Pioli: ‘No Ibra, no problem’

Stefano Pioli rules Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the Milan-Roma ‘six-pointer’ but backs Ante Rebic to shine in his absence. “He’s becoming precious for us.”

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“We’re quite similar to Roma in terms of performance, but the reality tells us that we’re still far apart in the table,” Pioli said at a press conference.

“Tomorrow will be a six-pointer. We’re aware of how tough the game will be, but we have a chance of winning and we’ll pour all our qualities on to the pitch.

“It’s an opportunity we can exploit, but Zlatan isn’t ready yet. He won’t be on the bench tomorrow

“Every game is different. It also depends on the attitude of our opponents. In this end of the season, it’ll be important to understand the moments of the match.

“It’ll be hot tomorrow, so we’ll have to pace ourselves. We’ll have to be aggressive but also careful.

“We did well at Lecce and we must also do that against Roma. They know how to defend but could give us space to work in.

“Our attackers have always moved around. With Ibra up top, we have different characteristics, but even he likes to come deep for the ball.

“Now, we must insist on mobility in attack. We need to make the most of the characteristics of the players on the pitch.

“Zlatan has worked hard and well. Yesterday he trained with his teammates, but he’s not match-fit yet.

“He won’t take part tomorrow. He’ll be with us, but he won’t be on the bench.”

Ibrahimovic returned to training yesterday, but the coach is preferring to stick with Rebic as his reference in attack for now.

“He has excellent characteristics. He can play well in any attacking position. I can use him in any of them.

“He played with great mental and physical intensity against Lecce. He’s becoming a precious player for us, with great physical strength even in terms of pressing.

“The team will give everything in these remaining 11 games. They’re made up of great professionals, real men who are surprising me with their attitude, focus and availability.

“We’ve grown a lot. We’ve made many steps forward and we’ll have many opportunities to show it.

“The fixture list is difficult, but it also stimulates us. We’ll take things one game at a time. Against Roma, it’ll be a delicate and important challenge.”

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