Pioli: ‘Zlatan would have started, I will choose between Rebic or Giroud’

epa09464054 AC Milan's coach Stefano Pioli during the Italian Serie A soccer match AC Milan vs SS Lazio at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, Italy, 12 September 2021. EPA-EFE/ROBERTO BREGANI

Milan coach Stefano Pioli confirmed Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play against Liverpool, but has not decided if Olivier Giroud or Ante Rebic will replace the Swede.

Last season the Rossoneri played against teams like Bodo/Glimt, Shamrock Rovers and Rio Ave in the Europa League, this time around they are up against Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto in the Champions League group stage.

Pioli believes it’s a sign of growth at the club and highlighted the experience gained since last year.

“Compared to those opponents, almost an entire season has passed,” Pioli said. “All our experiences have been there to grow, make mistakes, work on them and improve.

“I think the start of the season is showing that the team has understood how to interpret the games. Now, the level has increased, it’s a great opportunity to show that we are here too.”

Milan travel to Liverpool without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been ruled out with an Achilles injury.

“First of all, Zlatan would have started the game. But an inflammation of the tendon can happen after four months without playing.

“We hope it would allow him to play, he tried but was in pain. It’s useless to take risks, we have many other games beyond tomorrow.

“I think of Milan with Zlatan, that’s what we all want. We have many valid solutions; these sudden defections are part of the game but we are well prepared.

“I will choose between [Ante] Rebic and [Olivier] Giroud, but we are covered. I’m sorry for Zlatan, we will see him again soon.”

Pioli prepares for his first adventure in the Champions League, despite having coached for two decades.

“As in all games, we prepare as we usually do,” Pioli said. “I’m passionate about English football, I know Liverpool and we have studied them.

“It’s true that many have never played in the Champions League, but the pitch is always the pitch. We arrived here with our way of playing, our enthusiasm, our energy. We will need it tomorrow too.”

Pioli was asked if it was an advantage to start with the toughest game, as Milan prepare for their first trip to Anfield.

“I don’t think there are any easy games,” he said. “The group is very difficult, the opponents are very competitive and they have all played in Europe for some time.

“But we want to start writing our history from tomorrow.”

Pioli said Olivier Giroud, who was out with coronavirus during the international break, is getting better, but stressed Ante Rebic gives him competition for a place in the starting line-up.

“On Monday, I found him a bit down. Yesterday and today, he was better,” Pioli said. “He certainly doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs at this level.

“Being still for two weeks makes you miss something. But he’s fine. Ante [Rebic] comes from an excellent performance, he gave us quality.

“I’m sure that whoever starts and whoever comes on will be ready.”

One Comment on “Pioli: ‘Zlatan would have started, I will choose between Rebic or Giroud’”

  1. I would start Rebic AC need lots of energy early in the game against the reds who
    will attack at 100 MPH , bring on Giroud at the latter stages when Liverpool are more fatigued,

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