NEWS
Monday October 21 2013
Allegri has Balotelli hope for Barca

Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri is hoping to have Mario Balotelli available for Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Barcelona.

The Italian international missed the 1-0 win over Udinese on Saturday with a thigh problem, but he could make his return to action at San Siro.

“Balotelli is doing better,” the tactician noted. “We’ll check on his condition in training today and we’ll see if he can be called up.”

While the Coach is keen to have his main striker back, he is well aware that Balotelli won’t be able to beat the Spaniards on his own.

“Football is a team game, if you don’t play as a team then you lose,” he added. “The physical condition of the side is improving. We all have to work in the same direction.

“Milan will have to repeat the performance they put in against Barcelona last season [2-0]. We have to limit their characteristics as best as possible and we have to be courageous.”

Barca have a 100 per cent record in the group so far, while the Diavolo have picked up four points from their two games.

“Qualifying from this group will not be simple and we’ll look to get a result tomorrow. Now we need to find a bit of consistency.

“Barcelona have improved with Neymar because he is one of the best in the world.

“They have changed their style of play slightly and they have new solutions in attack. Patience will be necessary.

“It will be an important game and playing against Barcelona is always fascinating. They are the strongest team around.”

Turning to team matters, Allegri wasn’t exactly keeping his plans for the starting XI a secret.

“Marco Amelia will play in goal tomorrow and he’s always done well when called upon. Nigel De Jong and Philippe Mexes will play because they didn’t on Saturday.

“I’ll decide between Andrea Poli and Sulley Muntari in midfield today, even if the Ghanaian remains favourite. Poli did really well on Saturday, but he is also really good at coming off the bench.

“Antonio Nocerino played well on Saturday too, while Muntari was tired.”

Valter Birsa is again tipped to start given that Kaka is still not totally fit after recent injury.

“Kaka has arrived with great enthusiasm, it’s just a shame he got injured. He’s an important signing for us as he raises our quality.

“He can’t play 90 minutes right now, but he knows how he can help his teammates.

“I’m not surprised by Birsa,” he insisted. “He has great quality. He’ll certainly do well tomorrow if he plays. He’s in good form and I’m happy as he deserves it.”

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