Carlos Bacca has stressed AC Milan cannot afford to drop points in Sunday’s Serie A trip to Atalanta if they are to qualify for European football and he is looking forward to meeting former team-mate Gabriel Paletta on the pitch.
Milan sit sixth in the Serie A table heading into this weekend’s encounter with 49 points from 30 games, four points clear of seventh-placed Sassuolo.
Bacca insists Milan must keep pushing, while he also has one eye on the Coppa Italia final versus Juventus in May.
“It will be hard this weekend versus Atalanta. They are coming off the back of a good win versus Bologna, they have a good side and they need the points,” Bacca told Milan Channel.
“Paletta is a friend, he helped me a lot and also during the summer tour to China when [Cristian] Zapata was not there. Our children go to the same school. We are good friends but for now I am at Milan while he is at Atalanta. Both of us will be giving our all as we want to win.
“We need to keep pushing towards our goal of qualifying for Europe. Nothing has changed as we go into these final eight matches of the league season. We want to get into Europe.
“A lot can change between now and the Coppa Italia final. Both sides will have tough matches in the league, but a final is always different because finals are there to be won.”
Sinisa Mihajlovic may have to make do without the services of Alex and Juraj Kucka, with the duo training apart from the rest of the group on Friday.
Atalanta, meanwhile, will be hopeful of building on their 2-0 win over Bologna before the international break as they look to move further away from the drop zone.
They sit 13th in the table, but are just five points clear of 18th-placed Palermo.
Edoardo Reja’s men went 14 games without a win before that victory against Bologna and another triumph at the weekend would be a huge boost for their survival chances.
Atalanta held Milan to a scoreless draw at San Siro back in November.
Key Opta facts:
– AC Milan have won 50 of their 109 Serie A games against Atalanta, losing 21 and drawing the remaining 38.
– Atalanta have not scored from a direct free-kick since December 2013.
– Milan have won four of their last six away games at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, losing once and drawing once.
– Atalanta have scored only 13 goals in the second half of the season, the joint worst record along with Sassuolo.
– Only Roma (13) have hit the woodwork more times than Milan (12), while Atalanta have struck the woodwork the fewest times (four).
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