Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has underlined how important victory against Juventus could be on Saturday. “Winning ugly would do.”
Although the tactician insists the result of the tie won’t be pivotal in the title race, he knows that three points could go a long way.
“I don’t think the match will be decisive,” he said on Friday afternoon. “However, it is clear that a win for either side would change the balance of the championship.
“I’d like to play badly and win. I’d sign for that today if that was offered to me. We are playing well right now though and we’ll need to put in a great display.
“We’ll have to try to win, even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, because it is an important game at the top of the table. Who wins will see their chances of the Scudetto increase.”
The League leaders – they have a one-point advantage over Juve who have a game in hand – will be without their star striker after Ibra’s appeal against his ban failed.
“It’s always better to have a champion like him on the field of play,” the former Cagliari tactician continued.
“I personally took the news about his ban well in the sense that we can’t do anything about it. It was a judicial decision and we have to calmly accept that.”
Ibra won’t be the only player missing as Allegri confirmed fitness issues with Kevin-Prince Boateng and Maxi Lopez.
“Boateng and Maxi Lopez won’t be in the team. Alexandre Pato will definitely play. Sulley Muntari could feature from the first minute. I still haven’t decided between Antonini or Mesbah at left-back.
“Pato? I expect him to make a convincing return. He’ll start in an important game and he’ll be motivated to do well.”
Allegri was inevitably asked about Andrea Pirlo, the Italian international who left Milan for Juve in the summer.
“Pirlo was a decision made seven months ago, it’s an old story. He’s doing well at Juventus, but I didn’t doubt his quality. He’s a reference point for the Bianconeri and we’ll look to limit him.”
Milan beat Juve in this summer’s Trofeo Berlusconi tie, but the Old Lady have defeated them in the League and Cup so far this term.
“We were disastrous against Juventus in Turin and, despite that, we only lost the game five minutes from the end,” Allegri noted.
“Juve are very aggressive and we lost in the Cup to them because of two mistakes. Tomorrow will be a different game.
“We’re ready to play a great tie against a team that deserves their position in the table when you look at the numbers. They have the best defensive record and haven’t lost in 23 games.”