AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli is hoping his side can channel the positive momentum generated by the win at the weekend to cause Manchester United problems.
Pioli was interviewed by Milan TV on the eve of the game against Manchester United, just before the team left to catch their plane, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews.
“It is clear that we are going to play against a very strong opponent, a prestigious club with a great history and a great tradition like us. It will be a difficult match but also stimulating and motivating in trying to show what our abilities are,” he said.
The Rossoneri qualified for the last 16 of the competition thanks to a victory over Red Star on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate. A 2-2 result in Belgrade was followed up by a nervy 1-1 at San Siro in the second leg, so Pioli’s sode will have to produce a better showing against the Premier League’s second-placed team.
“We worked to get to this point, to get to face such strong opponents, to test ourselves, to continue our path, to understand what level we are at. It is clear that the Europa League is a very difficult and very important competition, now the strong teams are coming and we must be ready,” Pioli added.
Milan do come into the game off the back of an encouraging 2-0 win over Hellas Verona, a game which they dominated despite the absence of so many key players.
On the win at the Bentegodi, Pioli stated: “We know that we played a very good match from the point of view of application, rhythm, intensity and quality. It is clear that we have to bring very positive situations and feelings from Verona.
“Then it is equally true that every match is a story in itself but our way of playing in Verona has given us certainties and certainties that we will have to put back on the field tomorrow.”
Franck Kessie’s presence in central midfield has elevated Milan’s performances as he has become an immovable force, and his exploits have not gone unnoticed.
The Ivory Coast international has made 36 appearances this season across all competitions, scoring 10 goals in the process, and Pioli knows his importance.
“When you take over you bring a new methodology, it takes time to get to know each other. I think that one of the most important things is to get inside the players’ heads and go about the characteristics, not only technical but above all human,” he added.
“We had some normal discussions with Franck about what our job is. Then once we understood each other better we gave our all for Milan and we must continue to do this.”