AC Milan will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League at San Siro tonight looking to register their first points in the group stages.
It will be the Rossoneri’s first home game in the competition since the 2013-14 season. Their opponent in that game was Atletico, as they dumped Milan out at the round of 16 stage with a 5-1 aggregate win, and now they will renew hostilities.
What were your reactions upon seeing that Atleti had been drawn with AC Milan?
“Nervous but excited at the same time because we know it is going to be an entertaining group and potentially the toughest one in the competition.”
You had a fantastic season domestically in 2020-21, winning LaLiga. What has been the foundation of that success?
“Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is Cholo [Diego Simeone]. He built this squad from scratch and put his confidence on players who weren’t trusted by their previous teams/coaches. Many examples such as Luis Suárez, Marcos Llorente and Kieran Trippier.”
Which players should we be looking out for and who is in form?
“Atleti haven’t had the best start to this season but some of the players who have been in form are Geoffrey Kondogbia, Thomas Lemar, Rodrigo De Paul and Ángel Correa.”
What is your opinion of Milan in terms of strengths and weaknesses from an outsider’s perspective?
“A very strong side for two seasons now, made us very happy to see that the AC Milan everyone knew is slowly starting to come back. One of the main strengths that helped this Milan side was the addition of Zlatan Ibrahimović. He is a ‘mentality monster’ and has definitely been a good influence to the squad in growing confidence and playing better on the pitch.
“Another strength would be Franck Kessié, who is probably the best option in midfield for Milan. Brahim Díaz is someone we are looking forward to watch as he is a very promising talent. We’ve also noted Milan’s defensive solidity, especially this season. In recent years, Milan have struggled a bit in Europe, it’s interesting to see if that changes this time in Champions League.”
What kind of a game are you expecting?
“We are expecting a very close game, everyone knows what Milan can offer and what the players can do on the pitch.”
Who do you think will end up progressing from our group?
“Very confident in Atleti of course, so that’s one of the teams who we think will end up progressing out of our group. As for the second team to qualify, I do not think Porto has a chance although they did give us a tough time. It has to be between Milan and Liverpool.”
Could you give us the injury situation and predicted XI?
“Stefan Savić is out of the squad due to his four-match suspension in the Champions League. Thomas Lemar is back in the squad after being out for almost two weeks. João Félix was not injured but he was out for the last 2 matches for Atleti in LaLiga due to a two-match suspension.
“Predicted line-up (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Giménez, Hermoso, Lodi; Llorente, Kondogbia, Koke, Carrasco; Correa, Suárez.
Finally, a score prediction…
“We are well aware of the atmosphere in San Siro and that it would be a huge confidence boost to the Milan players but our prediction would be a 2-1 win for Atleti. Hopefully it ends up being a very entertaining game. Good luck!”