Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes failure to beat Inter in their next Serie A game will end their title chances and leave them to battle for a Champions League qualification spot instead.
The Rossoneri ended the weekend four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more after a dire 0-0 draw with Juventus at San Siro.
It marked the first goalless draw between the two giants in the Italian top flight since December 2007.
Milan face their neighbours on February 5, with Pioli suggesting anything less than a win will be fatal to their Scudetto hopes.
“We knew the games against Juventus and Inter would say a great deal about our future,” he told DAZN.
“If we don’t beat Inter, then our campaign will be very similar to last season, when we won at the end to go second and risked crashing out of the Champions League places.
“We have our way of playing and must realise that if we want to achieve something extraordinary again, we need to give everything. I saw many individual performances of a very high level today.
“We had the right performance for our circumstances and the opposition, but were lacking precision in the penalty area.
“We tried to be dangerous and limited Juventus to no chances. I don’t think it was a tactical issue, as we had players in the box, but got the final ball wrong.
“The state of the pitch didn’t help either, as we had some bad first touches, had to take extra touches to get it under control and that slowed us down.”
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) January 23, 2022
Indeed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first-half withdrawal through injury was caused by the state of the pitch, Pioli confirmed.
“Ibra felt pain in the Achilles tendon,” he added. “He blamed the pitch, which was very hard, so we hope he can recover over the next few days.”
Milan’s Pierre Kalulu was part of a defence that did not allow Juve a single shot on target and the 21-year-old wants to see an improvement in attack.
“It’s a positive statistic for everyone in the team and not just for us defenders,” he told Milan TV. “We did well and must continue like this.
“It’s an important game for us and for the fans. Compared to tonight, we need to do better up front if we are to bring home the three points.”