Gennaro Gattuso is looking forward to tomorrow’s Coppa Italia final and claims ‘we are just lacking a spark to see beautiful fireworks’ at Milan.
Tomorrow at Stadio Olimpico at 21:00 CET, Milan of Gattuso and Juventus of Max Allegri will square off with one objective in mind: winning the Coppa Italia.
Milan failed to reach the Champions League, but a win tomorrow would secure them a place in next season’s Europa League. It would also be the first trophy of the Chinese era at Milan and of the Rino cycle.
“This is like the World Cup for our enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of the fans and their desire to get back to lifting a trophy again,” Gattuso said in today’s pre-match press conference in Rome.
“The Doha Supercoppa Italiana final? If I’m not mistaken, I watched it on MilanTV. I celebrated because Milan hadn’t won an important trophy in years. We have a young team, there was an incredible enthusiasm in the summer and you can sense the desire to win of the environment, we’re just lacking a spark to see beautiful fireworks. I didn’t need to fire up the guys, as it’s the kind of match that fires you up anyway. We’re playing against a side that has dominated Italian football and been a protagonist in Europe for seven years, they’ve made two Champions League finals, so they have a great mentality and great players. To win, we have to try to do something extraordinary, if we can overcome this very difficult obstacle, we can do something important, I’m sure of it.
“Milan lost here to Juventus in 2016? I think of my team, not about what happened with Brocchi, who is my best friend. We’ve got to do two things: firstly, give very little or nothing to Juventus, because at the level of individuals, they have incredible quality and they have won matches with that quality. Secondly, we have to play our game, we must not be afraid. We must not have courage and not hold back. Juve is a great team full of champions but they have some weaknesses, I hope it will be a good game and we hope not to make the mistakes we made in the last 15 matches in Turin.
“To recognize their exact characteristics, Cuadrado and Douglas Costa can cause problems with their pace and are good at creating numerical superiority. We must be tight, focused and ready to suffer. The mind can do extraordinary things in sport and in life. Preparing it on a tactical level isn’t enough, you need something to click in your mind. We need something more to win against Juventus.
“How I experience games now as a coach compared to when I was a player? As a player, I was basically crazy. I was so superstitious and did strange things. I had a special way of preparing. Today I feel this incredible pressure on me, as if the fans were on my shoulders. I am more relaxed when training, but starting to prepare for games, I just can’t sleep, so I get back up and resume work.
“If it’s true that I once ate a live snail on the training ground like Andrea Pirlo once said? I’ve done worse than that [smiles]. I always believed that to be a great team, you need a great locker room atmosphere. It’s the group that wins cups and tournaments. An individual can help you win one or two games. As nothing grosses me out, it was the day of Milan-Manchester United and the rain was pouring down. Everyone told me I didn’t have the courage to eat the snail, so I did it.
“Mentality? When you enter the pitch, you have to give the maximum. If the opponent is stronger, then you tip your hat to them and shake their hand, but you must have no regrets. We did everything that we needed to do. When I talk to my team, I speak in these terms.
“If this is the most important match of my career? Surely. I’m 40-years-old and there is a trophy up for grabs. I have 150-160 benches, there have been a few disappointments, and some satisfaction. We hope that this will be the greatest satisfaction. If it doesn’t arrive, we will have to put in even more work. People who called me? I spoke with Arrigo Sacchi this morning as he wanted to wish me good luck. Same with Ancelotti? Carlo knows I am superstitious. We are often in touch, but we didn’t’ speak.
“The value of a victory? If this game was at the end of the season, I’d be less worried. We’ve got two battles with Atalanta and Fiorentina coming up, so going into those with a cup on the mantlepiece would be very important and different to the feeling after a defeat.
“The Milan-Juve rivalry? Juventus, as a player, gave me the feeling – which is the same as a coach – that they have this extraordinary mentality. Their players are proud to wear the jersey. They’re passionate. I’m impressed by the discipline and battling spirit of the Juve world and I saw that made the difference, even when Milan had more technically gifted players. Sometimes I see the Juve players and they don’t even look sweaty. Milan brought something different in Europe in terms of football, but winning the way Juve do – with mentality, physical strength and quality – is not easy. People might say they didn’t win the Champions League as often, but reaching the Final is like winning it.
“Biglia? Lucas must be an example and an added value. I would like to speak about Biglia because he has done inhuman things. He gave our medical staff a hard time, from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening he did everything to return and we gave to look for this kind of athletes. He’s not 100% but we’ll decide tomorrow, if he took a hit he could be hurt more seriously, but we all have to appreciate a man like that. He did an incredible gesture. Locatelli? I saw him well.
“Suso? I expect a player who will help us in both phases, I know that we are asking for something more from him, but this is what we need right now, and we can’t do without him. When we will be a team in which you can afford to not work the strikers, it will be another story.
“What would I do if Milan win? My children and wife will be there. I’ll have a glass of wine with the lads, more than one if we win… After that, I’d like to spend some time with those people who haven’t seen me as much lately.”