UEFA Europa League


Crvena zvezda comes to San Siro and, after the 2-2 draw in the first leg of Europa League's Round of 32, qualification is wide open. It'll be an interesting game, which will need to be approached with the right aggression if AC Milan are to get back to winning ways after three games. On the eve of the game, Coach Stefano Pioli has given his thoughts in a press conference:

"It's been a difficult journey. It's normal to face issues along the way but we've managed to overcome them. Tomorrow, we have a slight advantage but we can't allow ourselves to drop off. We'll need to put in a performance full of attention and quality if we're to go through. Our aim of staying in Europe is something that we've gone for with conviction and determination. I have the players and resources to maintain a high level, even with games every three days. We know our opponents and they know us; it'll be a tough game but it's in our backyard. We absolutely want to keep going in Europe."

"I see the conscience and maturity within the group; these are characteristics that allowed us to go on this run. We obviously weren't happy on Sunday but there was the right desire to go again. We only managed to play our game at the end of the first half and the start of the second in the Derby. We made mistakes in the first half an hour in terms of our lack of intensity without the ball and then again after the second goal. It's not a failure to lose these games, it would be a failure to give up after falling. We need to try to go again with good rhythm and continuity, starting tomorrow."      

"This group is motivated and hungry to play like they did a few weeks ago. I told the team there are just 90 days until the end of the league season; this will be an important period in the year. If it all goes to plan, it could by 93 days until a potential Europa League final on 26 May. I'm not saying anything about the game in training this morning; I said that we trained well before Spezia and look at how that went. We need to show it out on the pitch."

"Every game is different: in La Spezia, we encountered a very aggressive team, whereas Inter dropped off a bit. Every game is different and can change, but we need to have a clear game plan and execute it properly. There might be the odd change if we encounter extra problems, but we must be ready for this. We try to actively attack and defend as a team: the fact that we have conceded so many goals suggests that we have at times lacked concentration, and we need to start performing at a high level again."

"When the team doesn't fare well, individuals also suffer, but Tonali is developing well. Bennacer doesn't have the same flexibility and muscle strength as before, he needs to train on his own; he won't work with the team this week but we are hoping that he will be back available soon. Kessie is available, we'll take a look at the situation tomorrow. I speak with Ibrahimović every day. Next week, he will miss some team training sessions but he will be available for all of the games: if there is a player who can respond to this pressure it is him, and I think that he is motivated to help the team."

"We win as a team and we lose as a team. I don't like to play this ugly game of finding a scapegoat when we lose. He is the captain and he has done so much for this team's development, including helping the younger players. We have to stick together: some defeats can help us grow."

(Photo Getty Images)