Allegri keeping focus close to home
Massimiliano Allegri says he is not expecting a helping hand from bitter city rivals Inter Milan ahead of this weekend's Serie A matches. League leaders AC Milan will be defending a four-point lead over Juventus when they host Roma at San Siro on tomorrow.
A day later their closest rivals will entertain Inter, but Allegri says he is not counting on the Old Lady of Turin slipping up. "We just have to think about our game and winning it, that way we'll guarantee our four-point lead over Juve," said Allgeri.
Juve knocked Milan out of the Italian Cup in mid-week, hitting back from a 2-1 deficit after 90 minutes to score the decisive goal in extra time and secure a 4-3 aggregate success. But despite the disappointment, Allegri believes his players are still in good shape as they battle for the Serie A title and UEFA Champions League crown.
"We got to within one step of the Italian Cup (final), we're in the Champions League quarter-finals, and we're top of the league after a great comeback," he said. "We can't let up, this is an important season. It's difficult - we're being chased by a team with a lot of motivation that runs a lot - but next year we want to play with that second star."
Milan have won 19 titles and if they win one more they will be entitled to wear the second star on their shirts next season as the stars designate ten league titles. There are just ten games left this season but tomorrow's opponents Roma are chasing a Champions League place and need to make up four points on their city rivals Lazio to snatch third place.
"This is a hugely important game, after which we'll have nine matches left to maintain our four-point lead," added Allegri. "The difficulty in this match is that we're playing a team who have a lot of possession but also play well without the ball.
"It's no coincidence that they haven't conceded a goal in the last two games. Roma are tough opponents. It will be difficult - they've changed their style of play, they defend well, they have good technique."
Allegri revealed top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic is likely to be partnered up front by youngster Stephan El Shaarawy, while fit-again attacking midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng may be held back for the mid-week Champions League clash with Barcelona.