Leonardo: Milan is ready for vital week

AC Milan manager Leonardo insists his men are ready for a week

which could define their season.

Milan face Roma at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday in need of

a victory to close the gap on Serie A leaders and fierce city

rivals Inter to just one point.

And on Wednesday the Rossoneri travel to Old Trafford needing

to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit against Manchester United in

order to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Leonardo said: “Tomorrow night we will play against Roma, who

are third in the table, and on Wednesday we will face Manchester

United.

“Matches between Milan and the Red Devils are always

extraordinary challenges. Milan are in good shape and ready to face

these challenges. Inter are four points ahead and I cannot think of

any result other than a victory.

“Milan have had a difficult start to the championship but

this has not led to total exclusion from the title race. Anything

can still happen.”

Roma need the win too having slipped off the pace last week,

when they were held to a 2-2 draw at Napoli after conceding two

late goals.

After a run of nine straight victories, Roma have stuttered

in recent weeks and were dumped out of the Europa League by

Panathinaikos.

But manager Claudio Ranieri insisted all the pressure is on

Milan to overhaul Inter and believes his men can take full

advantage.

“Milan are the leading contenders to take the title from

Inter and they will fight to keep that position, but it is a burden

for them,” said Ranieri.

“We have the advantage of being more calm. We must keep this

about ourselves and continue to do well.

“I have to commend my team for what we have done until now,

especially against Napoli where we reacted well to our exit from

the Europa League.

“We need the right attitude against Milan and I am proud of

my guys because they worked hard. We are on the right track and

should continue to do well.”

Ranieri will have Luca Toni, David Pizarro and Julio Sergio

available while Milan have injury concerns over top scorer

Alexandre Pato.

Pato is unlikely to be risked with the game against United

looming large in midweek.

Milan beat Roma earlier in the season with Pato scoring the

winner, but Ranieri warned his men not to take them lightly just

because of their injury problems.

“We are talking about a team equipped to do well without

players like that. I hope that they are affected by the absences

but I think not,” Ranieri added.

“When we lost to them at the San Siro it was one of the black

spots of our season and we went on to lose three straight games. We

will do everything possible to erase those memories.”