AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is to take inspiration from Osasuna for his side’s Champions League clash with Barcelona on Tuesday night.
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Osasuna became the first side to take points off the Blaugrana so far this season, holding them to a 0-0 draw at the weekend, and Allegri says his side can emulate them at the San Siro, although he also expects to meet a different Barca to the one which took to the field on Saturday.
"We’re not worse than Osasuna," he said. "Tomorrow is the seventh game we play against them (in recent years) and we need to repeat the performance from last February [when Milan won 2-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie]. We’ve got to be courageous. It’s not a two-legged affair, nor is it a knockout game. The anticipation is always high when we play against them, but we’re getting used to it."
The biggest question mark over Allegri’s team selection hangs over Mario Balotelli. The Italy international missed the 1-0 win over Udinese on Saturday due to injury and a decision on whether he will play or not will be made just prior to the game with Allegri insisting he is not lying when he says Balotelli is touch and go.
"It’s not a tactic," he said. "All I said is that we’ll take a look at him today to see if we can have him fit for tomorrow. We’ll see."
Speaking of tactics, Milan took a defensive approach to defeat the Catalans earlier this year and Allegri says he would not be ashamed of taking a similar approach on Tuesday night, criticism or no criticism.
The same style earned Chelsea the title in 2012 and has taken Roma to the top of Serie A this season, according to the Livorno-born coach.
"Just look at Roma, who have conceded only one goal all season and are top," Allegri said. "More so in Italy than anywhere else, the most successful sides are the ones who concede the fewest. Take our game against Udinese: we didn’t concede anything.
"We’re going to have to be careful in defence and I hope to repeat the game from February. We must not give them any room. It’s going to take 100 minutes of great patience."
Patience is something Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo was lacking as he sat fidgety next to Allegri at the press conference on Monday. If he could, he would bring the kick-off forwards and take to the field immediately.
"Nights like these are magical, and I hope it will be for us," he said. "Playing in games like this gives you that little bit extra.
"Of course they are expected to win, but we can cause them problems. It’s going to be hard, but we believe in this game."