Pioli discusses ‘difficult’ Dinamo Zagreb game, injury woes and possible new role for De Ketelaere

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli believes that AC Milan’s opponents tomorrow Dinamo Zagreb have everything it takes to make life difficult, while he also discussed the selection issues in attack.

Milan should not expect an easy ride against Dinamo Zagreb, who have 25 points out of 27 available in the league and are well ahead second in the standings, allowing them to rotate heavily in the league and stay fresh.

Not only that, but the Croatian champions are currently first in Group E thanks to a 1-0 victory against Chelsea in the first round of action, which led to the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, and that should be warning enough that they are capable of causing issues.

Mislav Orsic has 10 goals in 16 games this season, and they will be backed by over 4,000 away fans that will make the trip to Italy and to the San Siro, so it will certainly not be a walk in the park.

Pioli spoke to the journalists who gathered at Milanello after this morning’s training session to preview the match against Dinamo, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

Do you need a win tomorrow?

“If we play at a high level, we have excellent chances of winning both in Italy and in Europe. In Sassuolo we did not play at our level and we did not win. Tomorrow we must play to our maximum potential.”

Is it a match where you cannot go wrong? Will the best team play?

“In all the matches I play the best side. The team are doing well, in the Champions League we have fewer players because they are not on the list. Rebic and Origi will not be there, Krunic on the other hand has recovered. Tomorrow we will play with absolute determination.”

Will you aim to establish yourself in Europe too?

“We have to put our maximum potential into play in every match. Tomorrow’s match is very important, but not decisive yet because there are so many more games to go. But we know it’s an important match and we have prepared well for it.”

Are you worried about Origi’s injury?

“No worries, but I’m sorry for Origi. He’s a player we really wanted. I hope I can be available again after the break.”

Is there a VAR problem in Italy?

“What happened is unsettling. It’s easy to point the finger at certain situations, but you have to try to find solutions.”

Is Leao missing the last step in Europe?

“You can always do better. The boys are good because they are all ambitious. Leao is playing at a high level from all points of view, he must continue like this. He is a point of reference for us. Each game has different difficulties, it must be good at making the right choices.”

Can De Ketelaere play as a striker if needed?

“Olivier is happy to play all the time. De Ketelaere can play that role, obviously with different characteristics. If there was a need, it would be a good solution.”

Are you planning to return to the market in January given the absences in attack?

“Between now and January there is still a lot of time. To have two absences in the same department is unfortunate because we are missing important players and also the possibility to rotate. But I have several players who can play there. Now let’s think about the next two games in front of our fans.”

Will tomorrow’s match be decisive?

“It is very important but it cannot be decisive yet. Last year, by winning the first match on the penultimate matchday, we had the possibility to go through by beating Liverpool on the last day. Tomorrow evening we could be in first place in the group: it’s an opportunity. It will be difficult, because Dinamo deservedly won the first game.”

In what regard should Dinamo be held?

“In the league they have an average of three goals per game. They are used to playing in the league, while against Chelsea they played a different game, they played on the counter. They have all the characteristics to be a difficult team to overcome.”

Is a three-man defence an idea you are considering?

“Tomorrow we will not use a three-man defence. From tomorrow everything is possible, but now we are thinking only of Dinamo and not of Napoli.”

Will Dest be a starter?

“He’s ready to do it. Tomorrow everyone is ready to start. I will choose the most suitable to start.”

Tags AC Milan Milan Dinamo Zagreb Stefano Pioli
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