Thursday February 18 2021
Falcinelli: 'I hope Zlatan doesn't play'

Red Star centre-forward Diego Falcinelli looks forward to face Milan in the Europa League and admitted he hopes Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘doesn’t play’.

Falcinelli, who played in the Europa League during his time with Sassuolo, moved on loan to Red Star from Bologna in September 2020.

The 29-year-old striker has scored nine goals in 18 competitive games for the Serbian side and said he adapted quickly to his new surroundings.

“I got used to it quickly,” he told Tuttomercatoweb. “At the beginning it was tough because I didn’t speak English, but after a short time I was able to enter the group.”

Milan prepare for the first leg in Serbia, three days before the Derby della Madonnina and Falcinelli said Red Star play the Rossoneri ‘at the perfect time’.

“The match comes at a perfect time for us,” he said. “The Rossoneri come from a defeat, they have the derby, then us again and Roma.

“Let’s hope they rest some players.

“It will be tough, like all games in Europe. Each game has its own story. But if they think they’re coming here for a walk or playing with lower intensity, they will quickly realise that they’re wrong.

“Milan are made of champions, but the group counts more and to make as few mistakes as possible.”

Falcinelli hopes Zlatan Ibrahimovic will rest and ‘doesn’t play’ in the last 32 clash.

“I hope he doesn’t play,” he said. “He is exceptional, complete. He’s one of the best strikers in the history of football.”

When asked who is better between Romelu Lukaku and the Swede, Falcinelli replied he looks forward to the Milan derby on Sunday.

“They are both very strong,” he said. “Lukaku, when he’s in shape, is impressive.

“It’s a fight between two champions. I will watch the derby on Sunday. But first we have an important game.”

The former Inter youth said Red Star aim to win the double in Serbia, but believes Dejan Stankovic’s men can continue to impress in Europe.

“We want to win the championship and the cup,” he continued. “We advanced from the group in the Europa League, a target that nobody asked of us, apart from the coach.

“He [Stankovic] always puts pressure on us, every day. Each game is a Final. The next game always counts the most for him.”

Falcinelli has played 108 games in Serie A, during spells with Sassuolo, Crotone, Bologna and Fiorentina, but he said he hasn’t been thinking about a return to Italy.

“I didn’t even have time to think about it,” he added. “We play every three days. We are fully booked until the end of May.

“Surely, the head is focused on the present. Red Star have an option to buy. We will see.”