AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes that last night’s defeat to Liverpool at Anfield will stand the team in good stead moving forward.
It was a classic European game overall, as Liverpool took an early lead through a deflected Alexander-Arnold shot, but Milan came storming back and went 2-1 up with goals from Rebic and Brahim Diaz. The home side answered back after the break through Salah and won it with a Jordan Henderson strike.
Speaking at a press conference for an event linked to one of his commercial products, Ibrahimovic discussed the result last night as well as the upcoming game against Juventus which he is in doubt for, with his comments transcribed by Calciomercato.com and translated below.
“Yesterday for many was the first time in the Champions League, but now they understand what it is and what needs to be done to play there. The team has it all figured out, the whole package. What does it mean to play against the best in Europe and in the world, what pace is there, what quality is there,” he said.
The Swede also reflected on the 2020-21 season during which Milan achieved a second-placed finish to secure their return to European football’s elite competition.
“I’m happy for my team-mates, I remember at the end of last season when I asked who had already played in the Champions League: two or three of them raised their hands. I thought it was a joke, but it was true. And then this is the reason to do even more,” he said.
“If you haven’t played in the Champions League, you don’t know what you’ve been missing in your career. Even just finishing with the Champions League ball. It gives you another energy, more adrenaline. Champions League at San Siro with the stadium full, that will be real adrenaline.”
There have been some worried that Ibrahimovic’s body will no longer allow him to do what his head wants him to, and the 39-year-old insists his mind is indeed as sharp as ever.
“The head is very important. And the head is there now, but the body doesn’t always follow me. Unfortunately, they don’t always get along. But basically, if you are not prepared with the head, the body is not there. I think I gave my team-mates the right mentality. They understood what it takes to get where it is needed. But if we finished second last year, it means that something is missing to finish first. The team knows this and works every day to do something more and improve.
“Everyone is hungry and eager, they are all available, even the new ones have understood the mentality of this group. It is only necessary to understand what needs to be done to continue to remain at the top, because we have now reached the top. Sacrifice and work, quality are needed.”
Ibra also spoke about the very short lived European Super League – a breakaway competition that Milan were among 12 teams to sign up for but ultimately collapsed within 48 hours – and offered a balanced view on the failed project.
“When Covid arrived, many clubs paid, they didn’t reckon with fans and sponsors. And the clubs that have suffered most of all, have tried to have a quick economic return. Nobody, however, thought to ask the players. The first question should have been for us: do you want to play or not? So who invented the Super League has already made a mistake, because I’m the player who then has to go out on the pitch.”