It's the Rossoneri's last fixture before the international break: at the Dacia Arena in Udine, three important points are up for grabs after the setbacks against Fiorentina and Salernitana. From Milanello, Stefano Pioli gave his thoughts ahead of the Diavolo's 27th fixture of the Serie A season. The press conference on the eve of Udinese v AC Milan was broadcast live on Milan TV, YouTube and Twitch from 14:00 CET.
"We know all about our opponents: they’re a physical and technical side that get the ball forward quickly. They have some dominant characteristics, but we’ll try to play our game in a match where we’ll need to be attentive and determined. We come into the game on the back of a defeat and a draw in the league, and it’s an important fixture."
THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW
"We found out during training. It would have been difficult whoever we got. We’re in the quarter-finals, we’re AC Milan and we want to progress further. Napoli are enjoying a great league campaign, but the Champions League is the Champions League and AC Milan are AC Milan. It’s exciting and fascinating and our opponents are very strong, but we’re deservedly part of it and have plenty of motivation and ambition. We’ll play with the aim of making it through. We’ll have time to talk about the Champions League, which is certainly an objective of ours, but, right now, doing well in our next three league games is crucial."
IBRA AND LEÃO
"Zlatan is calm; he wants to play and win every game. He’s feeling good, but I don’t think he’s got 90 minutes in him. He could start, as could Divock and Ante. Rafa is training really well. He’s very motivated and determined, and he remains an important figure in our attack because, even if he’s not scoring, he keeps opposition defences occupied. My advice to him would be to stay close to those who care deeply for him and want to help him grow. Goals and decisive pieces of play are expected from him, but, as previously mentioned, he’s dangerous even when he doesn’t score."
FURTHER COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUALS
"Origi had a few physical problems at the start. Then, I made different choices. He has different characteristics compared to Giroud and Ibra and can do more. I hope that he’ll be able to express his full potential. As regards our midfield, Sandro was given a rest against Salernitana and is feeling good, while Bennacer is doing better fitness-wise and getting important minutes under his belt. I can’t comment on whether Maignan is the strongest goalkeeper in AC Milan’s history, but I do know that he’s a champion in everything he does."
TEAM AND SHAPE
"There was a lot of disappointment after the Salernitana game, but the team are doing well both mentally and physically. I always aim to send the best possible team out onto the pitch. In terms of our formation, we’re not playing with an extra defender; the roles and defenders remain the same. Our objective is to be more unpredictable in attack."
"It’s not the break itself that will be important but how we head into it, meaning tomorrow’s result will be vital. Many players won’t have a lot of time to rest because they’ll be away on international duty, but the table is tight and we need to push."
"I watched the match and congratulated everyone; it’s a source of real satisfaction for the Club and the whole of the Youth Sector. There are some interesting youngsters who we’re keeping an eye on."
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