Ac Milan

World Football Challenge Tonight, 8, M&t Bank Stadium, Tv: Espn

July 24, 2009|By Gabriella LaVerghetta

History

AC Milan was founded by British expatriates in 1899. Historically, it has been embraced by the city's working class. Some Milan greats include players Gianni Rivera and Marco van Basten, and now-Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Milan's nickname is the Rossoneri, which is roughly translated as red-black, a reference to the team's home jersey. It has won the UEFA Champions League seven times, second only to Italian rival Juventus. Upon winning the European Super Cup in 2007, Milan claimed the title of "most successful club in the world" with 17 international trophies.

In 2006, Milan was accused along with four other Serie A teams of fixing its matches by choosing favorable referees. As punishment, the team had 15 points deducted and was removed from the Champions League. After an appeal, the point deduction was reduced to eight and Milan was allowed back into the league.

League

Last season, AC Milan finished third in Italy's Serie A league with a record of 22-8-8.

Coach and key players

Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo, known simply as Leonardo, faces a rebuilding year with a team that lost its coach and two key players.

Even before coaching his first game, Leonardo was beloved by the Rossoneri faithful. He played for Milan for five years and won a league title with the team in the 1998-99 season.

Dida: Although he has never established himself as Milan's first choice in the net, the 6-foot-4 Brazilian goalkeeper might well find himself in that position because of the injury to Christian Abbiati. Dida, 36, plays for his national team and excels at blocking penalty kicks. Dida has developed a rocky relationship with Milan's fans. He is notorious for an incident in which he appeared to fake an injury after an opposing team's fan ran onto the field and smacked him.

Oguchi Onyewu: Raised in Silver Spring and Olney, the 6-foot-4 defender was acquired this month. Noted for his strength and size, Onyewu, 27, could help fill the hole left by 23-year Rossoneri veteran Paolo Maldini, who retired last season.

Andrea Pirlo: Pirlo, a 5-foot-9 midfielder, is a home-crowd favorite who also plays for the Italian national team. Rumors have been swirling this transfer season that Pirlo, 30, is destined to depart for Chelsea to reunite with Ancelloti, but if he sticks around Pirlo will be essential to Milan's offense.

Ronaldinho: The 5-foot-11 forward struggled last season in the shadow of fellow Brazilian Ricardo Kaka. But with Kaka's departure for Real Madrid, two-time World Player of the Year Ronaldinho, 29, promised AC Milan fans he will have a "great year" for the club. Often compared to the great Pele, Ronaldinho won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. He has a flair for attacking the net and often wows fans with spectacular, acrobatic goals.

Playing in the U.S.

In its first match of the World Football Challenge, AC Milan fell to Club America, 2-1, on Wednesday night in Atlanta. Mexico-based Club America struck first, but Milan forward Filippo Inzaghi sneaked one past goalkeeper Armando Navarrete and evened the score at 1. Club America took the lead for good when forward Daniel Marquez headed in a goal in the 84th minute.

Did you know?

* Milan's colors, red and black - or rossonero in Italian - have given the club the nickname of "the devil."

* The team's owner and president is Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

* The club's all-time leading goal scorer is Gunnar "the Fireman" Nordahl, a native Swede who from 1949 to 1956 scored 221 goals in 268 games with Milan.

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