Saturday January 18 2020
Pioli: 'Zlatan manna from heaven'

Stefano Pioli called Zlatan Ibrahimovic “a manna from heaven” who is getting his Milan teammates to fully commit as they host Udinese.

It kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“We are in good shape, both mentally and physically, so must try to add important points to the table after a first half of the season that was not up to our standards,” said the coach in his press conference.

“The team is working hard, we are finding our balance in a different system and everyone is ready to press the opponent in any area of the pitch. We must believe that we are a team who can score goals and not concede.

“Udinese have an impressive points average since Luca Gotti took charge, as they run hard and are a very physical team.”

The Rossoneri are a transformed team since Ibrahimovic arrived and Pioli moved them to a 4-4-2 formation, shelving Suso, Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek.

“Ibrahimovic is proving himself to be more than just a mascot or a name. He’s a manna from heaven,” explained Pioli.

“He is someone who doesn’t even want to lose a training ground routine, let alone a match. He brings great quality and determination to everything he does and that is rubbing off on his teammates. Ibra has raised the level of everyone in the squad, as he gets angry if he sees someone not giving their absolute best.”

Hakan Calhanoglu, Davide Calabria, Lucas Biglia, Mateo Musacchio, Rafael Leao and Ricardo Rodriguez are out of the squad tomorrow.

“It’s an emergency situation, there aren’t many of available, but Gianluigi Donnarumma has trained and I think he can play tomorrow.”

Suso and Paqueta are reported to be on the transfer market after slipping down the pecking order at San Siro.

“Criticism should help players to grow. I believe in Suso because he has great qualities. Paqueta is training well and naturally he’s not going to be happy when he doesn’t play. He’s not a pure wide man and I would have to ask different things of him. The most important thing is that the team has balance.”