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Montella looking for Milan ‘spark’ against AEK

Milan (AFP) – AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella defended blundering skipper Leonardo Bonucci and said his team just needed to find a “spark’ ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against AEK Athens.

“It’ll come, right now we need a flame, and we have to be good to spark it,” said Montella ahead of the game in the San Siro.

AC Milan lead Group D with two wins from two ahead of AEK who are unbeaten with a win and a draw.

“He’s (Bonucci) paying for every small mistake … the team is paying for every single mistake of everyone,” said Montella, whose side have plunged to tenth in Serie A. 

Bonucci arrived at the San Siro during the summer in a shock move worth an estimated 40 million euros ($45.8 million) after helping Juventus win six consecutive titles.

The 30-year-old defender immediately stepped into the role of captain as the club push for a return to Champions League football.

But errors in defence gave Mauro Icardi space to score a hat-trick in Sunday’s 3-2 derby defeat to Inter Milan at the San Siro — a third straight defeat.

“The criticisms have to be accepted,”  Montella told a press conference.

“I think it was a bit of everything Sunday, the difference was the quality of Icardi.

“We need to improve both as a team and at an individual level. Bonucci like Milan is paying for every small mistake. But I want to think it’s random, his playing quality has grown.”

Montella received the backing of club chief Marco Fassone in the wake of Sunday’s defeat, but reports have suggested that the coach must claim wins against AEK and against Genoa and Chievo in Serie A if he is to keep his job.

“It’s important to keep up the good work in Europa League. AEK Athens play dynamic football they can adapt to the opponents.

“Europe is AC Milan’s home and we are happy with how we have done so far. We would like to do this well also in Serie A.”

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