European Football: Maldini's injury adds to crisis at Milan

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The Independent Online
(First Edition) IT is now official . . . Milan's travails are a crisis. The once-nonpareil team's coach, Fabio Capello, admitted as much as he tried to pick his struggling players up after their midweek European Champions' League disappointment in time for today's league visit of Sampdoria.

A distinctly unimpressive goalless draw with AEK Athens on Wednesday confirmed the problems Capello has. 'Clearly, we are facing a crisis, at least of results, since we came into this game following two consecutive defeats,' he said, before trying to drag some encouragement for today's game. 'We certainly weren't very good in the opening 20 minutes when their pace on the flanks made us suffer . . . but this was a good result and from here on the side will get better,' he promised.

They will have to do so without Paulo Maldini at left-back, who has a suspected broken nose, and possibly also without Dejan Savicevic, who has a pulled thigh muscle.

The injured England captain, David Platt, is definitely missing from Sampdoria's line-up, as is the striker Mauro Bertarelli.

Roma, the league leaders, play Cagliari this evening without four regular first-teamers: Marco Lanna, Jonas Thern and Francesco Statuto, all injured, and Giovanni Piacentini (suspended).

The striking Latin American partnership of Daniel Fonseca and Abel Balbo is in place, however, and the club's former captain Guiseppe Giannini seems to have repaired relationships with the president, Francisco Sensi, and may return to the side.

Internazionale are expected replace their Dutchmen, Denis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk, with Darko Pancev and Francesco Dell'Anno for their trip to Foggia.

Pancev will thus join the Uruguyan Ruben Sosa in an attack which may also include the 21-year-old former Venezia player Marco Delvecchio.

Foggia, impressive 2-0 winners against Juventus last week, will be without their influential Russian striker Igor Kolivanov, who is expected to be out for three months with a knee-ligament injury picked up in training last week.

In Spain, Barcelona are hoping that the pulsating European Champions' League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday will galvanise their domestic fortunes.

Although Johann Cruyff's team are in a unaccustomed fifth place in the league, they are just two points behind the leaders, Real Madrid. Today they are at home to sixth-placed Tenerife, and history is on their side - Tenerife have taken just one point from six visits to the Nou Camp.

Whether Barcelona can close the gap on Real, though, depends on how promoted Compostela make out on their first league visit to the Bernabeu. They may also have to face the Argentine international Fernado Redondo, looking to return after a two-month knee injury.

Deportivo La Coruna, the only unbeaten side, entertain Valencia, who are unbeaten on their last three visits, the most recent of which cost Deportivo the title last season.

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