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press-conference17 March 2021

PIOLI: "WE WANT THE QUARTER-FINALS"

The Coach and Simon Kjær gave their thoughts on the eve of AC Milan v Manchester United

It's the eve of a very important fixture for the Rossoneri: AC Milan v Manchester United, a match scheduled for 21:00 CET on Thursday 18 March at San Siro. Ahead of the announcement of the Diavolo's squad and the upcoming showdown, Stefano Pioli and Simon Kjær held a press conference from Milanello. 

STEFANO PIOLI

THE EUROPA LEAGUE
"All of the games we've played have improved us and helped us to grow. However, the results is the important thing tomorrow and we want to progress against a strong opponent. We need to go for the win. Everyone likely joined to be here, but we must not rest. As Kjær said, we've done well until now be we'd be disappointed if we reached the end of the season empty-handed."

INJURIES
"Bennacer and Ibra are in the squad and available. I'm happy with their recovery. Having Zlatan back is huge; he doesn't have 90 minutes in the legs but we'll see tomorrow. We'll need to wait and see with the others; tomorrow morning's training session will be key for Romagnoli, Rebić, Calabria and Leão. The more options I have, the better - especially because we are playing so many games. In any case, we've shown that we can do well even during injury crises."

THE IMPORTANCE OF IBRA
"Zlatan's arrival last January - along with Kjær - improved the squad in terms of depth and resilience on the pitch. I don't know if he was good at Sanremo, I didn't watch it, but he's an absolute champion on the üitch and we all expect a lot from him until the end of the season."  

MANCHESTER UTD AWAY FROM OLD TRAFFORD
"The difficulties will all be there; we know how good they are and what they bring to the table. They haven't lost a game in a while and we'll need to play with a lot of quality, personality and rhythm if we want to go through."

AFTER AC MILAN V NAPOLI
"Those situations involving Gigio, Theo and Rebić can happen. It was a nervy and difficult game but we can't have a repeat performance. We need to learn to be a bit more rational."  

THE RESULT FROM THE FIRST LEG
"When you prepare for games, you look at the big picture but it's hard to make exact predictions. In the first leg, they tried to be aggressive and we played out from the back really well. The result at Old Trafford shouldn't affect us. Tomorrow, we can't dictate the game; we need to be compact, balanced and dangerous."

SIMON KJÆR

THE FIRST LEG
"We must, and can, always improve, the away fixture gave us some indications as to what we need to carry on doing and what we will have to do better."

THE TEAM'S DEVELOPMENT
"The way I see it, it's no longer the case that this is a team of young lads. It's been a long journey getting this far; there have been lots of good moments and some difficult ones, but we've always had the right mindset. Knocking Manchester United out of the Europa League would be an important milestone for the team - a sign of growth. Tomorrow is a final, if we go on to the next round then we won't have won anything but it will be a very important step."

THE RETURN OF IBRA 
"He can always give something, both on and off the pitch, whether he's playing or not. It's difficult for me to talk about the chances of him playing tomorrow evening. But whether it's out on the pitch or in the dressing room, he has the capacity to add so much to the team."

MANCHESTER UNITED’S ABILITY
"We were well aware that we would be facing off against a good team, but at the same time, we also knew that we would create lots of problems for them by playing to the best of our ability. I know Cavani very well, having coached him many years ago at Palermo, and he is an extraordinary attacker. But we're not bothered about who will be playing for the other side, we have a lot of respect for them but we will play in our own way, regardless."

CHANGING ROOM
"From the very first day, I was asked to lend a hand in the changing room and set an example to the youngest players in terms of work and professionalism. The group is fantastic, we're hungry to improve and want to learn. We've been on a great journey together and I've learnt a lot, but we need to carry on going down this path and keep working hard every day. We mustn't give up."

UNDERSTANDING WITH TOMORI
"I didn't know Fikayo before he arrived, but his mentality has been important right from the get-go. He was eager to prove himself and has done very well. He's a very fast defender and much more aggressive than most in Serie A. We've spoken a lot before games to better understand each other's movements. He hasn't surprised me because he possesses great qualities."


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