06 December 2017
The boss's press conference in Rijeka: "I expect to see a sense of belonging". Locatelli: "I'll give my all"
Thursday's match in Croatia will be our last Europa League match of Group D. The Red and Blacks have secured the qualification with 11 points and the first place as well. With less than 24 hours ahead of the match against HNK Rijeka (kick-off at 7 PM), coach Gennaro Gattuso and Manuel Locatelli introduced the game to the media. Here are their thoughts:
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MATCH
“Tomorrow’s match is important to us, not considering the standings, but on the psychological level. We need an important result. The ones who have not played so much this season will have the opportunity tomorrow. I want to see desire. It’s an honour to play an international competition with the AC Milan jersey, and the players must feel the same. They have to work hard and bounce back. Today we prepared for this match considering the players who will be available.
“It’s a team that reflects the character of their coach and their fans. They are technically very strong, they like to build-up the play from the back, and avoid clearing the ball. They tend to attack through the wings and get numbers up front, also their individuals are good, they play good football. Misic and Braderic are talented, but they are injured. They still have other important players. Their fans are very enthusiastic and don’t make it easy to play at their stadium. I’m looking forward to playing this match. I could have brought some of the players from the Primavera side but I did not want to underestimate the opponents. I hope we play a good match.
ON THE TEAM
"I have been working with the first team only for eight days and the physical condition cannot be improved in eight days. It's not a consolation but we have to go step by step. The boys are giving everything and showing great desire. I decided not to bring some of the players because they have to recover. I preferred to give them some rest since we carried intense training sessions, both, yesterday and today. For tomorrow, I expect to see the players with desire. The average age of this team is 21, yet, I want to see a sense of belonging. We can't give the impression of being afraid of winning.
"Paletta represents the real AC Milan player, who trains with intensity and desire. He will start tomorrow. I saw him well, he trains well and it's fair to give him some minutes. Biglia has to improve, he is not at his 100%. Tomorrow he will play, as well as Locatelli. We are not very well on the physical level, but there are no consolations. We know we have to improve. Some of the signings have not yet reached their full potential, Kessie and Kalinic for instance. They are not playing as well as last year but we are all working hard to step up and I am positive we will get there".
Manuel Locatelli was also present at the press conference alongside his new coach. This is what the young centre-midfielder said: “Every time I am called up to play, I try to do my best and to show my value. I am very calm. Last year I had a great season, this year I'm playing less but that does not mean I'm upset. I am happy to be at AC Milan. I'd like to play more, but it all depends on how I perform in training. The final decision, obviously, is up to the coach. We are not doing well at the moment, but we hope that better times will come soon”. The best memory of AC Milan in Europe: “I have many of the Champions League. The final in Manchester was very special as I saw it Live together with my parents. I was a child, so I fall asleep before the penalties and woke up after we had won”.
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