Massimiliano Allegri reveals why he made some surprise substitutions and how he approached Malaga, as Milan face “a fight to the end.”
The Rossoneri earned a 1-1 draw to stay second in their Champions League group, but are only one point clear of Anderlecht and two from Zenit.
“It’s a battle for the final two games. Right to the final match with Zenit everything will be in the balance, but that was always going to be the case regardless of tonight’s result.
“Champions League games are always difficult, especially against Malaga,” said the Coach.
“We had to keep the tempo up, just as we did in the second half, though paradoxically when playing with less intensity we created more chances.
“The lads had a good game and we made some mistakes after the break in our passing, which can happen. We ought to be more precise. In the first half we did very well on the right side, while on the left Stephan El Shaarawy was too static and gave them more reference points.
“The team is improving and I was glad to see the intensity in the second half. Let’s not forget we had four lads today who are under 24, so it is a chapter in their growth and maturation.
“Physically we are in good shape and unfortunately Ignazio Abate’s injury meant we wasted a substitution.”
Another surprise change saw El Shaarawy replaced by Kevin-Prince Boateng, much to the irritation of the San Siro crowd.
“He has played so much recently, but there are games where he is not as sharp and might need some rest.”
Alexandre Pato remained on the field and scored his first Champions League goal in 11 months.
“Pato was growing as time went on and this goal will help him to find confidence, as will the fact he played for 90 minutes with good intensity.
“Malaga went into our half about twice after the break. In two games we allowed Malaga three shots on target and they scored with two of them.
“They have great technique in attack and if you don’t press them in their own half, which in the second half we did, then they will put you on the rack.
“I liked Nigel De Jong tonight, as he won back possession and was strong in the one-on-one. He has just arrived in Italy from a League where there was very little focus on tactics, so it takes him a while to adapt.
“Riccardo Montolivo had an extraordinary performance, both with the ball and without it.”