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
“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
After a run of nine straight victories, Roma have stuttered
in recent weeks and were dumped out of the Europa League by
But manager Claudio Ranieri insisted all the pressure is on
Milan to overhaul Inter and believes his men can take full
“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
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.”