AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso still believes his side can claim a place in next season’s Champions League.
Milan have won one of their five Serie A matches since Gattuso took charge following the sacking of Vincenzo Montella, leaving the team 11th in the table despite heavy investment in players including Leonardo Bonucci and Andre Silva.
It means Milan are 14 points adrift of fourth-placed Roma and Champions League qualification but just 10 above the bottom three.
Despite their poor form – a rare highlight was beating Inter to qualify for the last four of the Coppa Italia – Gattuso insists a place at Europe’s top table remains his target.
“Our league position is not good, but we’re in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and the last 32 of the Europa League,” Gattuso said at Friday’s news conference.
“We need to get the best out of those matches, without neglecting the league where there’s a long way to go.
“And until the mathematics condemns us, we must even believe in the Champions League.”
Milan host Crotone on Saturday, with the visitors 18th in Serie A after losing six of their last seven matches in the league, but Gattuso is taking nothing for granted, although Milan won the reverse fixture 3-0 at the start of the season.
“Tomorrow’s match won’t be easy but we only think about winning and bringing the three points home,” added Gattuso, who marks his 40th birthday next week.
“They are an offensive team and they like to bring many men in the area. We must be careful on defence. They have won only one game of the last five, but it’s a team we respect a lot. We must play at high intensity.
“Will I play Hakan Calhanoglu from the start? Maybe. He is fully fit. At this moment, everyone is training with great desire, they are making it difficult for me to make choices. This team can still give much more, many players can do a lot better.
“When people thought it was easy, it went badly like in Benevento and Verona. Right now we can’t afford to say that a match is easy. We have worked very well in the last days. I saw a less tired team, but we have to prove it on the pitch.”