MILAN - Massimiliano Allegri has been speaking to the press ahead of Monday evening's match against Roma.
The coach said: "I have to congratulate Roma. Sabatini has done excellent work in the transfer market. They are a technically and physically strong side who have an excellent coach who immediately settled into Italian football.
"At the moment Roma are the strongest side in the league along with Juventus and they have only conceded five goals so it would be normal to find a team like that in the top two in the league. When a team has conceded just five goals in the first 14 or 15 matches in the Italian league then they cannot be outside the top two places. I like Roma but hopefully they will lose tomorrow and we will have to play well. They are a team that are difficult to get on level terms with when they go in front. It happened against Fiorentina last Sunday and there were only two or three times when a team that has conceded five goals then go on to lose."
Francesco Totti is set to return for the visitors and will face Mario Balotelli. Allegri understands the importance of the Roma captain to the side. He said: "Both Balotelli and Totti are great players. Totti may be 37 but we will have to watch him very closely and that goes for Gervinho too. Totti is an example to all young players on how to become a great player. I would prefer that Totti was not playing tomorrow. because he is the catalyst for their football and raises the quality level of the whole team but they are again getting the best out of Daniele De Rossi, while Gervinho has been an important signing. Adem Ljajic and Mattia Destro are promising young players, so they are a difficult team to face."
As for Milan: "It would not be bad to get to Christmas with two good results. It is an objective we ought to put in our minds, as we only have 18 points and need to be more consistent. We need to be compact, efficient and make the most of our chances. Of course, to get a result you need to play good football too, but without those concepts you do not get victories."
The Rossoneri are of course the only Italian side left in the Champions League and former Italy coach Marcello Lippi commented on this fact. Allegri replied: That was very pleasing what Lippi said and I will have to buy him dinner. I am disappointed for the other Italian teams but it was important for us to go through and take on the best in Europe."
As for the team to face Roma: "We have El Shaarawy and Abate out but Bonera is back as is De Sciglio. Mexes and Zapata are also available."