AC MILAN landed in Glasgow yesterday afternoon on a delayed flight from Italy but the turbulence in the skies could not match the unrest currently being experienced by the Italian club, who face Celtic in a crucial Champions League tie tonight.
Not only do Milan need a win this evening to boost their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 but they also need to appease their fans, who demonstrated following Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Genoa.
The result left Massimiliano Allegri’s side in 11th place in Serie A, just five points off the bottom. Brazilian midfielder Kaka was forced to meet with representatives of the fans’ group the Ultras in a bid to placate them, and he has admitted that the atmosphere among the squad is not what it should be on the eve of such an important fixture. However, Kaka hoped that the stress of recent times can be used to positive effect against Neil Lennon’s side as Milan seek a first victory in seven matches.
“At this moment, the morale is a bit tense, I can say that,” said Kaka at Celtic Park yesterday evening. “But tension is not bad sometimes. If it is used in the right manner, it can be a big motivation for you. Our big problem at the moment is that we just can’t win. We didn’t play a bad game against Genoa last weekend, but it ended a draw. We need a win, no matter if we play good or bad.”
Allegri, meanwhile, played down reports of a player revolt, and denied that Mario Balotelli and Robinho turned up late for training on Sunday. “Balotelli will play tomorrow,” he confirmed. “We always have high expectations from him. In the last six months of last season after he arrived in January he was very important in getting us to the Champions League. He’s going to be very important for us this season too.”
The manager also dismissed reports that his future as Milan manager might hinge on a win tonight. “Not at all,” he said. “Playing against Celtic here will be very difficult. They have only lost two of their last 11 matches here in the Champions League and maybe a win won’t even be enough for us [to qualify].”