NEWS
Saturday March 5 2016
Mihajlovic: 'Milan above Sassuolo'

Sinisa Mihajlovic is “absolutely convinced” Milan will finish above Sassuolo and joked about Mario Balotelli’s strike partner.

It kicks off on Sunday at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

As Sassuolo won both their previous home games against the Rossoneri and this is a head-to-head for sixth place, are they right to feel like favourites?

“If I was still playing then thinking that way would be extra motivation,” noted Mihajlovic in his Press conference.

“Sassuolo are an excellent side and have recovered after a dip in form. They are in good shape and it’ll be a very difficult match for us, but we have all the quality it takes to win.

“It’s true Milan have never won in that stadium, but as a Coach I have never lost there. I have full faith in my lads.

“We will finish above Sassuolo in the table, I am absolutely convinced of that, regardless of tomorrow’s result. I don’t think unfortunately we are in a position to get eight or nine wins in a row. I’d like to be proved wrong, of course.

“Juventus and Napoli are the strongest sides, while Roma are right behind them. We must try to win them all, but it’ll be tough.”

Balotelli is set to start tomorrow, as Luiz Adriano is still out injured, while Jeremy Menez played in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Alessandria on Tuesday.

“Neither Balotelli nor Menez have 90 minutes in their legs, so they’ll swap places. With all due respect for Alessandria, they are a Lega Pro side. Menez would probably be more at easy coming off the bench against Sassuolo, while Balo is physically stronger and can help the team hold up the ball.

“I therefore think Balotelli will start, then Menez will come on. What do I make of Balotelli’s attitude? I am not talking about celebrating or not. All I care about is that he chases down opponents and sacrifices himself for the team.

“Everyone has to do that or they don’t play. If he gives me a positive response, then he’ll continue playing. If he doesn’t, then he won’t.”

President Silvio Berlusconi complained this week that Carlos Bacca and Balotelli were a mismatched strike pairing.

“I fully agree with half of that statement,” smiled Mihajlovic. “They have different characteristics, but are compatible because they speak the same football language.

“Can Balo get into the Italy squad? He just has to focus on Milan and making the most of his opportunities. Anything else will follow as a consequence. Both he and Menez were decisive in the past and must be decisive now.

“Keisuke Honda is an atypical 10 for Milan who does a completely different job. He gives us balance and is very helpful with this tactical system.

“Juraj Kucka is doing well and I have to compliment Adriano Galliani, because everyone was sceptical when he was signed. I said to sign him straight away when asked, because his characteristics are totally different to the other midfielders.

“He makes his presence felt on the field, like a tank, and even when he’s in pain he still fights. We’re like that in the Balkans.”