The coach gave his thoughts on Juventus-Milan at a press conference.
MILAN – Sinisa Mihajlovic took questions from the media ahead of Saturday’s round 13 Serie A match away at Juventus. The coach was joined by the club skipper Riccardo Montolivo and Ignazio Abate for the press conference.
Opening comments on the big match in Turin: “It’s a prestigious match and it means a lot. It’s a classic fixture in Italian football and we will do our all to honour it. Juventus are on the up, but we will give our best to try and win. It’s a big match versus a great side and a direct rival. We prepare for every match in the best manner possible whether it be versus Juve or any other side. We know our strengths and if we play like we know how we can make it hard for anyone. We’re fully aware of the dangers Juve pose, but we are going there with everything to play for. We have the abilities to match them. I don’t think the result will be decisive- the season ahead is still long.”
The coach is confident the team can maintain their unbeaten run: “We have picked up 11 points from the past 5 matches and conceded just 3 goals. Only Napoli and Roma have done better. I am certain we can keep this up. Our aim is to finish in the top-three positions come the end of the season. Let’s wait and see however what position we’re in come the half-way point of the season and take it from there.”
Mihajlovic gave an update on individuals: “We still have to assess the fitness of some of the players. Niang has had another two weeks of training to work on his fitness and is in better shape than before. Apart from Bertolacci and De Jong, we have a full squad available with the exception of the long term absentees Balotelli and Menez. We will see about Bacca. He is back from international duty and did some running yesterday. We will assess his fitness today.“
The world of sport is with France: “What happened in Paris was terrible. We are all shocked and we are all close to the French people. It’s a war, but a strange war. For instance, compared to the war in ex-Yugoslavia, you don’t know who the enemy is. You don’t know what to expect. You go to the stadium or theatre and you are a target. The objective of terrorism is to make us live in terror, but we have to try and live normal lives and not be affected. We have to be brave and not be beaten by the terror. It’s not easy but we can do it.“
The coach looked back on the last match: “We all wanted to beat Atalanta, but we can’t win them all. We did what we had worked on and we could have even lost and as I said after the match it was a point earned. I never look for excuses, but we were missing three key players. The ones that came in to replace them did well, but they didn’t have the ability yet to play the full 90 minutes.”
Mihajlovic praised Juve’s Buffon on 20 years as a professional: “Donnarumma tomorrow will be going up against a legend and he can learn from Buffon. His greatness comes from his professionalism and enthusiasm. He has been the world’s best for the past 20 years. Donnarumma is bright and is talented. I hope he can have the same career as Buffon. Knowing Buffon, he would be happy to have an heir like him. Diego Lopez is a great goalkeeper too and I rate him highly. At the moment he is recovering from injury and we’re waiting for him to come back.”
Closing comments from the coach: “Tomorrow is a match which will reveal a lot, but I repeat it is not decisive. We will stick with the current formation for the time being and then further down the line we will see. The President Berlusconi is the dean of all presidents seeing as he has won more than anyone else. It’s only right that he congratulates other teams. It’s a sign of sportsmanship. We have to try and play well and receive his praise.”
Riccardo Montolivo: “Our aim is to keep improving just like we have been doing lately. We were all left disappointed with the Atalanta match. We wanted to give a completely different performance and get a different result. Our team has plenty of quality though and that has been shown in the past few weeks. The match tomorrow is another test for us and the midfield battle will probably be the key to the match.”
Ignazio Abate: “I am fit and I have been working with the squad for the past week. We have struggled in the past 4 years in Turin, but this year it will be different. We’re in good form and improving. We will have respect for our opponents, but we will try and impose our game and come away with points. The gap between the two teams has been reduced. Juventus lost 3 key players over the summer, but we have to focus on ourselves. We will have a great season and come June I think we will find ourselves in the top-positions in the table. I feel a part of this group. I am an experienced member of the squad who is willing to help others and the coach.”