Bologna v Milan: De Sciglio targeting European qualification
Mattia De Sciglio insists AC Milan are fully focused on sealing a European return through their Serie A league position, rather than depending on beating Juventus in the Coppa Italia final.
Milan travel to Bologna on Saturday having won only one of their last nine matches and slipped to seventh in the table, a point behind Sassuolo, with only two games to play before the end of the season.
Cristian Brocchi's side will qualify for the Europa League if they defeat Serie A champions Juventus in the Coppa Italia showpiece.
However, if Milan lose, that place will go to whichever team finishes sixth in the league, with De Sciglio keen to get the job done at the first attempt.
"There is great desire," the defender told Milan Channel. "We can't afford to risk the possibility of playing in Europe only via the Coppa Italia.
"Our first goal is to get there through the league. We have to take back sixth place.
"We've been out of Europe for three years now and for a club like Milan that can't happen."
Andrea Bertolacci has continued to train as he steps up his recovery from a muscle injury, while Giacomo Bonaventura (hamstring) has had an individual training session and the Bologna game could come too soon for him. M'Baye Niang (ankle) and Luca Antonelli (calf) are definitely out.
Milan's last visit to the Dall'Ara saw them score a pair of late goals to secure a 3-3 draw, while Bologna won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the San Siro in January thanks to Emanuele Giaccherini.
Bologna's general manager Marco Di Vaio is hoping the club can afford to buy Giaccherini from Sunderland at the end of the season when his loan deal expires, as the 31-year-old only has a year left on his contract at the Premier League club.
"Signing Giaccherini permanently does not depend only on Sunderland, who don't need the money, but it comes a lot down to the player and how successful he is in making the English club understand what he wants to do," Di Vaio told Radio Bruno.
Giaccherini has a terrific record against Milan, scoring his first Serie A goal against the club in September 2010. He has also won five of the six times he has played against Milan and has enjoyed a solid season with Bologna, scoring seven league goals in 26 league appearances.
Bologna, who have failed to score in eight of their last 11 league games, will still be without striker Mattia Destro (finger), while Luca Rizzo (muscle) and Archimede Morleo (arm) are also out, with Franco Zuculini (knee) a doubt.
Key Opta Stats:
- Bologna are winless against Milan at the Dall'Ara since March 2002 - the Rossoneri have alternated between a win and a draw over the last six league clashes at Bologna's ground (3-3 in the most recent meeting).
- Bologna have won only one of their last 11 league matches (D5 L5).
- Milan are the team to have scored the joint-most Serie A goals versus Bologna in Serie A, 210 (along with Inter).
- Milan have allowed six goals from direct free-kicks in the league this season, more than any other team.
- Mario Balotelli has found the back of the net in each of the four Serie A games he has played versus Bologna: three goals in Inter's shirt, one with AC Milan.