AC Milan winger Samu Castillejo is expecting a hard game against Shamrock Rovers on Thursday night – a ‘tough team’ that play ‘beautiful football’.
The Rossoneri will make the trip to Tallaght Stadium in the Irish capital looking to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League, but they know it will not be a straightforward encounter despite the gulf in quality on paper.
Shamrock have won nine out of their 11 games and sit top of the League of Ireland by eight points, meaning they not only have superior match fitness but they are on a roll in terms of form too.
Add to that the fact that head coach Stefano Pioli will not be able to call upon Ante Rebic (suspended), Rafael Leao, Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio and Andrea Conti (injured) and it could be a difficult evening in Dublin.
Speaking to the microphones of DAZN, the Castillejo discussed Milan’s upcoming commitments and his seasonal targets, with his answers transcribed by MilanNews.
“The Coach confirmed from the first day we heard about our opponent that Shamrock are a tough team, stronger than Ireland and that play football that is beautiful to look at. It will be very difficult. ”
On his 2020: “Since the new year began I have had the opportunity to play, right from the match against Cagliari. From there I changed a lot as well as the team: many players left and new ones arrived. Anyone who knows me knows that I will never leave a team without leaving a good memory. I worked in silence, I was corrected and I waited for my opportunity.”
On how much the team have grown under Pioli: “I remember after the Cagliari match he said some beautiful words to me. He is a coach who talks a lot, he is very close to the players even when he is on vacation he makes himself heard with messages or phone calls.
“This is very good for the players because they know that the manager has a high regard for them and they can’t wait to give more. Beyond being a good coach, he is a beautiful person.”
On Ibrahimovic: “He talks a lot in training, in matches. He’s a player who gives a lot to this club and I’m sure he’ll give us a lot this season because he’s a champion and can’t wait to win in training too.
“This makes you bring out the extra oomph. You can’t go wrong with him: if you miss a pass, a dribble or a course you find yourself behind Ibrahimovic. There is both the reproach of the coach and of Ibrahimovic. So you play with that pressure that is typical of when you have a champion alongside that pushes you to bring out the best in you.”
On his renewal: “We were sure that Ibrahimovic would continue another year with us, especially for what we experienced together in the last season.
“He was surrounded by humble guys who wanted to work and we welcomed him like family. We had no doubts that he would come back with us and he never left the WhatsApp chat.”
On the new signing Sandro Tonali: “He’s a good guy, he’s strong and we all knew that. We saw him play with Brescia last year. You can see that in training he has a great desire to demonstrate and that he has great humility.”
And finally, on his friend and new team-mate Brahim Diaz: “He’s a great guy, I’ve known him since he was 10. He comes from a humble family and we grew up in pretty much the same neighbourhood. For Malaga and for us I think it is a pride to see two players at Milan. I’ll try to help him, even with my tongue.”