European Football: Milan out to equal record

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

PAUL GASCOIGNE, fresh from his encouraging England comeback against Norway last Wednesday, turns his attention today to preventing Milan from equalling the Italian record of 40 successive league games without defeat.

His club, Lazio, are relieved that the former Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder came through the full 90 minutes at Wembley unscathed, but their line-up in the San Siro Stadium will be considerably below full strength.

The Roman team, in fifth place two points behind Milan, will be without Giuseppe Signori, the Serie A's leading goalscorer this season, after he twisted a knee while training with the Italian international squad last week.

And Aron Winter, Lazio's Dutch midfielder, is also doubtful after missing the Netherlands' 2-2 World Cup draw with Poland last week because of a muscle strain.

Meanwhile, the Italian champions and league leaders have extensive injury problems of their own after defenders Paolo Maldini and Mauro Tassotti, and midfielders Stefano Eranio, Alberigo Evani and Frank Rijkard all sustained knocks during last week's international matches.

The likely loss of Rijkaard, who injured an ankle against Poland, should open the way for France's Jean-Pierre Papin to partner Marco van Basten in attack with Milan's third Dutchman, Ruud Gullit, continuing in midfield.

In today's other Milan-Rome contest, Internazionale, who trail their neighbours by a point, will be at full strength to visit Roma, for whom the Brazilian Aldair returns in defence.

Torino, joint second with Inter and Juventus, have no injury problems for their trip to Atalanta of Bergamo, but their hosts' forward-line will be without Leonardo Rodriguez who is on duty with Argentina in Saudi Arabia.

Juventus, Torino's neighbours, have both their first-choice central defenders, Brazil's Julio Cesar and the German Jurgen Kohler, sidelined with injuries for the home game against Brescia, but their absence will at least guarantee a place for David Platt, England's goalscorer against Norway.

Brescia, who have made a promising start to the season following their promotion from Serie B, will be without their injured Romanian striker Florin Raducioiu.

Fiorentina, who have conceded 13 goals this season, still await the return to fitness of last season's first-choice goalkeeper Gian Matteo Mareggini. So, for the moment at least, Alessandro Mannini retains his place at Pescara. Fiorentina's leading scorer, Gabriel Batistuta, is also in Saudi Arabia with Argentina, but Pescara have lost the services of defender Ubaldo Righetti, who is injured.

Des Walker, the England defender, will play for Sampdoria at home to Cagliari, but his captain Roberto Mancini is suspended.

In Spain, with the unfashionable league leaders Deportivo La Coruna entertaining the champions Barcelona yesterday, Real Madrid will be looking to make up lost ground when they travel to lowly Logrones. The match should give Real's international midfielder, Rafael Martin Vasquez, a gentle re-introduction into Spanish football after an unhappy two-month stint with Marseille.

Napoli have finally received the first instalment of the dollars 7.5m transfer fee for Diego Maradona from Sevilla, Fifa spokesman Guido Tognoni said in Geneva. Thus closes, apparently, the latest chapter in the long-running saga involving the Argentine's transfer.

The row started when Napoli declared the transfer null and void on Wednesday, claiming they had not received the first payment of dollars 3m. Fifa entered the fray on Thursday when they urged the Spanish Federation to investigate Napoli's charges.

The Italian club had wanted the Argentine midfielder to be barred from playing for Sevilla until they had received pounds 1.75m, the first instalment on his pounds 4.4m transfer fee. Today Maradona returns to Barcelona where he played before joining Napoli eight years ago. Sevilla are visiting the city's second team, Espanol.

Basile Boli, Marseille's French international defender, has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing in Paris next Thursday in connection with an off-the-ball incident involving Monaco's German striker Jurgen Klinsmann in a league match on 3 October. A television replay showed that Boli elbowed Klinsmann in the face, an offence he later admitted even though it had not been seen by the referee. Monaco players complained that only swift action by a team-mate prevented Klinsmann from swallowing his tongue.

Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany's World Cup winning coach and the Bayern Munich vice-president, had a clash of loyalties yesterday when his 23-year-old son Stefan made his fourth Bundesliga appearance for Saarbrucken against the unbeaten leaders. Newly-promoted Saarbrucken also had an American, Eric Wynalda, in their line-up. The former San Francisco Bay forward has scored six goals this season.

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