After leaving Roma in 2009 to coach the Russian outfit, the Italian has enjoyed much success since making the move, most recently winning the league title with the Zenitchiki.
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"Milan are enduring the same loss of form that we are and for both teams this meeting is critical for morale and even fundamental for the future of them both," said the former Empoli player at a press conference.
"The tie against Milan is the game of the year for us, we cannot fail, otherwise we risk not qualifying for the next round. If we play to our best we can beat anyone."
"My team has a lot of character and they know how to react to certain situations. We have to be aggressive and score goals.
"Nobody has taken our place in the Russian League, we are still Zenit. That is why it is such an important game against Milan because we got it all wrong against Malaga.