The league match against Lazio is a thing of the past, with the Rossoneri now looking ahead to a game for which they've been waiting for seven years. AC Milan are back in the Champions League, and their return will take place in a truly iconic setting: Anfield. Liverpool v AC Milan is a clash that brings back historic memories, but it's now very much part of a fascinating present. Coach Stefano Pioli and Simon Kjær met the press at Milanello to talk about tomorrow's 21:00 CEST kick-off.
FROM EUROPA LEAGUE QUALIFIERS TO ANFIELD
"Our growth over the past year is clear for all to see. Our experiences have helped us to grow and improve, and the beginning of this season has shown that this team knows how to play and how to approach games. The level is higher now; it's what we wanted and it's a chance for us to show that we can mix it with the best."
THE ABSENCES IBRA
"Zlatan has had an inflammation; he gave it a go this morning but it's useless to take risks at this point of the season. I see AC Milan with Zlatan and I absolutely think we'll have him back soon. Absences are a part of football; I'll need to choose between Ante and Olivier but we have the cover."
HIS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DEBUT AS A COACH
"Many of us have never played in the Champions League, but football is football. We know what to do and how to try and play against a really strong side. We've prepared really well for this game. There are no easy fixtures in this group; our opponents are all highly competitive and have been playing European football for a while. It's a chance for us to start writing our own history; we have a lot of belief in our own quality."
"He won't be able to complete a full 90 - being out for two weeks is tough - but he's doing well and is available. Ante, meanwhile, is going into this one following a brilliant performance; I'm sure that they will be ready and that both of them have characteristics that fit well with the rest of the team."
THE TACTICAL APPROACH TO THE GAME
"We need to be intelligent on the pitch and understand where the space is. Liverpool want to push and won't want to sit back and wait. We'll need to bit their high press by combining well when playing out from the back or going to the long ball."
SIMON KJÆR'S THOUGHTS
THE RECENT TRIP TO OLD TRAFFORD
"We'll need to play with the same mindset that we did at Old Trafford. We're taking on a really strong Liverpool side, but we have come a long way - both physically and mentally - since the match in Manchester. It'll be really tough tomorrow but, in my opinion, we have to go there and play the AC Milan way, without thinking about being on vacation in the Champions League."
KAKÁ'S WORDS OF PRAISE
"It's always a pleasure to receive praise from a player like him. I'm just doing my work each day, as usual, and it'll be really special as a return to Champions League football, but it's also a game to be played with a lot of desire too. We've prepared well for the game; we're at a good point in our development. I think that many people doubt whether we can perform well after being away from the Champions League for seven years, but our mindset is different. With heart and cleverness, we can take the fight to anyone."
A DIFFICULT DRAW
"Playing in the Champions League means playing against the best; so it will be tough. But it's a chance to grow and that' a good thing. We'll approach this game with our chins up because we know what we need to do. We'll have fun, enjoy it and see how it goes."
HIS PERSONAL FORM
"The team has definitely grown over the past year - in every aspect. I'm playing the best football of my career but this can only happen when the team puts me in the position to do so."
"I get on really well with Tomori and Romagnoli. Our job is to give the coach selection problems - us three and Gabbia. The relationship has always been and will always be good. A team that is playing in multiple competitions needs at least two players for each position. We have 32 games until 22 December and I'm sure that I won't play in all of them."
THE GROWTH OF THE GROUP
"Each one of us still needs to grow. There's always something that you can learn and work in - in all phases of the game. We've been in good form since the start of the season; we'll play a lot of games but the important thing is to keep up this spirit and this hunger to work, regardless of the result. If we continue in this manner, we can achieve great things."
#BackHome, Capsule Collection: check out the new collection to celebrate our return to the Champions League!