The Europa League is back; the knock-out rounds are about to begin. At Milanello, it's the eve of Crvena zvezda v AC Milan in the first leg of the Round of 32, which kicks off at 18:55 CET at the Stadion Rajko Mitić in Belgrade on Thursday 18 February. Coach Stefano Pioli and Rade Krunić previewed the game in the pre-match press conference. Here's what they had to say:
“We are happy to be back playing in Europe, we want to amaze here too. The team must want to take to the pitch with enthusiasm, and have the same desire to qualify as they had against Rio Ave. This marks the start of a very important period of the season, in which there are a lot of complicated and decisive matches in both Serie A and in the Europa League: we will need to be ready.”
“Crvena Zvezda are a strong team, they are winning their championship. It will be a difficult match. We are sorry for the absence of the public, the fans would have carried on Crvena Zvezda tomorrow, but also us.”
THE TEAM AT THE MOMENT
"We must look ahead of us, in football it is not what you have done but what you will do. After La Spezia we made our evaluations and now we are focused on this Round of 32. Against Spezia it would have been a problem if we had lost playing in Milan, but we did not play in Milan. We wanted to return to Europe with all our strength, we are satisfied with the progress made so far."
MANDŽUKIĆ AND IBRAHIMOVIĆ
"Mario is a professional, he has adapted very well, he is working hard to increase his rhythm and conditioning, he is improving, and I think he can be ready to play. Zlatan will be called up."
"Crvena Zvezda are a beautiful team, the strongest in Serbia. They also have a great past linked to AC Milan. As a child I supported Crvena Zvezda, I follow their league a lot, it will be exciting for me to play in Belgrade. I am a professional, I dreamed about wearing the Rossoneri shirt.”
"We will face this challenge with confidence and awareness, we must redeem ourselves after the defeat against Spezia. In La Spezia it was not the real AC Milan, the problem was not losing but how we lost: the important thing is not to create confusion, let's turn the page and hope to win tomorrow.”
"Every game is an opportunity, I am well and I'm always trying to be ready as soon as the Coach needs me, both from the start and from the bench. I can't wait to play. My natural role is behind the forwards, our system does not include this role but I am available and I can fill other positions such as that of midfielder, playmaker or winger; it also depends on the game."
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