AC Milan, Clubs, Italian Serie A, Story

ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti refuses to call the title race over as Juventus continue to stretch their lead over Napoli atop Serie A.

Gennaro Gattuso admits he gave his players hell following their defeat to Juventus on Saturday evening as he seeks a reaction against city rivals Inter Milan on Wednesday.

The Rossoneri’s 10-game unbeaten run in the league was brought to an end by the Bianconeri, and with Inter beating Hellas Verona 3-0, the gap between the two sides grew to eight points.

Defeat to Inter in Wednesday’s rearranged derby would leave Milan with a mountain to climb in their quest to qualify for the Champions League next season, and this is why Gattuso says he has laid down the law to his team in recent days.

“I’ve not been a very pretty sight these past few days,” Gattuso said at a news conference. “Games like these have got to burn, like all defeats must burn. It happened in London and it happened with Juve.

“It’s not on that when you play the way we did, you don’t get a result. I’ve got a lot of young players and games like these have got to burn; you must never settle for what you’ve got. If these young players want to become big names, they must never give up and these occasions have got to make them grow.”

Gattuso added that he had no complaints about the way his team played at the Allianz Stadium, but suggested they need to develop a ruthless streak.

Even playing badly is more acceptable, he said, as long as the result is right.

“It’s a derby, and in a derby, not always the best team wins, but rather the team who knows how to control their emotions,” Gattuso said. “[Inter] are in a good shape and we mustn’t give them any room.

“We still believe we can qualify for the Champions League. Each game is a final for us now and this is a derby. It will break a record in terms of gate receipts for Milan and if we play the way we know how, we’ll cause them trouble.”

Gattuso’s opposite number Luciano Spalletti says he does not even want to contemplate losing this derby, since he knows how big a step towards the Champions League a victory would be.

“I don’t know what we could lose, but I know what we could gain by winning,” Spalletti said in view of a potential 11-point advantage with eight games of the season left.

“Even with a defeat they would still be in an important position in the league table, but although their mentality, introduced by Gattuso, wouldn’t change, the points’ gap would start to look different.”

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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