21 September 2014 08:48
Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi believes the fallen Serie A giants can finish in the top three ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Empoli.
It has been slim pickings for Milan since claiming the Scudetto in 2010-11, watching on as a dominant Juventus won three consecutive titles.
In that three-year period, Milan were unable to win any silverware and their failure came to a head when they missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification, finishing eighth last season.
Milan have a new coach this term, with former fan favourite Inzaghi stepping into the hot seat, and he has already engineered a renewed sense of belief at San Siro.
The Milan side opened the season with back-to-back wins, though they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by champions Juventus on Saturday.
Regardless of that result, Inzaghi is confident Milan can compete for a place in Europe.
“When they appointed me they asked for the growth of this squad and to get this side back to its levels of the past,” the 41-year-old said.
“I want all of this and I am very motivated. I am happy with the squad that I am working with and I think that we can compete and maybe insert ourselves in the first three positions.”
Tuesday’s hosts Empoli have endured a difficult start to life back in Italy’s top flight.
Promoted from Serie B after finishing second, Empoli are yet to win a game following back-to-back losses and a 2-2 draw at Cesena.
Empoli overturned a two-goal half-time deficit to earn a share of the spoils on that occasion and coach Maurizio Sarri hopes it kickstarts their survival bid.
“It’s a long road to safety and many experts think we’re already relegated, but we will try to prove them wrong,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“It won’t be easy for us, but we will definitely make it difficult for anyone to beat us.”
Inzaghi is bracing himself for a stern challenge at Stadio Carlo Castellani, while the Italian could hand loanee Fernando Torres his first start after coming off the bench against Juve.
“Let’s think about Tuesday now, we have to play a great match versus Empoli in order to beat them,” Inzaghi said.
“Against Empoli it won’t be easy. It will be a hard match because Sarri makes his teams play well.
“But a victory could take us back to the top of the table and follow on from our good performances shown up until now. We shall see how the recovery goes from this exhausting match, both mentally and physically.
“But I have a good bench and with Empoli I will use fresh legs.”
Tuesday’s clash will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2007-08.
Milan were 3-1 winners on that day courtesy of goals from Alexandre Pato, Massimo Ambrosini and Kaka, who have all since departed.