Rennes boss Stephan discusses the ‘danger’ of Milan, positive form and huge away following

By Ben Dixon -

Ahead of his side’s clash against AC Milan in the Europa League, Stade Rennais manager Julien Stephan has spoken to the press about the threat that the Rossoneri pose and the support his team will have tomorrow evening. 

When the two sides were drawn to face each other, you would have been forgiven for assuming that Milan could benefit from the French outfit’s poor showings this season. However, whilst the story in Ligue 1 was rather bleak, in Europe they remained consistent.

Since the draw, there has been a sharp rise in the form of the side, and they now sit in 7th place. Additionally, their last loss came in the middle of December, which represents their change in fortunes.

Since then, they have won eight games in a row, and look a formidable opposition.

However, it could be argued that this is the perfect bout for the Rossoneri to show their intentions for the competition. Stefano Pioli admitted in his pre-match press conference that the game would not be easy, but if Milan were to go through, they could be one of the options to win the tournament.

Stephan spoke to the press at the San Siro on Wednesday evening, and his words have been relayed by MilanNews.

How are you?

“Everyone is fine, we’re in good shape.”

How do you prepare for a match like this?

“You have to start at 100 per cent, continue at 100 per cent and finish at 100 per cent. There’s no other option. We will play against an opponent with great quality. We are not able to make calculations, but that does not mean not managing certain moments of the match, but it means always being 100 per cent because if we drop we are punished.”

The prestige of the match…

“On a European level it is the most prestigious one for us. A.C. Milan’s history represents so much for decades in Europe.”

Milan’s many French players…

“Something that stimulates us, playing against great players. There are many French players, but not only. French football is expanding. We’re not worried but we’re careful.”

Milan’s game plan and strengths…

“All coaches have a thought behind them. In the end, however, it is the players who decide matches and results. We can talk about the insertions of Loftus-Cheek but there are dangers on all sides. A lot of resources are needed to strengthen the midfield. But it’s not a question of the system but of how we will move and what we will leave to Milan and what we will have to protect.

“This is a team that verticalizes a lot and in the Champions League round they were the most dangerous in this respect. The favourite player is Giroud but also Loftus and he can be dangerous.”

Milan’s difficulty with three-man teams in defence…

“We could try everything, we’ll see. We haven’t had the chance to prepare many things. We might try something.”

The positive results of late…

“Something positive, it gives us confidence. When you come here to Milan you have to be super attentive and involved. The most important thing will be the start of the match, they will immediately put a lot of pressure on us and we should respond to this intensity.”

Is there a change in preparation between a game with Milan and others?

“No, the pace depends a lot on the number of days that pass between matches. In the end we only prepared for the game yesterday: just two mini training sessions, there’s little time. A lot of video work and observation exchanges.”

The away support…

“We are very sensitive to this. It also stems from the relationship between fans, players and club: a support that is felt more and more, also due to the growth of the club. I think it’s a growing love, also for a new generation of fans. We have to thank them for all the sacrifices they make to come and support us and we have to reciprocate them.”

Is there fear of seeing the Milan side that beat PSG again?

“Fear no, but we have no doubt that tomorrow’s Milan side can perform at that level; I have seen many Milan matches. The one against PSG was the best game of the season for them, they were very strong, with running and high numbers, great physical intensity, very strong raids.

“They are Champions League, they have many very strong players. We have great respect for their history.”

On the possibility of closing down to play in the return leg…

“Closing down I don’t know if it’s the solution. Napoli went from three to four because it didn’t work. I know we will need to play a great game. Obviously AC Milan are super favourites, we are the outsiders and we absolutely want the return leg to be meaningful on a sporting level.”

How do you plan to stop Leao and Pulisic?

“They have different movements, a different way of dribbling. We will manage them as a collective and as a group, with a precise organisation, with a common effort.”

Tags AC Milan Milan Rennes


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