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AC Milan v Udinese: In-form Niang wary of distractions

M’Baye Niang has urged AC Milan not to get distracted going into Sunday’s visit of an out-of-form Udinese to San Siro.

Following a narrow 1-0 win over third-tier Alessandria in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men have breathed life into their league campaign with back-to-back victories against rivals Inter and Palermo.

Milan sit sixth in Serie A – two points off fifth-placed Roma – and are unbeaten at home against Udinese since May 2007, winning six times and drawing twice in that period.

Niang is eager to maintain focus and make it three home league wins on the spin for a Milan side looking upwards.

“Whether it is me or [Carlos] Bacca on the score-sheet, it doesn’t matter, the main thing is to find the back of the net,” he said after the pair ensured Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Palermo.

“You are always more confident after winning and we have to try and keep on working hard, without getting distracted, and show what we’re made of.

“We need to take things one game at a time. Up next is a home tie with Udinese and we also need to start picking up a string of positive results at San Siro.

“Afterwards we will think about the games with Genoa and Napoli.”

Only leaders Napoli and champions Juventus have collected more points in 2016 than Milan, and Stefano Colantuono’s men face a tricky task to end their five-game winless run in the league.

Back-to-back draws with Empoli and Lazio have helped to stabilise Udinese in 14th place following three consecutive defeats, with an added boost provided by the January arrivals of Pablo Armero, Emil Hallfredsson and Andrija Balic.

Former Milan defender Armero and 18-year-old midfielder Balic have yet to debut for Udinese, but the latter is keen to get started in Italy after joining from Hajduk Split.

“I think this is the best place for me and my career to progress. Here I’ll have the opportunity to grow and to integrate well into the team,” he said.

“If I wasn’t ready I wouldn’t have come here to Italy. I’ll certainly follow every piece of good advice that could help me improve.

“[Antonio] Di Natale is really well known also abroad. I’ve been really welcomed by my new team-mates, they offered to help me in any way they could and I’m really satisfied here.”


Key Opta Stats

– Milan have kept consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since February 2015.
– The Rossoneri are unbeaten in their last five fixtures – last time they avoided defeat for six games in a row was in October 2014.
– Bacca has scored in four consecutive games for the first time since his arrival in Serie A.
– Niang has found the net in back-to-back appearances for the first time in Serie A.
– Mario Balotelli scored his last Serie A goal back in September, against Udinese. ‘Super Mario’ has netted a total of four goals against the Friulani so far in seven games.

Fri 5 Feb, 2016
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