Milan don't fear Barcelona, says Allegri
Published : 27 Mar 2012 15:17:03
Massimiliano Allegri insists his AC Milan side have no fear in tackling Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg at the San Siro on Wednesday.
The plum tie of the last eight pits the seven-time champions against the holders, who are widely regarded as the best team in the world.
And while Barca were the team everyone wanted to avoid in the draw, Allegri says there are no nerves from his side.
"We're serene, I've got no knots in my stomach, we're in the top eight in Europe which hadn't happened for four years," he said.
"We know full well this is the most difficult quarter-final, it's very difficult, but also for Barcelona who are more favourites than us.
"We know their strengths but there's no fear. We need to play the way we know how but if we don't manage it, we'll applaud (Barca coach Pep) Guardiola and his team.
"We won't play with fear, we'll play a great match with a lot of effort.
"We've already played them and we hope we've got good memories and have learnt something.
"We know more or less how they play, it will be a great match, very difficult from a psychological perspective.
"But there will be no need to motivate the players, you don't need motivating for a fascinating challenge."
The two sides already met in the group stages and although the scores were close -- a 2-2 draw in Spain and 3-2 win for the Catalans in Italy -- Barcelona clearly dominated both times.
Allegri says his team must score while cutting out the mistakes that cost them at the San Siro last time out.
And he has vowed to attack.
"We'll tackle Barca with courage, motivation and serenity," he said.
"Tomorrow I hope to see my Milan, we need to score and then qualification will be decided in Barcelona.
"We need to try to cut down the mistakes to a minimum while having an attacking mentality."
However, Allegri said there was no point expecting his side to play like Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan did when they knocked Barca out in the semis two years ago.
Inter, too, had come off second best to Barca in the group stages but turned the tables in the knock-out rounds.
"It would be difficult for us to play like Mourinho's Inter, they were more physical than us," said Allegri.
Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic used to play for Barcelona and has also pulled on the shirt of Juventus, Inter and Ajax.
And he says that Milan's players need to do the club's proud history justice and remember who they play for.
"We have to play like Milan, which means attacking, I don't like playing tactically at home," said the big Swede, the top scorer in Serie A this season.
"We need to score and prepare for a good return leg. They have an idea of how to play and they always follow it.
"It's an important game for everyone, tradition says Milan have always done well in the Champions League and this story needs to continue."
Milan have been hit by injury problems this season but Kevin-Prince Boateng made an important second-half appearance on his return against Roma on Saturday.
Allegri said the Ghanaian will line-up in his usual attacking midfield role behind Ibrahimovic.
Robinho is in line to partner the Swede if he is fit enough while Maxi Lopez is also likely to be back from injury while youngster Stephan El Shaarawy is on stand-by in case neither of those make it.
Allegri said right-back Ignazio Abate will not be available but veteran Alessandro Nesta, who has not played for some time, looks likely to partner Philippe Mexes in central defence rather than Daniele Bonera.