Montella: “I could not have expected more; we are working on a 4-3-3…”

By Oliver Fisher -

Vincenzo Montella conceded he “could not have expected more” as his AC Milan side recorded a 1-0 win against Craiova in Romania.

Ricardo Rodriguez got the only goal for the Rossoneri in the 43rd minute as his whipped free kick evaded everyone before creeping in the far corner.

The goal – his first for the club – means Milan have a slender advantage heading into the second leg in a week’s time, but Montella’s men will be confident they can finish the job.

“I could not have expected more. Craiova made it difficult for us, they’re in better physical condition and have some rapid players.

“It was all fairly predictable, but I liked the attitude of the team when dealing with difficulties. It’s a good result, but not enough for us to be relaxed and hopefully we’ll be at a more advanced stage of preparation at San Siro, both physically and technically.”

Leonardo Bonucci, Lucas Biglia and Hakan Calhanoglu were all unavailable for AC Milan, who got the job done regardless.

“We had Kessie, Musacchio and Borini on the field today, but also Niang and Cutrone are half-new. My aim is to get as many players as possible ready to contribute.

“Bonucci, may I remind you, won a Scudetto with a three-man defence and reached a Champions League Final with four at the back.

“At one point we played seemingly with three at the back, but we knew that the fitness levels wouldn’t hold out for 90 minutes, so couldn’t push it too hard.

“We were a little obvious in our passing, but also didn’t have the players up front who could create spaces, so that made it a little more difficult.

“All this was predictable in the circumstances and we realised we had to hurt Craiova off the shoulders of the defenders, not the midfielders.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma made a sensational early save, though Milan looked comfortable for the vast majority of the game.

“It was a very important save, we have Donnarumma back exactly as he was at the end of last season and made a block during the decisive moment of the campaign. We pick up where we left off.”

Montella was asked if his team will adopt a specific formation ahead of the new season, or whether the squad will be able to change.

“I have the players to do anything in tactical terms, but it’s also difficult to get so many new players to understand and adapt to different systems.

“The plan at the moment is to have a basic system with a few variations, as otherwise we run the risk of getting muddled.

“We are trying to work on the 4-3-3 with variations, we can also move to three, but it’s early days with some players who have never trained with the squad.

“Even if the club has performed miracles to have so many players signed by the end of July, we are still a bit behind compared to other teams when it comes to pre-season training.”

Andre Silva entered the fold late on for Milan, and he is a player who Montella has high hopes for.

“He was born in 1995, he just arrived, so let’s give him time. You can see these glimpses of the champion he will no doubt become.”

Tags AC Milan Craiova Milan Italy Milan News Rossoneri Serie A Vincenzo Montella
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