Humbled AC Milan turns focus back to Serie A

AC Milan insists that its humbling 4-0 loss to Manchester United
won’t affect its performance in Serie A, where it has moved within
four points of leader Inter Milan.

The shutout in England that ousted Milan from the Champions
League was Milan’s worst performance in Europe in six years, since
getting beat 4-0 by Deportivo La Coruna in the 2004 quarterfinals.

Milan president and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi
reportedly shut off his TV after Wayne Rooney put United ahead with
his second goal a minute into the second half.

The Gazzetta dello Sport’s front-page headline Thursday read,
“Once upon a time there was Milan.”

Milan’s next game is against mid-table Chievo Verona on
Sunday.

“The defeat will not have repercussions on the league,” Milan
coach Leonardo said. “There are 11 games remaining and we’ve got to
stay focused on those.”

However, Milan has injury worries after key defender
Alessandro Nesta was ruled out from playing the United game shortly
before kickoff due to a right knee problem that could be another
serious blow to Nesta’s injury-riddled career.

Nesta’s replacement, Daniele Bonera, injured his calf and was
removed at halftime, prompting Leonardo to move Massimo Ambrosini
back from midfield to defense. Striker Alexandre Pato also did not
play in Manchester but is nearly ready to return from a hamstring
injury.

Inter visits Catania on Friday ahead of its return-leg
Champions League game with Chelsea on Tuesday.

With Walter Samuel suspended, Marco Materazzi could return in
defense alongside Lucio, with Ivan Cordoba an option at left back.
Midfielder Esteban Cambiasso is also set to return after a two-game
ban.

Catania is coached by Sinisa Mihajlovic, the former Inter
player and assistant coach.

Mihajlovic said he has been bombarded by so many text
messages from his former teammates and players this week that he
has turned his phone off.

“I’ll turn it back on after the game,” Mihajlovic said.

Third-place AS Roma, which trails Inter by seven points,
visits struggling Livorno, while fourth-place Palermo is at
Udinese.

Juventus, which trails Palermo by two points in the hunt for
the last Champions League spot, faced Fulham in the Europa League
on Thursday before hosting last-place Siena on Sunday.

Juve edged Fiorentina 2-1 last weekend and the Tuscan club
was ousted from the Champions League on Tuesday by Bayern Munich on
away goals.

Fiorentina is still fuming over a first-leg goal from
Miroslav Klose that appeared to be offside. Tied for 10th with Bari
and Chievo, Fiorentina’s chances of making it back into the
Champions League next season are slim.

The Viola visit Napoli on Saturday.

Also this weekend, it’s: Bologna vs. Sampdoria; Genoa vs.
Cagliari; Lazio vs. Bari; and Parma vs. Atalanta.