"Our aim is to win," said coach Massimiliano Allegri with AC Milan needing a point to emerge from Group H and in the process deny in-form AFC Ajax a last 16 berth.
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Massimiliano Allegri wants his AC Milan side to exhibit the twin virtues of patience and commitment when they play AFC Ajax for a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
A Group H draw will be sufficient for the Rossoneri to advance, but their coach is leaving nothing to chance, saying: "Our aim is to win." Allegri also reserved lavish praise for Italy full-back Mattia De Sciglio and urged Milan to learn from their weekend failures, while counterpart Frank de Boer's team "feel good" as they seek what would be their seventh consecutive victory in all competitions.
Massimiliano Allegri, coach
We are making good progress in terms of results. Tomorrow's game is crucial and we will approach it in a determined manner. A draw will be enough for us, but our aim is to win. The stakes are very high so we'll need to concentrate – we can't afford to play for a draw.
They are a young side in good form, but we're the home team. We have to be aggressive and competitive to win the match. So far we've performed well in the Champions League, but we'll need to go up a level tomorrow. The team will have to be patient in possession and the fans have an important role to play.
We were careless with the two goals we conceded against Livorno and can't afford to make the same mistakes tomorrow. [De Sciglio] has a great future with Milan. He's always learning and is a great boy who possesses all the qualities to become one of the best full-backs in the world.
Saturday: AS Livorno Calcio 2-2 Milan (Siligardi 26, Paulinho 58; Balotelli 7 83)
Gabriel; Poli (De Sciglio 75), Zapata, Mexès, Emanuelson; Nocerino (Niang 59), Montolivo, De Jong; Birsa (El Shaarawy 38), Kaká; Balotelli.
• Mario Balotelli has scored in each of the Rossoneri's last three games, four goals in all. The fixture was Livorno-born Allegri's 200th as a coach in Serie A.
Stephan El Shaarawy came on as a substitute in Livorno, his first appearance in three months because of a thigh problem. De Sciglio has recovered from a knee injury but Ignazio Abate (ankle), Robinho (shoulder) and Valter Birsa (thigh) are all out. Allegri said he is confident of having Urby Emanuelson at his disposal, with Kévin Constant lying in wait. Giampaolo Pazzini has returned to the squad after six months on the sidelines.
Frank de Boer, coach
Milan are at home and they are a great team. Both sides have an equal chance of winning and getting through – I would say 50-50. They have improved a lot lately, but we are also doing well. If we play at our level we can get three points. They will try to defend and keep the ball. Kaká and Balotelli are two great players, we have to be careful of them, but we feel good and we can produce a great performance. We need to exploit the space that Milan will give us. We have to do our best.
We have prepared as we do for all our games. Obviously there is tension and some younger players may feel more of that tension, but this pressure has to become a positive. Playing this kind of game is important for a player because he can improve and become stronger. It is an important experience for them. Three years ago Milan had already qualified while we had to win. The situation was completely different.
Saturday: Ajax 4-0 NAC Breda (Klaassen 34 45+1 64, Krkić 68)
Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman (Denswil 72), Moisander, Ligeon (Poulsen 66); Klaassen, Blind, Serero; Schöne, Hoesen (Krkić 62), Fischer.
• Davy Klaassen took his tally to six in four league starts this season. The 20-year-old has scored five goals in his last three Eredivisie outings.
Nicolai Boilesen was ruled out for "several weeks" after sustaining a hamstring injury on matchday five. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (ankle) and Siem de Jong (hamstring) have not played since picking up injuries on international duty last month.
• Beaten at FC Barcelona and Celtic FC this term, Ajax have not prevailed in any of their last six away fixtures in the UEFA Champions League, a winless sequence stretching back to 18 October 2011 and a 2-0 success at GNK Dinamo Zagreb.