Antonio Conte has told his players to forget about Milan’s results for the rest of the season and to focus only on winning every game they play.
The Bianconeri are preparing for a tough midweek test at home to Lazio, aware that they could again be behind the Rossoneri by the time they kick-off, given that the Milanese are playing 24 hours earlier, at Chievo.
However, Conte is keen to stress to his players that regardless of whether or not Massimiliano Allegri’s team win at the Mussi Volanti to edge two points ahead of his team, that the Turin side’s mentality should not change.
“Winning is enough - my message will not change until the end of the season,” declared Conte to the assembled media on Tuesday.
“The team is in a good mental state, there is great enthusiasm and awareness. We want to play all our cards with no regrets.
“Milan are a super power, a battleship that was created for the grand slam. They have 35 players of the highest level and despite many absences can play well in many formations and from this point of view, we take them as an example.
“An important thing for us as well is to leave the field with sweaty shirts, as we have done from the first day. It is clear that we will compete until the end, but the end result doesn’t change anything, because today we can call this year extraordinary.
“The best thing is to see the enthusiasm of the fans, they have rediscovered their pride in us. Nothing can take that away now, and this is the most important thing.”
Conte went into more detail about how he has changed the club’s mentality over the course of the season, why it is so important and how it won’t change in relation to Milan’s progress.
“You know, the psychological work [with the team] is work that is done throughout the year and we believe that we have worked a lot so far with our minds, beyond the technical and tactical discussions.
“There was definitely a mindset to return to winning and a desire to enter games already a goal ahead, to then win the game, with the so-called mentality, so we worked head and I must say - I never tire of saying this - my players responded.
“The point that I am telling my players now is, even tonight, beyond Milan’s result - if they win or not - we must win.
“If they draw, we must win, if they lose, we must win. So the message doesn’t change, we must play to win, but this is an approach we have been working on from the start of the season and we are trying to instil it as a mentality.”
Edy Reja’s Lazio stand in the way of progress on Wednesday night and Conte is aware of the challenge his side are likely to fight against.
“I would expect more or less a defensive game from Lazio. It will be a tough match from all points of view and we will certainly have to be at our best to get all three points.
“They have an important goal in Champions League qualification and we also have that important aim and a win against Lazio tomorrow would put an end to their entrance to the competition through the front door.
“And this must be an important incentive for us, whilst being aware that Lazio are a good team, who are in good form and want to continue their work from beating Napoli.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!