De Rossi says Europa League is ‘last resort’ for Milan and backs Pioli as coach

By Euan Burns -

AS Roma coach Daniele De Rossi has said that the Europa League quarter-final second leg is a ‘last resort’ for AC Milan’s season but he has played down suggestions of Stefano Pioli being under pressure. 

Speaking during his pre-match press conference at the Stadio Olimpico (via Milan News), the Giallorossi coach provided an update on the health of Evan Ndicka and previewed Thursday’s clash at the Olimpico.

Ndicka went down during Roma’s match against Udinese on Sunday and was taken to hospital for tests which confirmed he did not have a cardiac arrest. That was the best possible news after a very worrying situation, and De Rossi explained what the next steps are.

“First of all he’s fine, that’s the most important thing; he didn’t suffer what we thought there on the field. Everyone draws the lessons they want to draw from it. We received a lot of compliments for something that I thought was quite normal in the way it was handled. It’s nice to see that we also rediscover ourselves as a family in these moments,” De Rossi said.

The questions then moved on to Pioli and the perceived pressure that he is under to deliver the Europa League. De Rossi spoke highly of Pioli and his abilities, but did admit that there is a huge amount riding in this for Milan in the context of their season.

“When we talk about crossroads we talk about the perception in the newspapers, so I tend not to comment; Pioli’s team is second in the standings, he comes from a period in which he has won them all, they almost always play very well. I don’t really think there is this big problem with Pioli, then tomorrow’s game is a crossroads as a goal. Milan team built to do well in the Champions League, then in the Europa League… It’s a last-resort game for them,” he said.

De Rossi also tried to temper the excitement over how Roma played in the first leg, explaining that they achieved their objective but are thinking about some changes for the return leg.

“In your question there is the essence of our work, always finding something that can work, without doing too much. The characteristics of a team must always be respected, then you have to see what the opposing coach does… It’s not that we won 7-0, Milan weren’t in apnea the whole game; then what we had planned succeeded. I don’t think Pioli will overturn the team, maybe a few players, the attitude. It’s not that we have to create 1000 assumptions thinking about what Pioli will do. We are thinking about some changes, but without completely distorting ourselves,” he explained.

Tomorrow also a crossroads for you?

“It is the first European competition. It is a pathway to happiness. Tomorrow it might stop, but for me it’s so important in achieving the goal: if I don’t lose 2-0 tomorrow I know I’m going to the Europa League semi-finals. That I know, that is the crossroads.”

How do you prepare for the match?

“It’s a match like any other. Talk about managing the result, being intelligent, not too unbalanced…. But these are things that can be said all the time and were also true in the first leg. If then at the last minute we are 0-0 I don’t think we will play to go and score. We will play to win it, because if we score a goal, for them it would be a big blow. If we let them inside the box their goal will come sooner or later. We have to play a game like in the first leg.”

Will El Shaarawy play on the right?

“In place of [Bryan] Cristante, we will play [Edoardo] Bove, so nothing changes and I have great confidence. The way we play won’t change because of Cristante’s absence.”

Tags AC Milan Daniele de Rossi
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