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Kelly: More defensive nerves to come

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By ESPN Staff
Mar 17, 2013

Balotelli: We can reach Barca's level

Two goals from Mario Balotelli ensured AC Milan maintained their chase for a Champions League place

Mario Balotelli insists AC Milan are capable of restoring their status as a European powerhouse, despite being knocked out of the Champions League in convincing fashion by Barcelona.

• Paul: Super Mario saves weary Milan
• Serie A: Sunday review

Balotelli, 22, scored both goals in Milan's 2-0 Serie A win over Palermo on Sunday having been unavailable for the midweek disappointment in Barcelona due to his involvement in the competition with Manchester City earlier this season.

The Italy international believes the Rossoneri showed few signs of regret over the Barca loss, providing positive signs as Milan maintain their chase of the league title.

"We must continue to work as a group [if we want to compete with Juventus and Barca]," Balotelli told Sky Sports. "Maybe we do not play like Barcelona but we can get to their level, because we beat them at home. But what is gone is gone and today we recovered.

"They are a strong team and they are great champions - nothing changes when anyone plays against them. We're doing well and we did well today. We put Barcelona behind us quick. I settled in immediately here as soon as I arrived. I'm working well, I'm improving and by working hard I'm sure I can improve a lot.

"We have to think one game at a time and not look at any of the other teams. We want to win all our matches from here to the end of the season. I'm here to win and I have to do all I can to make sure this team wins. If I play I try and score and if I don't play, I try and build up my teammates, some of them are even younger than me.

"[M'Baye] Niang is a really great player he just needs you to talk to him in a certain way. You have to explain that he has to do the easy things in some parts of the game and the difficult things in other parts of the match. Of course, it can happen to me too to make mistakes. Italy-Brazil will be a good test to see where we are. It'll be a great match."

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri refused to concede Juventus have the Scudetto wrapped up with their 11-point advantage, setting his charges a difficult goal of finishing the season undefeated.

"The players put the match against Barcelona behind them and I think the team deserved this win for hos they managed the game," Allegri said. "It's a good time for the international break as now the players will get a breather. Bonera is back on form after his break. Niang did well when he came on, he got in a good cross and his head was in the right place.

"The substitutes are always important and this was a good step towards getting to second place even though it'll be tough. there are nine games left and we need to stay calm and maintain balance. We'll be looking to win or at least draw the remaining games. All the games are important now."

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