First Team


The pre-match press conference ahead of Milan-Udinese in the Italian Cup tonight.

MILAN – Here is what was said yesterday in the pre-match press conference by assistant coach Mauro Tassotti ahead of Milan-Udinese in the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup tonight at 21.00:

"Knock-out matches are always dangerous, we’re favourites because of home advantage and Udinese will play with less pressure on them. Even though they’re struggling, they’re a good side, they’ve got good players and against us in the Italian Cup they’ve got a good record. We want to progress . The Italian Cup seems the best route to qualify for Europe next season. We’ll play with a side to win, every player that takes to the pitch will have to have keep this in mind.”

Tassotti continued: "We’ll continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation and will do so until the end of the season. It’s a development on the 4-4-2 formation. I’m getting on well with Clarence, there was a moment of confusion after the dismissal of Allegri, but that’s normal. I worked for three and a half years with other staff members and I’m committed to the club. I’ve known Clarence for years. He’s very attentive to every minor detail, he’s aware of everything, he’s completely thrown himself into the job. I think he was preparing for this job for a while and it’s clear that he was working towards this.”

Speaking about Milan’s last match with Hellas Verona: "In the first 30 minutes, when we played really well, we played in their half. We played with an advanced back line and we want to try and continue pressing this way for a whole match. We’ll try against everybody. Naturally it’s going to be harder against the stronger sides, but we’ll try nevertheless. When there is a new coach, everything starts from scratch. It’s now down to us to maintain this enthusiasm.”

Tassotti reflected again on the last match against Hellas Verona: "It’s true that despite creating many opportunities, we weren’t clinical enough in the first half. However, Verona were hard to break down giving us little space. In any case we weren’t that vulnerable in both halves of the match. We deserved a goal in the first half and in the second half our performance dropped off and we created fewer chances. Balotelli? Mario has been playing as a centre-forward for a couple of years, he plays in that role for the national team, and since his arrival he’s been playing there. We’re asking him to be more involved during matches. On Sunday he did this. It seems that he is calmer now although he has always been this way despite the odd outburst. Honda needs to train more and needs game time after a long break without playing.”

Tassotti spoke in more detail about Keisuke Honda: "Honda’s favourite position is just behind the striker. He doesn’t like to play out wide. From our initial conversations, that seems to be his preferred position. Against Sassuolo he showed his technical abilities which are undeniably good, he even came close to scoring, but we can’t ask too much of him straight away.”

There was also an update on the injured playersBonera? I think that tomorrow he will be rested. He picked up a muscle injury and we hope to have him available for the Cagliari match. The players that are closest to making a comeback are Abate and Constant. They’re getting better and they could also be available for Sunday. Pazzini? It shouldn’t be too long. He’s working hard to get back to full fitness.”

Mauro Tassotti finished by saying the following: "I feel a big part of the project here and that makes me happy. Seedorf asked me to speak ahead of the Italian Cup match and I was glad to do so. We left Kakà on the pitch because he is more capable of playing as a wide midfielder. When Birsa came on, Kakà played towards the right flank. If we have the participation that we had from the forward players that we saw against Verona, and we’re able to do so for the full 90 minutes, then the side will defend better. The whole side has been more involved in the defensive phase with respects to the past. It isn’t just by chance that we didn’t concede in the last match. I don’t think we need another striker, when the loan move for Matri was agreed we immediately asked for Petagna to come back to the club. Mexes? He wasn’t well, and was suffering with flu symptoms and for this reason he didn’t take part in training yesterday. We’ll see for today.”