Earlier today, coach Maurizio Ganz held a press conference to discuss the Coppa Italia Femminile final. During it, he spoke of Milan’s season so far, opined on rivals Roma, and spoke of closing the ‘gap’ with Juve through a few signings.
The AC Milan Women will play AS Roma in the Coppa Italia final tomorrow at 20:30 CEST (11:30 am PST / 2:30 PM EST). You’ll be able to watch the game live on Milan TV and on the team’s mobile app.
Ganz’s conference was streamed live on the FIGC’s Twitter page. Here’s a translation of Ganz’s words, with the transcribed words coming courtesy of Milan News.
Tomorrow, Maldini, Massara, Gazidis, and Pioli will all be at the stadium to watch the match: “It is an important event for everyone, as family in the world of Milan is fundamental. The club has been close to us all year, and I’m glad Pioli is there to see it. It is a sign that the Milan family is one.”
On the final: “At the beginning of the year, we had hoped to have a great season, as last year we finished second and not third. We got a well-deserved Champions League spot after qualification [this year], and the Coppa Italia final trophy to try to take home. Whoever wins tomorrow will be the first one to win a trophy in their history, so we will try to win it, 100%.”
How do you prepare for a final? “We prepared for this match like all the others, as it’s a one-off match and there are no rematches. The serenity of having done well during qualifying makes us think that we are approaching this game in the right way. We are aware that we have a great opportunity to win, and now we have to apply the last, finishing touch to this. And tomorrow I’ll try to give my best, just as my warriors have done all season.”
On the line-up: “First of all, qualifying for the Champions League was an extraordinary thing, especially since at the beginning of the season, we only talked about Roma and Fiorentina [as teams that would qualify for the Champions League]. We need to give credit to my girls’ for this season. They did little talking and did a lot of sweating. Tomorrow will be a hard match, and against Sassuolo, I chose Grimshaw to play a certain type of game, and tomorrow we will need to score so there will be two forwards, Dowie and Giacinti.”
On the fans who will watch the game: “There is a lot of emotion among them. It is our first final and it is Roma’s first as well. We had to overcome Inter and Sassuolo, and ours is a well-deserved final. There will be many Rossoneri fans there and we are happy that they can come and see us live and we also know that many of them will also watch us on TV. We have the responsibility to give our all and we are pleased to be able to embrace the fans again. And it will make the moment even more emotional.”
How important is it to use your head and legs? “[It is important to use the] head, legs, and heart. The Rossonere always put their heart into playing on the pitch. In the end, we will see who is less tired between the two teams. It will be important to enter the field and to give everything. It was also very important to have a full squad in the last month, as it helped us better prepare for the game.”
Will you sleep tonight knowing that you will be able to write your name in the history books of Milan? “I will not sleep, as I did not sleep in the last two games, and I sleep very little on the eve of the important matches. It makes you stay up and think about whether you have done everything right and if you have worked on all of the possible details. I am very hyped up for this and the players are too. And thank you to Betty Bavagnoli and Rita Guarino for congratulating us on qualifying for the Champions League. In today’s football environment, things like this are not taken for granted.”
On the gap with Juventus: “We have just had a season where we used both our heads and our hearts, and we are aware that we have started on a path that leads us towards improving every single year. Until the game against Juventus in Torino, we had dreamed of doing something big. Now, we are focused on tomorrow evening. The transfer market will start on Monday and we want to strengthen ourselves to reduce the gap with Juve. We need to improve from the three draws and three defeats we had this year. Juventus have won 22 out of 22 matches.”
Is there any match that you would use as a precedent with this one? “The seven derby wins against Inter.”
What did Betty Bavagnoli say to you? Which player from Roma do you fear the most? “Betty sent me a very nice and unexpected message, and it was not taken for granted. She congratulated us on qualifying for the Champions League. Roma are growing and this year, we have played them twice. They have improved a lot, and signing Elena Linari [defender] was important for them. They also have their captain, Elisa Bartoli, who has a lot of experience and passion. They also have Paloma Lázaro, who has done very well and they have Manuela Giugliano, who is a fantastic player. They have a very good playing style, as they don’t hold back when it comes to their attack. We should do well and play the perfect game and we too, have a few, potent weapons in attack. It will be a balanced game, and we deserve to play in the Coppa Italia final.”
How did you deal with any difficulties that arise? “The biggest difficulties were from the two consecutive defeats against Inter and Juve. Then there was a turning point and we recovered from the defeats and continued our journey. There are good and bad moments, but 16 wins, three draws, and three defeats mean that our campaign went quite well. We started over after those two defeats.”
On how to keep Roma at bay: “Last year, we were the second-best offensive team and we had the second-best defense in the championship. This year, it’s the same. We currently have the second-best defense in the league. In this league, you have to have a solid defense and an attack that works well. This was our secret to scoring many goals and conceding only a few.”
Do you consider the next match as being the last one of the season or do you view it as preparation for next season’s Champions League? “It is the cherry on top of the cake for both teams, as finishing the season with the Champions League and the Coppa Italia trophy would be fantastic. Tomorrow, we will take the field and do everything we can to bring the trophy home. It will be a 120-minute match, and it will be the be-all and end-all of days.”
On the previous results against Roma: “I would, first of all, overlook the first year [and the first time Milan played them], and I would base myself on this current campaign. We have met Roma twice, and it ended with one win and one draw. It will be a balanced game where all the details will be contested over. It will also be an open game, and we will have to play with desire and determination. The details will make the difference, like the changes and using the right players, just in case we go to penalties.”
On the approach that the players will have for this game: “This last month, in particular, we have had a few difficult games. During the last four matches of the season, Roma and Milan have had the same results, as both teams have three draws and one defeat. There will be a lot of tension, enthusiasm, and the feeling of sharing these emotions with the public, and a different environment than what we have seen this year. The goal is to have a great game and to do everything possible to bring home a win.”
What has given you the most satisfaction about working for Milan today? “I found an incredible environment here, as our warriors have not taken their efforts lightly since day one. They always give their all, and we don’t have any difficulty training them. They do all the things we suggest, and they are aware of having to sacrifice and give their all for the team’s colors. But it’s wonderful every single time, because they have the desire for it, as they do feel that this is their time. I am both amazed and I am happy that we have gotten this far because they deserve everything that has happened this year.”
What does Milan need to reach the pinnacle of the Champions League? “Lyon have won five consecutive titles and this year, it was Barcelona who won it. It was a matter of investments, as having a spending budget [for the women’s team] is important. The AC Milan Women have existed for only three years, and it takes patience, courage, and the realization that you have to take this one step at a time. And that’s all right. We will have a more important qualification compared to the others who have qualified before, as this year, we will be drawn into a group of four with only one winner advancing from the group, then there will be another important step against the other teams that have qualified. There are two Champions League qualification matches and then we will reach the group stage. We are also proud to have qualified.”
Will it be important to be on the front foot against Roma from the beginning? “We will have to start the match the right way and make Roma understand that we are here to play. In the game, there will also be decisive moments from us, as we have experienced players who will be able to manage these occasions. We have to manage the game in 90 minutes, 120 minutes, or even during penalties. We must not get the details of the match wrong.”
On the importance of winning to boost your self-confidence: “It would be very important, and I did not say fundamental but we still know that this will be a historic milestone. Some of our players have already won trophies like this, while others have reached important finals. I think this came at the right time for us and I say it’s up to us to take it. It will depend on us knowing that there will be a fierce Roma that will want to do the same and win it too. Tomorrow will be fun, and I think that what we are doing is also important for the women’s movement.”