Saelemaekers discusses his difficult periods and insists Milan ‘play with fire inside’

By Oliver Fisher -

Alexis Saelemaekers has insisted that he and his AC Milan team-mates have the ‘fire inside’ that is needed to win games in the Champions League.

Saelemaekers got Milan’s first goal of the 2022-23 Champions League group stage campaign as he scored the equaliser against Red Bull Salzburg last week, putting in a very positive performance too.

However, there has not been much time to dwell on that result nor the win over Sampdoria on Saturday as Dinamo Zagreb due at the San Siro, and it promises to be an equally stern test compared to the game in Austria.

The Croatian champions are currently first in Group E thanks to a 1-0 victory against Chelsea in the first round of action, while they have taken 25 points out of 27 available and have a 10-point lead atop their league domestically.

Saelemaekers was interviewed by SportMediaset on the eve of the game between Milan and Dinamo Zagreb, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.

First game at home in the Champions League, where should Milan start from?

“I think we have to be calm, we are having a good start to the season. The result we wanted did not arrive in Salzburg, but now there is a new game and we must be calm, do what the coach says on the pitch and be at our level.”

The game against Sampdoria was a great character test…

“These are our characteristics, in my opinion we are the best in this: in mentality, we play with fire inside. If we put that on the field tomorrow I’m sure everything will be fine.”

A goal scored at the beginning of the season, is this a new Saelemaekers?

“New no, maybe it is true that I had a bit more difficult period but a player’s career is not only made up of moments in which he is at the top, there is also not feeling good and not playing at his level. The important thing, however, is that I worked a lot in training, I always tried to do my best and give everything on the pitch. Against Salzburg I helped the team with this goal and I am very happy, I want to continue on this path for the next match.”

Is it important to win tomorrow?

“Of course, we haven’t won at home in the Champions League yet, in front of our fans. It is important for us to do it, we want to win games in the Champions League and show that we are a strong team.”

There are now quite a few Belgians at Milan…

“Maybe you don’t know them well yet, but I know them and I know they are players with excellent qualities and I’m sure they can help us win games this year and do something beautiful.

“Charles [De Ketelaere] is a great player, at his age he arrived at Milan and plays for the national team, it means that he is a great player. I’m not afraid for him and I know he will do something good with Milan and with the national team.”

Already against Dinamo?

“Yes (smiles).”

Tags AC Milan Alexis Saelemaekers Milan Dinamo Zagreb

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