Milan to Play for Cassano in Champions Clash, Says Allegri

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri says his team will be playing for star forward Antonio Cassano when they tackle BATE Borisov here in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Cassano has spent the last two days in hospital after being taken ill on the return to Milan from Rome following Saturday night's 3-2 success over Roma.

Reports from Italian news agency Ansa on Tuesday claimed he had suffered an ischaemic stroke.

Cassano had complained of finding it difficult to speak or move when the team arrived back in Milan in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He has since been undergoing tests on his heart and brain in hospital.

Allegri and Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani both said earlier on Monday that the 29-year-old was feeling better and seemed calm.

"Tomorrow we'll be playing for Antonio. Quite apart from the sporting element, what counts most is the human aspect and we're all feeling sad," said Allegri.

Milan veteran full-back Gianluca Zambrotta paid tribute to the oft-troubled striker.

"He's a wonderful person, we'll miss his presence and his happiness in the dressing room," he said.

Milan know that a victory against Borisov is likely to secure their passage into the last 16 of the competition.

They are level on points with Barcelona in Group H, six points clear of Borisov and Viktoria Plzen.

If Milan win then only an unlikely success for Plzen against holders Barca in the Czech Republic would deny Milan their place in the second round.

Allegri feels his team is improving all the time, despite conceding a lot of goals in the league.

Although they are fourth, only four teams in the league have conceded more.

"On Saturday we played well despite the goals we conceded, we didn't give much away," said Allegri.

"For me that's a good starting point for how we should play in the future.

"We have a good chance to win the title and we'll be fighting with six or seven teams.

"So far we haven't played to our potential but we started doing that Saturday.

"It's important to get consistency of results and tomorrow is an important game for qualification.

"With qualification in our pockets we can play Barcelona for top spot.

"Then after the international break we have eight matches in which not only (top spot in) the Champions League will be decided but also a good part of the league."

Source: Agence France Presse

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