Serie A: Ronaldo set for first AC Milan start

February 15, 2007

ROME, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Brazil striker Ronaldo is poised to make his first start as AC Milan look to maintain their rapid rise up the Serie A standings when they visit Siena on Saturday.

The three-times FIFA World Player of the Year, who completed a 7.5million-euro move from Real Madrid last month, made his debut last weekend as a substitute for the final half hour of a 2-1 win over Livorno.

He produced a lively performance, capped by three shots on goal, one a dipping drive from outside the area that was tipped around the post.

'It's probable that Ronaldo will play against Siena from the start,' coach Carlo Ancelotti told the club's Web site on Wednesday.

'He's working well, his physical condition has improved, and he is very motivated. He's also the most talented player we've got.'

Ronaldo's arrival has coincided with a revival of Milan's domestic fortunes.

Languishing in the bottom half at the start of December, five wins in their last six games have lifted Milan to sixth, two points behind Empoli, who occupy the fourth and final berth for next season's Champions League.

Siena's 16,000-seater Artemio Franchi stadium is one of the few Italian grounds fully in line with the safety regulations imposed by the new anti-hooligan plan and so should be full for the game.

Ancelotti is expected to field an attacking line-up, with Ronaldo starting alongside Italy international Alberto Gilardino.

Leaders Inter Milan will aim to extend their record-breaking run of Serie A wins to 16 by beating Cagliari at the San Siro on Saturday.

Cagliari have won just once on their travels this season, and the chances of an upset are reduced further by the return of Inter's leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swedish international, who has scored 10 Serie A goals this season, has been on the sidelines since clashing heads with Sampdoria defender Giulio Falcone three weeks ago.

Inter's nearest challengers, AS Roma, lie 11 points behind and face a potentially tricky away trip to Empoli, who will be desperate to cling on to fourth.

At the other end of the division, newly-appointed Parma coach Claudio Ranieri begins his bid to avoid relegation with a home match against Sampdoria.