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Mar 31, 2011

Leonardo: Milan derby not crucial

Inter Milan boss Leonardo has played down the importance of Saturday's derby with his former club AC Milan, claiming it is not 'crucial' in the race for the Serie A title.

Leonardo took over the reins from Rafael Benitez at Inter at the start of the year, having been sacked by Milan at the end of the 2009-10 season, and has led the Nerazzurri to within two points of top spot after a run of 12 victories from 15 league games.

It will be the first time Leonardo has faced his old side since leaving after a decade as a player, director and coach for the Rossoneri, but the Brazilian coach is philosophical over the game's hype.

"I live my life based on love, not recrimination," Leonardo said. "Life goes on and you have to learn from every experience. Looking back on my career, I see only the good things and will never forget my 13 years at Milan."

Leonardo has guided Inter to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and semi-finals of the Italian Cup, but has had to play catch-up to Milan in the league after Benitez's slow start. However, the 41-year-old does not think the derby will have that much impact.

"The derby won't be crucial because after that there are another seven rounds," he said. "What we wanted to do was get closer, get back in the race and challenge for the Scudetto. We reach this derby in the best possible condition."

Brazilian forward Robinho, however, has highlighted the importance of the game for leaders Milan.

"It's a key moment for us and we cannot afford to fail if we want to win the Scudetto," he told Milan Channel.

Robinho also spoke briefly about Leonardo's controversial decision to join rivals Inter, saying: ''It was his decision to go there but I can understand the Milan fans' disappointment. He will have to accept the consequences of his actions."

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