Former Milan star Kaka said the trip to Anfield will be the perfect debut for the Rossoneri in the Champions League and warned Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s importance.
The Rossoneri return to the Champions League after eight years, but in 121 years, the Diavolo have never played at Anfield.
Kaka knows it will be a difficult match for the Italian side, but expects a tight game, as Milan can ‘compete with an opponent at the highest level’.
“I have [played at Anfield]! With the Legends, it was a beautiful emotion,” Kaka told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Jokes aside, it will be special. Anfield is an ideal debut for this Milan.
“It will be very hard, but there are all the ingredients for a great performance. There’s Ibra who soon turns 40, there are many young talents who will be able to compete with an opponent at the highest level.
“It will be an important test for everyone, even for the club that will be able to understand which elements to count on in the coming years.”
Kaka was impressed by the Rossoneri’s performance in the 2-0 win over Lazio last weekend.
“I watched the 2-0 win against Lazio,” he said. “Milan dominated by playing aggressive, fast, always proactive football.
“There are many variables to consider, the long-awaited return and the fact that [coach Stefano] Pioli has never participated in the final phase of the Champions League.
“But if Milan are solid and compact like on Sunday, we will have fun. Much will depend on the ability to read the first minutes of the game: the intensity of an English top team like Liverpool is different from that of the Italians, but it’s the beauty of the Champions League.
“You encounter schools different from yours, you readjust, interpret.”
Kaka claimed Milan have a great balance ‘between young and experienced players’ in the squad and believes the Rossoneri can fight for the points on Merseyside.
“First of all, it’s a nice mix between young and experienced player,” he said. “I have lived it, I know how important it is to grow alongside [Paolo] Maldini, Cafu, [Andriy] Shevchenko, [Filippo] Inzaghi, [Alessandro] Costacurta, people who didn’t think about the expiration of the contract but about the good of the club.
“Today, it’s up to Ibra, [Simon] Kjaer and [Olivier] Giroud: they will show the way, there’s no lack of quality in the squad.
“Milan are back with a different hunger. Liverpool have already won and have confirmed themselves at the top for years, but the enthusiasm of those who have dreamed of playing in this tournament for a long time can make the difference.”
After the match against Liverpool, a game against Atletico Madrid awaits. The Spanish champions eliminated Milan in their last Champions League appearance, despite Kaka’s goal.
Coach Diego Simeone, was in his third year at Atleti and won La Liga, something Kaka believes Stefano Pioli can emulate.
“Yes, he has everything to enter the greats of the dugout,” he said. “He’s a very good technician and an excellent coach.
“I like the fact that Milan have confirmed this and that they don’t ask him for everything immediately. It takes time to build, but Pioli has already marked important steps.
“I don’t see a big difference in the group, they can play equally with everyone and go through. Then we will see, from the second round onwards it’s almost impossible to find easy opponents.
“Surely, those who survive this group will have something more than the others.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a big difference at San Siro since his return to the club and Kaka has warned Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
“He weighs a lot on the pitch, we saw him against Lazio,” Kaka said. “Easy goal, but he was there. He will also make an impact at Anfield, for his teammates and the Liverpool defenders.
“With someone like him, you can’t get distracted, even if your name is Van Dijk.”