Sinisa Mihajlovic has labelled AC Milan's Serie A match against Torino as a must win encounter as his side enter a pivotal phase of their season.
Milan lie sixth in the table ahead of Saturday's match at San Siro, eight points shy of third-place Fiorentina in the final Champions League qualification spot.
The Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Alessandria follows, with a final berth against Juventus the expected result, before back-to-back away games at Sassuolo and Chievo.
Mihajlovic is adamant Milan must hit a rich vein of form in this stretch of fixtures if they hope to end their season triumphantly in May.
"We must win against Torino because our season will be determined by our next three or four matches," said Mihajlovic at a pre-match news conference, having watched Udinese and leaders Napoli leave San Siro with 1-1 draws in their previous two home matches.
"The draw against Napoli gave us a boost in confidence. We're a team of soul, we never stopped believing in ourselves during the match. In the final 20 minutes we could have even won it.
"My players need to give their all, while my role is to guide them. If someone thinks tomorrow is going to be easy then they had better stay at Milanello [Milan's training ground].
"We can't drop points the way we did in the first half of the season. We have all the qualities beat Torino and approach third place."
Having praised the application from his squad overall, Mihajlovic was left to make a predictable exception – urging sustained effort from Mario Balotelli after the enigmatic striker was restricted to brief cameos from the bench in Milan's previous two matches.
"Mario has to always give 100 per cent," the Serbian added, in a lament familiar to all of the 25-year-old's previous professional coaches.
"He needs to play with the right attitude and the rest will come."
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