Massimiliano Allegri is under no illusions of the importance of the upcoming Champions League double-header with Olympiacos, but stopped short of calling Wednesday’s first game decisive in terms of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Speaking to reporters in Greece, the 47-year-old began: “It’s still not a decisive game, but an important one nonetheless. The two matches with Olympiacos are practically a knock-out tie and we need to come away with as many points as possible. It won't assure us of qualification but will give us a good chance of progressing to the next round.”
The boss believes motivation will be a key factor as the Bianconeri aim to silence a lively home crowd by claiming a positive result tomorrow night.
“There'll be a great atmosphere and the Olympiacos fans will be trying to urge the team on any way they can. They're at home, of course. However, the supporters can't come onto the pitch - only the players will be out there.
“We need to have plenty of motivation because it’s important for us to progress in the Champions League. We can’t put a foot wrong tomorrow.”
When asked about the qualities possessed by the reigning champions of Greece, Allegri said he and his men had the utmost respect for the achievements of Michel and his side.
“We have plenty of respect for Olympiacos. They beat Atletico Madrid, play good football and their coach has equipped them with a Spanish mentality. They possess quality individuals and we’ll need to play with intensity in order to limit their best attributes. It'll be a tough match for us, but so too will it be for Olympiacos.”
After confirming seven of his starting line-up for tomorrow, the Tuscan tactician concluded by revealing he still has a few question marks remaining over his selection, one of which concerns the man to partner Carlos Tevez in attack.
“Those who will definitely play are Lichtsteiner, Ogbonna, Chiellini, Bonucci, Tevez, Vidal and Buffon. I still have a few doubts to resolve as far as the others are concerned. Morata is young and possesses great quality. I’ll see whether or not he or Llorente gets the nod tomorrow.”