AC Milan defender Alex is aware the club have to get back into the Champions League by securing a top-three finish in Serie A this season.
New head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has taken charge after the team slumped to a dreadful 10th-place finish last year and has had a mixed start at San Siro.
Milan have nine points from their first five league games but have won their last two, including a dramatic 3-2 triumph against Udinese last time out – a game where they had been three goals in front at half-time.
Alex, formerly of Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, made his first appearance of the season by coming off the substitutes’ bench early in the second half of that match and is aware the stakes are high.
“We are a strong team and next year we have to play in the Champions League,” the 33-year-old told Milan channel. “We have to continue to grow.
“Against Udinese we did well in the first half and a little less well in the second. The coach has spoken to us and analysed the reasons for what happened in the second half to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It was not an easy match and remember we lost at Friuli last year. I felt fine coming on, you always have to be ready. We have big competition in central defence but those of us who are outside always talk to those who are on the pitch.
“We are a team and we have to help each other – you win and lose together.”
Next up for Milan is an away game against Genoa on Sunday as they look to make it three straight league wins.
Alex continued: “We must continue to grow. On Sunday we have another important match, we are working to prepare as well as we can.
“We must start strong again and this time continue throughout the whole match. The Genoa team has legs, heart and they play at a high tempo. Their fans are a great support and it is never easy to play there.
“We must enter the field with conviction to win, like we did in Udine.”