Today, ahead of the Europa League clash between Ludogorets and AC Milan, Rino and Calabria came out together to discuss expectations. An odd choice, to bring Calabria, but a show of support I imagine for the young fullback. The second yellow card still fresh on the minds of most fans, Calabria and Gattuso both arrived with a mild temperament and warned fans of the dangers.
Sure, away from home, in a different country, no match should be considered ‘in the bag’, but all this caution has me nervous. We’re talking about the Rossoneri, an Italian giant, visiting... Bulgarian’s best? I’m not belittling a team here, really, but throwing so much caution to the wind doesn’t seem necessarily the best tactic.
Lugogorets are currently enjoying a three match win streak and currently sit on top of the illustrious Bulgarian League. Home of the Eagles, their stadium “Ludogorets Arena” seats a capacity of 9,000 fans. I’m hoping this sedated attitude from Gattuso is a media tactic and that behind closed doors, Rino is raining fire of hype and excitement onto his players.
Gattuso mentioned how Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Lazio all struggled here before. At closer look, Real Madrid won 2-1 (2014), Liverpool drew 2-2 (2014), and Lazio blew a late lead allowing Juninho Quixadá to score two goals to allow the Bulgarians into the next round (also 2014). Basically in 2014, four years ago, Ludogorets were a solid team. Since then, they haven’t really replicated the same success and have quickly exited European competitions as fast as they’ve entered them.
So yes, if you’d like Gattuso, set up the match that it’s not the steamroller everyone is expecting. But please, let’s not allow for excuses should we fall short of a win.
Read the full statements below.
Gennaro Gattuso Press Conference:
”We respect Ludogorets. In the last six years, they have competed in Europe more than us. We don’t underestimate them at all. Teams like Real Madrid, Liverpool and Lazio all struggled when playing here. I have studied them and I know they can give us a lot of trouble. They have three to four offensive players that can make the difference. We can’t give them too much space. I think tomorrow they can go from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 system. What I fear the most from them is their attack.
”There is always a first time. Their players have more experience in international competitions compared to ours, but this does not affect our confidence. On the contrary, it helps us understand that we must not underestimate them. Lucas Biglia has already played against them before, but with today’s technology, we don’t have the need to turn to our players to analyse our opponents.
It’s absurd to do calculations in Europa League. All teams in the Round of 32 are strong. We are AC Milan, in the last 30 years we have won a lot in Europe and we have an important responsibility. We must respect this shirt and honor it. We must also think about the Serie A and the Italian Cup. Now we can’t do any calculations. I played many years for this club and we never did any calculations.
Davide Calabria Press Conference:
“We have to take it game by game. It’s not easy to play every three days, but if we do not give 100%, then we’re in trouble. We only think about tomorrow, later we can think about making it through to the next round.
They are a team, a unit. We have to think as a team because they are fast and have good individual players. As always, we need to be careful.
We are not the favorites, as we’re playing away from home and they’re organized. They have many qualities, especially defensively, but we want to win. It will not be easy, but we are prepared and confident.