Posted on May 05
Massimiliano Allegri says Sunday night's penultimate match of the season will decide the destination of this season's Serie A title.
The AC Milan coach will lead his side out as the nominal away side in their city derby against Inter Milan, while Juventus travel to Trieste to take on Sardinians Cagliari.
Both leaders Juve and champions Milan finish the season with home games they will be expected to win, so Allegri believes whoever comes out on top on Sunday night will be the de facto champions.
"I believe 99 percent that tomorrow night will decide the scudetto. It will be the most important night of the season," he said in Saturday's pre-match press conference.
Even so, he insists his own players must concentrate on their prestigious derby rather than on what Juve are doing.
"We have to take on Inter with great motivation but we can't be thinking about Juve; we must be focused on Inter.
"It will certainly be a great game against a very attacking side. But we must only think about our game because there's only one result we must get and then at 11pm, we'll see what the table says."
Milan must win to ensure they still have a chance of winning the title next weekend.
They are a point behind Juve but the Turin giants have the head-to-head edge, meaning even if Milan draw, Juve could snatch the title on Sunday.
Allegri spent two years at Cagliari, where he made his name and convinced Milan to sign him.
But the coach is not planning on ringing up his former charges to ask them to give his new team a helping hand.
"They only play for themselves. They're proud. I know them well; they gave me two marvellous years," said Allegri.
"I don't know if they will be thinking about me but knowing them, they will give their maximum."
As for his own players, serenity is the word of the day at the Milanello training complex.
"We have to be careful not to get tense or nervous. We must be calm and demonstrate our technical strengths," said Allegri.
"Right now, Juve are the only ones with something to lose."
While Milan are fighting for the title, Inter, champions two seasons ago, are battling for their Champions League lives.
They lost 3-1 at Parma in mid-week and now trail Napoli and Udinese by three points.
They must win to stand any chance of overhauling their rivals and featuring in Europe's premier club competition next season.
Interim coach Andrea Stramaccioni was unbeaten in six games until he took his side to Parma.
But he does not expect Sunday's derby to have too much influence on his own chances of landing the job full-time.
"I think I will be judged on what I have done and will do in the future," he said.
"This is one of the games that will permit another judgement to be made about the coach. Of course it's not a match like the others -- everything's worth double.
"We were fired up. After Parma there was also an element of anger. You will see from the first minute tomorrow what we want to demonstrate.
"We have two crucial games coming up and we want to take six points, then we'll see where we are in the league.
"There's no calculations. We want to get as many points as possible and then we'll see."