MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI says there are no favourites for the derby but Milan will need to be cunning.
After the important win against Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League, the Rossoneri return to the domestic league and have a very tough clash on Sunday against arch-rivals Inter at the San Siro stadium.
Inter sit third in the table with five more points than 11th place sitters Milan and on paper they are the favourites. However, the derby has its own rules. Allegri says Inter are ahead but there are no favourites.
“Inter are already well-adjusted and settled, while we’re still finding our way,” Allegri commented on Saturday noon. “Milan aren’t the favorites. If you look at the table, you’ll see that they’re the favorites. They have 5 points more than us. However, the derby is a match by itself. In the derby there isn’t a favorite.
“It’s an important match for both clubs. I haven’t decided which tactical formation I’ll use tomorrow. We’ll see. The derby last season wasn’t great for us. They took advantage of our mistakes. The players need to play for themselves. When there’s more respect between them, then they perform better. The best kind of coach is the one who makes less mistakes. I’m convinced that it’s the coaches that win the matches.
“There are currently 2 tactical formations that I’m considering, and I tried both of them during yesterday’s training session. We’ll see tomorrow which tactical set-up will be the best for the derby. Choosing a centre forward doesn’t depend on the tactical formation, but how the match could evolve. I don’t know what (Inter boss Andrea) Stramaccioni is considering tactically, and I’m not arrogant enough to think that I know it. Inter have a lot more experience than us. Their players have great experience from playing in big matches.
“There’s no team in the world that can keep playing for 90 minutes in the way that we did in the first 25 minutes against Zenit. We need to improve the defensive aspect of our game. We must improve it as a team. Abbiati has had to make more saves recently, so we need to defend a bit better. Many of the situations vs. Zenit could have been avoided. We need to pass the ball around better. We became too lenient after we scored our 2nd goal. We need to be clever and cunning tomorrow. We need enthusiasm.
“We don’t have Inter’s experience, so we must be good at using our other qualities. We have new players like Montolivo and De Jong, and it’s normal that they need time to get to know each other on the pitch. We expect more from Boateng, but he is very affected by his injured hand,” he said before adding afterwards that “the cast on Boateng’s hand should come off tomorrow and I’m sure that he’ll play a great season.
“Let’s not forget that we still have Alexandre Pato and Sulley Muntari out. And Robinho has just returned. We’re slowly improving. We will get better defensively, but it will take time. We’re making too many mistakes, and we need to eliminate them. You also need to be cunning in order to win Serie A and the Champions League. And sometimes you need to be very attentive,” continued the former Cagliari coach.
Many of the eyes tomorrow will be on three players: Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano, who exchanged clubs this summer, and Stephan El Shaarawy who has been brilliant for il Diavolo lately.
“It’s not like El Shaarawy’s qualities have improved. He needs to improve on a lot of things, just like De Sciglio. Perhaps El Shaarawy is ahead of the other youngsters because of the fact that he played more matches than they did last year,” Allegri said. “If El Shaarawy’s is Andriy Shevchenko’s heir? Every player is different and has his own characteristics.” Sheva admitted things about El Shaa remind him of himself.
“If I’m envious of Inter? No, I’m happy with my players. The youngsters bring a lot of enthusiasm with them. Massimo Ambrosini and Luca Antonini? I will evaluate today whether or not they’re ready to play in the derby. Giampaolo Pazzini or Bojan Krkic? I will evaluate it today. Currently, it’s difficult to say who will play tomorrow. The crosses for Pazzini need to be more precise,” added the 45-year-old former midfielder.
“Cassano? There are very few players in the world who can pass the ball like he does. There wouldn’t be enough time for me to tell all the things about Cassano that I could tell… Cassano was decisive for our Scudetto win. The season after he had heart problems and we couldn’t have predicted that. And then Cassano came back from his heart incident, and got to play in the Euros. He owes it to Milan, not to me.
“Of course the result tomorrow is important, just like with other matches. We’re improving, but need to improve defensively. If I’ll change the tactical set-up? The last training session is today, so I’ll evaluate it tomorrow morning. During the match you get the opportunity to change the tactical set-up. I think that Inter will play with the same tactical formation as they’ve been using in their recent matches (the 3-5-2).
“Inter have had less time to recover? Well, Stramaccioni rested 5-6 of their starters in the Europa League match… Abate has played well in the derbies. He only made 1 mistake last year. He hasn’t got any mental block. We have been paying a bit for our mistakes due to the inexperience and lack of grittiness.
“You need these things in football. I’m sad that Silvio Berlusconi won’t be at San Siro tomorrow. I know that he’s in Russia now. Berlusconi was satisfied with the performance against Zenit. We will see him soon enough. He’s satisfied with the players.” Berlusconi will attend Putin’s 60th birthday instead of the derby.
“The new leaders at Milan? The squad is improving and becoming more competitive. Our fans have been exceptional. And I’m sure that they will give us their full support tomorrow,” the Milan coach concluded.