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AC Milan desperate for ECL win over Ajax

Coach Massimiliano Allegri has called for AC Milan to leave their poor domestic form behind them and secure qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League with victory against Ajax.

For the second consecutive season, Milan's run in to Christmas is anything but festive: they sit ninth in Serie A, 22 points behind leaders Juventus and 14 adrift of the first Champions League qualifying spot.

But although a top-three finish and qualification for next season's Champions League is in jeopardy, Allegri believes the lure of a place in the last 16 can inject life into their ongoing campaign.

"The Champions League is one thing and Serie A another. Our league form isn't the best but we've never let ourselves down in Europe. The Champions League matches are different," Allegri told reporters on Tuesday.

"Everyone plays to win in Europe as there are so few games to get into the last 16. There's less space in Italian football and so you have to make less mistakes."

Milan's 3-0 rout of Celtic in Scotland a fortnight ago, when Ajax stunned Barcelona 2-1 in Amsterdam to stay in contention, kept the Italian giants in second place in Group H with a one-point lead on the Dutchmen.

It means the seven-time European champions need just a point at the San Siro to join leaders Barcelona in the knockout phase.

But despite Ajax's mediocre form on the road in the competition - not winning their past six away fixtures - Milan want to qualify with a morale-boosting win.

"We have to win today and then, from Thursday, we'll look to get back on track in the league," added Allegri.

"We definitely can't be looking for a draw as that would put qualification at risk," said defender Mattia De Sciglio, who recently returned to the fray following a knee injury.

"They're a good team and they play good football. We'll have to remain focused and be aware of the fact that today is a fundamental match."

Dutch defender Urby Emanuelson, who spent seven years with Ajax, is a major doubt due to an injury knock and could be replaced by Kevin Constant.

Brazilian forward Robinho is still sidelined, but Milan are set to welcome back versatile midfielder Sulley Muntari.

 

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