Milan:AC Milan goes into Tuesday's Champions League match at home to Real Madrid with its confidence boosted by an unbeaten run in October following the return to form of some key players.
Since the end of September, Leonardo's team has moved up to fourth in Serie A following three wins and two draws. The run coincided with Milan's 3-2 victory in Madrid in the last round of Champions League matches which lifted the Italian club to the top of Group C.
Among the players recapturing their best form is striker Marco Borriello, who overcame a year of back and groin complaints to score both goals in a 2-0 win over Parma at the weekend, while Ronaldinho is finally enjoying a consistent spell in the team.
In defense Alessandro Nesta has recovered from a series of injuries to form a solid central defensive partnership with Thiago Silva.
"I'm on the right road, but I feel I can do more," Borriello said. "I can't wait for Tuesday's match. I'm desperate to play, but ultimately the coach will decide.
"We are now thinking about Tuesday's match against Real. Now is not the time to get carried away with my goals, as I already have to start thinking about the next ones."
Above all, the San Siro outfit is showing a resilience that was missing in the early part of the season.
"Little by little the team is coming together," midfielder Clarence Seedorf said. "The players are happy, we know that the road is long, but the team is starting to trust in what we are doing.
"Compared to the first match with Real our interplay is much better. There's no fear. (Tuesday's match) will be a game between two teams that respect each other."
Madrid goes into the game with question marks over coach Manuel Pellegrini's future with the club.
The Chilean was blamed for Madrid's 4-0 loss to third tier Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey, but he was given a stay of execution after the 2-0 win against Getafe on Saturday. Coupled with Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Osasuna it means Madrid is now one point behind the European Champion in second place in the Spanish standings.
"Against Getafe we took to the pitch under a bit of a cloud, but we found the right spirit," defender Pepe said. "Now we expect a very difficult match against Milan but we know that with the same mentality as we had on Saturday we can win.
"The team improved, showed attitude and played well. We prepared for the match in a different way and I hope we can do well against Milan and forget about last week."
The world's most expensive player Cristiano Ronaldo won't be playing, however. The Portuguese is absent with an injured ankle, although Pepe says the team is more than capable of coping.
"I know they (the players) are looking forward to this match. We need to stay focused and play our game. We need to play at a fast pace because finishing top of the group is crucial. We know we have a lot of work to do, but we have to prove that we are a real team."
Milan and Madrid have six points from three games while Olympique Marseille and FC Zurich have three points.