AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri is refusing to be put off by the row surrounding the venue for Sunday’s game against Cagliari.
The fixture had been moved to Turin’s Stadio Olimpico after concerns about the safety of Cagliari’s home ground, the Stadio Is Arenas – which has some sections that are unfinished following renovations.
It was then moved back after Cagliari won an appeal but local authorities are now considering an emergency bid to play the match behind closed doors or call it off altogether.
Despite the uncertainty, Allegri insists his side are fully focused and will need to be at their best to face what the Milan boss believes will be a tough Cagliari side.
“Some players were away with their national teams and the rest of us only focused on training and didn’t care for the debate of the Cagliari stadium,” he said ahead of the game.
“That’s our job and that’s what we did, aware of the fact that tomorrow we will play against Cagliari and independently from where we will be playing the match – Turin, Cagliari or elsewhere – we will be facing a strong team.
“They played a great match against Roma last Friday – they’re a team with excellent individual talents, they have strikers who can create difficulties for anyone because they don’t give points of reference and above all it’s not easy at all to win in Cagliari.”
Allegri was also quizzed on the performance of Milan forwards Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy for Italy against the Netherlands midweek, a game neither player performed well in.
While Allegri admitted both were well below their best he pointed to the quality of the opponent as a reason behind their lack of influence on the match and highlighted the important role he will have on their development for the national side.
“Balotelli and El Shaarawy didn’t put in a great performance in the Italian national team, but it should be noted that it’s never easy to play against Holland,” Allegri said.
“I have a responsibility for these two guys. They need to grow rapidly, from a mental point of view in particular, as well as the technical and tactical ones. They’re two important players for our national team and will represent our country in next World Cup.
“They’ll need to work well and focus on their job, I’ll try to give back them to Prandelli in the best possible condition.”