AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri called on his team to show more passion in tomorrow's UEFA Champions League clash against Real Madrid than they did two weeks ago.
Milan were outplayed at the Bernabeu in a 2-0 defeat that the Italians' vice-president Adriano Galliani admitted later he had feared could end in a royal thumping. Allegri accused his players of playing as if it was a friendly and now he is calling on them to show the fight that was missing in Madrid.
"Over there we made many mistakes in the first 15 minutes and conceded two soft goals but then we created some chances," he said at today's press conference.
"In the second half until 20 minutes from the end we played really well. When we play these types of games you can't afford to play badly technically but in Madrid we did. This time we must play with more passion."
Galliani said after that game there was a moment he feared they would lose five or six nil and Allegri admitted too that it was a possibility.
"In the away game, especially at the end of the first half when they had a couple of counters and at the beginning of the second half, this could have happened," he said. "But tomorrow's game will be completely different and in our favour, although we still need to be careful because their attack is very good."
Milan and Ajax trail leaders Real by five points in Group G and play each other in the final game. If Real were to continue their 100 per cent record, Milan could fall three points behind Ajax, should the Dutch side also beat Auxerre, meaning the pressure would be on the Italians with just two games to go. But Allegri is not treating this game with any extra importance.
"Tomorrow's game will be fascinating, it's important for the standings, but I think the last game against Ajax will be the most important," he said.
Quite apart from playing with passion, Milan also know that they need to improve their record in front of goal. Although they have generally created many chances in their games, they've had difficulties converting those, such as on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at home to Juventus despite largely dominating.
"We played very well, if it wasn't our best performance then it was one of them. But we didn't get the result," said Allegri. "We created a lot, while of all the teams that have come to the San Siro, Juve were the ones who created the fewest chances.
"Without taking anything away from Juve, football doesn't always tell the whole story, we played well but sometimes you have four shots and score three goals yet on Saturday we had 23 shots and only scored one. The thing that keeps me calm is that we're creating chances.
"We also created many chances at Napoli [a 2-1 success] but we need to be more aggressive in finishing off games because at the end you can concede a goal."
Although Real coach Jose Mourinho has developed a reputation for being a defensive coach, Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played under the Portuguese at Inter Milan two seasons ago, insists tomorrow's game will be full of attacking play.
"It will be an open game, anything can happen, there are two great teams with great players," he said. "We both want to win but elegantly, not just simply. The important thing is to stay compact. We're not a team who scores one and then defends, we attack and try to score more and that's also Mourinho and Real's mentality. These two teams wont go for a 1-0 or 0-0, we'll try to win but with intelligence."
As for his personal duel with Real's Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic doesn't think it will be especially decisive. "He's doing great, he's in great form, he went to Spain [last year] and did well in his first year and in his second he's doing even better," he added. "But I don't think it's a duel between him and me, it's between Milan and Real."