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Pioli: ‘Zlatan is ready’

Milan coach Stefano Pioli confirmed Zlatan Ibrahimovic has ‘fully recovered’ for the match against Shamrock Rovers, when the Rossoneri start the season in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League.

The Rossoneri travel to Ireland today and Pioli expects his players to be ready for the new season, starting with the second qualifying round in Dublin.

“The thrill of starting a new season, of trying to continue the path we built last year,” Pioli said at a press conference. “The qualifiers are just the beginning.

“We want to get to the group stage, but we have to think about tomorrow’s match. Three weeks of preparation aren’t many, we did everything we had to do to be ready.”

Pioli has warned his Rossoneri players about complacency and expects the squad to be ‘ready for a difficult match’.

“In sport, if you take something for granted, you start with the wrong approach. We know the difficulties of the first match, the opponents play good football, very proactive.

“It’s a team that are in better shape physically, we must not only think about the difficulties we will encounter but of the opportunity that we will have.

“We have some key players out but those who will travel today are ready for this difficult match.”

Pioli stressed he wants to build on the momentum the Rossoneri had created in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign and said the new signings – Sandro Tonali, Brahim Diaz and Ciprian Tatarusanu – are prepared to step up.

“The important thing is to start from our philosophy and identity, we know how to build and defend, the 11 who start will depend on the conditions.

“Tonali, Diaz and Tatarusanu already have a clear idea of what we want to do. The players needed to disconnect, we preferred to give them more days of rest, especially for the environmental issue.

“We played many close games. I immediately found them well mentally. When you are comfortable where you work, you are more inclined to sacrifice.

“In these three weeks we have faced all the training sessions and all the friendlies with the right spirit.”

Pioli targets a return to the Champions League for Milan and knows the Europa League offers an alternative route back to Europe’s elite.

“It has always been the natural habitat of this glorious club. The goal of returning to the Champions League is our main priority.

“We are ready, aware of the difficulties. Shamrock are doing well, they’re an intense team, we will have to approach the match well and stay focused for all 95 minutes.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had to pull out of the friendly squad against Brescia last weekend, but Pioli confirms he has recovered in time for the Europa League match in Dublin.

“He has fully recovered, he is very well mentally, he’s involved as always. I found him as he is, competitive and fully available.”

Tonali was introduced against his former club last weekend and Pioli expects him to be ready for what’s next.

“He’s a young boy, but mature and ready. He has already shown his characteristics and will, he is very happy to be here.

“Our transfer market started well in advance, the club wanted to continue what they did last year. These are very important signs. I’m satisfied with the players I have.

“The transfer market is still long, but me and the team only have to think about tomorrow’s match and the next matches.

“We hope to start competing, then we will also sum up the market in October.”

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