Stefano Pioli says mentality will be key for his AC Milan players when they try to clinch Champions League qualification for the first time in eight years by beating Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday.

The Milanese club last graced European football’s top club competition in 2013/14, but is now one victory away from booking a place in the group stages for next season.

“The fact that it has been so long raises expectations. We are a top club and we know we have worked well for this game,” Pioli told a news conference.

“We must be mentally prepared. These matches are always complicated and never simple.”

Milan is third in the standings, three points ahead of Juventus in fifth, but its better head-to-head record against the Turin club means it will finish in front of Andrea Pirlo’s side regardless of other results if it beats Cagliari.

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