Derby duel looms for Barça conquering Milan
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was delighted with the patience shown by his team in last night's 2-0 win over Barcelona - but will not allow them to bask in the glory with Sunday night's Milan derby looming.
Kevin-Prince Boateng put i Rossoneri ahead in the first leg of the UFEA Champions League last-16 tie and Sulley Muntari's superb second doubled their advantage. Allegri was not getting carried away ahead of the 12 March return at the Nou Camp, though, and urged his players to swiftly turn their attention back to Serie A and the tussle with Inter Milan.
"We haven't done anything yet," he said on www.acmilan.com after the game at the San Siro. "We have to leave it there now as we have the derby and we have to recharge our batteries immediately. I'm very happy with what the players have done and we should enjoy this evening and start focusing on the derby tomorrow."
Allegri had particular praise for Giampaolo Pazzini, selected up front alongside Stephan El Shaarawy in the absence of the cup-tied Mario Balotelli, and was thrilled to have kept a clean sheet against La Liga's leaders. "I'm very happy," he said. "It was an extraordinary game from a defensive point of view as we didn't concede anything to Barcelona.
"We slipped up on a couple of passes but, in the second half, the team did well. They were patient and they found the right moment to strike. The players understood what I asked of them and, when you play with that kind of willingness and intensity, you can win against anyone. The team is still growing. It's doing so very quickly. I think it's a team that will do well for years to come."
He added: "Pazzini played an extraordinary game and he's shown that he's a great player at a European level. The team is made up of 25 players and we need balance and to find the right way to play depending on who's on the pitch. You don't need to motivate the players for these kind of games - just give tactical instructions."
Vice-president Adriano Galliani felt the Italian side produced the "perfect" performance, which showed just how far they have come this term. "We did very well and I have to say that our coach was very, very good in my opinion," he said. "We played a perfect match. We did well to prevent (Barcelona) from getting inside the box. We did well against them last year as well, though. We can play with Barcelona and that's what I keep saying."
Milan drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp in last season's Champions League group campaign before suffering a 3-1 quarter-final loss against the Catalan giants. "Barcelona have a lot of respect for us and, when they say they fear us, they're not lying," Galliani added.
"In these games, the club history counts as well. If I think of where we were after eight games played this season (15th in Serie A standings)... Football is beautiful as you never know what can happen, but not even the most optimistic fan would have imagined this."