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Seri A Preview : Fiorentina vs Milan

These are the 21 called-up players of Carlo Ancelotti for Fiorentina-Milan:

Dida, Kalac, Perucchini, Antonini, Darmian, Favalli, Jankulovski, Maldini, Nesta, Senderos, Zambrotta, Beckham, Flamini, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Inzaghi, Kakà, Shevchenko, Ronaldinho, Pato.
Unavailable players: Abbiati, Bonera, Kaladze, Cardacio, Borriello, Viudez.
Players not called-up: Mattioni.

Paolo Maldini will bring to an end his illustrious career tomorrow on what could prove a day of goodbyes for AC Milan.

The Rossoneri visit Fiorentina in a vital game for both sides in the race for automatic entry into next season's Champions League.

The third-placed Rossoneri will come out on top if they avoid defeat to a fourth-placed Viola side who have been in close pursuit for much of the season.

A Fiorentina win by a two-goal margin would see Cesare Prandelli's men relegate Milan into the qualifying rounds of Europe's premier club competition.

Although that is the main storyline, there are a number of intriguing subplots with Maldini, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti and on-loan midfielder David Beckham all set to move on in the summer.

Maldini is to retire after making his 902nd appearance for Milan in a one-club career spanning more than 24 years.

The 40-year-old has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this week, however, after a small number of ultras disrupted his San Siro farewell with a banner accusing him of disrespecting the Milan fans.

The stylish defender admitted to being a "wounded man'' after the attack and also expressed his disappointment that those responsible were not condemned by the club.

Milan responded by insisting that any comment would only give credence to the protest.

Either way, it has cast a shadow over the retirement of arguably the best defender in Italian football history.

Maldini's departure has led to calls for a complete overhaul of the Milan squad particularly with Ancelotti, who has been accused of placing too much faith in older players, also set to leave, most likely for Chelsea.

Beckham, another 30-something brought in by Ancelotti, is to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy once his short-term deal expires.

The England midfielder's participation at the Stadio Artemio Franchi is in doubt though after he sustained an ankle injury in training in midweek.

While Milan have much to contemplate going into the game, Fiorentina's focus is trained fully on leapfrogging their opponents into third.

Viola midfielder Marco Donadel told the club's official website, "We are calm. We have a great squad and are aware that what matters during a season is to be ready at the right time.

"We will play with a free mind against Milan. We will have the fans on our side which will give us a boost.''

Defender Juan Manuel Vargas added: "We will play against a great team but we want to finish well in front of our fans.

"It is important to win the match. But what really matters is to think about our game, not about scoring two goals.''

Vargas also paid tribute to Maldini, stating: "In Italy he's an idol, he's known all over the world.

"For me he is a great professional, playing against him has always been my dream, it will be fantastic to face him in the last game of his career.''

“This is the last press conference of the season, an important press conference, because it arrives on the eve of an absolutely fundamental game for us. You all know how much we want to qualify for the Champions League without the preliminary round.

“We go to play for the qualification against a strong team, on a difficult pitch. We start off from a small advantage which we don’t want to manage. Our objective is to play a game without calculations. This team is used to play these type of games, with these type of pressures. It’s the thing that makes me feel most calm.”

“During this week we have only thought about this game and even today. All the rest are just stuff which will be faced after this game."

“I think that the team is fine overall. It’s very positive the call-up for Alessandro Nesta, who is finding his best condition. It’s been 20 days that he’s been working with the team. Nesta can play, because he has proven to have improved a lot. The doubt is tied to the fact that he’s been inactive for a year and this is an important game, therefore playing him from the start could be a risk for him who has not played for a long time.

"For the rest there was a problem for Beckham to his ankle during the week, but it’s been solved. The others are all in good condition. Gattuso from the start? We’ll see, because Beckham has recovered and worked well today. My doubts for the formation are these: Beckham or Gattuso, Pato or Inzaghi. We will not change attitude or tactics.

“The performance of Kaka? From February 7, day of his injury, he has not found the continuity which was usual for him. He has alternated performances, which means that he has difficulties following his recovery. His injury to his foot was serious, as the foot is fundamental for the balance and he is finding it difficult to maintain this balance. On his role? He has modified his position a bit, but Italy is the only place where you speak about specific roles. Kaka is an attacker like the other two who should play more forward. The Italian teams should modify these divisions of the role, as magnificently proven by the teams who arrived in the Champions League final. I think about Rooney: also thanks to his work and sacrifice, the team arrived to the final. Guardiola? He created a work of art, Barcelona is taking advantage of its strength in the youth sector, apart from the champions they already have.”

“We did not prepare the last games well, otherwise the account would have already been closed. The reason could be a dip in tension following Catania, when we thought that the target was reached, with nine points more than the Viola. Until there is no mathematical certainty, in football you can never feel tranquil. With Juve we played well, but against Udinese and Roma no. We have an advantage, which we don't want to manage, we want to play an open game, trying to win.

“With regards to the dip in the attackers, it’s true. All of a sudden there was a sudden block which involves a bit everyone. We suffered more goals than usual and we were less prolific than usual. I think that it is all tied to the dip in tension which I mentioned before, following the game against Catania.”

“We did not always have continuity in the results and on the contrary there were highs and lows. In the first part of the year, we paid for the injuries and the close games. The problem of this final part of the season is especially tied to the psychological factor and the confidence that we had reached the objective. In the past years, the difficulties I faced have never been tied to such important games, because we always did very well. The impression I have is that we did the same thing in the past days. At times we suffered the games with less pressure, which on paper were easier.

“The nicest moment of the season? I think it was the initial part, when we came from two consecutive defeats (against Bologna and Genoa) and we managed to return at the top of the standings, with the win in the first leg of the derby. That was our best period."

“If I fear Gilardino’s revenge? No, the problem is tied to his qualities. He’s a very dangerous attacker, the problem must be set on these levels. Gila is fearful in the penalty area, good in the aerial game, from the crosses. Fiorentina make good use of the wings, limiting these characteristics for us will mean limiting also the balls to Gilardino."