Milan's testing week begins against Roma

Posted by Sumeet Paul

VI Images/Getty ImagesMassimiliano Allegri hopes to have his Milan side pointed in the right direction prior to the winter break.

Following on from the success in the Champions League this week, Milan host Roma on Monday night hoping to improve their domestic situation with just two games standing in between them and the winter break. Still 14 points adrift of third place, it is vital that the Rossoneri secure maximum points to end the year.

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Admittedly, there is much to admire about Rudi Garcia's side, including their individual talent as well as their team ethic which has seen them remain unbeaten so far this season.

Garcia appears to have now embraced the fact that the Giallorossi are genuine Scudetto contenders, and with Francesco Totti recovering from injury, his return will be a timely boost for the capital club as they look to maintain their momentum heading into the New Year.

The 37-year-old is one of the few active greats remaining that graced a golden era in Italian football over the past few decades, but there are aspects of how Roma have rebuilt this year which Milan could learn from, specifically their playing style.

Arguably one of the better signings this past summer, Andrea Poli, conceded that he is aware he has arrived during a transitional period for the Rossoneri, and that "none of us would have started in the Grande Milan side", according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

While that is perhaps true, former midfielder Gennaro Gattuso insisted this week that the combative midfielder is an ideal candidate to become a future leader of this current squad.

Considering Poli's characteristics, there is real truth in that statement, but it is firmly up to this crop of players as to how they react to having the responsibility of building on the history of the club and creating their own by ushering in a new cycle of success.

In part, that path will be altered depending on the outcome of this season, and with the absence of Champions League football next year, it will have a direct impact on the club's finances, image and prestige moving forward.

Much has been made of the 'disaster' for Serie A this week after both Juventus and Napoli were eliminated from the competition. While Milan will benefit by claiming the share of the TV market pool money for the knock-out stages, it is clear that they are guaranteed a tough test with the draw set to take place on Monday.

Several members of the squad have spoken of their belief that they can still achieve a top-three finish this season, but despite Milan's miraculous recovery last year, the league appears to be more competitive this time round given the emergence of the likes of Roma and Inter.

Nevertheless, it is fundamental that Milan obtain results against their 'direct rivals' for a Champions League spot, and with the Derby della Madonnina ahead next weekend, it is a vital, if not decisive, week in Massimiliano Allegri's season.

Enter January with two significant wins over two rivals, and the atmosphere around Milanello will reflect the improved look of the Serie A table. Suffer more disappointment and fall off the pace further, and the influence of the new arrivals may be too late.

Confident that Milan can secure victory against Roma? Is the season effectively over if they fail to obtain two wins in the next two games?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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