AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has talked about the symbolic importance of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is making his first start of the season against Udinese.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia (via Milan News) ahead of the clash in Udine, the Italian coach was asked about the decision to give Ibrahimovic a start after he spent the entire season so far recovering from his knee surgery.
Not only is he starting the game, but he is also the captain. “I think it was Bennacer’s gesture, he should have been captain according to our order,” Pioli explained.
“Zlatan represents so much for us, on and off the pitch and in the dressing room. Only satisfaction for his return.”
Milan recently found out who they will be facing in the Champions League quarter-final and they will be playing another two games against the Serie A leaders, Napoli. Pioli stressed that Milan won’t be thinking about that until the first leg comes around.
“We are focused on this match. We’ll think about Napoli when the time comes. Today is too important, we must get back to scoring points. We have the qualities to be able to play it in the right way,” Pioli said.
Udinese have been having a mixed season but are contenders for a top-half finish. Pioli offered his assessment of the Friulians before the match: “A very compact team that defends very well, with a direct kick on the two forwards. We want to try to control the game and win it.”