Wednesday September 30 2020
Pioli: 'Milan's first target of the season'

Milan coach Stefano Pioli confirmed Rafael Leao can ‘play a small part’ against Rio Ave, when the Rossoneri aim to ‘reach the first objective’ of 2020-21.

The Diavolo travel to Rio Ave for the play-off to reach the group stages of the Europa League and must still cope without COVID-19 positive Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lorenzo Colombo scored in his first start against Bodo/Glimt in the second qualifying round last Thursday and Leao has since recovered from coronavirus.

Pioli has revealed the latter will most likely get some minutes against the Portuguese side.

“They aren’t the only ones who can play up front,” Pioli said at a press conference. “The choice will depend on how we want to play.

“I’m happy to have Leao available, but he recently joined us in training. He needs to improve his condition, tomorrow he could play a small part.”

Pioli expects his young side to grab the opportunity against Rio Ave and stop the Portuguese side from playing their game.

“We have 95 minutes in front of us, where we will give our best and get the most out of it.

“We must demonstrate our qualities in front of a team that has won two away games and defeated Besiktas, who are not an easy opponent.

“Against such a technical team with good positioning, we need a great performance. We will try to be aggressive, but still understand when we should wait.

“They are a team who want to dominate possession and we must avoid that it happens.”

Pioli has revealed captain Alessio Romagnoli returns to training with the rest of the group after their trip to Portugal.

“Romagnoli will be back in the group when we return from Portugal. The break will be important for him to return.

“I hope the same will happen for [Andrea] Conti. [Mateo] Musacchio is feeling better, I don’t know if he will be ready after the break.”

Pioli hopes to reach the first target of the season tomorrow and wants to see the Rossoneri go far in the Europa League.

“It’s our first objective of the season. Tomorrow, the first phase ends and we want to go through,” he added.

“We want a longer journey in Europe.”

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