A new beginning in two senses: AC Milan v Roma is not only the first match of 2022 for the Rossoneri but also the first match of the second half of the season. A challenging fixture against a very worthy opponent, led by long-time rival José Mourinho. Coach Stefano Pioli presented the upcoming match in a press conference from Milanello: full report to come soon.
THOSE RETURNING FROM INJURY
"I want to have all of my players at my disposal - the break has helped us. We need a rest and then to work hard and we did both of these things. We have a lot of players returning who arent quite at 100% but they soon will be. None of the returnees will play the full 90; they've been working with us for a few days now and are getting up to speed. They will need more minutes to get back to full fitness."
THE COVID SITUATION
"This isn't a normal period for any of us - for the clubs as well as for the general public. The main aim is to safeguard everyone's health, so we are sticking closely to the protocols. We all need to take more care at work and we all need to be ready to play at a moment's notice because it's an unpredictable time."
SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
"We need to have a brilliant girone di ritorno and try to win as many games as possible so as the finish with more points than last year. I see a lot of conviction and determination in my players; winning would be an amazing feat but we need to believe and keep our balance. We wanted this pressure because we want to be ambitious. I want my team to play with energy, fully aware of how to bring our style of play to bear over the course of the 90 minutes, without being afraid of making mistakes."
A CHANCE FOR BAKAYOKO
"Being without two central midfielders means he will get a chance; I expect a lot from Baka because I knew that he is a good player. Chances will come his way."
THE MARKET FOR REINFORCEMENTS
"We have clear and common ideas; Simon's injury will force us to look at bringing in a player in defence. I haven't made any other requests because I feel that we have a complete squad as is. We're looking for a complete defender, who is able to go 1 on 1 with a forward, with courage, with good timing and who knows how to make the right decisions on the ball."
MANAGING IBRA AND GIROUD
"My selections depend on the fitness of both players; when it is similar in both of them, it will depend on technical capacities and how well they are suited to each individual match. Olivier started really well and then had a few problems, which disrupted his rhythm. He's definitely better and I expect a lot from him because he is an intelligent player and can do even better than he has done. We've already played with two strikers and, game by game, we'll assess whether that can be an option again."
"We are hard to predict because we often make adjustments. The team is showing great willingness and are always ready to make the odd change. In tomorrow's game, it is also possible that we see a different look in terms of positions."
"In our last few games, he suffered a bit because he was lacking a bit of spark - the break did him good. He looks really up for it and can be a determining factor once again."
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ROMA
"We played some brilliant football in Rome and were the better team when it was 11 v 11. Roma will be different this time; Mourinho has done a brilliant job in making the team more compact and bringing in a better atmosphere. They are a strong side, who are rightfully aiming at a top-four finish. We need to cover the field well and always be ready to attack the spaces in behind the defence. This is an important game, as are all of our matches to come; three huge points are up for grabs."
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