Sinisa Mihajlovic has challenged AC Milan to win all four of their games before the mid-season break, beginning with Tuesday’s Coppa Italia fourth-round match against second-tier Crotone.
Milan responded to their narrow defeat to champions Juventus last week with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Mihajlovic’s former club Sampdoria at San Siro on Saturday.
That loss to Serie A champions Juve is their only reverse in the last seven games and Mihajlovic has called on his players to mount a run of wins when they take on Crotone, Carpi, Verona and Frosinone before the Italian season goes into hiatus.
“I’m happy as we’ve done well tonight,” Mihajlovic said to Mediaset Premium after the weekend win, which saw M’Baye Niang net twice, with Giacomo Bonaventura and Luiz Adriano also on target. “If we play like this, then we can beat anybody.
“The objective is to win all the next games leading up to the Christmas break. I am convinced we’ll do better in the second half of the season, especially as we face the big teams on our own turf.”
Milan, who overcame Perugia 2-0 to reach the Coppa Italia fourth round, now face a Crotone side who sit just a point off the top of the Serie B table.
Ivan Juric’s side edged past Ternana in the previous round and beat the same side 3-0 in the league last week before a 1-0 victory away to Spezia on Saturday, extending their run of form to just one defeat in 14 matches.
Mihajlovic is expected to stick with the more attacking 4-4-2 system deployed against Sampdoria, especially as Andrea Bertolacci is still sidelined with a thigh muscle problem, though he may opt to rest a few first-team regulars.
Chief executive officer Adriano Galliani revealed on Saturday that Milan hope to have Bertolacci and Mario Balotelli – who is out with a groin problem – back in action for the meeting with Frosinone on December 20.
Jeremy Menez (back) and Diego Lopez (knee) are the remaining long-term absentees, while Nigel de Jong (thigh) is still short of full fitness and is unlikely to feature on Tuesday.
Milan have won five Coppa Italia titles, but have not lifted the trophy since 2003.