AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has told his squad to snap out of their negative mood after they were knocked out of the Champions League and lost the Serie A leadership in the space of five days.
Milan visit Chievo on Tuesday while unbeaten Juventus,who snatched the lead from them at the weekend,are at home to third-placed Lazio on Wednesday in one of the closest Serie A title races for years. Allegri,one of the less charismatic coaches in Serie A,is far from being a chest-thumping motivator but on Monday clearly felt forced to make a rallying call after seeing his team fall a point behind Juve.
There is too much negativity around us,nothing is lost, he told reporters,two days after a shock 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina at San Siro. Its over the top to say that Juventus are unbeatable and are going to finish off the championship.
The road is still long. The criticism is raining down on us,but we still have great chances of winning the title. There are still seven games to go and if Juventus had a great chance when they were two points behind us,the same goes for us when we are one behind.
Juventus,attempting to win the title for the first time since they were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 scudettos and relegated in a match-fixing scandal,have 65 points from 31 games,after going top with a 2-0 win at Palermo on Saturday. Antonio Contes team have won their last four games without conceding a goal. Yet,only one month ago,they appeared to be running out of steam as they drew six out of seven games.
Conte insisted at the time that it was simply a matter of Juventus taking their chances,and he has been vindicated in the last month with results including a 5-0 win at Fiorentina and a 2-0 defeat of Inter Milan. Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo,who joined the club this season after 10 years with Milan,said his team were surprised as anyone after the defending champions slipped up.
We didnt expect them to come a cropper after they had been ahead for so long…but one false step and it could all go down the drain, he said.