Kalac: Giampaolo and Milan bringing back Rossoneri way in Champions League pursuit

By Sports Desk September 19, 2019

Marco Giampaolo and AC Milan are bringing back the Rossoneri identity as they eye a long-awaited return to the Champions League, according to former goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac.

Milan have not featured in the Champions League since 2013-14 after narrowly missing out on qualification by a single point under Gennaro Gattuso last season.

The Italian giants – seven-time winners of the European Cup/Champions League – have since turned to former Sampdoria head coach Giampaolo in their pursuit of a return to the premier club competition.

Milan great Zvonimir Boban, who won the Champions League and four Serie A titles during his time at the club, has also returned to San Siro as chief football officer, while legendary former captain Paolo Maldini is technical director.

Kalac – winner of the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during his four years at Milan – believes the 18-time Serie A champions can build on Gattuso's work with Giampaolo's entertaining brand of football.

"They've appointed a very good manager," ex-Australia international Kalac told Omnisport ahead of Saturday's derby against Inter. "The way I think they'll play and the way Giampaolo will get them to play, it will be very good for Milan.

"Milan have always been known as a footballing team. All the success we've had and in the Champions League, it's because of the way they play football – it's a brand.

"They want to bring that back. With Maldini being back and Boban too, you're bringing back legends. The culture of the club. You can't forget what Gattuso done, he brought back the Milan culture. They'll just go forward from that."

"If they can get into the top four and qualify for the Champions League, that's a very big success," Kalac continued, with Giampaolo's side collecting six points from their opening three games. "They were close under Rino, it was a good push. It's where they belong, a club of Milan."

Milan were active again in the transfer market – Giampaolo trying to shape his squad with the deadline-day signing of Croatia star Ante Rebic after bringing Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao, Ismael Bennacer, Leo Duarte and Rade Krunic to the club.

Rebic – who scored 10 goals across all competitions during a memorable run to the Europa League semi-finals last season – was linked to Inter before joining Milan from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.

The 25-year-old returns to Italy, having previously struggled after moving to Fiorentina from RNK Split in 2013, before being loaned out to RB Leipzig and Hellas Verona.

"I don't see why not. We all have our ups and downs in football," Kalac said when asked if Rebic can be a success in his second stint in Serie A. "The one thing at Milan that people don't realise, the expectations are so high. It doesn't matter who you play against, they expect you to win. You need to win and supporters expect it. The club is built to win.

"Once these players play and train regularly, they work out things together and combinations form. I've seen many great players come to Milan and not be successful because it's a different expectation. When you're the main man or focal point at a smaller club, it's easier because the team works for you. Whereas at Milan, you need to be part of the parcel in the big cog, but he can be a success."

Rebic will have his first taste of a Milan derby against a high-flying Inter side looking to make it four wins from four Serie A matches under coach Antonio Conte.

Inter are two points clear atop the table following the arrivals of Conte, club-record signing Romelu Lukaku, Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, Alexis Sanchez and Cristiano Biraghi.

"They've recruited really well," Kalac, who predicted a draw in the first Milan derby of the season, said. "It all starts with the recruiting of the head coach – Conte is fantastic. They've brought in some really good players who will be successful.

"But I think it will still take time. They won't have instant success but they will go very close. I think [eight-time reigning champions] Juventus this season, if there's any season to win it off them, it's this term."

Related items

  • Hudson-Odoi supports England team stance on racist abuse Hudson-Odoi supports England team stance on racist abuse

    Callum Hudson-Odoi has supported the idea of walking off the pitch as a team in response to racist abuse at football grounds.

    The Chelsea winger suffered abuse on his first start for the Three Lions in Montenegro last May which he described as "evil" at the time.

    The 18-year-old is hoping to force his way into the Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad as he makes his way back from an Achilles injury suffered last season.

    Hudson-Odoi scored twice in a 5-1 win for England’s under-21s against Austria on Tuesday and said he was proud of the solidarity shown by the senior players and coaching staff when questioned about the unsavoury scenes in Bulgaria.

    "It’s disgusting to hear or see players getting discriminated against," he told reporters.

    "It’s not right. I say to myself whenever that happens you have to stick together as a team, which the boys did.

    "I am really proud to see the boys stick together in those situations where they say they would walk off the pitch. It is right because no player should be treated differently.

    "We’re all equal and it’s an equal game, so we have got to stay strong. Hopefully everything will be sorted out properly by UEFA."

  • Robertson relishing Old Trafford battle with 'excellent' compatriot McTominay Robertson relishing Old Trafford battle with 'excellent' compatriot McTominay

    Liverpool defender Andy Robertson is relishing Sunday's battle with Scott McTominay and says his Scotland team-mate has been "excellent" for Manchester United this season.

    The international colleagues will come face to face when Liverpool travel to Old Trafford in the Premier League this weekend.

    McTominay has started all eight league games of a disappointing campaign for United, who are down in 12th place after winning just two of those matches.

    Despite his club's on-pitch struggles, the 22-year-old has been hailed as a shining light by compatriot Robertson.

    "He's been excellent all season in a United team that has had its critics. I think he's carried himself very well," Robertson said, quoted in several British newspapers.

    "I'll be looking forward to facing him on Sunday. Obviously, I hope to come out on top."

    While United have struggled in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first full campaign, bitter rivals Liverpool are flying at the top of the table after making a perfect start.

    However, the Reds are winless in their last five away league meetings with United - something Robertson is keen to put right.

    "I think what makes the fixture so special is that it's historic," he said. "There have been such great battles down the years.

    "And they've always had top teams who have always fought against each other for everything on the pitch.

    "It's always like that. And it's genuinely a different atmosphere when you play against them. It's one game that we always look forward to.

    "Since I've been a Liverpool player, we've not managed to get a result at Old Trafford. So hopefully that changes on Sunday."

  • Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match

    Danilo has returned to full training with Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury

    The 28-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in August, was forced off during the 2-1 win at Brescia on September 24.

    However, the club announced Danilo took part in Wednesday's session at Juventus Training Centre. He may now be involved in Saturday's home league clash with Bologna.

    Aaron Ramsey, who missed Wales' Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia because of a slight muscle injury, also took part in light training.

    Right-back Mattia De Sciglio and winger Douglas Costa are on personalised training programmes, Juventus announced on their website, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic were granted an extra day off following their international exertions.

    Juventus are top of Serie A after making a seven-game unbeaten start to the campaign.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.