Massimiliano Allegri says the Bianconeri will have to be wary of a “rejuvenated” Milan squad under the tutelage of ex-Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi at the San Siro on Saturday evening.
The Rossoneri struggled during a difficult 2013/14 Serie A season, finishing in eighth position, but have started this campaign in fine form with two wins from as many matches, joining the Bianconeri and Roma on maximum points.
In Friday afternoon’s pre-match press conference, the 47-year-old, who makes his first return to Milan after leaving in January 2014, began proceedings by stating that it would be an emotional night for him: “On a personal note, the match won’t be a game like any other. If I said otherwise, I wouldn’t be human.
“I spent three-and-a-half wonderful years and it goes without saying that I always had a great relationship with Galliani, the president and everyone else associated with Milan. It’ll be a special and emotionally-charged evening.”
The Rossoneri were busy during the summer transfer market, reshaping their squad with a multitude of signings, and Allegri feels that it was shrewd business all round from Inzaghi.
“Milan made some good quality signings during the transfer market, including Torres and Bonaventura who are technically gifted and above all in terms of their mentality.”
The Livorno-born tactician was also quick to praise his opposite number who has enjoyed a strong start in the Milan dugout, winning plenty of admirers along the way with his attacking brand of football.
“Inzaghi has done well to breathe new life into a club which has had a difficult six months or so, and we have to prepare ourselves for a rejuvenated squad who, other than possessing quality, will want to show they can fight for the top three places in the league. Tomorrow will be an important game for them.”
Looking ahead to the outcome in Milan, Allegri was quick to play down any suggestions that the Bianconeri would go into the match as favourites.
“In games like these at the San Siro, you cannot assign anyone as favourites because it’s a tough place to go. We know we have a good team but we have to show great respect for Inzaghi’s side.”
There was also good news on the condition of Arturo Vidal, who has been sidelined ever since the Bianconeri’s opening day success in Verona.
“During yesterday’s workout, Vidal worked alongside the rest of the squad and has made good progress. He’ll train as normal today and then I’ll decide if he’s fit enough to begin the game or start from the bench.”
The Bianconeri boss went on to give further updates on the injury front, revealing he expects the treatment table to clear from next week onwards.
“Pereyra is back available after serving suspension against Malmo. Morata is starting to get minutes under his belt in order to regain match fitness, so we’ll ease him back gradually. Chiellini made his return in the Champions League.
“Vidal’s recovery is timely and we hope to have Pirlo back next week and both Barzagli and Marrone as soon as possible. Having everyone back fit is an added boost in terms of rotation given that it’s impossible for the same players to take part in every game."
On the subject of title contenders, Allegri believes it is somewhat premature to elect an outright favourite.
He concluded: “It’s too early to make any assumptions, but I think it’ll be more of a level playing field compared to last season. We knew that Roma were a strong side before their 5-1 Champions League win. They did well in the transfer market and they’ll be our challengers for the title along with Inter, Napoli and Milan.”