Written By Onyeka Daniel
After a couple of disappointing results, AC Milan were able to reduce the pressure on their manager with a hard fought win over Fiorentina at the weekend and will now turn their attention to Europe where they badly need another win to put them in a position to advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
They will be facing Borussia Dortmund at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium and according to their manager, Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri need to have ‘that desire to overcome a difficult obstacle’ when they host the German side in the Champions League.
The Rossoneri currently sit third in Group F after four matches, sitting two points behind leaders Dortmund and one behind second place Paris Saint-Germain. Newcastle United are just a point behind Pioli’s side, making the remaining two games vital in the fight for the knockout stages.
Milan couldn’t find a breakthrough in their first meeting with Dortmund on October 4, holding the hosts to a tense 0-0 draw at the Westfalenstadion. Although it wasn’t pretty, they secured victory over Fiorentina on the weekend, giving them a slight boost in confidence. Speaking in a press conference, Pioli first discussed the importance of Milan’s clash with Dortmund.
“We are playing an important match, one could use the term ‘turning point’ for the group. They are a strong team, they can suffer difficulties, so we have to play with everything we have for 95 minutes.” He spoke about the atmosphere he expects at San Siro on Tuesday evening. “I’ll just say one thing, we knew the Yellow Wall, but they don’t know the Champions League San Siro. We do. I’m sure the fans will help us tomorrow night too.”
The Rossoneri coach touched on how the recent win over PSG must be a source of inspiration to the squad. “That’s the reference point. We fell behind, but we remained a team until the end. That must be the mental attitude, then the match will be different because Dortmund are different from PSG.” He was asked how he could get the best out of winger Samuel Chukwueze.
“I was happy with his performance on Saturday. He worked a lot for the team, he found himself in the right positions. He also had a difficult start due to an injury. Now in my opinion he’s fine. “Maybe he’ll come in a little further in the pitch, more in the heart of the game, but it depends on how we play and the combinations with Calabria.” Pioli reiterated his goals for the season.
“The objective is clear: to be competitive in the league and in the Champions League. Moving forward in the Champions League is very important.” The Milan coach commented on the condition of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. “Rubs was scheduled to play a bit on Saturday. He wasn’t 100% before PSG, so…” He defended full back Theo Hernandez. “Everyone gets criticized when we haven’t won for many games. He has the qualities to always play great games.
“With respect to position on the pitch, our players are very good at occupying the right spaces. Theo went in the middle of the pitch to take the penalty and provide a great assist for Jovic.” Pioli revealed what he wants to see from his Milan squad against Dortmund. “I want to see the team put everything they have on the pitch, I’m sure my players won’t disappoint me.”
He was asked if the Rossoneri only thought about winning in their match with Fiorentina. “We always play to win. Then there are moments and moments in the season and on Saturday it was the moment to approach the match in that way. Against PSG we didn’t go in the second half to catch them in their area…
“Also, if that’s not the case, high or low changes, but attention. We didn’t concede goals in Lecce due to bad luck or due to being high or low, but due to inattention.” Finally, Pioli discussed what Milan need to have against Dortmund. “That energy and that desire to overcome a difficult obstacle, but for those feelings that we know and that belong to us, putting into play that something extra that is needed.” He further added.
Julian Ryerson believes that Borussia Dortmund are more than capable of beating Milan, something which they demonstrated in the first meeting between the sides. Dortmund have found themselves leading the group after four rounds of action in the Champions League thanks to winning both away and at home against Newcastle United.
That puts them in the driving seat heading into tomorrow night’s game. Ryerson spoke on Dortmund’s official channels on the eve of tomorrow night’s game at San Siro, and he exuded a sense of confidence that they can secure their last 16 spot. “In such a difficult group, we still have everything in our own hands. We couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to have beaten Newcastle twice. We got a draw against Milan, we could have won the match but they also had some dangerous chances. And in Paris things they didn’t go well, even though there were opportunities for us in the match. It’s a good starting point, now we have to close out the games.
“We won away at Newcastle, that too was a difficult match. Against Milan at home we saw that we can beat them. Now it’s away, but we still go there with confidence as the first in the group and we want to qualify there. “San Siro atmosphere? I don’t know, I’m simply happy. I’ve never played there before, but I heard positive things from friends who had already been there.” He further added.
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