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AC Milan v Roma: Manolas targets automatic Champions League qualification

Kostas Manolas is determined to help Roma close out the Serie A season in style by beating AC Milan and claiming second spot on Saturday.

Luciano Spalletti’s men have not lost in the league since the 1-0 defeat to champions Juventus on January 24 and one more win could see them claim automatic Champions League qualification.

The capital club will need a favour from relegated Frosinone, who travel to second-placed Napoli – two points ahead of Roma – for their final game of the season.

“The race for second place is not over yet,” Greece international Manolas told Roma Radio.

“Napoli have an easier game than us on Saturday, seeing as we’re playing against AC Milan, but you never know in football. We’ll give it our best shot and we’ll certainly be going to Milan to win.

“It’s important that we produce a top performance, as always. Roma is a big club and we always need to be aiming to win our games.

“As I’ve said, that’s what we want on Saturday. We know it’ll be tough against AC Milan, especially seeing as they need points to qualify for the Europa League.”

Cristian Brocchi’s San Siro tenure yielded its second win on Saturday as Carlos Bacca’s 40th-minute penalty sealed a 1-0 victory over Bologna.

That left Milan just one point shy of sixth-placed Sassuolo, knowing overtaking them will guarantee a place in Europe’s secondary competition.

With a Coppa Italia final to come against a Juve side already in next season’s Champions League, a win there would seal qualification.

However, if they do climb above Sassuolo then even a defeat in the Stadio Olimpico showdown would be irrelevant to their continental aspirations, as the Europa League spot assigned to the Coppa would be given to the sixth-placed team.

To add further intrigue to the mix, Eusebio Di Francesco’s men are facing Milan’s city rivals Inter this weekend.

It is likely to be a tightly contested encounter at San Siro, with four of the last six matches ending in a draw, as was the case with January’s reverse fixture, which finished 1-1.

Roma’s last win against Milan at San Siro was in 2010, but they have scored in 10 of their last 11 trips against the Rossoneri at the stadium.

Giacomo Bonaventura (thigh) is expected to be named in Milan’s squad, while it is a similar story for M’Baye Niang.

Roma fans will hope it is not the last they see of club legend Francesco Totti, whose future remains up in the air after a remarkable 23 years in the first team.

It had been reported that the Italian, who turns 40 this year, would move on at the end of the season, but it is now thought he will commit for the 2016-17 season after issues between he and Spalletti were resolved.


Key Opta Facts:

– AC Milan are winless in their last four home games (D3 L1)
– The Rossoneri have scored more than one goal in only one of their last 12 Serie A fixtures (against Frosinone).
– Roma have scored 44 goals in their last 18 Serie A matches – six more than any other side.
– The Giallorossi have scored the most goals from outside the box in this Serie A season: 18, 15 more than AC Milan.

Thu 12 May, 2016
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