ROME - AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini will bid farewell to the San Siro faithful against AS Roma on Sunday in what may also be coach Carlo Ancelotti's last home match in charge of the Serie A club. It will be an emotional occasion for defender Maldini, whose trophy haul since making his league debut for the club in 1985 aged 16 includes seven league titles and five European Cups, before he retires after the season's final game at Fiorentina on May 31. Former Milan midfielder Ancelotti said his future would be decided after this weekend's clash amid intense speculation that he will take over at Chelsea next season. According to some reports, he may even announce his departure if second-placed Milan ensure automatic qualification for next season's Champions League on Sunday. Former Netherlands coach Marco van Basten, Milan director Leonardo, Cagliari boss Massimiliano Allegri and former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard are the favourites to take his place. Several players have said they hope Ancelotti stays after leading them to Champions League glory in 2003 and 2007 and the league title in 2004. "If the boss goes, these will have been wonderful years anyway," Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso told the club's in-house TV channel. "Hope is the last thing to die though. The team is with him. He has been our coach for many years and a special relationship has developed. "The club and the boss will have to reach an agreement and let's hope they do." Maldini agreed. "The whole club is behind him," the former Italy captain said this week. Goodbyes may also be in the air for visitors Roma, with coach Luciano Spalletti reportedly among those in the running to become Juventus boss next year following Claudio Ranieri's sacking on Monday. Sixth-placed Roma need a win to help fend off competition from Palermo, who are two points behind in seventh, for a place in next season's Europa League. Caretaker Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara wants to end a seven-match winless run in the league at Siena to keep the Turin club in third place and on course for automatic Champions League qualification, which would boost his chances of landing the job permanently. Fiorentina, who are one point them behind in fourth - good for a place in the Champions League qualifying round - visit virtually doomed bottom side Lecce. Inter Milan, who retained their title last weekend, travel to mid-table Cagliari on Sunday. The season's penultimate matches will be played at the same time on Sunday. Lazio have already played theirs, winning 1-0 against 19th-placed Reggina on Wednesday to seal the southern club's relegation to Serie B. The match was brought forward to give UEFA time to prepare Rome's Stadio Olimpico for next week's Champions League final.
21 May 2009
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