Thursday July 27 2017
Montella: 'Milan 4-3-3 with variations'

Vincenzo Montella admits Milan are “still a bit behind” in gelling the squad, but confirms they will build on a “4-3-3 with variations” after the Europa League win at Craiova.

The Rossoneri won their first competitive match of the season, 1-0 away to Romanian side Craiova in the Europa League preliminary round tie.

The second leg is at San Siro on Thursday August 3.

“I could not have expected more. Craiova made it difficult for us, they’re in better physical condition and have some rapid players.

“It was all fairly predictable, but I liked the attitude of the team when dealing with difficulties. It’s a good result, but not enough for us to be relaxed and hopefully we’ll be at a more advanced stage of preparation at San Siro, both physically and technically.”

This is the new Milan, but Leonardo Bonucci, Lucas Biglia, Hakan Calhanoglu and others were unavailable.

“We had Kessie, Musacchio and Borini on the field today, but also Niang and Cutrone are half-new. My aim is to get as many players as possible ready to contribute.

“Bonucci, may I remind you, won a Scudetto with a three-man defence and reached a Champions League Final with four at the back.

“At one point we played seemingly with three at the back, but we knew that the fitness levels wouldn’t hold out for 90 minutes, so couldn’t push it too hard.

“We were a little obvious in our passing, but also didn’t have the players up front who could create spaces, so that made it a little more difficult. All this was predictable in the circumstances and we realised we had to hurt Craiova off the shoulders of the defenders, not the midfielders.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma made a sensational early save, but Craiova only really put pressure on in the final stages.

“It was a very important save, we have Donnarumma back exactly as he was at the end of last season and made a block during the decisive moment of the campaign. We pick up where we left off.”

Montella was asked if his Milan will have a specific system this season or move between them?

“I have the players to do anything in tactical terms, but it’s also difficult to get so many new players to understand and adapt to different systems.

“The plan at the moment is to have a basic system with a few variations, as otherwise we run the risk of getting muddled. We are trying to work on the 4-3-3 with variations, we can also move to three, but it’s early days with some players who have never trained with the squad.

“Even if the club has performed miracles to have so many players signed by the end of July, we are still a bit behind compared to other teams when it comes to pre-season training.”

Andre Silva came off the bench in the second half and got himself into some interesting positions, but seemed reticent to pass the ball.

“He was born in 1995, he just arrived, so let’s give him time. You can see these glimpses of the champion he will no doubt become.”