Saturday March 20 2021
Pioli: 'Milan gained belief after Man Utd'

Stefano Pioli updates on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hakan Calhanoglu, insists Milan are even more confident after Manchester United and he always expected Dusan Vlahovic to fly at Fiorentina.

It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

They are pulled back into action just days after their Europa League elimination by Manchester United.

“It was very disappointing, but going out like that just made us even more aware of our qualities and that at certain levels, the details make the difference,” said the coach in his press conference.

“We didn’t quite have as much quality as we should’ve done in both penalty areas.”

Ibrahimovic was only able to play 30 minutes against Manchester United after three weeks out of action with a thigh strain, but the lack of alternatives means he should start tomorrow.

“I don’t know if he has 90 minutes in his legs, but his presence is important and he’ll make a big difference. We are aiming for the top, we’re in the running and must try to win every remaining match.

“I think tomorrow might be the most complicated of them all, both because Fiorentina are in good shape, and we are coming off a very tiring run of games. I am sure we’ll step up a gear after the break for international duty.”

Considering Samu Castillejo had to play as a False 9 against Manchester United, it begs the question where would Milan be this season without all these injuries?

“We knew there could be difficulties with such a packed schedule and we’ve so far played more competitive games than anyone else.

“I feel that the team has overcome the difficult moment, as recent performances have been strong and we only lost due to minor incidents. There are some justifications for the number of injuries, whereas in some cases we missed something and that mustn’t happen again.”

Hakan Calhanoglu is the player whose form has taken the biggest dip in recent months.

“COVID and injuries prevent you from feeling sharp. Calha is an important player, he is trying to rediscover his form and soon he’ll get back to being decisive.”

This is a return to the Stadio Franchi for Pioli, who had an emotional stay with the Viola, and also gave current hitman Dusan Vlahovic his debut.

“Vlahovic has grown very well. I always appreciated his incredible work ethic, because when you train like that, you are destined to improve.

“He’s a very good centre-forward, but he’s still young and it’s not helpful to make comparisons. I hope he continues on this form – but from the next game.

“I experienced a great deal in Florence as a player and then a coach, then of course the tragedy of what happened to Davide Astori leaves its mark. It can never be a normal match.

“Florence and Fiorentina are more than opponents. Last year, the welcome I received when I returned there filled me with joy.”