Monday February 20 2012
'Juve important but not essential'

Massimiliano Allegri has backtracked slightly on the importance placed on Week 25’s top-of-the-table clash with Juventus. “It’s important, but not essential.”

The Rossoneri will meet Antonio Conte’s Bianconeri a point and a place above them in Serie A. Whilst at the weekend he described the clash between the Division’s top two sides as ‘likely to decide the title race’, Allegri had somewhat downgraded the game’s importance by Monday afternoon.

“The challenge on Saturday is very important, but it is not essential,” the Coach told radio station RTL 102.5 on Monday. “The controversy? I believe it is part of the game, it is normal for the teams at the top.”

The latter comment was in reference to Juve’s recent complaints over the quality of refereeing.

Meanwhile, Allegri’s side will welcome back Andrea Pirlo to San Siro. The playmaker spent a decade with the Rossoneri, but left last summer on a Bosman to join Juve, who he has been in excellent form for recently.

“He’s an extraordinary player. In Turin he has found a new motivation and certainly those 10 years at Milan were not a failure. His quality is not up for debate.”

Nor too, according to Allegri, is Alexandre Pato’s quality.

“Pato has not been a disappointment, this is absolutely not true. Unfortunately he has suffered several injuries in the last two years.

“Now he is better, on Sunday I rested him as a precaution. He’s a great professional and on Saturday he will be available again to the team.”

Milan will find out on Thursday if Pato will be partnered in attack with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the club’s appeal to reduce his three game ban to two is heard.

“Ibra is a good guy, a generous guy. It shows in his way of thinking, playing and especially in the fact that he is always at the forefront in defence of everything and everyone. I think he is an important player, who is doing well at Milan and fortunately arrived when I arrived.”