Sinisa Mihajlovic previews Sunday’s Serie A match with Fiorentina.
MILAN – The coach held a pre-game press conference at Milanello on Saturday afternoon. This is what was said:
Opening comments from Mihajlovic: “Tomorrow marks the start of the second half of the season and I hope that we can turn the situation around and begin to climb back up the table. It’s a big match and a lot is at stake because a win would take us 6 points behind Fiorentina in the table. There is a long way to go until the end of the season and we have the time to make up ground on the sides above us. The team compared to the last meeting with Fiorentina on the opening day of the season has improved in many areas. We are doing well, despite all the criticisms. We can of course all do better, but we have given some good performances so far this campaign.”
The coach is under no illusions of the task at hand: “Fiorentina have always competed for a Champions League finish in recent seasons. It’s not by chance that they are in a strong position in the table. However, they have weaknesses too and we have to take advantage of them. It will be hard and we need to be tight at the back and take the chances that come our way. Otherwise, they will punish us. I foresee a close match. In our first meeting in Florence, they were ahead of us because we were still a work in progress while they already had the foundations to build on. We will play our game and be going for the win. I have never been concerned about what has been said or written about us. I know we give our all, sometimes it goes well, sometimes it does not go to plan, but the commitment is always there. We are doing well and are united.”
The San Siro factor could be key, says Mihajlovic: “Fiorentina have also slipped-up at times this season. We have home advantage and if we play our game, we have all the abilities to beat them. We need to stay focused at the back and attack as we know how, create chances, but above all make them count. We are inferior to no one. I speak with the President at least once a week. The President is always kind and respectful to me. Nothing has changed in our relationship. I am unfased by all the rumours. I have broad shoulders. I do my job with my head held high and I am calm. I tell the team to shut it all out and focus on playing. The team are in good shape physically and they are all giving 100%. The whistles from the crowd certainly don’t help, but the lads are giving their best. The rabona is a risky move, but if Bacca scores every time he tries it, I hope he does it a lot! As for Luiz Adriano, I think it was a lucrative offer for both him and the club.”
Closing comments from the coach: “Balotelli has now completed two or three training sessions with the team. Boateng still needs to work on his match fitness. We have a big squad of 28 and ideally you should have a squad of 25. At the moment, we cannot look at the league table. Instead, we have to take things one game at a time. The atmosphere at the San Siro isn’t helping us, but we have to try and pick up as many points as possible in the coming weeks. A string of positive results will help us climb back up the league table. Honda has deserved to play more in recent weeks. He is a model professional and always aims to give his best. He’s a reliable member of the squad and follows the instructions you give him.”
The skipper Riccardo Montolivo had his say too: “My performance and the team’s performance was positive against Carpi. The result was never in doubt and I also think the coach was pleased. Tomorrow however will be a different matter altogether. Fiorentina lost at home in their last match and so I am expecting them to be in determined mood come kick-off. However, we will have to be even hungrier than them for the win. The players sense there isn’t an idyllic atmosphere surrounding the team. Obviously, a player is more likely to perform at his best in a calmer situation. Nevertheless, we have to ignore it all as the coach says and focus on playing. It’s not easy and there are those who manage better than others.”
Nigel De Jong was also on hand for the press conference: “It will not be easy tomorrow. In the corresponding fixture last season, we drew and we dropped two points. We need to collect all 3 points tomorrow and it’s massively important that we win.”