AC Milan are glad to be back in Champions League action against Barcelona on Wednesday night as they look to put their Serie A sorrows to one side -- for a night.
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Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is under pressure with the Rossoneri underperforming domestically, but they are as yet unbeaten this season in Europe, including the playoff with PSV Eindhoven, and are therefore hopeful of another successful evening at the Camp Nou.
"We’re on course to qualify for the knockout stages [of the Champions League], but we’re behind in the league," Allegri said. "There are always difficult times and many sides have emerged from them, which is what we must do."
If you were to search for a potentially morale-boosting opponent, Barcelona at the Camp Nou may not be high up on the list of preferences, but Allegri is happy to take it as it comes, one step at a time, not considering what, on paper at least, would be an easier challenge against struggling Chievo on Sunday.
"We play them at 15.00 on Sunday, not yet," Allegri said. "We’ll think of that game after Barcelona, which is a game which will cost us a lot of nervous energy. We’ve got to play like we did at home to them in defence and, if we do that, we’re not going to be lambs to the slaughter."
Allegri is set to keep his faith in Mario Balotelli, who has been struggling for his best form of late. Assisting him will be Kaka, who made a positive impression a fortnight ago at the San Siro for his performance against the Blaugrana.
"Let’s hope Kaka and Balotelli both manage to score tomorrow and that we play a good game as a team," Allegri added. "Mario needs to play better than he has been doing recently."
The discussion about his future was one thing Allegri avoided at a news conference in Barcelona.
"I’m not going to comment on the club’s decisions," he said. "You can’t get out of a crisis in just one game, but you can with continued hard work."