Saturday April 17 2021
Pioli: 'Genoa a big test for Milan'

Stefano Pioli backs Rafael Leao and Mario Mandzukic to fill in for Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Genoa and sees Milan with ‘the right level of worry, the kind ahead of a big test.’

It kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 UK time (10.30 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“We all want to get back to winning ways at San Siro, after a long time. We need to show more quality and concentration in the final third to achieve that,” said the coach in his press conference.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended and Mario Mandzukic not fully fit, so Rafael Leao is expected to start upfront.

“I am happy that Mario is available, although he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, but he had a great week of training sessions. He moves so well and rarely times his runs incorrectly. Mario really suffered at not being available over the last few months. I was not surprised by his gesture of giving his March salary to charity, because his qualities were never in doubt.

“I remain convinced Leao is improving and puts much more desire into the game than last season. We have a big objective to achieve and I saw the team with the right level of worry, the kind when you know that it’s a big test you must prepare for.

“Genoa are a side with a lot of quality and who did well under Davide Ballardini. I trained Milan Badelj at Fiorentina, so I know he has great concentration and quality. They are a complete team who cover the various zones of the pitch well, who don’t focus so much on possession as vertical passes. Genoa are a physical outfit and will be difficult to beat.”

Genoa striker Gianluca Scamacca, on loan from Sassuolo, said today he’d be happy to act as understudy to ‘icon’ Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so Pioli was asked if he’d like to work with him.

“Scamacca is a very promising young player with clearly defined characteristics. He is certainly a player with a bright future.”

The biggest question mark hanging over Milan is Gianluigi Donnarumma, as his contract is due to expire on June 30.

“I speak constantly to the players, but the future is now. Gigio knows how important tomorrow’s game is, as the whole team knows.

“As for the other situations, I fortunately work at a club that keeps a close eye on everything. We are all concentrated and find this constant talk about outside issues a little boring.”