The two suspensions Ibrahimovic has recently received from the FIGC may have ruined everything Ibra did this season with Milan, but one must admit that once this guy was signed Milan suddenly became title contenders. His amazing solo displays in the first half of the season were more than enough to put Milan on top. He has been fundamental to Milan’s Scudetto winning season, and it’s his 8th consecutive league (Dutch – Italian – Spanish) title in a row. Not a coincidence at all.
2. AC Milan vs. Real Madrid
I know Real Madrid isn’t a Serie A team, but Milan’s match against them at San Siro was the start of a great season for Ignazio Abate. Many Milan supporters were upset that the fullback positions, which are pretty weak compared to the CBs Milan have, weren’t reinforced with better quality players. But, in the game against Real Madrid, Abate put an amazing performance (when compared to the performances he put before) to stop Cristiano Ronaldo (with the help of Gennaro Gattuso) and he never stopped improving from that game on. Soon, Milan had the formidable defense that won us the title.
3. Milan 3 – 1 Palermo (Round 11)
It was in this match that Milan clinched the very important 3 points to go on and top the league table. Allegri knew the importance of that match, claiming in his pre-match conference that it was Milan’s most important match of the season, and so it proved to be. The only downside of that match was the injury of Inzaghi ( who might feature in Milan’s next 2 Serie A matches) and the injury of Pato just before the derby.
4. Milan 3 – 0 Napoli (Round 27)
Milan were facing one of their competitors for the title and knew that it was bound to be a tough match. Yet, despite the great team Mazzari has made Napoli into, Milan’s Trio (Ibra, Boateng, Pato) proved to be too good for Napoli’s defense as they scored one each. This win gave Milan the confidence and the lead needed to eventually win the Scudetto.
5. Milan 3 – 0 Inter (Round 32)
Pre-match, no one thought that Milan would have it as easy as they did against their arch rivals. Everyone expected a very tough encounter (with the absence of Ibrahimovic), but a very very early Pato goal gave Milan the boost to maintain their lead, control the game, and eventually score two more to leave Inter happy they didn’t concede more.
A Journey Through Calciopoli Outside The Regular Walls
Calciopoli was an Italian football scandal that involved some of Italy’s elite football clubs. The scandal erupted when a few telephone interceptions showed a relationship between team managers and referees. The teams were accused of manipulating games by selecting favorable referees. As a result of these accusations trials took place and each of the teams involved were punished. Juventus were relegated to Serie B, were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles. They also had 9 points deducted. (they started in Serie B with a point tally of -9 and not 0). AC Milan had 8 points deducted from their 2006/2007 Serie A season. They also had 30 points deducted off their 2005/2006 Serie A campaign but still managed to make it to the Champions League. Fiorentina, another team that was punished, had 15 points deducted from their 2006/2007 Serie A campaign and were out of the Champions League. Lazio and Reggina had point deductions as well. As a result of the punishments, Internazionale Milan was awarded the 2005/2006 Italian Serie A trophy.
Perfect picture, eh? No. There’s much more about Calciopoli than the above would suggest. From illegal activities that lead to the discovery of some shady phone calls to the appointment of pro-Inter people in organizations related to Italian football, to the fact that Inter eventually turned out to be the only party that benefited from the scandal raises questions that SHOULD be highlighted and answer. We’ve decided to take the time and let you know what has been forgotten or what was meant to be buried with time.
Inter – Only Team To Benefit From Calciopoli
Anyone who watches series like C.S.I would know that the number one suspect of a certain crime would be the one with the biggest motive and evidence that connects him to the murder. Well, it’s sort of the same story. Who had the biggest motive to destroy Juventus and AC Milan? I’ll let you come with the answer yourself. Why would Inter want to destroy Juve and Milan? Well, the only way to make it back to domestic success would be with the top 2 teams out of sight. Before Calciopoli, Inter Milan hadn’t won the Scudetto since the 1988-1989 Serie A season. During that period, Juventus and Milan dominated Serie A. Both teams had won a combined 11 Serie A titles since Inter’s last. These facts clearly show that Inter were a relatively “weaker” team than AC Milan and Juventus in Serie A. That was of course before Calciopoli. Now if one takes a look at the titles won by Inter after Calciopoli, the record is crazy. Inter won 5 consecutive Serie A titles, with no real competition in 3 or 4 of them. Inter also went on to become a team that attracted a lot of great players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was vital for most of these 5 titles. Coincidence? Don’t think so, but that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Please, continue reading.
Telecom Italia – FIGC – Gazzetta Della Sport – Moratti
Putting the “Inter benefited the most” argument aside, one must take a look at the parties involved in the “development” of the Calciopoli case. How were they connected? Was Inter again involved in a rather sarcastic way? Sarcastic it is, as conflict of interest doesn’t come out of nowhere.
First Party: Gazzetta Della Sport
Gazzetta Della Sport is an Italian sports newspaper that is known by the name “ Gazztta Dell’ Inter” by rival fans. The newspaper is owned by Carlo Buaro, vice president of Inter and a self-proclaimed Interista. How is the newspaper related to Calciopoli? It all started when the newspaper itself performed an ILLEGAL ACTIVITY and published transcripts of Luciano Moggi’s telephone conversations. Those transcripts however didn’t make their way to any incriminating party involved. However, Gazzetta Della Sport’s involvement doesn’t stop there. The media frenzy that resulted from these transcripts forced FIGC (the Italian football federation) to open an investigation.
Second Party: FIGC
Before Calciopoli evolved, Adriano Galliani was the president of FIGC. Due to the scandal, Galliani was forced to resign from that job since AC Milan were one of the clubs accused of involvement in a certain type of cheating (“certain type” will be discussed further on in the research). His resigning from the presidency of the FIGC was no controversy but actually a step forward toward “a better trial”; or at least one would have hoped so. The person that was appointed to replace Galliani was Guido Rossi. He was a director at Internazionale Milan from 1995 to 1999. He is also a self-proclaimed Inter fan, a shareholder in the club, and a friend of Massimo Moratti. As part of his first assignment Rossi would be in charge of Calciopoli. Interesting, eh? Well, here’s another interesting thought: Guido Rossi handed the 2005/2006 Serie A title to Inter after Juventus were relegated. His relationship to the case doesn’t stop there. He later on resigned from his position as president of FIGC and became president of TIM (Telecom Italia).
Third Party : Telecom Italia (TIM)
Telecom Italia (TIM) was the company that recorded the conversations that lead to the scandal. That doesn’t mean that Inter were part of all this or even that Telecom Italia “purposely” involved themselves indirectly in the case. However, the following issue does raise some suspicions. On the board of TIM were both Massimo Moratti and Carlo Buora. The connections between the many parties involved in Italian football and Calciopoli don’t end there. Inter’s second largest shareholder after Moratti, Mario Provera, is the owner of Pirelli, which owned TIM at the time and is the official shirt sponsor of Inter Milan. So in a nutshell, all parties involved were connected in every possible way.
Calciopoli: The Trial
This “circus” doesn’t stop there. What was Milan and Juventus REALLY accused of? Well, in a nutshell, “having an exclusive relationship with the referee designators”. That relationship itself was seen to have given both teams an advantage. Milan were accused of having that relationship with referee designator Pairetto. Meanwhile, Juventus were accused of having that same relationship with another referee designator, Bergamo. The teams violated a rather minor infraction – unsportsmanlike conduct. One can say that both teams deserved to be punished. But what was the punishment for such violation? A fine. The punishment never exceeded that. How did it reach titles stripping and point deductions? Well, our friend Guido Rossi comes up again. He decided to make “contacting a referee designator” an infringement (wasn’t against any rules before that). He managed to group all the calls together and sprinkle a little magic, “enough” to accuse the clubs of “match-fixing” when there’s no evidence whatsoever of that. So basically he grouped a series of minor infractions to create a rather major one.
During trial, 171000 phone calls “magically” missed from the court documents and were not taken into consideration when Juventus, Milan and the rest of the teams were punished. The calls that were taken into consideration were the ones that seemed “perfect” enough to incriminate the clubs and parties punished. What about the rest of the phone calls? Couldn’t these phone calls have helped brighten Juve and Milan’s picture? Or even accuse a certain club of cheating? Say, Inter Milan? Some of the phone calls eventually came out and the Inter presidents were overheard speaking to referee designators.
Either Punish All, Or Punish No One
The facts stated show that Calciopoli may as well have been invented by Inter to incriminate other teams. If Juventus did wrong by having an exclusive relationship with the referees then why were all phone calls involving Inter ignored? Moggi himself said it: either all should be punished – or none. And since many were, then Inter should have as well. They should be punished upon the same standards that Juve were punished on.
Top meets bottom in what is supposed to be a must win encounter for us.
AC Milan host Bari in San Siro on Sunday lunchtime knowing that a win would put them seven points ahead of Inter just one matchday (away vs. Palermo) before the big derby. What is supposed to be an easy encounter on paper might prove a tough test for Allegri’s side. Bari’s last visit to San Siro (in 2009) saw out a goalless draw between both sides. One must admit though that time (transfers actually) affected the soon to be Serie B side greatly.
The midweek fixture against Tottenham in the Champions League saw Milan exit from European competition and now have only the Serie A and the Italian Cup to focus on, which might prove to be a blessing in disguise. Milan will also be glad that Clarence Seedorf, who had a series of less than average performances this season, displayed a very impressive one against Spurs, one that suits his reputation. Antonini also got some playing time against Tottenham and might get the nod from Allegri today in order to regain lost fitness. Another alternative would be to put Emanuelson at LB to see if he can handle that position. Merkel featured as well against the English side and might feature in the starting eleven. Boateng was not summoned by Allegri for this match after he felt some ankle pain against Tottenham.
We must go all out attack from the first minute against Bari trying to score a goal so we won’t chase one for 90 minutes. The win would mean a lot as it would bring us one step closer to the Scudetto and one step farther from our nearest chasers, Inter (this could change if Napoli win against Parma on Sunday). Bari, on the other hand, have the slightest of hope for staying in Serie A and many argue that it’s only a matter of time before they are mathematically relegated. Even a win at San Siro would not do them much good, but it surely wouldn’t hurt. Basically, Bari has nothing to lose with their fate very close to be sealed, so they might prove a tricky obstacle to overcome.
Milan still has to do without Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini, Boateng and Inzaghi, all injured.
It’s quite clear that the Milan of Serie A is not the Milan of the Champions league. The fact that Van Bommel, Cassano and Urby cannot play is really what is causing this huge gap. This doesn’t mean that Milan should go to White Hart Lane just to play a decent game and get out of the Champions League this season with the least of embarrassments. Serie A might be a much more realistic goal for Milan, but Milan was never about reality. 1994 saw Milan thrash Barcelona’s wonder team. Just four years ago, Milan managed to overcome Bayern Munchen and Manchester United in impressive fashion despite the obstacles the first leg gave in both encounters. It’s a Milan mentality. Even if players like Robinho, Pato, Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Abate aren’t accustomed to seeing Milan do this, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t inherited this mentality from a fellow champion. It’s these kind of things that one learns between the walls in Milanello and from the old guards in the team. There’s a reason why the likes of Seedorf are still on the Milan roster and it’s not all about loyalty.
Many may argue the thought but this is one of Milan’s toughest games if not the toughest. They are traveling to a ground that has caused troubles for Inter Milan and pretty much most English teams; that and the fact that Tottenham have an away goal in their hand. It promises that it’s going to be a tough encounter, a close-to-impossible one as well, but the players have shown that they are going for a win, and they believe in their abilities.
Milan were boosted with the news that Boateng, injured in Milan’s match against Juventus, might be able to start (or play) the game against Spurs. At back, Antonini and Zambrotta will be back but it is expected that Jankulovski will play due to his impressive recent performances and the fact that he’s physically more ready than the previously injured duo. Tottenham on the other hand will most probably have Bale (possible start from the bench) and even Van Der Vaart back, which will give them a relief from an offensive point of view. Milan though will have to do without Pirlo and Ambrosini which are injured and Gattuso which is suspended.
What Milan really need in this game is patience. Its one thing Allegri has pleaded for in most of Milan’s games and boy do they need that on Wednesday night! The Rosseneri can’t afford to do what they did in San Siro again, as this time one mistake will immediately knock Milan out of the Champions League. Milan are only one goal behind, one very precious yet small deficit. Il Diavalo lost their first encounter due to the loss of that patience itself. They all drove forward when they really didn’t need to leaving the field craving for Lennon to take Yepes on. That mistake is what caused the difference. Milan can’t afford to do that again. They need to be very patient. The goals will eventually come. They always came this season, one way or another, and it’s bound to happen if you have players like Ibrahimovic, Pato, and Robinho in front. Milan will be waiting for just one Tottenham mistake, forced or unforced, to take advantage.
Yet, this is all talk. Every single Milan player out there must give it his all. Not just that, as giving one’s all isn’t enough, they all need to perform amazingly as well. Ibrahimovic will have the motive of silencing his critics if he manages to lead Milan to victory. Flamini will need to prove he’s not the animal the English media made him look like and he’s out there to prove why he was once considered one of the best DMs in the Premier League. But, it’s not only about the individual motives. EVERY SINGLE player in the Milan squad will go out there and avenge for Gennaro Gattuso – the player that had to hear the nonsense of the biased and short sighted media all over the world. The players will fight for their fellow brother and their leader on the pitch.
A quote from 300 pretty much sums what Milan need to do: “Give them nothing, but take from them everything”. Be aware White Hart Lane, Il Diavalo ranks are coming to make your land a graveyard of your very own soldiers.
Tottenham : Gomez, Hutton , Dawson , Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Jenas, Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart and Crouch.
Milan : Abbiati , Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski, Flamini , Seedorf, Boateng, Robinho, Pato and Ibrahimovic
Newspapers have run out of ink. Television channels have basically no free time to fit any new shows. Why so? The glamorous football teams and their highly paid first team players have stolen the attention of everyone around the world. In the light of that, has anyone wondered what happens next to that spotlight? What about those who contribute to the development of the team one way or another? The medical staff helps the team on a health perspective. The sub-coaches help the players develop their skills and improve their game. But wait, what about those who are supposed to inherit the positions of players such as Alessandro Nesta? Gennaro Gattuso? Massimo Ambrosini? How much do the Milan fans around the world actually know about the youth teams of their favorite team? How many youth teams are there? What are the rules that are applied in their respective leagues? How many times have these youngsters held the trophies in their hands at the end of each season?
The Youth Teams
AC Milan has 11 different youth teams, each for different age groups. Primavera (see below for detailed information about the team) is the highest age group of all being the Under-20 team. It is followed by Beretti (Under-18), Allievi Nazionali (Under-17), Allievi Regionali (Under – 16) and Giovanissimi Nazionali (Under-15). There is also the Giovanissimi Regionali A (Under-14), Giovanissimi Regionali B (Under-13), Esordienti 1999 (U-12), Esordienti 2000(U-11), Pulcini 2001(U-10), and last but not least Pulcini 2002 (U – 9).
Every youth team in these groups has its own head coach, assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach (few of those teams have similar coaches).
All the youth teams, with the exception of the Primavera, train in the Vismara Sporting Center located in the southern part of Milan. This sporting center has 7 fields covering 57 acres. The Primavera however trains at Milanello (like the first team).
The latest honor the youth teams accomplished (bar Primavera) was the 2008/2009 Scudetto the Beretti won.
The Primavera League
Before we go through the AC Milan Primavera in details, one must understand the league in which the Primavera play, its structure and rules as it is a tad different than anything we are familiar with and you will see why in a minute.
Campionato Primavera TIM is for the Primavera what Lega Calcio is for Serie A teams. The name “Giacinto Fachetti” (former Inter Milan captain and chairman) is attached to the league name as a memory of the Inter Milan legend. The league has the Primavera teams of all Serie A and Serie B clubs adding to a total of 42 clubs. These 42 clubs are divided into three groups (14 teams in each group). The 14 teams in each group face each other in a home-away basis similar to that of the Serie A. This first stage is called the play-offs. The top 5 teams in each group qualify to the next round alongside the best 6th team of the 3 groups, making a total of 16 teams in the next round (final round of qualification). The top teams in their respective groups, alongside the 2nd best teams of the three groups and the two of the third best teams of the three groups (example Milan – Inter – Juventus all ended third in their respective groups. Two of those will be taken judging from the points earned, goals scored, goal difference, etc.) will be put in one “bowl” where as the other 8 qualified teams will be put in another. One team from each bowl faces the other, but the teams that will face off in this round should have qualified from different groups (similar to the system applied by UEFA for the European Champions League). The home-away system is applied here as well. Then there is the final phase. The final phase is made up of quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. Only one match (per 2 teams) is played in each of these 3 final rounds. If the first teams in the first rounds and the second teams are still in the competition they would be considered as the “seeded” teams and thus cannot meet each other in the following rounds. The seeded teams and the rest of the teams are coupled together by means of a random draw (the matches of the semi-finals would be drawn as well). Additional time and then penalties are the solution if any match ends in a draw. The winner of the last match will win the Campionato Primavera TIM.
Now that you have got hold of how the Primavera league works, let’s continue. All players that participate in this tournament must be Under-20, but two players above that age are allowed to play in the elimination rounds.
The AC Milan Primavera hasn’t been the most glamorous side when it comes to trophies. Fact remains, the it has only managed ONE Scudetto since 1965 (just 3 years after the tournament started). They have also managed to win the Coppa Italia Primavera 2 times, the last being last season. Torneo di Viareggio was won by the Primavera a whooping 8 times. The numbers though tell just a small portion of the story. Some of Milan’s greatest players have came out through the ranks of the Milan youth and played with the Milan Primavera. The most notable names are Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Allesandro Costacurta and Demetrio Albertini. All four players have helped made Milan the great team it is. Both Maldini and Baresi are considered two of the best defensive players (LB – CB respectively) that have ever played the game. Costacurta comes close to these two as well.
At the moment, the Primavera is being coached by Giovanni Stroppa, with Filippo Galli as director of the Youth system. Franco Baresi, Capello, and Galli himself have all coached the Primavera at one point in their lives.
A Fan’s Perspective
It’s clear that as of lately, the AC Milan management has shown great interest in these youth teams and dedicated a huge sum of money in order to buy potential world class players for the future. This might have to do with the fact that football has become a business and the only way Milan can continue challenging and not spending huge sums is by applying that very philosophy. I personally have found great interest following the youth team’s results whether they were bad or impressive. The thing is that results aren’t what really matters in these young ranks; what really matters is the development of the players. It may take a coach a lot to find the right position for each player to fulfill his potential and exceed it. That coach might have to handle players that have the talent but aren’t willing to take it to the next step. Some players just need a little more attention than others; after all these are very young human beings. That being said and all, one can’t expect to have 11 starting players from the Primavera come into the first squad and be world class players. Milan would be rather lucky if they had 2 world class players from these squads, but these two can prove very vital. Why so? They basically came from the Milan ranks and thus they know the atmosphere and everything in Milan. They’d have that “Milan spark” in them which money can’t buy. You need a “Zlatan” in your team, a “Ronaldinho” as well, but without a “Maldini” you can’t really dominate. The key to Milan’s success has always been the combination of both. That just highlights the importance of having these youth teams and concentrating on injecting everyone’s efforts into bringing the best out of the kids in the teams.
The interest Galliani showed towards this section has already produced some impressive results. Rodney Strasser and Alexander Merkel are both Primavera products and have stepped into the Milan starting eleven on few occasions, but have impressed. Even at their young age and the fact that they came into the team with a lot of pressure on their shoulders to impress, they managed to do just that and even more. Now, what needs to happen is for Allegri to give these youngsters chances even if they commit errors – its part of maturing as a football player and a human being as well.
There’s something about following these youngsters that really injects into me the energy to follow them even more. I knew Merkel before most Milan fans out there. Watching him play in the Fly Emirates thrilled me. For some weird reason, it felt like I had scouted that player (and all the Primavera players that participated). I suggest you follow them too; even if it’s just through the results and blogs, it’s worth it. These guys might be the next “Maldini”, “Ambrosini”, “Inzaghi”, etc. These guys, as well, hold the future of Milan in their hands. You may say I’m overreacting, but I’m not. If/When the UEFA financial regulations come into play, then Milan need to count on these players as much as possible. It frightens me to think that a team as great as Milan is going to rely a lot on this youth sector (that hasn’t produced much great players, but when it has it did it in style), but it also brings a certain sense of excitement. It might be tomorrow, after a month, a year or two, or even more than that that the Primavera produces yet another great player. Here’s hoping that the likes of Calvano, Fossati, Rodrigo Ely, Beretta, Albertazzi, Cristante Bryan and other young lads will lead our beloved Milan into more eras of success.
Note: Information from Wikipedia, The AC Milan Official site & Lega Calcio was used in building this article.