AC Milan's Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio: Champions League obligatory

AC Milan duo Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio are desperate for a strong Serie A campaign in order to avoid another season away from Champions League football.

The Rossoneri have only had a watching brief during this week's continental action with the club failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 seasons. It is something they are not used to, and something they do not want to get used to either.

While Milan's attack has been taking most of the plaudits this season -- scoring more goals than any other side in Serie A -- it is two defenders who have spoken up about their hopes and desires to get back on the European stage next season.

"Getting back into Europe is obligatory," Abate told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's driving us mad not playing these Tuesday and Wednesday nights."

That would mean the Champions League and not the Europa League, which is played on a Thursday, although it was only a casual reference. "We'll just have to see which one of the cups it is," added the 27-year-old, who has rediscovered his own form this season under Filippo Inzaghi.

"The change of coach has done well to me and to the rest of the squad," Abate added. "There's a different atmosphere at the club now, but I'm not going to get carried away, just like I didn't let things get me down before.

"There's a mutual faith between us and [Inzaghi]. We've not had an atmosphere like this at Milanello [training ground] in ages."

That sentiment is shared by the man on the opposite side of the Milan back four, De Sciglio.

"Inzaghi has brought some new cohesion to the group," he told Il Corriere dello Sport. "He runs the team differently to [Clarence] Seedorf. The way the new coach wants us to play has been fundamental while our determination to bounce back has also contributed."

Milan are up to fourth in the Serie A standings after seven matches, but De Sciglio is hoping for a rise of at least one more place before the season is out.

"The Champions League is fundamentally important," he added. "But we can't let our concentration levels drop. I think that after Juventus and Roma, we can be in there."