some mistakes. I know I must justify the fact we have zero points in the table, but at the same time note individual moments cost us dearly.”
Milan are not doing much better, as they have only two points and are dealing with an injury crisis that has ruled out 10 first choice players.
“Milan are a side with great players and above all a winning mentality, which is what allows them to push through this tough moment,” argued Giampaolo.
“Pippo Inzaghi is the perfect example of that, as he is always hungry and will never sit back.”
Massimiliano Allegri admits Milan are in an emergency situation due to injuries, but with two points from three rounds assures “there is no crisis.”
The Rossoneri welcome Cesena on Saturday evening and have only two points from three Serie A games this season.
“We are coming off some good performances, but without getting results often due to mistakes. There is no crisis,” insisted the Coach.
“In the two situations when we were caught on the break in Napoli, we lacked balance in midfield, but that is also because we just introduced two new figures like Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Nocerino. It’s not easy to immediately get that rapport.”
The injury crisis has ruled out Alexandre Pato for a month, joining long-term absentees Kevin-Prince Boateng, Robinho, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini and Mathieu Flamini, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luca Antonini, Daniele Bonera and Philippe Mexes are all doubts for Saturday.
It means the only two fully fit strikers available are Antonio Cassano and teenager Stephan El Shaarawy.
“Cassano is fit and doing well. He must give more, which is true of everyone in the squad,” continued Allegri.
“El Shaarawy is a youngster who absolutely must not have responsibility heaped on his shoulders. He must focus on his innocence and enthusiasm. There will be two strikers against Cesena, they are Cassano and El Shaarawy.
“We need to have a concentrated game, like the one we had on Wednesday against Udinese, as Cesena are organised and dangerous on the counter-attack.
“On Sunday we’ll see how Ambro and Ibrahimovic are doing, as they have a slight chance of featuring in the Champions League, but Boateng is out.
“As for Pato, when there are so many repeated injury setbacks, it is rarely just one factor causing it. We analysed his records since he arrived in Italy and in future must be even more careful in evaluating him. It is interesting to note all Pato’s muscular injuries were picked up at San Siro.”
Serie A Round 1 set for December 21st 22.9 ||webmaster
Adriano Galliani has revealed his displeasure at Alexandre Pato's recent injury record, and confirmed he is taking action on it.
The Milan Vice-President was talking after the Brazilian striker pulled up during Milan's 1-1 draw with Udinese on Wednesday evening.
The extent of his injury has not yet been confirmed, but reports are indicating he could be out for as long as two months.
“I have had a meeting this morning with the Coach, the trainers and the medical staff to try to understand why this guy has gone through 2008 and 2009 without a problem, and has now stopped for the umpteenth time with a muscle injury.”
Milan are facing an injury crisis, but Galliani refused to put pressure on the situation.
“It is not luck, or bad luck. We have 10-12 players out injured, so it is hard, but it will pass. We won the Scudetto last year and the Supercoppa a month ago. God forbid that we are not happy.
“We are calm, when the injured player recover we will be back to where we've always been.”
Galliani also reflected on Claudio Ranieri's appointment as Inter Coach.
“Well, I never send best wishes, it is unlucky in football. Imagine if he brings back the history of Inter.”
Guidolin grateful for a point in Milan 22.9 ||webmaster
Francesco Guidolin has reflected on a point earned against Milan, and admitted his team were fortunate for that too.
Udinese recorded a 1-1 draw with defending champions Milan, but Guidolin acknowledgeed the Rossoneri could have taken the points.
“The glass is half full. We would not have deserved to win. We'll take the result - we were left sweating, but Milan have played more. We are happy, if not humble for a result like that.
“We say that Milan did not deserve to lose. We are aware that we need to improve on some things that we know - how to close out games, problems in attack. Things to work on.
Guidolin also faced questions on his tactics, where he changed during the game from a 3-5-1-1 to a 4-4-1-1, before then alluding to expectations for the coming year.
“I liked it. Today we lacked brilliance, and felt the weight of games played in quick succession. If you think that we have sold key players and replacing them with young who have to grow up, it is not wrong.
“We can not think that we will be equal to last year. The season will be mild, uncomplicated.”
Allegri: 'AC Milan OK, considering...' 21.9 ||webmaster
Milan have just two points from three Serie A games, but Massimiliano Allegri is adamant he’s “happy considering we’ve got no strikers.”
The reigning champions have had a dreadful start to the campaign, drawing with Lazio and Udinese at San Siro, while losing 3-1 in Naples.
“Looking at the table, I can only think we have two points. What else am I supposed to think?” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia after tonight’s 1-1 result.
“Milan had a good game and the lads deserved this point, creating many scoring opportunities and only risking on the counter-attack at the end.
“I am happy with what the team is doing. At this moment in time, this will do. After an unlucky goal and Alexandre Pato’s injury, we could’ve let our heads drop, but instead we reacted well.
“After the three goals conceded from Napoli, we were more careful in defence and held our concentration better.”
Pato limped off in the opening stages, joining the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Daniele Bonera and Luca Antonini on the treatment table.
However, substitute Stephan El Shaarawy came off the bench to score his debut Serie A goal.
“Without Pato, we had no more centre-forwards, so had to adapt with Alberto Aquilani, Antonio Cassano and towards the end Urby Emanuelson who were taking that role in turn.
“We hope it’s nothing serious for Pato, but El Shaarawy did well when he was called upon. At the moment we have 12 players out injured and haven’t got a single striker, so I am amazed people can criticise or doubt I can hold on to the bench.”
Serie A: AC Milan 1:1 Udinese - match report 21.9 ||webmaster
Stephan El Shaarawy scored his first Milan goal to scrape a point in this entertaining clash with Udinese.
The Rossoneri were in crisis after a couple of 2-2 draws with Lazio and Barcelona, followed by a 3-1 defeat to Napoli that left them five points off the top of the table. It was an injury crisis too, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Luca Antonini, Daniele Bonera and Mathieu Flamini were unavailable.
Udinese, on the other hand, were top of the table with a 100 per cent record and not a single goal conceded. Andrea Coda, Damiano Ferronetti, Antonio Floro Flores, Giovanni Pasquale and Paulo Barreto missed out, but they switched to a four-man defence.
Last season this ended 4-4, meaning in the last six San Siro meetings there were a total 35 goals.
Clarence Seedorf and Kwadwo Asamoah had shots charged down, but Alexandre Pato joined the injury list with a muscular problem, making way for teenager Stephan El Shaarawy.
Christian Abbiati gifted Udinese the opener with an absolute howler! He fumbled a timid cross from Gabriel Torje straight into the path of Di Natale for the easiest of tap-ins.
Abbiati made up for that earlier error by having his palms stung by a Pablo Armero blockbuster.
Milan were unlucky on 40 minutes, as Clarence Seedorf hit a powerful and low free kick that beat Samir Handanovic only to cannon off the base of the far post.
Antonio Nocerino got to a Seedorf cross, but couldn't keep his header down. Another splendid Seedorf assist over the top found Antonio Cassano, but Handanovic rushed off his line to parry from point-blank range.
Milan did get their equaliser with El Shaarawy's first goal in a Rossoneri jersey. The Little Pharaow ran on to a Cassano through ball and wasted no time placing a right-foot angled drive across Handanovic in at the far bottom corner.
Giampiero Pinzi had penalty appeals for a Gianluca Zambrotta shirt-tug. Moments later Di Natale crossed for the on-rushing Pinzi who came sliding in, but his shot hit the inside of the near post and rolled all the way along the line to go back out again.
Max Allegri had to gamble and in the final six minutes gave Pippo Inzaghi his comeback 10 months after a knee injury. However, Udinese nearly won it at the death with Abbiati's tricky low save on Abdi's towering header.
At the 89th minute Abdi chested down a cross for Di Natale, forcing another desperate reaction save from Abbiati.
Inzaghi got into the box and tried to chest down the ball, but he fell under pressure from Maurizio Domizzi and the referee waved away penalty appeals. There was contact, but not enough to prompt a spot-kick.
Francesco Guidolin is top of the table, but urges Udinese to “stay humble” when visiting “wounded lion” Milan on Wednesday night.
The Friulani are already five points clear of the reigning champions and go head-to-head at San Siro in a game that ended 4-4 last season.
“It is very difficult for Milan to get two games wrong in a row, so we are certain they’ll be very concentrated and fired up after the defeat to Napoli,” warned the Coach.
“We expect them to react with pride, class, temperament and the spirit of a top club. We’ll be facing a wounded lion, who dominated in Naples for the opening 20 minutes.
“As for us, we’ll have to rely on every weapon we’ve got. I want to see a spirit of sacrifice from everyone, paying attention to each little detail. We are still a work in progress and I haven’t got to know all the lads yet, so it is too early to judge this team. I just want to get to 40 points as soon as possible.”
Udinese are already on the way, having notched up three consecutive victories between Serie A and the Europa League, while they still have a clean sheet domestically.
“I hope the team has listened to my message: ‘Fly low and go to San Siro with great humility.’ Then we’ll get the response on the pitch.”
Massimiliano Allegri hails Udinese, but feels Milan were “penalised by refereeing decisions” in their Napoli defeat.
The Rossoneri are already five points off the top of the table after Sunday night’s 3-1 thrashing at the San Paolo.
“We played well with a few mistakes and were penalised by refereeing decisions. It’s true that we have to improve, be more focused and embrace the spirit of sacrifice, though,” said the Coach.
Without only a pair of 2-2 draws against Lazio and Barcelona, the pressure is on to deliver a victory on Wednesday night, especially against current Serie A leaders Udinese.
“The Friulani are doing very well, as are Cagliari, Napoli and Juventus, plus can be proud they have not yet conceded. We’ve got to be wary, as at the moment we are paying a heavy price for every single slip-up.
“There’s no point looking at the table now. It’s true we only have a point and maybe it’s fair enough to say the leaders are breaking away, but our quality remains the same and cannot be put in doubt after the Napoli defeat.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini and Mathieu Flamini are still out of action.
“Ibra won’t recover in time for Cesena, but should be ready for Juventus. The same is true for Boateng, while Robinho won’t make it. Gattuso is undergoing tests on his optic nerve to evaluate his recovery time.
“If Pippo Inzaghi is ready to play some of the game, then I’ll bring him with us on the bench. I can confirm Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano will play up front. I could place Thiago Silva in midfield, as he did well there in the past.”
Clarence Seedorf insists Milan were not out-played in their 3-1 defeat to Napoli. “They only left their own half five times.”
The Rossoneri suffered a heavy loss at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday evening and are already five points off the top of the table.
“OK, so we conceded seven goals in three official games, but I am still sleeping soundly,” Seedorf told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“You have to look at how those goals were conceded. We were beaten by Djibril Cissè, Miroslav Klose, Barcelona and Edinson Cavani, who are all in great form. I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. Our defence still works.”
Milan now have to get back on their feet against Udinese on Wednesday night in Serie A Week 4.
“We are not worried or tense. Napoli made the most of all their scoring opportunities. They only left their own half five times and scored by pouncing on ricochets.
“At the moment we are unlucky, so I didn’t see Milan in trouble.”
Massimiliano Allegri feels Milan played into Napoli’s hands at the San Paolo. “We gave them chances we knew we shouldn’t have done.”
The Rossoneri had gone in front with a wonderful Alberto Aquilani diving header, but Edinson Cavani’s hat-trick turned it all around for a 3-1 result.
“It was a fairly odd game, as we held possession and took the lead, but it was wiped out immediately by a lucky goal,” said Allegri.
“We conceded on the counter, which we knew Napoli were going to do. We also wasted a few opportunities to make it 2-2 and with the third goal Cavani did very well to believe in it.
“It was a strange match in which I’m happy with what the lads did overall, though we need more determination in some moments.
“All this is without taking anything away from Napoli, who played their style and took advantage of the chances we allowed them.”
Milan have only one point from their opening two games against Lazio and Napoli, while the 2-2 draw at Barcelona midweek also prompted criticism.
“We’re not worried. We all have to relax, know we are a big club who can have a couple of setbacks in terms of result, but the performances were decent. The only concern is that we conceded five goals in the first two Serie A rounds,” continued the Coach.
“The full-backs have to be faster at getting back to help the defence. We certainly made mistakes on the counter-attack.
“Napoli tended to play on the break, which was unusual considering they were the home team. They are very fast and we should’ve done better in stopping that weapon.
“The team took the right approach and deservedly took the lead. Unfortunately, we allowed Napoli the opportunities that we knew full well we should not have given them.”
Serie A: Napoli 2:2 AC Milan - video highlights 18.9 ||webmaster
Serie A: Napoli 2:2 AC Milan - match report 18.9 ||webmaster
Edinson Cavani's hat-trick demolished Milan 3-1 and confirmed Napoli's status as genuine Scudetto contenders.
This was a very early Scudetto showdown and came just days after the Partenopei had a confidence boost with their 1-1 draw away to Manchester City. Ezequiel Lavezzi badly bruised his ankle in that Champions League game, but passed a last-minute fitness test to start.
The Rossoneri snatched a 2-2 draw in Barcelona, but went into this match without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Philippe Mexes, Pippo Inzaghi and Mathieu Flamini. Thiago Silva was also in doubt after suffering from a stomach bug.
Last season was the first time in 12 years that Milan conquered the San Paolo. The atmosphere in the packed arena was spectacular.
Milan took the initiative early on and broke the deadlock at the 12th minute, as Antonio Cassano whipped in a cross from the right for Alberto Aquilani's diving header into the far top corner. It was his first goal for the Rossoneri and a very well taken one at that.
However, barely 60 seconds had passed when Napoli equalised. Christian Maggio knocked down a free kick for Edinson Cavani, whose first-time shot was low through Christian Abbiati's legs at the back post.
Aquilani's inspired pass released Antonio Nocerino, but Morgan De Sanctis smothered at his feet. At the other end Lavezzi's rapid counter was just a little behind Cavani, allowing Abbiati to recover. Clarence Seedorf's free kick was deflected for a corner.
Napoli took the lead for the first time with a classic counter-attack. Walter Gargano started the run from the edge of his own area and surged forward, rolling across to the left for Cavani's powerful strike high at the near post.
It should've been 2-2 moments later when Cassano won back possession and placed a cross-field pass to send Aquilani clear on goal, but his daisy-cutter was parried by De Sanctis at full stretch. Aquilani went close again from distance, drilling just wide of the upright.
Cavani completed his hat-trick after the restart. Marek Hamsik's shot had been beaten away by Abbiati, but as the move continued El Matador pounced on an Alessandro Nesta clearance to volley in from the edge of the box.
Pato was booked for simulation in the penalty area, but moments later Milan should've had a penalty when Paolo Cannavaro punched Nocerino's cross out of the air. The referee and linesman only awarded a corner. Nesta risked a red card for a reaction foul, as he shoved Salvatore Aronica after the Napoli man had trodden on his foot.
Pato nodded Cassano's cross from the by-line over the bar, while Blerim Dzemaili's sudden blockbuster skimmed the upright. Stephan El Shaarawy was given his Milan debut in place of Aquilani.
Cavani fired straight at Abbiati from a Goran Pandev through ball, then moments later acrobatic Juan Zuniga defending stopped Pato in the Napoli box.
Massimiliano Allegri defends his tactics against Barcelona and is confident Milan can trouble Napoli despite an injury crisis.
The 2-2 Champions League draw at the Nou Camp was a great result, but some in the Italian and European media criticised the Rossoneri for their approach.
“We did not employ catenaccio tactics. We simply used our characteristics,” insisted the Coach.
“Barcelona always dominate possession against every team in the world. However, while they score hatfuls of goals against the others, they only had three shots on target with us.
“We had an excellent 25 minutes and certainly could’ve done better on the counter-attack, but it remains a wonderful performance, even if we didn’t attack the way we usually do.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho missed out on that game and are still injured, while Massimo Ambrosini dislocated his shoulder and Kevin-Prince Boateng pulled a muscle between his ribs.
“Gennaro Gattuso has a problem with his optic nerve,” added Allegri. “Tomorrow evening we will step on to the field with two strikers, who will be Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano.”
The clash with Napoli at the San Paolo was one of the deciders for the Scudetto last season and could be again in 2011-12.
“It is going to be an important game, as Napoli have reinforced the midfield and strengthened the squad, so I consider them candidates for the Scudetto.
“Our options are limited by injuries, but we will go to Naples looking to play a great game. It is in these situations that the side can prove its strength. Don’t forget we started slowly last season too, then found our balance and won the title.”
Thiago Silva invites Hamsik to AC Milan 17.9 ||webmaster
Thiago Silva is looking forward to facing Marek Hamsik tomorrow, but “I hope he can be my Milan teammate next season.”
The Napoli star had been heavily linked with a move to San Siro early in the summer, but the clubs could not agree on a transfer fee.
“It would be so much better if Hamsik were playing this game with a Rossoneri jersey,” smiled Thiago Silva in the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He has incredible technique and class. I hope he can be my Milan teammate next season.”
That is, of course, assuming the Brazilian stays with his current club after new reports of interest from Barcelona.
“I personally did not say no to anybody, but that’s because I was never contacted. In any case, I consider it unfair to reject any option out of hand, as you never know what could happen in future. I did the same in Brazil.”
Thiago Silva was back on the Blaugrana radar after his stoppage-time header to snatch a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
“We worked hard on our tactics and they rarely got into the box. Dani Alves even told me at the end of the match that Barcelona ‘couldn’t find space in your defence.’ That was a great compliment.
“If we continue working the way we are now, then we could win the Champions League this year. It remains the first objective for me and I think about it continually.”
Montolivo 'no longer a Fiorentina player' 17.9 ||webmaster
Riccardo Montolivo has begun contract renewal talks with Fiorentina, but the initial meeting revealed little progress has been made.
Montolivo and his agent are understood to have met with the Viola's owner Andrea Della Valle to hold preliminary talks over the terms of a new deal.
Whilst it is believed the finer points of any contract - including Montolivo's reported desire for a buy-out clause - were not discussed at this meeting, Firenzeviola.net report that the meeting was a 'weak opening' to proceedings.
Montolivo recently expressed his openness to re-start negotiations, having previously rejected several contract offers from the club during the 2010-11 season.
After today's meeting, he and his agent are set to next convene with Della Valle on September 24 for round two. Montolivo's current deal expires next summer.
Lavezzi unlikely to face AC Milan 17.9 ||webmaster
This weekend’s Napoli-Milan game will mean nothing in terms of the Scudetto race, says Rossoneri official Adriano Galliani.
The two title contenders meet at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday night, but Galliani is under-playing the importance of the tie.
“It would be excessive to talk about the Napoli game as a Scudetto clash,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “This is just the second game of the season…”
Napoli won their opening match of the campaign at Cesena, while Milan had to fight back to salvage a 2-2 draw against Lazio.
The Italian champions will also arrive in Naples with an injury-hit squad.
“We’ll be without Kevin Prince Boateng, Massimo Ambrosini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gennaro Gattuso, Robinho, as well as Pippo Inzaghi and Mathieu Flamini,” Galliani added.
“We’ll have many absences, but we have other players. We also had to deal with injuries last term.
“I’m not the Coach, but we have two champions like Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano in attack. Stephan El Shaarawy, our third attacker, will be on the bench.”
Both sides were also in European action this week as Milan drew 2-2 at Barcelona, while Napoli grabbed a 1-1 at Manchester City.
“Milan did what Napoli did in the Champions League, it’s just that we played against the best side in the world,” the former Lega Calcio chief noted, before praising the performance of Alessandro Nesta in Spain.
“He’ a great champion who is 35 and Lionel Messi is a lot younger. When Nesta is in form he and Thiago Silva are the best centre-back pairing in the world.”
Ambrosini adds to AC Milan crisis 14.9 ||webmaster
Milan will have a decimated squad against Napoli after results of tests on Kevin-Prince Boateng and Massimo Ambrosini.
The Rossoneri earned a 2-2 draw away to Barcelona last night, but picked up a series of fitness problems too.
The official club website released a statement this evening confirming Boateng’s x-rays came back clear, so there are no fractures to his ribs, but the muscular problem on his torso is still causing a great deal of pain.
Ambrosini also underwent tests today and it’s discovered he dislocated his right shoulder during the game at the Nou Camp.
“His return to football is expected in three to four weeks, excluding complications.”
It’s a double blow considering Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also likely to be out of action after damaging his right thigh during training on Monday.
Robinho also missed the Barcelona game with a groin problem and remains in doubt along with Gennaro Gattuso.
Massimiliano Allegri thinks Milan could’ve won against Barcelona had they been sharper on the counter-attack after their amazing start.
“The team did very well at the start, then we got a bit too deep, mainly because of Barcelona’s pressure. We could’ve done better with some counters and keeping possession, but it wasn’t easy,” he said after the 2-2 draw.
“I don’t think we allowed Barca many chances and could’ve gone 2-0 up straight after the opener.”
Alexandre Pato scored after 24 seconds, making it the fifth fastest goal in Champions League history.
However, Barcelona fought back to lead 2-1 and had 70 per cent of the possession before Thiago Silva’s last-gasp header from a corner.
“The lads did well not to lose their heads after going behind and were rewarded for all the hard work and sacrifice they did over the 95 minutes,” continued Allegri.
“I didn’t expect this, as it’s not easy to come here and score twice. We all realised it was difficult and held firm, as Barcelona are capable of scoring three goals in five minutes.”
Antonio Cassano was quiet, while Kevin-Prince Boateng went off with a back injury during the first half.
“Cassano, like all the others, worked to help out the team. I was convinced he’d have a great game, otherwise I wouldn’t have fielded him. He did create an interesting opportunity, but four days after the high tempo game against Lazio, fatigue was always going to be an issue.”
Allegri argues his approach was not negative against the reigning European champions.
“We had two options, which was to push forward as quickly as possible, the other was not to give away silly fouls or let ourselves get taken on one-on-one. I think we did that pretty well and defended well around the box.
“At half-time I asked the lads to be sharper when we had the ball, which we did very well on the goal, but after a while we started giving away possession far too cheaply.”
Scorers: Pato 1 (M), Pedro 36 (B), Villa 50 (B), Thiago Silva 92 (M)
Alexandre Pato gave Milan the perfect start and Thiago Silva the ideal ending, as Milan drew 2-2 with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Adriano Galliani dubbed this 'The Derby of the World' between currently the best side on the planet and the club with the most international trophies in history. They hadn't crossed paths since the 2005-06 semi-final and their record was perfectly balanced at four wins each and three stalemates.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Philippe Mexes, Taye Taiwo, Mathieu Flamini and the suspended Gennaro Gattuso were unavailable, so Antonio Cassano started with Alexandre Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Barcelona's Carles Puyol was only fit for the bench and ex-Udinese star Alexis Sanchez sidelined, but Pep Guardiola opted for an all-attack formation with Pedro Rodriguez completing the trident. Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets formed an unusual central defensive partnership.
It took just 24 seconds for Milan to take advantage of this rather mismatched pairing, as Pato flicked it between them and burst forward with his notorious pace to coolly slot past the on-rushing Victor Valdes. It was the fifth fastest goal in Champions League history.
Barcelona kept possession in their usual style, as the visitors clearly focused on the counter-attack. A corner fell to David Villa at the back post, but he only hit the side-netting, while Pato was halted by a very tight offside decision when clear on goal again.
Christian Abbiati got down to beat Leo Messi's daisy-cutter round the post, but Pato drew away three defenders and rolled across to the unmarked Boateng, who blasted over. Seydou Keita then had to sprint back to intercept Pato again.
Messi curled a free kick over the wall and on to the top half of the near post at the 19th minute. Barcelona switched to three at the back to avoid the immense pressure they were under from Pato.
Villa volleyed over the bar and Abbiati parried from point-blank range as Dani Alves threaded through for Messi. Boateng had a back problem against Lazio on Friday that flared up again, so made way for Massimo Ambrosini. It pushed Clarence Seedorf into the trequartista role.
Alessandro Nesta was having a fantastic game and stood his ground to block Andres Iniesta's slalom in the box.
However, Barcelona did equalise when Messi drew three defenders to the by-line and somehow managed to squeeze a pass between them for the unmarked Pedro Rodriguez to tap in from three yards.
Iniesta also picked up an injury and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas. Dani Alves nutmegged Gianluca Zambrotta to release Messi, but the offside flag was raised. In first half stoppages a Thiago Silva error risked another counter, but Ignazio Abate stretched his neck for a decisive intercepting header.
After the restart Xavi's screamer stung Abbiati's palms for a corner. Sergio Busquets earned a very soft free kick for a nudge from Cassano, but with that set play David Villa curled a powerful right-foot strike into the near top corner to put Barcelona in front.
Nesta had to time his tackle perfectly to stop Messi's trademark run just as he was pulling the trigger from six yards. Urby Emanuelson replaced Cassano for a 4-4-1-1 system. Puyol made his comeback after knee surgery the day after the Champions League Final and Barcelona had 70 per cent of the possession.
Pato's weak header from a Seedorf corner kick was all the Rossoneri managed to create. Alberto Aquilani replaced Mark Van Bommel.
However, in stoppages Seedorf curled in a corner kick and Thiago Silva was far more reactive than those around him, soaring above a crowd of Barcelona players for a wonderful header.
Barcelona: Valdes; D Alves, Mascherano, Busquets, Abidal; Keita (Puyol 67), Xavi, Iniesta (Fabregas 39); Villa (Afellay 83), Messi, Pedro
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has rubbished speculation that the Rossoneri will only field one striker against Barcelona.
Given the absences of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Pippo Inzaghi, it was being suggested that the Italian champions would field a 4-3-2-1 system.
Galliani, however, has told Sky Sport Italia that such a formation doesn’t fit in with the philosophy of the San Siro giants.
“Our history is 4-3-1-2,” the official noted on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the Champions League clash.
“We’ve always played with two strikers and we’ll play in that way this evening. Therefore, Antonio Cassano will be on the pitch.”
The Italian will partner Alexandre Pato in attack, with Kevin Prince Boateng expected to create behind them.
Meanwhile, there is speculation that Ibra’s muscle injury could see him ruled out of action for the next month.
Sponsorship deal between Taçi Oil and AC Milan 13.9 ||webmaster
Milan, September 9th 2011 - Taçi Oil, the largest oil company in Albania, has signed an annual sponsorship deal with AC Milan for the 2011-2012 season as a premium sponsor.
Taçi Oil has had a close association with Milan for many years. Since 2008, it has been the main sponsor of Milan Junior Camp in Tirana, recognizing an opportunity to highlight its ability for growth and continuous improvement. To date, the event has involved about 1400 Albanian young players between 8 and 16 years, some of whom have had the unique opportunity of being welcomed into the great family at the annual Rossoneri Milan Junior Camp Day in Milan.
The combination of Taçi Oil and Milan has over the years led to the creation of numerous other initiatives, such as two friendly matches between the Rossoneri club in Albania, in 2008 and 2009 in Tirana where the likes of stars such as Maldini, Kaka and Beckham played. In addition, this year there has been an expansion of activities of the Milan Junior Camp in neighboring Kosovo and in the town of Pristina, in 2010 Taci Oil promoted the Tirana Park in Milan, an event dedicated to families that involved thousands of families for a whole weekend and the Milan School Cup, a tournament for schools in the capital.
The deal, which took place thanks to the help of Infront, official advisors who also aid the club in searching, choosing and managing sponsors, was signed this morning in Milan's headquarters in the trophy room by Adriano Galliani, vice president and managing director of Milan, Rezart Taçi, president of Taçi Oil and Marco Bogarelli, president of Infront Italy.
"The signing of the deal is only the natural evolution of a well established relationship between Taçi Oil and its president that has been ongoing for many years," said Adriano Galliani, vice president and managing director of Milan. "In what is a very particular moment for Italian football, champions of Italy Milan continue to be the most sought after club by other companies who are looking to expand their commercial options and give their name more visibility. The deal also highlights the excellent and very productive working relationship we have with our advisors, Infront, in terms of sponsors and they continue to be a vert strategic element in our partnership."
"We have followed Milan with satisfaction from the 2010-2011 season," said Marco Bogarelli, President of Infront Italy. "This new agreement, is the basis for solid and durable partnership and will allow the team to break into a new growth market such as Albania. Conversely sponsors will allow the company to benefit from the brand strength Milan as a means of international communication."
During the meeting, Rezart Taci said: "As well as thanking my friend Adriano Galliani for having invited me to this magnificent hall with all the trophies at their headquarters and Infront, headed by Marco Bogarelli, for giving me this opportunity, I would like to underline that it is a real honour for me personally and also for the Taci Group to be undertaking a new challenge in Italy along with AC Milan.
“AC Milan have always been a symbol of strength for my family and I, of determination and success, the same values with which I have based my professional career on. I love Italian football which I believe is still the best in the world. I hope, thus, that as well as bringing my group commercial success this deal will also represent the future when it comes to further international investments in the Italian game. Italy, in my opinion, is the most beautiful place in the world with infinite natural beauty and culture and from a personal point of view, aside from the bond I have with the club, I still prefer to bring my guests to Italy and to the San Siro than to England or Spain.”
Barcelona vs. AC Milan probable line-ups 13.9 ||webmaster
Kevin-Prince Boateng is confident Milan can make an impact against Barcelona. “Nobody is unbeatable. We need to stop the brain...”
Both teams drew 2-2 in their domestic games on Saturday evening, as Barça threw away a 2-0 lead against Real Sociedad, while the Rossoneri fought back from 2-0 down to hold Lazio.
They go head-to-head at the Nou Camp in the opening Champions League match on Tuesday night.
“If I thought we couldn’t win, then I wouldn’t be playing football. I dreamed of a game like this since I was a kid. Nobody is unbeatable,” smiled Boateng in the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We have to stay solid and united, because we’re on their turf and must defend well. In attack we have exceptional strikers and sooner or later we will score. I think it’ll end 1-1.
“If we don’t give Xavi and Andres Iniesta time to think, then it becomes very difficult for them to find the net. Those two are the right and left side of the Barcelona brain. Without the brain, teams cannot play.
“Who is Milan’s brain? Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zlatan drags us all forward and is very important for us.”
Boateng snapped at the Milan fans after Saturday night’s game, as San Siro was not sold out.
“In all honesty, I thought it would be full. We’re champions of Italy, it was Friday night and the game was interesting. I was quite surprised, as the fans are the most important component in football. If I’m tired, then I keep pushing for them.
“Some fans weren’t happy with the transfer campaign, but we can’t buy an Ibrahimovic every summer. When I arrived last year, nobody knew who I was, but I proved myself. We don’t need more stars, but rather people who help the squad and in that sense the club had an intelligent approach.”
Sanchez out of Barcelona - AC Milan 11.9 ||webmaster
Fiorentina patron Andrea Della Valle has warned Riccardo Montolivo, “I need a yes or no answer.”
The former captain’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has repeatedly rejected a renewal, but negotiations have resumed.
“I will talk to him today and it’s necessary we have absolute clarity,” explained Della Valle.
“I need a yes or no answer. I know he wants to renew, so we’ll talk it over and in the next few days you’ll know more.”
There was also controversy around Alberto Gilardino, who complained at the ‘silence’ from the club over his future during the transfer session.
“That is all over and done with. This is an important season for Gilardino and he’ll want to do well in the lead-up to the European Championship. He had a few problems last year, but will return to being the great striker we knew.
“Now we have a competitive squad and Fiorentina must entertain us, which they didn’t do last season.”
Ancelotti tips AC Milan for the title 10.9 ||webmaster
Carlo Ancelotti tips Milan to retain their Scudetto and reveals what he’ll be doing while he waits “for a call from the Premier League.”
The former Chelsea and Rossoneri manager is now working as a television pundit for Sky Sport Italia after his dismissal from Stamford Bridge.
“It’s only right to have a break after 13 years of working continuously,” he told Tuttosport newspaper.
“This will also give me an opportunity to get up to date and study the various different Leagues. If I was to return to work, I’d prefer to wait for a call from the Premier League. In the meantime I want to enjoy this new experience as a pundit.”
Ancelotti started by casting his eye over the campaign ahead and tips his former club to take the title.
“I think Milan are still the favourites for the Scudetto. When you win, it brings a special enthusiasm to the locker room.
“I’d say Milan are a step above the rest, who in this order are Roma, Juventus, Napoli, Lazio and Inter.”
Juventus inaugurated their new stadium this week, the first club-owned arena in Serie A.
“It is a masterpiece and I’d love it to act as an example for other clubs. Being on the bench surrounded by your fans is a wonderful thing and ought to be the norm.”
Ancelotti had also been one of the main contenders for the Roma bench before it was handed to Luis Enrique, who has been having problems with Francesco Totti.
“Francesco remains the undisputed symbol of Roma.”
Ibrahimovic: 'If we play like this in Barcelona...' 10.9 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri admits Milan “could’ve done better” in their 2-2 draw with Lazio, but put it down to a lack of preparation time.
The Rossoneri scrambled back from 2-0 down after 22 minutes on home turf in their Serie A opener.
“We hadn’t played together in a long while, as the internationals had only just returned, so the squad only managed to prepare for this game yesterday,” explained the Coach.
“For example, Mark Van Bommel is no longer a young man and only came back from international duty on Wednesday, but he had a good performance. I am also happy with Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Nocerino.
“We could’ve done better, but we reacted and in the second half created many chances. We won the ball back often, but also allowed too many counter-attacks. Lazio caused us problems and are very strong in attack.
“The fact remains it’s no good for us to take such long breaks. We will soon get back in shape.”
Milan have a race against time to do that, as on Tuesday they travel to Barcelona for the Champions League opener.
“As we saw tonight and from pre-season matches, we’ve got to improve and rediscover the defensive solidity we had last year,” continued Allegri.
There were injury scares for Kevin-Prince Boateng when he landed awkwardly on his shoulder, while Gennaro Gattuso was taken to hospital after a knock to the eye.
“Boateng is fine and Gattuso is undergoing tests.”
It’s reported Gattuso had problems with his eyesight even before kick-off, so the knock in a collision with Alessandro Nesta prompted his early substitution.
Serie A: AC Milan 2:2 Lazio - match report 9.9 ||webmaster
Antonio Cassano's Milan came back from 2-0 down in a spectacular draw after Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse' scored on Lazio debuts.
The Serie A season kicked off at San Siro with the reigning champions beginning the defence of their title against a Lazio side who pushed hard for Champions League football last term.
Robinho, Clarence Seedorf and Gianluca Zambrotta were not risked ahead of the trip to Barcelona, so with Philippe Mexes, Taye Taiwo and Mathieu Flamini sidelined, Alberto Aquilani made his first appearance in a Milan jersey. Lazio lost Lorik Cana, Stefan Radu, Giuseppe Sculli, Marius Stankevicius and the suspended Federico Marchetti. Djibril Cisse' and Miroslav Klose got their Serie A debuts, while goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri had his first League game in two and a half years.
Lazio last conquered San Siro in Serie A with a 1-0 result on September 3, 1989. That was followed by 13 defeats and eight draws, but they were also unbeaten here since September 2008.
Aquilani should've given Milan the lead after seven minutes when a wonderful Ibra through ball released him clear on goal, but he hesitated and fired straight at the goalkeeper from six yards. Moments later, Stefano Mauri flashed a ball across the face of goal, but Klose couldn't quite make contact at full stretch.
Lazio broke the deadlock with Klose taking under 12 minutes to mark his Serie A debut. It was a well-worked move, as Klose hooked a Mauri ball past Alessandro Nesta with his right foot to fire low from nine yards with his left. However, there were some doubts over a handling offence.
It was so nearly 2-0, as Cisse' pounced on a defensive error when Nesta crashed into Gennaro Gattuso, but Christian Abbiati beat the shot away and Klose fired wide under pressure. Gattuso picked up an eye injury during that incident and had to make way for the not 100 per cent fit Mark Van Bommel.
Lazio did double their lead with another goal from their debutant strikers. Cisse' powered in the header between defenders to put Mauri's cross into the near top corner. Abbiati was rooted to the spot.
Milan got themselves back into the game when Cassano sprung the offside trap from an Aquilani ball over the top and rolled it back into the middle for Ibra's easiest of tap-ins.
Kevin-Prince Boateng unleashed a snapshot that Bizzarri just about turned round the near post. However, from the corner Cassano got a glancing header that squirmed past the goalkeeper at the back stick to equalise.
Lazio should've been back in front when Abdoulay Konko burst down the right, but his pull-back for an unmarked Hernanes was somehow scuffed wide!
Right after the restart, a Cassano solo effort saw his angled drive flash inches past the base of the far post. Boateng then just missed with a diving header, but landed awkwardly and was able to continue after treatment to his shoulder.
Milan were now dominating and Cassano almost scored a sensational goal. He chested down Ibra's chipped pass and smacked a shot against the base of the near post. Moments later Cassano turned provider for Boateng, his volley stinging Bizzarri's palms as it headed towards the top corner.
However, there was a huge scare when Abbiati rushed off his line and missed the ball, but Nesta stuck to Cisse' like glue to acrobatically block the finish in front of an open goal.
Klose was getting tired and made way for Alejandro Gonzalez, while Antonio Nocerino made his Milan debut in place of Aquilani. Alexandre Pato was also thrown on as the Rossoneri pushed to win in the final stages. Senad Lulic made his Serie A bow, but Mauri was booked for taking too long to leave the field.
Bizzarri plucked an Ignazio Abate cross off the feet of Ibrahimovic, then Lulic desperately anticipated Cassano on the counter. Cassano theaded through to release Ibrahimovic, but Bizzarri got down to beat away the angled drive.
In stoppages Pato fired over the bar from a very promising position and wasted Milan's opportunity to win. Ibrahimovic then stumbled over a combination of the ball and Luciano Zauri when Giuseppe Biava made a mistake in the offside trap.
There was controversy at the 95th minute of stoppages when Milan were awarded a corner, but the referee called a halt to the game before it could be taken.
Gennaro Gattuso would prefer to target more Scudetti with Milan than the Champions League, but first expects a tough Lazio test.
The Rossoneri begin the defence of their title with the Serie A season opener on Friday evening.
“Lazio are a side who will make everyone suffer this season. We face this match with great respect, without thinking about the tour de force that follows,” he told Sportitalia.
The game is played on Friday so that Milan can better prepare for Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Barcelona.
“I remember so well that night when Milan beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Nou Camp in 2000,” grinned the midfielder.
“I was on the field, but just 24 hours earlier we’d lost to Spain in the Sydney Olympics. We took the plane four hours after that match to go straight to Spain and at the end of the match I was shattered.
“Obviously, this is a totally different team, as we know we’re facing the strongest side in the world who have played the best football of recent years. It’s very difficult to beat Barcelona, but you can do anything in life with a bit of luck.”
Milan won the Scudetto after a seven-year wait, but Gattuso would still prefer to keep focusing on domestic titles rather than go for the Champions League.
They currently have 18 Scudetti, so two more will give them the second permanent star on their shirts.
“Without doubt the second star would be more impressive to me and there’s great pride in carrying that on your jersey.”
Luciano Moggi has tipped Milan to retain their Scudetto and Juventus to surprise, but “Inter are selling up shop now Massimo Moratti’s in charge.”
The former Juve director general at the centre of the Calciopoli scandal is now a pundit and spoke to Radio Manà Manà about the new campaign.
“Milan are light years ahead of the others,” said Moggi. “However, I have doubts Inter can do well now that Moratti’s back in charge and taking care of business hands-on.
“The Nerazzurri President has started selling up shop rather than making intelligent sales and he’s signing poor replacements. I don’t think they are competitive.
“Milan worked very well on the transfer market. The Antonio Nocerino deal to replace the injured Mathieu Flamini proves there is logic behind the way this team has been assembled.
“Napoli also did a good job, strengthening in defence with Miguel Angel Britos, then midfield thanks to Blerim Dzemaili and Gokhan Inler. Above all, they have left the skeleton of the side intact from last season.”
Lazio and Juventus have bought some big names over the summer and revolutionised their squads.
“I think those two will fight for fourth place.”
Nocerino to prove worth at AC Milan 7.9 ||webmaster
Diego Forlan and Antonio Nocerino both played in the Europa League preliminary round, but only one can feature in the Champions League at San Siro.
Inter were stunned to discover today that Forlan cannot be used in the Champions League until January.
This is because he played in the Europa League third preliminary round with Atletico Madrid.
However, Milan signing Nocerino also played in the same round, but is available for European competition straight away.
The reason for the discrepancy is that Palermo were eliminated in the third round, whereas Atletico Madrid went through to the Europa League proper.
“As a rule, a player may not play in a UEFA club competition for more than one club in the course of the same season,” reads the UEFA rule book.
“Exceptionally, however, a player who has been fielded in the first, second or third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League is entitled to play in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League for another club as from the group stage, provided that his former club did not qualify for the group stage of either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League.”
The mistake Inter made was not reading the rules properly, as they didn’t realise Atletico Madrid’s qualification – even without Forlan taking part in the final play-off round – automatically cup-tied him.
To make matters worse, the Nerazzurri only realised this after they had handed in the UEFA list, so players like Luc Castaignos and Andrea Poli are left off while Forlan is included despite being ineligible.